Category Archives: Fats

Hungry Farmer Egg Muffins

While I’m off playing in Mexico, I thought you might be interested in seeing some new recipes I’ve created. Enjoy!

As you might know, I’m a farmer’s wife. That can mean a lot of different things to people, but the main thing it means to me is that I have a very hungry man to feed every day. Not only do I need to feed him, but I need to feed him well. He needs to get filled up in the morning so that he has enough energy to work until lunch. That means a bowl of cereal for breakfast isn’t going to cut it (especially since he could easily consume 5,000-6,000 calories a day and still never gain a pound!).

Since I’ve been eating more Swiss Paleo-ish, I’ve come across quite a few recipes for different versions of egg muffins that have tons of protein and fat, which is exactly what my honey needs to fuel his hard work. I decided to whip something up with the ingredients I had on hand and this is what I came up with.

I made these muffins a few weeks ago for the first time. Since then, I’ve made it another two times, changing the recipe a little each time. I don’t really like to measure things, so this is all sort of an estimation. It’s also a super adaptable recipe, so just throw in whatever you have!

Hungry Farmer Egg Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

This nutrient- and calorie-dense breakfast is sure to fill you up and fuel whatever you have to tackle for the day.

  • 1/2 to 1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked
  • 8-10 eggs
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cream or milk
  • chopped spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • cheese
  • potatoes- optional
  • coconut oil

1. Grease your muffin pan if necessary.

2. If using the potatoes, grate them into thin strings and saute in coconut oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper and place in the muffin cups, filling only about 1/4 of the cup. Bake for about 5 minutes at 350. Feel free to grate a little cheese over top of them.

3. Whisk the eggs with the cream or milk. Add the chopped spinach and seasonings. Add grated cheese if desired (it can add different flavors depending on what type you use, which is nice to change it up a bit).

4. Once your egg mixture is all whisked together, add the cooled sausage and mix again.

5. Pour egg mixture into cups and bake at 350 until they puff up and are no longer jiggly.

6. Let cool, then transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator.

7. To heat up, I recommend cutting each muffin into four pieces and then microwaving for 45-60 seconds.

Another variation: leave out the potatoes and use the cooked sausage with cheese on top as the “crust.” Then pour the egg mixture over top and bake.

What’s your favorite filling breakfast?

Health Screening and a trip to Minnesota!

I’m very excited to report that my hallway workout was awesome this morning! It was exactly what I needed to get back on track with my workouts.

It took me about 8 minutes to complete the moves one time through at a decent pace. I didn’t have much time left before I had to shower, so I did it a second time and just did half the reps. However, I only did the wall squat once at the end. In total, it took me less than 15 minutes and I promise you I was sweating!

Want proof? The thermostat is on the wall in the hallway and when I started the workout, it said 73, but when I finished, it said 74. I guess my body heat warmed up the entire hallway, and it proves that I was definitely sweating! This morning gave me hope that I can continue with these mini workouts and still get results in the small space.

Tomorrow’s workout won’t be in the hallway though. I am going into work late, so I’ll have plenty of time to fit in a normal workout before I leave. I’m also leaving work early (working an odd half day: 11am-3pm). I’m meeting my mom in Charlottesville around 4pm to do some shopping, eat at Whole Foods, and stop by to visit Kath at her bakery.

THEN: we’re flying to Minnesota!!!!

Okay, so we’re really flying to Charlotte, NC first, then to MN (arriving at midnight!!! Thanks dad for booking the flight!). My older brother and his wife have asked my little brother and I to be Godparents of our adorable niece, and this Sunday is her baptism. The whole fam is headed up there and I’m so excited to see everyone again. The only sad thing is that my honey can’t go with me 😦 Trust me, he is much sadder than I am because he’s not going to have someone to cook for him! But someone’s gotta stay at home and watch our puppy! That, and he has to take some recertification classes for his teaching license.

I’m also excited about this weekend because I get to travel with my mama! We’ve been on many many trips together (including a cruise, and a trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto) and we always have such a great time. She is moving to South Carolina in a matter of months and although I’ve known that it was coming for a year and a half, it still makes me sad! She’ll be over 6 hours away from me, and in thinking about it recently, I realized I have never lived more than a 3 hour drive away from her. My dad got a job down in the Charlotte area and they have started building a house (with a pool!!! That will definitely make the 6 hour drive worth it :)), but they have yet to sell their house (if you know of anyone looking for a house in central VA, let me know!!!), so the move has been put off for awhile. This weekend will be nice to hang out with her a little bit more before she actually moves away.

