Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Q & A -- diet, recipes & exercise

PLEASE share with me your exercise regime, you look amazing! What is your secret :)
How do you stay so healthy? You look great! I know you exercise and eat really well at your house, but what about all those cookies you make? Do you ever find yourself eating 4, or 5, or 10? Do you ever hop on the scale and realize that you've gained 10 lbs? Do you eat when you're stressed? It seems like this isn't really an issue for you, and that's fantastic! Any tips?

First of all, you are too nice. Thank you very much for your kind words. My "secret," quite simply, is that I'm super tall. I do try to stay healthy and exercise regularly but I think when you are six feet tall weight isn't as much an issue as finding jeans that are long enough! I am lucky that I do not have to stress out much about weight but I feel so much better when I exercise and eat well. It seems to make a difference in how my day goes (and how my clothes fit). My exercise routine took a dive over the summer but I'm back into rotating P90X, Insanity and Jillian Michaels (when I only have 20 minutes) these days. At some point I will join a gym again but right now I have to get it in early or it doesn't happen.

Cookies are my vice. I love them. And we make them.

Sometimes a lot.

But I kinda justify that because something's got to give...we don't really have any junk food in our house and sometimes you've just got to have a little bit of sugar.

A little background on why we are so conscientious about what food we stock our house with:

Lucy's syndrome causes obesity {more about that here}. Since receiving her diagnosis {more on that here}, our awareness of what foods we bring into our home has been heightened drastically (and struggled with) every single day. We try to stay away as much as possible from processed, colored, fatty things but man alive that's tough sometimes. It sounds silly but sometimes I lament the fact that we aren't "normal" and we can't just have candy and mint Oreo cookies around. A while ago I got into this phase of "wo is me" because my poor kids looked at me with puppy dog eyes to please buy even things like granola bars or goldfish for their lunches (Lucy goes hog wild on that stuff and we just can't have it around). And then I came to the stark realization that that's not something to mourn...we should be celebrating that we are forced to eat more healthy around here! It's just a tricky process to work out and although we are very far from perfect at it, we sure try.

Please share some of your favorite recipes!

I make pretty simple things for family dinners. Some of our favorites are honey lime enchiladas, chicken pot pie (I know, not overly healthy) and grilled steak or chicken with baked potatoes. We have salad for dinner almost every single night.

As far as those salads go, right now I am SO into fresh basil. I crave it every day. I buy these plants at Trader Joes:
...and chop up the leaves for some of my favorite things:

caprese salad
I love this so much.
(Elle took this picture before we drizzled a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top, and sprinkled freshly ground pepper over it all. You cannot forget the balsamic vinegar. It makes my mouth water even to think about it!)

You just layer fresh mozzarella cheese,(you can get big packs at Costco), tomatoes, and freshly chopped basil. Then add the balsamic vinegar, oil and pepper.

For a more hearty caprese salad my favorite is chopping up all the following ingredients:

--fresh mozarella cheese
--lots of basil

and toss with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This is one I like:And there you have it, my favorite salad:

For sweeter salads I usually mix and match whatever I have in the fridge (my sister Saydi is a salad guru and taught me everything I know). Lettuce and spinach mixed with any variety of apples, grapes, Parmesan cheese, craisins, mandarin oranges, avocados...whatever I happen to have on hand. I usually mix in "candied" almonds too for good measure:
(You just sprinkle a little sugar over the top of raw almonds and saute them until they brown up a little and then let them cool.)

This is one of my favorite dressings for sweeter salads:
And there you have it...easy as pie.

As far as main dishes go, I use a lot of chicken. (I know we should probably do more vegetarian stuff but I'm not there yet.)

I mostly use this chicken because it's SO easy and quick to cook (my sister Saren taught me this nifty method and I thank her in my mind every time I use it):
I spray the pan with Pam and throw in as many frozen chicken tenderloins as I need.

I cook them over medium heat with these things sprinkled over them.
(No, I'm not a great frozen chicken photographer so please excuse the blurriness :)

As it cooks I shred it up with two forks now and then.
(And I make sure I have that very serious expression on my face. This is very serious business, folks.)

I end up with chicken like this that I can use for myriads of quick things from enchiladas to salads, etc.

Mostly I like to use that chicken with stuff like this:

or this:

I am a big sucker for any kind of Thai food I can get my hands on and it's so easy to make and serve over rice.

As far as snacks go, I'm still trying to beg my kids into loving my favorite:

...and I try to always have something like this out on the counter.

Do you pack home lunches for your kids or do they usually eat a hot lunch at school? I'm trying to be more conscientious about my spending as well as helping my kids eat healthier and I wondered what you do?

I have a really big pet-peeve with school lunches. They are not healthy and they are expensive. That being said, we let our kids buy lunch once a week. We make lunches the rest of the time. I'd love to say that we pack all kinds of interesting new things each day and I cut their sandwiches into cute shapes for them and all that jazz but we are plain-jane in the sack lunch arena. Our kids get peanut butter sandwiches pretty much every day except on the rare occasion when Grace decides to make ham and cheese. I sometimes buy chips and keep them out in the garage so Lucy won't get into them and they bring those too, but most of the time they choose between grapes, apples or carrots and we stick in some pretzels and applesauce. We do not believe in juice boxes or anything like that that professes to be all good for you but is really filled with sugar. Water is key and I'm going to teach them to love it if it kills me :)

I have an 18 year old (I can't believe it - where did the years go?) with special needs and let me tell you... the search for making her life "better" never ends. We've tried supplements over the years, but I'm curious as to what you are using? I'm open to trying new things and am really, really interested in what you are doing with Lucy. I look forward to hearing more - you never know where the next breakthrough is going to come from!

Lucy has been through various stages of supplements. The last ones we tried made her go on a huge, drawn-out emotional swing that was horrible for all of us as she went through what they called "detox." {all the details about that back in this post}. But then she evened out a little bit and we took those darn supplements all over creation with us this summer in our little cooler to keep them refrigerated. About a month ago we called it quits to see if we noticed a difference.

We did.

She became nicer. And more even-tempered. At least in my eyes. But Dave and I have both noticed that she has gained more weight. And that kills us when we work so hard at helping her on that front.

Oh it is just SO hard to judge what is really making the differences. Is it age? Is it sociability? Is it gaining more mental understanding of her world around her? Is it supplements? Is it how much sleep she's getting or what kind of nutrients she's getting from her regular food intake? It boggles my mind daily to try to figure this out. Sometimes it makes me want to cry.

For what it's worth, she was taking supplements to help boost her amino acids (to help with muscle growth), protein powder, highly concentrated vitamin D drops and a liquid supplement that was packed with every kind of vitamin and mineral you can care to dream up.

We are trying to get to the point where she will get the extra vitamins she needs through what she eats, but it's a continual, grueling process. Sometimes I feel so inundated with differing opinions it boggles my mind. You're right, we will never be "done" searching for answers on something like this because every body functions so differently, especially those with special needs. I hope you find the best answers for that daughter of yours! I sure pray that we find them for Lu as well.


Right now I'm sitting here about to board a plane to get up to Logan for the sold out Time Out for Women there. I'm looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people and I'm crossing my fingers that all the things I finagled up for my kids back home pull through!
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