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WritersButt Wednesday – It’s All in the Bones

Is it really Wednesday again? Wow! I’ve been a crazy little energizer bunny, only my batteries do indeed seem to be losing some juice. I keep meaning to add in more days to my blog, outside of my WritersButt Wednesday posts, only time slips away from me.

As a matter of fact, one of the new fun things to which I’ve given some of my time is a group blog with some of my favorite people on earth, some members of my 10+ years-strong critique group. We talk writing all the time and the publishing industry and whatnot. Because we are all voracious readers in addition to being writers, we also talk reading – and books – from a writer’s perspective and we thought we’d start sharing some of our conversations with, you know, anyone who’d like to chat with us.

Our new blog is … drumroll …

Reading, Writing, Raising Hell (or Heck!)

Now doesn’t that sound fun? I can tell you we are pretty cool and we’d LOVE for you to hang out with us by following our blog, which you can do by clicking the FOLLOW button from our site. Come’on, you know you want to. We are just getting started, so help us grow and talk books and reading with us!

All that said, why in the heck have I titled today’s blog ‘It’s All in the Bones’? Well, I’m going to tell you about a serious power food, like a super-packed-nutrient-bomb that is incredibly easy to make and cheap to boot.

It’s homemade bone broth. You can make bone broth from any bones; beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, etc. What you are going for is the minerals and nutrients from within the bones that you can extract through long (LONG) simmering.

Here’s an excerpt from Wellness Mama’s Blog about the benefits of bone broth:

Besides its amazing taste and culinary uses, broth is an excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (chicken soup when you are sick anyone?) and improve digestion. Its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content make it great for bone and tooth health. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content. In fact, some even suggest that it helps eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue.

But wait – did you read that last sentence carefully? Ladies, lean in here real quick, especially if you are someone who battles ~whispers~ Cellulite. Incorporating bone broth into your regular diet may actually help get rid of that cellulite, naturally and deliciously.

The following is from Balanced Bites regarding bone broth and the support of our cells:

But fighting a cold, combating disease and healing a leaky gut aren’t all broth can help to do: Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, explains in her interview with Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness that the collagen found in home-made bone broth is a “super-food” when it comes to cellular integrity and in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Yes! There is a way to naturally, and legitimately, reduce cellulite – and it’s as simple as incorporating bone broth into your regular diet. Dr. Shanahan says that “cellulite is fat that lacks collagen support” and that “people who have more collagen in their diet… are less likely to have cellulite in their fat.” It’s not about just losing the fat – it’s about getting back to a diet that will support the structure of your cells.

How about I show you my first homemade bone broth experience. I used soup bones from the ¼ of a cow that I recently purchased from a local cattle farm called Raising 5 Cattle. It’s a family owned cattle farm right in my hometown. The herd grazes freely on their land and is grass fed and family-raised.

Soup Bones from Raising 5 Cattle

Soup Bones from Raising 5 Cattle

 

I diced up some veggies I planned to use.

Veggies for homemade broth

Veggies for homemade broth

I put the onion in the bottom on my crockpot, threw in a ton of garlic cloves and a healthy handful of whole peppercorns.

Ready for the slow, long, simmer

Ready for the slow, long, simmer

Then I filled up the crockpot with filtered water and set it on high. This was around 4 pm. I let it come to a good simmer for a while. When I went to bed, I switched the crockpot to low. We woke up to our home smelling so amazing. At that point, the water had evaporated enough that I added in the rest of my veggies.

Doubles as a centerpiece

Doubles as a centerpiece

I covered it back up and let it simmer all day. Finally, at nearly 4 pm, so about 24 hours later, I turned it off and strained it. I poured it into a stock pot through a steamer basket. Then I strained it again through a wire mesh strainer into my 8 cup Pampered Chef glass mixing bowl, filling it all the way to the top with this nutrient dense broth.

8 full cups of homemade super-food

8 full cups of homemade super-food

It will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week or so, or you can freeze it for month. Once it cools in the fridge, any sediment will sink, all the fat will rise to the top (called tallow) and the broth will ‘gel’. You can use the tallow to cook. I did the other night and the family went crazy for the flavor of our chicken sausages, which I’d sautéed in the tallow.

You can use the broth in many ways. You can obviously use it simply as broth, for soup. Add in veggies, meat, etc. It would make a mean French Onion Soup. You can use the beef broth in any recipe that calls for broth as a liquid.

We have just been drinking it, from a mug. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d even type that. But it’s truly delicious and basically a mug of savory, healthy broth/soup. I scoop out the gelled broth into my mug and heat it in the microwave, then sip my super-soup!

My 15 year old son is currently in 2 theatre productions and his throat felt scratchy. He sipped him some broth on the way to school today. Such a smart boy!

So, who’s going to try it?

 

 

 

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WritersButt Wednesday: Suffering Salads Batman!

Are your salads suffering unnecessarily at your hands? Are you condemning them to a life of humdrum mediocrity?

Just stop. Put your hands up. And back away from the iceberg.

Now listen to me. Salads do not have to be a boring torturous part of whatever ‘diet’ to which you are currently subjecting yourself. In fact salads are a fabulous opportunity to get creative and add in so many components of healthy eating on one plate.

I eat salads all the time. I’m a bit of an expert at this point and it’s the single most often requested thing I’m asked to bring to potluck parties. And I can tell you my salads aren’t made with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a waxy cucumber, smothered in some crap dressing from a jar.

