Tag Archives: healthy foods

A New Era of Health and Happiness

Strangely enough, I have entered an era in my life where my happiness seems directly related to something that I am purchasing on a regular basis. Now we all know that happiness can’t be purchased. But health? Health is largely dependent on the food we eat.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

In the last couple months, I have been using Instacart religiously. I have been waiting for it to come to our area for quite some time now. You see, I had all of these hopes and dreams of what my life would be like – how it would improve – if only I had access to Instacart.

Usually, the fantasy versions of our lives never quite match up with reality. The grass is always greener and all of that. However, I was actually right this time.

Here’s how Instacart has benefited our lives (and no, they aren’t sponsoring me or anything like that – life really has improved, and I’m wanting to share the reasons with you, in case you want to try it out for yourself.)

  1. We are healthier. The minimum order in my area is $35, so I order fresh food two times a week. This is twice the frequency that I used to do my shopping, so we eat a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. I only order 3 or 4 days worth at any given time, and we make sure to eat it all up before I place another order (or plan the next day’s meals around what’s left). Therefore, I’ve barely thrown any food away since using this service.
  2. We are happier. Health = happiness in a lot of ways. When we eat better, we feel better. Our minds are sharper, we don’t need as much sleep, we don’t have as many sugar cravings (because we’re meeting our nutritional needs), we feel better about ourselves because we aren’t as wasteful as we once were, and we look forward to each and every meal because we aren’t eating out of boxes as often. Oh, and the kitchen usually smells like a restaurant. Happiness! 🙂
  3. We are spending quality time together. It’s been way more fun to cook together lately. There really is something to be said about using fresh ingredients – it just seems…right…somehow – authentic. (I once read that when boxed cakes first came out, they contained powdered eggs, etc. All a person had to do was add water and bake. However, after a while, companies caught onto the fact that people like to be more involved in their food – we want to feel like we are actually responsible for what’s on the table. We want to be able to say, “I baked a cake!” Not, “I added water.”)
  4. We are more adventurous. We’ve been trying a lot of ethnic dishes – at least one or two new ones each week. Turns out, it’s a whole lot easier to rely on someone else to find the more obscure items in a store. I think that’s what had been preventing a lot of experimentation in my kitchen.
  5. We are more productive. I can get my shopping done at 6am, at the very beginning of my day. The Instacart shopper is the one that has to wait for ALDI to open, by which time I’m usually already teaching. Also, I don’t have the excuse of procrastinating until the weather warms up or until I have other things marked off my to-do list. I can shop first and just forget about it until the delivery person shows up at my front door.
  6. We are coming out ahead financially. On the surface, the extra costs of Instacart service (driver tip, price differences, and either delivery fees or yearly membership) seem extravagant. However, I really do believe we are spending less money on food nowadays. Maybe that requires some explanation:
    1. We almost never eat out anymore because I plan out my meals in advance. And because we’re incorporating so many fresh meats and vegetables into our meals, we can’t really skip a meal that I’ve planned without worrying about food going bad. (Last time my parents invited us to dinner, I took what I had been planning to make, and cooked it at their house. We had a feast because they made food too!)
    2. We are also eating our leftovers for lunch the next day, every day. That way, I can have an empty fridge before I begin cooking the next meal. Since we are so careful to do this on a daily basis, almost nothing goes bad.
    3. Since our health is improving, we’ll also see a reduced cost of doctor’s visits and medicine in the future. In fact, we have already had better luck staving off sore throats and the common cold.
    4. And last, but definitely not least – no more impulse purchases. This is the one benefit that I had been looking forward to all along – the one I needed in my life. I had actually hired my sister to shop for me a few times for that reason alone – which worked out until she got too busy. She wasn’t going to see a box of cookies and put them in the cart thinking, “Amy would really want these!” Guess what! My Instacart shoppers don’t do that either! If I wanted to, I could totally plan out my weekly calories in advance too, and have a better chance of sticking with it.

Okay, so that’s just a run-down of the benefits that I’m seeing. Does anyone have anything to add? Have you tried Instacart or Walmart Pickup? What do you think?

Healthy Grocery List

I’ve been trying to eat healthier this year, and so far, so good. Now I’m trying to help my sister. I just finished typing out a long email to her, and thought I’d share it with you all! Here it is:

Kimmy, here is our grocery list: Healthy Grocery Checklist

Don’t eat anything with MSG or high fructose corn syrup in it, and I’d suggest not eating anything with artificial colors, preservatives, etc. Buy bread, yogurt, and other processed foods with the least amount of ingredients. The best brands I’ve found are Earthgrains for bread and Dannon all-natural yogurt (I buy the big containers). If you buy dark chocolate, the darker the better (more cocao, less sugar). I usually buy 70% or even 85%. The Lindt brand is my favorite chocolate. Try not to eat any white sugars or flours. (If you get white sugar out of your system altogether, then natural sugars begin to taste sweeter.) Use honey or agave nectar to sweeten your hot drinks. For oral and digestive health, I try to eat a serving of yogurt, a serving of cranberry juice (I like Northland –but any 100% juice would be okay), and a serving of prunes (they actually became one of my favorite things to eat, once I got used to the taste). Annie’s makes some all-natural cookies, graham crackers, etc. in the shape of little bunnies. They’re actually pretty good, but you have to look on the bottom shelf to find them, I think. The granola I buy is expensive, but it’s really good! I can’t remember the brand name, but it’s in the cereal aisle all the way toward the refrigerated section. There are a bunch of expensive cereals all in one spot. It’s eye-level, and they have four or five different flavors, like dark chocolate/almond, and cinnamon/raisin. Try to only eat a serving of any one thing in one day. That way, you’ll get a better variety of fruits/vegetables, and it will keep you from going overboard on chocolate and cookies and such. Instead of buying salad dressing, use kidney beans (the juice gets everywhere, and it’s really yummy) or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. It’s good, and super-cheap! (You can also add basil, oregano, garlic, or whatever spices you like, but I never do anymore; it’s an extra step, and I’m lazy). Try to use real meat on your sandwiches instead of deli meat. Cut it into strips and cook a bunch at once (just add a bit of garlic and olive oil), and then you’ll have steak, chicken, or fish to add to salads, burritos, stir-fries, sandwiches, etc. Don’t buy ground beef at all – it’s incredibly gross! Watch Jamie Oliver’s demonstration, and you’ll be forever convinced! Instead of using unhealthy sauces, spice things up with garlic or lemon juice. If you want me to go shopping with you once or twice, to help you find stuff, I will, gladly! Seems complicated, but once you do it for a couple of weeks, it gets easier.

Treasures of Healthy Living

Tuesday I finished Treasures of Healthy Living, written by Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey, and I am so pleased to review it for you. When I received this book, I expected it to tell me all about healthy foods and how to improve my diet. Well, it did all of those things, but it is so much more than a book about food; it is a manual for living a well-balanced, all-‘round godly lifestyle.

Even though the book contains a twelve-week course intended for study groups, I read it in just a few days. Because I am already trying to eat better and exercise, the faster pace didn’t overwhelm me. Instead, I made notes to myself for later and implemented several changes immediately, such as: excluding unclean meats from my diet, making a conscious effort to purchase healthier animal products, laying down a plan for fasting, implementing scripture memory into my exercise routine, purchasing plants for home and office, taking greater care in food preparation and storage, becoming aware of the ingredients in topical lotions, cosmetics, etc, and intentionally increasing the happiness factor in my relationships. From this list, I don’t want you to get the idea that the book doesn’t cover food in-depth. It does! In fact, the first half contains information and ideas for eating food in the way it was designed to be eaten.

– I only had two issues with the book. First: references. I wish there had been more (mostly because I’m a newbie, and although many of the statements made in the text may be common knowledge for those who have been studying healthy living for a while, I would prefer to see more proof). I also would have liked for those references to be listed at the bottom of each page, instead of at the end of the book. Secondly, I wish that all of the scriptures had been printed in-full within the text. One non-issue: I expected the book to have recipes in it, but I discovered that it is basically a text-book/study-guide, and that recipes are included in a companion book that I will be ordering very soon. This was not an issue because the book was already long enough, and I am more than happy to order a separate recipe book, but I just thought I would throw that out there for those of you who may have had the same expectations.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

Approaching Healthy

This is my year for getting healthy. Admittedly, I think that every year, but I really mean it this time! I decided to quite buying anything unhealthy, so at this point, almost everything in the house is good for us. If I don’t buy it, I can’t eat it, right? Anyway, it’s a little more expensive to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthier meats, but in the long run, I figure it should be worth it. It’ll mean fewer trips to the doctor, and hopefully it’ll keep us from dying of heart disease and possibly even cancer. Eating better combined with exercising is helping me to keep my cold at bay (I’ve been able to keep working and moving in spite of my cold), helping me lose unwanted inches (3 in my waistline since the new year!), and helping me feel better about myself overall. At the very least, I can rest knowing that I’m doing my part to get God’s temple in good shape and keep it there. Anyway, to help me achieve “good shape” again, I researched “What to Eat When You’re Expecting.” I’m not expecting (let’s make that abundantly clear), but when we were trying to conceive Ian, back in 2003, I was following the diet guidelines in that book; it was the healthiest summer of my entire life. Basically, instead of counting calories, I made sure I ate foods from all of the right categories every day. By the time I had done that, I barely had room for anything too sweet or fattening. So this time, I researched what I should be eating since I’m not trying to conceive (there are guidelines in the book for non-pregnant women), and this is what I came up with (all of the files are Word documents):

Weekly Best Odds Food Chart

The file contains a week’s worth of check-boxes to make sure I am getting what I need each day. I’ve also included a place to keep track of calories on the opposite side of the page.  I just write the foods in the margin, and record the calories for each appropriate day. The calorie counter is for my husband, but I’m mostly just concerned about types of food for myself.

I also typed up a list of foods that I personally like to eat that fall within each category. Here it is:

Best Odds Food Categories

Of course, there are more foods in these categories, but either they didn’t show up in the book, or I figured I wouldn’t eat them in a million years.

To aid in shopping, I also typed up a healthy shopping list. I haven’t researched all the prices yet, but I’m sure they’re different in your area anyway, so I will go ahead and post it, just in case you want to get started:

Healthy Grocery Checklist

Here’s to our health!