Cao Artisan Chocolate: My New Taste for Chocolate

autumntruffles

February 2, 2014 | Posted in Eating Well | By

Welcome to my review of Cao Artisan Chocolate. You might be surprised to see a post about chocolate on a healthy living blog.  To me, healthy eating means everything in moderation.  It also means learning to savor instead of gorge, to notice the complexity of foods and to appreciate the miracle of taste.  I’m excited to share my thoughts about a remarkable tasting experience.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA.  A Review by Total Lifestyle Management  

 

A New Taste

It’s not often I eat something that changes the way I think about a food.  So, imagine my surprise when a sample of chocolate at a farmer’s market redefined everything I thought I knew about my favorite confection.

I’ve eaten a lot of food in my life – and I’ve eaten even more chocolate.  A prized food in my childhood home, I used to seek out my grandma’s “secret” stashes and stuff myself silly.  As an adult, I relish in the indulgence of a dark chocolate bar.  I even humor my husband’s love for nearly unsweetened chocolate bars.

But never in my life had I had chocolate like this, the work of Mary and Carl Matice of Cao Artisan Chocolate in Lynchburg, VA.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Chocolate Truffles. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolate.

Cao Artisan Chocolate

I’ve never tasted so much taste in chocolate.  Exploding with flavor, eating Cao chocolate is akin to tasting wine.  More than six different types of chocolate bars (and a countless array of truffles) all boast different profiles, so there’s something for everyone; The Peruvian bar surprises the palette with its decidedly tropical profile, transporting you to a lounge chair on the beach. The Sur de Lago is both fruity and peppery at once.  I often save the Bolivian for last, so I can savor the earthy flavors intermingled with sweetness.  The truffles come in too many flavors to list here, like Madagascar Vanilla Bourbon and Aztec.

So what’s the difference?  Other confectioners might buy poor quality cacao beans that leave a bitter taste.  They mask the bitterness with sugar and additives – but not at Cao Artisan Chocolate.  Mary and Carl select the finest beans in the world and then make them into bars, salted caramels or their signature truffles.  Every chocolate is made by hand using only the finest ingredients.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Cacao beans in their husks. The nibs inside the beans are used to make cacao liquor, an ingredient of chocolate. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolates.

Healthy Inspiration

While part of Mary and Carl’s inspiration is taste, they also have wellness in mind.  Mary has extensive experience with diabetes and its complications.  Disheartened by the products that pass for food in America, her experiences shaped the way the Matice’s make chocolate.  “Even though we make candy we don’t think of it as that – we think of it as food,” Mary says.  Using quality beans means the chocolate tastes great without being overloaded with sugar.  The cacao bean is, itself, full of flavonoids and antioxidants that are great for your body.  The Cao product line uses a variety of sugars, fruits and spices when they’re necessary.  “If you eat [chocolate] made in the right way, in the right quantity, you’re doing it right,” Mary says.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Artisan chocolate bars. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolate.

Just as Cao chocolate is so much more than mass produced chocolate, this local company is so much more than a business.  “Our mission statement is to be a consumer education micro-chocolate factory committed to ethical practices, making quality products from superior cacao and pure ingredients,” says Mary.  “The business is really an extension of me and Carl.  What we value, what we pride, is what we promote.”  For the Matice’s, this means making sure they’re buying quality cacao beans from ethically sound sources instead of sub par beans from farms that don’t provide livable wages or use slave labor.

Where to Find

Cao Artisan Chocolate bars and truffles are available at their Chocolate Lounge in Lynchburg, Virginia, and also for online ordering at http://www.caoartisanchocolates.com/.  Are you a Relay user?  Click here to view a list of Cao items available for delivery via Relay.

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When Diets Don’t Work: The Kale and Brownie Diet

IMGP8544

January 21, 2014 | Posted in Eating Well, Life Coaching, Personal, Weight Management | By

What do you do When Diets Don’t Work?  Try the Kale and Brownie Diet.  This might be a game changer!

When Diets Don't Work: The Kale & Brownie Diet. By TotalLifestyleManagement.com/

When Diets Don’t Work: The Kale & Brownie Diet. By TotalLifestyleManagement.com/

 

I can’t claim complete credit for this miraculous weight loss technique – the idea was first had by a brilliant yoga teacher whom I believe would like to remain nameless.

