The Most Important Meal of the Day

 Breakfast this morning was based upon what needed to be used up. Bread that was about to start molding, cherries that had seen better days, an {almost} mushy avocado, {local} organic eggs, and {local} bacon* we found hiding in the freezer. We threw it all together into something pretty tasty!

I'm under the impression that most Americans think of breakfast as an afterthought.  The common trend is to rush out the door, barely making it to work on time. If you're lucky, maybe you had time to grab a sugary cereal bar. In our house quite the opposite is true. Pardon me for sounding like a total cliche dork, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day! We always make it a point to prepare breakfast, sit at the table, and eat. As a result, I feel much more energized and ready to tackle my day. The large mug of caffeine helps too :)
I cringe at the thought of how many people I know who don't eat breakfast. Our bodies are not programmed to fast for such a long period of time. When you wake up from sleeping for 8-10 hours, and then you head out the door with no food in your stomach, your metabolism is slowing down A LOT. If you are trying to lose weight/ maintain your weight, eating breakfast everyday is the best no-brainer way to do it. Don't even get me started about parents who send their kids to school with no breakfast. Glucose is the ONLY source of energy that your brain is capable of using. It's no wonder so many kids can't focus at school if they are eating a poor breakfast or not eating breakfast at all.

I would love to tell you that I wake up at the crack of dawn everyday and whip up a fancy breakfast for the three of us, but let's be realistic. I really only prepare a time consuming breakfast once or twice a week. We typically just fend for ourselves. A common breakfast for James and I is toast with peanut butter and fruit. I also love overnight oats in lots of different variations. Sophia goes through phases of what she likes. Right now she is loving O's cereal from Whole Foods. It is organic and totally natural with zero unnecessary ingredients. Because it is not sweetened like most kid's cereal, we sprinkle it with cinnamon and a teeny tiny drizzle of honey. She eats it with non-homogenized whole milk.
Now that I have scolded you for not eating breakfast everyday, you are probably wondering what defines a healthy breakfast. I thought you would never ask! In the simplest of terms, a healthy breakfast consists of 1-2 servings of complex carbohydrates, 1-2 servings of fruit/veggie, 1-2 ounces protein, 1 serving of heart healthy fat. Below are a few examples that will provide a nutritious breakfast to kick start your day and keep you full until lunch. If you are more inclined to eat several small meals, save the fruit or nuts for a mid morning snack.

Healthy Breakfasts
2 Slices whole grain toast with peanut butter and 1 banana
1 cup cooked oatmeal with milk; walnuts; dried fruit
2 egg omelet with tomatoes, avocado, cheese; 1 slice whole grain toast; 1 apple
1 1/2 cups whole grain cereal; milk; 2 tbsp almonds; watermelon
2 whole grain pancakes with chopped nuts; fresh berries; 1 sausage link*
Ham and egg sandwich on whole grain bread; tomato slices; melon
1 cup granola; 1 cup yogurt; fresh berries; 1 tbsp almond butter
Breakfast burrito on whole grain tortilla, eggs, black beans, avocado,  corn, cheese; fresh fruit

I hope these give you some good pointers about how to prepare a healthy, satiating breakfast. Please leave some of your favorite breakfast ideas in the comments below. Happy Friday!

*Although I don't advocate eating high fat sausage and bacon on a regular basis, I see nothing wrong with enjoying it in small portions throughout the week. Try to choose local or organic if possible to be sure that the meat does not contain antibiotics, by products, or  sodium nitrates.


School's Out For the Summer!

This morning included lots of this...CRAMMING! This week has been insane. I have had 3 exams and 4 assignments in the past 4 days. Did I mention that James has been out of town? Yeah, not fun.  Studying for my final exam wasn't really an option. I literally woke up this morning at the crack of dawn 7am and studied my brains out! It worked! I did pretty decent on the final exam and I am very happy with my grade for the class. Working hard toward something, and having that hard work pay off is so rewarding. I was so blessed to have a wonderful teacher. She made the class engaging and fun.
 Thank goodness for Trader Joe's English Breakfast tea! I had 2 full mugs this morning and I was ready to go! I also had a delicious and nutritious breakfast of whole grain toast (two slices) with almond butter and a banana. Breakfast of champions! Despite being happy about never ever having to take another lab science, I am a little sad too! I have really enjoyed looking at fuzzy fungi and wearing my awesome lab coat and glasses. All good things must come to end. Goodbye dorky lab coat and glasses. You will be missed!

My future scientist in the making!
The weekend is almost here! We will be heading out on a road trip with my husband and his band! Can't wait:) I am only TWO classes away from achieving a Bachelor's Degree. That is worth celebrating! Have a great weekend!


{Refreshing and Light} Lentil Salad

Has anyone else noticed how hot it is outside? To be honest, I really don't mind it. Being an Arizona girl for most of my life, I can take the heat! Personally, I would rather be hot than cold. A little sunshine is good for us. That's what swimming pools and tank tops are for. I wish I could tell you that we have been swimming a lot this summer and doing "summer stuff" like going on family vacations and grilling burgers every weekend. Honestly, I have not been in summer vacation mode in the slightest! Being in summer school has sort of ruined that for me. Thank goodness I only have 3 more days and then I will have a 4 week break until the Fall semester. I am hoping that a summer getaway is in my future....

The biggest disappointment during the summer is not being able to use the oven for cooking. I swear, if we use our oven in the summer, it heats the house 15 degrees higher for the rest of the day. Not worth it! This is why we all resort to breaking out the grill during these hot summer months. Although I am a huge fan of grilling, I have been craving something light and satisfying. Sometimes when it is so hot outside, eating a heavy meal doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

I have created this lentil salad as a fairly EASY and very INEXPENSIVE dinner option when you want something on the lighter side. Lentils get a bad rap as being boring, tasteless, "health food". Yes it's true, they are incredibly healthy, packing in more than half of your daily needs for folic acid as well as {keep you full} fiber. Despite lentils being touted as a health food, they soak up flavor like a sponge and are actually quite tasty! You {and your picky husband} might be surprised when you realize how yummy this salad is. 

This salad is a great introduction to lentils. The heat from the rice and lentils causes the spinach to wilt just a little bit, which I love! Although this is a hot salad, it doesn't require heating up your oven, making it a great salad for the warmest months of the year.  If you want to make this meal super budget friendly, I suggest buying your lentils and rice in the bulk bins of your local health food store. I spent a whopping $4 on the rice and lentils for this recipe, and we had a lot leftover.

Lentil Salad
Serves 5-6

3 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups green lentils
3 cups romaine (organic)
5 cups fresh spinach (organic)
1 cucumber Peeled and diced
1 large tomato diced (organic)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lemon
1 large red onion
pita chips for garnish (optional)

juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1tsp chopped garlic

I highly suggest soaking your lentils ahead of time to cut the cooking time in half. Place lentils in a large bowl, cover with water. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours. Prior to cooking, rinse lentils to remove any debris and place them in a large pot submerged in fresh water. Add garlic, salt, pepper. Cook on low/medium for 30-45 minutes. They should be soft but not mushy. After cooking, drain any excess water and squeeze lemon over the lentils. Mix the cooked rice and lentils into one pot and keep warm.

Julienne onion and saute in olive oil until edges are crisp. Chop lettuce and spinach very finely and set aside. Mix all ingredients for the dressing and place in refrigerator for a few minutes. Distribute lettuce and spinach among plates and top with the lentils and rice. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, and pita chips. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy.


Choosing to Study Dietetics

People always seem very intrigued by my course of study and curious as to how and why I chose to study nutrition. I hope this will answer your questions:)

I have always thought of myself as someone who is "not cut out for school". Though I love learning new concepts, I hate deadlines and I don't learn well in a classroom. Yes, I have a lot of knowledge about nutrition and I consider myself very intelligent on the topic, but getting to that point has not been easy. I have to work VERY hard to do well in my classes. I am most certainly not the sort of person who can cram for a test and do well. And I am definitely not an A student. I struggle just to get B's.

After I graduated high school in 2005, I had no clue as to what I should do next. Everyone told me I would make a great preschool teacher. Um, no thanks. I LOVE kids, but I have zero interest in having a job that is centered around kids.  I spent the first year of college taking completely random classes because I felt like that was what I was supposed to do. Marine Biology anyone? How about The History of Women in Film? After a year of random classes, I still had no idea what I wanted to do.

 After getting married in 2008, I decided to take a few nutrition courses. I was hesitant to do this because of my previous disordered eating patterns in high school.  I didn't want people to think that I was trying to learn more about how to diet and lose weight. In fact, quite the opposite happened! Delving into nutrition has made me loathe the idea of dieting and weight loss. A professor once told me that there is a reason that the first 3 letters of diet are D-I-E. I couldn't agree more! Glod has blessed me so much. He has taken a very distorted view of food and completely turned it into a healthy, and very normal relationship with food.

After having taken only two nutrition courses at a community college, I knew without hesitation that God was calling me to the field of nutrition and dietetics. With that being said, it is not an easy field! Don't let anyone ever tell you that nutrition is easy. "It's just the food pyramid, how hard can it be?" Actually, the food pyramid is completely obsolete and is most certainly not a good measure of healthy eating. Nutrition is hard! If I wanted to take the easy route, I would have become a preschool teacher or not gotten a college education at all! (No offense to preschool teachers). Instead, I took a deep breath and enrolled at Arizona State University. I knew this path was going to be challenging, but if I was about to spend thousands of dollars on an education, it had better be for something that I am highly passionate about!

Choosing to finally declare a major of nutrition and dietetics was a difficult decision for me. After learning that I would need to take EIGHT lab science courses, I was a little very hesitant.  After weighing the pros and the cons of such a challenging course of study, I felt fully confident that God was leading me down this path. In the past 5 years I have learned to embrace the bulky lab coat and safety glasses....

Nutrition is one of those topics that fires me up! Whenever I hear someone talking about a diet craze, it aggravates me to no end! I feel like I am in for a challenging and yet rewarding career path. So many people think that they are experts in healthy eating because of something they read on the internet. Very few people will listen closely to what a nutrition professional has to say because we all want a quick fix when it comes to weight loss.

I am graduating in about 20 weeks, and the truth is that I have no idea what I want to do after graduation. The only thing that I do know is that I want to advocate change. I want people to trust my opinions. I want to be taken seriously as an educated nutrition professional. I want to change the mindset of Americans in regards to what healthy eating should be. I want to be part of the movement to get America back to traditional, sustainable, real foods that come from nature and not from a big corporate factory. I want to radically change our American food system!

Stay tuned in the next few days as I detail the courses and skills required for a  dietetics degree.


Advocating For Our Children

Hello dear readers! I was asked by a close friend to write a guest post on her blog this week! I was so honored to have the opportunity to write a post that all mothers can relate to and find some common ground. Do me a favor and click here to read the post. Let us know what you do to advocate for your children.


A Rainy Day & Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Independence Day! I have been excited about celebrating the 4th of July for the past few weeks. Sophia has never seen fireworks and I have been looking forward to taking her to see them. Unfortunately we woke up to a down pour of rain:( I am not so sure if fireworks will be an option for us tonight. We are crossing our fingers that the weather will get better before this evening.

If there is one thing that the rain can't ruin, it's baking! After watching the rain fall for a few minutes, Sophia and I got to work in the kitchen. A patriotic holiday requires a patriotic dessert! Bring on the strawberry shortcake! This recipe is so QUICK, EASY, and INEXPENSIVE. I would be willing to bet that you already have the ingredients in your pantry. If you are looking for a QUICK dessert for tonight, this might be just the thing. The homemade biscuits are much healthier than that Bisquick stuff from the grocery store. I'm just sayin'....

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 5-6

Whole Wheat Biscuits
1 pint strawberries (organic)
1 pint blueberries (organic)
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (organic)
2 tbsp honey

Directions: Slice biscuits in half lengthwise. Thoroughly wash all berries and slice the strawberries. Using an electric mixer, mix the heavy whipping cream and honey until peaks form; about 5 minutes. Layer the berries and whipped cream on the biscuits. Serve immediately.


Whole Wheat Biscuits

I am one of the few people I know who don't really care for biscuits. I love bread, but for some reason, biscuits just don't impress me. Especially the type that come in a can. Something about biscuits in a can is just weird! Despite my issues with biscuits, I decided to create a healthy biscuit recipe for my  readers to enjoy. I am sure a lot of you have used canned biscuits or Bisquick in the past. I hope that when you realize how EASY these biscuits are, you will decide to make your biscuits from scratch. Yes, they are still fairly high in fat, but unlike store bought biscuits, these ones have no trans fat or artificial ingredients.

This is a great recipe to let the kids help with. Get creative and pull out those cookie cutters. Who ever said that biscuits have to be round? :)
This recipe is incredibly versatile. Rather than using salt, I have chosen to use sugar. If you prefer salt, feel free to substitute. Serve these with dinner, breakfast, or dessert in a strawberry shortcake recipe.

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Yields 10-12 biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup heavy cream (organic)
1/2 cup whole milk (organic)
6 tbsp cold butter (organic)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sucanat sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add flour, sugar, and baking powder to a food processor or blender. Cut butter into pea-sized pieces and add to flour mixture. Transfer to a bowl. Create a "hole" in the middle of the four mixture and pour in the milk and cream. Knead with your hands 10-12 times until dough forms. Using a rolling pin, roll dough approximately 3/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, use a drinking glass. Bake on an ungreased pan for 10-11 minutes. No more and no less. Enjoy them now or freeze them for later.

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