Gearing Up :: Raw Food Challenge

As we prepare for our raw food challenge, if you're like me, the thought of even planning this challenge can be well, a challenge! But let's just agree to not make it complicated. It is only 10 days. If you can't do 10, go for 7... or 4 or 2. Don't be hard on yourself.

I am not a creative person so I most likely will do a lot of the same meals. My goal for you is to not get overwhelmed and then just give up.

I would encourage you to shoot for a lot of greens throughout your day. Realize that you may need to eat 2-3 bananas to get the equivalent calories of a normal snack. Four clementines and so on. Your salads for a meal need to BIG! At least double of what you would normally eat.

Here is a snippet of some raw eating ideas and pointers. More will come, don't worry. Questions email me here.

1. Buy in bulk. Raw foods are going to be lower in their caloric value than most cooked foods, so you will be eating a little more than normal. Plus the more you have sitting around, the more you won't be distracted and cheat... right?

2. Make sure you let your fruits ripen before eating. What you buy today may not be ready to eat just yet. So plan ahead.

3. I was bummed to find out that beans/legumes are not raw. So consider the following protein sources for this raw challenge. Most people need an average of 40-50 grams of protein a day. Foods that contain a good amount of protein are going to be found in green leafy vegetables, sprouts, nuts (make sure you are careful to watch your fat intake though!) and seeds like sunflower, chia, hemp and flax. These all are great sprinkled on salads or in your smoothies.

4. Learn to love bananas :) Bananas are cheap, convenient and filling. This will be my go-to snack.

5. So here is a little break down of what our day could look like.
  • wake up and have a warm cup of lemon water or herbal tea
  • for breakfast have a large bowl of a variety of fruits
  • mid morning, eat a few bananas or apples with a serving of nut butter
  • a green smoothie with hemp, chia or flax seeds might be good or a cool/warm soup
  • mid afternoon, clementines or carrot sticks and guacamole
  • dinner, a huge green salad... your choice of green -- romaine, kale, spinach, arugula 
  • bedtime snack... berries
So you think we can do it? Yes, we can!

Here are some great links to help you get some meal ideas brewing!

Make your own sprouts here. So easy and fun to do! And I use cheese cloth because I don't have the screen lid. Still works just perfect. They are so good for you!

Raw hummus

Chocolate soft-serve ice cream

Raw lasagna rolls

Creamy apple-anise soup

Raw salted caramel dip

Raw coconut-ginger pudding

Raw spaghetti with marinara sauce

Raw kale salad

Here are some Rawmazing recipes!

Creamy coconut salad dressing

The best juice ever


10 Day Raw Food Challenge

I am embarking on a new venture. A raw food venture. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I've been curious in wanting to see how it really affects my mind and body.

I'd love to have companions on this venture. Come on, you can anything for 10 days! I will be here for you every step of the way.

To be clear, I am a complete novice in the area of eating a complete raw diet over any span of time. I have done a green smoothie challenge, but that was having a green smoothie just once a day... that's quite easy if you ask me. But this is 10 days... of every meal.. raw.

So first, let's answer some questions.

1. Why a raw food challenge? In a word... enzymes. Plant-based foods have live enzymes that nourish our bodies' cells. Enzymes fuel our bodies to health. Amazing health. Cooking foods above 118 degrees kills those lovely enzymes that our bodies are craving.

2. What can't I eat? Packaged foods. Cooked meats. Breads, cakes, crackers. Dairy. Refined sugars.

3. What can I eat? Unlimited fruits and veggies. Non-roasted nuts and seeds. Nut butters. Dried fruit. Plant-based milks -- almond, hemp and coconut. Olives and olive oil. Vinegars. Coconut butter and coconut oil. Since wine is fermented at low temperatures, it is indeed an acceptable companion within raw food guidelines. 

4. What can I drink? I would recommend only water and herbal teas. If you want to drink your morning coffee, I have no problem with that, just don't add dairy creamers or sugar instead use almond or coconut milk and stevia or honey.

5. What benefits is there for me if I decide to take this crazy challenge??? Going raw, you can expect extraordinary health benefits - abundant energy and vitality, possible weight loss, balanced emotions, clear mind and optimal health. There are incredible testimonies of people curing themselves of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, even AIDS with a raw lifestyle. You will look and feel truly healthy, happy and alive by giving your body everything it needs. Since we are only doing a 10-day challenge, there will definitely be great benefits, but keep in mind it may take months or even years to reverse some diseases that some raw foodies experience.

The raw path has been used to improve: allergies, arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, digestion issues, diverticulitis, fibromyalgia, poor immunity, menstrual problems, psoriasis, and hormonal imbalances. No prepackaged food can compare with the life force of raw food.

Like I said, I am a complete novice at eating raw... as terrible as that sounds. We should know and be so comfortable with eating fresh fruits and veggies all the time, but I'm not. So be patient with me. I will provide as much information as I can and research info if we have questions.

I will be here for you every step of the way to answer questions and encourage you. I will be posting recipes in the next couple days to get you started. I would recommend start the first couple days with lots of fruit like you like and are comfortable with and salads for dinner. I will have recipes for some cooler/warm soups as well. 

We can do this. Our bodies will be in love with this new venture. It might resist what we're doing at first, but will quickly figure out that what we are doing is amazing and so beneficial.

This starts on January 2. Hope to have you on board!
Warning... I am not a medical doctor. If you are not sure that your health is suitable for this challenge, please refrain. If your health is optimal and you are hoping to kickstart a healthier you, then please come along. 

The first couple days on any challenge of where your normal foods that you consume are taken out, you will most likely have symptoms associated  with withdrawal called "die off". Toxins are being pulled from your body's cells and you may/may not have "flu-like" symptoms such as headache, fatigue, irritability and poor concentration. This is normal. By drinking large amounts of water, this will aid in decreasing those symptoms (in my experience). 

Stay tuned... there is more to come! If you're in, can you send me an email here letting me know... thanks!


my favorite things {2012} -- for her

I hesitated writing this post in lieu of the tragedy that happened last week in our nation. I mean why post silly, material stuff when lives were taken and families are experiencing such despair and grief?

So even now as I post this, my heart is heavy. I can't imagine the pain mommies (and daddies and brothers and sisters...) are experiencing even now. My prayers are with those families.

But because I am a little on the OCD side... I can't leave off where I started.

Go to these links to catch the other favorite things for him and kids.

1. Sonoma ankle boots. If you've been debating whether you can follow the trend with this "booties"... I say, "Go for it!". These booties have a suede upper and contrasting wrapped buckle accent that are super stylish and comfy. Price $29.

2. Maybelline Baby Lips. No more basic lip balm. This formula renews, protects and moisturizes for a full 8 hours. After 1 week, lips are visibly renewed. Comes in 6 shades. I love this stuff and will never be without it! Price $3.

3. American Eagle touchpoint gloves. So in love with these. If you have a smartphone these are necessary in the cold. Made of soft-knit yarn with ribbed cuffs. Super cute and soft. $16.

4. Solid buckle hip belt. Every girl needs something pink. I love this thin belt especially if it's being worn with jeans and a cardigan. Price only $5.
  5. Pandora silver ring. This beautiful ring has it all, in my opinion. Silver, a little 14-karat gold and mother of pearl. So delicate, yet stands out. Price $180.    6. OPI Avojuice skin quenchers lotion. These silken lotions are filled with smooth, rich moisturizers plus nourishing avocado and healing aloe extracts. Your skin will drink up the goodness. I'm loving the mango scent! Price $7.  7. Grace and Lace leg warmers. My favorite style/color is the Lacey Lou graphite open-work leg warmers with ivory knit lace trim and buttons. So adorable to peek out from under your boots. Love! Price $34.    8. Natural Life "Go with the flow" iphone case. I love this squishy iphone case. Mine has been dropped several times and it's all good with this thick case. Such a sweet little whale on front too and a quote that fits my life as a very busy mom. I purchased mine at Francesca's for $18.   9. Tippy Thai linen tote/purse. This gorgeous bag is made from 100% linen. I love it's unique and beautiful texture, giving you a different feeling from other fabrics. This everyday bag is sturdy and big enough to hold lots of your essentials. Price $47.   10. Aveda comforting tea bags. Steep yourself in comfort - wherever or whenever - with our soothing herbal infusion of licorice root and peppermint, in convenient tea bags. Calm your senses, promoting a sense of well-being. Price $17.
11. American Eagle sequin cropped cardigan. Add a little flash with this super cute and trendy cardigan. This can be dressed up or down. And I am loving this pink. Perfect for a holiday party. Price $70.
12. Nine West Love Fury perfume. This scent is soft, fresh and fruity. Definitely not overpowering or harsh. Hoping it's under the tree for me! Price -- incredibly cheap at Wal-Mart -- $20!!
13. Anthropologie Homegrown monogram mug. These mugs are perfection. Whimsical and monogrammed just for you! Perfect for anyone and comes in a variety of prints for each letter. Price $8.


my favorite things {twenty-twelve}... for kids

When it comes to buying gifts for my kids, I tend to go slightly away from mainstream toys. I think of things that they will really like which means it isn't always found in the ToysRUs flier. Gifts for them don't necessarily have to come in the form of toys either. Things for their room, practical things and books are great choices as well. Seek out their interests and things that excite them and go from there.

Here are some great 2012 gifts I adore for kids...

1. Hot Hugs Hottie stuffed animals {I love love this little lamb!}. A minute in the microwave, and the removable tummy of natural grain will give lasting warmth and release the subtle fragrance of pure lavender essential oil. With a new friend so hot and huggable, your little one will never want to put it down. Price $25.

2. Kindle Fire with Fisher Price Kid-Tough Apptivity Case. Unlimited access to books, games, apps and movies. Vibrant color on the 7" LCD screen and built-in WiFi. The case will protect the tablet and extend it's life when in younger hands. Price around $140. (Right now on Amazon, the Kindle Fire is $25 off and the case was free too when you put 'FIREMOMS' in the promo code).

3. Discoveroo Bright Fruit Music Instrument. The easy, fun-looking shapes and textures of this adorable music kit is a big hit with the little ones. Apple xylophone, lemon maraca, lime and melon castanets and pear guiro come packaged in a handy wooden crate for easy storage. Made of plantation tea wood and ply. Price $40.

