gag-gle noun \ˈga-gəl\ : a group, aggregation, or cluster lacking organization, which is exactly how I feel about my family every day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Good Eats

I just wanted to brag that all the produce in this picture was purchased for ten dollars and change- including tax (do they tax produce?) Look at me! I'm healthy and thrifty! 
Also, I posted my snack chart a while ago and wanted to share our cookie recipe. It's the one sweet thing, well one of two if you count yogurt, on the chart. They are actually not as sweet as you would expect a cookie to be, so I add chocolate chips to sweeten it a little.  You can sub raisins or nuts to your taste. I adapted the recipe from this website. And I usually double the recipe and freeze half to keep fresh until the first half if gone. So, Here you go:

Heathy Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 12 cookies. (or 24 small cookies)

Dry ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats
    • I pulse in a blender until a little "cut up" but not powder.  You don't have to, or you can use small flake oats.
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa powder (or 2-3 tbps if too much cocoa powder is too bitter for your taste)
Wet ingredients
  • 1/2 cup honey
    • You can sub sugar, but then decrease baking soda to 1/4 tsp, add an extra tbsp. of water to the eggs, and cooking temp will go up to 350
  • 1/4 cup oil, I use olive
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs (beat with 1 Tbsp Water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
Yummy ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • OR 1/2- 1 cup chocolate chips (we mix white and dark and stay closer to the 1/2 cup)
  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Tip: When measuring out the honey, measure the oil first then use the same cup for the honey. Your honey won't stick to the cup. Or spray the measuring cup with cooking oil spray if you're not using oil. Or scrape out with a small spatula instead of a spoon.
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Add the yummy ingredients and mix. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour.
  4. COOL the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  5. While cooling, preheat the oven to 335 degrees.
  6. Drop by the spoonful onto your baking sheet (I recommend lining the baking sheet with parchment paper or even better, a silicone baking mat). I pat mine down a little but not much; I prefer fuller cookies.  You can press down if you prefer thinner cookies.
  7. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until golden on the bottom of the cookie. The cookies freeze very well but I put them in a Tupperware because they crumble if I put them in a bag.

Valentines Already?

Reese, at the tender age of 4, already identifies with the let-down feeling after the holiday season is over.  It didn't take very long after New Year's for her to ask "When's the next holiday?"  We had to explain that not all holidays are as big or as frequent at the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years run.  MLK day only meant Daddy got to stay home all day, which isn't good enough for her, it seems.  So she's gearing up for Valentines.
The heart surrounding Feb 14 was her idea.  I think she considered it very original.
I tried to explain to her that Valentines is still pretty far away (for a 4 year old it is anyway. Husbands and boyfriends reading this are welcomed to begin panicking at its imminence any time now.) But she was undeterred.  She asked me to make a calendar so she could cross off the days, the way we did for Christmas.

 And then she decided that she was going to have a Valentine's party that includes a treasure hunt. Though three weeks away, it's never too early to hide the "treasure" (read: knickknacks from the toy shelves) under rugs, in closets, beneath pillow and in other places I'm sure I have not found yet.
Luckily, her excitement and cuteness has overridden any annoyance for the hidden treasure.

And now I'm even wondering if I do need to throw a Valentine party.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Peel or Not To Peel? And no Brown Apples

When I was a kid I remember adults, particularly my mother, touting the health benefits of the apple peel.  Actually peels in general. Actually now that I think about it I was encouraged to eat the apple peel, the potato peel and the bread crust (which, in my childhood mind was equal to peels) and I seem to remember the reason being that most of the nutrients are in the peel. 

Well, I am fairly certain that I can debunk the breadcrust-with-more-nutrients idea without research.  The crust is made of the same stuff as the rest of the bread.  But apples?
Well, according to my in-depth research of one website,, most of the health benefits do, in fact reside in the peel.

