Fearless Friday Chicken Wings

Football Season is here! And along with the season comes sports bars, beer, and chicken wings. For years, my husband’s weight would fluctuate twice a year. In his never-ending effort to not lose control of his weight, he would usually start dieting and exercising in January, right after the holidays, and hold steady until his birthday in March. He would average between 15 and 20 LBS of weight loss. Then once he started looking better, he would slow down the working out and dieting and hold the weight steady until FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON…where he would ultimately make exception after exception until the weight creeped right back up and by the Holidays he had lost control and had to start over again in January. The process was exhausting for him….and for me. Because the truth is that the fluctuation affects not only his weight, but his attitude and disposition, and really the whole family would sense the change.

Well Pilers…Orlando is starting his First Fantasy Football season with his new lifestyle. No, he did not quit his 2 leagues or ban football from our home, he’s just decided to ride the wave of the season by being smart about his decisions. Will he cheat? Probably. Maybe he’ll drink a little more beer than he does throughout the rest of the year. And maybe he’ll go to the sports bars more often to watch the game with his friends. But the goal is for his diet to stay the same. And for whatever the reason, it seems so much easier this time around. Maybe its because eating vegetables have become so much a part of his life that he doesn’t consider it dieting anymore. Maybe its because he’s lost 50 Ibs instead of 15 and that has given him a new lease on life. All I know is that I have been cautiously waiting to see how this season will unfold and so far, my husband has continued going to the gym and eating right….despite Sunday, Monday, and Thursday games!!!! I am so very proud of him.

So, in honor of the season, he had a great idea… let’s make healthy chicken wings at home! We had my father in law here that day hanging out with us and the kids and when he tried Orlando’s wings for the first time he was blown away!!!!! To be honest we ate only the wings and didn’t add chips or fries to the mix. But they were so delicious we really didn’t even think of the side dishes. And they filled us up so much that we went out that night and could not eat dinner. We were stuffed. The whole process was a complete success and we can only hope that you enjoy the wings as much as we did. Can someone say HEALTHY SUPERBOWL!!!!! The least we can do is try!

So on to the recipe, Here is what we did:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • 20 chicken wings chopped in half (makes 40 wings)
  • Drizzle olive oil on the chicken wings
  • Season with Salt, Paprika, Chili Powder, and Sazon Completo (no measurements needed just eyeball it)
  • Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and line up wings
  • Bake 30 minutes,  flip wings to the other side
  • Raise temperature to 425degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Total baking time = 1hour.
  • 15 minutes prior to the end of the 1 hour, make the onions.

Preparation of Chicken Wings Onion Topping

  • 2 shallots (chopped) and 2 1/2 medium Onions sliced
  • Sautee until caramelized
  • Deglaze with Marsala wine for a nice sweetness
  • Add 4 garlic cloves at the very end and sautee for another 3 minutes.

Final Preparation

  • Take out chicken wings and let them rest on a drip pan. (We use a resting pan and put paper towel under it so it acts as a drip pan, and all the grease can drip to the bottom)
  • Toss onions and chicken wings in a bowl.
  • Serve on a platter.

    Baked Chicken Wings topped with Sauteed Onions, Shallots and Garlic

Packing kids’ lunch for schools – a challenge in my life!

I have to confess that I feel like i’m failing miserably at giving my children a balanced lunch when they go to school. I like giving them things like Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches on  Ezekiel bread because it doesn’t have to be warmed and its easy for them to eat.

But I recently was told at the school that we are not allowed to bring peanut butter and jelly for the boys because other kids may have peanut allergies. Since the kids are always putting other people’s stuff in their mouth, they could easily take a bite out of my kids’ sandwich and the school has a problem.

So no PB&J for me. My next step was to give apple slices, yogurts, granola, raisins…etc. That’s fine but I’ve also come to realize that that is pretty much what they’re eating for snack before lunch. Most parents are bringing yogurts and cheeses and fruit slices for snacks for the kids to eat, as well as the sweet treats.

So now i’m evaluating and thinking my kids are only eating vegetables in the smoothies I make in the mornings (and that’s not every single day) and at night with dinner. I’m not sure that is enough. Maybe it is.