Do me a favor. If you are using dressing from a jar and it’s non-fat or low-fat, DO NOT TELL ME.  You will kill a part of my soul.

As I was saying, creating a healthy, fresh salad is like staring at a blank canvas with a rainbow of paints to play with – and you don’t even have to be an artist! Last week, I posted a picture of my dinner salad on Facebook and was inundated with requests for the recipe. I’m a little embarrassed because it’s not really a recipe. Because I promised, I’m going to tell you what this particular salad consisted of, but then I’m going to give you all the ingredients, like those rainbow paints, and you can mix and match to make your own masterpiece.

Ginger's Figgy Salad

Ginger’s Figgy Salad

Fresh Romaine lettuce – Fresh Figs – Honeycrisp Apple – toasted walnuts (toasted them myself) – small sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles. Dressing: Olive Oil, white wine vinegar, cracked fresh pepper. That truly is all it was. It tasted DIVINE!

Lettuce tips: I always have some form of fresh greens on hand. I will buy romaine hearts in 3 or 6 packs. TIP: When you go to make your first salad with your romaine, wash ALL the lettuce. Use what you want that night and then roll the remaining lettuce in a clean kitchen towel (or in paper towels), spreading out the leaves so excess moisture will seep into the towel. Store in a plastic bag in your fridge. It will stay fresh all week, at least! I will also use those pre-washed containers of greens like spring mix, field greens, spinach, etc. I do find I have to use them faster before they start to spoil. TIP: If you use those and they are particularly wet inside the container, roll a few paper towels around the greens to soak up extra moisture.

The Fixin’s: This is where you really get to have some fun and please don’t limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers. Not that there is anything wrong with them but there is so much more out there. Mix it up – Pun Alert!  Remember, not all of the ingredients have to be cold and raw. I often add in sautéed or grilled asparagus or thin green beans, or even roasted beets! They add a warm layer of something awesome, trust me.

Savory Stuff: If you’re making more of a savory salad, you can add in your tomatoes and cucumbers, but also peppers – yellow, red and orange are fab for the color, snap peas, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower … anything!

Sweet Stuff: Very often I make salads that have a sweeter side which comes from adding fruit, like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), mango, pineapple, or apples. In the salad I showed up above, I used fresh black mission figs.

Black Mission FIg

Black Mission FIg

The fruit itself is beautiful in addition to tasting delicious.

Food is beautiful

Food is beautiful

Yummy FATS: Y’all know how important it is to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Don’t deprive yourself of them. I always dress my salads in olive oil. I love the flavor. I add in fresh avocadoes most of the time too as well as nuts. While I don’t eat cheese very often, sometimes I will indulge and when I do, it’s usually in the form of goat, feta, blue or Gorgonzola and it’s very, very little. Just enough crumbles to add that little zing!

Protein: Usually a salad is eaten as a side with some sort of protein, like a steak or grilled chicken. I’m known for making a one-bowl-meal, especially if I’m pulling together a quick lunch for myself, so I incorporate the protein into my salad. I’ve used deli meats, eggs – hard boiled, scrambled or fried, dinner leftovers like chicken, sausage, steak, turkey. This way I’m getting my protein, fats and all those fabulous carbs in the form of greens, veggies and fruits. Complete meal!

Now it’s up to you. Mix and Match, experiment, taste, toss and ENJOY!!

Tell me what’s the most unique ingredient you can think of to have in a salad.  If I haven’t used it before, and I can get my hands on it, I’ll make a salad with your ingredient and post the finished result and recipe here on my blog.

WritersButt Wednesday – Recipes that Impress!

Eating healthy does not have to be a boring helping of broiled chicken breast sitting forlornly next to a pile of broccoli.  Even though I love chicken and broccoli, it is not the only option when trying to eat healthier.

As many of you know, with a few exceptions here and there, I mainly eat a Paleo Diet. It is sometimes also called the Caveman’s diet or even a Primal Diet.  Basically, you eat as our ancestors did, before we started to process our food. They ate the meat of animals they hunted or fished. They ate vegetables and fruit, which they grew. And they foraged for nuts and seeds, or whatever they could find.

Now, while I think it would be pretty nifty to have my own huge garden from which to feed to my family, I live in suburbia, it’s not happening. I also couldn’t hunt my own meats. Yes, I’m one of ‘those people’.

So, I hop into my SUV and schlep the one mile to my local grocery store and get the healthiest meats, veggies, fruits and nuts I can find.

There is a plethora of information out there about the multitude of health benefits from following the Paleo diet. So I’m not going to list them all here. I will give you a resource though that I believe is fantastic and truly recommend! It’s a book written by Diane Sanfilippo called Practical Paleo. I enjoyed this book as much for the delicious recipes as I did for the easy to digest (no pun intended) information on WHY the Paleo diet is healthy and how it can literally change your health. What I particularly loved is all information on how eating Paleo can drastically help in the struggles dealing with auto-immune issues and other disorders.

Should you want to try to incorporate the Paleo diet into your life, I have another resource for you. It’s an iPad App written by Michelle Tam called Nom Nom Paleo. You guys, this app ROCKS! I’m not kidding. Whether you want to eat ‘paleo’ or not, this is packed with delicious recipes with gorgeous pictures and easy to follow instructions. I wouldn’t lie to you.

