Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 30- Eat Local Challenge Oct 2-8

When the government recommends something, I usually tend to want to run far away.  But this is actually a good idea.  The Ohio Department of Agriculture challenges you to eat locally grown food.  For one week plan and prepare one meal every day using foods that are grown or raised in Ohio.  Here is a link you can use to click on your county and accept the challenge.

Local Harvest is a fantastic site for finding local farms, farmers markets and CSA's. Ohio Proud is an Ohio-grown food and agriculture site. One of my favorite things about this time of year is picking apples.  Go here to find PYO sites in Ohio. The Good Earth Guide at OFFEO is a guide to organic growers on Ohio.

Many grocery stores will also feature "locally grown" produce throughout the summer and fall.

Food Rule #19- "If it came from a plant eat it. If it was made in a plant don't."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 28- Tip the Scales Tuesday

Ha- thought I forgot about it didn't you?  I had a bad day yesterday because I was sick with a cold but I'm feeling better today.  I saw someone eating Wendy's for lunch and I came "this" close to getting some chicken nuggets and a Diet Coke but I did not.  I have been doing the Biggest Loser 30 Day Jumpstart DVD workout for a week.  Parts of it are really easy but parts I struggle with so I am going to repeat week 1 this week.  My morning weigh in was xx6 (yes that's -1)!  I am still trying to walk every day but I didn't walk yesterday.

How did you do?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 27- Super easy pumpkin cookies

I made these last night and they are all gone- so no photo of them.

1- box spice cake mix
1- 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)

Heat oven to 350 and mix both ingredients together in a large bowl.  Spoon batter onto a cookie sheet (I use parchment paper) and bake for about 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and serve.  Add 1 cup chocolate chips or raisins or nuts if desired. Makes about 3 dozen soft cookies.  If you have a small pie pumpkin they are really easy to bake and you can use your own pumpkin instead of from a can.

More pumpkin recipes at Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 25- Trip to the farm to buy beef & eggs

Yesterday we drove out to the country to a farm that raises free-range Golden Buff chickens and grass-pastured black Angus cows.  We got a dozen eggs for $3 and 5 pounds of ground beef for $3.99/lb. (That was all the beef they had left for now- until they slaughter the next steer.)

My daughter enjoyed the pumpkin display and the farm cat the most!  It was a nice ride and I think we will go back in a few weeks when the trees change.

Saturday Shopping Superstars at Thrifty Mama.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 24- How to exercise for less

Over at Life As Mom there is a feature called Frugal Friday where you can share your money-saving tips.

One thing that may stop you from exercising is the cost.  Yes it may be pricey to join a gym- especially if you have to sign a year-long contract.  If you look for a no-frills kind of a gym rather than a fancy health club, it may be quite a bit cheaper and you may be able to pay month to month.  Also what ever sales pitch they try to sell you on, ask for a better deal- it never hurts to ask!

One very free way to get some exercise is of course to get out and walk.  If you have bad weather there is always the mall- often they open early just for walkers (watch out for those seniors they'll run you over).  If you have stairs in your home or at work you have your very own stair climber- no cost!  You can often find a cheap bicycle or other exercise equipment at a garage sale or on Craig's List.

Another free option is the library.  You can find diet and exercise books and DVD's.  I get just about all my books from the library- I rarely buy books but when I do I get them used from  One more free option, if you have cable TV, check if your cable offers free on-demand videos.  Mine offers The Biggest Loser workouts and many others for free.

Here's some free walking resources from the American Heart Association.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 23- Why buy and eat organic food?

Food Rules #27-  "Eat animals that have themselves eaten well." Animals raised for food should eat what animals eat naturally.  Like grass.  Not other animals parts.  They should not be given growth hormones or antibiotics to make them grow unusually fast and large.

Food Rules #30- "Eat well-grown food from healthy soil." Organic food is usually grown well and pesticides and chemical fertilizers are avoided.  But all organic food is not necessarily healthy.  I don't think organic Oreos are any better for your diet than the regular ones!

