Friday, August 30, 2013

#Afterschool Treat #Realfood #Recipe

School is back in session for just about everyone's children. They're eating well at school because you're packing their lunch with nutritious foods but yet at the end of their day - they're so hungry!  You think of offering them a treat to tie them over until their next meal. 

Enjoy chocolate and coconut covered banana bites!!

1/2 - 1 T Coconut Oil (my favorite brands are Nutiva and Vitacost
Shredded coconut (I chose sweetened)
2 lg. Bananas


1. Place bananas in the freezer with peel on while preparing the rest of the ingredients (or for at least 10 minutes). You can always peel them and cut them into 1 inch chunks first. I don't like the banana to be completely frozen when I'm ready to eat them so that's why I suggest just a quick freeze.

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil. Heat starting at 20 seconds. Mix. The texture should be loose. Add more coconut oil as necessary and heat again adding 10 seconds at a time. The addition of the coconut oil helps the chocolate adhere to the bananas. 

3. Add the tablespoon of peanut butter to the melted chocolate and mix.

4. Take the bananas out of the freezer, peel and slice them into 1 inch chunks (if you haven't done so already). Drop the bananas into the peanut butter-chocolate and coat all the sides as evenly as possible. 

5. Line a pan with parchment paper and place the coated bananas on there. Sprinkle the bananas with shredded coconut. Place and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. You also have the option of freezing them. If you live in a cooler climate (or it's winter) you may leave them out in an airtight container until ready to eat. 

You can  modify the ingredients to your liking. Perhaps substitute the peanut butter for almond butter or use unsweetened coconut. Use your imagination! This is just a baseline to work from. Something to inspire you. 

You can make this treat ahead of time so that they'll be ready when the children arrive home from school or you can make the chocolate coconut banana bites together with your children as young as 3. Use your discretion. The children can cut the bananas safely with a butter knife and coat the bananas in chocolate as well as sprinkling the coconut over the bites.

If you make some, please leave a comment on how you liked them. Were they easy to make? Did you change the ingredients to suit your family?

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Download my free eGuide when you subscribe to my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

#CleanEating, #Protein, #Veggies #Recipe

What is considered clean eating? The definitions may vary but in the most basic sense it is foods that are free of artificial sweeteners & dyes, no hydrogenated oils, and anything else that is unnatural or unnecessary. See, the last part of the definition is where it could vary from person to person. I believe that if you've found the most basic foundation for your wellness, you can add or subtract from what you'll consider eating and this will change over the years (and hopefully improvements are made). 

I've made chicken parmigiana on my blog before. The recipe is similar to the last recipe but I changed the crushed crackers to a different brand in my pantry (free of hydrogenated oils and no HFCS). I made the chicken two ways. One with the breading and a side of roasted veggies: asparagus, white and sweet potatoes. The other is with traditional tomato sauce over the chicken and pasta served with the veggies. Every meal should have a serving (minimum) of fruit or vegetables. 

The image on the bottom right should read: Don't supersize me. Children should not eat the same portion of food that the parents are consuming. Their balled up fist is the same size as their stomach as your fist is to your stomach. Fruits and vegetables don't require a 'portion size' - they are nutrient dense foods and should be consumed frequently through the day. Seven servings of produce is required for children daily whereas 9-13 servings are required for adults. As an adult, you'll eat the higher end of the recommendation if you're active!

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Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Being #healthy is more than just eating healthy #foods. #Register today for my #LEAN Workshop!

I want to reach the families that don't have it all figured out and the someone who is seeking encouragement while on their wellness journey. Is that you? I am sharing the exceptional price for my upcoming online Simplifying Nutrition Workshop! Read more...

Register for the 6-week interactive & fun online class where we will address reading labels, eating a brainy breakfast; how, why and when to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as, reducing sugar consumption and more all taught by a Certified Health Coach in our [wellness] community! 

I will equip you to choose foods that fuel your body by making different choices at the grocery store. This will add to your bottom line; which I know is most important during economic uncertainty (like the current federal furloughs). 

*** The Next Workshop: *** To register, you must pay in full via Paypal by Wednesday, 9/25. Cost is $50 pp. Workshop begins on Monday, 9/30/13. 
You can gift this workshop to your loved one, too. 

Each one of the classes includes a healthy recipe you can easily duplicate at home, as well as hands-on-learning experiences to help you be a savvy shopper getting the most nutrition for your money.

Optional, but recommended: L.E.A.N. Start workbooks are $17 more per person. 

You will receive:
• Interactive eLearning modules;
• Online worksheets;
• Activities to keep you motivated and having fun through your learning process;
• Along with personable coaching and optional conference calls

L.E.A.N. Start strategies will help you:
• Experience improvements in your overall health;
• Have fewer sick days and less time away from work or school;
• Reduce your medical expenses;
• Finally a weight control plan that actually works;
• Experience more active and truly energetic lives!

Why choose my online class?
• Accessible.
• Personable.
• Applicable.
• Flexible.
• Encouraging & Educational!

Contact me through my blog, by leaving a comment, or finding me on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about this workshop and other consulting services I offer. You may also download my free eGuide and join my mailing list to receive my free newsletters. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

YUM-O! Pesto in the Vitamix!