With all that said, I’m going to give you a couple of recipes I made recently. One is a salad inspired by one I had at a fabulous local restaurant last weekend. The salad at the restaurant had seasoned grilled chicken, figs, pears, spicy walnuts and blue cheese dressed in vinaigrette. My mouth watered reading the menu and I couldn’t resist trying it. I was not disappointed. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had and I can tell you, I eat a LOT of salads!

My version is a little different. One, we had it on one of my ‘no cook’ nights, so I borrowed a little help from my grocery store and brought home a fully cooked rotisserie turkey breast. So right away we’ve switched from chicken to turkey.

What I used:

Mixed Greens plus some romaine hearts

2 ripe Bartlett pears

Walnuts – about ¾ cup

Crumbled blue cheese (a NON-Paleo item- but I only used 3 oz for a salad feeding 5)

*I couldn’t find figs in my grocery store, so I’ll add those next time.

Dressing: red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and kosher salt

Directions: I seasoned the walnuts with the tiniest amount of olive oil and then some smoked paprika and chili powder and then roasted them in a pan on my stove.

While I kept a close eye on my walnuts, I chopped and dumped all the other ingredients into a large salad bowl. I added the warm nuts when they were done, sprinkled on some vinegar, seasonings and drizzled the oil and tossed!

SO GOOD!

Pears, Spicy Walnuts, Blue Cheese … Oh MY!

Pears, Spicy Walnuts, Blue Cheese … Oh MY!

 

Next I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to make the most delicious ‘breakfast for dinner’ that we had last night. I got the idea for the eggs nested in the avocado from Michelle’s Nom Nom Paleo App I mentioned above. It worked perfect!

Ingredients on hand:

Eggs – free range, farm fresh, organic … the best you can get if possible.

2 large avocados – washed because peel will remain on them for cooking

baby portabello mushrooms, sliced

fresh tomato, chopped

fresh baby spinach

salt/pepper

Directions:

Slice your avocados in half. Then make another slice about ½ inch on either side, all the way around, so that when you take out the pit, you’ll have an avocado ring with a hole in the middle.

Heat some fat in a pan (coconut oil, butter) and put in your avocado rings. Then surround your rings with mushrooms so they can sauté at the same time.

Avo rings and mushrooms in the pan

Avo rings and mushrooms in the pan

Crack an egg into the center of each of your avocado rings.

Add your chopped tomatoes to your mushrooms around the edge of the pan.

Eggs in the Hole!

Eggs in the Hole!

When you eggs have set a bit, flip the entire egg-filled avocado slice over to cook the other side.

*NOTE: if you like your yolks runny, like sunny side up, you can ‘tent’ or cover your pan and not flip the avos!

As the eggs finish cooking, sprinkle the fresh spinach over your mushrooms and tomatoes so it can wilt a bit.

Spinach comes to the party!

Spinach comes to the party!

Transfer to a plate and truly ENJOY!!

Plate of Yumness!!

Plate of Yumness!!

 

 

WritersButt Wednesday – Kill Your Excuses!

Whew, it’s WritersButt Wednesday again! Where do the days go? They seem to fly by so fast it’s often hard to fit everything in. In fact, one of the most common excuses I get from people for why they do not exercise is because ‘they do not have time’.

I’m not buying it.

IMAG1259

Nothing will convince me that someone is literally so busy every moment of their day that they can’t squeeze in some sort of workout. Remember, I’m a fan of workouts that last around 10-20 minutes or less! Yes, those workouts will be relatively intense, harder than say taking a brisk walk, but with added intensity your workouts get to be shorter. Also remember that intensity is a tailor-fit sort of thing. My intensity might be different from yours. The key is to push yourself to YOUR higher level of intensity.

You know how I suggest you do 10 ‘potty squats’ every time you use the restroom. That is a way to incorporate a good strong functional movement throughout your entire day. If you are a writer or work a desk job, this will do wonders for your creativity and productivity, your posture, your flexibility … your MOOD!

But I’d also like to suggest you squeeze in a mini-workout somewhere in your day that will get your heart rate up, leave you panting a bit, give you a great shot of endorphins.

An example of one mini-workout that you could try is one I recently gave to a friend. She finished this in 4 minutes and 32 seconds. Don’t even try to convince me you don’t have 4 ½ minutes for your health.

 

3 Rounds of:

5 Burpees

10 Squats (like potty squats)

15 jumping jacks

 

You will do 5 burpees, 10 squats and 15 jumping jacks and then you’ll repeat that same sequence 2 more times. In the end, you will have completed 15 total burpees, 30 squats and 45 jumping jacks in around 5-ish minutes.

How about I give you a few more to try, to vary it up a bit.

 

5 Rounds of:

10 walking lunge steps

35 jump rope (or 15 jump squats if you don’t have a jump rope)

 

3 Rounds of:

10 squats

10 push-ups

 

For Time: (this just means see how long to complete workout as written)

25 squats, 5 push up

20 squats, 10 push ups

15 squats, 15 push ups

10 squats, 20 push ups

5 squats, 25 push ups

 

These are all quick mini-workouts that you can do for sure in less than 10-15 minutes. First thing in the morning, right after you get home from work, just before lunch break while at home, even in a break room at work!

What will you get out of it? Energy, strength, mental clarity, creativity, flexibility, better sleep, higher sex drive …. shall I go on?

Don’t talk yourself out of working out. It’s doable, for everyone. I’m convinced of it. If you are in the habit of finding reasons you can’t do something, I challenge you to find solutions to all those excuses. Spend as much energy figuring out how you can do something than why you can’t.