4. Lego Friends City Park Cafe. Build a hip hangout for the LEGO® Friends with a side of fresh-baked fun! The City Park CafĂ© is the coolest place to hang out in Heartlake City, where the Friends meet for sweet treats and cold shakes in the sun! Price $30.

5. The North Face boys Vestamatic Triclimate Jacket. Keep boys warm while they build blue ribbon kickers in this hyper-versatile, four-in-one snowsports jacket. With four ways to sports this ski/snowboard dynamo, this jacket/vest combo creates a super versatile barrier for winter. Price $185. (fyi...We saw this coat at a North Face outlet for a fraction of this price).

6. The Classic Green Bean Bag. What kid should be without a comfy bean bag in their room? The Classic Bean Bag has been everyone's favorite chair for over 40 years! Updated with bright solids and fashion forward prints. Trendy and comfortable seating that's great for all ages. Price $30.

7. National Geographic magazine for kids. Give a child a new way to explore the world. Two different magazines specifically for ages 3-6 and 6-14. Price $15.

8. Homemade Playdough. Not every gift you get a kid has to be bought. Why not make something they will enjoy for a long time and at a very low cost? This is an easy, step-by-step way to make your own playdough with easy ways to store and package it. Price... super cheap!

9. CAKE Stitches little girl's half apron. This is my dear friends' Etsy store full of her cute sewing creations for kids (boys too!). I am loving the little girl's strawberry half apron. The ruffle and waistband are in a coordinating red and white polka dot. The apron attaches with velcro at the right side of the waistline, camouflaged by a layered matching flower. Check out all the pics and imagine your little one in it! Truly encourages independence and role play. Price $18.

10. Melissa and Doug shopping cart. To market, to market...Take your shopping list and your teddy bear and get ready to shop! Our durable metal shopping cart looks just like those in real stores! Sturdy metal construction includes pivoting front wheels and a folding seat so your child and their favorite companion can navigate the aisles in style! Price $37.

11. Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids. If you have the adult version, you know this is going to be incredible for kids. Devotions written as if Jesus is speaking directly to a child's heart. Based on her original Jesus Calling, this version has been adapted in a language and fashion that kids and tweens can relate to their everyday lives. Price $11.

What are some of your all-time favorite kids' gifts?

For my favorite {for him} gifts go here.


my favorite things {twenty-twelve} :: for him

It's that time of year. Many of you have your Christmas shopping about covered. But I'm here for those of you who still need to purchase gifts OR just want to grab something really cool for yourself! I have enjoyed jotting down my favorite things over the year. I hope you think they're great too.

Now to clarify, these items may not be brand new in 2012, but items I have discovered and think are wonderful gift choices. This also doesn't necessarily mean I have all of them in my possession... I'm not that rich!

This will be the first of three posts... Men/Miscellaneous, Kids and Women. 

So without further adieu...

My Favorite Things of 2012

{for him}

1. Olloclip iPhone camera lens. Compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, and the 4th generation iPod touch. The Olloclip is a quick-connect lens system that includes fisheye, wide-angle, and macro lenses in a tiny and convenient package. Price $70

2. Ugg Brockman. A classic lace-up sneaker saunters, casually, towards the upscale. Price $130

3. The Bag of Holding messenger bag. This is a large canvas messenger bag that is so much bigger inside than you think. The main compartment is padded and big enough for a 17" laptop. Price $42

4. Kindle Paperwhite. The world's most advanced e-reader. Unlike a backlit tablet display, Kindle Paperwhite guides light towards the surface of the e-ink display from above so that the light never shines directly towards your eyes, allowing you to read comfortably without eye strain. Also has a an 8-week battery life. Price $119

5. Cuisinart Griddler. The Cuisinart Griddler brings the art of grilling indoors, ensuring that meal prep can be manly even in cold, inclement weather. It also doubles as a griddle and panini press. Price $80

6. Bacon floss. What guy wouldn't love some of this in his stocking?

7. Old Navy men's regular fit chambray shirt. Trendy with the button-flap chest pockets and a color that any man would look great in!

8. Men's Admiral blazer from Gap. This is a sharp and sleek wool blazer that has a hip slim fit. For the best look, dress it down with jeans.

9. Krave Jerkey. Krave Jerky is a healthy, anytime snack. For athletes, outdoor recreationalists or anyone on-the-go. It presents all the benefits of meat, at its healthiest. Jerky is naturally loaded with protein, while the drying process both removes most of the fat and results in fewer carbohydrates.

10. ImagineNations map wall art. Add some beauty and serenity to your world with these vintage-themed world maps. They are eco-friendly maps printed on heavyweight 100% recycled stock with all water-based inks.

11. {My super-hip hubby's recommendation for the men's list...} The Black Keys El Camino CD.  The Black Keys is a two-man duo comprising singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, both of whom were in their early twenties when the band debuted. Hailing from Akron, OH, they harnessed a close-to-the-bone, raw blues-rock sound on the album, whole sole instruments were Auerbach's guitar, Carney's drums, and the occasional organ.


