Fleeing the Dark Side With A Smoothie In Hand

If you’re with me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then over the last week or so saw photos of a spattering of our adventure highlights through Montana and Idaho:

  • A drive through Spokane, Washington where spots we frequented in college had me feeling nostalgic;
  • A visit to my brother-in-laws art studio;
  • The Montana Folk Festival (which we didn’t spend nearly enough time at);
  • Gold panning (where we worked really hard for specks of gold in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots I could have imagined);
  • Breakfast at Butte’s Hummingbird Cafe where we took over the outdoor patio; and,
  • Dinner at THE BEST place we ate the entire vacation: Casagranda’s. (I must add: if you are ever in Butte, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. They serve happy cows, and even consider kids real people who eat real food, which was evidenced by their kids menu that offered steak and potatoes in a kid-sized portion, and even a chicken breast with vegetables!)

We ended our adventures with two days totally unplugged in a remote river-front cabin in Idaho. It was idyllic – a real throwback to days before television and cell phones. The kids did ‘kid’ things, like poke at the fire, make smores, whittle, throw ninja stars against trees, read magazines, fly along the zip line, and learn to skip rocks. I woke up early each day and, and was rewarded with a glimpse of a moose tromping up the river about twenty yards from me as I sipped my hot, rich coffee.

In spite of the great adventure and the joys of our vacation, unfortunately… there was a dark side.

A dark dark side… a side we’ve since escaped, but we are still recovering from.

You ready?

The dark side of fake food.

Fast food. Gas station snacks. Grocery store packages. Ready-to-eat ‘meals’. Crackers. Chips. Hotel continental breakfasts with muffins, and little boxes of cereal, and bagels, and toast, and flavored-yogurts-so-full-of-sugar-we-might-as-well-had-a-candybar.

UGH.

We tried to keep it together. We made stops at grocery stores for fresh fruits and easy to eat veggies. We ordered eggs off the hotel menu (only to have the kids say the scrambled eggs were hard and didn’t taste like eggs). We tried to stop at the ‘good’ fast food places, and we drank lots and lots and LOTS of water.

None of it mattered, though. The ‘ease’ of the processed food and necessity of eating out and depending on others to ‘nourish’ us took us so far down that a peach or apple here or there couldn’t save us… and, by the end, we were hurting.

Battle worn. Sickly. Bloated and lethargic and flat-out gross.

I longed for my kitchen… longed for quinoa, raw nuts, fragrant herbs, dark leafy local greens, and berries off our Oregon bushes. Even my kids we begging when we were just a few hours out from home: “Mom, when we walk in the door can you cut me up some fruit and make me a smoothie?”

Oh, how I love them… and, you bet I obliged.

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Fresh. Clean. Green. Delicious.

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We fled the dark side with a smoothie in hand… and it was a glorious return to freshness.

If you’re not in the habit of doing smoothies at home, can I just tell you: you are missing out.

And, can I just encourage you: get to making them.

Here’s our favorite basic (that make with our Magic Bullet):

  • ice
  • frozen fruit (you can use fresh fruit, but using frozen fruit adds to the iciness)
  • sliced banana (gives creaminess)
  • raw spinach
  • water
  • ground flax
  • protein powder (the type bodybuilder’s use – we buy ours at Costco)

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That’s it! Throw it all in a blender and blend til smooth.

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Here’s a couple of tips:

1) Don’t overdo the ice when you’re using frozen fruit because it will end up too thick. Start with just a couple cubes of ice – you can always add more if you need to.

2) You don’t need juice for flavor. Juice you’ve juiced yourself is exceptional; juice we buy at the store is not. Don’t bother with it when you’re making smoothies – let the real fruit be your sweetener.

3) Proportions? I’d say about 1/2 cup frozen fruit, a small handful of raw spinach, 2 TSBP flax, 2 TBSP protein powder, 2 ice cubs, 1/2 diced banana and just enough water to allow it to blend.

Let me know if you make it… or, better yet: let me know what your favorite smoothie recipe is!

Cheers!

DSC07513(Now off I go to whip up some quinoa… I have a long way to go to feeling like myself again.)

The Food Pyramid of Common Sense

I don’t listen to “experts” when it comes to how to eat healthy. Why? Because if you’re going to listen to experts, how do you know what “expert” to listen to? “Healthy” to one is not “healthy” to another;  a “proper diet” to one is not a “proper diet” to another. Some say supplements, others say no diary, and others say nothing but protein.

So what’s a mom to do? I go with common sense.

See, if I just look around me and study creation there are great clues on how our Creator intended us to eat – what I tell my kids is the “food pyramid of common sense”:

1) Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds – these are all in abundance and easy to harvest and eat without any processing or preparation. Therefore, the foundation of our daily diet should be based on these things.

2) Eggs, milk. These are animal products that are abundant and, therefore, are a good source of protein on a daily basis. (I put cheeses and yogurt into this category since processing these items can be homemade without a factory.)

3) Fish and chicken. Easy to catch, easy to prepare… but not so easy that they need to be part of our daily intake.

4) Red meat, pork. Based on how difficult it would be to catch and prepare one of these animals if we had to do it ourself, we eat these things occasionally as a compliment to our overall intake.

What I just laid out is the foundation of how we eat as a family. Whole. Real. As simple as possible as often as possible.

Here are some habits I practice in my home:

About 90% of what we consume is homemade.

Not a lot of salt, rarely, rarely much processed sugar. (Unless, of course, we are making a batch of homemade cookies or fresh whipped cream!)

I buy the highest quality food my budget can afford at any particular time; I buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible. (I love frozen organic veggies – a little more cost effective if you buy them in the bulk bags.)

I keep what I want my children to eat the most of in plain view: fruit all over the place, nuts in see-through containers at eye level in the pantry.

What I don’t want them eating without permission is kept in our “naughty cabinet”. The “naughty cabinet” is where we keep crackers, chips, candy (if we have it), cookies… the “treats” in our home. If the kids want any of these things they must get permission first. (I’m a big believer in training kids how to enjoy treats in moderation. So, while we enjoy our “treats”, they are “treats” and not to be consumed without thought.)

Common sense eating has served us well – and it has also helped me to raise a little tribe of kids that truly LOVE good food – all food. We don’t have food fights around here, I don’t make separate meals for people, they eat their veggies as happily as they eat an apple. And, best of all, my kids are healthy, lean, strong, smart.

So be encouraged today. Now that 2012 is here I know many of you are probably trying to kick off better eating habits in your home… but don’t allow all the voices out there overwhelm you! Take a step back, breathe – take cues from nature and let simple common sense be your guide.