So yesterday I was talking to my dear friend Jeannis who just put her little boy in school and she was telling me all the stuff she’s packing her kid for lunch, and I have to confess I was impressed and a little jealous!!!! I didn’t know how she could pack these elaborate meals for her kid to eat without everything getting cold.  Turns out she has bought a series of coolers, ice packs, and things that keep the lunch cold or hot. TOOLS! That’s what I was missing in my equation. If I have the proper place to store the cabbage soup, I would be more likely to pack it for the boys than I am now.

So I have asked her to email the items she purchased, and as soon as I find out about them I’ll share them with you moms.

This is the thing about kids…every time you think you have a system, something changes and you are left finding new ways to adjust. It can be overwhelming sometimes but that is why it is so important to continue to explore within your community, because there is always someone who has a better system than you do…all you need to do is learn about it!

Will keep you posted! If any of you have good lunch ideas to share on this page, we would all greatly appreciate your comments!


This veggie recipe deserves its very own post!

I’ve mentioned this veggie recipe in two different posts but it is such a good and simple recipe that I don’t want it to get lost or ignored in the other posts. PLUS, Orlando has added a new ingredient and it must be shared!!!!!

Its simple.

Asparagus, Leeks and Onions

  • chop 1/2 bunch of asparagus into 1 inch pieces. (to avoid the stringiness of the asparagus, break off the bottom portion of the asparagus)
  • 2 small Leeks or 1 large Leek, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 an onion chopped into small pieces
  • Sautee with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 7 minutes in a pan at high heat (maybe an 8)
  • The bottom of the pan will start to crust up. Then drizzle a little bit of marsala wine (about 2 ounces or less) on to the pan. Then you deglaze the vegetables (mix in the vegetables and wine with the crust for a delicious flavor)

But last week, Orlando added Brussel Sprouts to the mix. WOW! Delicious.

Brussel Sprouts were NEVER on our grocery list. But of course they came in our Annie’s box one day and we were forced to try it. My first impression was…they’re ok…but I wasn’t inlove. That soon changed. The more often Orlando cooked them, the more I liked them. They are now a staple in our home. If you’ve never had Brussel Sprouts and are hesitant to taste them, I suggest making them in this recipe for your first try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!!!!

So the recipe remains the same except that I have incorporated the brussel sprouts in it:

  • 1/2 a portion of brussel sprouts, cut off the bottom part, and cut in quarters.
  • chop 1/2 bunch of asparagus into 1 inch pieces. (to avoid the stringiness of the asparagus, break off the bottom portion of the asparagus)
  • 2 small Leeks or 1 large Leek, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 an onion chopped into small pieces
  • Sautee with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 7 minutes in a pan at high heat (maybe an 8)
  • The bottom of the pan will start to crust up. Then drizzle a little bit of marsala wine (about 2 ounces or less) on to the pan. Then you deglaze the vegetables (mix in the vegetables and wine with the crust for a delicious flavor)
  • Last step is to put a lid on the pan for about 2 minutes. Then take off the heat and VOILA! (the reason we add this step is because those last 2 minutes steam the brussel sprouts and soften them to perfection!!)

Not only is the recipe delicious, but you are now incorporating 4 vegetables as your side dish to your plate. This means vitamins, minerals, fiber, folate, antioxidants…health!!!!!

We hope you enjoy it!!! Let us know in the comments section if you made this recipe and what you thought about it! Also, don’t forget we will be answering questions once a week so don’t be afraid to ask!!!!!!


Turnip Mash, Salmon, & Asparagus, Leeks & Onions combo

Ok, so we are always looking for cool carb replacements that give the feel that we’re eating rice or mashed potatoes. It just makes us feel like the meal is complete when it looks like we have something starchy on our plate!!!!

Orlando decided to try Turnips today. This was a first for us, which is exciting because we love experimenting!

The mash was delicious. But even more exciting is the nutritional benefits of Turnips. We really felt like we were eating mashed potatoes. It felt like a cheat…but its not!!!!!!