3 Surprising Things I Hate About Christmas

OK, "hate" is a strong word, I know. I'm not a scrooge... I do love Christmas. But as I've grown and been stretched in my faith, things get easier to see past that sometimes mask the true focus of Christmas. And it leaves me unsettled.

Here are 3 things I hate about Christmas and how Jesus calls me to respond.

December just started and if you're like me, you already have your Christmas to-do list in full swing. I can already feel my body running down just thinking about it. Target runs, thousands of lights waiting to be put up, endless baking to do, buying more decorations because you realized you don't have enough as your friend who just posted on Facebook. Some things start off innocent and good, but then become our focus and we get weary in trying do it all.

Jesus calls... "Remember that your ultimate goal is living close to Me, being responsive to My initiatives. I can communicate with you most readily when your mind is uncluttered and turned toward Me. Seek My face continually through out this day. Let my presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing Peace into your entire being".

You know what I get so bummed out about in our society? We can't even enjoy one holiday without the other one showing up months before it needs to. Here's a blurb from USAToday,

"Retailers are putting out a little bit of holiday stuff earlier each year," says Mike Gatti of the National Retail Federation's marketing division. "They know a substantial number of consumers will pick out Christmas tree ornaments even as they're picking out Halloween pumpkins." 

Everywhere you go, we're bombarded with buying and satisfying those little empty spots in our hearts we all have. Trying to fill and fill so we "think" we'll be happy. These temptations are all around us. 

Jesus calls... "Come to Me with your gaping emptiness, knowing that in Me you are complete. As you rest quietly in My presence, My light within you grows brighter and brighter. Facing the emptiness inside you is simply the prelude to being fulled with My fullness".

{Pressure to be Perfect}
How many commercials do we have to watch during this season to feel completely inadequate? Or a failure? Not many for me. I can't get my husband the brand new Lexus with the big red bow... fail! I won't be happily making crafts every day when my children are home on vacation.... fail! I won't have a cute little apron baking goodies while my husband walks in from work... fail!

Let's admit we just can't live up to the standards set around us. What kind of world do those people live in?? Not mine, that's for sure. Let's be smart to know those perfect people we see in the commercials aren't real. And just tell yourself now... you cannot possibly complete all those things you pinned on your "Christmas" Pinterest board.

Jesus calls... "The world exerts a downward pull on your thoughts. Stay in continual communication with Me whenever you walk through the wastelands of this world. I am the culmination of all your hopes and desires. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; who is and was and is to come". 

I love Christmas because of Who came.
I love Christmas because it reminds me of Jesus' second return.
I love Christmas because it means time with my family.
I love Christmas because I love giving.
I love Christmas because it reminds me of the greatest gift I have... salvation.

All "Jesus Call" excerpts were taken from "Jesus Calling; Devotions for Every Day of the Year" by Sarah Young. 


Being Thankful Even When It Hurts

As we approach this season of thankfulness, I find myself in awe of God's goodness to me. I have so much to be thankful for in my life. There's my wonderful husband, my healthy, strong sons, God and his Word, friends and family, food, shelter and so on. I truly am blessed. 

But at this time, it is evident that people are hurting. Just in my small circle of relationships, people are experiencing pain, loss and hardship. How do we then respond to those hurting?

To the sweet friend who is struggling with an uncontrollable son...

To the girl who recently lost her job and is now experiencing financial burdens...

To the women who are unable to conceive and so desperately want a child...

To the man who is living paycheck to paycheck, trying to pay child support while only seeing his children 4 days a month...

To the dear friend who will encounter the anniversary date of losing her baby girl this month 7 years ago...

What do we say then?

God is still on the throne.
Read Revelation 4. If we as believers lose sight of Christ on the throne, life becomes very sketchy and it almost becomes more about us than Him. Remember that thrones are places of authority, power and majesty. I love this reminder from Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church... 
"When you see Jesus seated on his Throne, that’s why he is here; he’s a King who’s ruling over all of creation, which is his Kingdom. He is a judge who renders us all as sinful and guilty, he’s also a Priest who gets off of his Throne and dies for our sin to forgive us and mediates between us and the Father. And he’s a great warrior through whose death on the cross, Satan, sin and death have been conquered and we have victory."
So through tumultuous times we can be assured that our God is infinitely in control.

We should model our outlook on thankfulness by Christ's example.
Let's look at His example in Luke 22...
"Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, 'Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come'. He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.'"
Jesus said these words just a short time before he knowingly would be mocked, beaten, and eventually murdered. And yet being aware of all of this, he still gave thanks. This does not undermine the hard circumstances we may face in life, but how reassuring is it to know that since Jesus found it in him to give thanks at such a horrible time, we certainly can too. 
 "There was majesty in the misery... glory in the shame".   --- Spurgeon
As Christians we should be familiar with suffering. 
I find so much comfort in knowing since Christ suffered while on this earth I will too being his child (Romans 8:17). If I am not being molded, pressed in some way in this life maybe I should evaluate my standing as a child of God. 

If I were to look back on my life, I can see those times of suffering as beneficial to my growth as a believer.

But I remember questioning... 

why the Lord did not let me get accepted into a certain college... 
why I had such a colicky baby... 
why my husband didn't get that certain job 8 years ago... 

