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Bridget S. Smith

Radio Personality. Nonprofit Leader. College Instructor. Author.

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Healthy Eating

Choosing your “self” and accepting your excuses

They say that people who don’t lose weight are making excuses.  And I think they are.  But I also think that excuses can be valid reasons for struggles with weight.  My proposed snarky twitter comment this week was, “Want to know why people post their workouts on Facebook?  Because its so hard to get to the gym!”.  Maybe you don’t care.  But that person posting it, cares.  Between working 3 part-time jobs, finishing my 2nd masters degree, maintaining a household, and taking care of two teenage boy exchange students, I’m exhausted.

Being tired.  That’s an excuse.  Yes it certainly is.

Eating healthy is expensive.  We took the exchange students out to dinner last week, it was $80.  Know what doesn’t cost $80?  Taco bell, Primo’s Pizza, and American Chinese takeout.  I read a statistic that said it costs the average eater $1.50 more per day to eat healthy.   Our exchange students aren’t average eaters, and eat double what we do.  So that makes it around $9 a day- with seven days in a week thats $63 or $252 a month.

Cost- That’s an excuse.

I actively decided that in 2014 I’m choosing my self. I’m going to do things that I want to do. I’ve made myself a priority.  I’m going to finish rewriting my novels.  I’m going to Europe.  I’m going to reduce my responsibilities.

Part of this process for me is losing weight.  Of which, I’ve been doing a pretty lousy job this year.  I do fine for a week, then stress eat the pounds back on.  Plus, our Asian exchange students won’t touch brown rice.  Instead we eat pounds of white rice every week.

Not making myself a separate meal?  That’s another excuse.

For years I’ve complained of what I have deemed “funky food allergies”.  Every doctor I’ve talked to has treated me as if I’m crazy.  “You can’t be allergic to cilantro.”  “You just aren’t used to eating those foods, eat them more you will get used to it.”  But I never do.  My stomach aches.  It hurts so bad I want to make myself throw up.  So if a food makes me sick- I don’t eat it.  The partial list of foods, figured out through an elimination diet, include; apples, pears, banana’s, avocados, cilantro, and eggs.

What doesn’t make me sick?  Bread.  Cheese.  Yogurt.  So I’ve stuck with the items that make me feel better.  Apples are dense and high in fiber- therefore they are a filling diet food.  Too bad they bring me to tears.

I don’t eat raw fruit and prefer bread and crackers.  That’s an excuse.

As part of my year of me, I decided its time to tackle my allergies.  I finally made an appointment for allergy testing.  Not the blood draw kind, the let’s prick 100 needles in her back and see what swells up kind.  It’s more accurate and long overdue.  I went on Friday.  I’m allergic to every major category- trees, grass, pollen, molds, and pets.  The only section that didn’t react- food.

I was baffled- how was this not a food allergy?  Thankfully my allergist had a decade long answer waiting for me, Oral Allergy Syndrome.  Turns out about 30 percent of people with pollen allergies suffer from Oral Allergy Syndrome.  While most people experience symptoms that are localized to their mouths, some people experience stomach pain and cramping.  Bingo.  He handed me a list of foods.  Bingo.

According to WebMD, these include:

Ragweed Allergy: “Ragweed, in theory, cross-reacts with bananas and melons, so people with ragweed allergies may react to honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelons, or tomatoes,” says Warren V. Filley, MD, from the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City.

Zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions (leaves are often used in lettuce mixes), chamomile tea, and echinacea also go on that list.

Birch Pollen Allergy: People with birch pollen allergies may react to kiwi, apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, plums, coriander (the seed of cilantro), fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, and almonds.

Yup.  I have oral allergy syndrome.  Over a decade of questions, and countless doctors visits later, I finally have a diagnosis that makes sense.  The good news is peeling the fruits helps- too bad that’s where many of the nutrients are.  Cooking can help too- but that doesn’t always make for a quick and easy snack.  Its interesting that foods that I don’t mind the taste of like cherries, carrots, and celery but have an aversion to and don’t eat made the list too.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has some great information here.

My allergist also discovered that my lungs have been functioning at around 85% capacity.  That explains my exhaustion.  So now I’m onto daily meds for asthma and allergies.  I started immunotherapy for my allergies and hope to improve my symptoms.  I miss having cats :(.

I injured my knee nearly a year ago now.  I’ve been hesitant to return to the gym because it hurts.

I’m in pain- that’s another excuse.

At the end of the day, I haven’t lost weight because I’m full of excuses.  We all are.  Except, perhaps, instead of badgering someone struggling with weight loss about their ‘excuses’, maybe we could be a little more sensitive.  Excuses are reasons- and its not up to you or I to judge them.  You don’ t live their life.

I am my excuses.  My excuses paint a picture of who I am.

Be prepared- you are about to see a lot of workouts posted on my social media.  I’m taking steps to overcome my excuses, like not serving myself a full serving of rice at dinner and taking the exchange students to the gym with me.  But at the end of the day- be prepared for a whole lot of excuses.  I’m full of them.  And, so is everyone else.