When I am picking food either at the grocery store or at the farmer's market, I try to buy locally grown, in-season produce whenever possible.  Here is a list of the "dirty dozen" and "clean 15" fruits and vegetables.  I like to try to follow this list when I can- although organic produce is more expensive. Generally fruits and vegetables you eat whole like apples and peaches are the most "dirty", and those you peel like corn or watermelon are the "cleanest". The latest study has a shown a link between pesticide exposure and ADHD in children.

Organic food is more expensive.  I have read if you are going to start somewhere, start with organic eggs and milk.  Laying hens on a commercial factory-farm are raised in terribly crowded indoor conditions.  Even those marked "free-range" never go outside they are just kept in large indoor pens instead of cages.  They are given hormones to speed their growth at an abnormal rate. Their beaks are clipped off to prevent them from pecking each other.  Commercial milking cows also spend their whole lives in a stall in a huge barn.  They don't go outside to graze.  They stand in their own waste.  Their calves are taken away from them and fed commercial feed.  Only beef cows generally get to graze in a pasture.  I am not a vegetarian, but I have a hard time eating commercially raised beef, chicken and pork except for locally farm grown or organic grass-fed.  For more information see Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, or Animal Factory by David Kirby.

Organic foods should also be free of GMO's or genetically modified organisms (aka- genetically engineered). Although because of cross-pollination some GMO's are finding their way into nearly all the food supply.  Just about all soybeans grown in this country for food or for feed are GMO's.  Right now I challenge you to look at any package of food you have from cookies, to salad dressing, to candy bars and you will see an ingredient called "soy lecithin" or "soybean oil" or just "lecithin".  It's everywhere!  For more on GMO's and soybeans see The World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin or Food Inc. DVD by Eric Shlosser and Michael Pollan.

There is a great Eating Organic Series at this blog- Your Green Helper.  She also lists money-saving tips for buying organic, green and eco-friendly products. Mambo Sprouts- great site for coupons for organic items.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 21- Tip the Scales Tuesday

It's weigh-in time!  How did you do this week?

A little about my week.  I did not eat any fast food.  I did not drink any diet soda.  I probably ate some HFCS as I'm sure I ate some candy this week.  I did not exercise every day.  A so-so week.  We did have a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm.  I will be introducing some new Food Rules this week.

So, did you all weigh in today? How did you do?  I am still at xx7- so no loss, but no gain!

Check out my 30-Day Jumpstart challenge and tune in for The Biggest Loser tonight on NBC.  I'm outta here- going for a walk!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 20- The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jumpstart

The Biggest Loser: The Workout - 30-Day Jump Start
Are you ready for a challenge?

There are a bunch of people out in the blogosphere doing the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred challenge.  I tried to do just one day of this and all I can say is- no way!  So I am starting the Biggest Loser 30 Day Jumpstart with Bob Harper.  It's supposed to be five 10-minute workout sessions.  Has anyone ever done this DVD? Or the 30 Day Shred?  I have also been walking a mile a day and I need to step it up. Oh, and drink more water.  Gee, maybe I really do need Jillian.

The Biggest Loser premiers Tuesday September 21 at 8pm on NBC.

Today's challenge: get some kind of exercise every day for the next 30 days. Are you with me?

(you can also check out Commit to Fit at $5 Dinners. )

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 19- Apple picking at the apple orchard

Today we picked about a 1/2 bushel of Jonathan apples at the apple orchard (for $5!).  Now we have lots of apples to eat and cook and bake with.  It was really fun and we're going to go back as other varieties come in season. We made a batch of this applesauce but then I realized my food chopper was broken- so it turned out extra chunky. (Like pie filling)

Stay tuned for a new challenge tomorrow...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 16- Fall Means Apples!