"Apples are well known for their deliciously sweet and tangy taste and for their rich nutritional value. What you might not know, however, is that the majority of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in apples actually reside in the peel. Many people prefer to peel the skin off an apple before eating it, but when you do, you are also peeling away much of its valuable nutritional content"

BUT could there also be bad stuff on the peel?  I had a friend tell me the other day that she thought it was okay to take the peel off because pesticides and other nasty things are put on it by the people who want to sell it to you, negating any positive effects it might have on your body.
True?  No idea.  But you can bet there will be some more research involved in this one.
In the meantime, I would like to share

without using lemon juice.

I use this every time I cut up an apple, in case I don't eat it all at once, but it is most useful when you plan on putting them out as snack to nibble on as you are in and out of the kitchen, or when cutting a lot of apples.

Step 1: Fill a small mixing bowl with enough cold water to about cover cut up apples. (I don't give exact amounts. Don't stress.  It's water.)  Dissolve a pinch of salt into the water (I swish it around until I can't see salt granules.)
Step 2: Cut up (and peel???) your apples and put them into the bowl as you do so.
Step 3: Swish the apples around in the water to make sure they aren't sticking to each other and drain half the water.

Step 4: Sprinkle apples with just a little bit of Cream Of Tartar and mix until dissolved. Mix it around to coat the apples.  Drain and then rinse again with cold water.

Maybe an eighth to a quarter of a teaspoon sprinkled all over and mix. It will dissolve in the water you left in the bowl and hopefully leave your apples tasting like apples.  The final rinse is in case any bitter taste does happen to remain.

Step 5: Put into a prettier bowl, if desired (which it is) and eat yummy apples!  These apples will last half the day or more without any significant browning.  Note that I usually eat Braeburn, Fuji, and Golden Delicious apples.  I have not tried this on every variety.

Also, I partially cleaned my kitchen today. *patting myself on the back*

Names for Sugar

One piece of advice that I have heard lately is that "if you are often reading labels, the you are not eating real food.  Real food doesn't need labels."

Okay, fine.  But I'm having a hard time giving up my dairy and breads.  Yogurt, cheese, bagels, the occasional frozen pizza (don't judge, I said occasional!)

And I do read labels sometimes.  Usually it's when I've already decided to buy something and I'm trying to figure out if one brand will be better for my body than another. 

But, did you know that sugar on food lables has over FIFTY NAMES?!  I think in some cases the companies really are trying to trick you.

Dextrose sounds Delish!

So, here is a list to help you identify the different forms of sugar in your food:

  1. Barley malt
  2. Beet sugar
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Buttered syrup
  5. Cane juice crystals
  6. Cane sugar
  7. Caramel
  8. Corn syrup
  9. Corn syrup solids
  10. Confectioner’s sugar
  11. Carob syrup
  12. Castor sugar
  13. Date sugar
  14. Demerara sugar
  15. Dextran
  16. Dextrose
  17. Diastatic malt
  18. Diatase
  19. Ethyl maltol
  20. Fructose
  21. Fruit juice
  22. Fruit juice concentrate
  23. Galactose
  24. Glucose
  25. Glucose solids
  26. Golden sugar
  27. Golden syrup
  28. Grape sugar
  29. High-fructose corn syrup
  30. Honey
  31. Icing sugar
  32. Invert sugar
  33. Lactose
  34. Maltodextrin
  35. Maltose
  36. Malt syrup
  37. Maple syrup
  38. Molasses
  39. Muscovado sugar
  40. Panocha
  41. Raw sugar
  42. Refiner’s syrup
  43. Rice syrup
  44. Sorbitol
  45. Sorghum syrup
  46. Sucrose
  47. Sugar
  48. Treacle
  49. Turbinado sugar
  50. Yellow sugar
What other names for sugar can you think of?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Can't Escape IT!


CNN's Laura Schmidt, who is a colleague of previously mentioned author Robert Lustig, wrote an editorial suggesting we regulate sugar like we do alcohol.  What?

