Off to the First Fair of the Year

So Friday night I went to the Washington County Fair…
Kris at Washington County Fair
Whether it is a local carnival, a county fair, or the big state fair these situations tend to be very tricky for people to navigate when trying to eat healthy. As you can clearly see in the background of this photo of myself just outside the midway of the Washington County Fair, things like corndogs, ice cream, cotton candy, funnel cake, deep fried cheese curds and mini doughnuts are scattered like landmines throughout the entire event. Navigating to the healthy choices can prove to be difficult, but it is doable… but let’s be honest… it is an event. However when going to the fair… for me at least food is not the event. I love taking the camera and shooting photos of anything and everything. I take photos of animals, people, rides, abstract colors, anything that catches my eye. I also get a workout in while I am at the fair. By the time I left the fair yesterday I had over 13,000 steps logged. (I aim for 8000-10,000/day.)

So what is a person to do? Go all out balls to the wall and indulge in EVERYTHING? That will surely lead to disaster… that choice leads down a road of destruction that just derails progress. I like to head into these situations with a plan in mind. It is okay to deviate from the plan, but if you go in with a plan in place it is okay. I planned on having a funnel cake for dinner. It has been YEARS since I have had funnel cake, I am a bit fussy about it to be honest. It needs to be big fat tubes, only have powdered sugar on it. It needs to be fresh… yeah… otherwise it’s not worth it.

I planned for funnel cake… I didn’t have it. I DID have… gluten free cheese curds from one of my favorite food trucks. Sadly the truck is up for sale… I felt like it was a sign from the universe… one to have them before I can’t anymore, and two… I need to buy the truck. (Kickstarter anyone?) I split my spicy cheese curds with my friend Jennifer who I was attending the fair with. I ate a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the order, and once I felt that my craving had been satisfied… I stopped. The cheese curds tasted amazing, I wanted to continue eating them… but I know what they do to my body.
Crazy Puppy Gourmet Workshop Spicy Cheese Curds

I knew as soon as I decided to have the curds that the funnel cake was not a priority for me any longer… In fact it is entirely possible walking into the fair that it was off the proverbial menu. I practice this strategy, and it works pretty well for me, so I figured I will share it with you. If I really want something, like I can’t leave it behind or I will feel regret about not having it, I will get it and enjoy it. No biggie right? If I am only feeling so-so about something I tell myself I will just get it next time. I know I will be going to the Great Minnesota get together in a few weeks (the State Fair) and that there will be funnel cake there… but there will also be OTHER things there that I might want to try. So if I simply defer my desire for this food until it is more intense by telling myself next time, and then forgetting about it until the event approaches again I have navigated around the landmine.

I am all about doing what works for you, for some people sharing these high calorie foods is a great option at the fair… some people can eat two or three bites and throw them away (I was prepared to throw away cheese curds). For others avoidance is the only thing that works… if that means not eating at all during the fair, that is acceptable. If that means not putting yourself into a position to be tempted by the foods at the fair or carnival that is okay too. I think it is perfectly okay to make the decision that is right for you.

Cotton Candy

Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂

Focus

So, 2014 is underway… I look at my blog and I have FOUR blogs that I started, and never got back to… Do I lack focus on my blog? Possibly… more specifically I have been reaching out microblogging with my instagram account (Do you follow me over there? my name is KrisGetsHealthy) 2014 the year of Honor, honoring myself, my choices… making sure I am focusing on what I need to do to set my lifestyle up for those sustainable changes we need to make to have a lifestyle stick.

Since I took my new job back at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 I have had an increase in my bottom line… meaning my rear end… not cool! My focus has been to try and make my life, that WAS working to get my weight down, work with my new 10 hour days of high stress near non-stop desk work.

I found that looking at the big picture was SO overwhelming, in as much as it wasn’t working. You can’t manage everything at once. There is too much to control! I have taken to breaking it down into more manageable parts and I have been trying to establish each part into it’s own manageable little bubble.