But honestly, I can say to each of those circumstances, I am so thankful for those times of hardship. I stopped relying on myself and had to lean solely on the Lord to pull me through. Looking back, I am thankful for how He used those times to show me...

I found my sweet husband at the other college I ended up at.
I developed a maturity, patience and compassion for my hurting baby I never had in me before.
I realized it wasn't the right time and that rejection would later show to be a huge blessing in disguise.

Even in your pain, still find it in you to praise Him. 
You may not have the words to utter how you feel. You may not be able to even pray a thought-out prayer. But you can praise Him still in your pain. 

Because Christ suffered too.
Because Christ was thankful in His pain. 
Because He is still on the throne. 

"The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."


This Man...

This man has been in my life for 29 years. We met in Mrs. Crawford's class in third grade. I guess he left love notes in my desk... I didn't remember. I was too distracted trying to impress a boy named Adam.

This man tried to break his arm that same year after I feel off the monkey bars and broke my arm. He told me he cried when he heard they were taking me to the hospital.

This man asked me to be his girlfriend in high school, junior year. I agreed. He was a cute soccer player, why not? It didn't last long. I remember crying in a white, square pillow with a bunch of lace on it when I got home from school. I was hurt, but the story doesn't end there.

This man ended up at the same college I did. He was crazy. He played tricks on me and my roommate. I felt like a sister. I admittedly tried to avoid him at times because I knew he was gonna do something to me.

This man grew up. He grew in the Lord. He had a sweet sense about him. He held the door for me. We went out. I remember wearing a pink wool coat. It was our junior year in college. I felt safe with him. He was funny. He bought me scratch-off lottery tickets. We lost.

This man took me to a park one spring day. He asked me to marry him. I agreed. I knew I never wanted to spend one day a part from him. I found ways to spend more time with him... I never avoided him. We married 8 months later... on this day. I love November 2nd. Whether it's raining or shining... I love this day.

This man has loved me when I'm irrational. He has forgiven me when I didn't deserve to be. His touch has always been kind. He thinks of me first. I never felt less than what a blessed wife should feel like. He has never raised his voice in anger to me. He shares. He never criticizes. He forgets my shortcomings.

This man has been there for the births of our four sons. He has raised them to be smart, kind men. He is a true example to them of a godly father on earth. He challenges them to be wise. To make good decisions. To love their mom. He practices what he teaches in parenting.

This man is the most perfect gift I could ever receive.

I love November 2nd. Whether it's raining or shining... I love this day.


Wholesome Flourless Chocolate-Chip Balls

Eventually everyone has a sweet tooth, right? I am a salty-type eater. I prefer anything with salt over a dessert type food. But even for me, there are times when I just need something sweet. But then my body hates gluten. So then what???


Flourless Chocolate Chip Balls.... heaven in a little bite!

{ ingredients }

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1/3 cup raw honey

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or more if they just so happen to fall in!)

1/4 cup raw, slivered almonds, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

couple pinches of salt

{ directions }

1. throw all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix until all ingredients are blended together. 

2. allow to chill for 30 minutes.

3. once chilled, form into small balls.

4. store in airtight container and enjoy!


Postpartum Depression: 5 Ways to Beat the Baby Blues–Naturally


It caught me off guard. Coming from out of nowhere. I felt alone. Helpless. Hurt and worst, feeling I had no hope.

These are the emotions that came when I experienced postpartum depression (PPD).

My first three pregnancies were all followed by PPD. I was fearful of ever becoming pregnant again because of this. But, by God’s grace with our fourth child, I was free of depression.

Read how I fought PPD on my guest post over at The Humbled Homemaker here


32 Pounds and Counting: My Husband's Weight Loss Story

I have waited many months to write this post. Well, come to think about it, maybe it's been more like years. I started this journey of desiring a healthy family many years ago. But as you may know, you can't always convince others to hop on board with you... right away, that is! 

Let me start by saying, my husband is a very, very humble man. He is not super thrilled I am dedicating a post about something he has accomplished. When I interviewed him for this, he first gave credit to God for giving him the grace to carry out all of this.

Two years ago he started working from home as an editor. It has been a very high stress, high-intense job that requires him sitting at a computer for 8 or more hours a day. And as most people can attest that with a stressful job comes stress-induced eating. He knew the weight had come on, but finding the time and energy to put into losing the weight, just wasn't in him at the time. 

As the new year was approaching in 2011, he prayed about losing weight. With having a family and a stressful job, adding a new eating and exercise regimen wasn't something he was totally pumped about, but he started anyway and quietly determined he was going to succeed. (Here's an article he read awhile ago that may have had something to do with some of his success... read here or watch the TED talk here).

As I've talked before about losing weight, being healthy is key... not so much the numbers. Focus on eating well. Eat real foods that provide powerful nutrients to make your body work and feel better. Brian has truly focused on putting the right things into his body. Everything counts! 

I am so happy to share our interview with you today.

{What motivated you to want to lose weight?}
Brian: It was a combination. First, I am working from home and became very sedentary. I was slowly gaining weight and with the stress of my job, I knew I wasn't healthy. I also struggled with stomach aches daily. I usually felt bad after I ate and also woke up every morning with pains in my stomach. 