I can’t wait to fill you all in on the weekend and share TONS of pics of my adorable niece! Oh, what’s that you say? You want to see a picture now? Okay, you talked me into it! 😉

Thanks for letting me share 🙂

In other news, I got a health screening at work on Tuesday. Every two years, our healthcare people come to campus and offer free screenings. They took my blood pressure, pricked my finger (which hurt!) to check my cholesterol, weighed me and measured my height, and did a diabetes risk assessment.

I knew that the tests would come back saying I was healthy, but I wanted to know my cholesterol, so I signed up for a time slot today.

Rewind a few years back to when I was in college: this gal had high cholesterol! We’re talking 225…not good for a 19 year old. My parents have high cholesterol as does my grandmother; therefore, I used that as an excuse and said I was destined to have high cholesterol. I was told by my doctor to stop eating eggs and cut back on other animal products, plus to exercise more. I ate Egg Beaters instead of real eggs, stopped eating hot dogs (I know, I know! Blech!!!! It almost makes me sick to think about how many hot dogs I’ve consumed in my lifetime…), and worked out more. My cholesterol got down to 200 a few months later. Clearly things were working.

As I’ve mentioned before, I significantly changed my eating habits when I met my honey five years ago. I got my cholesterol checked not too long after we started dating to find that it went down a little more and was around 185 or so. That’s a pretty good number considering where I started, but it could be lower. I kept at the exercising and eating a little bit better, but I still ate lots of processed junk: frozen dinners, boxed baked goods, and french fries to name a few.

Then, I had it checked again two years ago here at work. It was 175. Again, a really great number! My hard work of exercising and staying away from eggs and some animal meat must really have been working.

However, let’s take a look at what has happened in the past two years since that last check.

  • I have upped my consumption of eggs to several times a week (especially farm fresh ones from here in my town)
  • eaten more meat than I’ve ever eaten before
  • started drinking whole raw milk and cream

Looks like the odds would be stacked against me when I got my cholesterol checked, right?

WRONG! 129 baby! Hmmm…very interesting…

My cholesterol has plummeted in the past two years, and I attribute it to the fact that I was feeding my body real foods. Yes, I added all of those food sources of cholesterol to my diet, but I also took away all of the nasty processed junk.

As I mentioned in my post about eating more fats, research studies have shown a link between polyunsaturated fats (think processed foods) and high cholesterol. (Again, I would do a horrible job explaining all about it, so check out the book Real Food by Nina Planck for more details.)

I truly think the fact that I stopped eating the junk foods really helped to lower my cholesterol so significantly. And apparently all of that dietary cholesterol didn’t affect me much….just another reason to get rid of the boxed and processed foods and to start eating the real stuff!!

Have you had your cholesterol checked recently? 

No Recipe Tuesday

Instead of sharing a delicious recipe today, I figured I would share a recipe for bad health. Similar to my top 10 tips for staying healthy, this will be more of a list. This time, it will be what NOT to do if you want to stay healthy!

Dr. Stephen Mercola runs a fantastic website www.mercola.com– FULL of incredible information about all things related to health. Sometimes his suggestions are a little outlandish- even for me! But I tend to learn a lot when I read through his daily e-mail.

Yesterday, I got this gem in my inbox: Eating Fat Won’t Make You Fat, But These 10 Things Will

Sounds right up my alley!

It’s a list of 10 things that won’t help you on your weight-loss journey. The crazy thing is that this list came from Yahoo Health. It’s so great to see such a mainstream site giving tips like these. Especially #1! So many people ignore this fact and it just makes me so happy to see it on a site like Yahoo.

Note: I added my comments about each piece in blue italic. The rest came straight from the article linked above. 

Eating fat won’t make you fat. Too many calories can, but most “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions. Yahoo Health has collected a list of 20 bad habits that can actually add to your weight.  Here are 10 of them:

