The Feeling of Health: Part 3

The Feeling of Health - Beating the Sugar Addiction

Confession: I was once addicted to crack. Seriously. Go do a search on Pinterest for crack, I’ll wait. That’s right, crack brownies, chocolate crack cake, Christmas crack, you name it. (It actually annoys the heck out of me that they call all of this crack, addicting as they are. I highly doubt any if these housewives even know what crack looks like, myself included.)

I was addicted to sugar.

I never understood why all of my dieting efforts never lasted long-term. I was always lured back to the dark side by my mom’s “Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies”. I. Needed. Sugar! I was a lover of all thing sweet: Oreos, ice cream, cupcakes. I think you get the picture. I would try to swear them off only to have them call my name from the pantry. Just one more cookie. I was in a downward spiral.

It wasn’t until I watched the documentary Hungry for Change
(which I highly recommend) that I realized why I was so addicted to sugar and why I couldn’t beat it. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. No, I’m not exaggerating, it’s really in almost everything.

How I Beat the Sugar Addiction

Coffee creamer: SUGAR. Pasta sauce: SUGAR. Wheat bread: SUGAR! Everything we consume is laced with sugar. No wonder we’re all addicted.

So how did I beat the sugar addiction? It was actually easier than I would have ever imagined.

Once I decided to eat clean, I knew I needed to stay clear of sweets for a while. I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I allowed myself to indulge in a treat, but I knew it needed to be done.

I cleaned out our pantry, fridge, and freezer of ANYTHING containing added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Obviously, sugar is naturally occurring in things like fruit. I’m talking about unnatural, added sugar. The only “sugar” I allowed in the house in the beginning was honey.

With no sugar in the house, the first few days flew by. If I wanted something sweet, I ate a pear or had a mug of green tea with some honey. When I fist started drinking green tea, I added a tablespoon or so of honey to the mug, I now drink is straight or occasionally with a small drizzle of honey. Huge change!

By the end of the first week, I was enjoying being creative with my food that I was no longer thinking about junk before bed. I began thinking up new and interesting things to make for dinner.

By the end of the second week, I was able to pass up a cookie. It honestly didn’t look that great. I had a pear and some cheese as a snack. I knew something had finally changed. The addiction was broken.

The key to ending the addiction was removing all the hidden sugars from my diet. I can stop buying ice cream, but if I’m sucking down bagels loaded with high fructose corn syrup, my body is continuously going to need that high. This is why you continue to crave the junk.

Don’t be fooled into thinking sugar-free is your ticket either. Artificial sweeteners also make your brain crave sugar (on top of a slew of other horrible things). This is also another reason to skip anything labeled “fat-free”. How do you think they make fat-free foods not taste like cardboard? They replace the fat (which your body needs) with sugar! You think you’re doing yourself right by eating that salad with fat-free dressing? You might as well eat a candy bar.

You have to quit, cold turkey. You will notice changes in that first week or two. You will feel better, have more energy, and probably drop a few pounds.

I now get to choose when I indulge and on what. I am no longer tempted by a box of donuts or a piece of cake. I know that it’s poison and to be completely honest, unless it’s its something really special (or homemade from scratch) it’s going to taste like garbage because it’s made of garbage.

I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I get to eat whatever I want, because I want and crave the good stuff. I eat great 95% of the time and indulge occasionally. And when I do indulge, it’s definitely not on something commercially made (with the exception of a dark chocolate bar). The thought of never dieting again is incredibly freeing.

Food doesn’t have to control you. Once you’re in charge of your food, you might be shocked by the choices you make. From scratch apple cinnamon oatmeal instead of a slimy glazed donut, Yes Please!

Do you feel addicted to sugar? What have you done to change it?

If you missed them, you can check out Part 1 and 2 here and here. Next week in Part 4: Why I Limit Meat

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Super Simple Veggie and Wild Rice Soup

All three of us are sick.  We’re not sure where it came from, or where it’s going, but it’s not fun.  Luckily, I think it’s just a bad cold.