The first thing I worked on was to establish a bedtime routine… in my job I need to be sharp, I need to look at the bigger picture, visualize traffic patterns for the time of day, cross reference with the general layout of the state/city in my mind, estimate recovery times from airports, think critically etc etc etc… Dealing with brain fog from fibromyalgia is bad enough some days, add a lack of sleep and my goodness a lack of sleep spirals my brain into a VERY messy place!

I have a fairly strict bedtime that I keep. I am slightly more flexible on the weekend, but not every weekend… and if I do it one day I try to keep the regular bedtime the next. (for example if I am up Friday night, then Saturday night I don’t usually stay up). I sleep with headphones on, (sleepphones actually) that I can pull down over my eyes and use as a blackout mask. This is not to say that I don’t have insomnia come visit me on occasion… I have melatonin and a few herbal sleep support things I can take. There is this awesome thing called Sleep Water that I drink on occasion that helps too. My sleep routine is, I would say, pretty well established, it is a habit. A healthy living lifestyle habit. People that tell me they get 4 hours or 5 hours a night on a regular basis and can’t figure out why they aren’t feeling well, or can’t do X (whether that is focus, or be on time, or lose weight, or whatever) I just want to grab and shake… sleep is a foundational element.

So now that I have that habit well established I am looking at what are the bigger holes in my life… what are the things that are SO IMPORTANT to health, and wellness and well being, that I just don’t have a handle on. One of the things that happens with my job being so busy is that I forget to drink..not just water, but anything… So many night I would come home from work and find that I had only had a cup of coffee in the morning, and then whatever I was drinking with dinner! How horrible for my body!! I took to taking a 3 liter bottle of water with me to work, and I’d work to drink that during the day. I did pretty good with that, since it was in my line of sight most of the day. Having something visually there means I can’t avoid it, I can’t ignore it. However ambient water gets old… it started cold in the morning but by the end of my 10 hour shift it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. What is a girl to do… if I don’t see it I wont drink it.

The last few weeks I have been having great success at monitoring my water intake with an app from the iPhone marketplace called Plant Nanny… it lets you set reminders to “water your plant and water yourself.” You set your weight, your activity level and it tells you how much water your body needs. I am set to sedentary since I have a desk job, and since even when I hit the gym it isn’t much activity… it would put me at normal at most. The default reminders you can set are every 2 hours between 8am and 10pm, I have mine set to start at 0400 and run till 0500 reminding me every hour to drink. Even if I don’t go get a drink right away when the little alert pops up it at least puts the idea in my head that I need to be hydrating my body. I need to make drinking a routine that comes as naturally to me as going to bed. I need to focus on hydrating my cells, pushing toxins out of my body, and helping my body learn that perhaps what I felt as hunger is thirst, or a combination of both.

So here I am bringing my #Focus to one thing at a time. I can’t do everything, I am spread so thin at work trying to control everything that I am glad to be finding a balance and being able to pick and choose one healthy goal to focus on here in my everyday healthy life. Finding the focus and determination not to give up. Honoring my body by making sure that I am establishing some kind of healthy routine, and making sure that I am putting it into place. The more you do something the more ingrained it becomes.

Do you track your water or do you find it’s just one more thing to try and keep track of? How much sleep do you get a night? Do you try to get 8 hours? What kinds of healthy living routines do you focus on in your life?

The Saga Continues

So when last we checked in with my eating habits I told you all I was doing Nutrisystem. I shared some photos of my food, and a few short words about the cuisine. Sadly you wont be seeing anything further about that program here, at least not for a while. I have had to throw in the towel. It isn’t because the program doesn’t work, because it did, I was losing weight, the food was edible. I still have some left in my freezer, and a box on the shelf, that I will likely give to my friends that expressed an interest in the program. What I have left is the leftovers from my last order the was stuff I really liked and a few things that I was on the fence about.

So why am I changing again? I mean honestly all this blog seems to be anymore is “I am not making progress, I am trying this, it didn’t work lets try something else. Whine, Complain, Restart” but at least I have the tenacity to keep trying. This time it is a medically motivated switch. I am still trying to combat a sinus infection, there is a chance that this is the very same infection I have had since November, having never fully cleared out… there is also a chance this is a new one… meaning I didn’t even make it 3 months without a new sinus infection… and 2 weeks of antibiotics didn’t clear it up the first time.

I am embarking on trying to eliminate as much wheat and dairy from my diet as possible… heading towards possibly ending up dairy free and wheat free. As the girl who is affectionately known as the YogurtGuru by her friends, being able to tell you which yogurts are on sale at what markets for how much on any given week, and the benefits of yogurt, also the differences between types this hurts to the core. I may venture to Whole Foods this weekend during my shopping and check out what kinds of dairy free yogurt they have. I miss my Yogurt, however I have been trying not to just make substitutions. I have been trying to make actual behavioral and food changes with this. I gave up caffeine a few weeks ago, and my first though was, I’ll just start drinking decaf coffee everyday. Instead I switched to a 3liter water bottle that goes to work with me every morning. I will indulge in a decaf coffee but not a large, and not everyday, no more than once a week. I am trying to focus on eating protein, organic/natural carbs (by organic/natural I mean things like veggies and fruit not “organic” as in how it’s grown but not processed from a box. I had a bit of rice today, and I had a small biscuit yesterday but that was it as far as non vegetable carbs for the week. I am trying not to be too strict with myself.

I just want to feel better, I need to stop being sick all the time so that I can start working on my fitness level again. I feel my body becoming weaker as time moves on. I know that I am still getting a bit of a workout by helping pull parts and load trucks at work however it isn’t the same and I don’t feel as good when I am not working out. It’s all a balance and a puzzle. So I am sliding the pieces around again… not happy to be giving up my beloved dairy. Perhaps it won’t be forever… If i can get my body back into fighting form I will feel better. Then again, if eating this way makes me feel better then maybe, just maybe this will be what my body craves.
So thats it from where I sit…
Never give up… never surrender!

Behold the Power of Seeds!

Watermelon season is coming to a close, autumn is rolling into Minnesota. The leaves are changing colors, starting to fall some trees are even bare already! The colors that used to be so bright and vibrant at the farmers market have become shades of tan, brown and orange. Fall is arriving. I am sad to see my Farmers market close date nearing, my Saturday ritual of going and seeing my regular vendors, and meeting new ones will soon end. Sharing my knowledge with them and learning from them as well will be put into storage with my shorts until next year.

Out come the pumpkin spiced everythings, the autumn smells linger in the air. This draws me back to the roots of indoor shopping. I don’t spend as much time in grocery stores during summer months as I do in the winter. The produce, while of quality, just isn’t as flavorful as the stuff I get from the farmers themelves. I made a trip recently to Costco for some things and was SUPER THRILLED to spot one of my favorite treats there.

Do you remember me doing a giveaway a while back for Somersault Snacks? The delightful sunflower seed snack that I discovered at a local, expensive, grocery store? Anyway Costco is now carrying these in “Costco size bags”… this smells like disaster right? The awful bag of doom syndrome? Actually because these have as much protein as a serving of almonds, with about half the fat (and fewer calories) I find myself satisfied with a serving and able to just shut the bag even without having to portion them out!

To my delight this awesome product, that I adore and share at many bring a dish or item to share parties, has gone mainstream it seems. The team over at Somersault contacted me last week to let me know that their products are now not only available at Costco but also available at Target!!! Hello Target, my love, my obsession. I live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 (lakes) Targets. This is awesome news for me! Why do I like bringing this as an item to share? How about the fact that they are NUT FREE and the cinnamon crunch ones (my favorite ones) are VEGAN, contain NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS and are DAIRY FREE (ok I like to serve them with a goat cheese at parties but still)! For those that are concerned about GMO’s the product is also certified NON-GMO.

There is so much stuff in the news about antioxidants being so important for your body, and fat being a key building block for your body, well this has the good fats! Seeds of all kinds might just be the key to unlocking what our bodies need! As many readers know I have some inflammatory conditions, among other things and it is being shown that sunflower seeds are carrying anti-inflammatory properties, as well as something that calms the muscles!! How cool is that! Have you ever craved something? As a kid I would chow down on bags of sunflower seeds, you know the bags of the salted kind in the shell. Spitting the shells into the woods or wherever in our big grassy lawn. In my office now the guys chew seeds and spit into old bottles. I wonder what their bodies are craving, because no one can have an open bag of seeds without sharing, and the same goes for when I bring out the Somersaults! Everyone loves them!

There truly is a flavor for every taste Pacific Sea Salt is probably the most neutral of them all… Salty Pepper reminds me of the Salt and Pepper Potato chips I fell in love with on the east coast. I have never found a suitable replacement here in the midwest (and thats perfectly ok!!). There is the zesty Santa Fe Salsa which is a great topping (or at least I think so ) for a salad. Then there are what I like to call the dessert gems… the Dutch Cocoa, which is great if you love chocolate, and the gem of the bunch, the first one I ever tried, the one I love… their newest flavor the Cinnamon Crunch. It is the perfect amount of sweet and savory to dance and flip on your tounge!

Have you ever heard of Somersaults? I had seen them at Caribou Coffee many times before I actually tried them… I didn’t know what they were, and I was scared to try them. They come in a variety of sizes, and if you’re afraid of that big costco sized pack, or even the multi-serving bags in general Target is selling multi packs so you won’t even have to portion them out yourself! Just grab and go!

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I keep some in my desk, I keep some in my car, I keep some in my purse… I have eaten them at the movies, on the phone, waiting for the doctor when they were a few hours behind. They keep for months! So I encourage you to go out and try them… I also encourage you to leave a comment on this post if you have or haven’t tried this awesome product… because you just might receive an email from me, I do like to share afterall!!

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Catching Zzz’s and the Fourth Meal!

One of the things I neglected to post about yesterday was that among the things Cassie spoke about on Saturday was how crucial sleep is for each and every one of us. Especially for weight loss. As many of you know I work some pretty crazy hours, right? I get up at 0300 in the morning M-F and work 0400-1400 (meaning I am in the office at 0345, because I start on time, knowing what is going on and if my relief is on time I finish at 1400, rarely do I get my feet out the door of the office before 1415) this means I spend 10+ hours a day at work. How much time does this leave for the rest of my “life” In short, not much. I used to work nights, and I kept a crazy schedule, sleeping when everyone else in the world was awake… I used to have sleep apnea and slept, and even napped with my CPAP on. It didn’t take long for me to realize just how crucial sleep was in my life. Being behind the wheel for my job as a driver meant i could be putting others at risk if I was drowsy.

Did you know that sleep helps your immune system? Yep! Your body works to restore your body when you rest. Think about it, it makes so much sense right? All day long it has so many things to do to keep you functioning that when you finally sleep and rest it can take care of itself. So sleeping, and taking care of yourself, is truly letting your body take care of itself!

Sleep also regulates Leptin and Ghrelin which are the two hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Cassie spoke about a common phenomenon that gave me a chuckle as I used to see it all the time when I worked nights. I call it the bar closing munchies. The longer you are awake the hungrier you get, and the less satisfied you are. Have you driven past a McDonalds at about 2:30 in the morning? Have you ever seen the line that extends around the building? Is everyone on the planet SO HUNGRY they can’t go home and make something, and they are never small orders… it is always several burgers, multiple orders of fries, junk garbage and crap. (no offence) You eat the food you would normally eat, plus extra, because you just aren’t satisfied. That’s the leptin and ghrelin being disrupted by being tired!
This is why I believe TacoBell has cornered the market on the “Fourth Meal” Cheap carb laden food that will carb bomb you into sleep. If you believe that it is the tryptophan in the turkey at thanksgiving dinner that makes you pass out, you would be mistaken. It is the stuffing, the potatoes, the rolls, the starchy corn, the ticking time bomb of carbohydrates sending your body into shock, nap needing mode. That “fourth meal” at TacoBell will do the same thing, fill your stomach up enough to make you “full” send you crashing out to sleep just long enough to wake up in the morning wondering why you did that to yourself.
I know when I am up late I find myself starting to get hungry, I look at the clock, often times it truly has been 8 hours or so since I last ate and my body might actually be telling me it is in need of something as time has slipped away from me. Other times, I have been consistent, had enough to sustain me and I can tell myself it is time for bed and I don’t need anything else. It is okay to be hungry.
Sleep helps the brain, it helps the body. Adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, how much do you get? I have a bedtime… yes a 30-something adult with a bedtime. It sounds superlame right? My phone goes into Do Not Disturb mode at 1700 (5pm) meaning you can’t reach me by phone unless it’s an emergency. This is the time I get into bed. Yes it seems excessive, but I am one of those, I need a drink of water, oh I have to pee again people.
I get somewhere around 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I need it, my job is high-stress and super demanding on my brain. I can tell when I am not getting enough sleep because it starts to effect my work. I occasionally slack on getting my sleep and I pay for it for the next day or two. It’s usually the second day that is the kicker.
Being consistent with my sleep is the key. I vary a bit with my sleep on the weekends, staying up a bit later on Friday, but still getting 8-9 hours. It is just something I find valuable to me.
How about you? Is the only time you get the proper amount of sleep when you are sick? Do you think this might be an issue? Do you have a bedtime?

Nutrisystem huh… So what does the food look like?

So what’s the scoop? How is the food? Is it horrible? It can’t taste good right? Shelf stable… how is that working out for you… frozen dinners, why don’t you just buy lean cuisine? Well let me tell ya!

Overall, I have had only two misses as far as meals have gone for me, and one miss on the snack/dessert area. Not bad right? I mean, it happens when you cook too right? You cook something and it turns out bad… happens when you go out to eat, youorder something and it isn’t quite what you wanted.
I was excited at the prospect of Tilapia with Asparagus. As it cooked the smell went up my nose and just no. I tried a bite of the fish… YUCK, the spices were all wrong, I tried the asparagus, the rice.. this would not fly. Into the trash it went. The other miss was the Ready-To-Eat Hickory Smoke flavored beef patty. as I opened the package it reminded me of dogfood. I warmed it up, and yep, dogfood. Infact, I think I would not even feed this to a dog. Into the trash it went as well. The only other miss I’ve had was the Cheese puffs (a dessert/snack item) They are… just gross. I did remember to take a photo of them that I have attached below. I went into trying them with an open mind, however there are just some things that only the original will do.

I do have to say that one of the best parts about Nutrisystem is that it makes tracking, or getting back into the habit of tracking super easy. It’s very point and click. All the info is already there. You add preset amounts of PowerFuels and SmartCarbs then anything else you add you have to enter. So it really helps get back to remembering to track, and I feel like it’s kinda dummy proof.

Below you will find some photos of the foods I have eaten since I started. My friend Jean has been asking to see what the food looks like and suggested I share it with all of you so here ya go!

Turkey Sausage and Egg Roll

Turkey Sausage and Egg Roll

Ham & Cheese Omelette

Ham & Cheese Omelette

Turkey Sausage Egg Muffin

Turkey Sausage Egg Muffin

Granola

Granola

Southwest Fiesta Melt

Southwest Fiesta Melt

Spicy Kung Pao Noodles

Spicy Kung Pao Noodles

Arozzo Con Pollo

Arozzo Con Pollo

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

Mushroom Rissoto

Mushroom Rissoto

Chicken Alfredo

Chicken Alfredo

PB Cookie

PB Cookie

CheesePuffs (YUCK!!! AWFUL!!!)

CheesePuffs (YUCK!!! AWFUL!!!)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich