Saturday, March 31, 2012

Berry Crumble



This is one of my son’s favorite dessert recipes (he has several…haha!). He has been asking me to make this for a few weeks. When I saw the frozen berries were on sale, I snagged a few bags!

This is not a health food, per say, but it is way better than processed frozen desserts or pies. Which is the goal of all of you following my 6 week plan to detox your diet. And the berries give it a shot of antioxidants and fiber.

I would usually use organic frozen berries, but they a tad expensive right now (like $14 for all the berries it would take to make this recipe!). I did, however, use organic evaporated cane sugar and organic butter. I also used King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour, which is only enriched with b vitamins and does not contain bleach or over processed garbage.

Here is the recipe:

Berry Crumble (adapted from Weight Watchers as seen on Dr. Oz)

2-12 oz. packages of frozen mixed berries, thawed

1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

7 Tablespoons salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place berries in an 8 inch baking dish.

Mix flour and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour/sugar mixture over berries. Toss a little to coat.

Pour melted butter over the rest of the flour/sugar mixture and mix until well moistened.

Crumble mixture over the berries.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.




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Pay no attention to my horrible looking fingers…I definitely need to give myself a manicure.


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Ready for the oven!



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Fresh out of the oven…bubbly and delicious!


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We like to add a little dollop of freshly whipped organic cream to ours…

but a little frozen yogurt would be amazing also!










Friday, March 30, 2012

Where to Begin…Part 1



The decision to start a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming. Especially if you have no clue where to begin. I found myself in that same situation…confused and overwhelmed (and my ADD addled brain wasn’t helping). I decided to take all the knowledge I was bombarding myself with and break it down. I would research one particular aspect of diet and nutrition, and apply it over a period of time.

The first step I took was getting rid of the chemicals in our food. By chemicals, I mean preservatives, MSG and other “flavor enhancers”, artificial food dyes and other non-food ingredients.

Read this post where I explain exactly what preservatives and MSG are, and the foods they contaminate.

Does this seem like a lot?

Break it down!

When you make your trip to the grocery store this week, leave out the processed snack foods…bagged cookies, snack cakes, fruit snacks, flavored crackers, and chips. In other words…no Keebler Elves, Little Debbie, or Chester Cheetah…anything with a character designed to give you a warm fuzzy.

Now…what to replace these with…


  • Apples, oranges and bananas are always easy to find and available.
  • Berries are one of the best sources disease fighting antioxidants. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are some of my favorite foods! You can also buy frozen berries and add them to smoothies.
  • Wash and cut celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and/or red and green peppers, place them in a a sealed container in the fridge, and snack on them all week. If you or your kiddos aren’t too fond of plain ol’ raw veggies…dip them in some hummus or lowfat homemade Ranch style dressing (click here for the recipe). (Sidenote: To make the dressing lower in fat, use Nayonaise or another vegan alternative to mayonnaise)
  • Peanut Butter Protein Balls (click here for the recipe)…only eat a couple at a time, as they are calorie dense, but filling.


protein balls


  • Lowfat, part-skim mozzarella sticks. Add an pear and some grapes for a complete mid-day snack.
  • Fresh pineapple slices and shaved coconut.
  • Greek yogurt…be creative with your toppings!


banana parfait

(Click here for this recipe)



Not buying it quite yet?

Here are a few of my favorite not-so-bad-for-you snacks. Use these sparingly please!


  • Food Should Taste Good cracker/chips



These are a great alternative to chips. They are non GMO, made with whole grain, gluten free, and all natural…no preservatives or fake flavors. My favorites are Sweet Potato chips with a little organic raspberry jam or homemade apple butter, and Blue Corn tortilla chips with BBQ Hummus (click here for the recipe) or fresh salsa!

  • Larabars
  • Dark Chocolate…at least 70% cocoa 



  • Fruit leathers are a great alternative to fruit roll-ups and fruit snacks that kids seem to love (mine have never eaten them…haha!). I also enjoy these once in a while, especially when I feel my blood sugar dip a bit and I don’t have a piece of fruit available. I carry them in my huge mom-purse.

fruit leathers

  • Cookies…made from scratch with whole, real ingredients…cane sugar, real butter, real vanilla, etc.


This will be a 6 part series. I will post once a week to make it easier to incorporate these changes. If that is too much for you, bookmark or Pin the post, and come back to it later, when you feel that you have mastered the previous step.


Has this helped you? Do you have any questions so far? I LOVE comments and questions, so do NOT be afraid to ask!

You can follow me on

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or leave me a comment here!


Have a WONDERFUL weekend!




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wacky Day

Yesterday I promised to talk about what I usually eat on an average day…
Today was not an average day!
But that is okay. Now you can see how I adapt when a few monkey wrenches get thrown into my plans.

First, the alarm did not go off. Which is never good. And Gabe had to give a speech today at 8:45.
I had planned on waking up, scrambling a few eggs, rinsing some berries, and taking a pretty picture to show you all the lovely, healthy breakfast I eat on a somewhat regular basis.
Instead I broke one of my rules…

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I did not eat breakfast before I left the house. Instead, I grabbed my coffee (which I usually do anyway), dumped in a few tablespoons of cream, and ran out the door.
Are you thinking…What? Heavy cream?  Yes! A few months ago I saw an awesome segment on Dr. Oz about avoiding milk or half and half in your coffee. It causes insulin levels to spike! Instead, it was suggested to use 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. So I do. And since I haven't gained any weight…I guess it works…plus it is way yummy. Just remember it adds 100 calories to your coffee.
Luckily, I am organized and prepare most everything we will need for our days the night before. So I had my lunch and snack foods ready to go. I did have to toss a little leftover Mexican Bean Salad into a dish to eat as my lunch, as my packed lunch was going to become my breakfast.
Thankfully we arrived at school early.
So, we decide to be extra silly and take pictures of each other making faces. Who doesn’t do that? Right? Haha!


Since you have all seen my “fat” pictures, I suppose it’s okay to show this lovely picture…haha!

My goofy monkey!

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Gabe, bless his little heart, always makes awful faces when I take his picture…so this morning I tell him to make a funny face…he gives me a a handsome smile. Go figure!

Gabe spent weeks preparing and practicing his speech about John Adams…

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(He even had to dress in character.)
He did a GREAT job! We were so proud of him. This kid isn’t going to let his disabilities stop him!!!

When I finally got to work, I made my breakfast (which was supposed to be my lunch).

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A vanilla protein shake with organic skim milk. I have one of these every day for either breakfast or lunch.
I did a little work.
Ate a banana.
Did some more work.
Ate my Mexican Bean Salad leftovers.

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Then, my husband called and reminded me that he was working late and wouldn't be home for dinner. I did not remember this. Now my dinner plans had to change. Argh!

So I picked up the kiddos, and instead of the venison (which I do not eat), baked sweet potatoes and salad I was planning on preparing, they ate organic mac and cheese, berries and peas.
I decided on another protein shake…with a little PB2 (love the stuff).

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I froze it for about an hour.
While I was waiting for my shake to get all thick and delicious, I was hungry…so I had some berries (the ones I was going to have for breakfast).

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Now my hubby is home and I am snacking on a few sweet potato chips and organic raspberry jam.

That is my wacky day and the food adjustments I made.

Do you find it hard to make good food choices on your own wacky days?


Monday, March 26, 2012

My Story

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This is the hardest post I have written. To be honest, I really did not want to write it at all. I would have been perfectly content letting anyone who reads my blog think that I have always been a thin, healthy person. But, the reality is, I have not.
My weight problem did not start until my early teens. As a child I was so skinny, my mom used to say I had “chicken legs”.

My parent’s also used to call me “Mangy Martha”, as I was blessed (CURSED) with naturally curly hair…haha!