One thing that always makes me feel better is a good bowl of soup.  I love this soup and any variation of it for its simplicity and deliciousness.  It’s so simple that it really doesn’t require a recipe.  It’s also great for using up all those extra veggies you have in the fridge.  That being said, this is more of a “flavor guide” than a recipe.  You can make as much or little as you want.  I made just enough for Ava and myself because Tony was suffering at work.  I told him to go pick up some Pho as a consolation prize.

The Scacchi House: Veggie and Wild Rice Soup

So what’s in the soup?

  • Wild Rice
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Veggie Broth
  • Water
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Half & Half (optional)

That’s it, really!

I had about 3/4 cup of left over veggie stock.  I added it to the pot along with a jar lid full (I told you, this is not an exact science, but it was about 1/3 cup) of wild rice.  I diced a carrot and a small potato; into the pot they went.  I added some water to cover everything.  You could use all stock, but I just used what I had.

Bring it all to a boil.  While its boiling, mince up a nice size chunk of fresh ginger and add it to the soup.  If it looks like your soups getting dry, just add more water.  No stress.

When the rice is about half-way done, finely chop your kale (rib removed) and add it to the soup.  Simmer the soup until your rice is cooked, about 30 minutes total, adding more water if needed.

Once your rice is tender, season with salt and pepper.  I also added a splash of organic half & half to make it creamy.

The Scacchi House: Veggie & Wild Rice Soup

This really is a perfect bowl of soup when you’re sick.  Pair it with a mug of green tea and honey and you’ll be on the road to recovery.  Oh, and it’s toddler approved!

Do you have a favorite go-to soup recipe?

nopin

The Feeling of Health: Part 2

The Scacchi House: The Feeling of Health - How to Eat Clean

Last week in Part 1 I outlined how I got to this point. Oh the many years of believing spray butter was healthy. I was so wrong.

I firmly believe that food is 80% of the battle.  You can exercise all you want, but if you eat garbage, that’s all your body will ever be. You are what you eat, right. If so, I wanted to be bright, colorful, and healthy, not fake and carcinogenic.

The Scacchi House: Intro to Clean Eating

Photo Credit

So what exactly is eating clean? I guess it could mean slightly different things to different people. To me, eating clean is basically eating real, whole, and natural foods. Your food shouldn’t come from a package or have ingredients that you can’t pronounce. That mean no more Oreos. Don’t freak out.

When I began this journey I simply stopped buying crap. I let Tony finish up the few “bad” things left in the house and began from scratch. I stopped shopping in the center aisles at the grocery store (with a few exceptions). I began viewing processed food as poison, because that’s what it is.

The Scacchi House: How to Eat Clean

So what do I buy? What do I eat? It’s very simple. So lets say your typical dinner plate consists of 50% meat, 30% carbohydrate, and 20% vegetables, my dinner plate looks drastically different. My plate typically consists of 70% vegetables and 30% carbohydrates. Remember, I don’t eat meat, only on a rare occasion. If you don’t think you can completely cut meat, change your ratios around. Vegetables should make up at least 50% of your meal. Your carb should be a whole grain. Try recipes that use meat more as a side dish or as a flavor enhancer. A lot of Asian and southwest dishes come to mind.

Take a look in your pantry. Make a list if your favorite things (or everything for that matter). You need to find replacements for them all or eliminate them from your diet. Read the back of every label. I guarantee that only a few things are worth eating.

The Scacchi House: Clean Eating Food Swaps

Swapping your food won’t be as difficult as you think.  Your peanut butter should be just that, peanuts (and maybe a little salt).  Take a look at your favorite coffee creamer.  I bet you will be shocked that it’s not cream at all.  Most likely, the first three ingredients are water, sugar, and partially hydrogenated oil.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “cream” my coffee with oil.  Swap it for some half and half.  Watch the non-organic kind though, sometimes they have emulsifiers and preservatives, both of which are a chemical-slurry-no-no.  As for butter, real is always better.  Margarine has absolutely no nutritional value, bugs won’t even eat it.  Stay away from the fake stuff (any butter replacement) and enjoy some butter.

Look to your veggies for inspiration. For the first few weeks, look for vegetarian recipes online. Try new things. If you don’t know where to start, check out my Pinterest food boards.  Get creative!  I can’t even begin to tell you how many fruits and veggies I had only had frozen from a can. Don’t be afraid.  Try to buy as much fresh fruits and veggies as possible.  I do not buy anything canned, with the exception of these two bad boys.

Canned Goods

I love cooking with coconut milk.  I made a vegetarian curry just last night.  I tried it with bulgur instead of rice… AMAZING!  I use San Marzano tomatoes to make pasta and pizza sauce.  I just add a few herbs and spices, drop it in the blender and it’s ready to go.  Canned veggies are better than none, but avoid them if you can.  The cans are lined with BPA, which is no bueno (and another post all together).

As for frozen, I like to have corn, peas, and maybe pearl onions on hand for soups.  That being said, I ONLY buy organic frozen veggies.  TWICE I have found metal shards in conventional frozen corn, but never in organic.  I’m not taking a chance with my family.  Fresh fruits and veggies are not that expensive. Try everything, you will be pleasantly surprised when you find new favorites. In the first few weeks of eating clean, cooking and eating became an adventure. I was experiencing flavors and combinations I had never had before.

So you want specifics? This post could go on forever.  I’ll give you a few examples.

At breakfast you eat a bowl of fruity pebbles (or insert any other commercial cereal here). Put them down. You are killing yourself with overly processed grains, sugar, and artificial colors and flavors. Instead, make a bowl of 6-grain oatmeal. Yes, the kind you actually have to cook. Food should never be fast or cheap, that’s my motto. Top it with fresh fruit and maybe even some chia seeds. If you are missing the sweetness, drizzle a small bit of raw, unfiltered local honey or REAL maple syrup in top. A little goes a long way.

Swap everything for the REAL version. Yep, I’ve lost 20 pounds eating butter, no joke. I’m giving you permission. If it’s not real, it has no business being in your kitchen. If it says low-fat or fat-free, it doesn’t belong (with a few exceptions). I buy full fat dairy. Cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, etc. I do buy 2% organic milk and my yogurt and cottage cheese are reduced-fat/fat-free of some sort, but that’s just how they come. Fat free translates to “full of sugar.” We don’t want any of that.

The Scacchi House: How to Eat Clean

I love love love plain Greek yogurt.  I put it on everything.  I use it like sour cream.  You can make it sweet (with fruit and honey) or savory (add fresh herbs and spices).  Get creative!

Stay away from sugar-free, no sugar added, and artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are fake and don’t belong in your body. If you need sugar for something, use organic raw cane sugar. I use hardly any sugar anymore. In fact, I only buy it by the half-pint (Our local bulk store lets me bring my own jar!).  Once you wean your body off of it (in about 2 weeks), you will no longer crave it.  Seriously!

The Scacchi House: Eating Clean

If you are going to eat meat, try to find 100% grass-fed and organic if possible. Your body can’t handle all those hormones and antibiotics (this is why 9-year-old girls have boobs).  All seafood should be wild caught, never farmed and definitely not from China.

So what are some of my new favorite foods?

  • Avocado – Full of healthy fats, this fruit goes with everything. If you’re not sure about it, try it several ways.  I use it in salads, wraps, pasta and rice dishes, pretty much everywhere.  It’s Ava’s favorite food. She eats it straight from the skin.
  • Quinoa – This is sort of new on the scene. It’s actually a seed, not a grain. It cooks up just like rice. It is a complete protein, which is great for vegetarians. It has a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Chia seeds – These are the same seeds from everyone’s favorite chia pet. They don’t taste like anything, so they are a great addition to just about anything.  They are high in omega-3 and fiber.
  • Beets – Really!  I use them in tacos or slice them up and grill them for a beet slider.  Top them with some homemade green goddess and you’re ready to go.
  • Sprouts – I never liked sprouts because I thought they were all from mung beans.  You can sprout just about anything.  I love broccoli sprouts and I have some quinoa sprouts growing.  They are great to top salads, sandwiches, or soups.

Eating clean isn’t difficult.  Once you get through the initial week or two and you’re no longer addicted to sugar, you will look at cakes, donuts, and candy as toxic waste.  I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m perfect.  I did have ice cream last night and I occasionally indulge in an 85% dark chocolate bar (eaten over a few nights).  You will not get it right 100% of the time, but you can try your best.  Eat fresh, real foods and cook from scratch, that’s my best advice.

If you have any specific questions about eating clean or any recipes, leave me a comment or email me at scacchihouse@yahoo.com.

Here’s Part 1 if you missed it.  Stick around for Part 3: Beating the Sugar Addiction.

nopin

The Feeling of Health: Part 1

 

The Scacchi House: The Feeling of Health - A journey of weightloss, eating clean, and bodyweight exercise

In the last 6 month, I have completely changed my life forever.  I want to share my journey with you in a 7-part series.  I hope you will feel encouraged and inspired.

It all started in December of last year.  We were in Alaska and I had some free time.  I began watching several documentaries on Netflix.  One by one, I began to notice a theme: Eat Clean.  Along with eating clean, many of them discussed our addiction to sugar.  A lot of what was hearing was nothing new.

I have spent most of my adult life dieting.  I have never been naturally thin, not even in high school.  I remember the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, getting on the scale and seeing 142.  I’m 5’3″ and 142 was a devastating number to me.  I told myself I had to get the weight off and I would never weigh that much again.  I got down to 128 pounds, my lightest ever.  I was wearing a size 6.  I was thin, but not fit.

The Scacch House: 2009

Fast forward to 2007, college helped me add that 14 pounds back on plus an additional 9.  I was 151 pounds and miserable.  I did weight watchers and got back down to 135 pounds.  I felt better carrying around less weight.  I still didn’t feel healthy.

The Scacchi House: 2010

I spent the next few years yo-yoing up and down the scale.  When I met Tony in July of 2010, I was at 135 pounds.  Falling in love wasn’t good for my waistline.  When I found out I was pregnant, I weighed in at 142 pounds.  I had always told myself that I wanted to be in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant.  My desire for a baby wasn’t going to wait for me to get my butt in gear.

The Scacchi House: 2011

I gained a whopping (brace yourself) 40 pounds while pregnant with Ava.  At my last visit with my midwife before she was born I weighed in at 182 pounds.  I knew it was all for a good reason, but I never wanted to see that number again… EVER!

The Scacchi House: 2012

After Ava was born, I lost 30 of those 40 pounds in the first two weeks.  I thought to myself, “I can tackle 10 pounds, no problem.”  Five more pounds fell off in the next few months without doing much.  I tried to diet, but I was nursing and I didn’t want to limit my calories too much.

The Scacchi House: Before Alaska

We left for Alaska in October 2012.  Ava was 10 1/2 months old.  I weighed 147 pounds.  I felt horrible.  Something had to change.

In December I watched the documentaries.  Those documentaries drove me to the library to read more.  I began reading everything I could find on eating clean, vegetarianism, veganism, sugar addiction, GMOs, and processed food.  On December 23rd, I gave up meat.  I talked about this a bit here.

I started eating better, eliminating almost all processed food.  I tried to buy as much organics as I could find and afford.  The weight began falling off.  For the first time in my life, I felt great, and I wasn’t on a diet!  I always felt miserable on a diet because there were so many thing that were off-limits.  My new-found way of eating was so liberating.  It completely changed the way I will forever look at food (and my body).  My thought changed from “what I can’t have” to “look at all that I CAN have.”

I no longer feel deprived.  I eat what I want, when I want.  The foods I crave now are not what I craved before.  Food is now fun and exciting.  I’m always trying new things, combining new flavors.  Life got a little more exciting.

