Monday, December 28, 2009

Zebra Popcorn


You will need:

DSCN13831/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. corn syrup

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. unpopped popcorn

(don’t forget the white and milk chocolate chips!!)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

DSCN13861.) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the corn syrup and the brown sugar. Let this simmer without stirring for 4 minutes.

During the 4 minutes is usually when I use an air popper to pop the popcorn. It works DSCN1390pretty well, because then the popcorn is still hot when the caramel is ready.

At the end of the 4 minutes, remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the salt/soda and then stir in the vanilla.


2.) Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir to mix. I usually run the bowl under hot air from the air popper to help the caramel stay hot enough to spread over all the popcorn. (Tip #1 – spray the bowl you’re popping into with non-stick spray so the caramel doesn’t stick to the bowl)

3.) Divide the carameled popcorn into two 9x13 cake pans. Put them in the oven for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes.

DSCN1396 4.) Pour the carameled corn out onto cookie sheets covered with wax paper. (Tip #2 – spray the wax paper with non-stick spray). Melt white chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups) and drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn. Repeat with milk chocolate chips (about 1 cup) (Tip #3 – if you don’t have a super fancy microwave like mine that has an auto setting for melting chocolate, you can still use your microwave, just use a lower power setting and turn it on for short amounts of time – like 30 seconds. Otherwise, you can make a double boiler using a class bowl over a pot of boiling water – but still be careful… it is VERY easy to over cook chocolate… and overcooked chocolate doesn’t “drizzle”)


5.) I put the cookie sheets in the fridge or freezer so the chocolate will harden. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Enjoy! It is sooo addictive. You can also just stop at the caramel corn (maybe add nuts?) if you prefer. Or just use white chocolate, or just milk chocolate. Make it your own!!

I promise after the holidays I will get back to posting about how to be healthy instead of how to expand your waistline!! 8-o Maybe I’ll do a special on New Year’s resolutions for health!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marshmallow Bones


    For our Halloween “Boo” plates I made marshmallow bones. They’re ridiculously easy to make and they are SO yummy.

DSCN0631You need:

stick pretzels

mini marshmallows

white chocolate chips

 DSCN0633Take two marshmallows and stick one on each end of the pretzel. You can break some of the pretzels so you have bones of all sizes. You put the marshmallows on the pretzels so that the flat sides are parallel to the pretzel (so it looks kind of like a hammer).

Melt the chocolate chips on the stove or in the microwave. I did mine on the stove by taking a big pot and filling it with water, then placing a large glass mixing bowl over the top of the pot. Put the chips in the glass bowl and bring the water to a boil (this is also called “making your own double boiler”). Stir the chips and they will start to melt. When they are almost completely melted, remove the glass bowl from the pot of water (and turn off the stove, obviously). Keep mixing up the chocolate until it is completely melted.

Dip the pretzel/marshmallow bones in the chocolate. I used a fork and tapped the fork on the side of the bowl to help the extra chocolate drip off. Another tip – before you drop the bone into the chocolate, press the marshmallows onto the pretzels again. Otherwise you might loose marshmallows in the chocolate.

Lay the bones on wax paper and put them in the fridge to cool.

DSCN0641We also shaped skulls out of large marshmallows and stuck chocolate chips in for the eyes, then dipped the whole things in white chocolate.

Eat and enjoy munching on some crunchy Halloween bones.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

5 a day

I have decided to start planning meals around the vegetables that we will eat for that meal instead of planning vegetables as a "side dish." Vegetables have always taken the back seat when it comes to meals. Or I guess you could say the side seat! Well, no more! We are bring vegetables to the front. From now on, our main dish is going to be vegetables, with a side of grain and a side of meat.

About 1/2 of your plate should be fruits and vegetables at each meal, 1/4 should be meat/protein, and 1/4 should be grains. Something tells me that is rarely the case at most people's meal time.

Tonight I made roasted veggies. I just chopped up a bunch of veggies that I bought at the farmers market yesterday - Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, white potatoes, broccoli, and onion. Tossed them with olive oil, vinegar, and some spices, and roasted them in the oven for about 45 minutes. The were scrumptious. As a "side"I grilled some chicken breasts and cooked a few cups of brown rice. It was the perfect meal for a cool evening, and very filling.