Here’s what we learned:

  • According to Dr. Bowden, Turnips ARE a high glycemic food. But have no fear because they have  A LOW GLYCEMIC LOAD SCORE. What this means is that Turnips are not a dense source of carbohydrates and therefore WILL NOT raise your blood sugar. Our kind of food!
  • Turnips are considered a High Volume Food: lots of air, fiber and water…but low in calories. Therefore they are a great replacement for a starchy carb and you can eat and feel full without feeling bloated or raising your blood sugar.
  • Turnips have high amounts of potassium and vitamin A.
  • Turnips are a good source of calcium and vitamin K. (taken from Livestrong.com)
The Recipe:
  • 7 medium turnips, washed, peeled and chopped
  • Place in a saucepan and just cover with milk.
  • add a couple of sprigs of thyme
  • bring to a boil and simmer until turnips are soft (a fork should go right through them)
  • remove the thyme leaves
  • strain the milk and set it aside
  • place turnips in blender, add a tbsp of organic unsalted butter, and add some of the milk. CAUTION:  a little milk goes a long way. Be careful not to add too much or your turnips will be watery. You’re looking for a mashed potato -like consistency. Add a little milk, blend, and add more to reach desired consistency.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salmon, Turnip mash, and Asparagus, Leeks and Onions

We made this with a nice piece of wild caught Salmon and asparagus, leeks, and onion combo.

I don’t think we’ve ever blogged about our Salmon recipe so here it is:


  • salt and pepper and a tsbp of general tso’s sauce & glaze.
  • Broil (place directly under broiler) with door open for about 6 minutes (need to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn)
  • Let glaze crust on salmon
  • Take out salmon and insert knife in the middle. If it is not cooked through, you can place back in oven in the middle rack; close the door and bake for 4 or 5 minutes at 375.  (This step is necessary for some thicker pieces of salmon)
A word on General Tso’s sauce and glaze. I have to be honest, it simply is not healthy. It has sugar and soy protein.  However, we put one tbsp of it on our salmon and we justify it this way. Most of it burns off in the broiler; we’ve taken our blood sugar levels 1 hour after consuming it in our salmon and have had no significant blood sugar increase; and its a guilty pleasure. We used to put it on a bunch of different foods, but now its limited to once in a while, on our salmon. We have found other delicious alternatives for our salmon but this is just one of our favorites and from time to time we indulge. But this goes with our theory that as long as 90% of the foods we eat are healthy, then the other 10% don’t make a big impact.

Asparagus, Leeks, and Onions Recipe

We’ve mentioned this mixture before in our meals because it is a staple in our home. Orlando has fallen inlove with these greens and makes them all the time.

Here’s what he does:

Asparagus, Leeks and Onions

  • chop 1/2 bunch of asparagus into 1 inch pieces. (to avoid the stringiness of the asparagus, break off the bottom portion of the asparagus)
  • 2 small Leeks or 1 large Leek, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 an onion chopped into small pieces
  • Sautee with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 7 minutes in a pan at high heat (maybe an 8)
  • The bottom of the pan will start to crust up. Then drizzle a little bit of marsala wine (about 2 ounces or less) on to the pan. Then you deglaze the vegetables (mix in the vegetables and wine with the crust for a delicious flavor)

These veggies are so delicious and easy to make.  In the end the meal consisted of a protein and 4 different vegetables. Healthy, simple and absolutely yummy!!!


Why Gluten Free?

We received a comment on one of our posts asking: Why is gluten a healthier choice? Here is our response:

I always thought that Gluten free was a food choice for people with some sort of gastric disorder. Celiacs disease or something like that. I never really paid much more attention to it than that because, quite frankly, it did not apply to me. But as my research evolves, so does my knowledge. I have now found that opting for gluten free is a great decision for everyone, including those who are perfectly healthy. So what’s the big fuss?

WIlliam Davis, author of Wheat Belly, put it best: “Modern wheat is the altered offspring of thousands of genetic manipulations, crude and sometimes bizarre techniques that pre-date the age of genetic modification.” for the full article, visit: http://boingboing.net/2011/10/26/triticum-fever-by-dr-william-davis-author-of-wheat-belly.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+boingboing/iBag+(Boing+Boing)

Yes the wheat we eat today is a genetically altered version of the wheat we ate as recently as 1960. 

And as you may have noticed, celiac disease and all sorts of other irritable bowel syndromes are on the rise and much more popular now than ever before.

So what is happening is that the term “whole grain” is misleading most people. It is the most popular term being used nowadays referring to healthy eating. So people go to the store and see cereals, pastas, breads, crackers and they all say things like Multi Grain or Made with Whole Grains and they think they are getting a healthy product for themselves and their families. But really what they are getting is usually something along the lines of less than 2% of whole grains and 98% of wheat products.

This is where I come in and say again and again and again READ THE INGREDIENTS!!! 

Yes it is redundant, but I can not stress it enough. You deserve to know what you’re eating and the labels on foods are specifically designed to trick you into buying products that appear to be healthy but really aren’t.

There are many gluten free options out there such as millet, quinoa, and buckwheat that can substitute wheat products but knowledge is key.

But why does this matter if I don’t have Celiac’s disease or some other gastric condition???

Wheat products are super addictive, spike your blood sugar, and cause weight gain. To me, that is reason enough to curb the product. When I first started my process of eliminating sugar, I found out about wheat and eliminating it was no easy task. So many products contain wheat!

Now…to be fair….I am not on a strict gluten free diet. For example, as you all may know, I am a big fan of Ezekiel Bread. The food for life brand now has a few gluten free products, but generally I buy the Ezekiel bread that does contain wheat. So if you are gluten intolerant, read the ingredients and make sure you’re buying a gluten free product.

This is why I eat it: Ezekiel bread contains no flour and only sprouted grains. This means it has more amino acids than other breads (protein), is easier to digest, and is a low-glycemic food.

Since I don’t have a gluten intolerance, I can eat these grains and feel great. But even this I eat in moderation and really is not a big part of my daily diet.  Balance is the key.

So the next time you go to the store and are tempted to buy any product that claims to be whole grain, make sure you turn the box around and look for that key word…wheat!  And think twice. Lots of people often tell me they don’t understand why they can’t lose weight…after all, they eat healthy. And they truly believe this because they’re not drinking sodas or eating the obvious sugary foods. But the consumption of wheat in their daily diet prohibits them from losing that weight and it results in frustration and the belief that there is something wrong with them (such as a thyroid problem or some other medical condition).

Note: If you have any questions regarding any of the recipes or theories we post here on our blog, please feel free to ask us in the comments portion of the blog. Once a week we will be answering these questions to make sure we all stay informed and educated!

Fearless Friday Fajitas

When you think of fajitas, its generally not a terribly unhealthy meal with the exception that you’re eating red meat (of course you can always substitute with chicken), you’re eating flour tortillas, and its probably very high in sodium.

GrassFed Meat – One way to greatly improve your cheat meal is to use a good quality grass fed piece of meat. Grass-fed beef may have some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don’t have. According to the Mayo-Clinic, when compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef may have:

  • Less total fat
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E

Ezekiel Grain Tortillas – taking out the flour tortillas is a major step! These tortillas are made of sprouted grains results in a higher protein, higher fiber bread. (Note: these are not gluten free- hence why they are not a big part of our regular daily diet. We usually reserve breads for cheat meals)

Homemade Guacamole – homemade guacamole is just too easy to make and is full of nothing but good stuff (for a video on making guacamole with the kids, go to our cooking with kids post)

The rest of the stuff:  What you put in your fajitas is up to you. We used different peppers and onions, fat free sour cream and sargento cheese. You can use a dairy free sour cream, organic cheese, whatever vegetables you like… Its all up to you! This fajita was a basic fajita but the options are endless.

The point is to get into the mindset of whole foods and good ingredients. We hope you enjoy your mini cheat meal!!!!

Let us know your thoughts.

Cooking Homemade Guacamole with the kids

One of the difficult challenges of eating healthy with your kids is simply just getting the kids to taste the food!!!! At a certain age, kids generally get picky. Usually, this is around the age of 2 give or take. Babies shift to toddlers and all of a sudden it is quite important for them to claim their independence. This means saying NO and having control over areas of their lives. From what they wear, to what they eat, to what cup they choose…they are trying desperately to do exercise their own authority. What I find interesting about this is that a lot of it is just psychological. Its not that they don’t like water, they just don’t want it in a sippy cup…its not that they don’t want to wear shoes…they just want to wear the shoes with the lights instead of the boring sneakers. So maneuvering a toddler takes patience and smart manipulation 🙂

The same goes with food. These kids will refuse to try something simply because its green, or they don’t like the plate its on. And one day they’ll love something and the next day you can’t get it in their mouth if your life depended on it. Its unpredictable and frustrating and it goes for almost everyone, including ourselves.

But we’ve learned a couple of things. The more we talk to them about the food, the more independence we give them, and the more they are involved in the process of cooking the food…the greater the chances are that they will try the food. (For a great take on this, I recommend reading the book Bringing Up Bebe… I don’t agree with everything in this book, but I love their take on food exposure)

And when I say try, I don’t necessarily mean eat.

Right now these kids’ stomachs are tiny. They don’t need that much food. And really the focus can’t be what they eat in one particular sitting but overall because they are not going to eat all their food in every meal. Maybe at lunch they won’t try their veggies but eat all of their chicken. Well, at dinner they loved the soup and filled up on veggies then. Your really have to relax and look at the bigger picture instead of stressing the meal. I digress…

Their stomachs are tiny so they don’t need that much food. We’ve learned that its not so much what they’re eating right now as much as what they are learning and being exposed to right now. Experts say that eating is not only about nutrition its about social learning and exposure. Learning to eat in social settings, learning about textures of foods, learning to eat alone, learning to hold a spoon….its an entire process. This process is what is going to influence how they eat as adults. Whether they’ll be open to vegetables, spicy foods, exotic foods, etc. depends largely on what they are exposed to at these tender ages.

In this video you’ll see the boys saying how delicious and yummy the guac is. We’ll let you in on a little secret…we don’t really think they liked the guac!!!! It was a little spicy which Orly is not a large fan of, and the parsley flavor was pretty strong (we actually wouldn’t recommend parsley for the homemade guac next time around)…. BUT the fact they made it made them pretend they liked it! And they ate it, which was the amazing part. It was truly psychological! If they had not been involved, they probably would’ve responded YUCK!

So the next time they are offered guacamole they will remember liking it…and maybe it’ll be even more delicious next time around. And really if we can accomplish our children to be open to these foods…we are taking a huge step in the right direction!!!

Try to make lunch or dinner this weekend a family project and comment on this post to let us know how it goes! Good luck!


Tamarind Smoothie

I made an interesting smoothie yesterday that I just had to share.

  • of frozen Tamarind pulp
  • mixed berries
  • 1 banana
  • about 1/4 cup of kefir
  • romaine lettuce
  • water
  • stevia to sweeten

Note: my measurements weren’t exact. I just kind of threw everything in the blender and mixed.

I had never seen a smoothie recipe with these ingredients before but i’ve become bold with my smoothies!!!

Here was my process: I woke up in the morning. After my morning coffee and my time spent on the computer I head over to my kitchen to start preparing breakfasts and lunches for the whole family. The kitchen is bare. We didn’t stock up on groceries this weekend since we were in Orlando. The fruits and veggies are running low. The romaine lettuce is a day away from wilting. I open my freezer and I see frozen berries and frozen tamarind. I remember that tamarind is incredible healthy for you and is good for the colon, digestive tract, etc. I think to myself…we could definitely use a fruit that is good for the digestive tract and that will help all of us go to the bathroom and eliminate waste and toxins.
So I stick it all in the blender, hope for the best and press blend!

Tamarind is sour and the kefir I buy is not sweetened so it tastes like sour yogurt… so initially when I tasted the smoothie it was just too sour. The banana didn’t make a dent in the flavor. So I added a packet of stevia to balance the flavors and it was a hit. It still tasted a little too sour for me, but i’m pregnant and not sure if my tastes buds are totally accurate. Orlando and the kids, however, loved it and drank the whole thing.

So just to give you an idea of the health benefits of my new smoothie creation, here you go:


  • Tamarind can be used as a mild laxative, because the pulp comes from the pods of the tamarind tree which improve sluggishness of the bowels.
  • Tamarind pulp is a rich source of non-starch polysaccharides – or DIETARY FIBER
  • Tamarind is used to treat bile disorders
  • Tamarind lowers cholesterol
  • Tamarind is good for a sore throat
  • Tamarind is full of antioxidants but its different from lemon because it is rich in tartaric acid instead of citric acid. That is a powerful antioxidant and gives you a different benefit than lemon, which is also so good for you.
  • among its minerals are copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
  • Its vitamins include thiamin, vitamin a, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin c.

Romaine Lettuce: 

  • Forgot to add protein powder to your smoothie??? You don’t always have to. Romaine lettuce is considered a complete protein. It has all 8 essential amino acids. It is actually 17% protein per head.
  • Romaine lettuce is high in calcium
  • It contains Omega 3 essential fats
  • It is richer in vitamin C than an orange
  • it has Vitamin B1, b2, B3, B5, B6, and B9 (folate), viatmin A and K.
  • it also is rich in minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.


  • Kefir is an excellent source of probiotics- experts believe it is a better source of friendly bacteria than yogurt. (It is especially good to consumer kefir after you’ve taken antibiotics to restore the friendly bacteria in your body)
  • It is also considered a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids.
  • Kefir has Tryptophan which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Tryptophan is great to treat depression and anxiety, and sleep disorders.
  • Kefir is an excellent source of all the vitamin Bs, especially B12
  • Kefir helps stop food cravings!!!
(*health benefits of these products are taken from a mix of Livestrong.com and other internet sources and The Body Ecology Diet)

When I went to the store to purchase Kefir for the first time, I was overwhelmed because there is a rather large selection to choose from. I had read that you have to be careful with Kefir because a lot of the products are not true kefir with yeast. Helios Nutrition is a brand that is heavily relied upon by the source I read. I looked for it but it was out of stock. I was told that Lifeway was an excellent brand. I bought that one and bought the plain unsweetened one. I didn’t want to undo the benefits of the kefir by buying one that was loaded with sugar. So I add stevia to improve the taste and the kids have liked it. I pour some into my smoothies in the morning and give it to the kids for snack with fruits if I’m out of yogurt.

NOTE FOR THE PREGNANT WOMEN: Isn’t it fascinating that when we become pregnant we all run to our prenatal vitamins and take them every day religiously with that underlying fear that we may not be getting enough of what we need for the health of our babies? It has been an interesting experience for me the 3rd time around to not have that obsession with my prenatals. I do take my vitamins of course but I take such comfort in knowing that everything I need for my baby is coming from my diet.

For example folic acid. All pregnant women know they need folic acid. Well, I learned from Dr. Furhman that folic acid is actually a synthetic of FOLATE which is what you really need in your body. Of course taking folic acid is great if you’re not getting enough folate but if you had this smoothie for breakfast, for example, you would be loading yourself with folate first thing in the morning before you even pop in a prenatal.

So while taking vitamins is wonderful as a supplement, I urge women to use their prenatals as precisely that: a supplement! It is a wonderful feeling to eat foods that you know are good for you and your baby. It has made this pregnancy for me such a pleasant experience!!!!

Lessons Learned

Well, this week has been “get whatever nasty stuff we have in our bodies out, and get good stuff in” for the whole family. This means we are focusing on lots of vegetables, fruits, and very lean proteins. The reason we are doing this has more to do with state of mind than anything else.

This is the deal: we are living in a society where eating healthy is a “choice” we have to make every day. We are used to a life where food is readily available whenever we need it. You’re running out the door, grab a breakfast bar; Hungry and stuck in traffic, stop at the drive through at a fast food joint; Too tired to cook after a long day’s work: pop in a frozen dinner in the microwave. Healthy food is not readily available like that. It takes planning, it takes shopping, its a whole process. A process we’re not used to and most of us aren’t very happy with. This brings on another phenomenon. Readily available food takes out the need to “stop and think” about what we’re eating. Since it is no longer necessary to really “think” about what we eat – we can eat whatever we crave, whatever we have available at home, whatever is closest to where we’re located at the time – then we only “think” about food for one reason: TO LOSE WEIGHT.  This is why diets are so popular. Our lifestyle promotes weight gain. So when we reach a weight we are not comfortable with, we start thinking about our diets. We eat less, we cut out certain foods, we eat things we don’t necessarily like, and we lose weight. Once we’ve shed some pounds, we start making a few exceptions. It doesn’t all happen at once. It starts off on a Saturday at a party. We eat that dessert we love because we’ve earned it. Then Sunday comes around and we eat a couple of extra slices of bread before the food comes out because the urgency of losing weight is no longer there. And slowly, gradually, we go back to what is most comfortable for us: eating without thinking. And we really don’t have to think about food again until our skinny jeans aren’t closing even though we haven’t washed them!!!!