{When did you start this journey and how much have you lost?}
Brian: I started in January of this year and have lost 32 pounds.

{So what overall changes have you seen or felt after losing this weight?}
Brian: First of all, my clothes fit better... well, actually, they don't fit :) I am the same size I was in high school and that is a great feeling. I just feel healthier. My stomach aches are almost gone. I have more energy and never have that bloated feeling. Also, a weird fact, I use to have a small exterior cyst by my ribs for several years.... it is completely gone.

{So, tell us... how did you do it???}
Brian: Well, I have tried many diets in the past, but by God's grace, this one stuck. I really don't feel like it is a diet. The secret has been not starving myself, but actually eating all day. I just have disciplined myself to eat better foods. I found foods that were healthy that I really liked.

We don't eat red meat or pork, at all. We eat a lot of rice and beans and some lean meats like chicken and fish a couple times a week. Jenna (me) is gluten-free so I have obviously cut way back on my wheat intake, but do treat myself with pretzel thins (and yes, I count out the correct serving size). I do not eat cheeses, butter or sauces of any kind.

The one thing that I eat every day, several times throughout the day is low-fat GRANOLA. It has to be under 3 grams of fat and high in fiber. I eat it with low-fat Greek yogurt or will just grab some handfuls here and there when I need to munch on something. I don't know what it is about granola, but I feel it has been a part of my success.

There's his granola at top (so kiddies won't steal) with his measuring cup!

I have stopped fast food altogether. There is really nothing that I want to eat there anymore.

The other thing that I cut back on is diet pop. I use to live on it. I would drink about three, 20-ounce bottles a day. Now I just drink water and will have a pop only on special occasions. 

{Give me a glimpse of specifically what you eat and when, on a normal day.}
Brian: First thing in the morning, I start with a small -- portion controlled -- (he actually measures it out exactly) bowl of low-fat granola with skim milk and blueberries. I never skip breakfast. I still have my morning coffee. I use a low-fat creamer with a little stevia -- there are just some things you can't give up.

Around 11 a.m. I come up from my office and have a piece of gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread, toasted. Then around 1 p.m., Jenna makes lunch for us. Usually we have an ethnic-type lunch. A Chipotle-type burrito bowl... brown rice and beans and a lot of hot sauce. Other times we'll have a salad with a lot of veggies and a light, balsamic dressing. We usually add some type of beans or hard-boiled egg for protein.

Later in the afternoon, I'll snack on (serving size appropriate) nuts or Greek yogurt and granola. I also like low-fat cottage cheese with raw honey. Gala apples with salt are another favorite. Whatever it is, it's low-fat, real food.

For dinner, it's always gluten-free and either meatless or chicken or fish. My all time favorite dinner is fish tacos with raw cabbage, fresh salsa and corn tortillas. We also love to grill local veggies or have corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for dinner.

{What about exercise?}
Brian: I didn't start exercising until about 4 months after I started the eating plan and by that point I had already lost 20+ pounds. I have lost additional pounds since exercising. (So food choices play a HUGE part in your weight loss!) 

I switch up what I do, but need to mix it up again because what I'm doing is getting boring. I exercise about 5-6 times a week. Three days I do a cardio, fat-burning video (30 minutes) and the other days I do a light run usually about 2 1/2 miles.

{What about when you travel or are away from home... how do you do it?}
Brian: I really don't stray from my normal eating since it has gotten me this far. I look for fresh fruit, salads, nuts and granola in airports and will run into grocery stores to get those foods instead of fast food. Small yogurt containers with granola make for an easy breakfast. If I must eat out, I will find a sub place and eat a vegetarian on whole wheat bread or a wrap... again, with no cheese or sauces.

{What other things would you like to tell the readers?}
Brian: I do drink a lot of water throughout the day. I do not take any supplements, but I do take a psyllium/fiber powder mixed with water everyday. This just helps to keep things "moving" well. 

Do not starve yourself. Just make sure it is healthy and low in fat. 

Lastly, "forcing your body to do what it doesn't naturally want to do (exercising and eating right) feels a ton better than eating bad, not exercising and being fat."

So that's it. I am so thankful for his journey to health. He has truly challenged me to eat better -- mostly by watching my portions -- and now I am trying to exercise more regularly as well. I hope you are challenged too!

I didn't include all the things Brian likes to eat or snack on in the interview portion of this post, but here are some links to some of his favorite foods (and mine, too!).

Also, with no links:
Aldi items: 
fat-free fudgsicles
cinnamon-raisin granola cereal 
low-fat cottage cheese
black beans
fresh salsa 


10 Perfect Parenting Tips from a Not-So-Perfect Mom


Children are like mirrors—they reflect and mimic what they see. It can be good. It may be bad. I know this because it’s played out in my family a hundred times. I lose my cool one day, and then sometime later, I see this adverse behavior displayed—usually in front of everyone in the supermarket—from one of my sons.

Lately, I’ve been convicted about my parenting. When it comes down to it I don't want to just “get by" as a mom. I want my days, minutes, words—everything—to count.

