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Archive for category Food quality

Eating. How to do it. {And other stuff}

Wondering what to eat to lose weight? Or maybe you want to know what to eat just to be as healthy as you can?

It’s no secret, diet is extremely important to weight loss and health and wellness. You can work out every single day, but until your diet is clean, you won’t see the best results possible. Some people will tell you that a calorie is a calorie. If you want to be literal, yes, I suppose it is. If you have a lot of weight to lose, counting and cutting back calories and thinking about little else will definitely help. But there will come a time when you’ll plateau. Not only that, if you’re eating low-calorie junk, you’ll still feel like crap. Not to mention, eating low-calorie junk food will not help your actual HEALTH any. A healthier choice at the SAME calorie count will mean more nutrients, more fiber, more filling, etc.

So, put down the 100 calorie snack packs, the pretzels, and the diet ice cream. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your results will be SO noticeable, and you’ll feel SO much better once you clean up your diet.

But I know you’re still asking… “How do I eat clean?” True, 100% clean would be nothing store-bought, really. Maybe bulk grains and of course produce from the store, but anything in a box would be a no-go. I try to work toward this, but I’m not there yet.

Instead, I want to share with you what I believe is some of the most important things to eat (and not eat) that will make a big impact but also be reasonable for those of us who still need a little convenience in our lives…

Here’s my “Rules to eat by”:

  • Get rid of enriched wheat products. Replace with items that specifically say “100% whole grain”. Doesn’t have to be wheat as the grain, you can think about rice, barley, oats, etc
  • Drink water all day long, every day
  • Get rid of sodas, inculding diet sodas.
  • Eat at least 3 servings of veggies every day. (1 serving of leafy veggies like raw spinach is equal to 1 cup. Small veggies like chopped carrots & broccoli is 1/2 cup as a serving.)
  • Eat 1 serving of fruit every day
  • Buy organic as much as possible, especially the types of produce and fruit that were directly exposed to pesticides and all that garbage. Berries, greens, apples, etc are especially important. Things that you peel, like oranges and bananas are less important.
  • Eat 1 serving of beans every day
  • Combine the ‘must eats’ as much as possible. Try having a big salad for your lunches…include beans, seeds, etc & plenty of veggies, then you get it all in at once!
  • Eat every 3 hours or so. Snacks can include small stuff if you’re not super hungry. Think nuts, greek yogurt, fruit, etc
  • Try to keep meat to only 2 meals a day to start. Try to work your way to 1 meat a day, then if you’re feeling amazing like I think you will be, you can go from there.
  • Get rid of as much packaged food as you can.
  • Check product labels, look for stuff with only real ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
  • Remember to keep your meats lean. Stick to chicken, fish, and turkey as much as possible.
  • Treat yourself some, but be reasonable. Have a drink once in a while if it’s important to you. But be real with yourself about how much you’re eating/drinking, measure it out. Stick to dark chocolate (72% cacao or darker), or red wine..or just a couple cookies a week,etc). This shouldn’t be a daily thing, work to kick your sugar habit. YES you can.

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A few random *other* tips for well-being & weightless/healthy living success:

  • Sleep 7-8 hrs every night. No excuses
  • Take time every day to relax. No, sleeping doesn’t count.
  • Drink more water (Yes, I know I said that already. Must be important, huh?) 🙂
  • Work on speaking to yourself in a positive voice.
  • Write out your goals. Not just your fitness goals. Write them all out and revisit often.
  • Laugh alot.
  • Make new friends.
  • Find old friends.
  • Help someone in need.
  • Be nice to yourself and to others, even if they may not deserve it.

Soooo….what your FIRST step going to be?? Tell us in the comments below!

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My very own super-delicious & nutritious hearty turkey chili

Do you ever get into a habit that you didn’t even realize you were in? For instance, I have a habit of fixing the same dishes the same way for YEARS. How about you? Like, say, are you in the habit of thinking chili had to stick to certain rules? I’ve been thinking…wouldn’t it be great if I made something “like chili, but better”? But that wouldn’t be chili. Right? I’m a rule-follower. So it took me like 3 weeks of thinking this before I finally decided… screw it. I can do what I want to chili and it’s still chili.

Well. Let me tell you. I’m glad I did.

Because this was extra delicious and extra nutritious. Oh and it lasted us like 3 dinners. Can’t beat that. Look at that…doesn’t it make you want to get a spoon & dip some up through your screen?

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Yum!

So I thought I’d share the recipe with you. But, as I just learned…who need recipes?? So please, just make this your own. My point here was to make this super hearty and heart-healthy with LOTS of veggies. You could totally do all sorts of different kinds of veggies. Own it. It’s just chili.

Amy’s Better Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1lb super lean ground turkey (of course, you could use tofu or something in place of this!)
  • 14 oz light red kidney beans
  • 14 oz hot chili beans (or you could try cannellini, navy, etc)
  • About 1/2 bag frozen corn
  • About 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • Large can organic diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • Couple garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 cup water – or vegetable broth
  • 1 packet reduced sodium chili seasoning (or make your own!)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

This is a very forgiving dish! Heat olive oil over medium heat for a minute or so. Add the turkey and cook through. Do not drain. If you have very lean meat, there will be very little grease, so keep it in for flavor. Add the rest of the ingredients. All of them. Then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The longer the better for flavor’s sake. This could also be done in a crockpot. I’d think it would work on low for 6-8 hours. Play with different veggies if you’d like. I think squash would be good in this too.

Tell me below, what’s your favorite way to have chili?

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Our 2 week reset/clean eating challenge – {some recipes!}

Hubby and I usually eat pretty well. It seems that in the last few months though, we were slipping a little. We’d gone from eating really well about 90% of the time to more like 75% of the time. We decided to create our own 2 week challenge to reset. Our goal is to eat healthy like we had done for so long. Our challenge would go like this:

We’d be eating clean…as clean as possible at least. And we’d cut back carbs to 2 meals a day. We’d eat nothing with added sugar. No beer or wine. And we’d add in extra veggies and fruits. No fast food, very little packaged food – and the packaged food we did eat would be something healthier than most, like Quest Protein Bars(Have you tried these? SO delicious & a TON healthier than other protein bars – which are really more like candy bars. Check the labels!) and Lara Bars. We also decided to log our food for those 2 weeks. That really helps with paying attention to what you’re eating and becoming re-acclimated to what a serving size looks like, and how much our meals SHOULD include.

Today is our last day of our challenge. I lost 4 pounds! We’ll be celebrating with some wine and brunch at our favorite spot. (Can Can Brasserie in Carytown…yuuummm!!) But of course we’re very dedicated to continuing this eating plan at about 90% again now that we’re reset. That’s the beauty of doing something like this. Once you give some things up for a while, you crave it less. It’s a lot easier to continue!

I wanted to share some of the meals and recipes we had…in case any of you wanted to try your own reset/clean eating challenge. Our meals were quick since we both work full time. And I am a big fan of things that don’t take a bunch of ingredients. So, you’ll find some pretty simple stuff here…. I’d love to know what you guys think. Do these looks like meals you’d eat??

Go-To Sandwich

We ate these for many lunches. And usually with mostly the same ingredients, but depending on what we had in the fridge. Here’s my favorite & what we put on it… (and a side note, isn’t it a beautiful sandwich?!)

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Ingredients:

1 slice Ezekiel sprouted bread, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon super hummus

3 slices hormel natural choice turkey (Applegate Farms is a great choice too)

1/2 slice sargento ultra thin provolone cheese

2 slices tomato

1/4 cup baby spinach

1/2 avocado, sliced

Salt & Pepper to taste

(Some optional things that I added some days: Thinly sliced apple, thinly sliced cucumber, or you could use dijon mustard, a little balsamic vinegar, etc)

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Easy breakfast scramble:

Again, we ate this or a variation of this many mornings. It’s super quick, easy, filling and tasty. Oh and healthy.