See how many more vegetables you can incorporate into your diet by making the focus on the veggies!

I'll try to post "veggie-spotlight" menus in the next few posts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Family Tip #3

Exercise together.

You'd be surprised at all the ways to get in some physical activity. Just this weekend we did a bunch of yardwork together. It was one of the best workouts I've had in a while. And we all got some exercise out of it!

We also have a trampoline and occaisionally we'll all go jump together. Jumping is really good for your lymphatic system, and so can aid in weight loss (not to mention overall health).

Some evenings we put on some dance music and workout in the living room. Papai does push ups, sit ups, and some curls, and we all do jumping jacks and crunches. My two year old loves doing jumping jacks, and when our baby was just a few weeks old, she even started kicking her legs and flapping her arms when we did jumping jacks!

Exercising can be fun family time. So make a goal to get off the couch at least 3 times a week and get some physical activity as a family! You'll get family bonding time and a workout all in one shot!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crazy Nachos

We made Nachos for dinner the other night. They were amazing. We piled them high with veggies and they were very delicious (AND nutritious!) I think we’re going to make these much more often.

(excuse the bad picture… our camera broke a few weeks ago, and now we only have a little $20 camera with no flash, so the pictures are a little… hmm… not so good)

Monday, June 8, 2009

time to go shopping


When my fruit bowl starts looking like this, I know I need to take a trip to the commissary!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise

I have been reading a book called Perfect Weight America. It's actually a really neat book. The author wrote it actually after gaining weight, not losing weight - his crusade is that everyone has a perfect weight, and eating right will help you get there - wether it means gaining weight, or losing weight. I don't think I've ever seen a "diet" book that has addressed BOTH issues. Incredible, really. And in the same breath he talks about conserving - water, energy, etc.

One thing that I found interesting was his section on exercise. He says doing only long-duration aerobic exercise is not good for you. And especially doing exactly the same aerobic exercise day after day. He quotes some doctor saying that doing repetitive aerobic exercise like walking on a treadmill dimishes our body's ability to produce quick bursts of energy. He recommends doing at least 20 minutes of anaerobic exercise each day.

He has a cool little chart in his book that say something like this:

1 hour of aerobic exercise: during workout - 210 calories burned, 2 hrs after workout - 25 calories burned, 3-15 hours after workout, 0 calories burned
1 hour of anaerobic exercise: during workout - 650 calories burned, 2 hours after workout - 150 calories burned, 3-15 hrs after workout - 260 calories burned

Examples of anaerobic exercise are jumping rope, sprinting, lifting weights, doing high-intensity step aerobics, and elliptical machines. Anything that is high intensity is usually anaerobic.

So add some anaerobic to your workout routine today!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Healthy Family Tip #2

Fruit Basket!

No, I'm not calling you a fruit basket - I'm telling you to get one! It can be a bowl, a basket, a box, whatever works for you and fits your decor ;)

Make sure it is big. Think big salad bowl - and then get something even bigger. I got my fruit bowl at Ross for $8. It's a pretty big bowl (although once my kids start getting older I may need a bigger one... or just another one!) I can fit a 3-lb bag of apples, 6 bananas, 4 oranges, a few kiwis, 2-3 peaches, and a grapefruit in my bowl. I only keep the kiwis in the bowl if they aren't quite ripe when I buy them.

Keep this fruit bowl somewhere easily reachable by everyone. I love that our Little Guy will ask for a fresh piece of fruit when he wants a snack - "Apple!" "Banana!" Even if he can't see the particular fruit, he knows it is in that bowl.

