Unbelieveable soup recipe currently up on the 30 Day Throw Down blog. I call it Magic Soup. Feel free to kiss me for it the next time you see me. I kissed myself in the mirror just this morning. But it was after I brushed my teeth.
As many of you know, I started the 30 Day Throw Down blog on September 1st of this year. The purpose was to change habits that might be leading to less than optimum health, or at least the best health we can attain. We did that by eliminating fast food and highly processed foods for the first 30 days, and then continuing on as we added exercise beginning October 1st. We will continue in these 30 day increments keeping the new habits going and adding others each month. There are no hard and fast rules. Everyone works at his or her own pace and does the best they can. Mostly it’s about learning to eat REAL FOOD and keeping an awareness that food is fuel and you can feed or harm yourself through your choices. And when it has been chemically treated, adulterated and refined, changed through genetic modification (GMO), or sourced from animals living in unnatural conditions and fed a diet far removed from what God intended, it can have seriously detrimental affects on our health.
So we strive to eat REAL FOOD. That means food like your grandparents ate. Some are watching portions to lose weight, others strive to optimize health or recover from illness. But none of us do it perfectly. We are simply working at positive changes, knowing each one makes a difference. You can jump in and join anytime. Simply start with the first 30 Day focus of eliminating fast food and highly processed food. We will all learn together as we go along and encourage each other. Next month we’ll be looking at labels and what they mean, along with more info on food, recipes, and exercise.
And trust me, the exercise one is the toughest for me by far. I’m having a rough time fitting it in to what feels like a very packed schedule. I’m TRYING. And that’s what this is about. DO NOT THINK you have to work this perfectly to hang out with us. But come and be encouraged to feed and care for the only body you have.
And as a kickoff last month, I ran a contest for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Our winner was Joolzmac at Simply Joolz, from the land down under. She brought the goodness of Australia to us with her delicious menus and beautiful presentations. I also promised the winner an interview here and I’m glad you get to meet her. I hope you’ll drop in to her blog and say hello!
So without further ado, I’ll let Joolz speak for herself.
1. How did you hear about the 30 Day Throw Down?
I think you commented on one of my posts or on another blog and then I went to Robynn’s Ravings for a look-see. I was hooked!
2. What made you want to jump in with us?
I think because it was going to be the first day of Spring on Sept 1, (Joolz is in Australia) and it seemed like the ideal time to start a healthy eating plan. I referred to it as my LIVEit not my DIEt. Everything that you said made perfect sense to me and it was empowering and encouraging. I chose to go the low fat/sugar healthy eating road where others may have just embraced eating whole foods, grains, nuts, organic vegetables. Market fresh produce is not hugely available in our area so I had to rely on our stupid-markets. Don’t get me wrong, we still have fresh fruit and veg but the apples may have been picked 6 months ago and have been in cold storage and the carrots, well they probably can’t remember that dirty brown stuff they grew in. We have always used low fat, skim milk and low fat cheese so I didn’t start eating whole milk and full fat cheese. I ‘threw down’ cheese that was processed and wrapped in single plastic wrappers, stuff like that.
3. How did the first phase - leaving fast food and highly processed food behind - work for you?
We are not huge junk food eaters in our house anyway. Living in a small town of 5,000 people, we have a Red Rooster chicken takeaway (blech! don't go there, girlfriend!), a locally owned Chicken takeaway (hmmm, yep, yummy!), 2 pizza bars and a Chinese/Thai take-way and a couple of fish and chip shops but we don’t have McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. etc. McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks are 50kms away.
4. Did your family join you or did you do it on your own?
Neither Angus or Brianna need to lose weight but they certainly ate what I cooked. Angus likes to eat healthy anyway and Brianna has to have what we have or she doesn’t get fed. Breakfast is a personal choice and Angus always has cereal and fruit, juice, tea and toast. Always! Bri is more likely to eat a muffin heated up, or a …. chocolate cup cake heated up…. or a chocolate fudge brownie heated up…there’s a bit of work for me to do there! I always make/take Angus his lunch so usually it is a bread roll with meat (ham, beef, or turkey) and salad in it, a tub of yoghurt and an apple or banana. He is a healthy boy and only drinks water, no soft drinks (soda). In Australia we have things called meat pies and meat and vegetable pasties – very convenient food that you buy at the bakery in a paper bag. You push it to the top of the paper bag (hopefully it has tomato sauce (ketchup) on it and you can eat it – while walking, driving your car, watching the footy etc. Angus would not consider having a pie or pasty for lunch. I, on the other hand, love to do this. I also love small goods – salami, hot dogs, cabanossi, pepperoni. Junk food alert!! Please pass the carrot sticks! Where are my prunes?
5. What were your challenges?
The biggest challenge was being prepared and organized all the time. It’s easy to make a healthy lunch if there is the right food in the fridge. If there isn’t, that’s where bad alternatives sneak in. Into the 3rd week, I started to forget to cut up my fruit for fruit salad(melons, strawberries, apples, banana) so by the fourth week, I was only eating 1 banana a day instead of about 3 serves of fruit. I still haven’t had any real junk food (purchased) but I did have some ‘naughty’ food at the engagement party we went to. Not much, but some.
6. Do you think this has made you think more about caring for your body and your health?
Definitely! I am 45 years old and the kilos are creeping on and I have proved that they are very hard to budge at this age. Low fat, simple whole food is almost a necessity to maintain good health at this age. Exercise is harder because we are not as nimble as those 20 year olds, bouncing around at the gym. My joints creak and ache now so I probably have arthritis to look forward to later in life – I need to keep the weight off and keep my body moving to help in that area. I walk 5 kms, 5 days a week, rain, hail or shine and this definitely keeps my knees joints strong (I wear elastic knee braces on both for support) plus it’s good to get some fresh air in your lungs, feel the rain on your face (?) and feel the sun on your back (at 6am....pffft!). I have just bought a pedometer and some hand weights to strengthen my upper body.