The Scacchi House: June 2013

As of Monday, I now weight 127 pounds and wear a size 4!  I’m the lightest I’ve ever been.  That being said, I no longer care about the number on the scale.  I don’t think I will ever own a scale again, I have no need to.  My body is different now.  I feel healthy and my body reflects that.

Check out Part 2: Eating Clean

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Sew Your Own Cloth Paper Towels

I’m a lover of all things cloth.  There is just something so luxurious about using cloth napkins and cloth paper towels.  We also love cloth diapers.  There’s just something about using the “real thing” as opposed to something made to be thrown away.

I also can’t stand the thought of buying something specifically to throw it away.  I can honestly say that since I left home at almost 19 years old, I have only purchased paper plates, cups, napkins, or paper towels a handful of times.  It’s just so easy to wash cloth napkins or real plates, even without a dishwasher.  The cost of disposable is just not worth it to me.

If you love cloth like I do, or you want to start a cloth collection, why not start with some easy-to-sew cloth paper towels.  I love these towels because they are the perfect size for wiping up messes and little faces and hands.  I can wipe up a spill and toss it in the washer with the rest of my laundry and not feel guilty about it.

The Scacchi House: Sew Your Own Cloth Paper Towels

These towels are incredibly simple and would be a great starter project if you are just learning to sew.  The best thing about the project is that it’s OKAY if they’re not perfect, they’re just for wiping up messes.  I whip these up fast, usually with my little helper in my lap, so sometimes my seams are not perfect.  I’m okay with that.

So what do you need for this project?  You really only need two things (other than a sewing machine and the basics like scissors), at least one yard of flannel fabric and coordinating thread.  Check out the remnant bin at your local fabric store.  I can usually find full yards of flannel (if you’re not picky about the pattern) for only a few dollars.  Remember, the remnants are already 50% off, but they might already be on sale.  I regularly find fabrics that are on sale 50% off, then I get an additional 50% off because it’s a remnant.  Score!

To start, lay out your fabric and decide how big you want your towels.  My towels are approximately 10″ squares finished, so I cut 11″ squares out of my fabric.  You will need a front and a back, so just continue cutting squares in even numbers until you run out of fabric.  You can cut them to any size you would like.  Feel free to use a quilter’s square if you have one.  I used a square cookbook I had from the library, then just used the previous square to cut the next.

The Scacchi House: Sewing Cloth Paper Towels

You will notice that my sewing pins look a little fishy.  Yes, they are Ava’s hair clips.  For some reason, my sewing pins were MIA so I had to improvise.  These flat hair clips actually work great if you are in a bind.  Use what you’ve got, right?

Once you have all of your squares cut, pin (or hair clip in my case) two pieces, right sides together.  If your fabric has a pattern like mine does, you will want to make sure that everything is running the same direction.

The Scacchi House: Sewing DIY Paper Towels

 Begin sewing on the lower third part of one side.  Remember to back-stitch at the beginning and end.  Continue sewing around the entire square.  When you get back to the side where you began, sew the top 1/3 of the side and back stitch.

The Scacchi House: DIY Cloth Kitchen Towels

This will leave you with a hole a few inches long.  This is how you will flip your work.

 The Scacchi House: TDIY Paper Towels

Flip your work right side out.  Use a pen or a seam ripper to poke out your corners.

The Scacchi House: Cloth Paper Towels

You will end up with three finished sides and your opening on one end.

The Scacchi House: Sew Cloth Paper Towels

Tuck your open end in and pin (or clip).  Beginning in one corner, sew around the entire towel approximately 1/4″ from the edge.  This will close up your opening and create a finished look for the entire towel.  You could even get fancy with some decorative stitching!

The Scacchi House: Sew Your Own Cloth Paper Towels

Your first towel is finished!  Once you get in a groove, these will sew up really fast.  I have a set of 12 and will probably sew up another set if when I find another print I love.

Have fun!

nopin