Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cleaning out the Cupboard {Here's to HEALTH!}

We've made some positive changes around here over the last couple years,
implementing a few things in the way of health & fitness ...
& although they may not be earth shattering, they are positive steps & I'm proud of us!

James & all three of our sons joined a gym over a year ago
& have consistently gone several times each week to work out & lift weights.
This has been great for several reasons.
Not only do the guys enjoy spending the time together at the gym,
they push each other to lift more, run more, etc.
Nothing like a little friendly competition amongst brothers ... and dad.
And it's especially nice this time of year when it's too cold for outside activities.

Riley continues to jog {he lost 30 lbs by jogging & cutting out sugar in 2012}
& fulfilled a goal in July to participate in the Color Run 5k.
He had a blast.

We made a point to cut out several particular fast food restaurants & while we occasionally
get a hankering for 'burgers & fries', our trips through those type of drive-thrus
are very far & few between.

Several years ago, James started incorporating coconut oil into our diet ...
& we almost exclusively use it now.
We now buy it in bulk from the Amish dry goods store.
The organic cold-pressed extra virgin has more of a coconut taste & smell to it.
James likes to put a spoon of it into his coffee or hot tea.
It's good to take a spoonful for indigestion, head/chest colds, or for a general daily energy booster.
James also spreads it lightly on toast or in oatmeal {it's acts like butter}.

For cooking, frying, & baking, we used the regular coconut oil.
It does not taste or smell like coconut.
I have used this interchangeably in recipes in place of whatever oil is called for & it's worked fine.
This 96 oz container at the Amish store is about $13 -- great price.
For additional uses of coconut oil, click here. 

The treadmill & bicycles are being used much more.

James enjoys eating lo-carb & has been venturing toward Paleo ...
so that's impacted all of us a bit ... learning how to meal plan & what to eliminate or cut back on.

All in all, these are good changes.
However, we decided while we were on vacation in September,
that we want to take things a step further.
We talked generally about things, but with the busyness of the fall {& factoring in the holidays}
we didn't make too much of a concerted effort to get going.
I did, however, started cleaning out the cupboard -- & I did this by using up some of the items
that I knew we were going to try to eliminate.
Instead of buying this & that at the grocery, I concentrated on making meals around the things
in the cupboard & pantry -- emptying it out so I could fill it with healthier goods.

So, we did what most all folks do in January ...
we formulated our plan & got started!
I thought I'd share our new game plan cause I'm quite excited about it.
{And, to report, we've stuck with it since we rolled it out!}

Here are the changes we've made as a family, regarding FOOD:

We decided there are some things that we no longer want to bring in the house on a regular basis.
  • chips
  • processed sweets such as snack cakes & cookies 
  • {processed foods in general should be limited}
  • individual oatmeal packets
  • canola oil 

Here are the replacements we decided on:
  • baked chips
  • homemade sweets on occasion
  • fruit bars / granola bars {healthier type -- for example Trader Joe's varieties}
  • homemade granola **{I'll share a recipe for that soon}
  • fruit leather
  • large container of DIY instant oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, etc**
  • {I'll share my recipe for this soon}
  • coconut oil, olive oil, butter

We also decided to limit ice cream, not keeping it as a staple in the freezer.
We are using whole grain bread more, white bread less, & keeping Ezekiel bread in the freezer for toast.
James & I are using Stevia in place of sugar {the boys don't care for it too much}.
Although I wouldn't say we drink a lot of soda, I am buying less of it ...
keeping  iced tea & lemonade in the fridge.
Gunnar bought a Voss water in the glass bottle & Riley liked the looks of it, so I bought a few of these reusable bottles {along with a couple other containers} to make drinking water a bit more 'exciting'.


James & I have switched to drinking the Kroger CARBmaster milk.
{The boys still have to have their whole milk ... can't get them to drink anything but.}
It's a nonfat, reduced sugar milk drink & it’s delicious, which I was not expecting.
It's low in carbs, packed with 11g of protein per serving, & is lactose free.

I pick up the lactose free milk at Aldi sometimes if I'm not stopping in at Kroger,
but the Kroger brand is my favorite.
The Aldi one is cheaper, but seems to have a sweetness to it that the other one doesn't have.

We also LOVE the CARBmaster yogurt.

One of our favorite new things is this: 
I've been keeping fruit & veggies cleaned, chopped, & ready to eat in the fridge.

I have some nice divided containers that I've been filling with broccoli, cauliflower, radishes,
multi-colored pepper strips, carrots, & celery.
These are great snacks & ready toppings for salad.
{I always have spring mix & fresh spinach.}

And the same idea with the fruit:  strawberries, various melon, pineapple, & grapes.
We all seemed to think that if these foods were prepared & ready,
we'd choose to eat them more often ...  and it's absolutely true!
We've been going through the fruit & veggies more quickly than usual.
As a bonus, I've been making veggie & fruit dip to go alongside.
Course, we always have apples, oranges, bananas, & tangerines in the fridge & fruit basket.

Speaking of fruit & veggies, I bought James the juicer that he'd been wanting forever for Christmas ...
& let me just say, the juice that's been coming out of that thing is nothing short of uh-mazing!!
Fresh orange juice?!  Well, let's just say I can't get enough of it!
{He got an espresso machine for his birthday in November, so we've been drinking like
kings & queens around here!! LOL}

Lastly, & although eating Greek yogurt is nothing new around here,
we've been really enjoying more treats made with it.
{I'll share my favorite recipe with Greek yogurt later this week.}

All these changes came about by sitting down with the whole family & talking about what foods
we should try to eliminate, identifying which ones are those 'trouble' foods
{the ones that aren't good for ya but you can hardly stay out of them when they are in the house ...
think Oreos, chips, ice cream!}.
We all listed foods that we'd like to have more often.
I wrote everything down & have not variated from it.
It's working because we all agreed on it & resolved that we were going to make 
these healthy changes work!

Making health a priority feels really good.
We have a ways to go & plenty of room to improve,
but are enjoying the benefits of our decisions already.

Don't forget, I'll be sharing 3 recipes soon:


Who doesn't love a party?!
You can find me here linking up with these great blogs.

Monday     DIY Home Sweet Home    The Girl Creative    Make It Yourself Monday     C.R.A.F.T     
Tuesday    A Delightsome Life   A Bowl Full of Lemons    Titus Tuesday      A Stroll Through Life
Wednesday   Raising Homemakers        Savvy Southern Style         Adorned From Above
                   Women Living Well    The Thrifty Home     A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Thursday    Between Naps on the Porch   Making Home Base      Serving Joyfully     Lamberts Lately
Friday    The Dedicated House   Rooted in Thyme    French Country Cottage
              The Thrifty Groove     Farm Blog Hop
Sunday    Nifty Thrifty Things    Suburbsmama    Sew Many Ways


  1. Looking forward to your granola recipe! I've been ditching things from the cupboards in an effort to get the bad stuff out of house, which is really hard for me! Ditching FOOD! But then it dawns on me...wait a minute! This stuff isn't really FOOD at all! It's mostly just artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives. Anyway, I'm feeling better just watching it go!

    By the way, I bought my first jar of coconut oil tonight and can't wait to start using it. :)

    1. Generally, I don't bring in too much processed food, but occasionally I succumb to the freebie items I can get with coupons. And you are right, when you look at the ingredients, there's not a lot of 'food' to some of it. And YAY you for the coconut oil! BTW, when I saw your post on essential oils, I almost said, "You homeschooler, you" ... but I refrained ;) This homeschool community knows some pretty good tricks, huh?!

  2. Looking forward to your granola recipe! It's amazing how much you can change and prosper in a short period of time. You should be proud! I'm working hard this year to change the way we eat and think about food. It's been a challenging but SO rewarding too.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I agree, challenging but worth it. I feel empowered when I am making better lifestyle choices.

  3. Great changes! I need to do some of those. I don't bring in much processed food (food allergy) but I do bake a lot. Need to cut back.
    Dropping by from A Wise Woman.

    1. I love baking too -- and my boys sure love it when I do. Chocolate chip cookies are my fave & I have a terrible weakness for them. So happy you visited.

  4. You are being such a good girl. I need to do the same!

    Dropping by from the Thrifty Things Friday Party!



  5. Great post! All changes start one step at a time and this was very inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing at TTF!

    1. That's true -- one step at a time =) Thanks for the link party, Linda.