Top 10 FRESH Protein Foods {and How to Eat More!}

Why are proteins so important for your health?

Each cell in our body holds protein and we cannot live without it. Protein sustains our bodies by building and repairing tissues, and is an important part in the building of muscles and bones.

As Dr Mark Hyman explains - “Protein provides us with the building blocks of life—helping us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and more. Clearly, it’s important that we’re eating enough of this essential macronutrient if we want to feel strong, energized, and healthy.”

OK, So how much should I be eating?

In recent years, an unbalanced view of protein has developed, partially due to the numerous fundamental diets that have risen in popularity, touting a diet of high protein as necessary for everything from bodybuilding to weight loss. It’s important to note in this article that here at FRESH Start, we are neither a diet nor a fundamental fitness plan - we believe in balance, individual intuition-led eating, and eating the amount of protein that YOU NEED for your particular goals and needs!

That said, there is a “suggested range” of daily protein intake that we need for just “normal living” …

- now, this is obviously for those who are either somewhat sedentary or not aggressively working out.

(So this would be different from someone who is bodybuilding, working out an hour or more daily, or even, like in my case, is deficient in protein due to a chronic illness, etc)

The general idea is that we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

(Above paragraph taken from this article on Healthline. com)

No matter the amount you choose to eat for your needs, it is a good idea to eat it in small amounts throughout the day, as protein is a filling nutrient.

Combine Food Groups for better Results!

“Food combining,” or including some type of protein WITH healthy fibrous foods and a healthy fat with every meal or mini-meal is powerful for your nutritional needs. It’s been discovered that this helps the body to properly break down the food, and absorb more of the benefits, as well as stabilize our blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates from our foods provide the fuel and energy we need. Proteins are the building blocks of our cell structure. If carbohydrates are not available, the body will burn through the proteins and not ingest and put them to use properly.

The goal then, is to get more protein-rich foods in your body, more often, along with the other major food groups at the same time for optimal digestion!


Here’s a list of our top protein-rich foods, the nutritional benefits they contain, as well as ideas on how to eat more of them!

our top 10 FRESH proteins:

1. Chicken Breast

a 3.5 oz. chicken breast contains 30 grams protein - wow! - but they’re also full of phosphorus, an essential mineral that helps your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function

  • add grilled chicken to your salads

  • grill chicken and mangos for a yummy lettuce wrap

2. Salmon

high in essential fatty acids, and contains one of the highest protein loads in an animal protein - but also rich in B vitamins and selenium, 2 of the vitamins your body strongly needs for mental health

3. Eggs

versatile source of protein, rich in B-complex vitamin choline, which reduces inflammation

  • prepare a yummy omelet with veggies sauteed in a tsp of healthy fat, like olive or coconut oil for a power breakfast

  • keep a few boiled eggs in the refrigerator - add to salad or for a quick sandwich snack

4. Avocado

as well as lean protein, contain excess of 25 essential nutrients for your health, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium AND is a healthy fat!

  • add sliced avocado to any sandwich or salad

  • serve sliced avocado along-side scrambled eggs

5. Beans & Legumes

high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Helps with weight management and to decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease

  • Make homemade hummus out of chickpeas

  • Add to salads or toss with veggies

  • Add black beans to taco meat

6. Greek Yogurt

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high in protein (2x as much as regular yogurt!) has less lactic acid than other dairy, which makes it easier to digest and truly absorb the nutritional benefits to your body. (People who can’t digest other dairy can often digest Greek Yogurt with no problem.)

Greek Yogurt contains live microorganisms, or probiotics, which are good bacteria that we’re often deficient in. They are healing to your gut lining and help improve your immune system, and even, help reduce side effects of antibiotic treatments!

  • add 1/2 cup greek yogurt to your morning smoothie for a balanced, whole-food protein boost instead of processed powder

  • stir 1 Tbsp chia seeds into 1/2 cup as an energy-giving power snack


7. Nuts and Seeds

(example: Almonds, Cashews, and Chia Seeds)

As tiny as these nutritional powerhouses are, they contain a large amount of vitamins, minerals and fats in addition to digestible protein for your body’s needs! The fats in them are the right kind (in moderation of course) and help keep down inflammation, maintaining the normal structure of every cell in your body.

  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed over a yogurt parfait or in your daily smoothie for an energy boost!

  • Pre-portion 1 ounce of raw, lightly or unsalted nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews into little bags for quick grab and go power snacks!

8.Sirloin Steak

good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals such as  B12 and Zinc

  • serve in a quickie stir-fry with broccoli, green onion, soy sauce, & cooked brown rice

  • try it just seasoned and grilled with a baked sweet potato

9. Ground, Lean (93/7) Turkey and/or Beef

not only super high in hefty protein, but low on the “bad fats” and nutrient-packed with iron, other minerals, and vitamins B12 & D

  • grill patties and serve on a whole wheat bun or pita piled with veggies

  • make a low-sodium taco mix with black beans and sweet corn & serve in tacos al carbon (warmed, not fried) or over a lush green salad

10. Quinoa

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contains all 9 essential amino acids (one of the only foods that does!) and is a great source of riboflavin

  • quinoa-stuffed vegetables

  • try it with maple syrup and nuts for a yummy breakfast or snack

  • spoon over a spinach salad for added crunchy, chewy vegetarian protein!

It just takes a little planning and creativity to include more of these lean proteins in your daily diet!

The possibilities are endless!

Share some of your favorite ideas and recipes for these foods by commenting on this post or visit us on our Facebook page to share!

Healthy Swap - Replacing Pasta with Healthier Options

We’ve been making small changes every week here in the FRESH Start Community in our #52weeksofhealthyhabits Experience and this week, our step was to Swap Out - buy and cook a veggie, quinoa or whole grain pasta for the ole plain-white version. You can join us in this FRESH, fun experience (free!) by clicking on the pic!

So what’s wrong with the white pasta we’ve eaten for years, anyway?

Well, it turns out, plenty.

In a nutshell, it’s nutritionally empty, turns into sugar once inside your system, and can actually be inflammatory to many who struggle with autoimmune, chronic illness, gut issues and food sensitivities. And with the vast variety of options now available, you are sure to find a better option for your family to continue to enjoy pasta!

Maybe you can relate…

“I have picky eaters in my house, I’m afraid they won’t like the healthier options.”

I can certainly relate! There are a couple texture-sensitive eaters in my family as well - but we’ve found that if we keep trying different versions, prepared in different ways, we can move past the distaste and find options that can be a regular go-to in our family meals!

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One tip for picky eaters…

is to try different shaped pasta (for instance, in my family, they prefer skinny noodles, like thin spaghetti) AND to cook it al dente (cook until JUST done, prevents mushy texture.)

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More Veggies From Pasta?

That’s right! You can add healthy fiber through vegetables into your next pasta dish with this light option - Veggie Pasta. There are many shapes available to cook with! My family didn’t even realize they were eating veggies the last couple of times I served this pasta in a FRESH side dish!

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Eating Gluten-Free?

For a light, delicious gluten-free option (that doesn’t get gooey when cooked al dente) - this particular pasta is made from Quinoa, Brown and White Rice and Corn Flour. This brand makes a variety of pastas, including Penne, Macaroni Elbows, Thin Spaghetti and more.

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Whole Grain is Still Great

Unless you need to be eating gluten-free for specific health issues, you can still gain a nutritional benefit from whole wheat pasta. Tip: make sure the brand you buy has this Whole Grain “stamp” on the packaging.

Bean threads are a fresh n’ fun option

Affordable, too!

Bean threads, made from mug bean starch, are an easy, healthy way to enjoy a lettuce wrap, or Asian-flavored dish. I serve these well-marinated in teriyaki or low-sodium soy sauce, as they are quite bland in flavor and need a flavor boost.

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Rice noodles - light and fresh!

Another light option is rice noodles - these are literally made from two ingredients: rice and water. I use these healthy pasta-replacements in this spicy, delicious recipe.

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What do you think of these suggestions?

Have you tried any of these alternatives yet?

Joy in us in the (free and fabulous) FRESH Start Club and tell us what’s your favorite swap out for plain white pasta.

What NOT To Say To a Sick Person

Sharing this post with you from my health coaching heart today….but also from my own painful journey as a “sick person.”

I’m going on 3 years now of living with a painful, chronically EXHAUSTING and generally soul-sucking illness called Hashimoto’s Autoimmune. And close to 15 years now with a chronic spine condition I was born with (spondylolisthesis) that creates daily pain and massive physical limitations (including an unattractive bent-over-look that is hard on a girl’s self-esteem!)

One hidden blessing of living with chronic disease and pain - my COMPASSION for others INCREASES.

My understanding of “invisible illnesses” has greatly expanded.

And my desire to share this awareness with you is on fire!

So today, I’m sharing some heartfelt advice for us all (OR, what NOT to say to a sick person!)

Right before my spine correction surgery in Oct 2016…I was so scared! So very, very scared. But God was with me! The whole time!

Right before my spine correction surgery in Oct 2016…I was so scared! So very, very scared. But God was with me! The whole time!

The statistics (which haven’t even caught up with the reality) on chronic disease, especially invisible disease like autoimmune and pain conditions, are frightening, to say the least. What they confirm is that we are each most likely touching the lives of someone who struggles with one or more…or are sur-thrivers of them ourselves.

Knowing this, we’ve got to come out of the stigma-influenced mindset of judging, demeaning, pitying or patronizing those who suffer.

The only way to even begin to understand, let alone bring healing to someone in this situation, is to admit we might need to change our viewpoint.

We've got to remember that people who are struggling with an illness or disease or life-issue DO NOT WANT to be sick. 


I repeat: NO ONE WANTS to be sick.


It's just SO hard when you are in the midst of sickness or some struggle and peeps give "pat comments." (Even IF their hearts are to help, and you know it, it still stings and sucks.)

Please be kind.

Be sensitive.

LISTEN instead of TELL.


THINGS THAT WE DON’T WANT TO HEAR:

* You are healed, you just need to receive it (yes, I get this one A LOT) as if I've actively CHOSEN to not receive it for the last few uber-painful, uncomfortable years of my life.

Um, just trust me on this, kay?

I DO want to receive it and you can be assured Jesus and I have conversed as such on more than one occasion.



* Have you tried THIS FIX-IT or THIS JUICE or THIS OIL or THIS PILL or THIS.... 

#1 Yes, I continue to keep an open mind, and I will try just about anything ONCE however, #1 money don't grow on my tree in the front yard, and

#2 my poor body needs a breather from "trying stuff" for a bit, thank you very much. (Not to mention the bank account.) PLEASE don’t offer me anything unless you wanna buy it for me?


“Oh, I know exactly what that feels like, from when I had *insert whatever ailment here* “

NO. Just no.