What I keep in my bowl and why:
- I keep a 3-lb bag of apples in my bowl because apples keep the longest and are the most portable - you can always grab an apple on your way out the door and not have to wonder about how you're going to eat it.
- Bananas are next - almost as portable as an apple, but they don't keep quite as long, so I don't keep too many - I just make sure to buy 5-6 each week. (I also keep these on hand because Little Guy loves bananas - and apples, actually... ) If they do start getting overly ripe, I toss them in the freezer and make banana bread when I have enough.
- Oranges aren't always in the bowl, but I like them if I can find good ones. They keep almost as long as the apples, but they're harder to eat since you have to peel them, and then wash the sticky off your hands when you're done. But that citrus sure is good. I try to buy 3-4 each week.
- I usually only buy one grapefruit. It's a nice little zing in the morning when I want something light to settle my stomach before I eat a real breakfast. I eat half and then saran-wrap the other half and stick it in the fridge for another day.
- I usually don't buy peaches, because they haven't really been good here yet, but I bought some today because they looked great! I only bought 4, since I have so much other fruit already. They were a little on the hard side, but when I got home most of them were a little mushy - Little Guy was helping load the cart at the store, and I forgot that the peaches were getting banged with cans of beans and jars of peanut butter. Poor peaches - well, they're still good - just a little soft.
- I always buy kiwis (at least 3 or 4) because they are so darn cheap here. And I love kiwis - especially in a fruit salad, which I LOVE to make! Fruit salads are great and easy to make. The only hard part is not making it too big!!
- Right now I also have a mango in my fruit bowl because it was only $.50 - I couldn't pass it up. It was a little hard, so it's also softening in my fruit bowl!

So there is the scientific breakdown of our family's fruit bowl! It's not hard to keep a fruit bowl, and when you keep all the fruit out where you can see it, it's easy to eat it!

When you want a snack, just think fruits or veggies first! If you're still not satisfied, then go for the cheese and crackers - but getting those fruits and veggies in first will most definitely benefit your health.

Healthy Family Tip #1

I am starting a collection of easy things to do to keep your family healthy. Some of these ideas came from Zonya's cookbook, but they are things that we have implemented to keep our family healthy.

Here is Healthy Family Tip #1

Keep a tray of fresh veggies in your fridge.
- make it easy to get to; if it's hidden behind last week's casserole and the carton of eggs, no one will touch it, and the veggies will go bad.
- I try to replenish mine in the morning, and then again after lunch, if it needs it.
- put it out while you're getting lunch and dinner ready to encourage healthy munching - and really, who cares if your kids spoil their dinner by eating fresh veggies?!
- Some ideas of things to keep stocked on your tray - broccoli, carrot sticks, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, cherry/grape tomatoes, sliced bell peppers (of all colors), cauliflower, cucumber slices, etc. 
- If you're the type that is on-the-go (college kids, got a husband that works all day?, etc) make a sandwich baggie version of the veggie tray. When you slice up all the veggies, divvy them up into sandwich baggies. On the day you go grocery shopping, take a few minutes to slice up veggies for 3 or 4 days. Store them in a tupperware container (no lid) to keep them in place in your fridge. On your way out the door in the morning, grab a sandwich baggie full of veggies - think of it as your own portable vegatable garden!! You then have healthy snacking power all day long!

Zonya's Lickety-Split Meals

This cook book comes highly recommended by myself (it was highly recommended to me by a friend of mine). 

I have been cooking from it almost exclusively for the past few weeks, and thanks to being very influenced by this cookbook, I now have a full fruit bowl all week long, and a full veggie tray on the top shelf of my fridge. I'm a lot more serious about controlling portion size, too.

Zonya shares lots of great health tips in this book - there is only one other cookbook I actually "read" - my Fanny Farmer cookbook. The only difference is that I read Zonya to learn how to be healthy, and I read Fanny Farmer to learn how to cook :) 

Another thing I love about Zonya's book is how she organizes the recipes in her book. There are sections for 5 minute, 15 minute, and 30 minute meals, as well as an "Oven, Exercise, Eat" section - which I use on my Tuesday running day - pop a meal in the oven, go for my run, and have dinner on the table when I get back! It's fabulous. We do 15-minute meals on Monday so we can have lots of time for FHE. With the recipes already organized for you, it's really easy just to pick a meal and make it! Especially if you follow her grocery list in the back - then you always have the ingredients on hand to make anything in her book!

