Not your father’s PB&J – 3 healthy riffs on ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’

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My dad had an orange vinyl recliner where we used to sit and eat chocolate ice cream together.

Usually, this meant I slurped down my ice cream out of my little blue plastic bowl, then I’d climb up beside him in the recliner and “help” him eat his.

It’s one of my absolute favorite memories of Dad (and the photo above is probably my favorite picture of us).

A love of chocolate ice cream is one of the many things I inherited from him. Besides our mutual affection for writing, a lot of those loves – both good and bad – include food.

Peanut butter and blackberry jelly is high on that list.

But Dad had health problems, partly brought on by diet choices, and I’m trying to avoid that legacy. I’ve spent the past few years educating myself on the negative effects of sugar, refined carbohydrates and modern grains (even “healthy” whole grains), and what I’ve learned is enough to make me seek out healthier alternatives.

When Debbie Arnold, a real food blogger and the curator of Foodie Friday for the Arkansas Women Bloggers, announced this month’s  theme, I immediately started devising ways I could put my own spin on “Peanut Butter & Jelly Time.” My aim was to:

  1. Make “peanut butter and jelly” recipes that are healthful and delicious.
  2. Think outside the breadbox. I interpreted “peanut butter” as any kind of nut or seed butter and “jelly” as any fruit that you might pair with those butters, whether that means a sauce with a bit of natural sweetener or just plain ol’, naturally sweet fruit.
  3. Make grain-free (possibly gluten-free), low-carb riffs on the theme.
  4. Get you to try something new. (I tried a new thing; see below.)

I think I succeeded on the first three, but I’ll let you be the judge. No. 4 is entirely up to you.

Here’s what I have for you today:

  • Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola.
  • Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread.
  • Maple Almond Butter Cookies (modified from my 2009 recipe).
  • Bonus recipe: Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie (doesn’t contain a fruit that is typically found in jelly, so it’s a stretch to include it in a PBJ post!).
A few notes:
  • These recipes are limited only by your imagination and the fruits and nuts available to you. With fresh fruit, pick what’s in season to make it more affordable, available and delicious. (And don’t forget to #BuyLocal.)
  • Use whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sweeteners/binders you want. Can’t decide between pecans and walnuts? Use both – I did! Honey, molasses or maple syrup? Yes, please! For the fruit, I went with cranberries because it was the only dried fruit I had on hand that didn’t require chopping. (Prunes, anyone?)
  • This was my first foray into eating sprouted-grain bread, although I had been wanting to try it. Sprouted grains can offer more health benefits and be less allergenic for those sensitive to gluten. I’ve been limiting grains for a few years, so this was a good way to eat a sandwich without veering too far off the path.
  • You’ll notice that almond is my go-to butter in all the recipes. I’m not trying to say peanut butter is unhealthy, but I’m in the middle of a doctor-prescribed 60-day elimination diet that forbids legumes, so peanuts are out for a few more weeks. I don’t think I’m allergic, but many people are. I keep almonds, walnuts and pecans in my freezer. (Plus, we have pecan trees in our yard.)

If you’re trying to tame the sugar monster or conquer a carb addiction (it’s a real thing), I hope you’ll start thinking outside the breadbox, as I’ve done for the most part with these recipes.

(Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for the bonus recipe. You’ll need to click through to my other blog, Suzy & Spice.)

So let’s get started.

Print Recipe
Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola
This granola recipe is versatile, because you can use whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sweeteners/binders you want. The first time I made it, I couldn’t decide whether to use honey or molasses, so I used both! Couldn’t decide between pecans and walnuts, so … both! For the fruit, I went with cranberries because it was the only dried fruit I had on hand that didn’t require chopping. (Prunes, anyone?)
nutty grain-free granola
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
nutty grain-free granola
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix nuts, seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in dried fruit.
  4. Add coconut oil, sweetener (syrup, honey or molasses) and salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in jelly roll pan. Granola should be no more than an inch thick.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool before breaking into pieces.
  8. Store in air-tight container.
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Print Recipe
Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread
Sprouted grains can offer more health benefits and be less allergenic for those sensitive to gluten than with conventionally processed baked goods. This is a good way to eat a sandwich occasionally without veering too far off the grain-free path.
almond butter fruity toast
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
almond butter fruity toast
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Spread the nut or seed butter on top.
  3. Top with fresh berries or other fruit.
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Maple Almond Butter Cookies