Eating right is hard.  I’ve struggled with emotional and physiological food addiction for years.  Although I’m thin, fit and a health coach I am still far from where I would like to be.   That’s one of the things that makes me a great guide – I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.  So what do you do when diets don’t work?

When Diets Don’t Work

As Jill Coleman of JillFit would say, “To get lean, stop thinking about fat loss as a protocol. Think about it as an education in YOU. ”  I love these words from Jill’s blog and I try to live by them.

As a coach, it’s part of my job to recognize patterns of human behavior and help my clients avoid them.   It’s also my job to take a hard look at the person I am working with and make a program specifically for them, not for Cindy across the street or Jack down the hall.

I can look at some clients and say “stop eating dairy, stop eating grains, stop eating refined foods,” give them a high five and send them off knowing that they will have no problem complying.  Every person isn’t capable of instant compliance, though.  We all struggle with our own personal demons.  We all have weaknesses that affect our ability to make change in our life.  As a life and nutrition coach, my job is to simplify simplify simplify until my clients have absolutely no doubt that they can achieve what I am asking of them.  Sometimes that means the first step is a very little step.

With that being said, remember this:

It’s easier to give and harder to take away.  It’s easier to start and harder to stop.  

This is the founding principle of the brownie and kale diet.

Making Change

The reasons we do “Bad” to our bodies are deep seeded issues that we must give attention to for our entire lives.  We’ll all experience peaks and valleys in our fitness for eternity – the goal is to make the peaks and valleys level off with each other.

It’s also really hard to stop doing “bad” when you haven’t learned anything “good” to replace it with.  

So, the simplest and easiest first step is to focus on giving yourself good things instead of taking away bad things.  Then see how it goes after that.  That’s all you can do when diets don’t work.

Hence the brownie and kale diet.

Let’s say my fake client Candace comes to me eating a dozen brownies per day.  We keep it simple.  I ask her to change one thing per week.   The easiest first step might not be to stop eating the cookies – it’s to ask her to start doing something good for herself.

As that mystery yoga teacher said “hold a donut in one hand and green smoothie in another.  Alternate a bite of the brownie and a sip of the green smoothie.  Repeat.”  Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  Putting something good into you body is a catalyst for change.  Eventually, you’ll move begin eliminating the crap (like cookies and brownies)  in your diet and move on to another diet that’s more wholesome.

Are you having trouble eating “clean” in the New Year?  Do you feel like every diet you’ve tried has failed you?

Try to the brownie and kale diet.  I think you’ll like it.

 

PS – In case you were confused, I don’t actually advocate eating kale and brownies to lose weight.

 

 

 

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Is vanilla yogurt bad for toddlers?

Sugar

October 21, 2013 | Posted in Eating Well | By

Is Vanilla Yogurt Bad for Toddlers? Those of you who know me know that I try to promote balance in eating.  I don’t believe in good foods or bad foods.  Yet, I still have a pet peeve.  I am strictly against Vanilla yogurt.  I know that sweet food has a place in the context of a healthy diet but… seriously…  it has so much added sugar!  I just can’t take it.

My son’s school serves vanilla yogurt for snack. I prepared a handout for the school and thought I’d share it with you.

Is vanilla yogurt bad for toddlers? "First, would you open a packet of sugar and then hand it to your child as snack?   That's what you're  doing when you serve a product like Vanilla yogurt." An evaluation by a certified nutrition coach and mom.

Is Vanilla Yogurt Bad for Toddlers?

So, this is why I think the choice of Vanilla yogurt is bad for toddlers: Way too much sugar!   In fact, it’s comparable to candy.  I’ve used Stonyfield brand yogurt as an example.  Stonyfield seems to be the most common yogurt purchased by parents in our school/geographic area.  It’s also organic, which some people mistakenly associate with being “healthier.”  There IS such a thing as organic junk food!

Consuming added sugars can be detrimental to a child’s health, particularly the function of their immune system, regulation of blood sugar and overall mood.  Over-consumption can contribute to childhood obesity and likelihood of developing Type II diabetes.

