Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Added Sugar Diet Day One

Day one we started the morning out by having yogurt for breakfast. I wish I could say it was sugar-free but it was not, the kids had the leftover yogurt from the refrigerator. For my breakfast I made a concoction of oatmeal mixed with coconut milk and sliced bananas. Hubby had his usual banana and two oranges.

For the oldest child's lunch we packed up tuna and a container with sides of strawberry, banana and water to drink. Oh, and pistachios how could I forget those. The boy and I had tuna for lunch with sides of grapes and cheese. The man of the house had a salad topped with chicken and home made balsamic vinaigrette.

After school snack was quite an adventure we had strawberries, cheese, pepperoni and blueberries. One child particularly enjoyed the mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, while the other enjoyed extra sharp cheddar cheese. It was also really funny to noticed that my boy he really, really enjoyed the taste of fresh blueberries.

Dinner on the first night was pretty simple we had sausage with peppers and onions cooked on the grill because of the nice spring weather. Served with a side of whole grain brown rice. Drinks consisted of water sparkling, water and milk. We did partake in some dessert. The little boy really wanted some extra grapes so he had grapes and my daughter wanted strawberries again so she had more of those. My husband and I chowed down on some honeydew while we prepped breakfast for the coming days.

After completing one whole day I have to say the preparing breakfast is the most difficult. Our usual go to breakfast such as granola, yogurt and things like that are no longer on what we're aiming to feed our children. So now I'm trying to find new recipes to use that don't require cooking because of busy mornings and having to get to school.

My husband found himself fight many cravings during the day due to the office environment he works in and the accessibility of candy.

Previous Posts
We have lost our minds
Getting Ready

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting Ready for the Fed Up Challenge

In another post I explained what the Fed Up Challenge was but briefly it is a challenge to remove all added sugar from you diet inspired by the information presented in a documentary.

I have to give careful consideration to planning our meals for this challenge because as a nursing mom my well being and milk making abilities have to come first. I am taking care to make sure that I get the number of calories I need although I am hoping by changing the sources of these calories I will feel better. It is however much easier/quicker to eat 100 hundred calories worth of yogurt of cookies that it is to eat 100 calories of green pepper. I am hopeful that with the addition of healthy fats and whole grain carbohydrates I will have no problem maintaining the appropriate number of calories. This is not supposed to be a calorie restricting diet but still I will be tracking just to make sure.

To start we read all of the labels in our home and figured out which options had to go. Then we looked at what we do right when it comes to sugar. We formulated a meal plan and did the shopping. We took the kids shopping with us allowing them to pick what foods they wanted and we discussed food content and look at label with them as we went along. We put our sugary foods in a box and hid them away, well actually my husband did. A tired mother of three cannot be trusted not to cave under pressure and toss the kids a granola bar for a few minutes of quiet.

So Long Junk
 I am really looking forward to a week of watching my kids eat whole, healthy foods with as little preservatives as possible. I am hoping that we experience increased energy levels and the kids learn to like some new foods after cleaning them with a clean palette. I am however prepared for there to be much resistance and possibly withdrawal symptoms due to the amount of sugar our bodies are used to. We'll see what happens.                                       

Monday, April 27, 2015

We Have Lost Our Minds (The Fed Up Challenge)

There is a documentary titled Fed Up in which the relationship between childhood obesity and sugar intake is examined. Most people of course know that sweets can lead to weight gain so the movie follows several obese/overweight young people who with the support of their families have changed their eating habits to lose weight and get healthy. Armed with cupboards and fridges full of health foods, yogurts, low fat and low calorie snacks the kids give it their best but all end up failing at losing weight. All of the health foods show a have one thing in common, added sugar. 

The recommended amount of added sugar per day for a preschool aged child is 4 teaspoons or 16 grams. Everyday my preschool whole loves all carbs and sweets gets a 'healthy' snack of organic yogurt. The sugar count in this snack is a shocking 22 grams per serving. Shocking! By the time he has one snack he has had more sugar than he should consume in a day! That does not included te teaspoon of sugar (I mean 2 tablespoons of ketchup) he likes to use to dip his grilled chicken in at dinner time. 

For a long time we have been connecting his behavior to the foods he eats and have been working on improving his eating habits. Trying for more fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, & whole grains was our beginning goal then we cut out a lot of processed foods. When the baby came we found ourselves using more processed food snacks: granola, trail mix, and cereal. We found that behavior was becoming out of control for both kids and we were frustrated. After a talk about needing to find ways to again improve diet we sat down to watch Fed Up together not really knowing anything about it but with the tag line "Congress thinks pizza is a vegetable" we were drawn in. 

The result of watching that movie has lead us to do the challenge. We are only going to do a 7 day strict no added sugar plan for te whole family and see what we learn about our diet and our bodies. After that we will decide how we want to change our diet for the future we will use honey and maple syrup once the challenge is over the naturally sweeten foods most likely. 

I would like to share our journey and document how we feel and what we do. I also encourage you to do a quick estimate of your added sugar intake. Remember fruit and vegetable sugars are good just non of the hidden, sneaky sugars are. 

Any way wish us luck, we may be crazy. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

My son's preschool has a very open door policy for parents. We are welcome to come in and read a book to the class or help with special projects. This month parents were asked to share their profession or any other hobbies/skills they have with the class. Since today was Earth Day I volunteered to share my hobby of gardening with the 4/5 year old class.

The morning started with the teacher talking to the students about Earth Day and what it means. The kids offered up ideas for ways they could help the earth. Then in groups of three the kids came outside to the front garden area where I had set up with a trowel, plants, and water can. In each group of three I had one child dig a hole, one child set the plant in the hole and the last child watered the plant. It was an efficient system which is important when dealing with preschooler's attention spans.