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Maple Almond Butter Cookies
I first made these yummy cookies in 2009. You’ll find the original recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice. Back then, I didn’t understand the importance of healthy oils or good photography. 🙂
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla or almond extract until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients, along with almonds and fruit, and stir until just combined. Let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 inch and place onto cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then move cookies to wire rack.
  7. When completely cool, store in airtight container.
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Bonus recipe (on the other blog):

Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie

This one doesn’t have the “J,” but it contains delicious “PB” – along with coffee, banana and protein powder. Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie is a riff on a rich and yummy (but entirely waist-expanding) drink I used to buy at a local smoothie hut. It’s another recipe that you can modify to your tastes (for instance, I make mine with hazelnut-flavored coffee).

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you’re going to make, go make it and then come back and tell us how you did.

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What’s weighing you down? Part 1

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It seems I’m not the only one who struggles with issues related to food, nutrition and physical health. I did a quick survey of my subscribers and Facebook visitors recently, and I couldn’t have been more shocked at the results.

The struggle is real. I have to keep reminders visible so that I make good choices.

Not surprised that the No. 1 topic was diet and nutrition but that the consensus was UNANIMOUS. Everyone who replied to the email or visited the Facebook page wanted to talk about this topic next at To Well With You. (The choices were emotions/depression; finances/debt reduction; and diet/nutrition.)

Well … until I cajoled my skinny husband into voting. He picked a different No. 1 topic, but he said diet/nutrition was “a close second.”

Because Bruce ranked diet a close second, it shows that even underweight people struggle with food and nutrition issues. Bruce has Crohn’s disease, but he’s been super-thin all his life. And Candy, who commented on the Facebook page, said she had always been underweight until the past few years, and now she struggles with the opposite.

Life, age, hormones, medical problems, stress … they’ll do that.

I didn’t struggle with my weight (besides the typical female lament, “I’m fat!” when I wasn’t) until around age 30. (I can remember noticing around Christmastime a few weeks after my birthday that my butt was bigger than I had realized. It happens slowly …)

I’ve put off writing this series because I wasn’t sure where to start. I know I’ll be opening a can of worms once I get going, and where do we stop?

But I’ve opened the can, poured hot sauce on it, have my fork ready, and here we go.

A couple of people you’ll be hearing from as we take this journey together:

  • Dr. Margaret Rutherford, the clinical psychologist I referred to in my email to subscribers. She has a wonderful podcast, SelfWork, that makes me feel as though my best friend, mentor and sounding board are all speaking directly to me. Dr. Margaret practices in Fayetteville, Ark., and I met her through the Arkansas Women Bloggers community. I’m excited that she immediately accepted my invitation to help us sort through the noise and the mess of our thoughts and feelings around food. I’ll be asking her about emotional eating and lots of other stuff, and I hope you’ll feel free to ask questions, too. Dr. Margaret developed an eating disorder when she was in college, so she’s been there, y’all. Here’s her latest blog post, an excellent discussion of the emotions around food. (Tip: It really isn’t about the food.)
  • Dr. Beth Milligan, a medical doctor who’s been my friend since seventh grade! Dr. Beth was my personal physician when she practiced in North Little Rock, Ark. She’s since moved her practice and I moved to another town, so we only see each other on Facebook nowadays. Dr. Beth makes me laugh, and I always enjoyed looking at the autographed pic of Tom Selleck on the wall of one of her exam rooms! Dr. Beth wasn’t as surprised as I was that the survey respondents were unanimous about nutrition as their topic of choice. She has treated a lot of people with weight issues in her years of practice. I can’t wait to glean a few nuggets of insight from her. (And there’s bound to be a laugh or two.) We’ve been saying we need to collaborate on something, so I guess this is our chance! Here’s a link to Dr. Beth’s website.
  • Other clinicians or experts yet to be determined. I’m a podcast junkie and I love to read, so I’ll provide you with some good resources to check out. I’ll also reach out to others who can talk us through some of the topics we want to discuss.
  • You. I’d love to tell your story, share your insights, discover what you’ve learned, or maybe just support you in this community if that’s what you need. As I often say, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. I believe God made us for community, and He has brought us together to learn from and help each other. If you’re brave enough to be interviewed for a future post, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me here.

Friend, I have SO many thoughts running through my mind as I write this. I’ve been bouncing ideas around in there constantly since getting the survey results.