NOBODY knows exactly what another person’s struggle, pain, issues, or circumstances feels like.

It’s impossible.

You may be able to relate, but validation that you DON’T know what it feels like would be nice, then you can get into the relating piece after that.

Especially because now, I’m feeling CARED ABOUT by you...my heart is now wide open.


Example of what would be better to say: 

“Gosh, friend, I have NO idea what that feels like, you are one tough cookie to deal with that! A while back, I had *insert whatever pain I had* and I could barely handle that! I’ll be praying for you.”


THINGS THAT MIGHT BE BETTER TO SAY:

* Aw, I'm sorry friend. You're in my prayers (or, if you're not a person of faith, you can say, "best wishes for healing")

* I can't imagine what that feels like, you must be so tired of this (oh sweet validation - it's like medicine)

* What can I do to help? (they're probably NOT gonna take you up on it, but it's that whole "thought that matters" thing)

* SEND THEM A QUICK MESSAGE with a song, a quote, an inspiration, or better yet, a sweet card in the mail with encouragement


OH and another quick tip: Don't forget about the "strong ones" - the friends or family who AREN'T COMPLAINING - they need those check in messages too! They need the thoughts and prayers and care - but they may never ask for it.

Post-surgery in 2017 but very sick with Hashimoto’s - Kissing my hubby on the beach at our Family getaway spot in Mexico. We are taking this life one day at a time, and trying to find joy in every moment.

Post-surgery in 2017 but very sick with Hashimoto’s - Kissing my hubby on the beach at our Family getaway spot in Mexico. We are taking this life one day at a time, and trying to find joy in every moment.

Back when I was very, very sick with a severe seizure disorder that upended my life in my late 20’s (but since, the Lord has COMPLETELY healed my body of it!) I once heard a neurologist say… “we are ALL one breath away from a neurological disease or mental illness.” He was saying this to remove my own self-induced shame about the condition, essentially telling me that EVERYONE is capable of sickness.

Since then, I’ve realized this is true of ANY sickness or condition or disease - and of course, as a health coach on a mission to bring hope and healing to this world, I don’t want to think that way.

I want to see EVERYONE healed!

NO ONE sick.

But it is true that while walking this imperfect journey in this broken world, NONE of us is “safe” from pain, disease, sickness or struggle.

We don’t earn sickness by “being worse than others” and we don’t “earn our way out of it with great faith” - and YES I do believe in faith and supernatural healing, and even have numerous testimonies of it in my own journey (with more to come!) but NO we personally don’t get to choose when that happens!

God is SOVEREIGN ya’ll - He alone is God. I’m not about to tell Him how to do His job.

Maybe, when we realize our great vulnerability, we will plant good seeds for our own uncertain futures by serving those in our lives now who are affected.

Maybe our own compassion meters will fill back up, our thoughtfulness thermometers will be on high alert and our sensitivity sensors will be working well!

Who has God put on your heart to reach out to?

Get up in their private messages right now, and show 'em some love!

...and thank you for taking the time to read this, friend. Your care in reading it is an amazing gift to those in your life who need you and your love!

Huge hugs and belief in you ~ Coach Bess

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13 Quick Ways the Busiest Mom Can Experience Habitual Self Care

As moms, we often forget to take proper care of ourselves. Or, we put our self-care on the back burner, thinking that somehow we will one day have enough time to prioritize it.

Can I share a secret with you? That “one day” is NOW!

I know, CARAZY.

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Yes, you will not wake up one day when your small kiddos are bigger and think “NOW I have time for me!” (Ask me how I know!)

I remember fantasizing about how parenting was going to get easier once my littles were more independent (oh how I wish I had been right…*sigh*) The truth is, with the “spare time” available these days, parenting 2 adult kids and 2 almost-grown ones, I have discovered that theory was not sound!

And yet, over the years, I’ve found ways to build short, simple, affordable self-care into my day as a habit - mainly because struggling with the pain and exhaustion of an autoimmune disease and chronic spine-pain issue, I’ve found that if I do not, I will not be able to “be there” for my family, let alone anyone else!

Self-care isn’t a luxury, mama-friend!

I believe with all my health-coaching heart that it’s a necessity! And I credit my own health coach, Casey Sollock, of She Shines Wellness, with teaching me this concept I’m sharing here is this article. She called it “aggressive self-care” and she helped me understand that it’s not a one-and-done kind of thing - especially for us moms. It’s an ongoing, necessary, habitual kind of need for health and healing!

SO HOW DO WE BUILD IN THE DAILY HABITS TO BETTER SELF CARE?

Well...it can be simpler, more affordable and even more fun than you might think! That’s why I’m sharing this article with you - to give you some ideas on simple ways you can add a little self-care into your day!

The power-moms here in our FRESH Start Community shared their best tips for making self-care a habit for even the busiest mom!

Here’s what some of them shared…

Misty Judd said…

“I purposefully pick a snack just for me when I go to the grocery store. It’s usually healthy and a lot of times not something I would buy for the family. They can be very picky and prefer homemade baked goods packed with sugar. I tend to put my family before myself and this helps me remind myself to take care of me on a daily basis. I also escape to the nail salon every 2 weeks for a 90 minute sanity break. When the kids were in diapers this is the only time I had a break and could clear my mind.”

BootsBobbie Denson shared…

“Since I love to craft and it is very relaxing for me, as a working mom, I would build into the schedule a time to craft with the kiddos. Quality time with the children and a needed reboot for me.”

Lorrea Hall shared her secret sauce…

“Well it’s always insanity around here...but here’s what I do:

1) I take a few minutes everyday to just breath - if I can do it outside, I do. I typically have these mini-breaks built in throughout the day. First thing in the morning before the kids get up I have coffee and breathe before the day starts. I work from home so I always go to my office 5 minutes early and take 2-3 minutes to breathe and release whatever home stresses I have been dealing with before I start diving in so I am fresh and focused on work. At the end of the night before I go to bed I take 2-3 minutes to free my mind of any intrusive thoughts or urgent needs I’ll need to handle first thing in the morning. This frees my mind to rest knowing that I have everything handled. I am a 2am thinker so if I haven’t freed my mind - I’ll be up at 3am remembering all these things that are weighing on me.

2) exercise - Quick walks around the block during breaks or at lunch or before bed. I also have a sit/stand desk so I can change my desk from sitting to standing. In standing mode I have a rocker that I stand on that gets me moving. I also, keep fitness bands in my office for a quick exercise break when I have a minute or 2 and a stretching poster in my wall to remind me to stretch throughout the day. I also have some motivational quotes around the office that remind me to pause and reflect helping me sneak in a little bit of mind quieting.

3) family me time - I think women get recharged by investing in others. For me this is mostly my family but also friends. I have a bi-weekly nail date with my mom, we sit, we have some wine, we do our nails together. I have hobbies with each of my kids we do together - riding bikes, doing science experiments, building things, and coding. There things we both enjoy so we’re both getting our buckets filled + quality conversation and connection.”

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My personal go-to way (as a busy mom of four!) to add in a little more self-care habitually is:

To make a few healthy habits non-negotiable!

What I mean is, there are a few things that I will do day-in-day-out no matter how crazy the day, no matter how full the calendar!

For me, these are simple, affordable and easy to squeeze in…

1. Drink enough water NO MATTER WHAT - even if I’m enjoying a no-no soda pop or extra cup of coffee, I’ll make sure to get those 8 minimum cups of water NO MATTER WHAT!

2. Have a smoothie in the morning NO MATTER WHAT - I may end up eating “off plan” on a crazy day, BUT by having that smoothie, I’ve had a couple of servings of veggies, fiber, healthy fat, protein, vitamins and minerals - so no matter the deficiency (or unhealthy stuff) in the rest of my meals, I’ve had that boost and nutrition to combat it and help give my body some goodness! (My fave recipe is here —- >> Berry Nutty Smoothie Recipe)

3. Take a walk outside NO MATTER WHAT - so even if I don’t get more steps or a good heart-pumping workout that day, I’ve gotten in a few minutes of sunshine (Vitamin D!) fresh air into my lungs and blood supply and a great stretching exercise in for the rest of my body.

These are just a couple of examples of my personal list of “non-negotiables” for my self-care...they will happen NO MATTER WHAT ELSE DOES!

What could you turn into a daily habit that could be a “NO-MATTER-WHAT” for you?

These small things really do add up and create a new level of health in your mind and body!


More moms from our Community share their secret sauce with us…

Melanie Mason Shannon tells us…

“As working mom, I use my lunch hour. If weather is pretty, I like to take lunch outside and enjoy some quiet time soaking up the sunshine. If weather is not cooperating, then I will turn lights off in office and relax for 15-20 minutes after I eat. Some afternoons I drive home with radio off just for some quiet. Also, peppermint oil is my friend on stressful days. A sniff perks me up or few drops rubbed behind ears and on temples helps with headaches.”

Michele Spooner says ...

“Get up and spend 10-15 minutes writing in my gratitude journal as I drink my tea. Really begins my day off right and keeps me focused on what is important!”

Vee Tal shares …

“I sit in my car and just look at God. Gratitude goes a long way to uplifting my day.”

Gloria B. Dorsey advises…

“Thinking back to when I was a young mom... joining in the kid fun, not just watching; jumping in the puddles, going down the slide, skipping along, throwing rocks in the river as well. Kids play is good for adults as well; when you are playing and laughing you are not stressing!”

Mary Tomko Huggins tells us …

“Taking 5 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and nothing else. I love doing this outside in the morning, before people wake up, and just center myself. Make a quick facial scrub / hand scrub of EVOO & brown sugar. This is great to use on the face to get rid of dead skin and also make your skin feel soft. I also like to use it on my hands. I keep some made up in my bathroom to use daily.”


Feel free to share YOUR input on how you weave self-care into your busy day, mama...you can comment right here om the post, or drop into our free community, FRESH Start Club to tell us there!

And in the meantime, remember to intentionally take a few minutes for YOU today! ;)

From one busy mama to another!

~ Coach Bess

Which Diet is Best? (Or How to Eat for Your Health!)

As a longtime health coach, I get asked a lot…

Is veganism or vegetarianism the BEST way to eat for good health? 

Is Paleo or Keto better? 

Is intermittent fasting the way to go? 

Would you suggest following the Whole 30?

What about Weight Watchers or South Beach or Nutrisystem or AIP or DASH?

(I know, there's a LOT of 'em...and I only JUST started naming diets from the looonnnggg list available!)

Here’s what we DO know about this…

… from years of research - both reading, studying and working with hundreds of people as a health coach! AND from our own tested and real-live experience...

