My birthday was last week and it really got me to thinking about what I wish I were able to tell my younger self.  I am one year away from 40 and thankfully I don’t feel like it at all.  I definitely feel and look better than I did in my 20s.  I try not to focus on the past but if I were able to share these tips with my 20 year old self I know I would have felt so much better, had more confidence and probably enjoyed life a little more.

Five Things I Wish I Could Tell

If I could go back in time, this is what I’d tell myself:

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Occasionally I share pictures of our school lunches on Facebook or Instagram so I thought I’d do a post here on the blog with some lunch ideas for you.  My lunches aren’t beautiful or creative but I do try to send a well balanced lunch most days.  I send lunch to school with my four year old twice a week and my 6 year old almost every day.  My kindergartener does buy pizza once every two weeks or so and I do let him buy a treat on those days as well.  I always send a thermos of water with their lunches.  We’ve never been juice drinkers so they haven’t had a problem with me sending water.

School Lunch Ideas

You can click on any of the pictures to see the picture gallery for each set.

Leftovers in a Thermos:  I use the thermos to send warm leftovers to school.  In these photos I sent leftover homemade tomato soup, leftover pasta with cauliflower sauce and leftover whole wheat macaroni and cheese.  On the side I sent carrots, applesauce, graham cracker bunnies, raw sunflower seeds, and different types of fruit and veggies (grapes, strawberries, cucumber, and peppers.)

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Today I’m sharing five ways you can improve your health.   I shared the first five tips here.  Again, these are based on my learning and personal experience.  The specific suggestions work for me and my family but they may not work for you.  However, the general ideas are good for anybody.

6.  Increase your activity level (if you are not already living an active lifestyle.)  You don’t have to belong to a gym to be active.  Just get moving!  You can take walks in your neighborhood, ride bikes with your kids, go for hikes, play sports, garden, or do exercise videos at home.  With Pinterest, YouTube and other sites out there you can do just about anything from the comfort of your own home.  I do go to the gym, but it’s not always possible with the kids so I workout at home too, when time permits. I have a yoga mat, large exercise ball, and several different sized hand weights.  A great site for exercise videos that I use is pop sugar.  I pin a lot of their videos on Pinterest and do them at home with hand weights.  I also do PiYo videos at home.

exercising at home

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How To Build a Great Salad

Left: mixed greens, toasted almonds, avocado, cilantro, yellow bell pepper, parmesan cheese and cucumber;  Top right: spinach, almonds, parmesan cheese, carrots, and olives; Middle right: mixed greens, cucumber, carrots, red bell pepper, avocado, parmesan cheese; Bottom right: Salad to go!

Last week I shared my favorite salad dressing recipes.  Today, I’m sharing how I make my favorite lunch salads.  You can see from the pictures that I don’t go hungry when I eat a salad for lunch.  It seems like I keep needing bigger and bigger bowls because I find new things to add in!  I choose to eat a salad most days because I find it an easy way to get a good mix of veggies, protein, healthy fats and fiber.  This combination keeps me full for most of the afternoon.  I’ll usually have one small snack and I’m good to go until dinner.  The key to a great salad is to find a good mix of toppings you like and a great dressing.  (You definitely don’t have to be eating salad every day to be eating a healthy lunch!  I would just encourage you to think outside the average lunch box (i.e. sandwich and chips) and eat a lunch with a variety of healthy foods.)  I’m not going to lie, it takes me more time to fix a salad than it would a sandwich and chips but the health benefits are worth it to me.  If you are short on time, spend just one or two nights a week chopping/prepping ingredients for healthy lunches throughout the week.  I take my salads with me on the go all the time.

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ten ways you can improve your health

Today I’m sharing five things you can do to improve your health.  These ideas are based on the reading I’ve done and changes we’ve made over the last 3½ years.  (I’ll share five more tips in part two.)  These are not all or nothing.  Small changes do add up over time.  I try to follow these tips 80% of the time and I don’t stress too much about the other 20%.  If you have a lot of changes you want or need to make just start small.  Once those habits feel normal then try to increase your healthy choices.  Little by little you can get to a place of better health.  Many of these changes took me a year or more to make.

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AdvInGardening

I’m on my third year of gardening and I thought I’d chronicle my adventures on the blog.  I’ll try to post an update a couple of times throughout the spring and summer so you can see how the garden progresses.  I’m truly an amateur and still do all my gardening in containers.  I’d really love to start a raised bed but I’ve been hesitant because we have a serious rabbit problem around here!  As you can see, my husband rigged up a little bench for me so that I can keep some of the smaller pots off the ground.  I love having my boys help me with the plants because I think it’s important for them to know where real food begins.  It doesn’t just magically appear at the store!  Plus, my boys now love fresh herbs because they’ve helped me grow them.

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I am so thankful for my freezer!  Because I keep it stocked on a regular basis I can usually put a quick meal together at the last minute if I haven’t had time to prep for dinner that day.  We did purchase a second freezer a while back and I am so glad we did.  It was an investment we chose to make because I knew healthier eating meant learning to use my freezer.  Here are a few things you’ll find in my freezer.

Freezer Soups

Freezer Soups and Broths

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non candy easter fillers

I don’t know about your family, but my boys are both going to be participating in several Easter egg hunts.  There is no doubt they will have baskets full of candy before we even get to the actual Easter holiday.  For the record, I’m not anti-candy, but I don’t think all holiday treats have to be sweet.  If your kids hunt Easter eggs or get an Easter basket on Easter morning you may be looking for some non-candy ideas too.  We don’t do anything elaborate at our house; usually just a few eggs hidden and a few small treats in a basket left by the Easter Bunny.  Since they will be getting plenty of candy at the other hunts, I’ll fill their eggs and basket with non-candy items.

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chicken stockMaking your own chicken stock couldn’t be easier.  Homemade chicken stock tastes delicious, saves money and provides many health benefits.  When you hear of people eating chicken noodle soup for it’s immune boosting powers they are not talking about Campbell’s soup.  They are referring to the way chicken stock was made before over-processed soups landed on the shelves of every grocery store.  Do a little research and you can read all about the health benefits of homemade stock.

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I had a request from a friend to share some information on the different types of flours and when to use each.  This will not be an exhaustive list, just the ones I frequently use.

I want to preface this by saying that I think it’s much more important to just start baking and cooking at home rather than worrying too much over using the “right” or most “healthy” flour.  You are making MAJOR improvements to your health just by cooking and baking at home rather than buying packaged foods or eating out.  Take a look at the muffins below.  I snapped a picture of the ingredients while at the store the other day.  Sugar is the FIRST ingredient.  That means there is more sugar in these than any other ingredient.  I wouldn’t want to send my boys to school having eaten more sugar than anything else that morning. I’ll let you read for yourself the rest of the ingredients.  I don’t know about you but I don’t regularly cook with all those chemicals listed.  They just aren’t necessary but food companies use them to make cheap food that will last a long time on the shelves.

store muffinsstore muffins

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