WB Meal Plan - Keepin' It Real

What kinds of things do you base your weekly meal choices on? Cost of food? Convenience and time to prepare? Your family's tastes and preferences? The nutritional value?

I have been convicted lately to really evaluate the meals I am making for my family to see if they contain real ingredients that will encourage health and give our bodies the things it can recognize and use best. I've mentioned before foods that have been heavily processed (usually anything in a box and more than 5 ingredients listed on the back label) are unfamiliar to your body and leads to a system that is truly malnourished.

When we are in the cycle of eating processed foods, our bodies begin to crave those things more than whole, real foods. We crave more of the cookies, more of the chips and more of the sugar-loaded ice cream and soon that's all that "sounds good". In turn, we end up with low energy levels, bad skin, indigestion, poor bowel habits... and so on.

I encourage you to eat real food. Things that are from nature... things our bodies are familiar with and will use properly. We need live enzymes to have proper body functions. Live enzymes are only found in real foods such as fruits, veggies, sprouts, seeds and nuts. Try it for just one week. Nothing out of a box. Look for ingredients you can pronounce and nothing over 5 ingredients on the back.


Tex-Mex Potatoes from Whole Foods Market


Homemade Banana Bread


Taco Salad from 100 Days of Real Food

Cinnamon Applesauce


Ethiopian Sloppy Joes from Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Brown Rice

Fruit Salad


Grilled Salmon with dill, onions and lemons

Fresh green beans

Baked sweet potatoes


The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock-Pot from 100 Days of Real Food

Romaine Salad with garden tomatoes, carrot, red onions and sunflower seeds

Mashed potatoes

What one processed food will you give up this week?


What I {heart} to Snack On

I live in a family of snackers... myself and 5 males who snack... constantly. I never use to snack. I grew up in a home where snacks did not exist. Seriously. We ate three square meals a day and that was it.

I still remember like it was yesterday... my first grocery shopping experience as a young girl, newly married and on her way to the grocery store so thrilled to begin my adventure of feeding my husband. I had my list in hand and on it were only the items for the meals I had planned for the week. Nothing else.

Needless to say, upon my arrival home with bags in hand, my husband was dumbfounded to see no snack bags, no sleeves of cookies, nothing. I think I remember he went straight back out, filled up a cart with his goodies and returned home satisfied.

Fast-forward almost 15 years later and my pantry is overflowing with snacks... ahhhem, healthy snacks... mostly :) We've learned to give a little. But now, this ummm, older girl, is now a snacker. But finding healthy snacks can be a challenge.

So let me introduce you to one of my favorite, wholesome snacks.

It is homemade granola over plain, low-fat yogurt.

First, make your own granola (see mine below) ~ it's much cheaper and better!

Next, use an organic plain and low fat yogurt. This is key. I know you will be tempted to use a vanilla or another sweetened flavored and you can! But I feel the plain really brings out the sweetness in the granola, specifically the raisins. Plus, you are not taking in all the sugar as well. I love the combination of tart and sweet. Ok, if you must... add a drizzle of honey to the top if you can't handle the tartness :)

I love this snack mostly because it gives me what my sweet tooth wants and keeps me satisfied for a long time. Plus who can argue with the wholesome ingredients this snack contains?? It's full of probiotics, lots of fiber and omega-3's.


5-Star Granola Recipe:

4 c. rolled oats

1 c. slivered almonds

1 c. raw cashews or pepitas (your choice)

1 c. shredded, sweetened coconut flakes

1/4 c. ground flaxseeds

1/4 c. plus 2 T. dark brown sugar

1/4 c. plus 2 T. maple syrup or honey

1/4 c. unsulphured molasses

1/4 c. coconut oil

3/4 t. sea salt

1 c. golden raisins or cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut flakes and flaxseeds. In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine sugar, syrup or honey, molasses, coconut oil and salt. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour over oat mixture and stir to incorporate. Evenly spread combined mixture onto two baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Add raisins and mix.


Clean Freak No More... Part 1

(photo credit: Getty images)

This is Part 1 of 3 in a series of posts about germs, best ways to cut down on them without harming our bodies, and how to naturally strengthen our immune system.

The cold and flu season is right around the corner and just recently I found a local grocery advertising "Flu Shots" already. Unfortunately, it is time to start thinking about germs, colds and sicknesses the cold weather can bring.

There is a lot of talk about germs, good hygiene, sterile environments and anti-bacterial hand and dish soaps. Germs are suppose to be bad and good hygiene best, right? Well, maybe not.

To begin, the immune system is similar to the muscular system in that it needs to be trained to work effectively. Without this training on what is bad, the immune system goes into overdrive and begins to attack itself instead of harmful pathogens.

There is a term rising up in the health world called "hygiene hypothesis" which essentially describes our society as being too hygienic. We are raising our infants and children in too much of a sterile environment that their little immune systems will unfortunately never reach their full potential. Here is a short description from an article written in the Wall Street Journal on this hypothesis.

According to the "hygiene hypothesis," first proposed in 1989, exposure to a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasitic worms early in life helps prime a child's immune system, much like sensory experiences program his brain. Without such early instruction, the immune system may go haywire and overreact with allergies to foods, pollen and pet dander or turn on the body's own tissue, setting off autoimmune disorders.

So now not only are scientists finding that an immature immune system brings on allergies, they are determining that other diseases may be associated with the hypothesis such as autism, bowel diseases, MS, obesity, and diabetes .

There is a fine line to distinguish here. The germs found in soil, plants and animals are different from those that we pick up from touching other human beings. The germs (microbes) found in dirt actually influence the maturation of the immune system. So in my opinion, we shouldn't be so concerned when our kids come in from playing to immediately send them to the bathroom to wash up. A little exposure to germs is a chance for the immune system to do it's work.

Interestingly, there was a study put out by the New England Journal of Medicine that concludes there were 30-50% fewer cases of childhood asthma seen in children who were raised on farms. It is not because of less pollution or cleaner air either... the reason? More contact with beneficial bacteria from animals, hay and unpasteurized milk. (You can read more about that here.)

Industrialized societies have been drawn into the gimmick that zero-bacteria environments are best. Over-sterilize everything you own including your body. But I believe we must allow our children a chance to get dirty and even possibly be sick once in awhile so their systems can learn to let itself get better. One person was stated by saying, "By killing all bacteria, both good and bad, our immune systems are left with nothing to do so they go and find something to do - and that is fight against what we eat - in other words, an allergy."

I use to be a clean freak. I remember spraying Lysol on all my kid's toys, furniture, walls, cribs... ugh. On Saturday mornings, you would find me standing in a shower scrubbing the walls with a bleach and soap mixture and later wheezing audibly like a longtime smoker. But I learned the hard way that this stuff isn't good for anyone.

Now, we do not sterilize our home with anti-bacterial products, but with vinegar and tea tree oil. We're not concerned when our children come in from playing outside. When we have been with friends or in contact with other adults, we wash up. Germs passed from one human to another - through touching - are almost always human fecal germs so this is the time to wash, but just with plain old soap and water.

In conclusion, I think we can be too clean. We need to allow our kids and our homes to be a little "dirty". We should let our kids play outside and touch nature. Their immune systems are learning to be vigorous and strong this way.


WB Meal Plan - Eatin' Good in MY Neighborhood

When I think about meal plans for the coming week I try to incorporate very healthy components... here are the things I try to include when I'm being intentional about feeding my family healthy, wholesome meals...

1. Omega 3 (EFA's) ~ Although I've listed benefits in this post, I will just tell you... you need them. Your body does not manufacture these essential acids and without them, you will not be well. It helps stabilize moods, decrease arthritis, prevents diabetes, lowers cholesterol, improve ADHD affects, decrease risk of colon and breast cancer and the list goes on. EFA's are only found in fish, nut oils and some plants. You need to consume them at least twice a week, if not supplementation is needed.

2. Bright colored fruits & veggies ~ Deep colored plant foods offer a substance called phytochemicals. These powerful chemicals which are only found in plant foods fight off cancers and promote good health. Remember women should obtain at least 7 servings of fruits/vegetables a day and men, 9.

3. Low in saturated fat/cholesterol ~ Several years ago I was on a "low (almost NO) carb" diet which meant I overdid it on the animal-based foods. I absolutely think I was headed for an early grave. Not only was my hair ridiculously falling out, I also had extremely high cholesterol, ringing in my ears, heart palpitations and a heart rate of nearly 100 bpm... all of this in my early thirties. After I educated myself more on the dangers of low-carbing it, I wizened up and knew I needed to switch to healthy carbs and lower saturated fat foods. I do my best to feed my family this way now too and I choose more plant-based and whole grain meals over animal-based.

4. High protein ~ You might have noticed if you have followed this blog long enough, that I do not load my family up on dairy. We do use it occasionally, but from my research and understanding, products from cows aren't the healthiest. I do occasionally buy low fat cheeses and always organic, low-fat (Greek) yogurt. So most of our protein comes from beans, grains, eggs, chicken and fish. If your meal has a good amount of protein, you (and your family) will feel fuller longer and won't need to snack as much.

So all that being said... here's what we're having for dinners this week.


Salmon with Raspberry-Balsalmic Glaze

Herbed Wild Rice

Local fresh, green beans


Kale with Carrots, Feta & Brown Rice


Banana Bread with Walnuts & Flaxseed (compliments of Power Foods) **


Frittata Ranchera with Black Beans (compliments of Power Foods)

Local Cantaloupe & Berries

Multigrain baguette


"Creamy" Tomato Soup ~ made with almond milk & Greek yogurt **

Spinach Salad with Strawberries & Walnuts (both from Pretty Delicious) ~ with homemade raspberry-vinagrette dressing.

Left-over Multigrain baguette


Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry over Brown Rice (compliments of Pretty Delicious)**

Papaya-Berry Yogurt Parfaits

(** please leave me a comment if you want the recipe emailed to you).

Happy Eating!