Here are ten effective parenting tips to help you better reflect the grace of God to your children. I’ll admit, some of these lessons I’ve learned from others and it’s easy for me to get off-track, but I pray these tips will radically transform your parenting.

Because, at the end of the day, parenting is really about making disciples. 

1. Speak to your child in a way that you would want to be spoken to.
Our lives are full of stress. We have burdens we carry every day. Sometimes inadvertently our stress can be filtered down to how we treat our children. The words we speak to our children can either bring "life or death" (Proverbs 18:21). Choose them wisely. Make them count.  

2. Look them in the eyes.
I personally think it's important our children see us stop, get to their level and look at them when we speak or interact with them. To me, it says, whatever else I am doing can stop because you are important enough to me to have this conversation. I love it when my husband looks me in the eyes and talks to me... it melts my heart. I have a feeling it is important to our children too.  

3. Give them a chance to speak their minds.
There was a time my oldest son and I were going at it. I became quite emotional and completely took over the conversation and would not let him get a word in. Later, my husband graciously pointed out how I sort of "bullied" the conversation. I seemed to ramble on over things that didn't even happen because I never gave my son a chance to plead his case. They may be young, but they have a right to explain their side of the story and to graciously be heard.  

4. Ask for forgiveness... often.
You are human. You will make mistakes.You will sin and do wrong things and your kids know it. Let go of your tough exterior and be quick to ask your child for forgiveness when you mess up. Learn to do it and be ready to hand out forgiveness at any time! 

5. Don't speak down to your children.
Our family loves a good laugh, but there comes a time when you can cross the line of laughing together and hurting one's pride. Be careful to know the difference. Our children need to know we have their backs and we won't tear them down for the sake of a joke.  

6. Don't compare them to another child or sibling.
God created us all different. He is the one who ornately designed us with our unique qualities and traits. When we start to compare other children's abilities to our children, it can etch away their confidence. It says to them, "Mom or Dad is disappointed in who I am"... "I'm not good enough." Instead, encourage them in their giftedness. Praise them for their accomplishments. Don't try and make them into something you think they should be. 

7. Give them an encouraging touch.
You may think your child "isn't the touchy type," but I would argue that every child needs to lovingly be touched. There is nothing like a parent's arm around them or pat on their back, literally. We should never be too busy to show we care this way. They need and want it from you. 

8. Learn to laugh with them.
Laughter is so good for all of us—young and old. Let them laugh at your flub-ups and mistakes. Show them that life doesn't always have to be so serious. When they see you smiling, they know you approve. Approval is huge for any child. 

9. Be on guard... guard their hearts.
As parents we can easily get worn down and let things slide. But I’ve been convicted lately about vigilantly protecting the hearts of my boys. Let me explain. Just recently we took a little trip. My husband was not with us so some of the things that are "iffy" that are usually run through him had to go through me. My son asked to watch a movie on his iPod. My instinct was to say, "Go ahead." It would give momma at least an hour and half of only dealing with three boys not four—so why not? It sounded so appealing. I had no clue what the movie was about and I started to wrestle with the decision. I researched the content and I was alarmed by the material and had to put my foot down. I so badly wanted to let him watch it to get a breather, but I'm glad I decided to do what was hard even though I had to deal with his disappointment. In the end, we are usually their only line of defense in protecting their hearts from potential pitfalls that could affect them in years to come. Stand up. Be the parent. Get wise and do what you know is right... all the time

10. Keep pointing them to Jesus.
There are many things I don't do right as a parent. I mess up quite often. I'm thankful that I can keep going back to examples of how Jesus dealt with others while he was on earth. I can point out to them what he did and said... how he responded… and show them time and again what we should strive to be like. Ultimately, we will always get it right – in our parenting - when we set him as our example to follow.


{Guest Post} A Day in the Life...

Hi! I’m Jenna. I am 38, wife to Brian and mom to four boys whose ages range from 13 down to 2… Noah, Sam, Ethan and Solomon.  

I feel like this season of my life has many angles to it. With the ages of our boys all over the map, some days I’m wiping a little bottom and failing at potty training… other days, I’m dealing with a little teenage moodiness. But I love it all regardless!

Finish story here


WB Meal Plan ~ I {heart} Summer

Summer is a time I am more chill. More laid back and lazy, I guess you could say. Are you similar? 

I wrestle with wanting things perfect, but I am thankful for when summer comes because we aren't ruled by schedules and alarm clocks and I tend to shrug off my perfectionism. 

I do love this kind of living. 

In my opinion, healthy eating really can't take too much of a vacation. While we have enjoyed a few donuts this summer, brownies with cousins and fudgsicle pops from Aldi... I still desire to cook up a healthy dinner. We can't be perfect in our eating all the time, but if I keep healthy dinners coming as much as possible through the week, then splurging here or there isn't so terrible. 

So as I slow-fully pull out the laptop and gather some thoughts in my wandering mind, I finally put together our week's dinner menu. 

