January | 2015 | Charming Diabetes

January 2015 archive

llama at blackberry farm | charming diabetes

How Blackberry Farm Changed Me Forever

I kind of have an obsession with this magical place:

Blackberry Farm

It’s amazing for lots of reasons, but here are my top 3:

100 year gardens. And a llama. And meals that will transport you to a land far, far away from GMOs or processed foods.

llama at blackberry farm | charming diabetesOne little trip to this HEAVEN completely changed the way I look at food.  See what I’m talking about here, and here.

And then go put Blackberry Farm on your bucket list. I promise you won’t regret it.

xo

Sara

 

Daring to Eat Organic | charmingdiabetes.com

Daring to eat Organic-ish with Diabetes and Toddlers

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen some of the adventure that is me going organic. It’s not easy, especially with 2 toddlers, and our pantry isn’t completely organi-fied (making up words) yet. I’m a little too practical to just throw everything out, so we still have some non-organic peanut butter left over, and oil and some random crackers around that we’ll use before we’re fully converted. So at the moment, we’re Organic-ish. 🙂

Daring to Eat Organic | charmingdiabetes.com

But WHY am I doing this?! Ugh. The short answer is : It’s been coming for a long time.

My mother suffered two completely unrelated cancers, the second of which(stomach cancer) took her life. I’m diabetic and I believe that food is powerful. The only part of diabetes that I can really control is the food I put in my body. And of course, I’ve watched a documentary or two in my day. I just had to make my health (and my kids’ health) a top priority. And after lots of research, I decided that the GMOs just aren’t for me. I want them out. I don’t want Monsanto to own me or run the world. Despite what they say I do believe it’s possible to feed the world with organic farming. It is time for me to vote with my dollars.

Overall, making a meal totally organic is not too difficult as long as I’ve done some meal planning, but it is complicated by the fact that I am not trying to be vegan, or vegetarian, or gluten free. I don’t mind eating that way every once in a while, but I love carbs. I love snacks. I love veggies too, but I can’t have all my meals be all veggie all the time. I need the bread and meat balance. I love to cook, and organic veggies are easy enough to find, it’s all the other things that can prove difficult. Organic meats are expensive and harder to find, and bread or grain based products are also tougher to find with organic whole wheat, etc. For the most part, packaged goods have had to go because if they are organic, they’re crazy expensive.  If I’m having a biscuit craving, I’m better off just making it myself. But I also have 2 little girls.  They  just don’t go for veggie or fruit all the time.

So it’s a bumpy road for now. For the most part, the girls snacks are where I struggle the most. Having to exert more effort on snack planning, as opposed to just grabbing a bag of goldfish or cereal for them when we’ll be out running errands is still tough. And to buy organic versions of those things is not cost effective. And I have one still in diapers, so let’s face it, we can’t eat raisins all the time!

But every time I’m tempted to think “this is impossible” and throw in the towel, I remember my trip to Blackberry Farm. The first place I recognized organic eating as exciting, inspiring, and bountiful—and not a complete hassle. Eating organic can be comforting, and beautiful and fun! Even for kids. Below are a few images of the trip that changed my way of thinking. Below I’ll list some other links that have helped me in this journey.

IMG_6092_BlackberryFarm IMG_6260a IMG_6092w

 

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IMG_6333w IMG_6324w IMG_6306w IMG_6369w IMG_6377w

 

So gorgeous! Those heirloom tomatoes came from 100 year old seeds. The thing is, I didn’t even think I liked tomatoes, until I ate that one.

But then reality sets in and the sad fact is, I don’t live on Blackberry Farm..very sad fact indeed. So I have to do some leg work to get the organic goods.

It’s hard to pass up 2 regular grocery stores on my way to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Keep in mind I do this with two toddlers in the car, so it’s like “cry myself to sleep” hard. It’s even harder to use up precious time out of my week to go to more than one store to get what we need. I’m not gonna buy paper products or bottled water at the organic stores–doesn’t make sense. We get things like diapers delivered, which helps, but I still feel like I spend half my week either in the store, or driving to/home from it! Not exactly the organic dream.

As tough as it can be, the payoff is worth it. The food is better, we feel better, and my blood sugars way way down. Always a plus.

Here are a couple of things that helped me out:

1. Blackberry Farm : I can’t say enough about the magic of this place. Go if you can. If you can’t, read about their 100 year garden and get inspired by their website.

2. 100 days of Real food : great resource for real food recipes, especially ideas to keep kids happy. Not everything here is organic, but it’s easy enough to get a recipe or meal plan or snack idea and make it organic.

3. Wildly Affordable Organic : a great cookbook and meal planning resource. One of the biggest obstacles to eating organic can be the cost. This book gives super easy to execute recipes and meal plans on a food stamp budget.