Greek Yogurt Baked Doughnuts

This healthy eating this is a constant battle to find balance.  I can’t tell myself “No, you can’t have that.”  Because, at that point I will become fixated on it.  Instead I either eat half a portion or wait until I can make it myself.

Yesterday, I went out for Chinese with our exchange student, ate a lot of soup, so I only ate half of the stir fry.  (Who knows what all is in their amazing sauce!).  This week, I’ve wanted doughnuts.  Avoiding this is hard- Metro Detroit has more Tim Horton’s per capita than we do gas stations.  I knew I could make them healthier myself so I waited until Saturday so I could spend the time needed.  The results were pretty good.  They are denser than the doughnuts I usually eat, but it makes them more filling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sucanat (Evaporated Cane Juice, Any sugar works)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In Large mixing bowl combine Greek Yogurt and use milk to thin it.

yoguft

When you’ve combined the milk and yogurt it should make a thinner yogurt consistency.  Then, combine the remaining ingredients and stir.  (You can combine wet, then dry separately, then combine.  That’s the right way.  I’m too impatient!) If it seems to be too thick, add a little more milk.  I cheated and used my immersion blender with the whisk attachment.

mixer

When the mix is smooth, start spooning it into the doughnut pan.  Fill each section 2/3 full.  If you go too high the ‘holes’ will bake  over.

20140118_092748

Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 4 minutes before trying to remove.

My favorite kind of doughnuts are the cinnamon and sugar ones.  I mixed together white sugar and cinnamon, equal parts.  When the doughnuts were still warm I pressed them into the sugar and placed on the cooling rack.

20140118_103219

Another variation we tried, nutella icing.  I used 2 tablespoons nutella, with 1/4 cup of milk.  I kept adding powdered sugar until it became the consistancy of icing.  We dipped the cooled doughnuts in and placed on the cooling rack.  Then we sprinkled with crushed nuts.

nutella

These will run you about 150 calories each, so if you do wind up cheating and having two like we did- it won’t kill you.  I served it with a side of fruit, yogurt, and some low-fat breakfast sausage.

Have fun and be creative.  Just remember- the more toppings you add the more calories you add, so be weary!

Adapted from, “Yes, You Really Can Eat Doughnuts” in Health magazine.  http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20418786,00.html

Two Clean Eating Life Hacks- Vegetarian Friendly

There’s nothing quite like a new year to kick your butt back into a healthy lifestyle.  Or try to anyway.

To my surprise I found two clean-eating life hacks- in one day:

  1. Steel Cut Oatmeal is WAY better than packaged.
  2. Adding Greek Yogurt to a broth based soup makes it creamy like the unhealthy version- without the fat and calories. 

I’ve seen all of those “refrigerator” oatmeal recipes on Pinterest.  They are loaded with all sorts of goodies.  I wanted to dial it back.

I used steel cut oats that I purchased from a bulk foods store.  (Metro Detroiters- Bulk Food Warehouse is in Dearborn; 23151 Michigan Ave).  I find that the bulk food store has a ton of clean eating basics- including my brown rice, couscous, whole-wheat pastry flour, rice flour, and just about everything else.  Most of the items are cheaper than you can find in local stores too.

My attempt at overnight oatmeal was a success- and easy too.

steel cut oats

Simple Overnight Oatmeal

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 2-3 minutes

*1/3 cup steel cut oats

*1/2 cup plain unsweetened Almond Milk

*1/8th teaspoon vanilla extract

*light drizzle of honey

Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Place in fridge.  When you wake up in the morning pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  AMAZING- Better than anything I’ve ever had from a package.  You can dress it up with fresh or dried fruit or nuts. Want more flavor?  Add some cinnamon and nutmeg.

 

 

broccoli

Broccoli Cheese soup is amazing- but not healthy.  Most home-made soups use Velveeta cheese, which is anything but clean and is packed with sodium.

This is my lighter version.

Simple, Light, Broccoli Soup.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

*2 Crowns Broccoli- chopped small

*1 Shallot Chopped Small

*1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

*3 Cups Water

*2 Tablespoons Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon Chicken (Alright- not clean, but I cheat sometimes)

better than bullion

*1/2 cup cheddar cheese

*4 tablespoons nonfat Greek Yogurt

Heat a stock pot on the stove.  Add olive oil or butter followed by shallots and broccoli.  Once the vegetables soften and 1/4 cup water.  Steam vegetables in pan.  When broccoli is steamed through (dark green but before it gets mushy), put 3/4 of broccoli and shallots, along with remaining liquid in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Meanwhile- add the water and Better Than Bouillon to the pot and bring toa boil with remaining broccoli.  Return processed broccoli back to soup pot.  Simmer  and stir until well incorporated (10 minutes or so).

Divide into 4 equal portions.  Stir one tablespoon of nonfat Greek yogurt into each bowl.  Then top with cheese, divided between four bowls.  By mixing the cheese in last you get the flavor without the extra fat and calories.

Want more flavor?  Add some calorie free kicks add fresh ground pepper or garlic.

Want a thicker soup?  Steam cauliflower with your broccoli and process it.  The texture will be smoother than the broccoli and increase soup texture.

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