Grandma’s Green Bean Soup Recipe

Green Bean Soup

Source: Flickr/US Dept. of Agriculture

My grandma has been gone for many years. I still miss her even after more than 2 decades. There is one dish that never fails to remind me of her and that is her Green Bean Soup recipe. I made it tonight and couldn’t help mentioning to my family once again that it was Grandma’s recipe. My grandma was known for being frugal and saving everything. If there were 3 kernels of corn left at dinner time, they got put in an empty margarine container and saved in the fridge or frozen along with the other leftovers. She could whip up a meal at any time with all the little bits and pieces she had saved. We teased her, but we always ate well. She could have a whole family show up unexpectedly for dinner and she would make it work with what she had on hand. She and her sister were raised by their mother and they struggled through the Depression era. She learned as a teen that you just don’t waste food – it’s too precious. Here is how I make the soup. There is no real recipe – just delicious ingredients thrown together. The magic happens at the end when you add the heavy whipping cream. It’s not diet food…just delicious, real food.

Grandma’s Green Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into bite sized lengths
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion
  • Hickory smoked salt (or Bacon Salt)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Add ham hock to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. I let this cook for awhile to infuse the flavors from the ham hock into the water. Add potatoes, onion, green beans, and smoked salt. Simmer until tender. I usually start with a teaspoon of smoked salt and then add more to taste. I like to slightly under-season until the cream is added. Then the flavors will really come together and you can add more salt if needed. Add cream at the very end. Enjoy!
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Empty Shelf Challenge: The Compound Effect

The Compound EffectThe Compound Effect is one of the best personal development books I’ve read. I originally chose the book as a business book but I quickly realized that the concepts in the book can apply to ANY area in my life that I want to improve. The subtitle is Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success. I read the book quickly the first time because I couldn’t put it down. But it’s not the type of book that you should just read and move on to the next book. This book is filled with actionable steps that will change you if you take the steps. Each chapter gives you steps you can implement in your life to begin to make those small actions that add up to big results over time. There are free worksheets to go along with the book that you can download online. If you’re needing a kick start to achieving your goals, get this book!

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate so if you purchase using the link below I make a small amount that helps me run this blog. Feel free to purchase the book through any avenue you choose. Just read it and put the steps into action. You won’t regret it. The compound effect is active in your life already. The question is will you use it to your advantage to achieve your goals and dreams?

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Tips for Portion Control

21 Day Fix yogurtPortion control can be a key part of managing your weight. Portion control is especially important for the less nutritious foods that we may choose to eat. I don’t think anyone ever got fat by eating too much spinach. So when it comes to non-starchy vegetables I really don’t think it’s worth fussing about whether or not we are eating too much. For high carbohydrate foods we tend to need to exercise portion control. I know I can mindlessly eat a whole lot of Cheetos or mashed potatoes and not get many nutrients in the process. Here are some tips for managing our portions.

Snacking

I find that if I get too hungry I tend to overeat. So if I get home from work and it will be some time until dinner, I may eat a little snack if I’m hungry. If I wait and avoid the snacking, I find that I will eat too much at dinner. And it’s not the veggies that I’m overeating! A sliced apple with some natural peanut butter provides some great nutrients and keeps me from overeating at dinner.

TV time

I find that if I am going to snack while watching TV it’s best to only bring a small portion in the room and limit myself to just that serving. Otherwise I can mindlessly put away way too many calories.

Eating out

When I eat out I like to order dishes that come with enough food to bring home for lunch for the next day. The trick is to divide the food right from the start so I don’t eat too much the first night. You can even ask for a to go box at the beginning of the meal and package half of it up right away.

Tempting foods

If I have foods in my home that tempt me (usually for my kids) I keep them in a separate cabinet. It’s actually a cabinet in my hallway that I’m sure was intended to be a linen closet. I am perfectly capable of going to this cabinet and getting into the snack foods but for some reason I don’t. It has really been instrumental in keeping me out of foods like chips and crackers and making better choices.

The Benefits of Keeping a Food Diary

Food DiaryKeeping a food diary can increase your weight loss success. 

In a study by the Center for Health Research participants who kept a record of what they ate lost twice the weight of participants who didn’t track their food. The study appeared in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

How can such a simple activity help you lose weight?  

Open your eyes to the truth. 