Especially if you’re struggling with blood sugars, I strongly encourage you to make a move towards organic eating. And definitely cut out all the artificial sweeteners if you haven’t already. No diet drinks, sodas, sports drinks–get it out of your system. I was SHOCKED at how my blood sugars dropped just by doing that one thing. But more on that later.

And if you’re looking for more pics from Blackberry Farm (a.k.a. Heaven On Earth), just head over to my photography site! I promise you will fall in love with this place. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll run home to plant a garden and eat organic forever and ever.

If you’re not as emotional as me, and prefer more scientific evidence, here is some of that as well.

xo

Sara

 

 

Super Simple and Diabetic Friendly Roast Chicken | www.charmingdiabetes.com

Best Chicken Ever | Diabetic Friendly Roast Chicken with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

So having Diabetes is tough, but it can be especially difficult when juggling busy days, and kids, and dinner time.

To make things worse, I’m forgetful! I’m easily caught up in the chaos and before I know it, it’s dinner time and I’m unprepared and haven’t even checked my blood sugar.

Meal planning REALLY helps me with this. If I know what I’m going to cook, or can prepare things ahead of time, it makes everything that much easier. I can’t say enough about how much PLANNING in general is key to success with diabetes. When mealtime rolls around, I want to think about it as LITTLE as possible. This way I’m less likely to skip meals or make unhealthy spur of the moment mealtime decisions. We’ve all had drive-thru days, or “stand-at-the-counter-and-eat-whatever-I-find” meals. As a mom, some days that’s just self-preservation, but as a Diabetic it really is a recipe for disaster..and poor blood sugar control, highs, lows, feeling terrible, no energy, I could go on and on…

I try to make an effort to have a plan for mealtimes, but particularly for dinner. Here are my two secret weapons:

1. NO MORE TO GO — this is a great site that sends you weekly dinner meal plans. You get the shopping list, the recipes, photos, and even vegetarian and vegan substitutes. Every recipe I’ve ever made from no more to go has been simple, tasty, quick, and the kids usually like it too. In fact, some of these recipes have become “go to” recipes that I use at least a couple of times a month. It’s GREAT. I highly recommend you try it out, especially if you struggle to get dinner on the table in the midst of hectic weeks like I sometimes do.

2. ROASTED CHICKEN — this is by far my favorite busy-week recipe. I have two young children, who can be pretty picky eaters, but this satisfies them every time. I know what you’re thinking…a whole chicken? too complicated. too long. I can’t.

But I promise you, YOU CAN! If you haven’t cooked a chicken this way, it will change your life. I haven’t cooked a plain ol’ boneless skinless chicken breast in forever because once you eat this chicken you can’t go back to plain, dry, stovetop chicken breast. Let me break it down for you:

 

 

the anatomy of YUM: a super simple fall meal in one pot. Easy roasted chicken | www.charmingdiabetes.com

The best part about this recipe for me, is that I spend about 3 minutes getting the chicken prepped, and then everything goes into the oven for an hour. I’m HANDS-FREE in the hour before dinner time which is priceless. I can play with the kids, show them how to set the table,  do a couple of loads of laundry, give the girls early baths, check my blood sugar…I mean I can get a lot done in that pre-dinner hour. And it’s so much better than the usual routine of me standing at the stove, making a mess in the kitchen, playing referee for the kids while they roam the living room unsupervised and high on the freedom from said lack of supervision.

super easy roast chicken in an hour, diabetic friendly recipe | charming diabetes.com

look at that! I didn’t even tuck the wings, but guess what–DOESN’T MATTER! This is still the best chicken ever because I exerted virtually no effort to make it.

Here’s what you have to do.

Get a whole chicken ( a much better bargain than just buying individual parts, I might add). And cut out the backbone. Easy, but not the most glamorous part of the recipe. Here’s a video on that if you need a little convincing. I use a knife because I don’t have dedicated chicken shears (gasp) and it works just fine.. Or just channel Martha Stewart, or Jacques Pepin, or Julia Child. Whatever works for you, but get that backbone outta there.

Once that’s done, the rest is cake…er, chicken. I put a mix of butter, herbs, salt, & pepper, under the skin and on top. By “mix” I mean I literally just take half a stick of room temp butter and toss in whatever herbs I feel like that day, and mix it up. You can use other delicious add ins like hot sauce, dijon mustard, white wine, but I’ve got the toddlers so I keep it simple. They always clean their plates so why mess with a good thing?

I throw in two whole heads of garlic with the tops cut off, because I LOVE roasted garlic. I add a lemon (if i have one) and some fresh herbs to the bottom of the pan, then plop the chicken in there and it’s ready to go.

And I do sweet potatoes at the same time. In this picture I went through the trouble of cutting them up and putting them in the pan, but usually I just wrap them in foil whole, and put them in at the same time as the chicken.

That. is. it. After an hour at 425 degrees, Dinner’s done!

Sometimes I add a salad, or green beans (because something green on the plate makes it feel official), and bread to go with the roasted garlic cloves that I like to devour.

This meal is a total win for diabetes. The free-time while it’s in the oven gives me plenty of time to check my blood sugars pre-meal. And the sweet potatoes, even though they’re sweet, are easy on the blood sugar.

So easy!! Plus there are usually leftovers, which makes it a double win because lunch or dinner for the next day is taken care of.

Do yourself a favor–go get yourself a chicken!!!! Your family will ooh and ahh at the fancy factor, and they don’t have to know you didn’t break a sweat.

 

BEST CHICKEN EVER ROAST CHICKEN — hands on time: 5 mins TOTAL time: 1hr, 5mins

Super Simple and Diabetic Friendly Roast Chicken | www.charmingdiabetes.com

ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 heads of garlic (tops chopped off–the whole head, not just a clove)
  • 2-4 small sweet potatoes (depending on how many your family will eat, cook as many or as few as you need. I usually cook 4 and have leftovers)
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs fresh herbs, chopped ( rosemary & thyme are my go to but parsley, sage, or even just dry herbs if you don’t have fresh on hand). Plus extra for aromatics in pan if desired.
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1.  preheat oven to 425
  2.  chop heads off garlic and set aside
  3.  chop herbs and mix into room temp butter, set aside
  4. fork potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil
  5.  butterfly chicken (remove backbone)
  6.  turn chicken breast-side up, and pat dry. using a spoon or spatula smear half of butter mix under the skin (between the skin and breast meat). Spread the rest of butter mix liberally onto the outside of the chicken** (breast, legs, wings, etc). Sprinkle with Salt & Pepper  **I keep it simple for a kid friendly version, but for an added kick, you could add a few tablespoons of white wine, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, and/or a splash of hot sauce here.
  7.  In an iron skillet or oven safe pan, place any extra dry herbs, half a lemon, and garlic tops if desired. drizzle with olive oil and place chicken on top.
  8.  place garlic heads in alongside the chicken, and drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Put chicken and foil wrapped sweet potatoes in the oven for 1 hr or until potatoes are fork tender and chicken reaches internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Take all the glory for a stress free, fancy meal.

Enjoy!

xo

Sara

January iPhone download | dream do repeat

Non-Resolutions for the New Year

Hope you all had a great holiday! So it’s January, which means everyone and their brother is asking me if I have any New Year’s Resolutions. And….I don’t. Sorry.

It just seems like I’m setting myself up for failure by february every year I set those. So a few years ago I decided to stop partaking in the “Resolution” game, and began to just think about what my goals and dreams were for the coming year. And then from there, how I could really make those things happen. And the first year I did it, I was surprised what an impact a few simple changes made. I’ve done it every year since. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, but I feel like I’m making progress because I’ve been intentional about keeping myself on track.

So here’s how I do it:

I take some time to write down my goals and dreams for the year–big, small, everything. This is the most important part for me–writing things down somehow makes it feel more official. Then I look at the list and make it QUANTIFIABLE. Give your goal a number: instead of  “eat healthier” I’d set a specific goal “eat 3 vegetarian dinners a week”. The more specific, the better.  After that, I spend some time brainstorming the best ways to make those dreams happen, and I write those things down too.  And then–this is the big one–I mark time on my calendar to review those goals and my progress.

Shazam! I feel resolute already! I believe in this process. Making your goals quantifiable and writing them down is a great way to start off the year, and taking time to evaluate your progress is important too.  Just in case you’re curious, here are a few of my non-resolutions 🙂

~write down blood sugars 3x day ( Can you tell I like to write things down? I check more often than this, but writing them down really helps me and I skip this step more often than not.) 

~Inspiration Photo Walks at least once a month (Just FYI these are little weekend jaunts where I walk around town with my camera, or sometimes just my cell phone, and snap all the photos I want. The photographer and creative in me needs this time and as a mom, sometimes I overlook how important “me” time is. )

~ Desk Clean by feb.1st ( if you could see my desk, you’d know how important this is. It is embarrassingly awful and I subconsciously always move this task to the bottom of my to-do list. Now, I have a date and can hold myself accountable…yikes) 

These are just a few, but I thought I’d share my process in the hopes that anyone else with the New Year’s Resolution Blues can have hope that even if you don’t have any “resolutions” you can still get plenty done in 2015.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Henry David Thoreau

And Oh By The Way…Here’s the January Download for ya! Grab it below or over on the download page

Enjoy!

January iPhone download | dream do repeat

 

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