Side note: I had a request from my friend, Jozan to start doing meal planning for breakfast, lunch and dinner... would you too be interested in this? I jumped the gun and told her yes right away, but soon found out it was going to take more planning then my lazy, summer mind had in store. Jozan, it is coming... hopefully, soon!

lemon basil chicken with carrots over gluten-free spaghetti
roasted broccoli... otherwise known as "the best broccoli of your life" and it is!
sliced green apples with red grapes and yogurt flavored with cinnamon for dipping

carrots with yogurt ranch dip
reduced fat, kettle-style organic chips

cubed pineapple

sliced English cucumbers

pizza bianca (using Udi's gluten free pizza crust)

what's your favorite thing about summer?

How to Soft Cook an Egg

Since going gluten-free, one's mind has to venture out and try new things. I have always loved eggs... mostly scrambled or fried in coconut oil. I do enjoy a hard-boiled egg and around Easter, deviled. But I had not tried soft-cooked until vacation. It was perfect and did not disappoint.

So venture out and try one too.

what you'll need...

1-4 eggs, preferably, range-free & farm fresh
small saucepan filled 3/4 full of water
large spoon


1. Set water-filled saucepan on stove and bring to a rapid boil.

2. With large spoon, lower egg(s) into boiling water.

3. Lightly toss/pour boiling water over egg for 1 minute.

4. Turn heat off and set saucepan on different burner. Place tight fitting lid on pan.

5. Let sit for 6 minutes.

6. Drain hot water and rinse with cold water for about a minute.

7. To eat, use a knife or egg-cutter to take the cap off the tip of the egg and eat it straight from the shell, preferably with plenty of toast for dipping. All soft-cooked eggs should be eaten immediately.

what's your favorite way to eat eggs?


12 Tips to a Toxic-less Home

On average, we will spend half of our lives inside our homes. And unfortunately, there are thousands to tens of thousands of chemicals inside the average home that are linked to diseases. Many of those diseases take years to manifest. 

There are now 85,000 industrial chemicals now registered in the United States that are slowly finding their ways into our homes and eventually our body's systems. These chemicals are targeting major systems such as the immune, neurological, respiratory and more. Children, with still-developing bodies and immature immune systems, may be the ones most vulnerable to their effects.

When I start to research all the ways that chemicals can infiltrate our lives, I am left feeling overwhelmed, frightened and usually discouraged. But when it comes to the safety and well-being of my (four) children, I'm ready to fight... mentally, that is :) 

Although we cannot do everything to avoid toxins in our homes, there certainly are ways to minimize our exposure to them. Here are just a few ways we can. 

1. Ventilate often... daily if possible.

2. Be educated on your family's exposure to VOC's ~ you can learn more about VOC's here.

3. Establish a "no shoe" rule in your home. By doing this, you can cut down on bringing toxins in by 60%.

4. Keep the temperature and humidity low. 

5. Drink filtered water.

6. Rethink your cookware. Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. 

7. Stop using air fresheners, including fabric softeners.

8. Avoid anything "anti-bacterial"... embrace your dirty side. Read more here

9. Try to cut down on your use of plastics... and please don't microwave your food in plastic containers. 

10. Google phthalates and dioxins. Get to know where they show up and avoid them. 

11. Invite toxin-reduce plants into your home.

12. If your cleaning products have a warning label on it, then it's probably not good to use. I stopped buying commercial household cleaners awhile ago and have never looked back. I love making my own laundry detergent... found here. One thing I do invest in is my Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent. It is hands down the best. I tried making my own and it didn't work.... maybe because my dishwasher is 15 years old, but regardless, Seventh Generation has made my life much brighter and shinier :) 

The one thing I do make and love is a general, household cleaner. I use this on my toilets, stains, faucets, stainless steel appliances, sticky messes on the floor and more. The vinegar may take your nose a little getting use to, but there definitely won't be any toxins to affect you or your children's health. 

Here's the simple, easy recipe for an All Natural & Toxic-free household cleaner:

Equal parts of water to white vinegar. 
20-30 drops of tea tree oil
1 tsp of natural dish soap (I love Seventh Generation Lavender Floral and Mint)

Shake and use.

What other ways do you keep your house free from toxins?


WB Meal Plan: Gluten-Free & You'll Love It!

Being married to a web and magazine editor, I get blog advice/wisdom frequently (because I ask for it). He has done very well with his website and so I know his advice is valid. His # 1 bit of advice regarding Wholesome Bits is to blog at least 3-5 times a week. Well, if you look back at the last post that definitely has not happened!

I guess I can say that life, children, home duties and family come way before this blog. I do intend to get back on my blogging feet now that vacation and other big summer events are over. So as I wrote out my meal plan {what's that?} for this week, I thought I'd pull out the laptop and share some gluten-free meals with you!

Tuesday... {it's summer... I'm a little behind!}
Gluten-Free crepes with fresh berries

Cajun chicken stuffed with spinach & pepperjack cheese
{I will substitute the breadcrumbs with crushed puffed brown rice cereal}
garden salad

tortilla chips



{I will use brown rice spaghetti from Trader Joe's instead of a wheat-based spaghetti}
steamed broccoli
fresh mango

You will notice I went ahead with the plan until Sunday. Our family has been on the go most of the summer and now that we are home... we are home! No eating out. If you plan it out, buy your needed ingredients, you will most likely follow through. So there you have it!