Who wouldn’t want to lose a quick 5 pounds? But, how do we do this without starving ourselves!

Do you love smoothies? If so, this plan is for you!

Smoothies are a great tool for weight loss because you control the ingredients. They make perfect vehicles for relatively low-calorie, yet nutrient-laden ingredients that are capable of keeping you full for a long time.

By combining the right ingredients, you can create smoothies that taste great and help you drop pounds. It does not take long to learn what to use and how to make the right combinations. Just keep reading and start losing!

The reason that smoothies can help you lose weight is that you can get all of your necessary nutrients in one glass without adding in excess or empty calories. When you learn about the ingredients that create a balanced smoothie, you will be able to include a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, as well as vitamins and nutrients.

Ingredients for Weight Loss

While many of the traditional ingredients in healthful smoothies support a healthy weight, some are better than others. There are certain things you can put in your smoothie that will boost your weight loss by different means.

  • Avocado: Avocados are the preferred weight loss smoothie thickener that provides that signature smoothie creaminess. They supply ample healthy fat, which will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
    Berries: Any kind of berry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry, for instance, add a ton of flavor to a smoothie without adding very many calories or sugar. Additionally, they are high in fiber, which helps to keep you full, and antioxidants for your overall health.
  • Cayenne pepper: This spice not only adds a kick to your smoothie, it also boosts your weight loss capability. The compound responsible is called capsaicin. Research has shown that adding it to breakfast reduces consumption of fat and carbohydrates later in the day. In other words, consuming a little cayenne pepper will curb your appetite.
  • Chia seeds: Chia seeds are packed with fiber and protein to help keep you feeling full and satisfied. They contain numerous healthful nutrients like calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia is also known to absorb toxins from your digestive tract.
  • Leafy greens: Greens, like kale, spinach, dandelion, and romaine lettuce, are packed with phytonutrients and low in calories. They are also high in fiber. Make sure to rotate your greens on a regular basis.

Ingredients to Avoid

  • Canned fruits or vegetables: Fresh produce is always best, but when you can’t find what you want, turn to frozen foods before cans. Canned fruits and vegetables often have added preservatives or sweeteners that increase the amount of calories you are taking in. They have also lost a significant amount of their nutritional value.
  • Dairy: Dairy products like milk, ice cream, or frozen yogurt are common ingredients in smoothies, but they are chock full of extra calories. Try Almond Milk, it has 50% more calcium than dairy milk.
  • Fruit juice: Juice is often high in sugar and calories and low in nutritional value, especially store-bought products. Many contain added sweeteners, and all have lost the fiber of the whole fruit.
  • Sweeteners: If your smoothie tastes very sweet, you are probably over doing it on the sweetener and potentially consuming too much sugar for a weight loss plan.

An Overall Weight Loss Plan

As you work towards your weight loss goal with tasty smoothies as your tool, keep in mind that the healthy way to lose weight includes more than just dietary changes. Your smoothies, if created thoughtfully, will provide you with many of the nutrients you need including protein, carbohydrates, good fats, and vitamins and minerals. But, don’t forget to eat healthful foods in addition to those smoothies. Get plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, high-quality proteins, whole grains, and fruits at your regular meals.

Marcie’s Ideal Weight Loss Smoothie

1 cup water
1/2 medium avocado
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 banana (to sweeten)

Directions:
Simply place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite seeds! Chia seeds! These tiny, little seeds are becoming more and more popular. So, let’s get right into why these little guys are so wonderful.

Chia seeds are naturally gluten free and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and antioxidants. Fortunately, it’s an easy food to add to your diet.

So, here are the benefits of using Chia Seeds:

1. Curb your cravings:

Being deficient in minerals or vitamins can create a craving for food. For example, if you’re low on calcium, you may feel compelled to eat lots of cheese. This happens because your body knows that cheese is a source of calcium, and it hasn’t been getting enough. But what if dairy and whole milk are a “Diet don’t”? You can always add calcium to your food by sprinkling on the chia. By weight, chia has more calcium than whole milk. It also has magnesium and boron, essential trace minerals used in the absorption of calcium and other vitamins. By balancing your vitamins and minerals with chia, you can curb cravings that might tempt you.

