DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes

The other day, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite breakfast dishes from a restaurant back in Sycamore, Eggsclusive Cafe.  It’s an omelette that has fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado slices on top.  So simple but so good.

To the store I went to grab the things I needed that I didn’t already have, one of which was the sun-dried tomatoes.  I didn’t want to get the ones packed in olive oil because they tend to make everything else oily and the ones at my store always have some other flavoring like jalapeno added.  So I picked up one of the packages, despite the $5 price tag, and flipped it over to read the ingredient list.  That’s where I was met with sulfates and sulfites and other preservatives to keep “freshness and color retention”.DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully LivedDIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

No brand at my store had sun dried tomatoes without some kind of chemical or preservative and I didn’t want to spend $5 or more on something that I didn’t want in my body.  I almost resigned myself to the oil packed tomatoes when I thought to myself, “Self, can’t you just make your own sun dried tomatoes?  I mean obviously not in the sun, that would take too long and you don’t have a sunny spot in the apartment, but in the oven? And wouldn’t it be like way less expensive?”

Yes, my self was correct.  I can make sun dried tomatoes in my oven and have fresh, preservative free toppings for my omelettes and whatever else my heart desires.  If you have a food dehydrator you probably already know that you can make your own sun-dried tomatoes and it’s fairly simple.  If you don’t, you can do like me and make them in your oven!

Sun Dried TomatoesDIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

  • One 8 oz. package of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil, optional
  • salt, optional

* I made mine without oil or salt but you can, it just may take a little longer to dry out.

  1. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting.  If it’s 150-170 lucky you, the rest of us will have to make due with 200.
  2. Wash and dry the tomatoes and then slice in half.  Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  If you want to add olive oil and salt, toss the tomatoes in a bowl and make sure they’re covered then arrange on your baking sheet.
  3. Place the sheet in the oven to dry out.  Now, if your oven only goes to 200 you’re going to have to keep an eye on things to make sure the tomatoes don’t burn.  I opened my oven every 10 minutes or so to let out some of the heat.
  4. Turn over the tomatoes every so often.  Remember you’re just trying to dry them out, not roast them.  They’re done when they look shriveled like red raisins.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

* Make sure the tomatoes are completely cool and dry before you store them because any moisture in the container will make them mushy and spoil sooner.DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

My Thoughts on Being a Health Hypocrite

So yesterday I did something I rarely if ever do.

I spoke up.

If you know me at all, I tend to be a background type person.  I don’t like confrontation and it’s really hard for me to be the center of attention.  Like impossible.  But there are times that I have some sass in me that I make known and yesterday was one of those times.

I had to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things that I had forgotten.  I was in the baking aisle looking for some almond flour and two ladies walked up behind me and were looking at the oil.

My Thoughts on Being a Health Hypocrite | Life Healthfully Lived

The offending coconut oil

“Oh my gosh.  Look! Crisco is trying to get into the healthy fats game by selling “organic” coconut oil.”

“Like anyone would buy coconut oil from Crisco.  Don’t they sell vegetable shortening and all that other bad fat?”My Thoughts on Being a Health Hypocrite | Life Healthfully Lived

As I was listening to this conversation, I almost started to agree with them but then I stopped.  We all complain that we want more affordable healthy options.  We push big food companies to listen to us, to give us the good food we deserve without charging and arm and a leg.  Then when companies, like Crisco, try to give us what we’re asking for we disregard them.  Does selling organic coconut oil instantly make Crisco the best and newest healthy company?  No, but it shows they’re listening to us.  And what do you think happens if we all ignore them because they’re Crisco and “sell vegetable shortening and all that other bad fat?”  They pull that affordable organic coconut from their line and someone who maybe couldn’t afford the other brands suddenly can’t buy coconut oil anymore.My Thoughts on Being a Health Hypocrite | Life Healthfully Lived

I don’t know what made me do it, but I had to respond to this whole incident.  So I politely said excuse me and reached for the Crisco organic coconut oil between these two ladies.

“Thanks.  You know it’s really great that there are some affordable coconut oil options now.  Those little $13 jars never seem to last!”

I smiled and then just walked away.  Was it a little snarky?  Yeah, but I did my best to not make it about shaming these women because that wasn’t my goal.  We have to do a better job of working with what food industries are giving us.  It’s going to take a lot of time and it isn’t going to be perfect.  We need to work on not being snobs about our healthy products and realize if someone is choosing the Crisco coconut oil over things like vegetable oil or canola oil or corn oil then that’s a small victory.My Thoughts on Being a Health Hypocrite | Life Healthfully Lived

Please, don’t be a health hypocrite.  If you can afford to buy high-end all organic food and products, that’s great but not everyone can do that and the fact that there are more and more options for those on a budget is awesome.  Let’s support those people and those companies that are making an effort and maybe one day EVERYONE can afford the high-end all organic food we deserve.


Eat This, Not That

Eat This Not That | Life Healthfully Lived

Have you seen those articles/posts about what you should eat instead of the junk food you normally go for?  Or those articles that highlight restaurants worst menu items and then tell you what to eat instead?  Or have you ever tried to look up an ingredient or some other food thing online to see if it’s healthy or not and 3 hours later you have a pile of research saying yes it is and no it will kill you?

It’s really frustrating, isn’t it?

Eat This Not That | Life Healthfully Lived

How most people look when they try to start eating better.

Just the other day, I googled quinoa to look up the different varieties and was immediately met with headlines like: Quinoa: Is It The Next Superfood or Will It Destroy Your Gut? And: Quinoa Is The Seed The Acts Like A Grain And Could Be The Way To A Smaller Waistline. Don’t get me started on the back and forth over whether quinoa is “paleo” because that would take an entire day.

Eat This Not That | Life Healthfully Lived

They’re both fine, eat whichever makes you feel better!

While I’m sort of used to nutrition research and know that for every study published stating the benefits of some food there is another one that says it’s horrible for you, I realized that people just starting out on their healthy journey probably feel overwhelmed and confused when trying to figure out if something is good or bad.  I think that’s why I’ve started to move away from that idea.  Food isn’t inherently evil nor is it undeniably good.  It’s food and it either makes you feel your best or it doesn’t.  It helps you meet your goals or it deters you.

So what if quinoa isn’t paleo?  Does it make you feel good when you eat it?  Can you perform your daily tasks without hindrance?  Are you gorging yourself with only quinoa? No, hopefully you have a diet full of real foods like fruits and vegetables.  If you are subsisting on a diet of only quinoa, I’m going to bet you have other things to worry about….

Eat This Not That | Life Healthfully Lived

Anyone else feel like this?

So here is my advice for you health newbies out there and this is something that I wish I had realized early on in my journey because it would have saved a lot of time and stress: Stop worrying so much.  You can always find a reason something is bad or good.  Start looking to yourself to see whether what you put in your mouth is helping you or hurting you.  Start by cutting out processed food and move to whole foods and go from there.  Try new things and if they work for you then that’s all that matters!

Your diet will never be perfect and that is quite alright.  No one’s is.  Not the Instagram stars, not the celebrities, not the fitness guru’s, and not mine.  You aren’t striving for perfect, you’re striving for better than what you were.Eat This Not That | Life Healthfully Lived

Eat this OR eat that.  As long as it works for you, don’t stress it!

Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier

Stop looking for one thing to lose weight and be healthier.  There is no one thing.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

No one diet.

No one exercise.

No one magic pill.

No one superfood.

No one philosophy.

No one anything.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

The path to being healthier is not a straight and narrow path.  In fact, it’s rarely just one path at all.  There will be twists and turns, changes and modifications, things your body needs now but won’t in a year, and there is never an end point.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

That’s right.  This doesn’t end.  I don’t tell you this to discourage you but to let you know that making the decision to be healthier is an ongoing process, day in and day out.  You get to wake up each morning and make a choice.  Are your actions going to further your healthy goals or not?  You’re not a horrible person if they don’t nor have you failed.  You just made a decision in the moment and now you get to move on.

Losing weight and your health are going to be a series and combination of things that will ultimately bring you to where you need to be.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

You’ll experiment with different ways to eat and adjust to what you need.

You’ll try a bunch of different exercises and workouts and fine tune what works for you.