Every fall I go with my daughter's class to the apple orchard.  We hear the story about Johnny Appleseed.  We get some Gala apples (my favorite). As far as produce goes, apples are on the "dirty dozen" list for most pesticides used.  You can print a copy of the list here.  Generally, fruits that have rinds are OK but fruits you eat whole are more of a problem.  (not always but in general) Of course you should wash all your fruit- whether you are going to peel it or not. I usually try to buy local, in-season fruit whenever possible- but not always organic fruit.

Easy Microwave Applesauce Recipe:
  • 6-8 apples peeled, cored, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water or apple juice
  • 4 TBS sugar or other sweetener to taste

  • place in large microwave-safe glass bowl
  • cover loosely with wax paper
  • microwave on high for 10 minutes
  • stir and continue to cook until apples are tender
  • mash with a fork
  • cool before serving

Thursday Ultimate Recipe Swap over at Life As Mom.

(BTW- today is our 10 year wedding anniversary- thank you!)

Dinner tonight- Crockpot peanut chicken stew- package chicken thighs, one can diced tomatoes, one can drained chickpeas, onions, garlic, two dollops peanut butter- cook all day on low.  Really good over rice or linguine.  Can also add curry sauce if you like.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 15- Works For Me Wednesday

Every Wednesday, Kristen at We Are That Family hosts a blog carnival called Works For Me Wednesday.  There is usually a topic of the day and you can post your own tip or link up your blog. 

She is talking about her new ministry in Kenya, Africa a maternity home called The Mercy House- go read the story here. She is also hosting a giveaway today.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 14- Tip the Scales Tuesday

I have a confession to make.  I kind of fell off the wagon over the weekend.  We were celebrating our anniversary early and we went out to eat- Mexican food- which was kind of a mistake- all those chips and cheese! And we went to see a movie and I had a Diet Coke. The next day we went to a college football game.  On the way, we went to lunch at Penn Station.  I have to say their grilled artichoke, mushroom and provolone sub is really good.  But I got fries too.

So... I got a brand new digital bathroom scale right before I started this journey.  Two things I like about the scale:  it has a large digital readout- and it weighs me about 5 lbs less than my old scale!

Anyone want to weigh in with me every Tuesday and report your loss or gain?  Let's just take a baseline reading today. You don't have to post your weight- but would you want to share what your goal is?

Go drink some water and good luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 13- Snack Bag Monday

We have a new pet- a cat named Oreo.  I don't really eat Oreos, so the name is kinda funny. My daughter named him- because he's black and white.  We got him from the Humane Society and he is getting along nicely.  Just wish he would stop scratching the furniture! 

So far on 90 Days of Change we have given up HFCS, Diet Soda, and Fast Food.  Today let's talk about snacks.  I love snacks- I am a snacker and that's probably not really a good thing but at least I can make some better snack choices.

Which brings us to Food Rules #39- "Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself."  Michael Pollan made this rule because he says a little junk food here and there is not so bad.  It's just too easy to get.  So if you had to make french fries yourself from scratch, or a pie, or ice cream- you wouldn't eat it that often. I found a yummy-sounding recipe on this blog for homemade "Cheez-its."

I'm An Organizing Junkie has a great feature on Monday called Menu Plan Monday!
The topic for today is- do you have any healthy snack recipes you love?  Please post a comment and share!  I can't wait to try some! We're having some Quinoa for dinner tonight- not sure what to make of it- kind of like couscous but it's a grain like rice.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to get a low-cost fully vetted pet

I'm taking a time out from my usual blog posting to put in a plug for the Summit County Humane Society of Greater Akron.  They are running a special right now on adoptable cats at their brand-new facility on Darrow Road (Rt 91) in Twinsburg.  You can adopt a fully vetted cat (neutered, all shots, and microchip) for $10.00 to $19.00 depending on when you show up.  You pay the price according to the time of day- for example at 1:00pm it's $13.00- get it?.  (The regular price for adult cats is $50 and kittens are $75.) You can find their cat listing on

If that's not a Frugal Friday tip, I don't know what is! :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 9- The End of Diet Coke...