Please give me your feedback. Do you have questions? Advice? Share them in the comments, post them on the Facebook page or send me a private message. We’re gonna tackle this can of worms, one bite at a time.

Pass the hot sauce.

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Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade

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The last time I lived in California (post-bachelor’s degree), I was doing what you might call Livin’ the Dream: I had a great job at a newspaper, an awesome church (with accompanying awesome singles group), a house at the end of a cul-de-sac, a cute patio and a yard with beautiful landscaping. Our house was 45 minutes from the mountains, the desert or the beach, depending on your direction (and what time of day you went).

And my favorite: a swimming pool with an in-ground hot tub at one corner. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have an in-ground pool and hot tub?)

grilled teriyaki chicken
No photo for my grilling recipe? No problem. My generous friend Talya to the rescue! Photos courtesy of Talya Tate Boerner of Grace, Grits and Gardening.

I rented from my roommate, Deby, who owned the house and paid other people to maintain the property. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have a yard guy and a pool guy?)

Yup. Livin’ the Dream. (Except that my closest family units were 4-5 hours away by car.)

Deby and I had lots of cookouts and swim parties – sometimes with her friends, sometimes with mine, but always lots of fun and lasting until the wee hours of the morning (I was young then; I could do that).

One of my favorite things about Deby, besides her generosity (she pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t burn the place down), was that she was a gourmet cook. Financial planner by day, food magician by night.

She made creating delicious recipes seem effortless. (She once took a pot of chili I had left simmering on the stove and, after asking permission, turned it from blah to rah! just by sprinkling in some fairy dust a few spices.)

I experienced many culinary firsts at Deby’s table: I had never heard of cilantro (and now my love for it is limitless), I had never eaten orange roughy; I had never eaten sushi, had never heard of wasabi (no Japanese sushi restaurant has anything on Deby). Artichoke hearts with a creamy dill sauce, yum! And I didn’t have a clue what ceviche was (again, no restaurant can hold a candle). And our refrigerator always – always – housed a dish of fresh garlic butter, which we whipped up ourselves.

I “stole” several recipes from Deby, including the one below, which might embody her motto, and I heartily embrace it:

“Everything is better with garlic.”

(Go ahead. Write that down and tape it to your fridge.)

The first time I experienced her Teriyaki Marinade was when Deby invited me sailing with some friends who owned a sailboat. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California own a sailboat?) The boat had a little grill, where we plopped down some boneless chicken that had been marinating in the cooler all morning.

salmon teriyaki recipeYou’ll have to experience for yourself how good this is, because I am out of words to describe it. I’ve since tried the marinade with salmon, one Fourth of July a few years ago – why just once? I don’t know! – and I’m sure it would be awesome with shrimp, too.

And, because this is Memorial Day weekend and you have more exciting things to do than listen to someone else wax nostalgic about her Livin’ la Vida SoCal days two decades past, here it is. (Note: I’m presenting it in its original form but have included a couple of healthier substitutions.)

What are you waiting for? Go get your grill on!

Deby, if you should stumble across this post someday, please get in touch. And thank you for everything you taught me about generosity, hospitality and good food.

Print Recipe
Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Place mixture in a sealable bag or airtight dish with 6-8 boneless chicken breasts OR salmon steaks OR 1-2 pounds of shrimp.
  3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning the bag at least once to make sure every surface gets plenty of yummy marinade.
  4. Discard unused marinade or boil it for use as a sauce. (I've never done this, but it seems a shame to waste it.)
Recipe Notes

Serve with a fresh green salad, grilled veggies (why not? the grill is already hot!) or a sweet potato smashed with coconut oil or butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

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Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola

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Print Recipe
Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola
This granola recipe is versatile, because you can use whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sweeteners/binders you want. The first time I made it, I couldn’t decide whether to use honey or molasses, so I used both! Couldn’t decide between pecans and walnuts, so … both! For the fruit, I went with cranberries because it was the only dried fruit I had on hand that didn’t require chopping. (Prunes, anyone?)
nutty grain-free granola
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
nutty grain-free granola
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix nuts, seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in dried fruit.
  4. Add coconut oil, sweetener (syrup, honey or molasses) and salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in jelly roll pan. Granola should be no more than an inch thick.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool before breaking into pieces.
  8. Store in air-tight container.
Share this Recipe
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Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread

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Print Recipe
Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread
Sprouted grains can offer more health benefits and be less allergenic for those sensitive to gluten than with conventionally processed baked goods. This is a good way to eat a sandwich occasionally without veering too far off the grain-free path.
almond butter fruity toast
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
almond butter fruity toast
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Spread the nut or seed butter on top.
  3. Top with fresh berries or other fruit.
Share this Recipe
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Maple Almond Butter Cookies

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Maple Almond Butter Cookies

Print Recipe
Maple Almond Butter Cookies
I first made these yummy cookies in 2009. You’ll find the original recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice. Back then, I didn’t understand the importance of healthy oils or good photography. 🙂
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla or almond extract until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients, along with almonds and fruit, and stir until just combined. Let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 inch and place onto cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then move cookies to wire rack.
  7. When completely cool, store in airtight container.
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Enter to win: Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is

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The week after Christmas is typically a time when our thoughts turn from holiday excess (including all the food we indulged in for several weeks) to preparing for a new year and all the hope for change that it can bring.

(We won’t talk about the indulgences that may be to come on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about parties and food on this occasion, as my head drops to the pillow long before the ball drops on Times Square.)

I, for one, am looking for a fresh start in some of the areas I struggle with, including letting stress trigger bad habits with food. Sometimes I let that derail my goals.

I’ll be spending this weekend formalizing and putting to paper some of the goals that have been swimming around in my head for the past few weeks. (Remember the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” goal-setting course that I told you about in early December? Well, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road!)

So … what about you?

If getting a handle on your weight issues is one of your goals for 2017, I have an offer for you.

Nettye Johnson, a wonderful woman I’ve been following for a year or two, has written a book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is.

Here’s a description:

In Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, author Nettye Johnson shares spiritual truths and scientific principles to help you:

  • Put God first and grow closer to Him in the pursuit of health and wellness.
  • Right skewed relationships with food.
  • Embrace moderation and eliminate food guilt.
  • Create a personalized, effective, and livable food philosophy for healthy weight loss and maintenance.
  • Change your view of healthy disciplines from a challenge, battle, or struggle to a privilege, joy, a part of who you are, and a way to honor God.

As are many books about weight control and healthful living, this one is written by a person who’s been there.

Nettye knows.

And because Nettye has been victorious in this battle, she wants to help others achieve the peace that comes from eliminating guilt and remorse and get on with the business of health and honoring God in the process. A few weeks ago, she offered a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.

So … thinking of you … I bought a copy of the book and got an extra.

And I’ve been waiting to read it.

I’ve been waiting for you, my friend. The next step is yours.

I’m giving away a FREE copy of Nettye’s book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, to one reader. Here’s how you can win:

  1. Commit to reading the book with me and discussing it a chapter at a time (12 chapters, 12 weeks).
  2. Fill out the short form below telling me why you’re making this commitment (and why I should give you a free book!).

That’s it.

It’s simple: Make a commitment, then tell me why.

You have until noon Central time Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. I’ll announce the winner that evening. And if you don’t win the free copy, you’re welcome to purchase one and let me know if you’re interested in starting a group discussion. (By the way, I am not an affiliate and get no compensation for promoting this book; I just think Nettye’s awesome and has really valuable things to tell us.)

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and ask them to enter to win the free copy of Nettye’s book. (Also, subscribing to To Well With You – separate from the giveaway – will ensure that they receive my updates by email.)

The winner and I will figure out the best way to go about discussing the chapters. If you’re local, we might meet each Saturday morning over coffee or tea. If you’re my long-distance friend, we can email or connect online. (We’ll figure it out.) And if we have enough interest for a group discussion, I might create a private Facebook group to do that.

TO ENTER, fill out the form below (you’ll have to scroll to see all the content). And thanks!

Create your own user feedback survey

I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

#FaithWhereForkIs

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Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
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As I write this on Christmas morning, it’s warmish and humid in north-central Arkansas. And on Christmas Day, no one is thinking of big bowls of hearty soup, right?

But I made my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup recipe many times over the summer, and it saved me from caving in to fast food or otherwise unhealthy food temptations. Maybe you’d like to have this one handy for the post-holiday hangover – something you can dump in a pot and forget for a while. Or hold onto the recipe for a busy workweek. (Tip: Cook the meat in advance and freeze it. The cooked soup freezes well, too.)

I first posted the recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice, but I had a request for it this morning and thought I’d share it here, too. After all, this is the space where you come for stuff that’s good for you and pleasant, amen?

As I wrote at Suzy & Spice last year:

One of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food … 

So here’s the recipe from my mom, Dorothy (aka Dort), totally customizable to your and your family’s tastes. I originally cooked it on the stovetop like Mom does, but when I got my programmable slow cooker a couple of years ago, that was a game changer.

NOTE: I’m trying out a new recipe app today. Comments and questions welcome. (Tell me if this format works for you.)

Print Recipe
Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
My mom shows her love by feeding us. She has made this hearty and healthful vegetable beef soup for years, so I named it after her!
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot or slow cooker. Add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on low heat if using stovetop, or 7-8 hours on low setting in slow cooker, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Notes

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • Bag of mixed vegetables instead of bag of corn.
  • Green beans.
  • Red potatoes (cubed) or new potatoes (halved).
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The Well Well Well Project – what’s for lunch?

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PrettySaladJust thought I’d check in with you this evening before heading off to bed.

I’m gearing up for an awesome week, and I want the same for you.

I have a few items on my to-do list for Monday (I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I’ll get more done than if I hadn’t made a list).

ToDoList07112016On the elimination diet I mentioned the other day, I have attempted to set myself up for a successful week. I started the Whole 30 on July 1 (a Friday), and I’ve been on vacation since that evening. I start back to work on Monday, after a successful 10 days on the plan.

OrangeSlicesI didn’t realize it when I scheduled my vacation, but that was the perfect set-up. After surviving Day 1, a workday (I came home for lunch and fixed myself Whole 30-compliant snacky foods), I’ve been home for meals and couldn’t be more happy with the results. (I’ll tell you a couple of the things that are improving – besides weight loss – at the end of the week.)

For now, I’m sharing with you some inspiration, in the form of my lunch for the next couple of days (when I make a salad, I throw in whatever veggies and fruits I have on hand, and a lot of it comes from the farmers market); a snack (I’ll have half a boiled egg and some raw almonds with half of the orange pictured at right); and a wish:

May your week be filled with healthful, delicious food, positive thoughts and the knowledge that God loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

Tell me in the comments: What is your game plan for this week? If you don’t have one, pause for 5-10 minutes to think about one way you could make a positive change in your life. (Baby steps.)

To Well With You Suzy O signature - Sacramento font

 

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 11/02/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

HOLIDAY • ORGANIZING

Fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers member Mary knows what it’s like to be stressed out (don’t we all?), and one way she deals with that is by being organized and helping others do the same.

As we all know, the calendar has rolled over to November and our schedules are about to kick into hyperdrive (as if they weren’t already overloaded). That’s why I was happy to discover Mary’s cute, festive and oh-so-helpful (and did I mention cute?) holiday planning guide, including a checklist for meal planning, travel prep, gift buying and more.

Holiday-Guide-Image-2015Check it out: Holiday Guide: Calendar & Checklists

___________________________________________________________________________

HUMOR

DoOverCoverSometimes laughter is the best medicine (especially when “someone” has already eaten your square of emergency chocolate). I’ve been following Do Over author and speaker Jon Acuff for a few months, since participating in a Michael Hyattpromoted webinar in the spring. I can totally relate to Jon: He has an unnatural 🙂 obsession with trying to make people laugh (and he doesn’t fall flat on his face nearly as much as I do!); he’s a writer; and he wants to make a difference in the world.

Maybe you won’t get this one if you’ve never thought of writing a book, never worried what others think, never tried to change the world with your brilliance and generosity 🙂 … but I think he nailed it.

Check it out: Writers are crazy. Here’s proof I am.

___________________________________________________________________________

HEALTH • DIET

Elizabeth'sSpaghettiAndTableI didn’t battle a weight problem until I was about 30. By my birthday that year, my hips had grown wider than I was accustomed to, and it only got worse from there. Part of my reason for blogging about my struggles is to help others (while helping myself work through it and to stay accountable).

With all the crazy talk about diet and health, including mega-money spent on marketing and advertising cheap, fake, unhealthful foods, Dietitian Cassie’s blog was a breath of fresh air. I’ve written about her before because I love her sensible, open-minded approach to healthy living. In this post, she gives her thoughts on “cheat days,” which I used to take advantage of until I realized that if I were eating real food in a balanced way, I wouldn’t feel deprived.

Check it out: What About Cheat Days? (5 Considerations)

___________________________________________________________________________

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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