SUGAR CONTENT OF STONYFIELD SMOOTH N CREAMY YOGURTS

STONYFIELD SMOOTH N CREAMY TYPE Total Sugar (g) per 1 cup serving (227 g) Natural Sugar (g) Estimated Added Sugar (g) Equivalent Added Sugar Packets (standard packet = ~4 g)
Plain
Whole Milk
12 g/cup 12 g 0 g
French Vanilla
Whole Milk
30g/cup 12 g 18 g 4.5 Packets
Plain
Low Fat
15g/cup 15 g 0 g
Vanilla
Low Fat
29g/cup 15 g 14 g 3.5 Packets
Plain
Fat free
16g/cup 16 g 0 g
Vanilla
Fat Free
33g/cup 16 g 17 g 4.25 Packets

Comparable to Several Candies

4 Jolly Ranchers 14.6 g/4 pieces 14.6 g/4 pieces
4 Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 18.4 g/4 pieces 18.4g/4 pieces
Oreos 14g/3 Cookies 14g/3 Cookies

 

Source: Stonyfield.com

So, if a toddler eats ¼ cup of Vanilla Yogurt, they are consuming

–          French Vanilla Whole Milk:  Just over 1 Packet of Added Sugar

–          French Vanilla Low Fat:  Just under 1 Packet of Added Sugar

–          French Vanilla Fat Free:  Just over 1 Packet of Added Sugar

First, would you open a packet of sugar and then hand it to your child as snack?   That’s what you’re  doing when you serve a product like Vanilla yogurt.

The American Heart Association recommends that a toddler consume only 17 g of sugar per day.   It’s really easy to overdo it if you’re feeding your toddler the wrong foods.  Even worse, the effect of sugar on the brain means kids are more likely to ask for second and third servings of sugary Vanilla Yogurt . This is true regardless of whether they’re actually hungry or not.

According to Lindsay Hutton of FamilyEducation.com, “A study conducted by the AHA found children as young as 1-3 years already bypass the daily recommendations, and typically consume around 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. By the time a child is 4-8 years old, his sugar consumption skyrockets to an average of 21 teaspoons a day. The same study found 14-18 year old children intake the most sugar on a daily basis, averaging about 34.3 teaspoons.”

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://life.familyeducation.com/nutritional-information/obesity/64270.html#ixzz3X6nG6q00

It’s ‘s always hard to label foods as “good” and “bad.”  Healthy eating is a “big picture” thing.  however,  there are so many better foods you can feed a child than store bought Vanilla Yogurt.  So, is Vanilla Yogurt Bad for Toddlers?  I say yes!

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Frozen Bananas on a Stick

Frozen Bananas on a Stick: A healthy treat for teething, summertime or just because. From TotalLifestyleManagement.com

October 9, 2013 | Posted in Babies and Kids, Eating Well, Kid Friendly, Nutritious Recipes, Toddler Friendly | By

So, how did I decide to make frozen bananas on a stick? True story: Picky toddlers will eat anything you put on a stick. Well, at least mine will. Sometimes it’s just switching up the presentation.  And I needed to make a particular sad, fussy boy happy.

Another True Story: Teething is a terrible thing. It’s always been bad.  But the “I” Teeth really suck. My son has never been so miserable and drooly.  I have spent hours looking for magic cures and teething tips.

My answer?

Banana pops. AKA frozen bananas on a stick.  They are easy (yay for mom), a great shape for little teeth to gnaw on AND the stick keeps little hands from getting too cold (mine is very sensitive to holding cold things).

Frozen Bananas on a Stick: A healthy treat for teething, summertime or just because. From TotalLifestyleManagement.com

These are also a great way to cool off during hot summer months!

Making Frozen Bananas on a Stick

All you’ll need are bananas and popsicle sticks.  I like to cut my banana into thirds and put each third on a popsicle stick.  Then, I lay them on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper in the freezer, or stand them upright in a tall glass with the banana outside the glass (the banana will freeze to whatever it’s touching).  You can even try dipping them in melted coconut oil or plain yogurt, then rolling them in chopped nuts, wheat germ or other favorite toppings.  I’ve even heard of folks dipping them in melted dark chocolate!  That sounds like a luxurious treat, too.

 

Enjoying his banana on a stick!

Enjoying his banana on a stick!

Depending on the ability level of the eater, the bananas may need to thaw and soften a bit before serving.  Gnawing may not be easy for some tiny teeth.

Frozen bananas on a stick – a nutritious treat, great way to cool off during the hot summer months and a tasty teething remedy!  Try it out and let me know what you think.

