on being crafty

I just updated my Mess about being crafty and I thought I might as well post this bit here, too.
Beware: it's a doozy!

Nutrition really is my passion. I may have several hobbies and many projects that bring me joy, but there is nothing that thrills me more than being healthy. I really do feel like it's my calling in life. I may not be a certified nutritionist yet, but I'm working on it! Now I am definitely NOT the epitome of health. It's certainly easier said than done. But I'm working on it! However, I get a lot of questions from family and friends on how to eat healthier. So here's a list of my favorite substitutions, tricks and tips:
  • There's a lot that worry that changing your eating habits is too expensive. While this is true in part if you're used to eating Mac & Cheese or Top Ramen, for the most part the increase in price is trivial. I think most people assume that eating healthy means you have to buy everything organic or farm raised. While that may be ideal, for many of us (myself included), it's not realistic. Being healthy means eating consciously. Be aware of what you're putting in your mouth. Read the ingredients. Buy produce in season and get yourself a good fruit and vegetable wash to rid yourself of any harmful pesticides, waxes, toxins, etc. Never cook produce in the microwave if at all possible because it zaps all those good nutrients and you're left with nothing but roughage. The fresher, the better. You can also save money by buying frozen fruits/veggies. They were picked while in their prime and are ready to eat. Canned food can also be good (although fresh/frozen is preferred). Be careful though of super high amounts of sugar/salt. Look for canned fruit that sit in their juices rather than syrup. You can also drain and rinse your canned foods before using them.
  • Read the nutrition labels. Ingredients to watch out for: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), High Fructose Corn Syrup (or any corn syrup for that matter) and hydrogenated oils. Also be aware of the order of ingredients. Anything that has sugar or salt within the first three ingredients should be a warning sign. And of course you should take into account the sodium, sugar and fat content. Trans fats are evil. Saturated fats are not so great. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are preferable.
  • Buy food as close to its natural source. For example, pure Maple syrup is much better than butter flavored syrup. Just read the ingredients (do I sound like a broken record yet?) and if you can't pronounce an ingredient, then don't eat it.
  • In regards to salads and dressings; beware of fat-free dressings. Like most fat-free items, they make up for the decrease of fat by increasing the flavor, aka. sugar. You'd be better off buying the full fat version and limiting the amount you use. Try mixing your creamier salad dressings, like Ranch, with plain yogurt (up to equal amounts). And always ask for the dressing on the side so you can determine how much to use. I like to dip my fork in it and then stab at my greens. Yes, I'm one of those people.
  • If you simply can't eat raw veggies without a dip, then try hummus. But don't overdo it either. Hummus may be good for you but it's still high in fat. Good fat is good, but not a lot of it. It's still fat.
  • If you're making breads or muffins, try substituting applesauce for oil, equal parts. No joke.
  • Try substituting plain nonfat yogurt for sour cream. Lowfat cottage cheese is also a good choice. Both are high in protein and low in fat.
  • I've had great success in substituting rice milk for cow's milk in many recipes. We're not huge milk fans here...
  • Soymilk can be good, but not too much of it. It's overproduced and I tend to question the quality of the soybeans they're using. Soy also has a tendency to have hormone-like effects on the body if used in large amounts.
  • Ground turkey vs. ground beef. I actually mix the two because my husband prefers the taste of ground beef. So I buy the huge packs of ground meat at Costco and cook it all up that night with some chopped onions and salt/pepper. I then put 1 c. of each mixture into a baggie and pop it into the freezer to save for a later date.
  • Mix whole wheat with white. That goes for pasta, flour, or rice (brown with white). It makes it more palatable for the hub, etc. ;) Be aware though that the cooking time varies for different versions of grain.
  • I cook my rice in broth. It adds more flavor and I end up doing without added butter.