2. Add age-defying antioxidants:

Who doesn’t want to look beautiful forever and ever? Anti-oxidants have been in the news lately due to their super healthy benefits. You know that blueberries and several exotic fruits (that aren’t always in season) have them, but did you know that chia is extremely high in anti-oxidants too? These helpful substances are what makes the Chia Seed stay fresh for so long. At room temperature, they’ll stay fresh and ready to eat for over two whole years! And that’s all without a single chemical or preservative. Anti-oxidants help prevent free-radical damage in your body. Free radicals lead to problematic conditions such as premature aging of the skin and inflammation of various tissues. Fight free radical damage by staying fresh and healthy with nature’s anti-oxidant powerhouse.

3. You can pack in more flavorful punch:

How can a seed with NO flavor help the foods you already like to taste better? First, because they have no taste of their own, chia seeds will never cover up or add to the flavor of your food. Second, when the seeds hydrate, they magnify the taste of whatever they were added to. Put them in pudding?
Swirl them into a smoothie? Fruity! The same thing goes with dressings, dips, salsas, sauces and more. These two factors combine to let chia seeds take on the taste of whatever you add them to. They distribute and never dilute, the flavors you love.

5. Feel energized throughout the day:

Don’t want to feel like taking an afternoon nap? Your energy levels have a lot to do with what you eat. Chia is one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.

6. Help you lose weight:

Chia seeds absorb water and grow 10 times their original size when in your stomach. The soluble fiber content will fill you up fast and prevent you from feeling hungry and eating a lot. That is why it’s very important to drink water. When you eat chia seeds, fat absorption lowers significantly They also contain high-quality proteins that can help you regulate your insulin levels. Lastly, chia increments your physical strength by lubricating joints and muscles. It will give you plenty of energy to exercise.
Chia seed diet has excellent cholesterol lowering properties thus helps in prevention of many health diseases.

7. Safe during Pregnancy:

Pregnancy can deplete your body of important nutrients and eating chia seeds can help replace those lost nutrients while providing a much-needed energy boost. Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and benefit not only the mother’s health, but the baby’s development as well.

You get One life – stay healthy, stay happy.

I think winter squash is underrated.

It may have something to do with the weird and wonderful shapes winter squash comes in; however, I suppose they do look a little odd. Nevertheless, I think they deserve more attention.

If you haven’t tried winter squash, it has a really great taste. It’s actually very versatile and easy to use.

Varieties of winter squash include:

Acorn squash
Amber squash
Ambercup squash
Arikara squash
Atlantic Giant
Autumn cup squash
Banana squash
Buttercup squash
Butternut squash
Calabaza
Carnival squash
Cushaw (also called “winter crookneck squash”)
Delicata squash
Gem squash
Georgia candy roaster
Giraumon
Gold nugget squash (also called “golden nugget squash”)
Heart of gold squash
Hubbard squash
Jarrahdale pumpkin
Kabocha
Lakota squash
Long Island cheese squash
Marina di Chioggia
Mooregold squash
Pumpkin
Queensland blue pumpkin
Red kuri squash
Rouge vif d’Estampes
Spaghetti squash
Sugar loaf squash
Sweet dumpling squash
Turban squash

Wow, that’s a lot of squash!

Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, manganese, and a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.

The flesh of winter squash is much harder, and so needs a bit longer to cook. Unlike the skin of summer squash, the skin of winter squash isn’t edible, so you’ll need to peal it.
Personally, I think the best way to cook winter squash is to roast, but steamed or boiled can work very well too.

Okay, so now you know what to look for at the grocery store, what are you supposed to do with this fab vegetable?

Here are a few ideas for adding squash to your menu plan:

Grate zucchini over the top of salads, pasta dishes or sandwiches.
Serve raw crudities of summer squash with your favorite dip, such as hummus or avocado dip.
Grate, or chop finely, then add to your favorite muffin recipe — you’ll need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by around 1/3.
Cook winter squash, then purée, and add a little spice with a dash of cinnamon.
Steam cubes of winter squash, and serve with an olive oil and ginger dressing.
Add cubes of winter squash to your favorite vegetable soup, curry, stir-fry, stew recipe.
Cook a few different varieties of squash together for a delicious, colorful side dish.
Experiment with seasoning — dill, lemon juice, chili powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic.
Marinate and grill for a completely different taste.
Substitute grated summer squash in place of carrots in a carrot cake recipe.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Soup Ingredients:

3 pounds Butternut Squash—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons Olive Oil
To taste Salt
4 Leeks (white and light green parts only) – chopped
4 to 6 cups Vegetable Broth
Dash for serving Sour Cream
Dash for serving Croutons
Dash for serving Paprika

Directions:

Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the roasted squash, 4 cups of the broth, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, adjusting the consistency with the remaining broth as necessary. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the saucepan.)
Top the soup with the sour cream and croutons and sprinkle with the paprika, if desired.

Well, I didn’t!

But, I discovered my cows know the difference. And thankfully so does my cousin, Janae.

To begin, we have tarantellas that are natural inhabitants on our land. Yes, you read that right, tarantellas. I discovered that chickens eat these large (sometimes very large) spiders. So, away I went to the local barn and feed store to pick up some chickens. While at the store I picked up absolutely everything I needed to give my chickens the most wonderful life…

Little red chicken coop
Feed
Chicken food dispenser
Chicken water dispenser
Chicken wire for the fence
Posts for the fence
A bunny (I know this has nothing to do with a chicken. But, try to explain that to Adoniah.)
Indoor bunny cage
Outdoor bunny cage
Bunny feed
Bunny water dispenser
Bunny’s play toys (there is a market for bunny toys. They market to three year olds.)
And…. 10 bales of straw

Now, regrettably, I did not tell the store owner that the straw was for my chicken coop floor and also to feed my cows. I just confidently asked for 10 bales of straw and no one in the entire feed store questioned the blonde wearing high heels carrying a bunny.

Fast forward, and now we are all happily situated at home. Our five new chickens have very special names from my daughter. They are Harry (girl), Reed (girl), Lisa, Barbara and Sally. Lisa, Barbara and Sally happen to be my mom’s close friends. I have absolutely no idea where Adoniah got the names Harry and Reed.

A few days later I was tied up with a long list of things to do. So I called my dad to ask him to come up to feed our 19 cows. After he returned from feeding the cows he explained that they were not hungry. I thought that was strange… But I didn’t waist much thought regarding this conundrum.

My cousin Janae (to learn more about Janae click here) came to visit a few days later. I explained this weird phenomenon that my cows are no longer hungry. Janae, who owned a horse her entire life, quickly concluded that my country living education needs to be cultivated. She knew right away that I had straw instead of hay. Yes, there is a difference.

Apparently, spoiled cows will not eat straw, they prefer hay.

Straw is the stalks or stems of grains like wheat, barley, or oats after the grain has been harvested. Hay is grass or legumes that have been cut and dried and is generally used as animal feed.

Lesson learned.

I only wish Janae came and visited sooner, because I would have had less random straw droppings all over my property. Seriously, you can see these golden patches of straw scattered all over my 180 acres of land. Our cows are probably thinking I am a total newbie at this country living thing… and they would be right. If cows could talk, they would definitely be laughing at me. Now I just have someone to come deliver hay once a month. So our cows have a never ending supply of hay.

For the full story about how I ended up in this incredible country life click here.

P.S. while writing this blog I was confusing myself of the difference between straw and hay… I had to change the two words several times because I was still getting the definitions confused. I need more sleep! This tired mommy is losing it!

Is all soy created equally?

Absolutely not!

It’s time to write about my favorite “meat” substitute that I hope all of you will try!

I only use Butler Soy Curls. They are a yummy alternative to meat that is a great addition to my favorite recipes.

Also, they are made from select, non-GMO, whole soybeans, grown without chemical pesticides. Preparing them is super simple. You soak them for about 10 minutes and then season them to the desired flavor.

Soy Curls are:

100% Natural
Contain the whole soybean
High in protein
Good source of fiber
Gluten-free
Vegan!!!
Non-GMO – no chemical pesticides
Grown & made in the USA
0 trans fats
No sodium
No cholesterol
CHIP approved
I use soy curls in my chicken pot pie, chicken salad, fajitas, sandwiches, Asian stir fry, chicken noodle soups, and barbecue!

I will share my chicken salad recipe with you today! I have a friend who says she craves this salad.

Salad Ingredients:

2 heads Romaine Lettuce – chopped
1 Red Onion – chopped
2 Tomato – chopped
2 cups Soy Curls (click here)
4 tablespoons Chicken Style Seasoning (click link)
1 Cup Vegenaise (click link)
3 tablespoons Ranch Style Seasoning (click link)
1/2 Lemon

Prepare Soy Curls:

Soak them for 10 minutes
Saute’ in a medium sized frying pan with a little olive oil.
Add Chicken Style Seasoning
Saute’ for about 10 minutes
Salad Dressing:
Combine Vegenaise, Ranch Style seasoning and the juice of ½ of lemon and mix well
Assembling Salad:
Combine all salad ingredients, soy curls, and dressing into a large bowl and toss
Additional Notes:
Also, you can add them to your salad warm or cold. It is entirely your preference!