  1. Eating “low-fat”: Low-fat or fat-free foods replace harmless fats with low-performing carbohydrates that digest quickly, causing a sugar rush and, immediately afterward, rebound hunger. As I mentioned in my post about Real Fats, low-fat foods are no good! They aren’t whole foods and are often full of synthetic chemicals to make them taste good. Read my lips: don’t eat low-fat foods!!!!!
  2. Sleeping too little or too much: Dieters who sleep five hours or less put on 2 and a half times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on only slightly less than that. Sleep is very vital to your health. I can tell a difference in how my body processes food when I get less sleep. Even if I’m eating the same exact foods as I do when I get enough sleep, I will be more bloated and hungrier. This is probably the toughest one for me. A lot of times I get less than 7 hours of sleep and I have such a hard time trying to get in bed earlier than 9:30pm. 
  3. Drinking soda — even diet soda: Drinking one to two sodas per day increases your chances of being overweight or obese by nearly 33 percent. And diet soda is no better. Any sugary drink, whether it is sweetened with real sugar or artificial ones, is just not good for you! Some cans of soda have up to 250 calories, and even though diet sodas don’t have any calories in them, the artificial sugars will trick your body into thinking it is hungry when it isn’t. Stay away from sodas as much as you can!!
  4. Eating too quickly: It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s had enough. It is important to take breaks while eating to give your body a chance to move the food down to your stomach. I’ve eaten too quickly many times and have always been more bloated and feel overly stuffed when I do. If I give myself time, I notice that I won’t eat as much. My honey on the other hand wants to get the food into his body as quickly as possible; however, he’s one of those types…you know the type! He never gains a pound, no matter how quickly he eats or how much he eats!!
  5. Watching too much TV: A study found that overweight participants who reduced their TV time by just 50 percent burned an additional 119 calories a day on average. Finding something else to do besides watch TV will usually get you up and moving and burning calories. We don’t have TV at our house, but we do have Netflix. We don’t sit on the couch too often, we usually reserve that for the weekends. I spend most of my evenings in the kitchen or playing with our pup. 
  6. Eating off larger plates: One study found that when given an option, a whopping 98.6 percent of obese individuals opt for larger plates. Have you ever tried eating off of a smaller plate?? It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make! When I serve my honey and myself, I will often use our small plates for my meal. The eyes can trick the brain into thinking you’re getting more food than you really are when the plate looks full, even if it is a smaller portion than you normally eat. I also tend to look at my honey’s portion and try to put about half of that on my plate- mainly at dinner. For breakfast, we typically eat about the same amount though! You gotta start the day out right! 
  7. Taking big bites: Research shows that people who take large bites of food consume 52 percent more calories in one sitting.  This goes along with chewing your food completely. My honey is a horrible offender at this one! He takes huge bites and swallows them practically whole. He’s told me before that he just hates to chew…strange! Anyways, I’ve noticed that if I take smaller bites, I feel like I’m eating more. My brain is being tricked to think that I’m taking more in even though I’m just taking smaller bites of the same amount of food. 
  8. Not drinking enough water: Adequate water intake is essential for all your body’s functions, and the more you drink, the better your chances of staying thin. I’ve mentioned my feelings on drinking water before, so it’s nice to read other sources that feel the same way!
  9. Eating too late: A recent study found that those who ate after 8 PM took in the most daily calories and had the highest BMIs. I go back and forth on this one. If you’re burning enough calories throughout the day, this shouldn’t matter too much. Or if you stay up really late and sleep later in the morning, eating after 8pm shouldn’t be a problem. I find the problem comes when I eat dinner and then go to bed within an hour. I find I wake up more bloated and I’m not as hungry for breakfast. 
  10. Drinking fruity beverages: All juice is high sugar, and the ones that use viscous syrups made mostly from high fructose corn syrup and thickening agents are even worse. See number 3! If you do drink juice, look for ones with no added sugar. 

Even though these tips are great and I believe in most of them, I think finding what works for you is the best way to stay healthy. Sometimes others’ tips won’t work for you, no matter how hard you try to follow them. I think drinking enough water, incorporating good fats, lots of fresh foods and eating minimal amounts of processed foods should be the cornerstone of most healthy lifestyles, but there are always exceptions to the rule, so do what feels good for you!

What would be on your “don’t” list for staying healthy??

My top 10 tips for staying healthy

It took me awhile to get to this place, but now that I’m here, I want to do everything I can to stay! Eating healthy has made such a difference in my life, I just want to share my experiences with others 🙂 Since there are lots of different thoughts about what it means or takes to be “healthy,” I figured I’d share the things I do personally to keep up my healthy lifestyle.

  1. eat more raw foods although I don’t subscribe to eating a raw diet, I do agree that adding raw foods to your diet is really beneficial. Raw foods are super easy to incorporate into your day: salads (see my fave one below!), carrots and PB, fruit and spinach smoothies, nuts and Larabars 🙂
  2. drink lots of water this should go without saying, but water really helps to flush out the system and it energizes me to get through the day! Check out my post about water for more about its benefits.
  3. stay away from polyunsaturated fatsmost of these are hydrogenated! These fats can be found in almost all processed foods (especially baked goods). Once these fats/oils are heated, they become oxidized and rancid, which is not good for your body. Basically, I just stay away from processed foods!
  4. eat more healthy fats: dairy with fat, coconut oil, olive oilfats actually aid in the digestion process. They also help your body absorb vital nutrients. Check out my post about Real Fats for more intriguing info.
  5. eat balanced meals with protein, carbs and fats- I always make sure to have all three in each meal. Sometimes my proteins and fats are packaged together like in nuts and nutbutters. My carbs are usually fruits and vegetables, or whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.
  6. exercise regularly: both strength training and cardio- eating healthy is definitely my way of ensuring I feel my best, but exercising regularly strengthens my body so I can perform at my best too. Plus, it energizes me for the day when I work out in the mornings!
  7. keep portion size in check- this is a tough one sometimes, but very imperative. Even if the food you are eating is healthy, you can still consume too much. I’m not one for counting calories, but knowing my limit on portions helps me to not feel overly stuffed. I especially pay close attention to my portions at dinner when I want a big dessert 🙂
  8. limit the amount of added sugar- processed and packaged foods often add sugar (or high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, etc.) to make up for the lack of flavor in the other ingredients. Added sugar is sneaked into so many foods that you would never expect! Try finding a package of hamburger buns without it!!! Some brands have 5 or more grams of sugar per bun-OUTRAGEOUS! I also stay away from white sugar, using maple syrup, honey and agave nectar instead.
  9. eat breakfast- seriously. Eat it EVERYDAY!!! Breakfast helps me stay energized until my snack at 10:00am. Yes, eating breakfast will make you hungrier, but that just means your metabolism is up and running for the day!
  10. eat multiple times throughout the day- I eat breakfast around 6:30am, a snack at 10am, lunch at 12pm, a snack at 3:30pm-ish, and then dinner sometime around 7pm. Plus, I usually have dessert after dinner. Eating like this keeps me full and satisfied, but never bloated and stuffed.

I’m still really new to the blogging world, but I’m so happy that I have found this great healthy living/eating community! I have been inspired by so many other bloggers and have enjoyed reading your experiences as well as sharing my own. This weekend I will be whipping up a few recipes from across different blogs and I’m so excited about it! I hope to be successful in taking pictures of the recipes I make, so look for a post this weekend about the experience and some great recipes on Tuesday!

What is your top tip for staying healthy?

Real Food: EAT MORE FATS

Disclaimer: I am not certified to give health advice, so please do not take this as such. This is my review of a book that I love, and some of my experiences since reading this book. This post is quite lengthy and might go against what you believe or have been taught about dietary fat, but I hope you’ll stick with me and read it all because it is great information!

When I started eating healthier, I was first drawn to items that were low in fat, full of ‘whole grains’, low in sugar, etc. However, I didn’t really lose any weight. What was going on? It took me awhile to realize that I needed to actually eat REAL FOOD to be healthy, and not just eat ‘healthy’ processed foods (think 100 calorie packs, sugar-laden granola bars, ‘whole grain’ cereals). What I didn’t realize at the time was that all of the low-fat things I thought were best for me, actually weren’t helping me in my attempt to lose weight.

My eyes were opened to healthier eating by a few people in my life, namely my chiropractor and my honey’s aunt who is a holistic nutritionist. They suggested I read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and they started talking to me about raw milk and about eating whole foods in general. I started to understand the value of adding more vegetables and good fats into my diet, and I cut out most things that come in a box.

If you look closely, you can see the cream that has risen to the top of the new jar- YUM!

Then, after talking to a really good friend of mine Jeanine (she also drinks raw milk and is the one who got me to actually try it) about some of the things I learned from my honey’s aunt, she told me about a book called Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. Don’t jump to conclusions!! I’m not a mother now, nor do I have immediate plans to become one! Jeanine assured me that the info in it was relevant to those who don’t have babies, so I said I would read it.

I don’t even think I got through the first few pages before I was ordering the author’s original book Real Food: What to Eat and Why. I truly wanted to devour this book because it was so full of information about TRUE healthy eating. It changed my life and I wanted to order a copy for every single person in my life because it debunks common health myths that our society has held onto for the past few decades.

It cited studies that showed how our industrial foods (especially fats) are making our society so unhealthy. It talks about how raw milk is so much better for you than pasteurized milk. The author goes into detail about the differences between traditional and industrial soy. She also touches on how it’s okay to eat eggs most days of the week and how a study showed that people who ate five or six eggs a week actually had less risk of heart disease than those who had less than one egg a week.