  • When something calls for a lot of butter, I use half the amount it calls for and substitute the rest with olive oil. That way you're balancing fats and taste. And just a little FYI: olive oil does NOT do well at high temperature. So use peanut or coconut oil if you're going to do any kind of frying, etc.
  • While you're sauteeing your veggies, you'll find yourself wondering where all the oil went. Don't add more! Simply add a little water or broth (or don't even use oil at all).
  • Mix your sugar coated cereal with its plain counterpart. For example, Honey-Nut Cheerios with plain Cheerios, or Frosted Flakes with plain Corn Flakes, etc. You can also add a spoonful of plain yogurt to your bowl (or vanilla yogurt to just plain cereal). Same thing goes for those instant oatmeal packages (I personally HATE oatmeal and can only manage to choke it down in this manner). I also add plain yogurt, slivered almonds, and no-sugar applesauce to my oats. It helps :)
  • If you're worried about the sugar content of jams, just chop up your own berries and make a spread; add some honey to taste. Or look for spreads made with juice concentrate rather than gobs of sugar or syrup.
  • Don't just balance your meals, balance your entire food intake for the day. If you happen to have cereal for breakfast, then don't have a sandwich for lunch; have a salad with some chicken. Or if you have eggs for breakfast, then go ahead and have a sandwich for lunch. Snacks throughout the day should be nuts, fruit, vegetables, etc. that may be missing from your meals.
  • Drink lots of water. Limit your intake of juice --unless it's crafty! And if you are really serious about losing weight, clearing up your skin, having more energy and being generally more healthy, then STOP DRINKING POP! I don't care if it's Diet or not (although that tends to be worse in my book, but I won't expound on any of my personal conspiracy theories right now...). It's a bunch of empty (and nasty) calories that your body DOES NOT NEED. So stop it. Just stop.
  • More on water and liquids. Limit your intake during meals. It tends to water down your gastric juices and you won't be able to digest your food as well. So eat first, sip a bit during, and then drink some after you've finished and let it sit for a while. Don't fill up on liquid. Fill up on food.
  • Limit your salt intake by using garlic/onion powder & herb blends. A little salt is good, like unprocessed sea salt. It helps stimulate the kidneys and detoxify poisons. But a lot is not so good, especially refined salt which contains anti-caking chemicals, potassium iodide and sugar to stabilize the iodine. You'll retain water and find yourself at risk for high blood pressure. So be careful.
  • While nuts are a good source of protein and fat, most are rancid, and eating a rancid nut is worse than not eating a nut at all. If you can, buy your nuts with their shells still on. And always refrigerate them to keep them longer. This brings me to peanut butter. If you choose to buy natural peanut butter (I'm referring to peanut butter that is made with just peanuts and a little salt and has NOT been hydrogenated), you HAVE to keep it in the fridge. Also, limit your intake of peanuts in general. Peanuts tend to be quite toxic due to the chemicals, fertilizers and the carcinogenic fungus aflatoxin. Eat them sparingly.
  • What does sparingly even mean? My good rule of thumb: if you feel like you need it, then eat it. This goes for peanut butter, hamburgers, chocolate, etc. Sometimes you need that iron your body is craving... but moderation is key. And don't eat till you feel sick. Eat until you're satisfied then box everything else up as leftovers.
  • If you NEED chocolate every day, then by all means, eat it every day! But don't overdo it. A few chocolate chips or one piece of candy should suffice. Also, choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. It'll satisfy your craving more and it's richer in antioxidants. No joke.
  • Enjoy eating. Chew slowly. Take the time to appreciate the flavors and let your salivary fluids do their job (which, combined with mastication, would be the beginning steps of digestion). And if you cave in to a craving, then enjoy it and move on! We tend to be very emotionally tied to food which does effect our bodies, for good and bad. Psychology and physiology are closely related... so eat well and be happy!
And after all is said and done, bless your food. We can try our best to pick the best foods, prepare them the best we can, etc. But we're not perfect and the food industry certainly isn't. So pray. It is my personal opinion and testimony that the Atonement of our Lord and Savior goes beyond saving us from our sins. It is a filler. After doing all that we can do, He comes in and does the rest. So pray for your food. And pray to be healthy.

Working out, on the otherhand, is a completely different story... *B
Thanks to Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition for the knowledge and inspiration that led me to writing this today. Many of his teachings and/or words are sprinkled throughout this post.


  1. I love this! Thanks so much for all the good reminders! I'm going to do better...

  2. Way too much for a post sis. I didn't even try to read through it all. It makes my face hurt.

  3. THANK YOU! Many of my questions were answered. No joke.

  4. And I think I'm going to be referring back to this post often.

  5. Great tips! Thanks! And I am the biggest fan of the mess, so keep the updates coming!

  6. Very worthwhile reading honey!
    And it is just what you need Adam!!

  7. oh my gosh Beth. You are a fount of information. I've already made some good changes but this gives me some more to consider. I'm with you on the pop. YUCK. that is all.

  8. So insightful; thanks for sharing!

    I'm curious about the costco ground beef that you freeze. How long does it typically last? And do you just defrost it in the microwave? :)

  9. Beth, I believe you and my mother may be soulmates...:) This sounds like her testimony! HA!

  10. This is such a great post. I know that I am going to refer to it over and over and over again. There is so much GREAT info here. Thank you so much for posting it and sharing your knowledge with us who are not quite on top of things but who are trying!

  11. I read this as I stuff my face with Chocolate Chex and some Oreo ice cream. I'm bad. Honestly though, they're great tips! Thanks! Hopefully I can put some of them to use!

  12. Loved your comment on my blog! Thanks for the laugh. It's been a long day : )

    xo--Heather Bailey

  13. I have been seriously thinking about your post for a few days--I (by no means) am to the point that you are at nutritionally--but reading it really did give me some good thoughts and encouragement as to how we can be better. I appreciate you sharing all those things. What a go-getter!

    P.S. LOVE your new blog header. Ahhh...so cozy and cute!

  14. Well, I read it all. And now I'm accountable. Thanks a lot Beth.

  15. Thanks! There were some great tips in here, I will definitely pass them on to my health conscious husband!

  16. I got your card in the mail the other day and just wanted to say thanks! It's so cute and yes you are crafty with paper stuffs. :)
    Thanks so much!

  17. I'm really glad you posted this because it has been something that has been on my mind lately. It really opened my eyes and I learned A LOT. Getting Liv to eat something healthy is like pulling teeth. Thanks for the ideas and information. I'd love to hear more it was boring to me at all!

  18. wow I had no clue you were into nutrition. I actually graduated with a minor in nutrition and love it as well. i am interested in the program that you just got started in. You'll have to tell me about it when we start running together one day.

  19. Anonymous10:37 PM

    Hello friend! :)
    I am back in the blogging community once again! Phew! Long time no type!! I hope you are doing well, and that you come take a peek at the newest snippet on my blog!!


  20. I really needed and enjoyed this post immensely!!! Your passion for nutrition has ALWAYS been one of the things I adored about you. I am going to check out this book you noted in the end of your post :) My favorite tidbit was your last bullet point about enjoying food and then of course, your testimony. Thanks for being such a light to me Bethers. I hope you're reading in the "exercising" department is going well. I am feeling really good :) Hope you are too :)

  21. Thanks so much! I think I need to put it in my kitchen and memorize it! Oh by the bye, I saw your comment on Candra's blog...we are related to them! How fun huh? It's amazing how many connections to you I have through friends and family! You're all over the place! I'm so glad. Thanks for the tips and you look so great in your pics. You are stellar.

  22. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Great tips Beth! Wow! :) I am impressed! And I love your new (?) blog look!! The green is divine!

  23. Thanks for the comments! :P I'm glad I ended up choosing your favorite colours, hehe Turns out great, because the red and the blue will be the main colours, with the green as accent :D The project is actually almost done already! :D

    I know what you mean, about the "homesick" feeling - I've never been there either, and I don't even have any direct Irish ancestry, but it just "pulls" me. I never knew why! But I feel right at ease when I'm listening to the music, reading the history books (or fictions about Ireland! Have you ever read the novel "Ireland" or any of the Robert Rutherford books? If you like history as well, there are MUSTS! And "Ireland" is pretty good, combining fiction, storytelling, and history :) ). I really miss dance class at this moment lol!

    P.S. I'm also a huge nutrition freak - I'll have to read your post more closely soon :) I had a bad "pregnant" week hehe

  24. Beth
    I thought you had some great tips and ideas, and I guess I am proud to say that I exercise most of them...except limiting the sweets, I think for me I need about 5 pieces of chocolate to hold me over until the next day!
    I am so impressed that you have such a great passion for nutrition:)

  25. Thank you for posting all the info! That's definitely helpful for me!! I appreciate it. :)


You're currently in the process of making my day. So thanks for that! *B