And now, since I know you all love eating healthy after you treat your body to a fun little workout, here’s a recipe for a delicious soup I made last week when I hosted Book Club at my house. It was a huge hit and I barely had any leftovers, which clearly means I’ll have to make a bigger pot next time! I paired the soup with a salad of baby greens, fresh blackberries and avocado and crumbled goat cheese. Dressing was olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt, pepper and dried minced garlic crunchies.

Double Chicken Soup

Double Chicken Soup

 

Double Chicken Soup

 

Ingredients:

Couple tbls of coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

Onion (finely chopped)

Garlic

Package of chicken sausage w/ green chilies (~ 6 links, other varieties ok as well)

Celery (about 4-5 stalks)

Parsnips (about 4-5)

Annaheim peppers (3-4) *You can use poblano as well or mix it up

Baby portabella mushrooms

Seasoning – I just used kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Appx 2 quarts of chicken stock

Chicken breasts (I used the meat from 3 whole cooked rotisserie split breasts)

 

Directions:

Add the finely chopped onion to coconut oil and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, making sure it doesn’t get scorched. Add your sausage by squeezing the meat out from the casings. (I find this gross, but it was worth it.) Once the sausage is cooked, add in the chopped celery and parsnips. Alternate stirring and letting it sit covered to soften the veggies. After a few minutes when hardy veggies are softening, add in your peppers and mushrooms. (Note: do not add salt until after the mushrooms are browned.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your chicken stock. (Note: Chicken stock is not the same as chicken broth. It has a deeper flavor, more like homemade stock.) Pull all the chicken meat off of the bones, tearing it up into bite sized pieces. Once stock is warm, add in chicken. Adjust your liquids. I always have cans of broth and/or stock on hand to add a bit more if I used more veggies than planned. Heat up and serve!

This makes a pretty big pot of soup. I don’t really measure things and for this sort of soup, you don’t need to. Just get all the veggies you want in there and add stock according to your preference.  These veggies not to your liking? Experiment! You can use fresh or frozen broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus … almost anything!

I hope some of you will try one or two of the mini-workouts. If you do, I’d be over the moon if you put which workout you did and your time in the comments so we can all cheer you on and congratulate you!

Now, treat yourself to a large bowl of this delicious hearty double chicken soup!

Enjoy!

WritersButt Wednesday – Snicker Salad!

I almost forgot it was WritersButt Wednesday and I had promised you on Monday that I’d give you a yummy ‘treat’ recipe today that is not WritersButt approved. But, it’s the kick-off for our holiday season and I’m feeling all soft-hearted toward y’all.

So, this recipe is for Snicker Salad and yes, it does indeed have Snicker Bars in it. I know!!  This is a family recipe from my Minnesota relatives. All of my extended family are from MN, because that is where both my parents are from. Fun fact, my parents grew up 50 miles apart but met and married (and had me) in Hawaii (Honolulu).

In the event you don’t know, when there is a family gathering in Minnesota, which could be anywhere from 2 people to in excess of a 100 over for coffee, the food will consist of ‘hot dishes’, ‘salads’ and ‘bars’. This is a known fact. Salads often don’t have a shred of lettuce in them. Often they are made up of pasta, other veggies or in the case of Snicker Salad, simple sweet pleasures!

Ingredients for Snicker Salad

True story — my husband started making my family’s Snicker Salad to bring into the office for the various pot-luck occasions. Soon, that’s all they requested of him. The bowl was scraped clean, usually with fingers and sometimes with tongues. It’s a sight, I tell you.  Women counting only a few Weight Watcher points because, well … it’s a ‘salad’. Well over a decade ago, when we just had the one child, William (my man) brought Snicker Salad into the office. A young co-worker loved it so much she called to tell her mother she was bringing this new, delicious salad to their family Thanksgiving. When she told her mother what was in it, the mother’s response was, “Oh Honey, that’s all that poor guy had in his fridge.”

His young co-worker couldn’t convince her mother that William was married with a child. He had to be some young bachelor living off of snickers and ramen.

So, if you’d like to indulge in a fun new treat that I can assure you, will be met with much appreciation and awe, try this out. But, be warned, you may have to bring it to every last family gathering from now on!

Snicker Salad

6 Granny Smith apples

6 regular sized Snicker Bars

16 oz tub of cool whip (found in freezer section)

Chop up snickers and apples in small bite-sized chunks. Mix in bowl with entire tub of cool whip.

Done!

Enjoy the angels singing and the adoration of your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

WritersButt Wednesday – “Weight-Loss Soda” Crazy Talk!!

You’re in for an extra treat today folks. You see, this was going to be a short WritersButt Wednesday post. I was going to give you an easy and delicious recipe and send you on your way. But then, my good friend of awesomeness, Myndi Shafer, shares a link on Facebook that, well, let’s just say there was quick contact with my face and my palms.

That’s just crazy talk!

Hang on while I pull out my soapbox. It’ll just be a sec … need the big-daddy-box for this one.  Portable one (pull) not nearly (push) sturdy (shove) enough (kicks into place and jumps up) for what I have to say.

Whew, I’m ready.

Holy mother of all that is merciful and ridiculous! Are you kidding me? No, of course they aren’t kidding. Why? Because Pepsi is smart and opportunistic.  They know people are desperate for results and yet not quite desperate enough to make some sacrifices. They absolutely know people want to drink their beloved crap in a can soda. And they also know that people want easy. They want the magic pill or in this case ‘ingredient’. Pepsi knows they will make money.

I think it’s safe to say we all know soda is unhealthy. But now, well maybe, we can drink ‘this’ soda and lose some weight and isn’t losing weight healthy?

NO, it isn’t. Eating clean, natural food is healthy. Moving your body and breaking a sweat is healthy. Drinking water is healthy. Consuming a drink laden with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup and yes, even aspartame (etc) in diet sodas, is NOT HEALTHY, ever. It’s not that you can’t ever drink a soda.  Just know that it’s not a healthy drink. Keep it real.

A sheep in wolf’s clothing

Ok, let’s see what this Pepsi Special claims to do from this Yahoo Health article.

“Simply called Pepsi Special, the caffeinated soft drink has the added ingredient dextrin, a natural water-soluble dietary fiber derived from potatoes. … Pepsi claims that dextrin slows the absorption of fat in the body by binding with it and eliminating it as waste, not reserving it as empty calories.”

(see Ginger’s eye twitching)

And then the article says, “Japanese commercials touting the product’s effectiveness for weight loss even go as far as to ask, “Why choose between a hamburger and a slice of pizza? If you choose Pepsi Special, you can have both!”

(see Ginger pinching bridge of nose)

You’ll have to read the entire article but here are a few more zingers (all from same source) that stood out to me:

chances are your stools won’t be [solid] if you overindulge

destroyed a substantial amount of valuable nutrients

gave junk-food junkies more than they bargained for in terms of eliminating the additive

frequent diarrhea, gas, and bloating—would be overwhelming

“Pepsi Poop.”  

Who doesn’t want to get in on this deal? Woo … sounds awesome. Not.

I am relieved that the article does indeed warn readers that this might not be the best option for weight loss. They state,

“…still contains high levels of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup”

And finally say,

“And believe it or not, the best method to successful weight loss remains diet and exercise, not by gulping a popular soft drink with a secret ingredient.”

The voice of reason!

Listen, I know there are a lot of people who love their soda. It’s a tough drink to give up. I don’t have a problem if people want to drink their soda, knowing it’s not healthy. It’s their choice.  What kills me is someone drinking this Pepsi Special thinking that it’s a healthy weight loss choice. It isn’t. It’s asinine.

It reminds me of those shape/fit shoes. If you like the look of those shoes, wear them. But please don’t believe they are going to give you a rear-end like Kim Kardashian “…without ever setting foot in a gym.” That’s not logical and it’s not true.

So many people go from one gimmick, program, ‘diet’ after another and they don’t work because they are not lifestyles, they are products. Shakes and pills and eating only cabbage and tomatoes are not lifestyles. But people will continue to keep searching for the ‘secret’ when the answer is not a secret at all.

Eat real food that is not processed. Drink tons of water. Be active. Sleep. Be grateful.

The good news is that if you do those 5 things above, even just 80% of the time, giving you that 20% for your treats and indulgences, you will still be healthy and fit.

I’m going to give you all a recipe for a healthy and delicious dinner. Then I’ll need some help schlepping this soapbox out of the way. ~huge grin~

Recently, that same Myndi Shafer who launched me into this rant, (thanks, Myndi, I feel much better now) blogged about Happy Hausfrau: Easy Peasy ‘Italian’ Chicken and Veggies. I thought it looked fabulous and easy, so I made it, tweaking it a little for our needs and tastes.

Ginger’s version

2 packages of all natural, hormone-free chicken breast (at least 8 breasts)

Sweet potato

Parsnips

Brussel Sprouts

a poblano pepper

Seasoned everything with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, dried minced garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder.

Chicken and veggies before their trip to the oven

Into the oven, covered, at 350 for an hour and found out it wasn’t even close to being cooked. Cranked up the temp to 425 and it finished within another 30 minutes. Maybe because I had a lot of chicken and my brussel sprouts were frozen, it took longer. Next time I’ll start with the oven hotter.

For a treat, I uncovered the dish and sprinkled shredded parmesan cheese over the top and let it bubble and brown under the broiler. Voila!

Who doesn’t want to dig into that?! YUM

My family gobbled this up. My husband may have drooled. Fortunately it was over his own plate.

You have to try this one. It’s so good and you can put in any veggies you like.

Fist-Bumps for Everyone!

Is it Wednesday again? How the days fly by. I’m swamped under a self-imposed deadline but I couldn’t let Wednesday zip by without offering you a WritersButt post. I know how y’all are waiting, on the edge of your seat, clutching your water bottles in excitement for what I will offer you.

Okay, whatever.

Today I’d like for everyone to toot his or her own horn. I know you expect me to tell you to do this, don’t do that, eat this, avoid that … drink your water, eat fat, and do your potty squats! Today is your chance to tell me what you are doing about which you feel AWESOME.

This was prompted by a recent trip to my grocery store. I live in a pretty small town. I run into people I know every single time I go to the store. More often than not, the person will immediately start to justify the food in their cart.

“This is for the kids.” “It’s my wife’s birthday.” “I’m bad, I know.” “It’s my cheat day (week!)”

This sort of thing happens on Facebook and Twitter too. At one point there was the Twitter hashtag #donttellginger.  Cracked me up! And yet, I don’t feel anyone needs to justify any of their choices to me. If they feel justified in their actions, I’m cool with that. It’s yourself to whom you must answer, right? Not me? As I often say to my clients, “You’re only cheating yourself.”

Now, for all those things you think you’re doing ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, I know you’re all doing a whole lot right in your life. I know this because I know you’re awesome!