The BEST way of eating FOR YOU is a way that is:

#1 SUSTAINABLE

Meaning you can realistically continue to eat that way through all of life's crazy up's and down's! Following this one idea eliminates most strict diets that effectively "ban" one or more entire food groups (ie veganism or Keto)

...sustainable usually = well-balanced

#2 PERSONALLY BENEFICIAL

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…meaning eat the way that FEELS GOOD to your body and brain (ie you have increasingly more energy, lifted brain fog and your intuition agrees with it) 

One way to gauge this is to do an "elimination plan" for a few days...first, remove ANY commonly offensive foods like sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, gluten etc... then, journal your body's reactions when you reintroduce each food group (be sure to re-intro one food at a time) 

#3 Full of FRESH & WHOLE FOODS

…no matter which specific plan you choose to follow (or even if you are just following your own wisdom and intuition, which is often a powerful plan!) Please choose FRESH FOODS first! 

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So even if you're cutting back on meat or even going towards a plant based diet, make sure to choose fresh foods.

If you are working to cut processed carbohydrates and even some of your grains out, make sure that the rest of your choices are as fresh and whole as possible. 

There's an interesting common denominator that I have found about these diet plans in my latest research for the new book I'm writing for you guys....and it's that although the diets are NOT found to be sustainable for a huge majority of participants, the CENTRAL ELEMENT that IS working within all these diets, is that people are more intentionally choosing fresh and whole foods, improving their health in the long run.

Interesting, right?!

Eating FRESH matters! And it's sustainable and balanced and easily customizable to your own intuitive wisdom and personal lifestyle needs!

Talk to me more about this either here in comments or in our warm, supportive community FRESH Start Club (there’s no cost to belong to the Club and we’d love to have you!)

For a quick-glance at an eating plan that is sustainable, personal and balanced for life - grab your copy of the FRESH Start Can-Eat List here or click on pic below!

10 FRESH Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Family’s Meals

A common problem many of our community members face is making sure they are getting enough vegetables (and fiber) in their diets. Especially for those with picky eaters in the family, this can be a big challenge in eating a well-balanced diet plan long-term.

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The minimum amount of vegetables we should all be eating each day is 6-9 servings and yet so many times we don’t even get one or two in there. Adding veggies to your diet is easier than you might think - we’re giving you some realistic ideas that even the busiest family can use.

Here are 10 ideas you can try to get your family to eat more vegetables!

Plan & Prep Ahead of Time – Sometimes, it’s feeling like we have NO time (or energy) during the week that’s an obstacle to eating enough vegetables throughout the day. Take just a few minutes before the busyness of the week even starts, and make an effort to prepare veggies for quick use during the week. (Visit here for the convenient + free guide from Coach Bess on planning your weekly meals!)

Cut up and package your veggies in bags or containers ahead of time.

At meal time, pull them out and enjoy them with hummus or in a quick wrap. Or, make meal time easier with ready-cut vegetables, easily throw in a salad or cook into a dish. Another idea is to pre-bake or roast a pan of veggies and place in a glass storage container. Pull them out and reheat easily for a wonderful side dish later on!

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Low-Sodium Soups – Many people don’t eat vegetables because they can’t get past the consistency of them. Try sipping your veggies in soup form by first cooking, then pureeing them into a soup. Or, you can make a broth-based version and cook vegetables to your desired personal texture. Make your own soups or look for low-sodium versions at the store. Tomato, Garden (mixed) Vegetable or Broccoli soup are just a few choices in a large array of them!

Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things – Once a week (or even month), pick a new vegetable you’ve never tried before. You can add it to a favorite recipe you already make or look for different ways to cook it. Even if you don’t like some of them, keep trying! I’m willing to bet you’ll find 1 or 2 (or more) veggies you DO enjoy!

Brighten Things Up – Add vegetables with lots of color to your plate, especially salads. Here are some colorful veggies that taste great and are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Liven things up a bit because when your food LOOKS good it tastes better too. Here are a few colorful ideas:

    • Acorn Squash

    • Red Cabbage

    • Cherry Tomatoes

    • Sweet Potatoes

    • Black Beans

    • Red, Orange, and Yellow Bell Peppers

    • Radishes

    • Watercress

Save Time – Fresh or frozen vegetables can be cooked quicker in the microwave if time is an issue that stops you from eating more veggies with dinner. You can steam them by adding them to a bowl with a bit of water for a quick side dish to any meal. Frozen veggies (make sure the label is the veggie ONLY and not other things added) are a great option when fresh is too costly or just not available.

Order Extra When Eating Out – Instead of a fried side dish or appetizer order a second veggie side or small salad when dining out.

Eat What’s In Season – To save money and get the best tasting veggies, buy and eat specific veggies when they are in season. Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Farmers Markets often have a fresh selection of seasonal choices. Your regular grocer should as well, and often has organic or locally grown to choose from, sometimes at same or similar price.

Fresh is Best, but Frozen Is Good Too – If you can’t find fresh veggies or have picky eaters who prefer canned over fresh, meet them in the middle and buy frozen. Peas, corn, spinach, broccoli, snap peas, and even cauliflower rice - as well as other frozen veggies - are great additions to lots of meals and make for quick and easy side dishes.

Canned Veggies – While not the best choice, (always choose fresh or frozen first if possible) there are some canned veggies such as tomatoes, beans (kidney, garbanzo), etc. that are FRESH Start-approved to use in meals. If you’re picking battles and it means the only way to get vegetables into your family’s bellies, go for it. Just remember to buy reduced, low or no-sodium (salt) and rinse beans well before cooking!

Play Hide & Seek – Or just “hide!” If you’re like me, you’ve got picky eaters who sometimes just refuse to eat vegetables. It’s fun to find ways to hide them in foods they do like to eat. Examples are Smoothies, spaghetti sauce, chili, & muffins.

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You don't have to try all of these at once. Pick one or two and begin putting those into action - small steps create lasting results! Before you know it, your body will be asking you to eat even more and you can add a few more ideas from the list.

Need some new ideas on how to make meals with more vegetables?

Here are a few quick & easy ones we think you might like:

Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

How to Make Greens 3 Easy Ways

Grill Your Veggies for Healthy Benefits + Recipes

Then join the conversation in our FRESH Start Club and {free} #52weeksofhealthyhabits Experience for more good stuff on this, and other healthy-lifestyle small steps!

It's A Junk Food Jungle Out There {And How to Get Out!}

Common junk foods like most chips, snacks, sodas and sweets are the obvious offender to a weight loss goal and healthy diet…but what about those hidden food traps? There are so many! The deception is everywhere...from foods that are blatantly, falsely advertised as healthy, to everyday choices we thought were great options, but as we learn more and more about this, we realize they aren’t.

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An even greater crime is that food marketers target kids!

Most children’s commercial foods have more added sugar, food coloring and additives and preservatives in them than they do nutritional benefits! Oh, like fruit juices. Orange, apple, grape…UGH – read the label! Huge sugar boobie traps.

Take fruit snacks as another example: there is not a fleck of fruit in them! Yogurts are another “Whhaaaatttt? I can’t believe it!” food. Watch those added sugar amounts, and check the nutrition amount...then choose the lower-sugar version, you can always flavor it with fruit, honey, or stevia on your own.

Beware of the bountiful amount of unhealthy foods our “wonderful” manufacturers offer us, even (and maybe especially) the ones marketed to those of us watching our diets and food labels. They are not always what they seem to be.

There is so much more about this in my book, FRESH Start for Health - where I share in a refreshingly simple and grace-based way…it’s a Junk food Jungle out there, but we’ve got a way to hack through and get out!

*Junk Food Jungle - How To Find Your Way Out*

Sometimes maneuvering the grocery store aisles without derailing the FRESH eating plan brings more stress than the thought of teaching your teenager to drive! (Pulled completely from personal experience here LOL!)

We head straight to the veggie & fruit section, only to run right into a stand FULL of candy plopped right in the middle of the bananas and pineapples (and some of it is disguised as NUTRITIOUS!)

We avoid the chips and crackers aisle just to find them screaming at us from a corner stand at the seafood section! Yes, it is a Junk food jungle and no one is safe from the false labeling & marketing slogans that convince you that kind of food is actually good for you (when many times, if food has a label, it isn’t!)

So how to get out of the grocery store (errr Jungle!) without too much harm?

First matter of business has to be setting yourself up for grocery shopping success before you leave the house. {Chapters 6 & 7 in the above-mentioned book give the low-down on exactly how to do this! My mission - and I DO choose to accept it - is to help you eat FRESH and get out of the junk food jungle!}

Part of the survival plan at the market is to go in with your armor...your shopping list!

Make a meal plan, and then put together your shopping list for that plan - before you ever leave your house! {Need an example of a family-friendly meal plan that is FRESH food to follow?}

One of the best ways to get out of the Jungle and still be on track is to always use a list, and always eat healthy before you go! Another tip if you truly struggle with temptation and need to pull back for a bit - use the new “pick up” services that most stores now offer. Win-win.

Here’s the TOP 5 sugar traps to watch out for in the store:

1.  Yogurt (especially the squeeze kind) – contains 15-27 grams of the white stuff (added sugar) per serving. Read closely also to see HOW they are sweetening the yogurt, and how many ingredients are in it. Try to purchase yogurt that lists 5 or under ingredients and have ideally less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

{FRESH Fix: Get low-sugar OR plain Greek yogurt instead and flavor with fruit, honey, etc – try to stick to under 7 grams per serving. The kind I buy my kids uses Stevia as the sweetener}


2. Cereal – This stuff is BAD…and it’s tough, because our kiddos think it’s GOOD. There is an entire aisle in the store with boxes and bags of it for a reason. (Demand!) However, when each “serving” of cereal is between 11-23 grams of sugar and kids usually eat 2 or more servings PER meal, we have a problem! Add in the milk, and its 11 grams of sugar PER 8 ounces. OUCH. Plus, there’s hardly any nutrition at all in this “food.”

{FRESH Fix: Choose homemade low-sugar granola instead, or whole grain varieties of store bought. Try to get away from cereal as a staple and turn it into more of a treat - only serving it on rare occasions.}

3. Juice boxes and other “kid-friendly” sugary drinks – There’s not enough nutritional benefit to these drinks to justify the sugar and chemical content, no matter what the package marketing says. Just steer clear of the TWO AISLES of packaged drinks in the store altogether.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade teas and real-fruit-infused water instead, there’s many varieties that are TASTY and with low to no sweetener! Try fruit-infused waters with fresh mint, and healthy homemade iced coffee drinks. We also occasionally have Truvia-sweetened PURE Crystal Light drinks. It’s a great treat choice, and is a “better” choice than aspartame-sweetened ones.}


4.  Granola bars and commercially prepared “breakfast” foods – Watch out! The 13-30 grams of sugar PER SERVING in these marketed-like-they’re-healthy choices will spike your kiddo’s blood sugar before the day even begins. Plus they contain little to no nutrition or, the nutrition found within is processed versions, bringing all kinds of complications with it.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade choices instead, or try these two FRESH Start-approved choices – Nature Valley Protein Bars (6 grams sugar) and Kashi (make sure to choose the under 10 grams sugar ones.}


5. Fruit snacks or roll-ups – there’s NO fruit in them. They are little expensive pieces of chemically-produced, gelatin-filled, sugar-laden blood spikers that do nothing for hunger but actually create a ravenous hunger driven by the spike in insulin in a child’s body. (Can you tell, I DON’T LIKE THESE at all!) They also promote dental cavities and other dental health issues.