When I decided that I was going to eat healthy only to be healthy and for no other reason, I believed I would not fall into this trap. I thought if I could go a certain amount of time eating good food, that I could change enough where eating poorly was no longer an option. That is not necessarily the case yet. This weekend was an eye opener for both Orlando and I. As the weekend progressed, mainly because our choices were so limited, we made extra exceptions. We tried to stay on track but little by little we started making justifications. It was only really wednesday evening to saturday afternoon but by the time Sunday rolled around, we were at my mother’s house and I found myself stuffing my face with pita chips and cheese. I didn’t even think about it. It only struck me when Orlando said, oh my God those cinnamon pita chips are delicious, I can’t stop eating them! At that moment, I thought, that’s odd – that Orlando is eating cinnamon pita chips and then I realized – its odd that I’m eating cinnamon pita chips!!!!! But its a jerk reaction – and when you retrace your steps, you start to see how easy it is to lose your way. Like Orlando ordering beer at the Kennedy Space Center, and I ordering the soft serve ice cream at Downtown Disney -the choices are small and insignificant at one sitting but once you start making them your state of mind shifts and if you’re not careful, your bad decisions start replacing your good decisions more often than they should. And its so subtle its scary!

So when Monday came around, Orlando found himself without any motivation to go to the gym…and I had forgotten to set up our vitamins in the morning…we found ourselves feeling a little disoriented, unmotivated and unprepared. But because we are both in this together, it was a lot easier to regroup. Our motivations are slightly different. I prioritize the being healthy part because weight is not an issue for me, but weight has been an issue for Orlando so that drives him even more. And our desire to give our children a healthy lifestyle is a driving force for both of us. So the team work and the common goals really makes it easier for us to keep each other in check. Having this blog has also made us feel accountable for our decisions. And I realize that is one of the reasons it is so important to have a good support system; a community of people with the same goals as you. It has made me understand why they say addicts should never stop attending their AA or NA meetings. Its the same as having a mastermind group that you meet with to improve your business, or your church group… I have learned over the course of this weekend that state of mind and accountability are all part of eating healthy also. We can all de-rail and lose focus. No one is exempt from that. But the key is to stay accountable. Surround yourself with a community of people who will motivate you to stay healthy, to be positive. Create a team. Make this a family affair. The energy is contagious.

Thank you all for keeping us accountable!!!!

Day 4 – Last day of Mini Vacation Challenge and Conclusions!


This vacation was different from any other vacation we’ve ever taken. So much so, that each night, we weren’t really sure we would stay an extra day until the last minute so we actually stayed in different hotels each night! We had no plan, no itinerary, and no menu. It was an experience!!!!!

I had breakfast with the boys at Applebees this morning. The menu choices for the boys were pancakes and bacon, or eggs and bacon, or oatmeal. I chose one pancakes, and one scrambled eggs and substituted both bacons for fruit. Then I split the pancakes and eggs so they each had half with their own bowl of fruit. They were happy.

Note: I’ve never put maple syrup on their pancakes because although you can find some good quality maple syrup that is good for you, the stuff we normally see is full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. So I avoid it, and usually serve it to them with homemade whip cream or some honey. Anyway, here at Applebees they didn’t have those options, so I put a little butter on the pancakes. They never even asked for syrup, because they’re so used to eating the pancakes without it. A little touch of butter was all they needed and they were happy. I try to avoid giving them extra sugar as much as I can.

I saw 2 options I liked. There was a low carb omelette (meaning it didn’t come with bread and potatoes), and a garden vegetable omelette. I ordered the low carb omelette with all the vegetables from the garden omelette. It was pretty good. This was interesting, the waiter asked me what kind of toast I wanted and I said, no, I’m ordering the low carb omelette, it doesn’t bring toast. He says, Oh, that’s right. and walks away. Shortly thereafter, I get my omelette…with the potatoes!!!! I thought it was funny that he just couldn’t register the low-carb part.

A mix of the garden vegetable omelette with the low carb omelette

After breakfast we were on the road. We had a stop at Ikea and then kept going. At around 2pm we were all hungry. Orlando didn’t have breakfast and the boys were starving. Once again we stopped at a service plaza. This time we went to the KFC express because thought we could order the rotisserie chicken. Except that KFT express doesn’t carry rotisserie. Only original or crispy! We left.

The next service plaza had a wendys, earls sandwich, and dunkin donuts. We stopped there. This time around I was done with bad salads so I just ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with a baked potato. Luckily they had these items! I took off the sandwich bread and had the chicken with the lettuce and tomato in the potato. It was pretty good.

Orlando really did the best he could – he ordered a tomato soup from Earl of Sandwich, a baked potato with broccoli, and a side salad.

tomato soup, baked potato with broccoli, and a side salad

For the kids, we got smoothies. There was a smoothie place that had frozen fruit with no sugar added! What a nice surprise!


So the question we posed at the beginning of this adventure was:

Can we be poor planners, yet healthy eaters?

Our conclusion is NO!!!!!! 

You can opt for healthier choices, but you’re not going to eat healthy, balanced meals without some planning and packing.

I learned something on this trip that I really didn’t see before. I used to think that restaurants didn’t give as healthy options as it should. What I didn’t understand was WHY!!!!! There is NO MARKET for healthy food!!!!! Restaurants don’t make it readily available because there is no demand for it. THIS IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM!!!!!! So then when you do have someone who wants healthier options, the options are subpar. The quality sucks, the options are limited…and it makes you prefer to eat the bad stuff! It is a vicious cycle.  The first wendys we visited on the way up had 1 baked potato. 1!!!! Plenty of french fries, though! They took an extra 10 minutes to prepare the grilled chicken because no one orders the grilled chicken. Even those that get the salad order the crispy chicken! The KFC express had no rotisserie. No one orders it!!!!

Even when healthy options are offered, people don’t take advantage of them. Here is an example: at the last service plaza we went to they had a dunkin donuts, a wendys and a smoothie place. The smoothie place was the only thing you could buy that consisted of whole foods (Frozen Fruit). I looked around and noticed the lines at each place.

The Line at Dunkin Donuts


The Line at Wendys


The Line at the Healthy Smoothie Place

That’s right. We were the only people in the line at the smoothie place. People were walking around with frostys and nice big chocolate drinks from dunkin donuts, but no one wanted the fresh fruit. So that’s, in my opinion, the biggest problem. Restaurants need to make money and you’re going to cater to what is in demand. If healthy food is not in demand, it is not offered. PERIOD. If we want to change the way we eat, we have to demand it!!!! To me, this was the biggest eye opener.  We have to work together to educate people, because people really don’t understand what they’re putting in their bodies. FOOD IS INFORMATION. If you are feeding your brain bad information, your body will generate bad results – heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. WE NEED BETTER INFORMATION!

What can we do in the meantime??? 

  • Plan as much as you can. Next time, even if we choose not to take a cooler for example (we probably will), but if we don’t, we would still pack healthy snacks. Maybe nuts, dried fruit, a veggie tray, some pre-made sandwiches for the road trip.
  • drink lots of water with lemon. Lemon is a cleanser. So one of the things I did was order water with lemon for us everywhere we went.
  • Ask for veggies. Our options were limited, and we didn’t necessarily make the best choices everywhere we went. We definitely made exceptions. However, one thing we did do was get as many veggies in our bodies as we could. Veggies in our pizza, veggies in our omelettes, a side of veggies with our dinner. Load up wherever you can. Caveat: because the demand is low, the quality can be poor. Applebees had delicious veggies but naturally the broccoli in our baked potato at Wendys wasn’t great. But at least we ate it and we can only do with what we have at the time.
  • Explore the options the restaurants are giving : low carb menus, gluten free, guilt free.
All in all, our meals weren’t the most satisfying and we definitely ate things we normally don’t eat at home. But one thing we avoided was eating poorly at every meal. We had our soft serve ice cream and that extra dessert at applebees, but we also made good choices where we could.
But we’re definitely happy to be home, ready to get back on track…and next vacation, we won’t forget to plan!!!!!