This weekend was spent dog-sitting for both my parents and sister and husband.  Busy weekend but full of dogs, so I really can’t complain.  Plus the weather was absolutely FABULOUS.  Hopefully, you got the chance to get out and enjoy it!

Before I get into my meal prep stuff (which is a little sparse on account of me being away all weekend), I just wanted to talk about labels.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be preachy or ranty, just a general observation and reminder for myself. Labels | Life Healthfully Lived Continue reading

The Food I Eat

I’m not a vegan, I eat eggs and honey.

I’m not paleo, I eat grains and legumes.

I’m not a raw foodist, I cook a lot of my food.

I’m Katie and I am so much more than the way I eat.

Delicious omelet at our favorite breakfast place

Delicious omelet at our favorite breakfast place

I think that the health world can get too caught up in labels.  We all want to know what diet you’re following or what workout craze is holding your attention.  We want to tout the benefits of a certain lifestyle over another.  Sometimes we want to spend all our energy bashing other lifestyles that don’t fit our mold.  Either way it can seem that instead of a person all we see is a label.

An entire meal of yummy vegetables

An entire meal of yummy vegetables

I understand the necessity of labels.  I use them myself, on my blog, on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.  It is helpful when sharing recipes to let people know what is or isn’t in the ingredients.  But I don’t want to feel tied to a name that only describes one thing about me.

Creamy dairy free and gluten free spring pasta

Creamy dairy free and gluten free spring pasta

Yes, I eat mostly plant-based.  Yes, I don’t eat dairy.  Yes, I limit the amount of gluten I eat.  I do all these things because that way of eating is what works best for me.  The foods I eat are what fuel me in the best way, satisfies my hunger in the best way, and tastes good to me.  It’s ok to not have a specific name for the way you eat.

All the good fats in pistachios

All the good fats in pistachios

Eat real food, as close to their natural state as possible.

Try to avoid processed or man made food products.

Don’t worry about what is on your neighbors plate.

Let them eat for them and you eat for you.

We’ll all be a lot happier and healthier if we keep those things in mind.

I'm not just the food I eat. I'm wonderfully weird, witty, and wacky too!

I’m not just the food I eat. I’m wonderfully weird, witty, and wacky too!

Our Food

OB-SZ379_veg_E_20120516180914I came across this post about a woman from Nigeria coming to the United States for school and trying to learn how to eat well.  I found it fascinating because it really shows how different our food system is compared to the rest of the world.  While the whole post is really good, there were a few points that stuck out that I wanted to address here on my blog.

The first was how she learned to view food in Nigeria.  In her house, they called junk food simply junk because that is exactly what it was.  This is a simple idea but I feel like it is really substantial.  Food is meant to nourish our bodies and give us fuel.  It provides necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that allow us to function properly.  Therefore anything that doesn’t meet those standards shouldn’t even be called food.  Just what are we teaching young kids when we call candy, chips, soda, or any packaged product food when we qualify it as junk?  We are telling them that it is in some way allowing our bodies to work the way they should and that isn’t what happens with Pop-Tarts and Oreos.  It should be no surprise that we are confused about what food is healthy when we teach them that packaged and processed food can be part of a “balanced” diet.

We are spending more money on eating out than cooking at home.

We are spending more money on eating out than cooking at home.

The other reason that so many of us have a hard time eating well is that we are constantly sold on food advertising.  We love our buzzwords like ‘all natural’ ‘organic’ ‘gluten-free’ and ‘locally sourced’. These words mean virtually nothing when it comes to whether we should eat something or not.  Yes, organic and gluten-free are regulated terms but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.  Organic candy is still candy.  In the article, the author writes about being confused by all these words stating, “Wasn’t food by definition healthy?  If the food wasn’t healthy, then why call it food?”  Great question!  It’s so simple, yet we have complicated it so much by relying on convenience foods.  We need a package to tell us what is healthy to eat instead of just eating food that needs no advertising.  You don’t have to wonder if a bunch of broccoli or a bushel of apples is good for you.  Real food will always trump processed food.

When she came to the United States, the author was in good health.  She never worried about her weight and had no other complaints.  After awhile, she started to experience so many of the complications that come with a Western diet, even though she was trying to eat as close to what she grew up with as she could.  After going to her doctor and doing some searching they realized all the pesticides and chemicals used to treat the food we normally eat, was causing her ailments.  Her doctor stated that it was really common for immigrants to experience these problems when they come here.  This made me realize two things.  One, we really need to work on growing food that doesn’t need to be treated so much just to reach our tables.  I won’t claim to have the answer to that problem, but I do think it starts with us as the consumer.  Our money talks and by placing our money in food systems that are sustainably and thoughtfully grown, we can start to change the tides.  I know that this won’t happen overnight and that it is tough to buy all organic all the time (I don’t have the money to do that either), but we have to start somewhere.  The second thing it made me realize is that we shouldn’t all eat the exact same diet.  I am a firm believer in what works for me might not work for you when it comes to eating.  The microbes that digest our food are all different.  Hence, an immigrant from Nigeria is going to have a hard time digesting the food we eat here just like I would probably have a difficult time digesting the food they regularly eat in Nigeria.  It’s ok to not have a cookie cutter diet and eat what “everyone else is eating”.  You need to find what works for you and stick with that no matter what your neighbor is eating.  Respect your body and it will serve you well.