{FRESH fix: Eat REAL fruit instead. Help your child rediscover what they LOVE about grapes, apples, bananas, kiwi, mangoes and dozens of other choices. Use creative and fun ways to enjoy them - make smoothies out of them that taste like ice cream, freeze the grapes, put fruit chunks on a kabob stick, cut pineapple into flower shapes, etc. Once you’ve helped their taste buds get reacquainted with fibrous sugar, they will begin asking for fruit again!}

Tell me in the comments below what your experience is in the Junk Food Jungle called the grocery store?

Is this an area you are working on changing?

Join the conversation in our FRESH Start Club for more about this oh-so-real challenge we all face!

How to Break off a Sugar Addiction

We all love sugar, don’t we? I do for sure! The problem is that as we continue to ‘love on’ sugar it quickly becomes a habit and THEN can become an addiction. For so long I thought I was crazy to think I was “addicted” to sugar. The truth is you and I are NOT crazy when we feel out of control of our consumption of sugar.

This week, we begin with a quick video where I share from my heart about our attachment to sugar – and how you may want to begin “breaking up” with it in your life!

Addicted to sugar...really?

Why am I addicted to sugar?

We consume sugar in more ways than just foods that we think of as “sweets.” We know that soda, candy bars and cake are made of sugar. We know that these are treats, these are things we don’t eat on a regular basis. These things are obviously low in nutritional value. But in today’s world many foods that are marketed to families and even directly to children are deceptively loaded with hidden sugars.

With this huge amount of sugar hiding in foods we commonly eat every day it is no wonder that so many of us are addicted to sugar.

The first step to tackle an addiction to sugar

The first step is simple yet cannot be emphasized enough. You must raise your OWN awareness of how much sugar you are consuming each meal or snack.

1. Look for SUGAR on the label and IGNORE all the other information there for now

2. Do some mental math…add up the grams in all the items you’ll be consuming for breakfast or a snack, in total

Did you know?

a teaspoon of sugar is 4.2 grams!

So if something contains 20 grams of sugar that is almost 5 TEASPOONS of sugar in that one serving! And pay attention to serving size. How many times do you actually drink just the 8 oz of orange juice?

What does this mean? How can we give ourselves a sugar reality check?

Back in the day when our grandparents were eating mostly whole foods and before packaged foods became the norm, their average sugar consumption was between 9-20 grams each day. Now the average American is averaging somewhere between 50 to 80 and 120 grams of sugar EVERY DAY. By comparison this is about 12 or 13 times our Grandparents consumption! And much of this is by accident. We’re consuming most of our sugar first from drinks {juices as well as the commonly known culprit soda and fancy coffees} and secondly, from hidden sugars in our foods.

{Have you noticed that diet mayonnaise, diet salad dressings and even spaghetti sauce has SUGAR as an added ingredient? It pays to read ALL labels to discover all the hidden sugar sneaking into our foods!)

No wonder we are sicker and struggling with so much chronic illness today! Sugar causes inflammation and wears down our immune system. The most current research even points to inflammation as the basis for most of our serious and troubling diseases including cancer, heart disease and even dementia & Alzheimer’s.

Before you panic that you no longer get to enjoy food…take it just one step at a time!

Start breaking up with our addiction to sugar

Today you’ve made a great start at becoming aware of how much sugar you and your family are consuming each day. You’re empowered to read labels and add up the math, along with a reality check about how things have changed in just a couple generations…since our Grandparent’s time.

Here’s a helpful tool to start tracking your sugar grams…

Download your own copy of the PDF by clicking on the picture! Track for 5 days and see what you find - then you can start reducing the sugar-laden foods where you see trends.

So now let me encourage you. Here at Fresh Start we believe in one change at a time. This way our changes become life-long healthy habits instead of just reactions to the newest fad about what’s healthy or good for us.

Your next step is to really begin to delve into educating yourself more about sugar. On our FRESH Start YouTube channel, there is a whole series of videos explaining all about sugar, sugar substitutes and how to withdraw off the large amount of sugar in the American diet.

Let's talk about this…

You’ll also receive so much more on creating your healthy lifestyle one realistic step at a time, by becoming a member of our free FRESH Start Club! It’s free, and the folks there are so warm and welcoming. Join us there and start taking your healthy-living journey one step at a time with friends.

God's Master Plan for Health

God is the Master Planner - When you don't know the way to go, find rest and assurance in the fact that God does. Seek and trust Him with just the right plan for your specific healthy-living journey. He will show you the path to take, one step at a time.

This quote is from a post for the FRESH START CLUB ...it’s our private support & encouragement group (and it’s free!) We share simple steps there to take forward to keep us all on track to meet our healthy-living goals! Today I'm going to expand on this 'think fresh' step…

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"What IS God's plan?"

How many of you can relate to this? “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do next! There are so many ‘good’ ideas and ‘should’s’ out there! What if something doesn’t work for me? What if I can’t DO this??”

Believe me, I struggle too with getting bogged down in overwhelm and concerns about this lifestyle we all desire to follow. It’s something we all share as human beings. We get overwhelmed with all the voices swirling around us, all the action steps we feel pushed to take. (“Don’t eat fat, no wait, now eat fat! Don’t eat carbs, but wait, yes you can!”) It’s wearying.

The bottom line is that God knows each of us much better than we can even know ourselves. So even as we step forward in simple ways toward better health, we want to stay in step ALWAYS with HIS calling on each of us.

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What does God's Master Plan look like when it comes to healthy living?

Thankfully, the Word of God (the Bible!) is FULL of guidance around how to live a healthy lifestyle. That’s what I based my book FRESH Start for Health, off of - the Biblical plan for our health!

He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Exodus 15:26 NIV

My own journey toward better health has taken me through all sorts of twists and turns and I often wondered if I was following God’s plan for my health! As I’ve struggled with autoimmune disease, a spine condition that creates daily, draining pain in my body, a seizure disorder and more…I’ve struggled with doubts in Scripture promises like this because of it. (Can anyone relate?)

But I’ve realized one thing that has freed me in my own “mind-circles” around health and healthy living choices, and it is: God didn’t promise a life free of trials, sickness or struggles just because we follow Him - instead, He promises to stay with us and give us strength in the middle of it.

What I have also discovered is that God has taught me to listen more closely to what His plan is for me…especially in regard to my physical health. And for me, this takes the form of paying attention to my body, how I respond to food, how I feel everyday…as well as a process of trial and error in eating plans and lifestyles!

For instance, when it comes to grains, wheat, bread and other carbs this has been an ongoing area of adjustment for me. Sometimes I find that I need to cut even further back on simple carbs to feel truly well. And in this, I choose to just rest on what God is showing me about my own body. I don’t have to make broad generalizations about ‘everyone should get off all grains forever’ to know that in my life I need to make this adjustment.

Listen to your own body, it's another way to hear God's plan for YOU

This is what I encourage my clients and readers to do over and over again as well.

This walk toward a FRESH experience with God in our thinking about food, exercise and health is all about getting close to Him and learning to trust His whispers of love and direction.


Sure, these messages may not come blasted across the sky like we sometimes wish they would. But just by “tuning in” and listening to the amazingly created place he’s given us to live (our own bodies!) we can hear Him guide us very clearly.

I’d love to hear about how you’ve heard Him speak through your journey to better health. Maybe you’re just starting out and what you’re hearing right now is a lot about putting down the candy bars or chips! Or maybe you’ve discovered that taking a power nap is essential to being your best self for your family. Whatever it is, I’d LOVE to hear about your discoveries.

Leave your comments here just below in the comments section or come join us in the Fresh Start Club where we share privately and candidly about our journey to Fresh Health!

A Healthy Gut Means a Healthy You

This guest post is written by our guest expert, Carl Mason, Fitness and Food Guru and longtime FRESH Start friend. Read on to learn this oh-so-important info about our guts and exactly how important it is to care properly for it, to ensure our overall health! You can find out more about Carl at the end of this article.


I say it often, “Your gut is the heart of your health.”

Just ponder that for a minute. Where does your body access nutrients that feed your cells? Where does nutrient absorption take place for your muscles, your brain, all your organs? Where are toxins isolated and expelled to prevent you harm? It all happens in the gut.

The gut is more than your stomach. It is a very complex, strategically functioning network that includes…


Your Mouth

Your mouth is the gateway to your gut. From the moment you smell dinner, your mouth waters and the digestive process begins. With every chew, the process continues as the enzymes of your saliva start to break down the food.

Your Esophagus

As you chew every bite, ideally 15-30 times, the food enters your esophagus where it is delivered into your stomach.

Your Stomach

Now that your dinner has arrived in the stomach, it is sterilized and the digestive process continues with the aid of hydrochloric acid. Meanwhile, the stomach’s enzymes process proteins and nutrients while the stomach churns this broken down food, called chyme, into a liquid.  

Your Small intestine

At this point, your brain gets involved and once it has decided that the food is properly broken down, it signals the release into the small intestine. This is where all those nutrients are absorbed and become the building blocks that keep you healthy.

Your Pancreas, Liver, Gallbladder

These three organs are now vital to the process. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine that break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, while also producing insulin to help regulate your blood sugar. The liver, your protein building organ, produces bile, which is secreted into the gallbladder, that is then released, as needed, into the small intestine to break down fats. Now, this is a two way street as your small intestine then sends carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients to the liver, where they are converted into protein and glucose, to be used as fuel for the body.

Colon and Rectum

Once the small intestine has done its job alongside these three vital organs, the remaining material is passed into the colon. Its role is to absorb all the water and electrolytes before passing any remnant waste to the rectum and out of the body.

It’s all very clever, wouldn’t you say?

It gets better. Within this entire network is something called your microbiome. It is essentially the atmosphere in your gut that is comprised of living microorganisms. And you feed it with every bite you take...either for good or bad. The trouble is, that the modern diet feeds the bad, and also kills the good.

All the refined foods filled with synthetic flavorings, preservatives, and additives are deadly to the microbiome. The lack of fiber, common in these foods, is yet another blow. Did you know that only 5% of Americans are believed to ingest the minimum recommended daily allowance of fiber considered good for your health? Five percent. That’s shocking, right? Yet, fiber is the number one nutrient that feeds a healthy microbiome.