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Healthy Snack List for Preschool and Daycare

Healthy Preschool Snack List for Classwide snacks. Great for daycares as well. Built to be simple for parents/teachers and age-appropriate for toddlers and young preschoolers.

September 23, 2013 | Posted in Babies and Kids, Eating Well, Nutritious Recipes | By

Are you looking for a healthy snack list for preschool or daycare? My son started going to a 2 day/week preschool that we absolutely love.  Like many programs, the kids eat snack together and the snack is provided by the school.   A parent brings the class’s assigned snack in every day and the snack is assigned off of a mandatory, master list created by the school.

I cringed when I saw the master class.  It contained items like mini muffins, cheez its and cinnamon bread.  Overall, there were many processed foods and refined grains in the list, along with fruits, vegetables and cheese.

Healthy Preschool Snack List for Classwide Snacks. Great for daycares as well. Built to be simple for parents/teachers and age-appropriate for toddlers and young preschoolers.

Healthy Preschool Snack List for Classwide snacks. Great for daycares as well. Built to be simple for parents/teachers and age-appropriate for toddlers and young preschoolers.

I quickly volunteered my services to help remake the snack list into a Healthy Preschool Snack List.  My goal was to decrease the amount of processed foods on the list.  I’m really happy with what we came up with.  I’ve had many friends and parents ask me for a copy of the list, so here it is.

The school had the following requirements:

1.  All foods must be store bought and require little to no preparation.
2.  No peanut products or nut products of any kind.
3.  No choking hazards, as defined by rules governing child care centers  and preschools in Virginia.  So, you will see that some of my favorite finger foods are missing (IE, baby carrots and popcorn).

The snack list below is a compromise between health and practicality.  It will not meet everyone’s nutritional perspective (i.e. gluten free, dairy free, only raw dairy, paleo, etc.) but nothing ever will in a school environment.  This snack list is not meant to treat or address any medical condition.  I initially had some snacks with Ezekiel bread, but Ezekiel bread is best served warmed and the school did not have the resources to do that.

You’ll find I don’t include bagels, english muffins or bread products.  The variabilkty in bread quality is too high to make it an easy choice.  Many brands have high fructose corn syrup, atificial preservatives and more.  I didn’t want parents to have to go picking through nutrition labels to find acceptable bread products.  Plus, I believe most children have bread products for breakfast before school.

Some items may repeat on this list and the quantities are meant to reflect the size of the class at our particular school.

Healthy Snack List for Preschool and Daycare

Many notes contain information about gluten – our school has a few students who are severely gluten intolerant, so I provided the information to assist their parents.

