What’s in my Pantry: Granola

One thing I really love to always have on hand is granola. It doesn’t matter what kind, I just find that it’s so useful and an easy go-to when you need a snack. If you get the right kind, it can also be really healthy, and help kick those hunger pains that appear mid-day. My personal favorite is the Vanilla Almond Granola by Creative Snacks Co..

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Ways to utilize granola:

  • Eat it alone, especially the chunky kind
  • Top off your yogurt
  • As a cereal
  • Mixed into oatmeal for some crunch
  • Mixed into salads
  • Added to a trail mix
  • Added to muffins
  • Make granola bars
  • make granola balls with oats
  • Added to smoothies
  • Sprinkled onto ice cream
  • On top of cupcakes
  • Added into breakfast pastry recipes

 

Health Benefits of Granola:2015-01-29 18.06.42

  • Aids in digestion
  • Lightweight, but filling, which aids in weight loss
  • Promotes healthy cholesterol
  • Boosts energy
  • Provides many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, such as Vitamin-C and Iron
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • & more!

 

Do you have granola in your pantry? If so, what kind?

–>Lynda

Managing Weekly Stress

If you know me, you know that I am almost always stressed out for some reason. In fact, if you click this little link right here, you’ll get to know me a lot better than you already do. About 90% of those statements in that list are accurate when describing me.

Pretty much, if there is nothing to stress out about, I’ll find something. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how to stop it. I’ve tried many times to shake it off and just relax, but at this point in time, I think it’s downright impossible for me to do such a thing.

I know there are a lot of people out there that probably just read all that and think I’m crazy, but there are also a lot of people out there that read all of my rambling, and thought, Oh my God, she gets me! Since those people do exist, I thought I’d share this with all of you. Recently, I’ve discovered a way to help me stop stressing out so much. No, it didn’t completely get rid of my stress, but it’s definitely helped me maintain control of it. 2014-11-17 08.23.19

I’m a list maker. I make them for everything. Groceries, my favorite things during the month (for everyone to see!), things I need to accomplish in a week, things I need to accomplish in a day, things I need to accomplish within an hour, lists of the things I list…the list goes on! (I’ve successfully typed list enough to cause myself to question whether or not it’s even a real word…it’s starting to look funny.) Anyways!! The point is: I use these lists to organize my thoughts and my life. But once I cross off a lot of those things I’ve told myself I needed to complete, I want to create a new list, and destroy the old one, forgetting about all I’ve just accomplished and adding more that I’ve discovered I needed to work on. I’ve finally realized that this method leaves me feeling unsatisfied and upset with myself, causing more stress. Until now.

What I’ve been doing, is writing down my accomplishments on my desk calendar, in the days I’ve accomplished things. This way I can visually see that I’m not just wasting all of my time, and I am in fact getting shit done. It might not be everything I’ve set out to accomplish in a weeks time, but I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs either. It really helps me see that no matter how much I put on a list of “to-do’s,” I am working through them, and I can’t be upset with myself for not finishing everything, when I can see that I’ve been trying my hardest!

Try it out for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an amazing feat that you document. It can be anything that you know makes you feel better when you look back on it. Like something as simple as cleaning your bathroom, working out for a full hour, going on a hike, spending some quality time catching up with a good friend, changing your hairstyle like you’ve been telling yourself to do for months, etc.. Then when you look at the endless to-do list you’ve created for yourself to get through this week, you won’t feel so bad, because you know you will accomplish at least some of them! And this time, they won’t be forgotten about so quickly.

Thanks for reading and getting to know me a little bit better.

Bows and arrows,

Lynda

What’s in my Pantry: Larabars

You just can’t beat the convenience of snack bars for when you’re on the go! There are so many out there to choose from and some are definitely healthier than others. Choosing the right bar can be a challenge! Some are more like granola bars, others are actual protein bars, and then there’s the ones that contain so much sugar, chocolate, and JUNK that you might as well be eating a candy bar. Even some of the more popular brands at the grocery store that seem nutritious and are even marketed to look healthy and “all natural” are not always! I have bought bars in the past like Nature Valley and even Chewy granola bars (ahh!) when I was younger, but I now realize that was not the best option for a healthy snack on the go. My rule for packaged bars now is that they have to have an extremely short ingredients list and I need to be able to identify the ingredients. I also try to avoid bars that contain a lot of added sugar. This is actually a good rule for all packaged food in general. Ideally I would like to think that I could make my own bars at home so that I could REALLY control the ingredients, but I just know that’s not going to happen…at least not all the time. Luckily there are some pretty delicious and nutritious bar options available.

If you’re looking for an “all natural” bar that REALLY contains all natural ingredients, then I would have to suggest Larabars!20140831_153713These are the two flavors I currently have in my pantry. The Coconut Cream Pie is my favorite out of all the one’s I’ve tried! Allow me to list the ingredients for you. Blueberry Muffin contains: dates, cashews, blueberries, blueberry juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, and vanilla extract.<<<That’s SIX ingredients! Coconut Cream Pie contains: dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. <<<FIVE ingredients!

Some of the other flavors I’ve tried and loved are: Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Lemon Bar. These all have 6 ingredients or less. These actually do taste good or I would not be suggesting them, I promise! However, if you have never had Larabars try not to get turned off by their appearance. They don’t exactly look beautiful, but who cares?! Also, if you want a crunchy granola type bar, these aren’t for you. You might want to try these or these which are also by Larabar.

Another bar that is probably my second favorite is KIND bars. KIND bars usually contain a few more ingredients and often have some added sugar in some form or another, but they are still a pretty healthy bar in my opinion. Also, most, if not all of them, are gluten-free and non-GMO. I recently tried the ones that are in a square shape and I really like those!

I feature Larabars so often on my WIAW’s I figured it only made sense to mention them in a “What’s in my Pantry”. You guys should definitely give these a try! I hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend!!! Thanks for reading.

Bows and Arrows,

Ashley

What’s in my Pantry: Blueberries

One of the best parts about summer to me is all the delicious summer fruits! Watermelon, strawberries, peaches, and blueberries! I love them all, but my personal favorite, and the one that can be found most frequently in my refrigerator, are blueberries. I ALWAYS have blueberries of some sort in the house. In the summer I have fresh blueberries from the local farmer’s market and when they’re not in season I buy frozen ones.

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What’s so great about blueberries?

Well, besides the obvious fact that they are delicious and can be used in many ways (some of which I will talk about below), they are also highly nutritious and good for you! Blueberries are packed full of antioxidants. In fact, they are ranked as one of the highest in antioxidants out of all fruits. Antioxidants are good! They help to combat free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are bad! They form when certain molecules react with oxygen, a process called oxidation. Free radicals can cause all sorts of damage to cellular structures and DNA, so consuming foods rich in antioxidants is important to help combat them.

Many studies indicate that blueberries are beneficial for the nervous system and brain health. They are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese.

What to do with blueberries?

Besides just grabbing a handful and eating them, there are so many ways you can get a daily dose of bluberries in your diet! Luckily, blueberries freeze really well without losing their nutrient content. I like to either freeze fresh blueberries or buy some that are already frozen to use in smoothies! When I am on top of my meal planning/prepping I like making little smoothie freezer bags that I can easily throw into a blender for a quick snack or breakfast.

20140810_173324This particular one has blueberries, banana slices, and spinach. I can pour this whole bag straight into the blender, add some liquid (coconut water, apple juice, or whatever) and it’s good to go.

The other way I usually eat my blueberries is on top of oatmeal almost every morning. You could also add blueberries to cereal, mixed in some yogurt, on top of a salad, or in some muffins! 😉

Now don’t you want to run out and get you some blueberries! You know you do.

20140810_170149Thanks for reading!