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Ingredients:

1 cage free, grain fed egg + 1 egg white

handful of baby spinach

a little Sriracha sauce

1 slice Ezekiel sprouted bread

1 tablespoon super hummus

Just scramble the egg and cook with the spinach. Add salt and pepper if you’d like. Spread the hummus on the toast and top with the egg scramble. Add sriracha to taste.

Some variations I like to use: add chopped tomato to the scramble and/or 1/2 of a avocado. You could also skip the toast.

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Quick and Healthy Stirfry
Also a very forgiving recipe to replace or add other veggies you may like!
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Ingredients:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (use Extra Firm Tofu if you’d like)
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped baby carrots
1/4 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup steamed broccoli florets
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
Sriracha to taste
Just warm the sesame oil over medium-high heat for a minute. Add the veggies and cooked chicken. Add the rest of the sauces, spices, and peanut butter. Stir constantly for a few minutes until sauces and peanut butter are fully mixed in and warm all the way through. Seriously. You’re done. And you could add more or less veggies as you’d like, but we added a lot since there’s no noodles or rice in this stirfry. This was SO delish!

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Sausages and Sauerkraut
(And quinoa.) Oh Em Gee….!!! So good!
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Ingredients:
4 links Aidelis chicken sausages
1 cup sauerkraut
1 serving Red Inca quinoa (or any quality quinoa)
Prepare quinoa according to package. Warm sausages on the stovetop over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add sauerkraut and prepared quinoa to the pan with sausages and warm for a couple more minutes. 1 serving is 1 link plus a scoop of sauerkraut and quinoa. This made wonderful leftovers for work the next day, too!

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Okay, that’s some of what we used….and all were very satisfying and filling, and super tasty. I’ll save the rest for another post so this one doesn’t get too cumbersome.  Comment below if you’d like me to send you the rest sooner, though!
Tell me what your favorite clean recipe is below 🙂


Try Quest Protein Bars!

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An easy (and healthy!) breakfast idea

So you already know you GOTTA eat breakfast right?

But you also know it should be healthy. And for most of us, it has to be quick and easy. Oatmeal is a quick, healthy option. That does get old though, and I don’t even like it at all. Most cereals are junk. Breakfast bars are junk. So what does that leave?

Here’s a little something I whip up at the office in the AM. It takes about 5 minutes total, and I only use the microwave.

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Here’s what it is and how I do it. There’s plenty of ways to change it up, too.

It’s a half of a sprouted grain english muffin w/ egg whites, avocado, tomato and feta cheese. And some days if I have it, I spread a little greek yogurt on the english muffin too. 

  • I keep Ezekiel brand sprouted grain english muffins in the freezer
  • I keep a carton of natural egg whites in the fridge (NOT the kind w/ yellow color added. Look in the natural, organic section of your grocery store. They should just be white!
  • I keep a container of reduced fat feta cheese in the fridge
  • In the mornings, I take a tomato and an avocado with me to work

Directions

  • Pour a couple of tablespoons egg whites into a coffee mug and microwave on high for about a minute (just until fluffy and done)
  • Wrap an ezekiel english muffin in a paper towel and microwave for just about 20 seconds. Just enough so you can cut the muffin in half since you’re only using half. Cut it, put 1/2 back in the freezer and then finish microwaving the 1/2 you’re using. Doesn’t need to be hot, just defrosted.
  • Chop up half the avocado, store the rest in the fridge for a salad later in the day or something.
  • Chop up half the tomato, store the rest as well
  • Put the egg whites on the muffin, top with tomato, avocado & feta. It’ll be messy since it’s open-faced. Just use a fork and knife to eat it.

BOOM. You just made a healthy, protein packed breakfast that has some lovely, filling, healthy fats and even a little tomato.