Item Recommended/Preferred Brands Cost Per Item (based off local
grocery store)
Total Cost Serving Suggestions/Notes
12 Pears and 36 Whole Milk Cheese Sticks Cheese Sticks Available at Kroger:
-Horizon Organic Cheese Sticks
– Sargento Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sticks
– Sargento Colby Jack Cheese Sticks
PLEASE: NO LOW FAT OR REDUCED FAT PRODUCTS
Pears: $1.50/lb –approximately 6 lbs.
Cheese Sticks:Horizon Organic: 4.99/8 sticks
Sargento: 3.99/12 Sticks
$12-$16 This is A Gluten Free Snack if Horizon Organic Brand is Purchased, although Horizon says their products are safe for consumption by most people with gluten allergies.
36 Plain Rice Cakes and 6 Avocados Rice Cakes Available at Kroger:
– Lundberg Family Farms Organic Rice Cakes, Lightly Salted: Original or Wild Rice.
– Quaker Original Flavor Rice Cakes
PLEASE: NO FLAVORED RICE CAKES
Rice Cakes:
Lunderberg Family Farms: $3.99Avocados: Organic $.99/Each
Regular Pack of 4 – $3.99
~$10 Mash avocado with a fork and spread on rice cakes, or allow children to dip.This is a gluten free snack if the Lundberg Family Farms Organic Rice Cakes are served.
2 Large Containers of Plain, Whole Milk Yogurt
and
2 Large Containers of Grapes, Cut Into Halves
Yogurts Available at Kroger:
– Dannon All Natural Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
– Mountain High All Natural Plain Whole Milk Yogurt- Greek Gods Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
– Stonyfield Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
Yogurts:
Dannon: $3.99/Container
Greek Gods:
Stonyfield: $4.99/ContainerGrapes:
$1.69/lb at approximately 6 lbs.
$10-$12 Mix grapes into yogurt or serve separately.This is a gluten free snack.
12 Oranges and 2 Containers of Cottage Cheese Cottage Cheeses Available at Kroger
  Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese
– Kroger Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milk Fat
– Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milkfat
PLEASE: NO COTTAGE CHEESE WITH FRUIT ADDED
Cottage Cheeses:
Kroger Brand: $3.99/Container Horizon Organic
2.79/Container
Daisy Brand: $3.39/ContainerOranges
Organic:
$5.29/3 lb Bag (~12 small oranges)Nonorganic:
$4.49/3 lb Bag (~8 large oranges)
$12-$14 Mix oranges into cottage cheese or serve separately.
1 Large Container Plain Hummus and 2 lbs Baby Carrots Sabra Classic Hummus Hummus: ~$3.99Carrots:
1 lb Bag Organic Carrots by Simple Truth – $1.69/each2 lb bag by BunnyLuv: $3.19
~$8 This is gluten free snack.  Sabra hummus contains <20 ppm gluten.
1 Loaf of Whole Grain Bread and 1 Jar of Sun Butter Sunbutter Brands Available at Kroger:
-Sunbutter Brand Organic Unsweetened Sun Butter
Sunbutter Brands Available at Kroger:
Organic SunbutterAvailable at Amazon.com:
Swanson Health Products 100% SunbutterPLEASE: NO SUN BUTTER WITH ADDED SUGAR, CANE SUGAR, CANE SYRUP, GRANULATED SUGAR, HONEY, AGAVE OR OTHER SWEETENERS.
Ezekiel Bread: $5.99/LoafSun Butter: $6.49/jar ~$13 Sun butter is made from sunflower seeds.  It can be found in the natural section at Kroger.  Please do not purchase the natural kind of sun butter, as it contains added sugar.
2 Medium Size ripe Cantaloupes OR sub whole grain chex mix cereal
2 Large Containers of Plain, Whole Milk Yogurt
Yogurts Available at Kroger:
– Dannon All Natural Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
– Mountain High All Natural Plain Whole Milk Yogurt- Greek Gods Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
– Stonyfield Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
Cantaloupes:
~$2.50 – ~3 each.Yogurts:
Dannon: $3.99/Container
Greek Gods:
Stonyfield: $4.99/ContainerGrapes:
$1.69/lb at approximately 6 lbs.
$13-$15 This is a gluten free snack.
2 Large Containers of Strawberries
and 2 Containers of Plain Cottage Cheese
COTTAGE CHEESE BRANDS AVAILABLE AT KROGER:
– Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese
– Kroger Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milk Fat
– Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milkfat
PLEASE: NO COTTAGE CHEESE WITH FRUIT ADDED
Cottage Cheese:  Kroger Brand: $3.99/Container Horizon Organic
2.79/Container
Daisy Brand: $3.39/Container
Strawberries:  Regular Strawberries: $2.99/Container
Organic Strawberries:
$3.99/Container
This is a Gluten Free Snack if Horizon Organic Brand is Purchased, although Horizon says their products are safe for consumption by most people with gluten allergies.
12 Bananas and 1 Jar of Sun Butter Sunbutter Brands Available at Kroger:
-Sunbutter Brand Organic Unsweetened Sun Butter
Sunbutter Brands Available at Amazon.com:
Swanson Health Products 100% SunbutterPLEASE: NO SUN BUTTER WITH ADDED SUGAR, CANE SUGAR, CANE SYRUP, GRANULATED SUGAR, HONEY, AGAVE OR OTHER SWEETENERS.
Bananas:  $.69/each at 6 lbsSun Butter: $6.49/Jar ~$11 Sun butter is made from sunflower seeds.  It can be found in the natural section at Kroger.Serve the sunbutter spread on the bananas.This is A gluten free snack.
12 Apples and 2 Large Blocks of Whole Milk Cheddar Cheese No specifically recommended brands. Apples:
Organic 3 lb Bag $5.49/bagNonorganic 3 lb bag: $3.57Cheddar Cheese:  ~3.99/Block
$11-$13
6 Cucumbers and 1 Container of Plain Hummus Sabra Classic Hummus