I have decided that this book is going to be our trademark wedding gift. If you get married, you will get this book from us. It's so fabulous, and makes cooking yummy meals SUPER easy. I enjoy cooking, and honestly, the cookbook is a little "dumbed-down." That's not a bad thing! I am able to substitute and tweak the recipes pretty easily to my own tastes, but if you follow the recipes word for word, you will be able to cook a really really nice meal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Keeping Your Produce Healthy

I found this cool article about some new research they're trying out that may help keep your produce good for you as it travels from the plant to the warehouse to the grocery store.

The main topic is getting lettuce to be better for you, but at the end they mention using the technology to keep nutrients in other plants longer. And it's completely "natural" since they're using UVB light, which is some of the same light that comes from the sun (and as they mention, missing in northern growing climates).

We'll see if it really ends up being good for you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


After (very successfully... for at least a week) doing our cleanse, Russ and I have realized how much we really enjoy eating whole foods! We feel so much better lately (we cleansed for one week, and for the last week, we have been eating LOTS of whole foods). We eat more fruits and veggies, and less of everything else. My lunches consist mostly of salads.

Hold the dressing... I make my own.

I've been learning how to shop for whole foods to make it worth it to eat them. And strangely enough, I actually spend just about as much money on food now as I did before. I just buy more produce and less of everything else. And all the other stuff I do buy is canned veggies, beans and fruit or frozen stuff. And a little meat - which we're starting to transition over to ground turkey and only buying beef for things like steaks and stew meat. 

I'd forgotten how GREAT it feels to be eating whole foods. We eat more tuna and chicken than any other meat (with some salmon thrown in here and there) 

I shop once or twice each week now, instead of only on pay day and then once in between when we run low on milk or whatever. This is because we're always eating fresh produce! And it feels great!

I won't go into all the benefits of eating whole foods right now, but there are SO MANY! Eventually I will write about how to get your family to eat more whole foods, and how to plan meals so that you're eating more whole foods. Keep checking back for more on our whole food success!!

The Low-Sodium, Low (bad)* Fat Dressing

Let me tell you how I dress my salads - it makes me feel like I will never EVER buy a commercially produced salad dressing again! (except a nice wholesome, whole-food Ranch dressing for Russ to dip his veggies... that boy has to have his ranch)

Becca and Russ' Never-fail, Yummy-licious, low fat, low sodium salad dressing:
1/2 T. flaxseed oil (find it in the refridgerated supplement section of your local health food store - Whole Foods market, The Good Earth, etc)
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp lemon juice

I don't measure - I just squirt some flaxseed oil over the salad, pour in a whole capful of lemon juice (if I'm making salad for two... half the cap if it's just for me) and shake in some garlic powder. I read in my Fat Flush Cookbook that one way to cut down on your salt intake is to over-stimulate your tastebuds with flavors like garlic and lemon. Well, why not just do both!? It sure works for us (at least on salad!) and the flaxseed oil moistens the salad just enough that you don't feel like you're eating rabbit food.

And while I'm on the topic of salads - making a salad is OH SO EASY if you have the right ingredients on hand all the time...

I keep a bag of romaine hearts in my fridge always. I get the pack with three hearts. When I get down to my last heart, I head to the store to buy some more. I'm starting to get in the habit of shopping once or twice a week instead of only on payday. It has been encouraging me to eat more fresh, whole foods. 

So tear up a few leaves of romaine hearts for your base. Then I chop up some green onions or part of a big onion (if I don't have any green onions). I add a roma tomato, chopped, and then half an avacado. For protein on top, I use canned tuna (I send Russ to school with the green stuff in a tupperware, and the tomato chopped up in its own small container, then the little single serve tuna packets so he can put it all together when he's ready to eat it). But you can use some kidney beans, grilled chicken or whatever protein you like.

There you have it - a complete, whole food lunch/dinner whatever meal. And it's a good 300 or so calories. Add yourself a whole wheat roll or bagel and a glass of juice or milk, and you've got yourself a well rounded meal!

*I amended this post to say low BAD fats, because technically 1/2 T. of flaxseed oil has 7g of fat (which is not low fat by any means). The point is, flaxseed oil is mostly full of GOOD fats, and Omega fatty acids (which are not only NOT bad fats, but are very VERY necessary fats). So yeah, flaxseed oil is actually very high in GOOD fats. But one 1/2 T. of flaxseed oil packs a good 60 calorie punch. Just for those of you who are calorie counters :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All Things in Moderation

Russ and I have been talking a lot about health lately. Mostly because I'm trying to shed the baby weight, and he is trying to gain muscle mass in his upper body without getting fat around his midsection.