I would like to have a moment of silence please.  Yesterday I opened the last can of Diet Coke in my refrigerator.  I need a little time of mourning.  And I have a headache.

I don't drink coffee, I don't drink tea, I don't drink regular pop (that's soda for the rest of you).  But I love me some Diet Coke in a cold can- or in a glass over ice.  Never in a plastic bottle.  I will miss you, Diet Coke.  I'm not buying any more pop, diet or otherwise, for the rest of the 90 Days of Change.


Ok, so I'm not buying into that "Diet Coke causes MS nonsense" you get in forwarded emails from people (just check Snopes). But apparently Aspartame- the sweetener in diet soda- gets broken down into methanol in your gut which is then converted into formaldehyde.  Like the stuff they preserve dead things in.  That can't be good for you unless you're Joan Rivers.  Plus the phosphate in soda causes phosphate levels to rise in the blood and calcium to decrease- so it's bad for your bones. My habit is only one 12 ounce can a day- so that shouldn't be too hard, right?

So- will you join me and give up regular or diet pop (soda)?

(link to Simple Lives Thursday)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 8- Have Healthy Snacks Ready

Over at We Are That Family- there is a little blog carnival called Works For Me Wednesday (WFMW).  Go check it out for some great tips!

Here is my WFMW tip of the day.  If you want to eat more healthy- have healthy snacks ready.  Like washed fruit, and organic popcorn, and ice water in the frig.  It's so much less tempting to grab something "bad" when you have something "good' that's quick and easy.

If you want to read my whole blog from the beginning- go here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 7- High Fructose Corn Syrup

Food Rules #4- avoid high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is added to hundreds of foods- many you would not expect- like bread, ketchup, salad dressing.  No, it's probably not any worse than plain old cane sugar, but it is not a naturally occurring ingredient- it is highly processed.  On the flip side, beware of anything that is loaded with sugar, cane sugar or otherwise.  A throw-back Mountain Dew is not going to be any better for you than a regular one.

Here's some good advice from the Mayo Clinic:
  • Limit processed foods.
  • Avoid foods that contain added sugar.
  • Drink less soda.
Here's a commentary on HFCS from Melanie Warner at bnet. Here's a propaganda website put together by the U.S.  Corn Refiners Association.  I think one of the biggest problems with HFCS is that it is cheap and sweet and added to lots of stuff you wouldn't expect.  Read the ingredients label.  I like this blog article by Wholesome Mommy on the different choices in sweeteners. This rule is difficult if you use any packaged food at all, even bread.  Watch out for anything labelled "low-fat" or "fat-free" which is often code for "more sugar added". I've been trying to be diligent about reading the labels, but again I'm not throwing anything away I already have- just trying to make better choices going forward.

HFCS-free lunch we often have- Jif Natural Peanut Butter, Smucker's Simply Fruit, on Arnold bread (Arnold's bread is HFCS-free but it does contain soy).  You can check out Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Do you avoid high-fructose corn syrup?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 6- Menu Plan Monday

I am just terrible at making a weekly meal plan, but no fear, there are some folks who are great at it.  Check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie for some great meal plan ideas!

Everyone should have one go-to recipe.  The thing you whip up for a potluck or when you have to bring a meal to someone.  Mine is the 1950's casserole dish-  Johnny Marzetti- (a.k.a. macaroni and beef). I use diced green peppers instead of mushrooms. This can easily be made with whole wheat pasta, grass-fed beef, and organic tomato sauce.

What is your go-to dish?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 3- Shopping Trip

Today I am planning to go to Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  I say "planning" because it's a bit of a trip and some times the best laid plans- well you know!  Whole Foods has a pretty good web site- you can check their specials and they have printable coupons.  Did you know Trader Joes is owned by the same family in Germany that runs Aldi?  It's actually 2 different branches of the same family- one owns Trader Joes and one owns Aldi.  (I actually don't have very good luck at Aldi but I know a lot of people do.) One thing about Trader Joe's- a lot of their Trader Joe's brand items are actually made by mainstream companies like Frito Lay (Pepsi), etc.- that's why the prices are low.