7. Did you feel any better or are you noticing differences?
I do feel better. Although the scales said I only lost 1.5 kgs in the 30 days, I could notice a difference around my under-arms, my thighs and I lost a bit of my double-chin...I think! I need to do some tummy tightening exercises to tone up but, yup, I hate doing crunches etc. But I NEED to!
8. What tips would you offer that were helpful to you?
Planning is key – have good food on hand otherwise it is too easy to grab takeaway. At the same time, make sure you have a variety of options for lunches – I found salad rolls etc get very boring after about 2 weeks. Look for other things to have as a light meal. Take healthy snacks with you – a small zip-lock bag of pretzels or 10 rice crackers to munch on while your waiting to pick the kids up (better than a chocolate bar), bananas and apples are very portable for snacking, keep a bottle of water always on hand. Find time to think about and prepare your food – I let half a pineapple and half a watermelon go to waste in the fridge because I couldn’t be bothered cutting them up, but I ate bananas because they are convenient and ready to go. Find recipes that you know you will like. Don’t try and eat foods you don’t like, just because they are healthy. I will not touch cottage cheese even if you tell me it is good for me! Yuck! The internet is a fantastic resource for low fat recipes, go buy some cook books and ask you friends what they like to eat when they are weight watching. Try to modify your favourite recipes by cutting down on the fat and sugar content. You can do a stir fry in a wok with 2 teaspoons of oil instead of 2 tablespoons – you won’t notice the difference when you are eating it. If a cake says to use 1 cup of sugar, try using ½ or ¾ of a cup instead. The kids will never know! Get into a routine that suits you and your family. I usually walk at 6am, home at 7am, pack Bri’s lunch box then Brianna is on the bus at 7.30am. I do a bit of housework then eat my breakfast at 8.30 and read the paper, after Angus has gone to work. My morning is then my own for other chores, then I shower and get ready for work by 10.30am. Any variation to this and I find I don’t eat breakfast then I’m hungry mid morning etc. It’s okay to use some processed foods – tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder.
9. Would you mind sharing a few recipes or meal ideas?
I think there are quite a few recipes in my Throw Down posts. I really liked the cannelloni and Rippa Rissoles are good. I have a low fat Bolognese recipe that I will post later in the coming week.
You have a phenomenal talent for making your food look delicious. I wanted to eat at your house many times during that first 30 days! What makes that important to you? Thank you! None of my photos are really staged, I just have it in my head that I will photograph what I am cooking and I always try to plate up a meal nicely. Angus and I love watching cooking shows (probably too much!) and we have lots of cook books so I guess it just sticks in your mind how things should/could look when plated up.
What would you like to see covered in a 30 day period? I think you are on the right track with Eating Healthy and Move It! Perhaps we could discuss family hobbies and things to do together as a couple or family (although my chickens have basically flown the coop), grief and coping with death (why is it such a taboo subject when it happens to all of us eventually?), women’s health in general, coping with stress, PMT etc.
10. Any advice for someone just starting to think about healthy changes?
Say NO to HI (Human Interference) and say YES to FRESH! I didn’t really touch much on this during my 30 days but it is a good philosophy. If a human has interfered with a product to change it from it’s natural form – don’t touch it. Eg. Say NO to cheese wrapped in individual plastic portions – say YES and choose to eat a chunk of cheese of a bigger chunk of cheese (you can still choose low fat). Say no to chicken nuggets that have been minced with fat and cereal and extenders and preservatives then deep fried – say YES to a whole free range chicken breast, cut into chunks, dipped in egg, flour and bread crumbs then oven baked. Yum! Fresh squeezed juices have so many more benefits than fake reconstituted, concentrated fruit juice ‘drinks’ – cut up 2-3 chilled oranges and squeeze the juice and try for yourself. Hey, that's what orange juice should taste like! Buy a juicer and give my 2 Fruit/3 veg drink a go. Your kids will thank you!
11. Did you ever swear at me during that first month?
No, how could I swear at someone with such a sweet, smiley face....though I thought about bludgeoning you in your sleep, maybe! Just kidding! Lol! No, you really did inspire me and perhaps I’ve relaxed my eating a bit in the last week or so – but I am still not eating processed foods, my snacks are healthy (like carrot sticks and salsa, prunes, cranberry ‘craisins’, etc)and drinking water too.
Lastly, Joolz adds:
Something to think about - Why are we being forced to read ridiculous labels that nobody can understand, when the best foods in the world don’t have any labels? – Dr. John Tickell, author of The Great Australian Diet…the Atkins Alternative.
Thank you so much Robynn, it’s been fun and rewarding to do the September 30 Day Throw Down and I look forward to new, fun and interesting topics to discuss in the coming months.
Didn’t Joolz provide great information? And I LOVE her LIVEit, not DIEt. Inspired!
Want to join us? Want to be in the current month’s drawing for dinner for two to Chipotle or win one of Nina Planck’s books: REAL FOOD, or her brand new release, REAL FOOD FOR MOTHER AND BABY? Then jump in, sign up to follow the 30 Day Throw Down blog, and leave a comment saying you’re now one of us. “One of us” means you’re on a journey to health, 30 days at a time. And I’m not your skinny-mini fearless leader in any way, shape, or form. I started this because I need to do it. I’m learning and working right alongside you.
My sincere THANKS to Joolzmac!
(Photography by Bo….)