It was very funny to see the differences in the kids. Some were gung ho about it while others had a just get it over with attitude. Dirt seemed to be a fear of most of the kids, some where leery to step into the flower bed and other were okay as long as in did not get on their hands or clothes. A few of them jumped in the dirt and got their hands dirty without second thought. It was really fun for me and I tried to make it fun for them pointing out worms and adding in fun tidbits.

At the end of the morning the flower bed was filled with pretty purple flowers. The kids then took off on a walk as a class to see all the changes that happened in the past couple weeks due to the arrival of Spring.


Over the next month or so as the plants grow and more blooms appear I hope that the children take pride in the work that they did. I also hope that they are encouraged to help out with planting at home or to ask the adults in their home to plant something because they had a fun experience at school. The class plants seeds for Mother's Day so hopefully their new found skill and the availability of a plant will give them the perfect opportunity.

Our next Earth Day adventure was going to the hospital I work at for the ground breaking ceremony for an education garden. I am very excited about this project and was looking forward to learning all about the initiative and seeing if there was any role I could play. As a nurse nutrition education and lifestyle modification are part of my daily patient interaction and I so happy to see something like this come to my facility where my patients can learn about and gain access to healthy foods. I wish we would have made it to this event so I could network in person but a storm forced the event indoors and taking 3 kids including a newborn to an indoor formal presentation seemed far from sensible. Now I will have to network via email.

I told you we were taking our simple life and garden show on the road. This is just the beginning of many ways that I hope to interact with the community.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Kill Your Garden Plants

I usually like to write about all of the good things that happen around the house and garden in hopes that I may be able to encourage others spend more time in the garden or enjoying home life. Sometimes though, things do not go a planned or like a stubborn fool I go ahead with an idea despite prior experience that should make me think twice. 

Sometime last year I had shared a picture in a post of what used to be our small back garden. Thanks to the addition of a storage shed and some other changes, the drainage of the yard has changed and not for the better. I decided to test my luck by planting some seedlings back there because as usual I got carried away with my seeds. Of course the weather changed rapidly and that night a "passing storm" unloaded 2 inches of rainfall. My wonderful little garden was under about 4 inches of water by morning. 

This is after the flood. The white mild carton was covered by the water earlier in the day. 
Note to self next time please listen to the voice in your head that says, 'don't do it'. 

If you want to guarantee crop failure here is what you do:
1. Plant in a hurry (preferably as you try to rush the family out the door to an all day event)
2. Forget to check the weather or blow off the report as a nothing major is coming 
3. Ignore what you know about your land and plant where you think things should go, despite changes in the land (such as flooding)
4. Tell yourself that this year will be different (last time was just bad luck, right?)

Put all of these steps together and you can pretty much plan on killing all the plants in your garden or you could be much better than me and avoid all this by thinking things through a lot better than I did. Either way, I wish you happy gardening. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Recycled Gardener

Longer days and milder temperatures have lured me to the outdoors. Even though our last frost date is still a bit away I am trying to get things going in the garden. It is always a challenge to come up with unique rotation for the plants while adding new varieties to the garden. I have really come to love starting our own seedlings and I may have found a planting method that works for me and allows me to use items from around the house. My perfect planting container is old yogurt containers. Instead of using store bought pots I took a look around to see if there was anything that I could use within our home and found the mountain of yogurt containers in the recycling bin. The first year I started with individual serving yogurt containers because the kids were eating them for snack at school. This year I decided to cut down on our plastic container waste by buying larger containers of yogurt which meant I could allow my plants to get a lot larger before moving them outside into the soil.

Reusing Various Containers as Planters

I have also taken to using gallon milk containers or my husbands iced tea containers cut in half to put some of the larger plants in to keep them from becoming root bound while I wait for the ground to thaw and the danger of frost to pass. Another handy use for the tops of these containers is as a mini green house type cover for some of the early spring plantings during the cooler nights. I use these for my peas, which need to get in the ground early in the season in order to provided peas before the hot weather destroys the plant.
Mini Green House

The peas also need something to climb up which gave me another opportunity to use a discarded home product. Our 3 season porch has some wicker furniture which is at least 30 years old and despite our best efforts the coffee table of the set broke. First the glass and then one of the legs so we knew it was time for it to go but sending it to the dump seemed like such a waste when it has a great pattern for plants to follow on their journey up towards the sun.

Table Turned Trellis
What types of things do you use in the garden that would otherwise have been bound for the trash or recycling?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taking it on the road

The daffodils are up in our yard although the flowers have yet to make their appearance and the air is filled with the excitement and anticipation of spring.  The seedlings are really taking off now. The coming of Spring means that it is time for the work to begin. It seems that for the winter months the busyness slows to a gentle hum and at the first sign of spring there is a invisible motor that begins to roar to life propelling us to work  well into the summer.

Bartering has been very helpful to us this year. Seed trading has allowed us to share some of our favorite varieties with our friends and family. Also, a friend of our had plans to rent a tiller for his garden and we offered to go in on it with him since the fee is for a half day even if it is only used for an hour. It is a win win for everyone. He only has to pay half the cost and so do we and both of our gardens get done. 

Another exciting development is that I have found a group of people who share simple life interests similar to mine in my area. How our paths have not crossed before I don't know but I am excited to connect with them. 

I feel comfortable with the simple changes that have been made in my household and now I am ready to share what I have learned with more than just close friends, family and blog readers.  I will continue to share everything I learn with family, friends, and blog reader because they are near and dear to me but  I am ready to take this show on the road and hopefully help others in my community as I learn new things from them as well. There is something special about being able to teach and learn in a tactile way. I hope to keep you all up to date on what I learn and things that I am able to share and help others with. Spring is proving to be an exciting time around here.