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So how do you make sure you are empowering a healthy microbiome and the fantastic health you are seeking?

Avoid Toxic Foods

Refined and processed foods are loaded with toxins that include antibiotics, glyphosate, and a long list of chemical additives, preservatives, and flavorings that replace everything that refining has destroyed. Every one of them is deadly to your gut health.

Avoid Refined Sugar and Oils

These, in addition to the negative effects of all the same toxins just mentioned, feed the bacteria that cause gas, indigestion, bloating, and chronic inflammation which throw a roadblock to your digestion and health.


Consume Prebiotics

You all know about PRObiotics but do you know about PREbiotics?

Probiotics must be fed in order to remain active and vibrant and that is where prebiotics enter the scene. They are, essentially, a plant fiber that your body cannot digest. They reside in your large intestine where they feed the probiotics to do their job.

Very simply put, eat loads of fiber from sources like activated whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruit, and ample vegetables. I’d even consider a natural supplementation of psyllium husks taken first thing in the morning.

Consume Probiotics

You may be taking a probiotic supplement. Unfortunately, you are likely wasting your hard earned money. I know that is a frustrating statement to read. But don’t distress. There are very easy and far more delicious ways to get those much-needed probiotics.

Fermented foods...one of my favorite nutritional topics.

I know that word fermented doesn’t sit well with modern consumers. Yet, fermented foods have been a staple in cultures around the world for thousands of years. It has only been in the last 100 years that they have fallen from grace and nearly vanished from your nutritional health strategy. They were sadly replaced with pickles...vinegar based, shelf stable, pasteurized, pickles.

Properly fermented foods are loaded with billions of probiotics per serving which could be as small as a teaspoon. And they are alive, all natural, robust and ready to get right to work.

So what are they and how do you eat them?

Here’s my list…

  • Miso

  • Kombucha

  • Kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Shoyu Soy Sauce

  • Pressed Salads


I realize this list may be foreign to many of you. It may even be daunting.

But these are all accessible, delicious and easy to include options.

Miso can be added to sauces, soups/stews or made as a simple broth to drink like tea.

Kombucha is a refreshing beverage while kimchi and sauerkraut are condiments in any meal.

Shoyu soy sauce is a traditional Japanese version that makes for great seasoning in grains or stir-fry.

Pressed salads are easily prepared at home with salted, sliced vegetable that you press underweight for an hour and then consume as a side to your meal.

In fact, here is my favorite pressed salad recipe:

Easy Pressed Salad

  • 1 head napa cabbage or any other leafy green, thinly sliced

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1 small daikon or 6 red radishes, thinly sliced

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thin on the diagonal

  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper thin

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar OR umeboshi plum vinegar

Place all the vegetables in a glass bowl. Add the salt and mix well then place a plate over the vegetables and press down with something weighted like a brick, a thick book or rock. Press for 1 hour. Remove plate, and squeeze out excess liquid. If the salad is a bit salty, rinse with cool water and dry thoroughly. Toss with vinegar and serve.

Keep in mind, you can use most any vegetables you like.

As you explore these truly good probiotic eats, just beware that not all are created equally and selections such as sauerkraut must not be the vinegar-based varieties down your grocery store aisle. The authentic versions will be in the refrigerator section.

Be mindful of the quality and authenticity and you’ll get incredible benefits.


Now that you understand the basics of your digestive system and its function and have a simple guide to feed it well, you can begin to make a beautiful transition to better health.

Remember, you deserve great health. You were designed for it and every provision has been made to ensure it. It’s your time to thrive in health and it begins with your gut.

Happy eating!
~ Carl


ABOUT CARL:

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Carl Mason uses the elements of nutrition, fitness, mindset, self-care and home health to create a lifestyle of health. He used these very tools 22 years ago to cure his “incurable” cancer following five years of chemo and radiation. Today, he is professionally and personally dedicated to sharing this blueprint with the world. Even his off-work hobbies reflect these values and passions. You can reach him through his powerful group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lifestylebydsn/ or email him directly at carl.masonsbestlife@gmail.com.

Keeping FIT the FRESH Way During Winter

Winter can often be a challenging time to stay committed to the fitness routines we’ve developed during other, more pleasant times of the year! Between inclement weather, the “winter blues” many of us can often experience, and our slower metabolisms - fitness isn’t always top of the mind!

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Trisch Richardson, FRESH Start Certified Coach & Master T-Tapp Trainer in Indiana, shares her secret to staying fit in the winter (and in any other challenging times!)...she calls it...

...Sneaky Fit to the Rescue!

Here’s what she shares...

I will often “curl my core” against a wall when my lower back is sore, especially from a long day of standing or walking. Of course, it’s not always easy to find a suitable wall wherever I am! So, just lean against any door after closing it. I used to do it only when I was alone - but after awhile I just didn’t care!

If you have never curled your core against a wall, here is the short version

(I share a longer version in my online programs)

  • Stand against a wall, feet out about 4-5 inches

  • Bring belly button up towards the rib cage (it won’t really go up that high, it’s the activation you are after)

  • Now use the tummy muscles to flatten the lower back against the wall, tucking to accommodate as needed

  • Keeping the core activated to flatten back against the wall, lift the ribs without arching away from the wall

  • Shift knees out, weight off big toe

  • Big inhale, exhale BIGGER! (Note: It WILL be tough to inhale big, do your best!)

  • Step away and kick out

Of course, there are many other ways and methods of squeezing fitness into the cold and blustery days of winter.

You can walk indoors to a Walking Program DVD, stretch to a yoga video via Youtube, or use a jump rope in the living room! There’s free weights, stretchy bands and kettle bells - the options available to us are truly endless these days!

The key is to KEEP MOVING, recruit an accountability buddy to encourage you, and reward yourself with a healthy protein smoothie or extra cup of tea or even a square of dark chocolate for your commitment to fitness through this extra-tough time of year!

To have an instant group of fitness accountability buddies around you, join us in the FRESH Start Club (it’s free!)

We check in often with each other on our realistic yet challenging “small steps” FRESH Living Goals! We’d love to have you with us…find out more and join us HERE.

How to Make Easy Elderberry Syrup

It’s that time of year when cold and flu season will be upon us and many times, it’s convenient to run out to the store and grab an over the counter medicine to treat fever, coughs, body aches and pains. It’s better in the long run, though, to boost the immune system naturally. Keeping the body healthy and less susceptible to those nasty germs and viruses is always a good idea!

How to Make Easy Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a natural way to boost the body’s immunity because elderberries are very high in vitamin A, have more vitamin C than oranges and are high in quercitin (a powerful antioxidant). They are also a natural anti-inflammatory and have antiviral properties that can not only help prevent colds and flus but also help the body recover faster from these viruses.

You can find elderberry syrup in your local health food store already made or you can make your own at home with this easy DIY recipe which is more cost effective. You can buy elderberries at your local health market or buy them online from Amazon. It’s best to look for and use organic elderberries when possible.

Here’s how to make it…

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup of Dried Elderberries

  • 3 Cups of Water

  • 1 cup Raw Organic Honey

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot.

  2. Add elderberries.

  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Let pot set for 15 minutes. Strain the elderberries using a fine wire strainer over a bowl.

  4. With the back of a large spoon press down on the berries to remove as much liquid as possible. Squish the berries down to extract a little more liquid. Discard or compost elderberries unless you have another use for them.

  5. Pour strained liquid back into clean pan and warm it over medium heat.

  6. Add honey. Cook uncovered until reduced to syrup consistency. Let cool to a warm temperature and pour into glass Mason jar and store in the fridge (it will last several months!)


How to Take Elderberry Syrup

Adults: For prevention take 1 tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. Take 1 tablespoon 4 times daily if you have a cold or the flu.

Children: Take 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup 3 times per day during a cold or flu and for prevention take 1/2 -1 teaspoon daily during cold and flu season.


FRESH Start Coach Sue Glashower of Busy Moms Living Well recently took us behind the scenes in her own kitchen as she made a batch of elderberry syrup! (Her recipe is slightly different, but the general idea on how to make this is the SAME, so it will still be quite helpful!)

Here is Coach Sue’s how-to video for our visual learners!


Of course, here at FRESH Start, we know that our healthy lifestyle is a whole-life process, and goes a long way to boost the body’s immune system and keep sickness at bay! So, eating FRESH whole foods while avoiding sugar and processed foods, continuing to move FRESH, and even keeping our Spirits healthy, work for our overall health … along with taking this syrup!

Let us know in the comments below if you use Elderberry Syrup in your holistic routine for whole-family health!


How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

As you gather around your dinner table this Thanksgiving, enjoying those tasty traditional dishes, and leave food-guilt behind – most of what you are about to eat is actually good for you!   

Here’s how to have a healthy Thanksgiving dinner:

Sweet potatoes – these babies are a super food, full of beta-carotene, which produces large amounts of Vitamin A for your body!  Vitamin A not only strengthens eyesight, but also your immune system!  The incredible amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6 and fiber packed into this family favorite also benefit the body. 

The bad news is that adding sugar and too much unhealthy fat to this dish downplays the benefits – so try using olive oil in the dish instead of butter, and enjoy the natural sweet flavor instead of smothering the potatoes in sugar!

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Pumpkin Pie - Full of fiber, beta carotenes, Vitamin C, potassium, and iron, this nutritious treat is almost all good!  Try making it with less sugar and low-fat evaporated milk for a healthier version, and you’ll have a dessert that is good for your heart, immune system, and eyes!

Stuffing – This dish can go either way, as some versions include too much butter and processed carbs.  Try making yours this year with whole wheat bread crumbs, and add in apple bits, nuts or seeds, and extra veggies; like carrots and squash, to add fiber and other nutrients to this traditional favorite! 

With the benefits from the broth and those nutrients combined, your stuffing now has more nutritional punch!

Sides – During the pre-Thanksgiving dinner rush in the grocery store, I noticed there were more shoppers in the fresh foods department than anywhere else in the store. The traditional dinner often includes collard greens, green beans, squash dishes, and brussel sprouts as filling and delicious sides. (I wonder if we eat more fresh veggies as a nation on this holiday more than any other day of the year!) 

What can I say? It does this health coach’s heart good to see this! 

These sides are loaded with multiple vitamins, minerals and fibrous benefits for our bodies – so good for us! Just try and keep the “additions” like butter and salt, to a minimum. Many of these selections can be broiled, sauteed or steamed and just lightly sea-salted or drizzled with a small amount of olive oil.

And let’s not forget the “star of the show” - the big bird!

Turkey – This main event is a lean protein, providing healthy benefit to your body without a lot of fat or harmful additives. It’s high in tryptophan, the nutrient that helps your body produce serotonin, which helps you regulate mood and sleep patterns. It also includes such necessary nutrients as the B Vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and potassium. It’s healthier to enjoy it skinless, and without a lot of additional fats, like butter, so try moisturizing it with olive oil, and “steam cooking” it in a bag in the roaster to keep it tender without the additional oils.

