Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Hate Baking

I sent an email to the customer service department at Clif Bar last week.

Regarding Product Name: Clif Crunch Granola Bar
Flavor: Peanut Butter
Best By Code: 14DEC14 N2 11:49

Your Comment:
I don't know why, but you've changed the formula and made the Clif Crunch Bar sweeter. We don't want it sweeter. What we want is a fairly nutritious snack (compared to the rest of the Granola Bar category), not a sweet.

__ __ __

I hope they don't send me coupons for their products.

Sugar. Dried Cane Syrup. Juice Concentrate. Agave. Dextrose. Maltose. Stevia. Fructose. Honey. Sucralose. Aspertame.

Added sweeteners. So sick of 'em.

Did I have a couple of cookies at the baby shower I went to last weekend? Sure I did, Lydia is a kick-ass baker and there was no question about sampling her handiwork. Am I eating cookies every darn day? No. And I don't want cookies masquerading as granola bars, either. You can't exercise your way out of a crappy diet.

No, diet soda and diet crystal light and diet bottled green iced tea and diet whatever-the-heck is not a healthy choice if you're drinking it every single day.

"But Jane! Fruit has fructose!"

Yes, it does. In a gorgeous natural package full of fibers and vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and other snazzy biochemical compounds that are darn good for you. Eat a little bit of fat or protein at the same time as you eat that whole piece of fruit, and you won't have to worry much about your insulin levels springboarding.

So listen, I HATE baking but I'm making my own granola snack to pack in my lunch Monday through Friday. I found it on a food/nutrition app called Fooducate. When I scanned the barcode for Clif Crunch bars, up popped this recipe alternative. I baked, we tasted, we liked. They freeze well, by the way, so guess who is going to be making big batches at a time so she doesn't have to bake every dang week?

In a recent batch I accidentally doubled the amount of nuts. And I liked it better that way.

All credit to Lisa Cain, Ph.D. and blogger at, who posted the recipe to Fooducate.

Cereal Bar Recipe
(makes 12 to 24 depending on the size of your muffin tin) 

1/2 cup natural nut butter
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup whole nuts (choose your favorite - I used 50/50 organic raw peanuts and almonds)
1 ½ cup total of unsweetened dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, apricots, raisins, coconut, etc.)
1 cup rolled or steel cut oats
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, coarsely chop nuts and dried fruits. Mix nut butter and bananas until a paste forms. (This will make your arm tired.) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. (This will also make your arm tired.) Spoon into lightly greased muffin cups (1/2 full) and bake for 15 minutes. Can be stored in refrigerator for 5 days.

For one granola bite (12 in recipe) = 190 calories, 8.4 g fat, 26.7 g carbohydrates, 5.4 g protein, 3.1 g fiber, 52 mg sodium

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just In Case There's Room For Improvement, Part Deux

I've had this conversation with a good buddy of mine a couple of times lately, and got to thinking it'd make for good posting.

Do you know what you are missing?

One of the things that really makes healthy habits stick with you is they way they help you feel. If you feel better, there's a greater likelihood that you'll keep doing whatever it is that's working.

If you feel like crap lately, because of an obvious injury or illness or general sense of malaise, and you remember feeling better... then you know there's room for improvement.

But wait, what about the person who has never really felt good? How will that person know that there's a better way to feel? What's the motivation for this person to try a different, healthier lifestyle, without having a sense of what he or she has been missing?

How about the person who believes they are doing all they can with activity and good eating and clean living, and who believes that however they feel is as good as it's going to get?

I hereby posit the theory that you can feel better. Wherever you are coming from.  There is no single perfect choice to make, no magic bullet which will work exactly the same way for everyone who tries it, but you can change something. And if that change helps you feel better, it's a good change to stick with.

Some people aren't active enough, or aren't finding the optimal balance of flexibility, stability, strength, and endurance to feel better. It's not hard to find someone to help you figure out which of those things you need more -- hint hint -- so get going and get stretching, stabilizing, strengthening, and/or enduring.

Some people are zipping along on the road to Burnout.  Coming down with colds and flu and recurring injuries, seemingly out of nowhere.  Low energy when they need it most, mood swings, foggy brained, these are very common signs among the overactive and/or undernourished.  A few of these people are just plain overactive.

And there's more than a few people who are doing really well with their activities and not quite so well with their food choices.

Maybe you have a crappy diet and you know it. You really can't exercise your way out of a crappy diet.

"Alright already," you say, "give me an example."

A friend joined her husband on a 10 day clean eating campaign. The motivation for hubby was to lose a bunch of weight and get healthier. The motivation for her was to encourage him to follow through with it. She didn't happen to need to lose weight.  In addition to learning a half dozen new ways to prepare quinoa (ooooohhh!!!) she found herself sleeping better. And we all know sleeping better is crucial to something like a million different health benefits.

I exaggerate sometimes. It's more like a thousand different health benefits. (And yes, he lost a bunch of weight -- 20 pounds at last count.)

Another client of mine decided to get serious about losing weight, so she stopped eating wheat products and cut back on snacking between meals. She has a family history of gluten allergy, but although she doesn't have that allergy, there are other components of wheat to which people can be sensitive. And she lost 14 pounds in a just couple of months.

Want to hear an example from my own life?  I've got a million of 'em. That's not an exaggeration. I've been that overactive person, for instance. The second or third time I trained for a marathon, I followed a training program that required 5 or 6 days a week of running. Weekdays runs of anywhere between 3 to 10 miles, with a long weekend run.  This was all on top of training with clients and teaching 10 or so classes a week. I could not eat enough, I could not sleep enough, I was cranky and tired and light headed and I never followed that regimen again.

Then there was the underactive phase. Due to a hip injury, I had to lay off any and all cardio and resistance training activity for a few weeks. It was several fierce mood swings and some serious listlessness before I realized that my lack of activity was making me feel extremely lousy.

And if you know me at all, you must have already heard my tale of woe about quitting dairy products. You haven't heard? Okay, well, I was feeling pretty good at the time, really. But I had read one article too many about toxic exposure to antibiotics and pesticides and so on from dairy products. Because whatever the cow consumes makes its way into you, the meat and dairy consumer. So I told myself, cheese-a-holic that I was, to just cut out the cheese and the yogurt for a week or so, to see if I felt any tangible benefit. And if I didn't, I could just climb right back aboard the cheese train.

But I felt several tangible benefits. Abdominal bloat, gone. (Before this, I swear, I never had a flat stomach in my life.) Weird digestion, gone. Allergic congestion (in Savannah!), gone. Slept better. Skin cleared. Dropped 5 pounds. All that, in a week.

Also found, eventually, that my PMS symptoms went away. No menopause symptoms yet either, but stay tuned. Especially if you like TMI -- too much information.

Do you know what you're missing? Wouldn't it be nice to feel better? Take just one step -- and let me know if it works.

Be Well!