Clean Eating

Hey guys… so I (Leah) did it! ūüôā

I finally got a major pay off for all the time I’ve been spending on the treadmill this year.


For some people this may be nothing, and for others…. well this may be crazy. For me, it’s amazing and just proves that with the help of consistency, motivation and determination, we can do anything we put our minds to.

I said that I was going to focus on running on the treadmill this year because of how much I hate it.

Put me outside and I am good to go, but this, this picture above has been an extremely difficult mental challenge for me to over come. But I did, I ran 4 miles in 60 minutes on the treadmill and I am going to continue to do it again and again and again!

I wish I could tell you at this point that something magical happened and that I have fallen in love with running on the treadmill but that is not the case. Life goes on!

Now, on to the goods! It’s Friday which means you all get something Free…

FFAF Meal Plan

Today, I have a brand new meal plan for you. It is just simply a clean eating meal plan with 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. If you are using this meal plan to aid in any weight loss, I suggest you reconsider the 2 snacks and possibly only eat 1.

This meal plan is especially exciting as all of the recipes are mine! I hope you enjoy them and please as always leave feedback in the comments below ūüôā

Clean Eating Menu

Clean Eating Recipes




You know the famous saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” That saying could not be more spot on. I gained a pound and a half this week. Bummer. I was scrolling through Pinterest last night and came across the picture above and I was instantly encouraged.


This simple phrase has the propensity to propel me and you into CHANGE. ¬†It is just the¬†motivation that I needed to hear to set my feet on the right path and to keep going. SO, this is what I will focus my attention on. This is what I choose to dwell on this week. See, it’s so easy to give up once you have backslidden into old habits, but you just have to remember, TODAY IS A NEW DAY. A FRESH START. A NEW BEGINNING.

You can choose to continue down your path of destruction and completely negate all of your hard work, or you can choose to pick up where you left off, dust off the baggage, and keep chugging along.¬†Some of you might think that I am being too hard on myself, but trust me, I have been in this position so many times before. I usually give up by now and say, “this isn’t working and it’s not worth it.” Have you ever read the definition of insanity? It’s “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, let’s not get discouraged today and continue in our old ¬†routine behavior, because it isn’t working and it has kept us stuck and in a rut. Let us set our hearts on the prize, run the race, and finish strong! Tell yourself:

Today I am strong. Today I can do this. Today I can go further, faster, higher.

Today I choose to turn my setback into a COMEBACK!


To say America likes to be trendy (not just in terms of fashion) is an understatement. In the world of food and nutrition, trends are huge, and although at times they get people trying new things, these trends can also be harmful to peoples overall long term health.

One of the most common questions I get asked is… “Should I go gluten free?”.¬† For me, this is a tricky topic and I have a hunch I am not the only person in the health and nutrition field who thinks so. To really discuss this question, I think it’s best to do a little science, so here we go.


Gluten is a protein that is used as a binding agent in many foods. Gluten can both be found naturally occurring in some foods, such as wheat and barley, and can also be added to foods. Take for instance pizza dough… most people like their pizza dough chewy. Much of this chewy texture that is desired by consumers is achieved by the addition of gluten into wheat flour being used to make the dough. This means that not only is there gluten naturally occurring in the wheat flour, gluten is then often added to the dough.

So what exactly is the big deal about gluten? Well, just with any chemical or food substance, some people are actually allergic to gluten. This allergy can range from indigestion and irregular bowl movements, and can become as severe as skin rashes, the swelling of the throat and any other symptoms that are known to occur during food allergy reactions.

If someone believes that they have an allergy to gluten (also known as Celiac Disease), they can be tested by their doctor. Testing can be done either with a blood test, or a biopsy of the small intestine. I personally have had both done and although my blood test came back as positive for Celiac Disease, my biopsy came back negative.

Whether you have celiac disease or not, gluten and wheat can effected your digestive system in a negative way.

Last week, I received a text from a family member who asked me this… “I haven’t consumed wheat in a month and a half. Last night I had two pieces of toast and was up all night with diarrhea. Is this just a coincidence or do you think I have a gluten allergy?”

This question was followed up by a few questions on my part that included…

  • Was the toast you ate last night whole wheat?
  • Was is sprouted bread?
  • Although you haven’t had any gluten in the last month and a half, have you had any barley, spelt, quinoa or rice?
  • Did your diarrhea come on immediately?
  • Was is combined with any other symptoms such as rashes near the elbows and knees, itchy skin or indigestion?