The nutritious benefits you’ll be getting from these family-favorite dishes are worth every bite. 

Enjoy them in moderation (always a good rule of thumb!) and your body will thank you for the added nutrients this delicious dinner brings. 

Have a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!

How to End Anxiety and Find Relief Using EFT and Tapping

Introducing our guest expert-blogger, Angela Agranoff of https://myrefreshedsoul.com and https://theunclutterangel.com.

Angela is sharing from her wealth of knowledge and passion for this part of our healthy living…using TAPPING & EFT for anxiety relief!

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Angela is a wife, mother of three, writer and EFT practitioner. She blogs about health and home organization on her blogs, My Refreshed Soul and The Unclutter Angel. She presents EFT on both blogs to help support the emotional side of the two topics. You can also find her books and journals on Amazon. Angela loves connecting with others through her blogs, books, social media and speaking to groups.

Here’s what she shares with us today:

Have you ever felt paralyzed by doubt or fear?

Is your anxiety triggered by situations that feel overwhelming or stressful?

Fear may tell us that we are feeling uncertainty, worry about not having control, or loss of control. Fear isn’t necessarily a negative feeling; it can have many useful purposes. But it can also cause us to get stuck or feel anxious.

ANXIETY (ang-zahy-i-tee), noun

1. Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune

2. Earnest but tense desire; eagerness

3. Psychiatry. a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.

(Dictionary.com)

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Some circumstances in our lives can bring on feelings of uncertainty. How we choose to handle these circumstances can make a big difference in how we operate in our everyday lives.

This year, for the first time, I experienced what felt like a panic attack. I was in Denver International Airport, a super busy airport with an insane TSA operation. The feeling of so many people, the noise, long lines, waiting to catch a plane. . . I was eventually in tears and felt like I was emotionally shutting down.

 Strangest feeling ever!

I took deep breaths to get through the situation, and recovered by the time we got through security. The rest of our trip was fine. 

That was an eye opening experience.

I felt my environment was out of control and filled lots of uncertainty. The good news is, I am self aware of this, and working with tools that can help me with these situations. We know that these situations can arise at any time and anywhere. 

Do you have situations that cause feelings of anxiety in you?


When one has feelings of anxiety, there are a variety of ways people cope with them:

·  Soothe through drinking or drugs

·  Head to the kitchen to find relief in food

·  Go shopping to feel better by making a purchase

·  Turn to medication

This list is not judgment. I understand it because I have done some of these to dull the pain. But when we have newer and better option, we can use them. 

FAITH AND ANXIETY

I wish my first thought when I feel anxious was always to pray.  

Jesus can comfort instantly if we listen and allow Him to.

There are amazing tools that can assist us when working through anxiety. Finding comfort in our faith, and allowing God to carry the burden of our fear and anxiety, can be the greatest of comfort.

God cannot only change our thoughts in an instant; He can change the overwhelming and defeating patterns forever IF we allow it.

Being consistent and surrendering every time we get these feelings of anxiety can give us a break through.

God can also reveal to us why we are feeling loss of control, why we feel helpless, why we feel fear. Just ask Him for clarity. These feelings can tell us something, and God can guide the way.

What can God teach us and show us about ourselves through our anxiety?

Prayer is a powerful tool to help with anxiety! It can be used anytime, anywhere, just like the next tool we will discuss, EFT.

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WHAT IS EFT?

This non-evasive tool is a calming way to help with anxiety. It can be used with prayer, scripts, ongoing thoughts or mantras.

EFT, the emotional freedom technique, is like psychological acupressure. It can help with a number of emotional and physical issues we have.

Eastern medicine describes how emotions and traumas get stuck in our body’s system. Using tapping can help to release those memories and emotions that are “stuck” in our thoughts and nervous system.

EFT doesn’t “cure” things, but it can help to relieve the stress of anxiety in your body.

Even though tapping uses practices adopted from Eastern medicine, it works well adding our faith and dependence on God. He made our bodies so extraordinary and complex and tapping is another amazing tool we can use to tap into what our heavenly Father has gifted us. 

Please do not substitute tapping for any medical treatment or counseling that you are receiving. Talk with your doctor or counselor to discuss if it can be used in conjunction with your treatment.

 For a visual on how to end anxiety and find relief using EFT and Tapping, watch this helpful video!


USING EFT AND TAPPING FOR ANXIETY

Tapping for anxiety can implemented during an anxious feeling or stressful situation, you can also use EFT as a preventive measure.  

I will include two scripts below that will help you with both situations.

I like to tap about situations that stress me out, especially if I am thinking about what is coming up in the near future that may make me feel anxious. Then as I face the situation, I already have the calming words in my mind and my body is already prepared.

I have also done tapping when I am in the middle of a situation, benefiting from the calming tap and verbiage I use to walk myself through the situation and change my negative thoughts.

When we are feeling anxiety we can choose to put our focus on what we do have control over, and not what we don’t have control over. Tapping can help us to gain this clarity and feel peace again. 

Getting Started with Tapping

Learn the different tapping points and their location as well as how to rate the level of your emotions before you start tapping.

 

Before you start tapping, create a “set-up statement” by:  

·  Thinking about a situation that causes you anxiety or stress

·  Remembering your first memory that comes to mind when you think about this feeling

·  Feeling that memory and the emotions as you prepare to being tapping

·  Using the emotion you feel and the memories brought up, you can create a set-up statement


Set-up Statement Example: Even though I am feeling anxious and upset right now I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

The set-up statement will be repeated three times and can be the same or worded different each time.  You will say this three times while you are tapping on your karate chop point.


You don’t need to:

·   Tap hard, just a gentle tap

·   Worry about hitting each point perfectly, it will still work

·   Worry if you miss a point or if you are doing it wrong

·   Have the perfect script or set-up statement

Rest easy that this relaxing and effective tool can be done anywhere at anytime. They key is to be consistent and patient with yourself.

You are working on layers of memories and events. Like an onion, this may take time to peel away the layers to get to the core of what is causing your anxiety. It may not get resolved after one round of tapping, and that’s perfectly normal.


TAPPING SCRIPTS

Tapping for Anxiety Relief

Tapping In The Moment

It may not be the first thing you think of when you are in a stressful situation, but the more you tap with intent, the more natural it will come as a solution.

Karate Chop Point:

-  Even though I am feeling anxious and upset right now, I deeply and completely love and accept myself right now.

-  Even though I am frustrated that I feel this way, I deeply and completely love and accept who I am right now.

-  Even though I am mad at myself for getting like this, I deeply and completely love and accept who I am right now.

 

Eyebrow:

I don’t understand why I am feeling this way.

 

Side of Eye:

I want to have a feeling of peace so I function right now

 

Under Eye:

I don’t like this feeling of not being in control of the situation

 

Under Nose:

Not knowing what is going to happen or what to expect

 

Chin:

This feeling is so frustrating for me

 

Collarbone:

I’m feeling out of control and upset

 

Under Arm:

I don’t have to feel this way and I can ease my mind

 

Top of Head:

I am being triggered by something and I want to honor that I feel upset

 

Eyebrow:

Even if I am not certain why I am feeling anxious right now

 

Side of Eye:

 I can give myself peace to get through this moment

 
Under Eye:

I can figure out the ‘why’ later, right now I can feel at peace

 

Under Nose:

I don’t have to be in control of everything

 

Chin:

God is in control of it all

Collarbone:

I am passing this difficult situation to Him and He will comfort me

Under Arm:

I’m tired of trying to control it all because it is exhausting

Top of Head:

I’m so grateful I am not doing this alone, it hasn’t worked up until now, so I will surrender 

Take a deep breath

Tapping for Future Anxiety

This script is great for using after you have gone through an anxious situation, or if you know something will be coming up for you that could trigger feelings of anxiety.

As you tap you may have memories or thoughts pop up that will give you a window into what may be causing your anxiety.

These memories or ideas can be written in a notebook to keep track of your progress over time. You can also use these to peel away at deeper issues that have caused you stress and anxiety, learning how you can better cope with these situations using EFT and tapping.

Before the next tapping round, think of a situation that gives you anxiety.  Get a clear picture in your mind, feeling the situation as if you are there.

Ready? 

Karate Chop Point:  

-   Even though I have anxiety in certain situations, I deeply and completely love and accept myself

-   Even though I feel I should be able to control my emotions in situations, I deeply and completely love and accept myself

-  Even though I know there are past memories that challenge me with anxiety and feeling loss of control, I chose to accept who I am right now

Eyebrow:

I want to understand why I get anxiety and have a hard time letting go of difficult situations

 

Side of Eye:

Why do I feel I need to hold onto past experiences that aren’t serving me?

 

Under Eye:

What is causing this feeling of fear and losing control?

 

Under Nose:

I pray I can understand it and it can be resolved

 

Chin:

What am I afraid of?

 

Collarbone 

Who would I be without trying to control everything?

 

Under Arm:

I may be open to more opportunities in my life if my anxiety wasn’t pushing things away.

 

Top of Head:

I could be more confident and decisive

 

Eyebrow:

I could let go and allow whatever was to happen, happen

 

Side of Eye:

I could let go and stop trying to control everything

 

Under Eye:

If I am not trying to control my situation, there isn’t anything to be anxious about

 

Under Nose:

I can turn it all over to God because He is the One ultimately in control

Chin:

I release the tension in my body

 

Collarbone:

I release my worries about any possible outcomes that feel scary to me

 

Under Arm:

I release the expectations I have that hold me back from all God has in store for me

 

Top of Head:

I feel lighter, I feel freer, and I feel open to all that God has in store for me

 

Take a deep breath.

 

Focus again about the situation you were picturing for this last tapping round. Use the emotional scale after each round of tapping.

 

On the scale of 1-10, where is your anxiety now? 1 being, “I feel no reaction to the situation” and 10 being “I am completely overwhelmed and can’t think about it!”

 

If you are feeling more at peace with your thoughts, awesome! If you feel you could lower your anxious feelings more, do another tapping round.

 

You can change the words in the script to fit your situation and make it more personal. Keep tapping to help you to lower number your on the scale. 

Consistently tapping for future stressful situations, or during anxious times, you will see progress and be amazed at how your mind can make tiny shift and see things in a new light.

Using EFT, along with trusting what God’s plans are for you, you can work to end your anxiety and create a routine to deal with stress, and finally finding the relief you are seeking!

With Love,

Coach Angela!

We want to know:

…did this article help you as you explore FRESH new ways to aide your healing from anxiety? We are so excited to partner with some amazing new experts on this blog - to bring you only the best in healthy-living inspiration and resources! Let us know what you thought of this and Coach Angela in the comments below!