Bows and Arrows,

Ashley

 

What’s in my Pantry: 7 Sprouted Grains Bread

Technically, this item is kept in my refrigerator and not my pantry, but “What’s in my Refrigerator” just doesn’t sound as good. I found this bread because I had heard a lot about Food for Life’s Ezekiel bread and wanted to try it. The grocery store I originally bought this 7 Sprouted grains bread from did not have the Ezekiel bread, so I figured I would settle for this because it was very similar. Well, I like this kind so much that I have yet to try any of the other types by Food for Life. I have repurchased this kind several times now. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the other varieties by this brand and what you think of them!

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What is a sprouted grain anyway?

Sprouting involves soaking the grain, nut, seed, or bean in water. The process mimics the germination process. Soaking and sprouting times may vary depending on what it is you’re trying to sprout.

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Why is that good?

  • Helps to break down the hard-to-digest starches in grains into simple sugars that are much easier to digest.
  • Increases the nutrient content of the grain
  • Neutralizes phytic acid, which inhibits nutrient absorption in the body
  • Contains less gluten than non-sprouted grains, and therefore may be a good alternative for people who are gluten-sensitive

Sprouted grains vs. whole grains vs. multi-grains

facts_seedWhole grains– The entire kernel is used, meaning you get a good amount of nutrients.

Sprouted grains- The entire kernel is used, but sprouting enhances the nutrient content even more!

Multi-grains- could be the entire kernel or could be only the endosperm. It simply means that mutliple grain types are used, but does not necessarily indicate the state of the grains or what part is used/removed.

White bread- made from using only the inside part of the kernel, the endosperm. It’s basically sugar :-/

Besides all of its wonderful health benefits, this bread actually tastes surprisingly good! Another plus is that the Food for Life brand uses only certified organic grains and no GMOs, flour, refined sugar, or anything artificial. This bread is easy to find also. You don’t even have to brave Whole Foods for this one. I’ve actually picked this up from Food Lion before. You will find it in the freezer section. That is probably the only downside to this bread is that you have to keep it refrigerated (or in the freezer if keeping for longer periods). I always just toast mine a little bit and it’s not a huge deal. Another thing to consider is the price. Yes, it does cost a little more than other breads, but to me it’s worth it because I enjoy the taste/texture and really enjoy the added health benefits!

Hope you guys are enjoying this new post idea. Looking forward to sharing more yummy foods from my pantry! Thanks for reading!

Bows and Arrows,

Ashley

 

 

Easy Homemade Hand Soap

As someone who constantly thinks about what I’m putting IN my body from food and how it affects my health, I admittedly do not spend nearly as much time thinking about the things I put ON my body. I’m sure most of you have heard at least a little bit about the potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients that can be found in many beauty and body products. The ones I hear about most frequently are parabens and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (often found in shampoos). I have done a little bit of research on some of these ingredients, but I definitely have just barely scratched the surface of alll the information that’s out there. The bottom line for me is that the closer something is to containing real, natural, and organic ingredients, the better it probably is for my body. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that if it’s made in a laboratory, then it’s bad for me, but I do think that in most cases natural is better. That’s my philosophy with food also and it just makes sense to me. Here is a little infographic that sums up some of the toxic ingredients found in beauty/body products.

That leads me to the homemade soap thing…

I was thinking about ways I could start to transition some of my beauty and body products over to better alternatives. Natural beauty and body products are EXPENSIVE, but you can save a bunch of money by making some things yourself. Hand soap seemed like an easy enough thing to make myself. I searched and came across this blog post, which described the easiest process ever for making your own hand soap. I really wasn’t expecting it to turn out very well. I figured I wouldn’t like it enough to make it again, but I was so wrong.

All you need is a grater, a bar of soap of your choice, and a container to put it in. I got this cute mason jar with a pump in it from Marshals. I love it!

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Grate the bar of soap! Put 1 gallon of water in a big pot on the stove and heat just until steaming (not boiling).

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Once the water is steaming, remove from heat and mix in the soap. Let it sit for 15 minutes.

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After you let it sit for a while, take out your Hello Kitty mixer (or I guess a regular mixer will work also) and mix it all up really well. Put a lid on it and let it sit overnight. In the morning give it another good mix and you’re DONE! 