You could adjust this in all sorts of ways, too. You could top with some fresh spinach, add the greek yogurt like I mentioned. You could even microwave a slice of turkey bacon and add it. If you’re not an english muffin fan, check out the ezekiel wraps. Use half. And definitely use sprouted grain breads, they are SO much better for you than even whole wheat bread.

I hope this helps!

I’d love to know – do you have a quick, healthy breakfast that is your go-to? Share away!

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Healthy Choices at the Grocery Store

This is not it.

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If you’ve seen the commercials for some of these products, you may believe that they are healthy. Not true. Most of these types of products are marketed as ‘filling’ or ‘healthy’ in some way. But in reality, many have as much sugar as a candy bar. Not to mention all of the other random crap in them. They are devoid of many nutrients. This goes for a LOT more than what I captured in this photo the other day while I was grocery shopping.

Now, if you use things like these (granola bars, snack bars, pop tarts) because you need snacks or quick options, I have good news. You can still eat more healthfully and still quickly with some slightly different choices. Check the health food/organic isle for snack bars. Personally, I find the Lara Bars the most delish. And they’re not made with a bunch of junk, instead it’s got real foods in it. Imagine that. Check that isle for other snacks too. Just remember that things like chips are still chips even if they’re organic. 🙂

Other quick grab & go snacks that are way more healthy than the options in the picture:

* Individual organic chocolate milk

* Greek yogurt (get the real stuff, like Chobani, Fage, or the icelandic versions)

* 1 ounce cheese (cut off the servings when you buy the cheese and individually wrap so they’re easy to grab) with Nut Thins (Crackers made from almonds, not wheat! And SO yummy!)

* Fruit

* Leftovers (When you make a healthy meal for dinners, double the recipes and package up the leftovers into smaller containers so you can take them as snacks or lunches, etc)

I’d love to know, do you buy any of the items in the photo? If so, do you buy them because you thought they were healthy – or at least not ‘unhealthy’?

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Eating is easy!

Lots of times when people ask me for help losing weight or getting in shape, a hang up ends up being about food. Sometimes folks think they should eat very little. Or perhaps they just don’t feel like they have time to cook or prepare anything. And even a few just don’t know what to eat because they’re confused about all of the conflicting information out there.

Well I’m here to tell you a few things about that.

a) No, you should not cut your calories to 1200 or less. There’s a formula based on height/weight/age/activity level that can help you figure out how much you should be eating. And no. It’s not 1200. People get that in their heads because they hear people say “you should never eat less than 1200”. That’s true. That’s the bare minimum to fuel your body for NO activity. But trust, me 1200 is waaaaay too low. You may lose weight this way, but you’re losing muscle and water weight. If you eat too little, you are slowing your metabolism down. Not cool! We all want faster metabolisms, don’t we? You must eat, eat, eat to get that. (Eating healthy foods, of course, not junk!) I literally eat something every 2-3 hours. My body is a fuel/fat burning machine, partially due to my food intake, and partially due to my muscle-building workouts, of course.

b) Yes, you have time to prepare healthy stuff. Here’s what I make for most mornings. I make a bunch on the weekend and freeze them. They take 2 minutes to heat up in the morning, and it’s homemade so you know there’s no added crap in it. There’s plenty of protein and even some whole grains so you’ll feel fuller longer and you’ll fuel your body the right way.

Make ahead breakfast wraps:

Just scramble some eggs with salt and pepper, spoon the equivalent of about 2 eggs onto a whole grain (or low carb) tortilla – the small, taco sized tortiallas. Add a slice or two of canadian bacon – or turkey bacon if you prefer. Optional, top w/ a tablespoon of salsa and or a little bit of low fat cheese. Roll your tortilla with both ends tucked in and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze. To serve, take plastic wrap off and microwave for about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave power.

It takes only about 10 minutes to cook, assemble and throw 6-8 of these in the freezer.