We are doing a cleanse this week and next - a simple cleanse, not to strenous. The basic elements are no sugar (or artificial sweetners), no salt, no dairy, and no carbs. We eat a protein and veggies, and some friut. When we start eating carbs, we are going to try to moderate them, and make most of them be from whole grain sources.

We are still debating over the sweets, candies, and other processed foods issue. I would prefer to have as little processed foods as possible in our kitchen. I want to save chips and candies for barbeques and holidays. I'm even going to go back to making homemade Mac and Cheese (from cream or milk and grated cheese). I used to make it homemade - and it's much better than way, anyway! It's probably cheaper, and definitely healthier. 

I need to develop the ability to say "No" to my husband and his sweet tooth. The only problem is that I feel guilty if I'm trying to live a health lifestyle, and my husband is eating junk food all the time. Basically I feel like I'm saying "I'm going to live forever, but you're going to get cancer and die." I don't want to outlive my husband. I have my weakness for chocolate and goodies, but I never bought them myself (ice cream being the one exception). I would eat them if they were at a party, or if we were eating at someone else's house,  but I wouldn't eat them myself. 

But then I married my husband and he LOVES sweets and treats. It's his house, too... so I just have to work harder at convincing him that we don't need all that sugary salty goodness. 

Anyway, the point of my post was going to be that I will not swear off cakes and doughnuts and chocolate forever - but I will be better at moderating them, and choosing my battles. I want to eat only the junk food that is the most worth it - like chocolate that I REALLY like. I don't even really like M&Ms, so why do I eat them? I like things like chocolate cake - a really GOOD one, and creme brulee from fancy restaurants. I like to eat Nutella. So I should hold out for THOSE things, rather than just eating whatever cheapo chocolate comes my way. 

And I think that's the key to moderation in all things - ask yourself if it's really worth it to eat that thing that's bad for you. If the answer is "Yes" then eat it, enjoy it, and don't look back. But if the answer is "Well, I'd rather have some expensive Swiss chocolate" or "I like Krispy Kreme donuts better than these grocery store ones" then skip whatever's in front of you and wait for the opportunity to eat something much more enjoyable. You'll find yourself eating those tasty treats in much more moderation. 

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Menu

This is what I use for our dinner menu. I have a Meal label and a Prep label for each day. In "Prep" I write down what I need to do that day to be ready to make the next day's meal. For example, if we're doing something that involves chicken on Tuesday, then under Wednesday's prep I would write "chicken" so I would be reminded to take chicken breasts out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw. That way I don't have to thaw the chicken or beef or whatever in the microwave when I want to make dinner the next day. Each menu is big enough for me to put the entire month on the same menu. Another thing I like about having a menu is creating variety - I can make sure we're not eating the same meal  over and over again - makes for more exciting dinnertime. I also use my menu to make my shopping list, and to remind myself of any fresh things we'll need to buy closer to a meal like mushrooms and other produce that will go bad if I buy it two weeks in advance.

Feeding the Rowleys

I have started this new blog to help me plan healthy meals for my family and to help keep track of what we're eating. We're trying to reform our family's eating habits in hopes that it will help us stay healthier. We will also be including our exercise activities.

I usually make a menu twice a month - once for each paycheck. My menu is mostly a dinner menu, because breakfasts and lunchs are pretty easy to figure out, and I like to keep breakfast and lunch simple - having a few meals that I can just decide to make. Like mac and cheese or PB&Js. Soon you'll see a list of our breakfast and lunch meals on the right hand side of the screen. At the end of each day (hopefully) I will post our food diary for the day. This will include what all of us have eaten (except of course Joseline since she just eats breastmilk every day).

I'll also be posting shopping tips, budgeting advice, and other helps for feeding a family the healthy way.
"To be sent greeting... by... the word of wisdom...

Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints...

All wholesome herbs [or plants] God hath ordained for the consitution, nature, and use of man-

Every herb [or plant] in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving...

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings... shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones...

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."