Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Fruit and Veggie Challenge is Complete...Now Comes Vacation Mode!

Well, it's the 23rd! The last full day of the Fruit and Veggie Challenge!

How did you do? Did you fill your plate with veggies and crowd out the sweets, lattes, fried food, alcohol, and other junk?

I did! Now, don't get me wrong...I wasn't perfect. Nor did I expect to be. But I DID accomplish what I set out to eat healthier than I normally would have during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 'Cuz THAT is a HARRRRD time frame for me to stay healthy. But I did it. And I'm happy I did.

I ditched the junk that had been making me feel so crappy from Early November (Birthday time!) to Thanksgiving.

What were the results?

I lost a couple pounds. My joints stopped aching. My sugar and carb cravings went away. My digestion/elimination returned to normal. I exercised consistently (cuz when I eat better, I tend to exercise more!). I got a little stronger from the increased exercise. I drank more water and herbal tea. I slept deeply. I woke up with energy. I reduced my snacking. I feel like I nourished my body WAY more than I typically would have this time of year...

The list goes on.

So now today is the last day and it's time for the Holidays and "Vacation Mode". This is where most people (myself included!) fall off the healthy wagon and never get back on.

Why? Because they get swept up in "Vacation Mode" and mindlessly eat everything that's put in front of them and then feel bad about it. They feel like they failed. They feel like they were on a diet, and now they're off and now it's ruined. So why bother?

But it's not all or nothing. You're not "on" a diet or "off" a're just living! Vacations and Holidays happen! They are part of a good, balanced, happy life! And they should be enjoyed! No need for guilt!
Plus, there's a secret to enjoying your vacation time AND not going totally off the rails.

The secret is....making Choices.

Is it that easy? Yup!

I'm going to sit down today and choose what my "Vacation Mode" will look like...

  • Will I choose to eat everything in sight, guilt free, no strings attached, knowing that I'm "back to healthy" after January 1st?
  • Will I choose to eat everything I want, but in small portions so I don't hurt my belly and get my joint pain back?
  • Will I choose to keep it to one "junkie thing" each day, every other day, or on the weekends only?
  • Will I choose to eat only "special junk food" like homemade cookies or special pastries rather than noshing on "plain old junk food" like chips or pretzels that are junkie but that have no "wow" factor?
  • Will I make healthier versions of junk food so I can still enjoy indulgences without goofing up my health?

I haven't really decided yet. But I will.

It doesn't matter which thing I's just important that I take the time to be mindful and decide.


I want to be in charge of my choices. I don't want to get swept up in the environment or the people around me and just randomly eat a bunch of unhealthy foods/drinks until I feel miserable and find myself feeling guilty about it. (How many times have I said to myself, "Gah! Why did I eat all that? I didn't even like it and now I feel super crappy!")

I want to mindfully and purposefully enjoy every morsel of my junkie foods and special drinks! LOL! I never want to feel bad about what I eat, and if I mindfully choose it....I won't!

So...if you did the Fruit and Veggie Challenge (and even if you didn't!), decide how you're going to handle your holidays! Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your Holiday Indulgences guilt-free and savor every delicious morsel!

Sending hugs!

Happy Holidays!


Me in past "Vacation Modes"...look at all the smiles! LOL!

Christmas for me and one for...
Oh, who am I kidding?
They're both for ME!

Yummy Holiday Lemon Drop made by my friend (and former bartender), Nick!

BBQ Birthday Dinner! My FAVE!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

"What do you want for Christmas, Little Girl?"

So remember when you were little and you sat on Santa's lap, told him you'd been good all year, and then excitedly blurted out what you wanted for Christmas?

What a great opportunity that was! You were able to dig deep into that little kid brain of yours and come up with that ONE thing that would truly make your heart sing! Wahoooo!

The catch was, there you were, hoping against hope, that you could rely on this random bearded guy in a funky red suit to make your dearest dream come true.

Fast forward to today. Here you are, and 2020 is coming to an end (thank goodness!). Have you thought about what you want for 2021? Did you dig deep and come up with that ONE thing that would make your heart sing?

For most of us, as we get older (and wiser) it's no longer a toy or a game that we want for ourselves...usually it's something bigger, something more meaningful.

We want health.

We want vitality.

We want energy, confidence, happiness, joy, connection, and purpose.

But even now, 30, 40, 50+ years later, there's still a catch! We now live with the awareness that we really can't rely on that random bearded guy in the funky red suit. Or anyone else for that matter. We know it's time to be all adult-y and rely on ourselves to make our dearest dreams come true. It's up to US to "do the things" and make it happen. (Whatever we decide the "IT" to be!)

So as 2020 comes to a close, dig deep. What do YOU want for yourself in 2021? And more importantly, what are you going to DO to get there?

"Only YOU can change your life. No one else can do it for you." -Anonymous

Monday, December 14, 2020

I Tried It! Roasted Squash Salad with Goat Cheese

Ever had a salad that was so yummy that it tasted like dessert?  I did!

I ate one today!

I made it based on this recipe from Farm Fresh to You (Full Circle).  It was amazeballs!  Not kidding.  I had two servings.  Yeah, two.  And I don't even really like raw spinach!

I deviated from the recipe just a bit....
  • I used roasted sweet potato chunks instead of roasted squash ('cuz I didn't have any on hand and I didn't have time to run to the store!)
  • Our salad had toasted and salted almond slivers instead of walnuts 'cuz hubby is not a fan of walnuts
  • I only added half the maple syrup ('cuz I'm trying to not each too much sugar)
An added benefit of this salad?  It's super pretty!  This is the pic from the Farm Fresh to You website... 

Go ahead.  Give it a try and see what YOU think!

You can find the full recipe here:

Have fun!


Soooo Good Instant Pot Beef Stew

I  LOVE beef stew!  Especially on cold, gray winter days!  

It's warm.  It's nourishing.  It's easy to make.  Plus, I can get an easy lunch the next day 'cuz there are always a little leftovers to reheat!  A total win!

And this recipe is Sooooo good!  (If I do say so myself! LOL!)  


  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast (grass-fed and organic if able!) cut into 1.5-2 inch cubes
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 T ghee or avocado oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and diced (or smashed!)
  • 1.5-2 Cups beef bone broth (you could also use chicken bone broth!)
  • 2 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 T Coconut aminos (or gluten free tamari if you're ok with soy)
  • 1 tsp Fish Sauce (I use Red Boat)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and then chopped into large chunks

  • 1T Cassava Flour (optional...for thickening)

  1. In a big ol' bowl, toss cubed beef with a little Kosher salt.  Let it sit.
  2. Press "Saute" on your Instant Pot and when the metal insert is hot, add the avocado oil or ghee. Wait for the fat to melt and then add onions, mushrooms, celery and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute until veggies are soft about 4-5 mins.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add in salted beef cubes, bone broth, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce (optional), coconut aminos, fish sauce, thyme, bay leaf, ground black pepper, and chopped carrots.  Give a good stir and then press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button on your Instant Pot.
  5. Put the lid on and lock it and be sure your steam valve is closed.  Cook for 35 mins on high pressure. (The "Stew/Meat" button will typically do this for you, so you can just press that if you like!)
  6. When the cooking time is finished your Instant Pot will automatically go into "Keep Warm" mode.  Let the pressure release naturally in this mode for 15-20 mins.  When you're ready to eat, carefully move the steam valve to "Vent" and let the last bits of steam out.
  7. Remove the Instant Pot top, fish out your bay leaf and thyme sprigs and eat the stew as is OR if you like thicker stew, take out a bit of the liquid put it in a small bowl, add your cassava flour and make a slurry, add the slurry back in and give the whole thing a good stir.  (See tips below if you like thick stew, but don't want to use flour.)
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tips and Tricks:
  • For making a thicker stew sans flour of any kind, add peeled and chopped chunks of potatoes and extra carrots to your recipe.  When stew is done, take out some potatoes and carrots and mash or blend them into a paste and then stir them back in to make a thicker broth.  
  • If you like peas in your stew, after stew is cooked and the Instant Pot cover is removed, press the saute button, add your peas and cook until they're done!  (Just know, the extra cooking time may make your carrots mushy!)  
    • Alternate method so your carrots don't get mushy?  Cook your peas separately via microwave or stovetop and add them in after your stew is completely done!  More dishes to wash, but less mushy carrots!  :)
  • You can also add other hearty veggies to your stew--parsnip, potatoes, cut string beans, celeriac, turnip, etc. during the regular cooking process.  
  • For a little boost of greens, you can add chopped spinach in after the stew is completely cooked and just cook on saute for a little bit to soften your greens!
Have fun with it, friends!  Let me know how it goes!


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Half-Prepped for the Week!

So Sunday night is my food prep time.

Hubby goes off to play video games, I throw a load of laundry in, flip on old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then I start planning, chopping, and processing. I think about what I want to make for the next 4-5 days and then make a shopping list. I think about what I might want to snack on. And then I do a little prep.

I’m not one of those gals who cooks a bunch of stuff, puts it in containers and has full meals at the ready all week long. I’m truly not that organized. If YOU are one of those folks, I give you mad props! Keep it up! It’s a great way to ensure that you eat only healthy meals!

Me? I’m kind of a half-prepper! LOL!

I make carrot sticks, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, radish discs, and cucumber sticks. So they are fully prepped for dips, hummus, and guacamole and HALF-prepped for impromptu salads, stir fries, soups, and side dishes.

I make hummus and one other dip (last week it was Sardine Pate...which tasted surprisingly like tuna) to go with veggies and Mary’s Gone Crackers.

I make an oil and vinegar (or lemon) based salad dressing.

I juice a bunch of lemons (cuz I hate juicing them one at a time--better to make a mess and clean it up once than to have to clean up lemon juice, pulp, and seeds a whole bunch of times during the week!). I use lemons a LOT--in warm water, in hummus, in salad dressings, in marinades, with veggies, with fish, in name it!

I make almond milk that goes into the morning smoothies, saving the almond pulp to make almond crackers.

Sometimes I make salads and put them in “to go” containers, so hubby can just grab one during lunch.

Sometimes I make a broth based soup or chili that can be used for lunches throughout the week.

Sometimes I make Sweet Potato Toast, tuna salad, or salmon salad for snacks or a light lunch to go with the soup or salads.

By the time I make that, the laundry has been washed, dried, and folded in-between my little chop and puree projects.

The cool part is, when the work week comes, snacks are ready to grab and go, breakfasts/lunches are ready (or mostly ready) to grab and go, and the veggie part of dinners is “half-prepped”. Plus it feels like there’s less clean up to do when there’s not as much chopping and dicing to do at dinner.

How about you guys? Do you meal plan/prep? Got any good tips and tricks? Feel free to share below!

Pre-Food Prep pic from this Summer.  
I didn't realize there was an onlooker in the background! LOL!


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Hangry? Drop the Snickers and Grab a BALANCED Snack!

Hey Fruit and Veggie Challengers!

Are you hungry?

I’m finding that if I workout extra hard or don’t eat quite enough for one of my meals, I gett a little shaky and a little hangry between meals. Anyone else?

If that’s you...don’t go will only make you more likely to eat mindlessly and ravenously during your next meal and THAT will not make you happy! LOL!

So...what can we snack on? My suggestion is to eat some balanced snacks. The following are pretty good ones and if you have some you love...please share below!

  • Hummus with carrots, celery, radish, peppers, or cucumber
  • Celery sticks or Romaine lettuce leaves stuffed with tuna salad or salmon salad--you can add chopped tomatoes or brined pickles to your lettuce rolls or add capers to your celery sticks!
  • Sweet Potato “Toast” topped with almost anything! Tuna and cucumber. Hummus and sliced radish. Almond butter and berries. Mashed avocado with red chili pepper flakes. Guacamole.
  • Apple slices with crunchy almond butter
  • A handful of nuts, berries, and coconut flakes
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Goji Berries and nuts
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower) with fruit
  • A small cup of broth based Soup
  • If you do dairy, plain unsweetened organic yogurt with fresh or frozen berries mixed in
  • Egg Muffins--NOT to be confused with an Egg McMuffin! LOL! (Egg Muffins are made from eggs and finely chopped veggies whisked together and then baked in muffin tins. After they’re cooked, you keep them in the fridge for a quick little snack!)
  • A rice cake topped with hummus and veggies, tuna and pickles, or avocado and chicken
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers topped with Sardine/Anchovy Pate (Fancy!)

So how did your day go today? Feelin’ good?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Go Bananas! (Or Don't!)

OK, so I’m SOOOO excited that a bunch of you are playing along with me and taking the challenge to add more healthy fruits and veggies to your plate!  The GREAT IN-BETWEEN-HOLIDAYS FRUIT AND VEGGIE CHALLENGE has begun!  LOL!  And by the way, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Yup, I NEED this right now!”.  You can join in and play along at any time!  Make comments, ask questions, snap a pic and share what you’re eating (you never know...YOU might be the inspiration someone needs to commit to eating healthier and feeling better RIGHT NOW!).  

So..I got a really great question yesterday on the Facebook page, which was…

What about bananas? They’re not exactly crunchy or colorful, and I know they are kind of high in sugar. Do you consider them something to be piled on the plate, or no?

The short answer is, if your goal is to lose weight, minimize blood sugar swings, and keep insulin stable, I'd keep bananas (and other high sugar fruits) to a minimum when you start out on your Fruit and Veggie Challenge.  Plus, if you eat a lot of sweet sugary things...guess what?  You sometimes end up craving sweet, sugary things even more!  It might make it harder to give up the sweets if you’re eating LARGE amounts of very sweet fruits and veggies.  


But don’t toss that banana just yet!  Bananas are NOT bad for fact, they can be very nutritious--good amounts of potassium, magnesium, and B6, and green ones have gut-friendly prebiotic nutrients . Plus they’re super yummy (and you’re more likely to eat healthy if you like what you’re eating, right?).  


So...if you're a person who eats junk food every day and NEVER eats fruit, but you WANT to start eating fruit and the only fruits you like are bananas, pineapples and watermelon...then go for it!  I would WAAAYYYY rather see you improve your diet by ditching highly processed Frankenfoods like Ding Dongs and Oreos and adding in natural, nutritive, higher sugar fruits and veggies that have fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and other goodies inside!  That would be HUGE progress!

So are you scratching your head?  

“Was that a yes or a no? Do I eat bananas or not?”

As a Health Coach, my job is to help you get where you want to go. I don’t tell you what to eat...I trust that you know yourself well enough to decide what’s good for you and what’s bad for you. My job is to get you thinking about what you want, how you want to feel, and how the heck you can get there in the easiest and most fun way possible.

Want to live longer, age gracefully, have less pain, be happy in your jeans, and rock amazing energy? For most folks that happens by eating nutritious foods, exercising, hydrating, sleeping well, and managing your stress levels. But we all start someplace different, we all have different journeys, and we all have different goals in mind!’s up to the banana...or don’t. YOU are empowered to make choices that will bring you the results you want to see!

I’m so glad that my friend posted that question (thank you, Michelle!). Sometimes in order to make good choices for ourselves, we need to know what the impact of that choice might be. Knowledge is power! Ask your doctor. Ask a nutritionist. Ask Google. Ask me. Ask your mom. There are always two sides to every banana and it’s helpful to know what the sides are. ;)

Stay curious and be well!



When using Google to research foods, remember nutrition is not an exact science. If you're not convinced, choose a food and separately ask, "What are the benefits/pros of ____." And then type in, "What are the side effects/dangers/cons of ____?" You will get doctor's opinions, research results and anecdotal accounts that are completely contradictory! It's quite amusing!