You’ll sample lots of different foods and see what your body wants and uses.

You’ll start making up your OWN healthy life and figure out what it means to be the best version of you.Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

And it will change and grow and develop over time and that’s good!  We all change and grow and develop.  I’m not the same person I was in high school (thank goodness) and I hope twenty years from now I won’t be the same person I am today.  Why should you expect what you do to keep yourself healthy to stay the same?Do This One Thing To Lose Weight and Be Healthier | Life Healthfully Lived

So stop looking for the ONE thing because it isn’t there and you don’t need it.  All you need is what works for you and what makes you shine from within and feel the best you can.

In A Diet State Of Mind

In A Diet State Of Mind | Life Healthfully LivedI debated writing about this topic because I feel it can be a little bit like beating a dead horse, especially if you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time.  But I decided to do it anyway because it’s an important message and it’s January.

What does January have to do with eating?  Well, turn on your TV and watch any channel.  The majority of the commercials are going to be about some diet or weight loss system.  January is the month of resolutions and the beginning of many diets.  Gyms have major discounts and are usually packed the first few weeks of the new year.  Supplements, vitamins, pills, and all other weight loss tools/systems/plans are everywhere you turn.  People and companies in the health and fitness realm know that you’re going to spend your money and they want to make sure that you spend it on their plan or product.

There are so many diets to choose from and it can be overwhelming to decide which one you are going to follow.  All claim to have amazing results and some even tell you it can be done with minimal effort.  It’s hard not to be drawn in with the before and after pictures, hoping that soon you can have your own beautiful after photo.  So you dive in and pick a diet that you feel is going to give you the results you want.

I don’t want to rail against all the diets out there.  That’s been done and I don’t feel the need to add to that noise.  But I do want to tell you one thing that might sound a little contradictive to that sentiment.

Don’t diet.In A Diet State Of Mind | Life Healthfully Lived

To be more specific, don’t approach the new year with a diet frame of mind.  A diet typically has a starting and an ending point.  Once you reach your goal weight, you stop your diet and return to your regularly scheduled program.  But if you return to the way you were eating before you lost the weight guess what’s going to happen?  You’re going to regain that weight.

Which is why I want you to approach weight loss and this new year not with diet at the top of your list but a lifestyle change instead.  If you’re truly serious about losing weight and getting your health on track, this is going to be a life long thing.  This isn’t a 30-day program or a two-week transformation.  This is going to be your day in and day out.  When you look back on what you used to be and do, it should look completely different from the here and now.In A Diet State Of Mind | Life Healthfully Lived

Don’t let this frustrate you or dissuade you.  I don’t want this to make you feel defeated before you start.  I want you to feel empowered and ready to face what’s ahead.  There are going to be tough days and there are going to be easy ones.  There are going to be meals where the only thing you want to see on your plate is a Twinkie and there will be meals where you can’t wait to eat a whole heap of vegetables.  And you know what?  That’s life and that’s how being healthy goes.  It’s a balancing act, a yin and yang, give and take.In A Diet State Of Mind | Life Healthfully Lived

So if you are starting this year with the goal of being healthier and losing weight, please don’t think of it as a finite time.  Don’t approach your goal in the “diet” frame of mind.  Focus on these three little things to help big change:

Small changes. Gradually change your habits so that you aren’t overwhelmed.  Once you feel you’ve got one change down add another one.  Keep doing this until you have completely turned things around.

Add not subtract.  Instead of thinking of all the foods you don’t eat anymore, focus on all the new things you get to eat.  New fruits or vegetables you’ve never tried or different recipes than the one you’re used to can make your new lifestyle feel fresh, fun, and exciting.

Know your why.  Have a definite reason that you’re doing this and remind yourself of that often.  And don’t worry about your reason.  If it’s so you look good at your high school reunion this year or in order to fight heart disease, as long as it keeps you motivated, that’s all that matters.In A Diet State Of Mind | Life Healthfully Lived

Those three things can help you when the going gets tough and trust me it will.  But that doesn’t mean you have to give up, it just means you need to put in a little more effort until you get to the easy parts again.  And those easy parts will come, I promise.