What IS Healthy, Anyway? {Hint: It's FRESH Food!}

There is so much information available now on eating and foods in the “health industry,” but there are also many differing opinions. 

Even the “authorities” are at odds with each other, all taking different sides of the healthy eating fence. The conversation often goes like this: Eat less fat; hold on, eat more fats!  Eat meat; no wait, don’t eat meat!  Drink less caffeine; well actually, go ahead and drink it! 

It can be mentally exhausting and leaves us asking the big question, “OK, what really IS healthy?

It is common that everyone WILL have differences of opinions, beliefs, and ideas about what’s truly healthy – that’s what keeps us interesting! The problem is; it’s also quite confusing! 

Especially in this area: knowing what to eat and drink, and what NOT to consume for better health. 

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With the ultimate goal of better health for you and your family, I’d like to give you just a few tips to help you figure out what eating healthy looks like specifically for your family, and your needs!

  1. Though opinions differ, some basic things remain the same!
    There are some things that we’ve been eating since the beginning of time, like whole, unprocessed grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats – this hasn’t changed with culture, society, or fads! Be wary of the “latest and greatest” new product, “food” or drink. If they really are new, chances are, they’re also artificially developed or processed. An avocado has been an avocado since the Great Flood. It’s a good method to use as a measuring stick when deciding what’s “healthy” to eat or drink.
     
  2. Balance is ALWAYS healthy!
    Going off-balance for the long-term is NOT! The problem with an extreme diet, plan or product (especially one that eliminates a whole food group or two!) is that a deficiency is bound to occur. A lot of times, it’s just not immediately apparent. Our bodies were designed with a specific need for all the food groups – the process of building our cells, which is replenishing what “life” takes out of us, requires all the proteins, nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that those different foods (prepared different ways) can give us!
     
  3. Is someone trying to sell you something?
    This is NOT to knock those who charge for things (we all gotta make a living!) but rather to get you thinking and examining the motives behind a celebrity endorsement, “doctor recommended” claim, or other less than truthful methods used to get you to buy that product or quick fix. Just ask yourself these screening questions before you buy based on emotion: Is this another “quick fix” or a step towards a true lifestyle change?

The vast amount of information available on this topic can be a benefit, but also tends to bring mass confusion. Once you figure out your family’s basic guidelines for what you consider a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be able to sift quickly through that information without getting overwhelmed.

Here at FRESH Start, we follow a simple guideline for healthy eating: the Mediterranean-style Food Plan.

Why? Because it's the plan most aligned with our simple values of FRESH foods, and a balanced view that includes all major food groups.

We teach realistic, balanced small steps in healthier habits to build a lasting lifestyle of health. 

For a beautiful handout on What’s REALLY Healthy, click here!  

This quick, easy to read, 3-page handout will help you pinpoint what foods you can, and should, enjoy for improved health!

Here are a few other articles we think you'll enjoy on this topic:

Best Healthy Cooking Magazines

How to Eat Clean

Cooking with Herbs

Cooking With Herbs - Making Health Taste Good!

Consuming a healthier diet doesn’t have to be doing away with tasty, vibrant foods and flavors. Herbs are the easiest way to use nature's ready-made flavor in your foods and keep them packed with healthy!

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How to make foods using herbs as flavoring:

  1. Change out commercial seasonings – Watch the for sodium, coloring and additives in ready-made spice mixes. Look for the ingredients to be only the spices on the label!
     
  2. Don’t Overdo It!  Combining too many strong flavors in one dish is sure to overpower your taste buds, making your dinner less enjoyable. As a general rule, keep it to 2 or so herbs per dish. Here are a few can’t-go-wrong pairs: parsley & rosemary, cumin & cilantro, and thyme & basil.
     
  3. Give your meat a powerful, natural flavor with fresh herbs – Bake or grilled chicken tastes great with rosemary, thyme, and cumin. Use peppercorns, bay leaves, and coriander seed with beef roasts.  Sprigs of thyme and chopped basil or oregano boost pastas.  Chop fresh herbs and sprinkle over meats while cooking. Want a stronger taste and smell? Add more fresh herbs just before serving!
     
  4. Herbs Make Great Marinades, Pastes & Dips! – Here’s a tasty rub combination that’s sure to please. Mash garlic into a fine pulp and stir in olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley, cilantro, basil or other leafy herb of your choice. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt. Drizzle over your meat before serving to boost the flavor even more. 
  5. Take a Trip Around the World! – Create ethnic themed dinners and combine herbs for dinners from around the globe. Please your palate with these combinations and create your own out of the endless possibilities.

Here’s a quick list of which herbs work best together:

Latin Dishes:  Mix cumin, crushed red pepper, coriander seeds, cilantro and a squeeze of lime to give it a zesty taste.

Indian Foods: Curry powder (combine turmeric and some of your other favorite flavors), paprika, and chili.

Middle Eastern Dinners: Parsely or cilantro, cumin, celery seed, cardamom.

German Dishes: Dill, parsley, and tarragon.

Italian Foods: Thyme, basil, fennel, garlic and oregano.

These are just a few of the many ways you can add pizazz to your meals and still keep them healthy. Packed with nutrients and healing elements, herbs actually make what you’re eating even healthier!

You can’t go wrong growing your own herbs, either. Don’t have the greenest thumb? No worries, herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and they can fit in almost anywhere – in a small pot on the patio or even between flowers and plants in your garden.

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I’m always up for trying something new and healthy! We’d love to hear some of your favorite blends and experiences with growing your own herbs – share your favorites or tips with me and our other readers here on the blog or over on Facebook in our free support community!

Preparing Meals Ahead: A Simple Guide

Preparing Meals ahead of time is a key to success with the Fresh Start for Health program.

Once you've pre-determined your meal plan, you can easily move into preparing pieces of your meals (or even full meals) ahead of time.

Not only does this making this a weekly habit continue to pay off in terms of saved time and money, but you'll be miles down the road toward your healthy goals as well.

One of the most frequent concerns I’ve heard from my coaching clients over the past several years is about "not having enough time" to meal plan. I think people assume that making time to prepare fresh, whole foods is a time-intensive project. I'm going to help break that myth with you right now!

“I never have enough time to make healthy lunches or chop all those veggies.”

“How am I supposed to find the time to make all this fresh food when I work and have little ones at home?”

“I travel so much of the month. Where am I supposed to find the time to make even these small changes?”

 

I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN DO THIS!

 

Coaching Tip: To start small, just choose ONE of the ideas I'm sharing with you here to start doing to improve the quality of your weeknight meals - just ONE! Then, when that ONE has become a habit, move to the next ONE idea and make that a habit! One new idea at a time - over time - soon becomes several ideas, and soon, you're following a whole new way of doing weeknight meals after a few weeks of faithfully applying!

 

If you follow this simple guide to prepare some of the items in your meal plan ahead of the week, you'll save yourself a LOT of stress during the week!

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In our FREE Online Community I share specific points for how to prep ahead. One of the consistent reports I get back from my clients once they begin to DO this ACTION STEP is how much easier and doable eating Fresh is once they really dig in and prep portions of their meals ahead of time.

Here on the blog, I'm sharing a bit of the exact HOW you can establish this meal-prep healthy habit in your life! 

PREP AHEAD 101 with Directions:

Quinoa - 2x water as Quinoa, cook on the stove top at a rolling simmer for 20 minutes or in a Rice Cooker with a dash of salt

Brown Rice - 2x water as Rice, cook on the stove top over rolling simmer for 30-40 minutes or in a Rice Cooker

Steel Cut Oats - easy to make ahead for quick re-heat breakfasts! Here's the How To

Hard Boiled Eggs -Fill a pot with COLD water, lay eggs in the bottom, sprinkle in lots of salt—makes them more easily peel-able! Heat water to a boil, close lid and leave on a rolling boil WITHOUT REMOVING LID for 10 minutes. Remove pot to sink immediately, letting cold water run through to chill the eggs and stop the cooking process. 

Crock Pot soups or stews - SUPER simple to make ahead for two full dinners for a large family or a week full of healthy chicken, beans or beef main-dishes for a single person…the crock pot is a busy individuals life-saver when eating fresh! Try this plain shredded Chicken Crock Pot recipe to use creatively the rest of the week in dinners and lunches! I’d love to hear about your go-to crock pot meals in the comments below!

Veggie Prep - Make your own veggie tray or chop them up for healthy snacks. Chop up onions, tomatoes, cilantro and add a healthy dash of fresh LIME juice for an east fresh salsa. Chop root veggies ahead of time for a fast roasted veggies side dish any night of the week –place in a ziplock, add a dash of olive oil and herbs/spices of your choosing and shake thoroughly. Right before roasting in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes the night of your dinner, give another good shake!

Grill Chicken and/or Salmon to use as the protein in the next 2-3 dinners. You can chop them up, or shred the salmon for patties later in the week. Toss the chicken into a salad, gluten-free pasta or sauteed veggies and brown rice as a quick stir fry.

Pre-Bake Sweet Potatoes and Squash for easy quick-energy sides you can re-heat and enjoy later in the week - here's a 9 minute video on how to do this! 

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What do you think? Is this a realistic plan for you?

I’d love to hear about your meal-prepping experiences and frustrations.

What are your favorite make-ahead meals or dishes?

What day works best for you to do your meal prep…do you set aside a couple of hours on the weekend or weeknight? 

Share with me in the comments below!

Run If You Can, But If You Can’t…WALK!

I have so much admiration for runners.

In my mind, they rank right up there with Olympic athletes, professional sports players and marathon marvels! I mean, the PUSH they have for the goal is phenomenal. I love their stories, and to see them BURN as they push past the pain and reach their goal, and they reach it FAST! But can I admit something to you?

I’m so NOT a runner.

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I admire them from a distance.

A LOOOONNGG distance, because they run right past me in all their marvelous strength as I walk with my fur baby every morning. Their fabulous calves popping, their breath coming out in puffs, with a look of determination and purpose on their face. Meanwhile, I’m walking. I’m a brisk walker, and science says that counts for something, and in my walking, I’m hoping science is right.

I tried to become a runner once.  “They” told me I could do it, that anyone could run and that I just had to “work my way” up to it. Boy did I find out different. There was a real problem.

You see…I really don’t like self-inflicted pain!

This may not be the case for everyone, but for ME to train as a runner, I quickly figured out that it took PAIN. And lots of it! I suffer from chronic body pain, mainly from a lower-back genetic condition that affects me daily.

I  also deal with an autoimmune disease that weakens my body. So the running quickly inflamed and irritated conditions I had already been dealing with for a lifetime.

I pushed through it initially, but by the end of the second week, with no relief after using all the known methods of reducing the inflammation and treating my pain, I decided not to become a “runner” after all.