I remember being pretty happy as a small child…until I was about 7 years old. That was when the bullying began, and girls who had been my friends started to tease me.  I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I have always been very attached to my mom. In second grade my friends started having sleepovers…and I could not be away from my mom that long. So, when I was asked to stay over at someone’s house, I would go for a while, then get upset and have to go home. Of course, that was not the way to become popular. I was also extremely sensitive, and let everything hurt my feelings. I became easy prey.


I was teased for everything…wearing glasses, not wearing the right brands of clothing, eating hot lunch instead of packing (yeah…real critical thing). Writing this now, it is all very silly. When you are a little girl with no self-esteem…not so much.


By the time I had reached fifth grade, I suffered from anxiety and migraines. I didn’t want to go to school. My stomach hurt so bad every morning, I couldn’t eat breakfast. I was also seeing the school counselor on a weekly basis…another reason to be harassed by my peers. He blamed my problems on me. I also had trouble paying attention, and my grades fell. Teachers accused me of being lazy and unmotivated.
One afternoon, after being mercilessly hounded and abused by a particular girl, I reached my breaking point. We were walking to Girl Scouts, and she was directly behind me, kicking me in the heels and calves, calling me an “asshole”. She kept telling me how ugly I was, and that nobody liked me. She said she wished I would die.
I wanted to.
I waited until I was in front of my house, which was on the way to the high school (where our Girl Scout meeting were held), turned around and laid her out Ralphie style, punching and kicking her until I was sobbing.
Funny thing…she never fought back.
Another funny thing…I was told I had to apologize before I could go back to Girl Scouts.
I didn’t go back.
By the end of elementary school, my parents decided enough was enough. They took me out of public school and put me in a private Catholic school.
I was much more comfortable in private school. The kids were respectful, and bullying was unacceptable. We all wore the same uniform, so being teased about what I wore was never an issue. I had friends that liked me for who I was. Although, the problems with my grades still remained. I was a “smart girl”…but didn’t put forth any effort and was easily distracted.
Between seventh and eight grade puberty hit…along with 20 or so extra pounds. I went from wearing a girl’s size 12 to a women’s size 6. I also went from a training bra to a C-cup. 

(My grandpa and me at my Confirmation in eight grade.)

My eighth grade year was a little more difficult. With the body of a sixteen-year-old, assumptions were made and my self-esteem took another hit. Add boys to the mix, and I was a teenage disaster!
I also knew that it would be my last year in private school (the school only went through junior high), and I would have to go back to the same school I had left three years prior. I knew I was going be an even bigger outcast than I had been previously. I had left the fold…and it didn’t matter that I had never belonged in the first place. I wouldn’t even have my new friends, as the private school was in the next town, and at that time our state did not have a school of choice option.

Freshman year was difficult. I had a handful of girls who were cordial to me, but I didn’t really hang out with anybody one on one, or even in a group. When I did, I always felt like the tagalong. These girls had formed bonds over the the last three years, and I hadn’t been a part of that. After a while a few of them started making comments both behind my back and to my face. I was a kind of joke to them.
I missed my friends.
I decided to try out for cheerleading, and made the Varsity team.
Cheerleading was NOT cool.


Although I LOVED cheerleading, I was made fun of for it. There were a few popular girls on the squad, but it didn’t matter…I was a target again.
The school had open campus lunch, so I would practically run home every day to get a reprieve. I would literally stuff my face with food…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese…whatever I could find. I wondered what was wrong with me. What was there about me that made me such a loser?
Of course I often got these answers from my schoolmates…I was ugly, fat and looked “retarded”. That was my favorite. What the heck does “retarded” look like? I HATE that word.
As I write this, my eyes are stinging and it hurts to breath.


So…I gained another 20 or so pounds. I was a 160 pound sophomore.
Boys did not like chubby girls, and I was a definitely a chubby girl. I could go into great detail about the perils of high school and liking boys who didn’t like me back, but most girls have stories like that, and I don’t really need to go there.


After my sophomore year, Michigan passed a School of Choice Provision. But my friends from middle school now had new friends. Even though we talked on the phone and visited occasionally, it was different now.
So degraded and weary from the way I was being treated, and sure that there was something wrong with me, I decided to stay with the devils I knew.
That summer I got a job at a coffee shop downtown. I worked with some older girls who treated me like a human being, and for the first time in a while I started to feel good about myself.
I found that by only eating once a day, drinking coffee all the time, and walking constantly (to and from work, and everywhere in between), I could lose some of the chub I had put on over the past few years.
I lost 20 pounds that summer.
But this set the stage for some bad habits…excessive caffeine consumption, starvation, and an obsession with exercise.
The first day of my junior year I walked into Chemistry, and instead of being noticed for my weight loss (and better clothes, that I now had my own money to purchase), I was greeted with snide remarks and comments. The worst came from a girl I thought was my friend…"Do you think your hot now, with your tan and your new clothes?” The rest of that period I sat with my back pack covering my chest and listened as I was whispered about and laughed at.
The next period another girl told the class an outrageous lie about my dad.
She had no clue who my dad even was.
I walked home at lunch, and never went back.


The next day my parents enrolled me in the school most of my friends from middle school were now attending.

I was much happier, and made some friends quickly.


A few months into my junior year I met Eric, my future husband.
As you can see I wasn’t super thin, but I was happy enough with my weight at this point. HELLO…I had a boyfriend!
But that summer the insecurities started creeping back.

I went back to eating only once a day and drinking black coffee like it wasn’t ever going to be made again.
By my Senior prom I was a size 8.
That year I went on the antidepressant Zoloft.
I graduated from high school, with no clear vision of what I wanted from life. I had been a disaster in school as far as grades went. I think I graduated with a 2.9 GPA, which was abominable when compared to my high test scores. My only option was to enroll in community college. Which was fine by me…I didn’t particularly love school.
I got a job as a bank teller, and went to school for a semester. I dropped out, finding it harder than ever to concentrate.
All I wanted was to marry Eric.
I was so wrapped up in being with him every moment, that I didn’t notice I was rapidly gaining weight. We were eating out every night, plus I was ordering my lunches from fast food restaurants or a deli that neighbored the bank where I was working.
The first true realization of my growing size was right before a company Christmas party. I was planning on wearing my prom dress (the same size 8 that had fit seven months prior). I tried it on in my bedroom a few nights before the event. I could not get the zipper to go past my rear end.
I collapsed on my bed and cried.


Over the next year I continued to eat horribly, and I continued to gain weight. I had also picked up a nasty habit…smoking.
I was happy with Eric, but unhappy with the path my life was taking. Eric had an awesome job as a draftsman for an engineering company…but I was still clueless as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, I ate my insecurities away.


When I was 19, Eric and I got engaged.


At 20, I was married.


I weighed 185 pounds.

Two and a half months after we were married, I found out that I was pregnant. This was a shock. I had previously been told that I had endometriosis, and it would be hard for me to conceive. Apparently not.
I stopped smoking immediately, and also stopped taking my Zoloft.
Mysteriously, I lost ten pounds my first trimester, even though I had no morning sickness.

At this point I was working at a daycare center and preschool, thinking that I may go back to school and become a teacher.
When I was six moths pregnant my blood pressure spiked and I was put on bed rest due to preeclampsia. I had to leave my job.
This was a wretched time for me. It was summer and I was hot and blown up like a balloon full of water.

I have NEVER shown anyone these next two pictures. They make me ill.


Our son, Gabe,  was born two weeks early, after I was induced.


Gabe’s story is a long and emotional. He was in the NICU for eight days after his birth. For the purpose of this post, all you need to know is he was very sick and we almost lost him when he was five weeks old. If you read my blog, you know he has since been diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and an autism spectrum disorder, which contributed to his poor health as an infant.


I  lost all my pregnancy weight, and was at 175 pounds only two weeks after Gabe’s birth.
I was unable to go back to work because Gabe had an immune disorder of unknown origin, and daycare (or just taking him to the store) could have made him gravely ill.
We could only afford one vehicle, and I never left the house. I became deeply depressed and was put back on Zoloft. I gained ten pounds within two months.
Light bulb moment! The Zoloft was causing some of my weight gain! That was why I had lost ten pounds at the beginning of my pregnancy. (Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that you should go off of your meds for ANY reason. You MUST consult your doctor and decide what is best for you and your wellbeing.) I was switched to Wellbutrin.
With absolutely nothing to do but take care of my sick baby all day, I had a ton of time to reflect on my life. I was overweight and unhappy. I had two choices…stay that way, or do something about it.
I started reducing my calorie intake to 1200 calories per day, and bought a Tae Bo tape (VHS…haha!). I looked ridiculous trying to keep up with Billy Blanks, but I was moving. I lost ten ponds the first two weeks!
I am not going to lie…I did not go about weight loss in a healthy way. I smoked (NEVER in my house or car, or around my son!), drank a ton of Diet Coke, and lived on Lean Cuisines and prepackaged dinners. This is BAD people…VERY bad! I will regret my poor lifestyle choices for the rest of my life.
After 4 months I weighed 130 pounds and wore a size 4. I had not been that size since middle school.

I felt confident enough to go back to school. I applied for a grant and went back the September after Gabe turned a year old. My mom and mother-in-law were wonderful, and watched him while I was in class. I borrowed their vehicles, or Eric dropped me off before he went to work in the mornings. 
While attending college I discovered the reason I had always had a hard time concentrating in school…I have ADD. This discovery made a huge difference. I did research and learned coping strategies. My first semester I made the Dean’s List! (and subsequent semesters)
(Oh yeah…in the middle of all the Gabe drama…Eric had lost his job due to the aftereffects 9-11. We were left with a sick baby and no health insurance. Luckily, my dad owns a construction company and offered him a job. Not much stress, eh?;) )
I gained and lost the same five to eight pounds over the next 5 years. Mostly due to the funky diet I ate. Sometimes I ate like a normal person, other times I would gorge myself on cookies, chips or pasta. I would gain weight, then diet to lose it.
In 2006 we decided that we wanted another baby. I quit smoking (for good!) and decided to clean up our diet. It took a few months, but in October I became pregnant with our daughter.

I gained a respectable twenty-eight pounds.


After Lily was born, everything changed. I decided that I wanted to breastfeed her for at least a full year (something I could never do for Gabe). I began to research proper nutrition. What I found was shocking!
I had been going about the whole “diet” thing the wrong way!
Over the next few years I learned about the dangers of pesticides and preservatives, and how the toxins from these substances can actually cause weight gain and chronic illness. I also learned the importance of following a clean diet.
Our bodies crave and need real, whole food. If you continue to put garbage in your body, you will never break the weight loss-gain cycle. The only way to permanently change your body, is to feed it real food…fruits, vegetables and lean protein being the major sources.
I have not been on an antidepressant in 4 years! Sure, I feel down sometimes (maybe more than most people), but I am able to deal with it. I find that adjusting my diet at times like this definitely helps. I eliminate sugars and most carbs, which are my moody trigger foods, and I can immediately feel a difference.
There are some lasting effects from my childhood…I am slow to trust people, and I rarely let anyone (other than my husband and my mom) see me cry. I still have a tendency to base my worth on my weight, and sometimes cringe when I look at myself in the mirror…but some insecurities are hard to shake.  I am a work in progress! I do have way more good days than bad!


Today I weigh 124 pounds.


My family has an active, healthy lifestyle, based on the basics…whole nutrition and physical activity.


I will not ever be 185 pounds again.

Last night I was going through all of these photos, feeling awful and overwhelmed with emotion. I asked my husband why he didn’t ever think he could do better than me (I know, kind of a bonehead, insecure thing to ask). He replied…”How could I ever do better than the best”.
I LOVE that man ♥

If you have any questions…ASK!!!
Also, “like” me on Facebook, where I give daily tips on weight loss and healthy eating (and may slip in occasional cute pictures of my kiddos).

Tomorrow I will be back with a look into what I eat on an average day.
I hope you will come back!


Exploring the Upper Peninsula...and a Few Yummies

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