So, tell me … what have you done in the last week, or even today that you feel good about.  It can be WritersButt related; did your potty squats all day, did a mini-workout with burpees and lunges, drank your 100 oz of water. Stayed OFF THE SCALE.  Let’s celebrate!  Or maybe you hit your word count, finally returned to your manuscript and just wrote something, did a random act of kindness, rediscovered a craft … anything that made you feel good and not that you were failing!

I want to cheer for you. I’m here waiting to give you a fist-bump, so lay it on me. Brag on yourself. You deserve it!

~*~

And now, I give you a recipe for Southwestern Frittata.  I made this last night and it was devoured!  So yummilicious.

INGREDIENTS

         1 tablespoon coconut oil

         1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced (I had about ½ cup)

         1 small jalapeno, seeds removed and minced

         2 garlic cloves, minced  (I used 4)

         1 cup sweet potato, peeled and grated (I had more)

         1 pound grass fed ground beef (or any ground meet of your choice)

         1 tablespoons chili powder

         1 teaspoon ground cumin

         1/2 cup salsa verde

         12 eggs

Sea Salt and cracked pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. In a large saute pan, saute the onions and minced jalapeno in the coconut oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the ground beef and cook just until it starts to brown and add the grated sweet potato and garlic.

Cook until the beef is completely browned and the sweet potato is soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salsa, stir and cook until heated through. Taste and season with a little sea salt if desired.

Transfer the meat mixture to a 11×7 glass baking dish and spread the meat mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the 12 eggs add pour over the meat mixture in the baking dish.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle when you jiggle the pan.

DIG IN and LOVE!!  Have a great week.

WritersButt Wednesday – Back in Action!

Well, Hello, Hello, Hello, my WritersButt Besties!

I want to know how you all are doing? Who’s been drinking their 100oz of water a day?  Who’s been grilling up a storm this summer – fueling your body with healthy food? Who’s been finding time daily to get in a little workout to fire up their metabolism and boost their creativity? Who’s been taking the time at the end of the day to list 3-5 things for which they are grateful? Who’s been getting enough sleep?

The paragraph above is your recipe for a healthy and fit self! Sure there are more components, but these are your core basics. Everybody can do this. We can all be hydrated, fueled healthfully, active, rested and grateful.

Excuses are what you are choosing to do to ensure that you do not attain your goals.

Before I get to some recipes for you, I’d like to update you on Jennifer’s journey. She has hit some roadblocks and been knocked off course a bit, but she is not giving up! I’d love if you’d head over to her blog and give her some support as she gets determined to stand back up and forge ahead.

When we got home from TN, there was nothing to eat in our house. I mean, of course not. We’d been gone for weeks. On one of the first few nights we were home, I ran to the store to get a rotisserie turkey breast and a large salad. My daughter begged me to make my ‘lemon-spinach’ so I put that on the list. I was so scatter-brained trying to assimilate back into home-life that I got home without two things. The turkey breast and lettuce. Yes, just the two main things. My husband offered to run back to the store for me. I could have run back to the store myself, but I didn’t want to. I thought I could punt and make it work.

Now, I know a lot of people, when faced with a night where they don’t want to cook or missing key ingredients, will immediately default to unhealthy choices they can find in their pantry or freezer.  I had all the fixings for the wilted lemon-garlic spinach, so I was good there. I also had a ton of hard-boiled eggs left from our car trip home.  So, I whipped up some egg-salad and made the spinach. I did have bread for whoever wanted that. I didn’t. This is what I did.

It was SO good. In fact, when my daughter saw my plate, she asked if I’d make the same thing for her.  This couldn’t have been simpler!

Lemon-Garlic Spinach:

Huge box of fresh triple-washed spinach from produce section

1-2 lemons – zest and juice

2-3 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced

Bonus: sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg

In very large skillet or sauce pot:

Sauté garlic slivers in extra virgin olive oil until golden

Add in zest of lemons

Pile in all your spinach (it will be overflowing!) Start turning with tongs.

Add juice of lemons

Just turn spinach until it just starts to wilt. Take off heat.

Another thing I’ve experimented with this summer is homemade Pico de Gallo. It’s a condiment that is PACKED with flavor and you can give it as much kick as you can handle. If you’ve never tried to make your own pico, I encourage you to try because you can put in exactly what you like. For instance, I’m not a fan of raw onions. All store-bought pico comes with raw onions.

Every summer in TN, I drive into town on Saturday to go to the local farmer’s market. This is a tiny-little market in the center of town in Dandridge, TN. What was fun is that this one farm has gotten to know me and looks forward to when I start showing up on Saturdays. This year, when I said I was about to drive home, the mom came out from behind the table and give me a huge hug and said she’d miss me until next summer. How cute is that? I adore small towns!

Why am I telling you this? Well, because it’s heartwarming for one, and, if you can get to a farmers’ market, do it — especially if you’re going to make an awesome pico de gallo!!  🙂

Some things I have used in my versions over the summer: various peppers from the farmers market, tomatoes (again from farmers market), cucumber, bell peppers, garlic, mango, apples …

Here’s a version we had last night with our eggs.

In our area of Texas, we’re in the Hatch-Pepper season. It runs for a few weeks and our local grocery store sells them raw and also slow-roasts them and packages them that way. For the above pico de gallo, we used a package of hot roasted hatch peppers, a large tomato (removing seeds and juice so it won’t be too watery), some sautéed onions, and apples. Seasoned with splash of vinegar, kosher salt, pepper and a bit of chili powder.  Seriously YUM! It can be used on eggs, on burgers, chicken, steak … anything. Or even with tortilla or pita chips if that’s your fancy. ~wink~

I have another recipe for you but I’m going to save it for next week. It was unbelievably good. Now aren’t you already excited for newt WritersButt Wednesday?

Finally, I’m going to give you a little workout challenge. We did this in our gym last week and I thought it would be a great short WritersButt workout for you guys. I’m going to give you the version we did at CrossFit Georgetown and I’ll give you a scaled version as well.

CFG Version:

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 12 minutes of:

50 double-unders – OR 150 single jumps

7 Burpees

*note: You add 7 burpees each round. So round one you’ll do 7 burpees, round two, 14, round three – 21 etc.

Your ‘score’ is how many burpees you can get done.

WritersButt Version:

AMRAP in 10 minutes of:

75 jump ropes (if you don’t have jump rope do 35 jump-jacks)

5 push ups

*You will add 5 push-ups each round.

Questions? I’d LOVE it if you tried one of these and let me know how you did. How many burpees or how many pushups did you manage to fit into that 12 or 10 minute time cap?

Have a great week!

WritersButt Wednesday – Why you should choose food you don’t recognize

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans. And Happy Wednesday to everyone else! I know many of you are icing down your coolers of beer bottled water and are marinating your steaks, forming your burger patties, and stackin’ your dogs for the grill. So, I will keep this totally food-focused.

Briefly, though, I want to let you know that I have a very special post planned for next Wednesday. We will have a guest here and let me assure you, you will not want to miss it. It’s a start of a journey and we’re all going to be on it together, in love and support and encouragement for a person who has decided it’s time to take charge of her health. I know how much you all will lift her up with WritersButt awesomeness. So, come back next week!

Often when I’m making dinner, the kids and/or my husband will trail through the kitchen. Ok, I take that back, everyone is always traipsing through the kitchen at all times. It’s absolutely the hub of our home.  But when I’m making dinner, the question is always asked, “What’s for dinner?”  Many times, my answer goes something like this, “Well, I’m doing chicken with this veggie and I’m trying … well, it’s sort of an experiment.”  I do a lot of ‘experiments’. Thankfully, they usually turn out so this phrase does not send my house-natives running for take-out.

Something I want you to think about in your cooking is to not always choose what’s familiar. I encourage you to try to prepare stuff you are totally unfamiliar with. It’s an adventure and you can discover amazing things. I get a farm-fresh box of locally-grown vegetables delivered to my house every other week. Often there are things in my box that I’ve never seen before. I usually have to go to Google and look a veggie up to see what I’m supposed to do with it. Not only does this teach me about different vegetables, it often makes me prepare a dish I’d not have considered before. Also, and this is a biggie, it shows my children that it’s fun to try new things. My kids are great about seeing a new food and – as they are bringing it to their mouth to taste – asking, “what’s this?” So much better than the wrinkled nose, puckered lips expression that goes with, “I’m not eating that.”

During the summer, I get a lot of okra in my veggie-box. I had never cooked okra. And I heard it was slimy and that was a total turn off. But like last summer, here came the okra in my box and I was determined to cook it and like it. So I went to where I often go when I want quick and amazing advice. Facebook! I asked how to prepare okra and not to tell me breaded and fried because that was not happening. I got a lot of great suggestions, many I’m going to try throughout the summer because I’m sure I’ll be getting more okra, but in the end, I chopped it up and sautéed it just like I do any other veggie and it was delish! Who the heck knew??

This week, my challenge to you is to choose a food (veggie, fruit, or even a protein source) that you don’t recognize or have never tried and really don’t even know what to do with. Get it! Have an experiment! You never know, it may turn out to be your family’s next favorite thing!

Last week I promised you the recipe for the amazing lemon and paprika chicken dinner I made. So, here ya go!

What you see on this plate is the chicken dish nestled onto a bed of roasted garlic spaghetti squash with a healthy helping of roasted farm-fresh vegetables.

First you’ll need to get your squash in the oven. I got a HUGE tip this week to speed up this process because typically spaghetti squash can take between 30-50 minutes in the oven. For a faster version, poke it a bunch with a sharp knife and put it in the microwave for 10-12 minutes. (While that is going on, prepare your chicken and veggies for cooking) The squash will be hot so handle with oven mitts. Cut in half lengthwise, rub fresh garlic all over the flesh. Cut up a few cloves of garlic and sprinkle all over. Salt and pepper and to really go with this dish, I added some smoked sweet paprika powder. Into a 350 oven to finish cooking. You’ll know it’s done when you can make spaghetti with the flesh by scraping it with a fork.

Chicken:

Dice up your chicken into desired sized bites. Sauté in olive oil with garlic. Add in zest and juice of a couple of lemons and sprinkle with some of your smoked paprika powder. (Little kosher salt to taste and cracked pepper) Keep sautéing until cooked through and then turn to low until you’re ready to plate.

Veggies:

For this side dish I used veggies I had on hand from my local farm-fresh box. There are some lady peas, (never cooked these before) and some hardy greens. I didn’t know what the greens were. I’m still not 100% sure but I’m pretty sure they were swiss chard.  I also had a sweet potato that had been languishing in my veggie basket for a couple weeks. Chopped up the potato and rough chopped the greens. Heated up some olive oil, added in some garlic (are you seeing a theme in my cooking?) and put the sweet potato and peas in. Once the potato was soft enough, I put in the greens and, using tongs, kept folding it until it was wilted. I squeezed on some lemon, added some zest and paprika so that all my dinner components would marry well.

This is by far one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the other night when we had a yummy grilled dinner and decided to eat in our backyard, despite the fact that our grass is dead and well, let’s just say our backyard lacks any form of ambiance. It’s the fabulous company you keep, right? And we do have that!!

I once again grilled avocado. Probably the easiest thing in the world and so delicious. Here you see it pre-grill.  All I did from here was put it flesh side down for a couple minutes until it had those great grill marks.  You can fill with some fresh pico de gallo. I scooped half an avo onto my grilled chicken. Swoon!

Here’s our platter of yumminess. As you can see, I’m not very good at cooking steak. The boys didn’t complain and said it was ‘great’. Aren’t they sweet?  The chicken was perfect because, well, I’m good at that.  Haha

As per our usual, we had a fresh salad with our dinner.  In addition to field greens and romaine, I added in fresh strawberries, blueberries (from the box), grapes and cucumber (again from the box). Tossed with olive oil, vinegar, garlic crunchies, s/p. Behind the delicious salad you can see the sweet potato chips that I burned and the new ones that my husband had to buy (frozen) from the store when he went to get a new propane tank, since ours ran out ‘last’ time we grilled and we had forgotten. Ah–just go with the flow!!

So, along with Delaney and Duncan here, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful Independence day!

Cheers!!

 

 

 

 

WritersButt Recipe Wednesday

I hope you all are in the mood for recipes for some yummy summer meals today, because that’s what I have for you! Summertime eating in our house is all about simple. We do a lot of grilling, as I’ve mentioned before, but even my indoor cooking get simplified during the long, hot days of summer.  Last week I made a slow cooked shredded BBQ chicken meal that was amazing. I paired it with coleslaw.

Ingredients:

*onion, chopped

*4-5 garlic cloves, smashed

*Large packet of skinless chicken breasts (natural, hormone-free, free-range, etc is best!)

*Jar BBQ sauce (here’s where I cheated this week because I was pressed for time and got the best store bought one I could find with NO high fructose corn syrup.  But there are some great homemade paleo BBQ sauce recipes, so I’ll do that next time.)

*Bottle of beer (recipe didn’t specify which kind of beer. I used one with a lime flavoring to add some zesty action)

*kosher salt and cracked  pepper

*1-2 tbsp of smoked paprika powder (SOOO good!!)

Put your chopped onion and smashed garlic in crock pot. Pour in sauce and beer and seasonings. Add your chicken to the pool.  🙂  I started on high for a few hours and then switched to low for a couple hours until we were ready to eat.

Coleslaw:

So here’s what’s funny. Everyone loves my coleslaw. The reason this is funny, to me, is that it’s not special at all. I buy angel hair cabbage already shredded in a bag. I add what I guess is the ‘magic’ ingredient, MAYO. And please do not insult your cabbage by slathering it in non-fat or low-fat mayo. I’m serious. The cabbage will not be happy. Don’t make the cabbage cranky! I splash a bit of rice vinegar in there, salt/pepper, little chili powder …. mix it up. This gets better after sitting in the fridge a bit before dinner.

This is how the chicken looks after it’s cooked. I put it all in a bowl and shredded it up easy-peasy with a fork.

Since I don’t eat bread, I just had mine next to my slaw. Seriously YUM! The kids had theirs on a fresh roll, like a chopped chicken sandwich.

William’s Sweet Potato Chips

I have to credit my husband for these because he made them before I did and I have no idea where he found the recipe but they are SO good. Just slice a sweet potato into very thin slices. Arrange on cookie sheet. Drizzle with coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. Season with kosher salt, cracked pepper, crunchy minced garlic and we added some of the smoked paprika powder.  Into the oven at 350 and just keep checking on them.  I think they took roughly 30-ish minutes.

What they look like raw.

Finished! Ok, they may not look super impressive. Maybe I should have put them in a pretty bowl or something, but I’m not writing a cookbook here. Trust me, these are delicious. My favorite ones are the ones with the burnt parts. Crispy goodness! Every one of these were devoured.

Burger Night

Took a little help from the store for these salmon burgers. They were already seasoned mediterranean style, to which I added some minced garlic, pepper and smoked paprika. Grill them on the foil. Tip — which we did not do but will next time — spray your foil with a little olive oil or coconut spray for some non-stick help.

Salmon burger, slaw and sweet potato chips w/ a lovely glass of wine. I *heart* summer!

Miss Sassy wanted her picture on the blog. Here she’s showing her grilled burger w/ sweet potato chips, her newly streaked hair and her summer smile!

EASY LUNCH

I know a lot of you think it’s hard to grab something fast and healthy for lunch, especially when you’re writing and don’t want to take a break to ‘fix’ anything. Below was my lunch on Monday. I had some delicious broccoli slaw from the salmon burger night in the fridge. I almost always have plenty of hard-boiled eggs on hand for a quick protein snack. Sliced up a couple eggs over the slaw. Took no more than 60 seconds and I was back at my computer having a healthy lunch!

 

So, what about you guys? Any healthy summertime recipes you can share.  Here in Texas, we have long, hot, summers, so I need some ideas.

Coming soon to WritersButt: How to eat healthy while away at conferences and still have some indulgences!

 

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