A bit more about yesterday's post on fast food. There are a couple reasons- I think- not to eat fast food.  First, most of the menu is fried. Food deep fried in oil is just not that good for you.  Second, I think the meat- especially the beef is suspect.  According to Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser,  McDonald's is the largest purchaser of beef in the world.  That means beef producers pretty much produce beef to McDonald's standards- for just about everyone- including schools.  A couple things make me uneasy about this beef.  First the way the animals are fed and raised on "factory-farms". I am opposed to any kind of growth hormone given to cows.  Second the way they are slaughtered and processed.  Because there is a great risk of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination, the beef is treated with ammonia.

A bit of a disclaimer here.  I am no expert on whole food, organic food, or anything else.  I am just posting things I am trying.  I'm not telling you what to do- you have to make your own choices.  I'm not totally on board with the whole "organic" thing.  I want to eat more vegetables, fruits and healthy meats- and way less packaged foods.  I also want to support local farmers when I can.  I have not cleaned out my refrigerator or pantry.  I can't afford to do this right now- so we are eating our way through some packaged stuff now.  But as I shop and replace things- I try to make better choices.

Hope you have a great holiday weekend! If you are looking for some frugal pantry ideas- check out Frugal Friday over at Life As Mom (a terrific blog).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 2- Fast Food

The basic thesis of Michal Pollan's book- Food Rules is: "Eat food, Mostly plants, Not too much."

I'm not going to pretend to change everything all at once, and I wouldn't even try.  But I am going to start one of Pollan's Food Rules right now- #20 "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car." In other words- no more fast food.  I will admit right here I love fast food.  It's cheap, it tastes good, it leaves you wanting more.  But then you feel kind of awful after you eat it.  This is going to be one of the hardest rules to follow for the next 90 days.  I'm pretty sure I can do it for myself, but it might be a little harder to get the whole family on board.  The one thing I will really miss is McDonald's french fries.  I actually had a small order on Monday to say goodbye.  Isn't that pathetic!

There is this scene in the movie Food Inc. with a family going through the drive-thru and the mom says if she has a dollar she's going to get her daughter a double-cheeseburger because you can't even buy a bunch of broccoli for $1.  That's the truth and it's really kind of sad.  Plus you have to wash and cook the broccoli.  And let's face it- plain broccoli does not taste that good. (I'm just being honest!)  Not eating fast food is a lot more work and a lot less convenient. If you plan to follow this step with me, try watching Super Size Me with Morgan Spurlock.  The guy eats nothing but McDonald's for 30 days with some alarming results to his health.

I'm pretty sure I'll end up breaking this rule somewhere along the way.  There will be this day we're in a hurry or something.  I also think some fast food may be ok.  Like a salad, or fruit, or yogurt- (or Chipotle LOL!).  But I'm going to try to go cold turkey for now.  I should also note that we eat a lot of processed foods in general- even when I "cook" a lot of time it comes out of a package.  So even a little change is going to be big for me.

Do you eat fast food? Or do you never touch the stuff?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 1- Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks- you've heard about the massive egg recall from two Iowa egg "farm-factories".  The conditions at the farms were found to be terrible.

One change I have already made this summer goes along with Pollan's rule #15.  "Get out of the supermarket whenever you can."  I have been shopping at farmer's markets all summer.  You can't get everything there and I don't try. But I get fresh locally grown produce and sometimes farm-fresh eggs. You can also find farms that sell eggs.  Or I will buy organic eggs at the grocery store.  I like Eggland's Best Eggs- they often have coupons in the newspaper. Yes, they are more expensive.  I will pay about $3.00 a dozen for farm-fresh eggs. When you crack them open, the yolks are orange-yellow not pale like the grocery store eggs.  That's because they are full of beta-carotene.  My daughter says it's because the chickens ate their vegetables!

Do you eat local farm eggs? Where do you get them?