There are a lot of great talking/thinking points in this article, like the fact that in most other countries packaged food is way more expensive than regular food and only the really wealthy can afford to purchase it.  Yet it is the exact opposite here.  Packaged food is cheap and easily accessible while it costs a fortune to buy organic food.  While it is still possible to eat well on a budget, it is a little more difficult.  I also really like the authors simple rules to eating well here in the states.  Buy food that you know where it came from, avoid packaged food as much as possible, and cook your own food.  We don’t have to make being healthy a complicated process, simple steps such as these can make a huge difference in your health.

Try changing some things in your diet and see how much better you can feel.  Check out some of my other posts on eating well or making small changes, and start making a difference today.  You can do it!


How To Shop A Farmer’s Market



Summer time normally brings with it not just warm weather and trips to the beach, but the opening of the farmer’s market.  Farmer’s markets are great ways to buy fresh produce, support your local farms, and find some delicious new foods to try!  In this post, I thought that I would share a few tips on how to get the most out of your farmer’s market.  I’ve been to a few of the many markets open here in Chicago and even talked to a few of the farmers to find out how to make the most of your trip.


Walk the market.  Before you even buy anything, walk the whole market.  Many stands will sell the same fruits and vegetables but they might have different prices.  You don’t want to buy a pint of strawberries for $6 and then walk to the next stall and see they were only $4 there.  Also take your first walk through to inspect the quality of the produce.  Make sure that the produce being sold doesn’t look old, withered, or too beat up.  A little dirt is fine (these things grow in the ground after all!) but you don’t want it to look like it has been run over by a truck.  So make note of the stands selling good produce at good prices and make note of them.  Then come back after your walk through.

Ask questions.  The people running these stands have a wealth of knowledge of the products they are selling.  A lot of them have planted, watered, weeded, and harvested these fruits and vegetables themselves and know pretty much everything there is to know about them.  Don’t be afraid to ask how to prepare a certain vegetable or how to best store their fruit.  The farmers that I talked to were very excited and passionate about their foods and love to share their knowledge with the people buying their goods.  It’s nice to know exactly where your food comes from and exactly who is taking care of your food.  On the flip side, if the people at the stand know little to nothing about the things they are selling, maybe get your food at the next stand.  Also, if it is super busy at the stand that might not be the best time to ask for the history of radishes.  They are trying to sell their products and if they have to spend 30 minutes with each customer that won’t happen.


Try to use cash.  I know that barely anyone carries cash with them on a regular basis, me included.  Most stands will accept debit/credit cards, but the process goes a lot quicker if you can pay in cash.  This is also a great way to budget yourself at the market.  If you set a limit of $20 and only bring that much with you, then you won’t over spend.  Again, if you forget to bring cash with you it’s not a huge deal.  Most places will gladly accept your debit/credit card.

Be creative.  Farmer’s markets are great in the way that they will usually sell fruits and vegetables that you might not find at your grocery store.  Try something new!  Ever heard of kohlrabi, daikon, or patty pan squash?  The market is a great place to find one new to you produce item and learn how to prepare it.  Soon you will be an aficionado at unique produce and have a lot of tasty go to recipes in your arsenal.  And remember, if you aren’t quite sure how to prepare a certain food, the farmer is a great resource.


Still read the labels.  Most markets sell more than just fruit and vegetables.  There are bakery stands, jam stands, honey stands, butcher stands, and I’ve even seen a tamale stand.  Just because something is sold at a farmer’s market doesn’t automatically mean it’s organic or good for you.  Some stands sell products that have just as many chemicals and preservatives as the store bought kind.  Read your labels and ask if there is an ingredient you don’t know.  That being said, a lot of the stuff sold at the market are a much better choice than their grocery store counterpart.  Remember though, a cookie is still a cookie whether it’s organic and sold at the farmer’s market or not.

These are just a few tips to make your next trip to the farmer’s market a successful one.  I love being able to actually talk to the people who grow my food as well as learn from them.  Most of the time their passion for good food is contagious and I can’t wait to get home and make something with my purchases.  Find out where there is a market closest to you and check out all of the delicious and healthy food they have to offer!

Grocery Shopping Tips

Clearly I believe that one of the components of living a healthier lifestyle is to eat well.  In order to eat well, you have to shop for that better food.  Grocery shopping can be an intimidating task for some people.  There are so many options, so many different choices, so many things that it can be overwhelming.  Where do you start?  What do you choose?  How do you ignore the things that aren’t good for you?  How do you know what is and isn’t good for you?  Whew!  If you are going to live healthier you HAVE to eat healthier and I don’t want you to feel intimidated by that.  I want it to be easy for you to shop and eat well, so I am going to give you some of my grocery shopping tips that help me stick to what I need and bypass everything I don’t.  Some of my tips might not apply to you or your grocery store, but there should be something in my list that will help you out and every little bit helps when it comes to eating better.


Make a menu for the week.  Try to plan ahead as much as possible.  I grocery shop Friday morning, so I like to write out a dinner menu through Thursday.  If you can’t handle a whole week just do a few days in advance.  Writing out a menu helps you to think about what ingredients you will need for your meals and what you will need to shop for.

Take inventory of your kitchen and make a list.  Check your fridge, your pantry, and your cabinets.  What things do you have and what things do you need?  I check my supply of dried goods like beans, rice, quinoa, and things like that.  I check  my supply of canned goods like diced tomatoes.  I also check things like potatoes, garlic, and onions as well as spices.  If I am low on any of my staples, I put it onto my grocery list.  Anything that I need for my weekly dinner that I don’t already have also goes on the list.  I also tend to arrange my list in the order that I will shop for it at the store.  For example, I put all my fresh produce on the list first because at my grocery store that is the first thing I get.  This helps to streamline the process as well as helps avoid any aisle that I do not need to be in.  Some people just wander up and down the aisles throwing whatever they think looks good into their cart.  They tend to end up with a lot more food than they need as well as the unhealthier fare that the store offers.  By preparing a list you can avoid all that!

Get to know the store.  Yeah I know this is kind of an obvious tip, but I’m including it anyway.  If you’re relatively new to grocery shopping don’t be frustrated if it takes a little longer to shop.  As you get to know your store and get to know the products offered, your shopping time will go down.

Shop for fresh produce first.  This is a personal preference, but I find that buying all the fresh stuff first is a little easier because there aren’t 5,000 different types of broccoli to choose from.  Broccoli is broccoli and you don’t have to compare ingredient lists or wonder which head of broccoli is better.  Plus I like to try and fill up my cart with good stuff first so it is easier to avoid the “bad” food because there is no room in the cart.


Don’t let the aisles scare you.  A lot of people tell you to avoid the aisles and only shop the perimeter when you are trying to shop healthier.  While it is true that the aisles host pretty much all of the processed junk that you shouldn’t be eating, they also have some really good and healthy staples.  The aisles are where I get my canned/jarred tomatoes, rice, condiments like mustard, and occasionally salsa if I don’t have any homemade in my pantry.  My grocery store has a bulk section where I get all my spices, dried beans, and flour, but you can also find those things in the aisles at your store.  The key is to not go down every single aisle, this is where knowing how your grocery store is set up and what aisles contain the things you need on your list comes in handy.  Only go down the aisles that you need items from and you won’t have to worry about being tempted by the processed food.

Get your meat/dairy/eggs/frozen foods at the end.  I get my eggs, almond milk, and frozen vegetables last so they aren’t sitting in my cart getting warm the whole time.  The frozen section can be another tempting place as it houses all the ice cream/frozen treats as well as frozen dinners.  This is where having a menu planned out will help.  If you already know what you are going to eat for the week you will be less tempted by the convenience meals in the frozen section.  Let’s be honest, anything you make will be a lot tastier and healthier than anything you can get in a box, even if it does seem easier to just throw your dinner in the microwave and hit start.  Just stick to your frozen vegetables and fruit, which usually are in the same aisle so you don’t have to go down any other aisles.


Get to know the products you use most.  For the foods that you do purchase in packages make sure you know the ingredients and are ok with them.  The first few times you shop this way you might have to spend some time comparing products and choosing the one you feel best about.  Once you get that down you can just go in and choose your regular product.  I know there are a few apps like In R Food and Zipongo let you scan bar codes and compare products based on ingredients.  You can also look up a lot of products online and look at ingredient lists and nutrition facts before you even go to the store so you don’t have to even look at any other product.

Those are just a few tips that have helped me stick to healthy and easy grocery shopping.  Trust me I know it’s really easy to get lost in all the aisles and products offered at the store.  If you prepare as much as you can beforehand it will make your actual shopping trip that much easier.  That way you can just go in, get exactly what you need, and head on out.  My best piece of advice for new healthy grocery shoppers is to take your time.  Plan to spend a few extra minutes at the store when you are first starting out.  It will take some time for you to get used to your store, the products that work best for you, and a new way of shopping.  As time goes on you will get faster and be a grocery shopping wizard!  Just stay calm and know that you are shopping for better health!