After a thorough conversation, it seemed to me and my family member that this wasn’t an allergy, but instead a circumstantial sensitivity. Come to find out, my family member had been consuming mainly fruits and vegetables for quite some time and her body wasn’t really used to having to digestion a more chemically complex food, the wheat toast.

This is where the topic of gluten free gets tricky! There are easily 1,000 books on the market who either teach people to self-diagnose with a gluten allergy or explain (sometimes falsely) in depth how gluten works against your body. This has resulted in our society becoming hyperactive about this topic in the last 5-10 years, and some are prematurely removing wheat and grains from their diet because of this information overload.

I am not someone who is suggesting that all grains are bad, or that we need to eat them everyday in all meals either. Instead, I think it is vital to understand that when we are eating grains, we need to look at their quality. This statement comes from many trips to the grocery store in which I pick up box after box of items labeled gluten free to read ingredients listed that are almost void of nutrients and not any easier on the average persons digestive system.

It is my opinion (from observation as well as personal experience) that people are cutting out gluten and wheat to then replace it with nutrient void foods that are just as difficult to digest, absorb and transport by the body. This then leads to doctors office visits that are completely avoidable.

So what does all of this mean? Well, first off let me say that I believe Celiac Disease and Gluten/Wheat sensitivities are real and unfortunate health issues. I want you to realize that just because you are having digestion issues, it isn’t necessary to cut out an entire food group. Whether wheat and grains, meat, beans or any other source of nutrients, quality matters.

Take for instance canned foods. Many are rich in sodium, too rich for out heart health and healthy weight loss or maintenance. To combat this, we can make sure to rinse well all canned foods to reduce our risk of over consumption of sodium. For all negatives, there is a positive. For all of the cons to nutrition and food, we can mindfully choose options that help make these cons a pro.

Carbohydrates are vital to our health and especially our brain…. but carbohydrate consumption isn’t solely dependent on grain consumption. Besides grains, other forms of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lentils, beans and legumes. These other forms of carbohydrates also often have other benefits such as more fiber and more vitamins.

In America, our carbohydrate consumption is often quantity and not quality. If this is done by consuming large amounts of bread (which is extremely common), it is VERY possible that your digestion system may be slowed down by the lack of fiber and surplus of gluten which could be causing problems.

I highly suggest, that if you are having these issues, consider restructuring your carbohydrate intake before cutting out gluten. This will not only help you tune into your body a bit more, but also give you better control of your health.

Gluten may be a serious issue for some, but for others, it may not be an issue at all. By realizing this, and adjusting our diet appropriately, we could be saving our digestive system and health much trouble.

Chipotle Brown Rice CopyCat Recipe

Good morning everyone, it’s Sarah here!! Who doesn’t LOVE Chipotle?! I do. My family has it at least once a week! Instead of buying it every week for a family of three, because lets face it, Mia can “out-eat-me” any day of the week at 18months, so going out to eat is a rare occasion. So, after many attempts to make the Cilantro/lime/Brown rice, I think I figured it out! So, if you love this rice as much as I do, feel free to make your family a batch. It’s super easy!!

**I apologize because I meant to take a picture of my rice and I completely forgot and we ate it all!**

I love to eat this dish with some lean chicken breast, 2% cheese, and greek yogurt for a sour cream substitute. If you feel like it, add some corn, black beans, and diced tomatoes! If you’re watching your sodium: be aware of adding tomatoes and beans, they are both high in sodium. You can always opt for the low sodium beans and then rinse them. Enjoy!

1 cup Brown Rice

1 bunch finely chopped Cilantro

1/4-1/2 finely diced red onion

2 Tbs olive oil

The juice of 2 limes (and I like to scrap the insides and throw that in too)

Salt to taste

Cook brown rice as instructed. Mix together rice, diced onion, lime juice and salt. Then add cilantro. Mix. Enjoy warm or let it cook off in the fridge for a few hours before serving!

Serves 4

Nutritional Value: Calories 132, Carbs 16, fat 8, Protein 2, Sodium 16, Sugar 1

*nutritional value does not include added salt

Coconut Oil

Last week, a reader asked the question… “Is coconut oil good for me to be using?” I am so happy that someone asked this question because it is a bit of a tricky one. According to my basic nutrition course textbooks, the answer is no. However as I got deeper into my education, this topic became one that my instructors would often say things such as “but we will discuss this deeper at a later time” or “I don’t love the science on this so let’s look at in another chapter”. Very quickly, it became clear to me that the topic of coconut oil concerning our health was one that is both confusing and misunderstood.

From a basic nutritional perspective coconut oil is a tropical oil (just like palm) that is high in saturated fat. The approximate stats on coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat and 3% polyunsaturated fat. The common knowledge about fat is that saturated contains triglycerides which can be harmful to our health.  However when you look at the chains of the fatty acid in coconut oil, something very different and somewhat rare is seen. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that are metabolized in the liver and are able to be converted to energy immediately. Unlike long-chain fatty acids which get stored as fat, coconut oil is a form of energy that can be immediately used by our body. Therefor, the triglycerides found in coconut oil do not get stored as fat but are instead used as energy.

Aside from its energy abilities, coconut oil has many other benefits as well. Coconut oil is an anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral. Coconut oil can be used on the skin to treat and prevent rashes that are the result of viruses, bacteria and fungus, due to a property found in it called lauric acid. Coconut oil also aids in supporting our immune system, improves the production and release of insulin and is an anti-inflammatory food.  Coconut oil is helpful in promoting healing of the bodies organelles and cells, it hydrates, is an antioxidant and improved the overall health of hair, skin and nails.

Many studies have shown that the properties and the benefits of coconut oil is very similar to those found in breast milk.

In terms of buying coconut oil, things can get confusing with so many terms on the labels. Below is a graphic that shows what the best type of coconut oil is based on the way in which the coconut oil is processed.

coconut oil

The key when buying coconut oil is to make sure your coconut oil is NOT hydrogenated. Extra-Virgin is the purest form followed by cold pressed, which is pressed from the coconut at a higher heat, and finally expeller pressed which is the highest heat coconut oil pressed naturally. Expeller pressed is the cheapest option to buy and is most definitely a fine choice if you are just starting to implement coconut oil into your diet and lifestyle.

I hope this post has cleared up any questions or confusing you have concerning coconut oil. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Free For All Friday

If there is one thing that I could give you to make this weekend a bit more enjoyable as well as a bit easier, it would be free meals. I however, cannot do that – cue sad music. I can however, give you recipes, a grocery shopping list and a menu for this coming¬†week that is based on the American Medical Associations standards for healthy weight loss. So that is what I will do. Mainly because I love all of you and want for you all good health, but also because I love Friday’s and their promise that I can have a bit of a lighter schedule for the next few days.

I hope you can if not use all of this, find some of it healthy. Remember to leave comments or emails if you have any questions about the recipes, individual meals or need help making this work for you and any food preferences or food allergies you and your family may have!

FFAF Meal Plan

Click on the links below and download the documents to use at your discretion.

Grocery Shopping List

How To – Whats In

Meal Plan Week 2



We all know that inflammation is the body’s attempt of self protection; trying to remove damaged cells and harmful irritants from the body to begin the healing process.¬†Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. Initially, it is beneficial when, for example, you hit your toe against the bed post and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation. Inflammation is a vital part for your body’s self healing process, but it is a fact that constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to health problems and disease. So, in retaliation, lets help the body by eating Anti-inflammatory foods!

Here are some Anti-Inflammatory Food Suggestions to add into your daily diet:

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Blueberries
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloup
  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Green Tea
  • Oregano


Hey there friends… Happy Wednesday! I don’t know about you but Wednesday is by far my favorite day of the week. It’s such a prize to me to be going through all my to-do lists and then for Wednesday to come along and be the best cheer leader I could ever ask for. I feel like no matter what happens on Wednesdays, it’s ok because we are half way through!!!!!!

This morning I woke up with a headache. Not an “I ate sugar headache” or an “I’m stressed headache”… this headache is much more focused yet still dispersed all over my head. It feels like it’s the kind of headache that has been lingering for 4 days now even though it hasn’t. It doesn’t at all feel like a condensed pressure building. Anyways…. for me, headaches are a message about my food. This headache has preservative written all over it!

I want to talk to you about exactly that this morning…. preservatives, and especially chemicals in our food. Have you recently heard about the whole Subway issue? If not, let me sum it up for you…. It has been found that Subway was (they have vowed to stop now) using a chemically in their bread that is not supposed to be there. This chemical is found in other places, like yoga mats, the soles of shoes and other rubbery materials. So why was it in the bread at subway? Because, people in America like their bread stretchy, sticky and chewy… and Subway was able to meet their costumer needs by placing this chemical (called¬†Azodicarbonamide) in their bread.

To make things worse, this chemical is linked to respiratory issues. When you consider that our first lady (whom I respect) is suggesting that subway offers the ideal meal for children in their Kid meals, we have a bit of an issue. Children have immature immune systems and their respiratory system specifically can be compromised easily. Enter Azodicarbonamide, which is known to cause asthma and allergies, and we have one very serious problem on our hands as parents.

So am I suggesting that we all never eat subway again, that we boycott all bread and live a Paleo diet lifestyle? Absolutely not! I for one do not live in a perfect world in which eating out is something I can never do again. And despite my own issues with wheat, yeast and dairy, well I still find myself eating some of it here and there.

What then do we do to protect ourselves from all of the garbage in our foods?

Well, I think the first step is to let our government know that we aren’t ok with this type of nonsense happening over and over. Let’s face it, you and I don’t have the power to change the world (our world yes, but the entire world not so much), but our government does! If they want to come down on these big companies and enforce that they give us products that benefit our health rather than harm us would be an amazing thing on their part. And although one phone call to a congress man, or a signature on petition doesn’t seem like it will get us anywhere, it actually will.

A petition, is how subway was taken down on this issue by consumers.

The next thing I suggest we do, is realize that our food in this country isn’t the best. It’s filled will chemicals that whether we want to believe it or not, will in fact harm us. Although we can’t spend our entire lives reading ingredients list’s that we can’t pronounce and then googling those to see if we should be eating them, we can add 2 salads to our menus every week to attempt to get in some extra much needed nutrient. We can also cut out things that we know are not good for us… like diet soda, smoking and frying foods in vegetable oils. Also, start moving more and drink water!

You and I can’t live in a perfect world no matter how hard we try, and we aren’t going to overtake the food industry in this country either. Our government, although they do us much good, does not seem to care about our food, so let’s stop pretending that they are going to set us up to make wise, educated and good decisions about our food. However we can make small wise decisions every day to make our health a priority as well as a positive and reward-able journey.

If you look just below this blogs title, you will see my favorite saying in the world “Change your life by stepping in your kitchen”. I believe that to be true, and concerning today’s post, it’s especially true. Not only is getting in your kitchen with loved ones to prepare meals mentally, emotionally and psychologically good for you, it is also safe. When you are making the decisions of what is in your food, nothing is hidden. The ingredient list, the calorie count and the overall taste is completely up to you!


The Amazing Nutrition of Barley


Hey guys. This cold weather blows, and if you’re from the Midwest like I am, it’s been exceptionally snowy these days. The snow, or the Devil’s Dandruff as I like to call it, has been unrelenting these past few days with storm after storm. On days like these, I really like to make something thats warm on my throat. I decided to make Chicken Vegetable soup with Barley. I went to Whole Foods to grab some barley, and as I was looking at the Grain Wall, I had a dilemma. Which Barley do I get. Theres Hulled Barley and there’s Pearled Barley. Let me explain what each is.

Hulled barley is covered barley that has been minimally processed to remove only the tough inedible outer hull. It’s challenging to remove the hull carefully so that some of the bran is not lost ‚Äď but that’s what must be done for covered barley to be considered whole grain.¬†

Pearl Barley (not a whole grain)¬†has been polished, or “pearled” to remove some or all of the outer bran layer along with the hull. If it’s lightly pearled, pearl barley will be tan colored; if it’s heavily pearled, barley will be quite white. Most of the barley found in the typical supermarket is pearl barley. Although it is technically a refined grain, it’s much healthier than other refined grains because (a) some of the bran may still be present and (b) the fiber in barley is distributed throughout the kernel, and not just in the outer bran layer. Pearl barley cooks more quickly than whole grain barley.

Now that you know the difference, choose Hulled Barley for it has been minimally processed and the bran is still intact. I usually add a half of a cup to a whole cup of Barley to my soup. Sometimes I don’t even measure. Just toss some in for added nutrition!

With one cup of Barley adding up to roughly 193 calories, Barley is most know for ¬†being a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.¬†Not only is barley a low-glycemic grain, it is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps the body metabolize fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates, and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber‚ÄĒcommonly called “roughage”‚ÄĒpromotes a healthy digestive tract and reduces the risk of cancers affecting it

Eating hulled barley on a regular basis:

  • Lowers blood cholesterol levels
  • Protects against cancer because its high fiber content helps speed food through the digestive tract, and because its a good source of selenium, shown to significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • Is a good source of niacin, the B vitamin that is cardio-protective
  • Slows starch digestion, which may help keep blood sugar levels stable
  • Provides high concentrations of tocotrienols, the “super” form of vitamin E
  • Provides lignans, phytochemicals that function as antioxidants. Women who consume lignans (also present in high levels in flaxseed) are less likely to develop breast cancer.


So, there you go folks, EAT YOUR BARLEY!!



Why I Took The Z-Pack

Last Wednesday evening, my grandmother had a tumble… she called for me and after a few minutes, I was able to get her up and in bed. The next day however, I was a bit sore.¬†Last week, I ran quite a few miles. This resulted in some very achy calves by Thursday.


On Thursday, I woke up and worked out. When I finished working out I though, man my legs are sore, I probably need a banana. Then I ate a banana and cleaned the house, went to work and came home to get my bags so that I could fly out to see Cooper for the first time in 6 weeks. My back was a bit sore from picking up my grandmother the night before but I pushed through they day. I was super excited, but on the way to the airport, I said to my mom “I just feel like I’m aging physically”. The conversation went on, and in no time I was getting through my check point. By the time I got to my gate, I was exhausted, feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath and my body was in serious need of a massage, I was so achy. It wasn’t until I placed my head in my hand trying to catch a quick nap at my gate that I realized I was burning up.

I wouldn’t allow myself to accept that I had a fever (because clearly it was just from the whole running/grandma situation) so I picked my bags back up and went to the airport clinic, thinking I could prove myself wrong! Sure enough I had a fever, a fever of 101.7. I hustled back to my gate almost in tears at the thought of getting to Nashville and laying in bed for my entire trip. I got on my plane, vomited on the plane and by the time I got to Coop, let’s just say I was done. That was by far the most miserable plane ride I had ever been on!

On Friday (Valentines Day) I woke up and Coop insisted that we go to a minute clinic. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t drink or eat, still had a fever and was shivering every other minute. Our experience at the minute clinic was terrible and I don’t think I will ever go back. However I left with two prescriptions… a z-pack (Azithromycin) and tamiflu (Oseltamivir). I opted out for the tamiflu and just took the z-pack.

Now a lot of holistic people would look at my decision and think I was going against all my convictions with this one. And although I greatly appreciate their opinion, I disagree. I was in quite the position with this bought of whatever it was and I was really trying to make a decision that was not only beneficial but also one that would give me some sort of time with Coop that didn’t include me asking for tissues in between naps.

So let’s talk about these medications. At the clinic I was tested for strep, two types of flu and another virus “that is going around”. I personally really thought I had strep. I had body aches, a fever for about 72 hours, was dehydrated, couldn’t swallow due to my throat being so swollen and slept almost non stop for 48 hours. I also has some sort of a mucous coming directly from two lumps in my throat. Despite not being diagnosed with strep, I was pretty confident that I had it.

Azithromycin (commonly known as z-pack) is an antibiotic. Strep throat is a bacteria and this is why I took this prescription. Oseltamivir (commonly known as tamiflu) is used to treat the flu. The funny thing about the flu is that it is RNA based. Now without getting all high school biology lesson on you… RNA based illnesses (viruses) change. And they change so much so quickly that if I have a virus and I give it to you, the virus has changed so much by the time I give it to you that it isn’t actually the same virus. So, take for instance the flu virus… when it starts out in America in the fall, it is a completely different virus by the spring when people are getting it for the second time.

Someone with a PhD could walk up to me and explain how what I just told you is wrong, and it wouldn’t phase me. I instead would have an educated discussion with that person until we either agreed to disagree or they told me I was right ūüėČ

I’m not telling people to abandon vaccines and medication in this post, instead, I am encouraging you to do what you need to do, and what you find to be best for YOU when YOU are sick. Whether a cold, the flu or any other acute or chronic disease, your health and the recovery of it only comes after you are fully committed to the path of it. If you are 100% against over the counter medication and a health care professional is suggesting you take it, listen to their reasoning, consider their education and knowledge, and then make a decision that you feel comfortable with. If you love your tamiflu prescription and think everything about my blog is just way to hippy for you, that is more than ok by me and should be by you as well.

In this world, there will always be someone telling you that what you are doing is wrong. If you look hard enough, there will also be someone telling you that you are acting correctly as well. But only you can reassure yourself in the middle of the night that you are making the best decision(s) about your health! Be confident in who you are and what you are doing about your health, and stick to your guns about the way you are going to go about your health journey. You deserve it!