For more detailed instructions please check out the blog I linked above.

The consistency may vary, but mine turned out gel-like, which is what I was hoping for. I was really worried that it was going to be very watery, but it wasn’t at all. In case this slipped by you, I made a GALLON of hand soap, for the cost of a bar of soap. The bar soap I bought cost me around $4.69. In the past, I was buying a 32 ounce container of Softsoap brand hand soap that ranges in price from $2.50-$3.00. If I bought a gallons worth of the Softsoap it would cost me around $10! More natural ingredients AND cheaper! I like it!

20140630_171626I filled up this this container and the rest of the ones I had around the house and put what was left in an old Softsoap container. I will definitely be making this again when I run out of this batch…which will probably be a long time from now. Give this a try! Even if you don’t care about the scary chemicals, I think everyone can get on board with saving a few dollars here and there. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bows and Arrows,

Ashley

 

Meal Plan Monday

My meal planning and grocery shopping was pretty easy for this week because luckily I bought more than enough food on my last grocery trip. Also, almost every week there is one day that I have planned a meal that I don’t end up making. This is usually because I’m either too lazy to cook or I’m just not in the mood for that particular food. That’s the only problem I run into with meal planning. You can’t really predict what you’ll be craving or in the mood for ahead of time. I usually move that food into next weeks meal plan if I don’t end up making it. I did that this week with the Pan Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Rosemary which I ended up cooking tonight instead of last Wednesday.

I am still following the elimination diet although I have to admit that I am really over it! I also have to admit that I drank coffee today (which is not allowed) and it was DELICIOUS! And now I want more. I’m not disappointed in myself to be honest. I stuck with it pretty religiously for 23 days with only one or two minor slip ups. I’m still going to add things back gradually to see how I react, but I’m pretty positive I’m drinking coffee tomorrow too….and the next day and the day after that and everyday until I die (or get pregnant or want to torture myself with another elimination diet). As for now though, my meal plans are suitable for someone on an elimination diet (minus the coffee).

Click here for this weeks meal plan.

Spa salad from Roly Poly. A healthy, fast lunch idea for when meal planning is a fail.

Spa salad from Roly Poly. A healthy, fast lunch idea for when meal planning is a fail.

Recipes

Italian Turkey, Bean, and Spinach Soup

I really enjoyed this recipe. It tasted like some kind of delicious Italian pasta dish, but without the pasta and in soup form. It had tons of flavor! I, sadly, left the parmesan cheese out in an effort to stick with my diet, but I’m sure that would have made it even better. I found this recipe from Pinterest from this really great blog. Click the link above to check it out. Her pictures will make you want to make this soup ASAP!

Chicken and White Bean Chili

This recipe is from my It’s All Good cookbook, but I’m sure you can find similar recipes online if you search. I haven’t made this before, but hopefully it will be yummy.

Caesar Salad with Gluten free pasta and chicken with Paleo Caesar dressing

This is pretty self-explanatory, but it is basically this recipe with a few adjustments to suit my “diet”.

Then for the dressing I am going to TRY to make my own using this recipe. We’ll see how it turns out. I’m a little nervous/grossed out by the anchovy aspect.

Crock pot Balsamic Chicken

I have made this once before and I really liked it, but I just forgot about it. It’s another one I found while searching Pinterest. It’s made in the crock pot, so the chicken turns out SO tender and delicious. For another option, Lynda has her own Balsamic chicken recipe that you guys should check out.

One of my go-to meals for when I don't feel like cooking. Wild caught salmon and steamed green beans.

One of my go-to meals for when I don’t feel like cooking. Wild caught salmon and steamed green beans.

Well, that’s my meal plan for this week. I hope you got some foodspiration or at least found some new blogs to check out from this! I am thinking about doing a healthy meal plan for men for next week. I am going to TRY to make a meal plan for my (very picky, meat and potatoes loving) boyfriend that is healthy, but still satisfying to him. Would you guys be interested in something like that? It’s going to be a challenge! Anyway, thanks for reading!

Bows and Arrows,

Ashley