Disappointment in my “failure” soon took over…

You see, runners seem to have their own club, and they just…well, they “get” each other. They get to be part of 5ks and wear stickers on their cars that have secret runner’s codes. They wear cool bibs and branded t-shirts and fancy running shoes. They are in a league all their own. And for me to get invited to this elite group, I had to run! And I just couldn’t.

At first, I was operating in an ALL or NOTHING mentality…

Since I couldn’t run, I decided, I just wouldn’t bother being active at all. I had failed, so I shrunk back from fitness altogether for a time.

Don’t we often do that? Go all in or nothing with these things? Hebrews 12:1b talks about running our appointed race in “patient endurance” and “active persistence.”

So I couldn’t really RUN, but did that mean I was to sit down in a huff and not do ANYTHING active for my health?

No, I decided, “patient endurance” in my understanding spoke less of speed and MORE of tenacity.

“Active persistence” told me that hanging in for the long haul and doing it ACTIVELY was a good goal.

So I couldn’t run. I still can’t run. But I CAN walk.
 

So that is what I began doing.
 

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I parked further away in the parking lot and walked to the store. I walked the kids to the neighborhood park. I walked to my daughter’s school around the corner.

Then I began to feel stronger…and even a little more muscular! Yes, just walking!

Soon, I set a bigger goal for myself and committed to walking 30 days straight for a half-hour a day. I took off on my challenge, walking with my fur baby, my hubby, my daughter, my son…anyone who would walk with me!

Some days I walked for 45 minutes, sometimes, for an hour! I walked uphill, downhill, on pavement, on dirt trails. I walked early in the day (my personal favorite!) and late in the evenings.

And as I walked, I felt myself breathe better, feel better, and best of all, WANT to make other choices to live healthier!

As I write this, I’ve walked well past that original personal 30-Day challenge I set for myself…and I FEEL SO GREAT!

I’m not in any additional body pain, and in fact, have even seen my back pain diminish a bit!

My prayer life is stronger as I’ve had those powerful moments alone with God and nature as I walk.

My knees feel great, my weight has dropped a bit, my leg muscles (and even butt!) are LOOKING better than ever…and it’s all from walking.

Just walking.

I learned that even though I wanted to run, and run well, it just isn’t MY PERSONAL appointed race during this season of my life.

I still admire the runners as they pant past me in their awesome running shoes.

I still look to their secret society with a twinge of jealousy. But I am secure in my achievement as a walker. I know I am doing my very best right now as I walk every day.

As Hebrews taught me, I CAN and WILL walk briskly the appointed race set before me, and do it with patient endurance and active persistence!

FRESH Living Friends: What about you and your fitness story? We would love to hear your lessons learned and moments of joy in your personal fitness journey!  Share in the comments below!

Healing Adrenal Fatigue {A FRESH Look}

Introducing our guest blogger from the archives, Laura Williams, one of our beautiful alum of the FRESH Start Coaching Academy!

Laura is sharing her personal journey with how she is healing Adrenal Fatigue naturally. She resides in Alaska with her family and LOTS of natural beauty all around her. Please enjoy a little of her story today and then pass on the article...this story is going to help someone suffering from adrenal fatigue today!

Here's what she writes:

Even though she resides in Alaska, Laura and Coach Bess got to meet in person a few years ago! 

Even though she resides in Alaska, Laura and Coach Bess got to meet in person a few years ago! 

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”                                                           - Matthew 11:28 (NASV)

With everything that is going on in the world around us today, it is hard to keep up.  We put so many unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our time.  By the time we get through the day we are exhausted from working, taking care of kids, preparing meals, laundry, cleaning the house, carpool, after school activities, homework, and church activities. 

This doesn’t even include the time we take for ourselves in prayer, meditation, bible reading, and exercise.  If you are like I used to be, most nights you fall into bed so weary that you don’t know how you will get up the next morning.  And then you can’t sleep…

A little about adrenal fatigue…

The adrenal glands sit at the top of your kidneys and are responsible for releasing hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) in response to stress.  Cortisol influences many functions in our body such as regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and immune response.

During normal function our adrenals have their own “circadian rhythm” which gives us the highest cortisol levels at around 8am and the lowest at 4am. In times of increased stress our cortisol levels are at their highest and should return to normal once the stress has passed. With today’s current lifestyle many times this doesn’t happen and eventually the adrenal function is disrupted.

I was diagnosed with adrenal disruption almost three years ago and then adrenal fatigue two years ago. 

Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

Feeling tired all day, not wanting to wake up in the morning even when you got a good night’s sleep, being wide awake after 6pm and not being able to fall asleep, craving salty and sweet snacks, crashing in the afternoon (mine was at 3pm) and not being able to function without a nap or high amounts of caffeine. 

I was demonstrating all of the above symptoms. 

Barely making it thru the day, I would come home and take a nap before I could make dinner. After dinner it was all I could do to sit on the couch and watch TV with my family. 

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I remember being so hard on myself that I didn’t have the energy to get up and play with my children. 

I would often go up in my room and cry because I felt like I was such a bad mom to them. This made my resolve even stronger to get better so that I could be the mom my children deserved.

My journey to get healthy has not been easy.

God really had to get a hold of me about some things in my life. I feel like I was battling for my health on two fronts, both spiritual and physical. I had to learn to control myself and my eating habits as well as give God complete control of my life.

Before this time I would get up with a start in the morning and immediately be organizing my day in my mind. I would rush through my shower and spend my perfunctory time with God so I could check that off my to-do list each day. I realized this had to change. I started taking my thyroid medication (I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) first thing in the morning while I was still in bed and then I would then lay in bed meditate on God’s Word. 

I would speak scriptures in to my life about health.

One of my favorites was Isaiah 40: 29-31 which says,

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

This 10-15 minutes of time has become the most important time in my day.  God also spoke to me about how I had been dealing with things. 

I tend to be one of those people who wants to control everything in my life. (Can anyone relate?) I make lists, organize, and structured my day in hour by hour increments. The problem is, if things don’t go according to that plan, I would stress so badly and it would throw me completely off. 

Even though I thought I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do I realized that I left no time for Him to lead me during the day. There was no time to just sit and ponder a beautiful sunset or to help someone He put in my path. Once I learned to give God complete control I realized that I didn’t have to react when things didn’t happen as planned. This one concept has freed me more than any other that I have learned. By not being in a constant state of stress I was finally able to begin to heal.

The other thing I learned during this time was how important diet was in adrenal health.

To help correct this condition as naturally as possible, I began starting the day by taking a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Some people put it in a glass of water and add honey and cinnamon. I personally like the taste of vinegar and can drink it straight. ACV helps regulated blood sugar and helps restore premium stomach acid levels for proper digestion. 

My circadian rhythm was way off so I needed to help get my body back on track. I cut way down on my caffeine intake. I started taking methyl-B12 in the morning to “perk” myself up naturally. This really helped me during the day.

Falling asleep in the evening was difficult too, so I started taking “Natural Calm”, which is a magnesium drink, about an hour before bedtime.  Magnesium is such an important mineral that many people are deficient in.

It helps regulate blood sugar, bowel movements, and decreases our anxiety towards stress. It also calms us so we can sleep better. Natural ways to increase magnesium are by eating seaweed, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, and almond butter. In addition to these supplements I started eating better and decreased my intake of sugar, which can inhibit proper adrenal function.

I found that it is important when trying to heal adrenals is to not overdo it with the exercise. 

High intensity exercise is a problem because this puts even more stress on your adrenals. Taking the time to go for a nice easy walk and enjoy the scenery does wonders for your outlook on life. During my year-long healing I stopped making exercise another thing on my to-do list and started enjoying the beauty that God has placed around me.

I want to warn and reassure you that healing from adrenal fatigue is a lengthy process. I did not see big changes in how I was feeling overnight. It took me a full year to begin to feel normal again. But during that year God did an amazing work on me and my heart.

Since joining the FRESH Start Community I have been able to heal even more. Doing the FRESH Start 14-Day and 28-Day Challenges have really helped me stay on track in my eating, thinking, and get back in to more faithful exercise. 

Best Healthy Cooking Magazines

When I first started consciously cooking healthier for my family, I quickly found that I needed a flow of new ideas. 

The internet, with it's myriad of websites (like this beauty you are currently reading!) and resources (there's almost too many nowadays!) almost overwhelmed me into inaction.  Can anyone relate to "idea overwhelm?"

So, for my healthy cooking needs, I turned to the old friends I had been relying on for information for years...magazines!

From the time I was old enough to look at pictures, I have loved magazines. 

The smell, the feel of the slick pages that don't muss with my fingers, the pages and pages and pages full of vibrant colored-pictures, and the unending flow of up-to-the minute information - all packed into those wonderful little mini-books! 

To this day, I still squeal with delight when the mail arrives, and a magazine is cushioned between all the bills stuffed into our mailbox!

Today in this post, I'm giving you the breakdown of my favorite healthy cooking magazines. Hopefully you'll find that one or two of them suit your fancy as well!

Eating Well Magazine  

This is a monthly magazine that not only boasts dozens of new recipes and cooking tips each issue, but also publishes well-researched and easy-read health articles. I usually gain at least 2-3 new practical recipes from each issue (the reason it's not more is because many of them are just too complicated or involved to make my busy-mom list!) The well-rounded offerings from this magazine are great - whether your approach to healthy cooking is vegetarian, clean-eating, or any other type, this magazine has something you can use!

Whole Living Magazine 

This beauty of a magazine is from Martha Stewart's publishing, and is a great resource for those interested in the environmentally-friendly, sustainable approach on healthy cooking and eating.  It is also great for the whole-life aspect, as it teaches about greener living, including body care, home care, and more.

Healthy Cooking Magazine

I love the simplicity and focus of this magazine - "healthy cooking" is what it's called, so healthy cooking is what you get!  Fun recipe challenges and contests to enter, dozens of great recipes (from beginner cooks to gourmet!) and vibrant, easy-to-follow how-to's, this magazine is a close second place to my top pick...

...drumroll please....and now, my absolute TOP HEALTHY COOKING MAGAZINE!!!

Cooking Light Magazine

Where do I start?  This beautiful magazine is chock-FULL of clean and healthy, easy-to-cook, family-friendly, filling and satisfying recipes every month!  Want to make your comfort food favorites healthier?  You can find out how here!  Want to add some fast favorites to your family's collection? Now you can!  

There are also great shopping, meal planning, and cooking tips in every issue - all written to keep you happily cooking healthy for your family!

So there you have it, the best of the healthy cooking magazine best! 

Take your need to feed your family healthy, supply it with a steady flow of FRESH ideas and recipes, and you'll have one happy, healthy family! 

For more great resources like this to help keep cooking, eating and raising a healthy family, join us in the FRESH Start Club! Totally free and warm place with resources & support for step-by-step, family-friendly healthy living!