At the end of the article in the comments section, of course, there are the detractors.  Which I assume include most sane Americans, whether they commented or not.  But here're a couple who put on their angry eyes:

  a year ago

Can we start taxing commentators that make idiotic proposals to remove more of our personal freedom!

PatMacDaddy  a year ago

Oh, my lrd!  Can't we possibly be responsible for ourselves and our own children!  We don't need one more law or tax to control our behavior!
The role of government is to protect us from each other, not ourselves.

Yes.  Eating whatever we want is a matter of our personal freedom.  But what if there is no freedom of choice because there is no sugar-free stuff to choose from?

How many of you can relate to this:

I can't be the only one.  When there's sugar as one of the choices, it doesn't feel like a choice.

Ms. Schmidt says something that I completely agree with:

Unfettered corporate marketing actually limits our choices about the products we consume. If what's mostly available is junk food and soda, then we actually have to go out of our way to find an apple or a drinking fountain. What we want is to actually increase people's choices by making a wider range of healthy foods easier and cheaper to get.

I support cigarette regulations.  I support a lot of the alcohol regulations.  I don't want cocaine to be a legal choice for my children. I'm beginning to believe that sugar has become just as much a public health hazard in the long-term.

So, if you think using government regulations is a slippery slope, what would you propose we do to help those that really do want to be healthy but find it too hard in today's world?

Also, my kitchen is still a mess.

Sugar Ruins Lives!

I had a comment on my last post that included the phrase "Sugar ruins lives!" and I attached onto that sentiment like a leech.  Ew.  I need to come up with a better analogy. Anyway I completely agree!

In my recent studies I have seen sugar compared to alcohol.  The author of a book that has recently gotten TONS of media attention (I've heard interviews with the author on two different radio programs, mention of it on TV, multiple references in my radio searches and one magazine review.) Compares it to any other addictive substance:

Robert Lustig: Here’s the problem. There’s an area of your brain called the reward center, everybody’s heard of it because you know drug addiction.
Interviewer: Cocaine addiction.
Robert Lustig: Cocaine, morphine, heroine, nicotine. They all work in the same place. And the neurotransmitter that signal pleasures called dopamine. You’ve probably heard of it.
Interviewer: Of course.
Robert Lustig: Dopamine. When you get a dopamine rush you get pleasure and sugar does it the same way as all of those drugs of abuse. The problem is when you get that pleasure; you down regulate the little proteins that catch the dopamine called dopamine receptors. And the more you down regulate ‘em the more dopamine you need to get the same effect. And that’s called tolerance. And then when you take the stuff away, then there’s no dopamine to interact with these few proteins left and that’s called withdrawal; tolerance and withdrawal, that’s called addiction. So we know how that works for all of these other drugs of abuse, it turns out sugar does the same thing.
Interviewer: Same thing. It’s the same as cocaine.
Robert Lustig: The difference is that for cocaine you gotta go find it whereas for sugar we have what we call system saturation.
Interviewern: Right.
Robert Lustig: It’s everywhere, you can’t escape it.

Me: You can't escape it!  Sugar is Everywhere!  I plan on reading this book.  I have it on hold at the library but because of all the publicity it's a long wait.  I may break down and buy it. And my kitchen is still a mess.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baby Steps

Yesterday Will was sick.  Today we both are.  We had to stay home from church in exchange for a boring, uncomfortable day trying to balance rest and taking care of kids. 
I have done a lot of reading because I couldn't fall asleep.  I have a subscription to Whole Living magazine.  I was going to let it expire because it's not quite my style, but this month's issue had some things that inspired me.

First, the idea that Yoga can curb cravings.  The mag reports:

 “When you don’t get enough daylight, you produce less serotonin,” says Barbara Olendzki, a registered dietitian at the University of Massachusetts–Worcester. And low levels of the hormone can increase our cravings for carbs. But yoga can help. Food cravings are often anxiety-related, and the calming practice may curb our impulse to polish off the office M&Ms.