Planck also talks about growing up on a farm and eating REAL food, which most of you are probably eating already: whole fruits and veggies, real whole grains (think quinoa and rice, and not the ‘whole grains’ in Big G cereals like Lucky Charms!) and other things that don’t come in a box. However, she also talks about healthy REAL FATS. We’re not talking about just almonds and avocados here, people! She praises animal fats, such as lard, butter and whole raw milk, for being extremely healthy for you. If you think about it, a low-fat yogurt or cream cheese is not a ‘whole’ food. Some (or all) of the fat has been taken out meaning it isn’t truly whole anymore. Nature packages food the way it is intended to be eaten. Just like when you remove the peel of an apple, you lose a lot of the good stuff when you remove the fat from dairy products.

Similar to Planck, I found that once I put more fat back into my diet, the weight started coming off. My honey’s aunt told me I was fat-deficient just a year ago. I was drinking skim milk, eating low or no-fat yogurt and cream cheese, and still holding onto some stubborn pounds. Once I started drinking raw milk and eating full-fat yogurt, I started noticing a difference in my hunger levels (because fat helps keep you full), and my digestion (because saturated fats actually aid in digestion), and the weight really did come off because I was staying full and stuff was moving through my system as it should!!

Starting the seasoning process with pure pork lard from the farmer's market

I’ve heard many times to “eat the foods our great-grandparents ate.” Let’s be real for a second, they didn’t have the processed, hydrogenated fats (vegetable oil, soybean oil, canola oil, etc.) that we have today. So what types of fats do you think they ate? That’s right, animal fats, such as butter and lard! So why aren’t we eating these?? Unfortunately, the food industry wants you to believe that the vegetable oils of today (the polyunsaturated fats) are better for you, while this just isn’t true. With the advent of these hydrogenated oils, our country has become more unhealthy. You’ll have to get the book to read more about the studies that Planck cites to prove this theory because she does a better job of explaining it than I could. It is just fascinating to think about the correlation between these unhealthy fats and our unhealthy society!

There is so much in this book about fats (and so much more!) that I could never do it justice, so I’m going to stop there and leave you with these facts about fats that I learned from this book:

  • All fats are a mix of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids, some just contain more of one type
  • Lard is rich in monounsaturated fat- the kind that lowers your bad cholesterol- just like olive oil!
  • Butter is a source of Vitamins A and D, and contains cancer-fighting butyric acid
  • Raw milk is full of folic acid, and vitamins A, B6 and C, which are all destroyed by pasteurization
  • Coconut oil (a saturated fat) contains lauric acid, which is an antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral fatty acid

Please pick up this book if you get the chance. I promise it will open your eyes to a lot of new information about the foods we should be eating!

More reading: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Know Your Fats by Dr. Mary Enig

I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Do you think you eat enough healthy fats??

Triple Nut Crunch Granola Bars

As someone who loves granola bars but tries to eat natural and healthy foods, the options out there are not that great. Even the organic granola bars are loaded with all types of sugar. Also, since I became gluten-free, many of the granola bars out there have barley malt in them and are not an option. Thus, I came up with my own granola and granola bar recipe which I believe I am now addicted to! No seriously. I’ve eaten at least one bar every day since I first made these two weeks ago. Some days I eat two or even three!!! I think you’ll understand though once you try them 🙂

I looked around online for good recipes for both the granola itself and the granola bars, and I finally adapted a few of them to make my own. I’ll admit that for my first batch of bars, I used Bear Naked granola. Alas, it has barley malt in it and I could tell it affected me. PLUS, I figured that by now, I should know how to make my own granola. It’s such a cinch (say that five times fast!) and I’m so happy with my results.

First, start with the homemade granola (if you’re so inclined).

Homemade Granola- makes about 4 cups

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal- I used Erewhon’s
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • dash of cinnamon (or not, totally up to you!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Spread mixture onto baking sheet.

3. Bake at 250 for 15 minutes, then toss granola, rotate pan and bake again for 15 minutes.

4. Repeat process two more times then allow to cool.

Homemade Triple Nut Crunch Granola Bars

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups natural peanut butter (the kind you stir)
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chunks (optional)
  • 2 cups homemade granola
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well.

2. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan.

3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving so it has a chance to harden together.

I recommend keeping them in the fridge, either in the pan or cut up into individual bars in plastic baggies.

I also recommend eating three at a time…okay, not really! But I bet you’ll want to!

Last week, I ate a bar for breakfast/pre-run snack and I have honestly never run faster! I’m not saying these bars were the only reason, but I definitely believe they had something to do with it. They are also a great afternoon snack to tide me over until I get home because of all the protein and healthy fats. Go make these as soon as you can and I know you won’t regret it!