Here’s a freshly made one that I made over the weekend. I added a little gouda to this and it was absolutely heavenly and I was actually full for a few hours, YAY!

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and finally,

c) I know there’s lots of confusing information out there. And I’m happy to answer your questions, so please always feel free to comment here or even email me: fithappy@yahoo.com and I’ll help you sort through the confusion. But a couple of rules I’ve found to live by… don’t get caught up in any fad diets, they will work short term, but are typically too radical to follow for very long. Not to mention many times they cut out entire food groups. Not a very sustainable way to eat. Don’t be afraid of things like carbs. Switch to whole grain pastas and breads and your carbs won’t be as evil…and do try to go carb-free for one meal a day or so. We all need carbs if we’re active at all! And finally, don’t be afraid of fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar does. Kick that sweet tooth habit if you have it. And yes, carbs do turn to sugars, so that’s why you should go carb-free once a day and why you should switch to whole grains. Really, don’t get too caught up in these things. Eat whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, limit your boxed/canned/processed foods and pay attention to eating something every few hours. That, combined with exercise is the key to a healthier lifestyle!

So tell me, what’s the most confusing thing about food for you?

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Quick, easy, packable, healthy, filling lunch idea. Yes, all of that.

So I just had to share my latest love.

I have been making a BIG batch of lentil vegetable soup and then using it for lunches. Hubby and I both prefer to take lunch to work with us, but it’s often a struggle about what to take. Mainly because we want it to be healthy but also convenient. Good luck with that.

When I found a canned lentil vegetable soup, I was in love. But I don’t like eating too much canned stuff. (yucky chemicals in those linings!)

So I made my own masterpiece. Lentils are very filling, have lots of protein, and are the kind of starch that helps increase your metabolism and make you happy. 🙂 Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to do all sorts of fun stuff with. Adding all the veggies is a great way to get those servings in and add some interesting flavors, too.

I make a big batch of this soup, dip out 4 individual servings into glass to-go containers. Then I freeze the rest because I know we don’t want to eat the same lunch for like 10 days straight. So we eat the 4 containers (2 days since there’s 2 of us) and I find something else for us to take for a few days, then thaw the rest and take it the next week for a few days. It’s super satisfying and tasty.

What do you think?

Does it look yummy? Want to re-create it?

I used a bag of dry lentils, a couple of fresh tomatoes, a few stalks of celery, a bag of frozen green beans, 4 carrots, vegetable stock, olive oil, lots of cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, green onion, and thyme. AND you could mix it up. I just bought swiss chard to put in my next batch.

Soften the onion, garlic, etc in your olive oil on medium heat. In the meantime, cook the lentils according to package instructions. Add drained, mostly cooked lentils into the pot that has the garlic. Add your stock & veggies and spices, bring to a soft boil and then simmer for…well, however long you got. Shoot for 30 minutes or so at least so the flavors marry.

What’s your go-to healthy, packable lunch?

 


 

 

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It’s all about the choices

So we all know that one of the ingredients to being healthier is “making better food choices”, right? Until recently, I thought that sort of self-explanatory. Then, I heard a friend telling me about what she’d snacked on that day. Then I remembered several other similar conversations with her. And it hit me. She didn’t really know what “better choices” meant, and she was thinking that eating small amount of stuff equaled “better choices”. And to an extent, that’s true. BUT, at some point you have to also consider the type of foods and the quality of them.

If you’re finding yourself eating frozen dinners several times a week, you may consider some other choices. If you pay attention to what you’re eating,  you may see some patterns developing. So maybe you only eat a few chicken tenders. But they are still breaded. And fried. And you eat them, or chicken nuggets or popcorn shrimp, etc several times a week…or maybe even more. Well, that’s where you start to see the pattern. You may keep your serving size small (or so you think), but you’re still eating fat-laden, fried, not-so-good-for-you food. I’m a proponent of indulging sometimes. But you must be honest with yourself. First, figure out what indulging really means. And then be honest with how often you ARE indulging.

A good rule of thumb on what your diet *should* look like is that most of it should be clean foods. And whole foods. And by clean, I mean real. If you got it in a box, it’s probably not clean. Look for FRESH or frozen (not canned) fruits and vegetables. Look for minimally processed meats, and even preferably organic and local. The fresher the better. Whole grains are great. Just make sure they REALLY are whole grain. And organic milk, low fat greek yogurt, etc are wonderful protein choices that are healthful and yummy. So, you see the things I left out are things like chicken nuggets. And lunch meat. And pre-packaged soup. Pre-packaged meal-in-a-box just add beef (you know what I’m talking about). The list goes on. So if you truly can’t live without chicken nuggets. Great, eat them. Once a week. No more. And THAT’S your indulgence. Just because you eat that only once a week doesn’t mean there’s a free pass to then also eat frozen pizza twice a week. And ice cream twice a week. And so on. Before you know it, you’re indulging every day and you have not changed your eating habits.

If you’re trying to make better choices about your diet, make sure you know what you’re looking for. And keep a food journal. Every day for a month, at least. Write down every little thing you eat, including sauces, dressings, dips, etc. You may be surprised at what you find. And you can always find more info here on my blog, just click the ‘diet’ link above to find my older blog posts about calories, meal timing, snack ideas, etc.

Comment below! Would love to hear your food choices, good and bad, obstacles you may have to eating healthier, questions you have….whatever you have for me!  I’m always here to help!

~To Your Health~

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It’s the quality of your food that counts, too.

We’ve probably all been told (or told ourselves), “If you can just stop eating chips (or sweets, or fast food), you’ll be good to go”. Well if only it was that simple!

We like to think that eating out is the enemy. And it is, to an extent. But if you’re not keeping a careful eye on what you’re fixing your family every night for dinner, it may not be much better than eating out.

Case in point; do you cook frozen pizza for dinner? How about breaded chicken tenders from the freezer? Maybe macaroni and cheese as a side with dinner? Take a peek at those labels. You may be surprised. All the calories, fat & sodium in these convenience foods is enough to make a grown man at least wince. Or enough to put on a few pounds. Just because you bought it from the store doesn’t make it healthy. For instance, there’s typically enough calories and fat in a ‘side’ of macaroni and cheese to just about equal what a whole dinner SHOULD be. Especially if you made it from a box.

Eating healthy and lean doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to be aware. Your homework is to check every label of every item you use regularly and look at the serving size too. Be honest with yourself. If the serving size of your spaghetti noodles says 1/3 cup, put 1/3 cup in a measuring cup, put it on the plate, and see what it REALLY looks like. Is that the amount you usually eat? Do the math and see what your dinners really stack up to be. On average, dinners usually shouldn’t be more than about 400-500 calories, and full of whole grains, veggies and lean proteins. Lighter dinners can be easy. A simple, marinated boneless skinless chicken breast with a side of steamed veggies and a small helping of quinoa can be ready in less than 30 minutes. A light chicken casserole with brown rice can be very comforting and warm and also ready in about 30 minutes. Better yet, check out some slow cooker recipes. Look for things that use lean meats and non-rich sauces.

I’m happy to help vet ideas – or to send you recipes. Just email me! 🙂 fithappy@yahoo.com – and as always, you can always sign up for free to have me as your fitness/health coach: just go www.TurboRomero.com & click join. Select the free option and I can help you with your fitness and diet goals. Or if you want extra information, the paid option has the added benefit of a wonderful, healthy meal planner & the recipes are actually REALLY tasty and filling.

In the meantime, check what you’re cooking. Aside from calories, fat, sodium and all the other crazy stuff that’s in convenience foods,  consider all the preservatives, hormones and other lovely things that they are stuffed with. Heck, even chicken nuggets are typically not real, whole chicken pieces. Sad, but true…and detrimental to losing weight and the overall health of your family…

~To Your Health~

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