Update: Please visit this link for the full recipe. I am moving content from this site to my new coaching website.  

One of the best ways to make pesto is in a Vitamix. 

WOW!! This recipe has been viewed more than 25K times - thank you!

Leave a comment: What dish would you add this basil pesto to?

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

#Breastfeeding #Awareness - August 2013 #Feature: Loving Families #smallbusiness #Tehachapi CA

Right on time! The first week of August is dedicated to breastfeeding awareness and this month's featured small business is Loving Families of Tehachapi, CA. Promotion at the end; be sure to mention my blog when you inquire. 

Breastfeeding: The First Step in Preventing Childhood Obesity
By Justina Engen of Loving Families

Childhood obesity is in the news constantly these days.  It’s on the minds of all parents, caregivers, and even politicians and lawmakers.  The obesity epidemic is making the adults raising future generations wonder what is going on?  Why are our children dealing with this, and what can we do about it?

Personal Experience: As a parent who has dealt with my own weight issues, I dove into research when I became pregnant with my first.  I wanted to help my children have the best possible start to life, and hopefully avoid all the health and emotional issues surrounding food and obesity.  I read and learned a lot, but almost all of my research pointed to one thing I could do when my kids were babies, and that was to breastfeed.

Countless studies have been conducted demonstrating the health benefits of breastfeeding.   From the disease and pathogen protection to the social and emotional bonding experiences, there’s no question that our body’s biological way to nourish our babies is far superior to even the most expensive substitute.

With every new study I read, I’m truly amazed how many incredible things mother’s milk has naturally in it, how incredibly customized breastfeeding is for each individual baby, and how it truly sets each baby up for a healthy start. 

Here are just a few ways that breastfeeding helps baby have the healthiest start:

I.                    Breast milk’s composition -

Breast milk changes in composition throughout each feed, each day, and throughout the duration of breastfeeding to meet each baby’s specific needs.  It’s truly the only super food that meets all of a human baby’s needs packaged in an easily digested substance that babies love.

II.                 Volume doesn’t increase -

While composition changes to meet growing baby’s needs, a mother’s supply doesn’t necessarily increase in volume.  Studies have shown that breastfed babies flourish on a milk supply that remains relatively constant from 5-6 weeks postpartum and beyond.  And this is remains true with babies fed expressed breast milk.  Breastfed babies typically need much less expressed milk than formula fed babies, where volume increase is needed to meet changing nutritional needs.  This is hypothesized to teach infants at a very young age that they don’t need more food to meet their needs, which is the first lesson in portion control.

III.               Milk flow follows baby’s cues -

Baby is able to control the amount of milk based on their change in suckling behaviors.  A baby who is hungry and suckles deeper and more vigorously will get more milk.  As a baby becomes full, their suckling changes to lighter, more fluttery sucks, which signals the breast to slow flow and eventually stop.  This is why a baby cannot overfeed at the breast.  Another first lesson in appetite control.

IV.          Moms’ confidence

Moms who are confident in their breastfeeding abilities know that their baby is getting adequate nutrition, despite not knowing the amount of breast milk a baby consumes.  This confidence tends to continue into toddlerhood, allowing toddlers and children to listen to their own cues about eating solid foods. This way of eating is best way to teach and foster listening to true hunger cues, while also eating smaller and more frequent meals, which has been shown as the healthiest way to eat.

Nutrition: While breastfeeding may be the best way to provide baby the absolute best nutrition, it’s not always the easiest.  Many moms find it helpful and sometimes necessary to seek support and professional help when breastfeeding.  The knowledge of a trained professional can make all the difference in successfully meeting your breastfeeding goals.  Due to new healthcare laws, insurance companies are beginning to cover lactation support at least partially, so support may be more affordable than most think.

Encouragement: I encourage parents to educate themselves about the multitude of benefits that breastfeeding provides for both mother and baby and surround themselves with support as they enter parenthood.  Every family deserves to meet their parenting goals, and every baby deserves the best possible start to a healthy future.

Justina Engen, IBCLC, RLC, BS is a wife, mother, educator, lactation consultant, parenting advocate, and owner of Loving Families, providing families and professionals with education and support about breastfeeding and early childhood.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and is trained and certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with over 2,000 hours experience helping mothers and babies.

She also owns Loving Touch Photography specializing in the capture of birth and families.  She loves witnessing each growing family’s special moments and accomplishments, and feels so honored to capture these moments with love and respect.

Special Promotion: Follow Justina on her Loving Families Facebook page and mention her article on my blog, Conveying Awareness, or mention the code: ICAGrowingLovingFamilies to receive 25% off any class or consultation service (applies to both families and professionals, and can be purchased as a gift certificate). Offer expires 8/31/13. There is no cash value or rain checks and the purchase must be made during the month of August 2013 but can be used on a future date. Please make arrangements direct with Justina.


Disclaimer: If you’d like an opportunity to be featured, use the contact form on the right side of my blog to send me a request. Send me a short bio and your website links. If we're a good fit, I'll send you the criteria and cross-networking is a must! 

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Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Subscribe here to receive my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)