Writing down what you eat, how much you ate, when you ate and any associated emotions or activities can provide information that can help you identify areas where you can make improvements. One thing I learned when I started tracking my food was just how often I was taking little bites of food here and there. Mindless eating while cooking dinner, packing kids’ lunches or putting away the snacks my children left out was really adding up.

Identify trends.

You may find that there are certain times where you tend to eat more than other times. You may also find that you make unhealthy choices more in certain situations. One thing I learned from my food diary is if I give in to certain treats (like frosting or candy) it sets me up for a day of cravings and frequently I give in. It’s so much easier for me to avoid those treats than to deal with the consequences. Many women find that it’s harder to eat right during “that time of the month.”  These are the types of trends you can identify by food tracking. Once you identify negative trends you can set some goals to do something about it.

Be honest.

It’s important when you start a food diary to be honest. You don’t have to show the diary to anyone else so be honest so you have good data to work with. That means writing down EVERY bite for a period of time. It’s best if you track all throughout the day instead of tracking at the end of the day. If you wait until the end of the day you can easily forget all the little extras you ate throughout the day. You don’t have to track forever. Just long enough to get a good sense of where you can improve to make the biggest impact in your health.

How to track.

You can track in many different ways. The easiest way is to just get a little notebook and write down everything you eat. You can also use apps like MyFitnessPal. Lately I’ve been tracking using the system included with the 21 Day Fix as shown in the photo below. It’s an easy way to track my portions of each macronutrient throughout the day. If you would like help with getting started feel free to contact me at info@cravingfitness.org

21 day

Enter to Win Shakeology

  Enter to Win Free Shakeology!

On my Facebook page I am giving away some Shakeology packets and a shaker cup so you can try the healthiest meal of the day. I’d love to have you hop over there and enter to win. You can enter by following the link: http://contest.io/fb/asczbc59

If you’d like to learn more about Shakeology and what’s in it you can check out my superfoods post here. It’s more than just a protein shake or meal replacement. I believe you won’t find another shake out there with as many amazing superfoods & no artificial ingredients. It comes with a bottom of the bag guarantee which means you can try it risk free for 30 days and return the empty bag if you were not satisfied. 

21 Days to Better Eating with Simple Portion Control

portion controlMy next challenge group will be the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan and workout. What makes 21 Day Fix different than anything you have ever seen? Simple! You know how most workout programs come with a nutrition guide that takes you days to read and then you spend a ton of money on groceries to try and follow the nutrition guide?

21 Day Fix is a simple system to help you focus on portion control and choosing the right foods. It even comes with special 21 Day Fix Portion Control Containers that you use throughout the program. If it doesn’t fit in the containers, then you can’t eat it. If it does, eat it! Simple! The combination of the workout plus the nutrition system is getting amazing results. Plus you can join others doing the same program in an online support group for additional accountability and encouragement.

Click here to see a video of what you’ll get and you will also be entered for a chance to win the program for free.

Chia seeds – Powerful Superfood

chia seeds

Source: Flicker/Health Gauge

Chia seeds have gained popularity in recent years. They are an ingredient in the Shakeology that I drink and I also use them to add to different foods (oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, etc.). They are a powerhouse of nutrition in each ounce of the tiny seeds. One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (mostly Omega-3), as well as a good portion of calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus among other vitamins and minerals.

I get chia seeds in my Shakeology but sometimes I add either extra chia seeds or flax seeds to my shake to add some extra Omega-3s and other goodness.  Chia seeds are native to South America. They are seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica – a relative of the mint. Chia seeds are considered superfoods because they pack an amazing amount of nutrition and they are very high in antioxidants. They are an excellent protein source and when ingested they swell which can help you feel fuller.

If you are interested in learning more about the superfoods in Shakeology you can check out my post here.

This is Day 26 in 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

My New Vegetable Discoveries

new vegetablesI love to try new vegetables. This week I found two new things to try. At Trader Joe’s I found something called kale sprouts. Apparently they are a cross between kale and Brussels spouts. They grow in a stalk like Brussels sprouts. I also found a bag of baby squash. It had green and yellow patty pan squash and zucchini. I have never tried patty pan squash and I’ve always wondered if I would like them. I sauteed the kale sprouts along with the squash with some onions and garlic. I added salt, pepper and some oregano that my husband grew in our garden. It was all delicious. I encourage you to try something new this week.

You can check out my other veggie posts to find some new ideas or rediscover some old favorites.

Turnips

Parsnips

Rutabaga

Bok Choy

This post is Day 25 in 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

 

Eating Healthfully When Eating Out

Source: Flickr/Sameer Vasta

Source: Flickr/Sameer Vasta

Eating out without blowing your diet

My family and I are going out to dinner tonight. Over the last two years I have made a great deal of changes in my nutrition. Many of the changes have become a permanent part of my lifestyle and aren’t even a struggle to maintain anymore. One of those changes is eliminating fast food. At this point I have no desire to eat at a fast food restaurant. It’s really a relief for that craving to be gone. I do still enjoy eating out though. Here are some tips that have helped me navigate the challenges of eating out.

Choose your restaurant wisely

Tonight we are eating at a Mongolian BBQ. I love this type of restaurant because there are plenty of healthful choices. You can get plenty of delicious food with full of great nutrients. I load my bowl with chicken and a nice variety of veggies. I go for lower calorie sauces so I don’t add a sugar punch to my dinner. The portions are too much food for just one meal so I save half for lunch.

I also enjoy going out to our favorite steak restaurant. It’s an easy place to pick my protein and choose my own side. I usually choose steamed veggies and I have a green salad to start. I find that the steak is so amazing that most of the time I don’t miss the potatoes that I used to add to my meal.

For lunches on work days I like a local burrito joint. They make your burrito to order and I choose to order it in a bowl instead of in a tortilla. I choose my protein and then add black beans, cabbage and other veggies. Top it off with pico de gallo and avocado and you have some great food with great nutrients. The bowl is enough for two lunches to me so it’s easy on my wallet as well.

Think about what restaurants near you make it easier to make more healthful choices.

Splurge on occasion

Sometimes it’s fine to just have a treat meal and not feel guilty. I try to eat clean 90% of the time so that I have room for a splurge every once in awhile. It has taken me awhile to learn that a treat meal doesn’t have to turn into a whole treat day. Every once in awhile I feel poorly after eating foods. This is a good lesson for me about where I can splurge and where my body tells me, “That’s not really right for you.”

Ask about substitutions

Many times restaurants are willing to accommodate substitutions for healthier choices. You can also have them hold back things you don’t want to be tempted with. For example, one of our favorite restaurants automatically brings bread and butter to the table. We ask them to not to bring it for us. We also ask for our dressing on the side and not on the salad. As above, I will generally ask for vegetables rather than a starch side dish. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want. The worst that can happen is that they may say no. They are usually happy to please the customer.

Beware the salad 

Read the nutritional information on the menu when it comes to salads. Many times it is surprising how many calories can be in some of the salads. I used to order a very delicious southwest salad until I noticed that it was almost 12oo calories. In fact, it was more calories than a burger and fries. I thought I was making a healthier choice but it was loaded with empty calories.

If you like this post you may like more of my posts in the #write31days challenge titled 31 Days to Better Nutrition.

Mindful Eating

mindful eating

Source: Flickr/Bruce Tuten

Mindful eating can be an important part of your fitness journey.

Mindful eating is one area that I have lots of room for improvement. I am guilty of eating too quickly and many times I don’t even really taste my food. I drink my breakfast smoothie at work at my desk while I’m working. I do better at lunch when I eat with my coworkers. Then at dinner I eat in front of the TV. As a result I think I sometimes overeat because I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating. Many times I don’t take the time to really taste and enjoy my food. I may miss the “I’m full” signal when I’m not paying attention.

Tips for mindful eating:

  • Reduce distractions – sit at the table, turn off the TV, put down your smart phone – this will help you focus on the task at hand – eating
  • Take your time – focus on the appearance and the smell. Take the time to taste each bite. Enjoy the different flavors in your meal. Try to identify all the different seasonings.
  • Chew well. It helps you be more mindful and it’s better for your digestion. The digestive process starts in your mouth.
  • Fresh is best – enjoy the freshest, highest quality foods you can afford.
  • Enjoy your company – If you are eating with other people take the time to enjoy their company. Talk about the food – the appearance, the flavors. Thank the person that prepared it for you.

This may not happen for you all at once. It may be changing years of bad habits. Choose one meal to focus on at first. I think you will find that mindful eating will help you eat less and enjoy your food more.

This post is day 22 of 31 Days to Better Nutrition.