Now, for me, cravings are completely anxiety related, but the relationship is not causal.  I get anxiety because I know I'm craving something that isn't good for my body.  But I like yoga, so I'm going to try leaving the kitchen and striking a pose when I really really really want to bake sugar cookies. The reason I stopped doing yoga at home previously is that my two year old thinks I'm pretending to be a jungle gym when I'm in down dog or other similar poses.

Second, and article titled "Back in Action" suggested going three weeks without 6 "Liver-bullying foods":
Processed Anything
Added Sugars
See why I was going to let my subscription expire?  This is obviously not geared to us mortals.  But I decided that it wouldn't be bad for me to pick one thing and try life without it.  Since my main problem is that I have no self-control when it comes to sugar, and I already abstain from alcohol and coffee, that leaves me with dairy, gluten and processed foods.  I don't know yet.  What would you do? (Incidentally, the magazine is closing down, anyway.)
Lastly, there's a book recommended called Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips.  But I think reading the review was thought-provoking enough that I don't need to read the book.
"We are haunted by thoughts of what might have been, whether romantically or in our career choices.  "In our unlived lives." he writes, "we area always more satisfied, far less frustrated versions of ourselves." the author argues against indulging in such wistful thinking.  He urges readers not to dwell on supposed missed opportunities, which might have ultimately disappointed us anyway."
I am certainly guilty of daydreaming of another life.  But after reading this I wondered: If I had another life, would I be daydreaming of being a mother, with adorable kids and a fabulous husband?  Because that is what I have.
Now I need to come up with a plan to battle the waking dreams.  And my kitchen is still a mess.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fix It

This is a self-help post.  It's probably not that interesting, but I need to write it down in a public place so I have the illusion of accountability.

I need a change.  Here are my symptoms:

Constant Severe Fatigue
Cyclical Depression/Despair
 Constant Loss of Motivation/lethargy
Constant Laziness/Sedentary lifestyle
Periodic Severe Grouchiness (Possibly PMS related)
Constant Sugar Cravings
Anxiety, usually when I try to not eat sugar
Periodic Migraines
Constant Messy Kitchen
Things I've tried:

Hormone Therapy
Prenatal Supplements
Iron Supplements
Cleaning the Kitchen on a mostly regular basis
Things I would like to try:
Learn more about Sugar addiction
Find more recipes with higher amounts of fruits and veggies that my family will eat
Vitamin D Supplements
Dance class (I hate regular exercise classes)
Cook/Food prep Once a week
Teach my kids and hubby to rinse their dishes
Find out more about what I can do
At this point I'm pretty convinced that my major problem is sugar, and that if I can just kick the habit my life will greatly improve.  But it's stupidly hard.  Addictions are not easy to overcome.  Also, the more research I've done, the more I'm convinced that our entire food supply is pretty much poisoned.  But I'm not willing to lay the money down for organic everything, or stop buying cereal, so I've got to find a way to realistically make changes. 
Any advice or experiences?  Please be kind in comments, it's not easy to admit these things in public.


Christmas 2012:
have breakfast and open presents at home
Visit Faber's for lunch and some family time
Visit Heath's for Dinner and more family time
Fun and play all day!

Breakfast on the new kid's table

Christmas tree waffles inspired by Pinterest

Home made stockings
Sorting the Presents


Also, I think Lindt is involved in false advertising:
The outside of the package looks like a pretty good size

But the inside it's only three quarters the size you think it is.

Not enough to share, Merry Christmas.
That's all

Christmas Pageant

As is a Heath Family tradition, the story of Christ's birth was acted out again this year.  This time instead of Christmas eve the event was moved to the Sunday before Christmas.  I was unable to attend because I was sick, but Will took some pictures:

Reese as an Angel


Liam as a Wise Man

The Angels


I forgot to do a post for our 8-year anniversary.  Forgive me.  I was having too much fun watching the Hobbit and eating at Zupas.  Turns out a movie at the theater and Zupas might be a twice-per-year event. Anyway.  I love my hubby.  Life is great.  The usual. Here're some pictures: