Dese nuts- a healthy alternative to snacking

Now I know that the phrase “dese nuts” has a meaning that may make you giggle, smirk or even snort, but for my purposes today dese nuts are what I am going to be talking about…..no, not like that, but in a different way.

I want to talk about Nuts. You know, the kind we eat…..the yummy kind….the delicious kind….the healthy kind.

If you have followed my blog at all, then you know about my journey to healthier, cleaner eating. 

arbonnehealth

What you may not know is that about a year ago I added vegan, gluten free nutrition products from my health and wellness company to the mix of food in my life. I have a health and wellness company and work with Arbonne International to market and sell these products. In addition I empower people with my business by giving them financial freedom, and improve their self esteem and worth by helping them look and feel better physically.

One of the ways I do that is by inviting people to participate in a 30 days of Healthy Living Program with me. This is a program that helps people remove toxins from their bodies by removing foods that can be allergenic (whether we know it or not) such as gluten, dairy, soy, white starches, corn, and processed sugar. It is interesting to me, (a person who didn’t think I had any food allergies), how much better I felt overall when I removed these foods. And I lost weight also, which made it a win win.

Probably my biggest problem prior to finding this program was snacking. I would grab a bag of chips, or pita chips, or popcorn, etc. What I found was that these snacks really didn’t do much to curb my appetite and I ate more. However, what I found through  the program was how much I love nuts as a snack! I used to be a peanut butter junkie, but on the 30 days program we can’t have peanuts, just tree nuts. I was bummed at first, but you know what I found out? I fell in love with almond butter and cashew butter. Also, I never used to like almonds, but when I took processed sugar out of my diet I found that almonds were super sweet and delicious, and just one handful filled me up and kept me satisfied! Who woulda thunk it??? Not me!

Picture courtesy of www.nuts.com

Picture courtesy of www.nuts.com

Also, I didn’t even know this until recently, but this is also Men’s Health Month. So for all you men out there: Happy Father’s Day (if it applies), and Happy Healthy Month Day. A great snack for you is nuts! Unsalted nuts are a great snacking food that contain many health benefits. Nuts like Brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews have all been considered to help reduce the risk of heart disease and can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Nuts are also filled with magnesium and selenium, both of which are powerful antioxidants that can aid in prostate health. YAY!!!!

AND just to make things easier, you can not only get them a your local grocery store, but you can get them at Nuts.com. 

nuts.com_mens_health_5tips_x2_v02-1When I searched “healthy” on their website I got over 300 hits!! They also have coffee and tea, and (although not okay for the 30 day program, but okay any other month) when I searched “chocolate” I got over 1000 hits!! WOOHOO!

I suggest you check them out if you want some healthy alternatives to high calorie, empty calorie unfulfilling snacks in your day. And if you want any information about my 30 days to Healthy Living Program and how I can help you feel and look better just leave me a message and I will be sure to get back with you asap.

Clean eating: Caprese Chicken Recipe

So we have trying to be eating clean for a few years, and this year we even went a step further  and removed ground nuts, gluten, dairy (except cheese on occasion), and believe it or not we have removed coffee on most days. It really hasn’t been that challenging, and to be honest now when I eat sugar and gluten and ground nuts I don’t feel well.

Now that’s not to say that we are always good about what we eat. We are humans, and definitely imperfect ones. We eat healthy most of the time, but sometimes I want a cookie, or brownie, or pizza. So we give ourselves one day to eat whatever we want, and then get back on track with clean eating.

Recently I have also reduced my complex carbs, and lost 3.5 pounds last week, which is amazing, since I hardly ever lose anything. Wednesday we will see if this trend will continue or it was a fluke…

Well, Karol saw a recipe on Facebook that appealed to her and so I made it for dinner a few weeks ago. I will say it was quite yummy, and I wanted to share it with you today. It isn’t as pretty as the video by Delish, but it is my version, in a regular kitchen with regular people. So without further ado I give you my Caprese Chicken recipe:

Chicken Caprese

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp. shredded basil

4 slices mozzarella

Brown Rice spaghetti, cooked according to the package

Directions

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil.Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden and cooked through, 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet an let simmer for a few minutes (deglazing), then add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in basil.Return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top with a slice of mozzarella and cover with lid to melt cheese. Spoon tomatoes over chicken and serve over the cooked pasta. (This would also be quite yummy without pasta, served with some veggies or salad)

Chicken breasts in olive oil over medium heat

Chicken breasts in olive oil over medium heat

Then cook 6 minutes on each side:

cooked chicken

cooked chicken

Remove chicken to a plate and add balsamic vinegar and garlic to hot pan. (I probably used less that 1/4 cup as I am not a huge fan of balsamic vinegar)

garlic and vinegar

garlic and vinegar

Then add the tomatoes and let simmer for a few minutes:

chickcaprese5

Put chicken back in the pan:

chickcaprese6

Put a slice of mozzerella cheese on each breast and let it melt:

cheesy chicken, tomatoes, vinegar, and basil...yum!

cheesy chicken, tomatoes, vinegar, and basil…yum!

Serve over pasta:

chickcaprese7

DELICIOUS!!

DELICIOUS!!

 

It was sooooo good! I used the basil from my garden. Can’t wait until we have some grape tomatoes from the garden and can use those!

I truly believe you will love this dish! Let me know what you think if you try it!

 

 

Families: more the same than different

Last year on June 1st I wrote a blog about how my son wrote a paper for English when he was 15  that said he thought his “gay mom was cool”. Although I wrote the blog last year, the event happened when my son was 15 which was three years prior. A LOT has happened since he was 15. He is 19 now.

When my partner Karol and I first decided to join our families together it was not without some concerns and worries. Worry about what the kids would think, worry about Karol’s job (she was on Active Duty in the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), worries about what the community would think, worries about what our families would think (her family didn’t know), and others. What we found were that some of those concerns were very valid, and some weren’t as big a deal as we thought they would be.

Where it all started

Where it all started

When we came together as a family our kids were 13, 11, 8 and 6. Our main concern was the oldest, as she had already started rebelling and was NOT happy about another adult in her life “telling her what to do”. The boys were not as complicated and didn’t seem to care at all.

First family vacation 2007...the girl refused to get in the photo....

First family vacation 2007…the girl refused to get in the photo….

Fast forward 11 years. The kids are now 23, 21, 19 and 16. Looking back on the way our family has evolved I can tell you there were good years and not so good years.  Our daughter did end up moving out to go live with her dad for a few years to avoid “a new adult telling her what to do”, and that ended up being a disaster. Her father was a very ineffective parent and Karol still ended up doing more of the parenting but now she was fighting against her ex husband AND his wife as well as a rebellious teenager. Those were some of the not so good years. Then she ended up having to come live with us her senior year because her father “didn’t want to deal with her crap anymore”, and that was another not so good year.

All the kids Christmas 2008

All the kids Christmas 2008

The boys never really gave us the same problems, and living with them was not perfect, but definitely not as problematic as the oldest.

All of us in 2010. Photo courtesy of Leila Wylie.

All of us in 2010. Photo courtesy of Leila Wylie.

However, even in all of that drama and family conflict we had lots and lots of fun! We vacationed together, and laughed and played, and went to high school graduations, and proms, and all of the things many many other families do.

As I have talked more with other parents about our family struggles I have come to realize that LOTS of other families had trouble with one or more of their kids. And not gay families, but straight families. And not just step families, but also all biological families. And not just girls or the oldest, or the whatever.

ALL families have some complications, or stress, or a kid that acts out, or fails a grade, or smokes weed, or gets in trouble at school, or cracks up the car, or rebels, or a million other things that kids do and families deal with. Death, divorce, drama, fights, sorrows, joys, etc.

I guess my point is that ALL families are essentially more the same than different. So on this LGBTQ Family Day I want to say that what I have learned in the past 12 years of raising my family, is that we are the same as a million other families out there, and the fact that this family has two moms only adds to the ways in which we are the same as many many other families out there. Because when you drill down to what makes a family it is love, and overcoming obstacles and dealing with “stuff”, and in the end being there for each other. A family is not about biology, but about love!

And to be honest, my “family” is much more than my partner and kids! I have people in my life I call my “chosen” family. Women I consider sisters, men I consider brothers, and many kids I love to pieces!!

They are my family, and I am so blessed to have them!!