Hummus: $3.99/eachCucumbers:  .75/each ~$11 This is a gluten free snack.  Sabra hummus contains <20 ppm gluten.
1 Box Plain Shredded Wheat and 2 Containers Whole Milk Yogurt -Mom’s Best Cereals’ Toasted Wheat-Fuls- Post Shredded Wheat Shredded Wheat:  Mom’s Best, $3.09/Package
Post Shredded Wheat,
$3.99/BoxYogurt:
Dannon: $3.99/Container
Greek Gods:
Stonyfield: $4.99/Container
$11-$14 Eat separately or use yogurt as a dip.Soak shredded wheat in yogurt for a few minutes to soften it.
2 Containers Cottage Cheese and 2 Packages Celery Sticks. 1 small pack raisins. COTTAGE CHEESE BRANDS AVAILABLE AT KROGER:
– Horizon Organic Cottage Cheese
– Kroger Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milk Fat
– Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese, 4% Milkfat
PLEASE: NO COTTAGE CHEESE WITH FRUIT ADDED
Cottage Cheese:
Kroger Brand: $3.99/Container Horizon Organic
2.79/Container
Daisy Brand: $3.39/ContainerCelery:
Celery Hearts $2.49/bag
~$10-$13
1 Can Chickpeas and 12 Bananas CHICKPEA BRANDS AVAILABLE AT KROGER:
– Simple Truth
Chickpeas:
Simple Truth
$1.29/CanBananas:  $.69/each at 6 lbs
~$6 Served chickpeas and bananas separately, or stack the chickpeas on slices of banana.This is a gluten free snack
2 Containers Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Chopped in Half and 12 Cheese Sticks Cheese Sticks Available at Kroger:
-Horizon Organic Cheese Sticks
– Sargento Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sticks
– Sargento Colby Jack Cheese Sticks
PLEASE: NO NON FAT, LOW FAT OR 2% CHEESE
Cheese Sticks:Horizon Organic:
Sargento: 3.99/12 SticksTomatoes:
10 oz grape, $2.99
20 oz grape, $3.99
10.5 Oz Cherry, $3.49Organic Cherry, $3.99
~$10 This is a gluten free snack.

Healthy Snack List for Preschool and Daycare

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Living Without a Microwave

We use our stove for everything.

August 28, 2013 | Posted in Eating Well, Personal, Weight Management | By

There is something missing from my kitchen.  It drives visiting family nuts and confuses babysitters.

We are living without a microwave.

Surprisingly, we don’t have a microwave for the “usual” reasons that natural-minded families dislike microwaves.  I’m not worried about radiation or cancer risk (although I’m sure I would be if I wasn’t already anti microwave).  Living without a microwave is different for us.

Living Without a Microwave: The Surprising Reason We Have No Microwave - Total Lifestyle Management . com

I don’t like how easy the microwave makes it to eat.

In our house, delicious food cannot be easy to find or make because we will eat it immediately and copiously.  The only foods that we can consume quickly are fruits, vegetables, a toasted piece of my  homemade Ezekiel bread and some homemade hummus.  Our immediate food options are still above and beyond that of our foraging ancestors, who only had surrounding vegetation as an immediate snack.

So, why are we living without a microwave?

We know ourselves well.  We know that we have little willpower in the face of deliciousness.  We know that we are snackers at heart.  And the microwave makes that all too easy – you can take a few ingredients, pop them in the microwave and remove deliciousness just a few moments later.  No time to think about what you’re doing.  No lag between unnecessary-desire-to-eat and actually eating.   Food becomes so readily accessible that it becomes under appreciated and is eaten without being savored.

Your great grandparents and great great grandparents didn’t have that luxury.  If they wanted something to eat, they had to go out to the garden to pick it, get eggs from the chicken coup or slaughter a chicken before they could even step foot in the kitchen.  Then, they could chop the vegetables, cook the meat, bake the bread.

At the inception of cooking a meal, your great grandparents had already done more work than we do for all three of our daily meals.   I think they had a different appreciation for their food than we do.  They appreciated the blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing food and so they did not take advantage of it.  They did not eat more than was needed.  They treated food like a precious resource, almost like we now treat water, electricity and oil.  Instead, we treat food as an entitlement.  In a way, food was holy –  And it should be again.  One of the definitions of “sacred” is devoted exclusively to the service or use of something.  In the case of food, it is sacred because it is meant to be devoted exclusively to the service of nourishing our god-given bodies.

Keeping the microwave out of our house helps us to bring the holiness back into eating.  It helps us return to honoring ourselves and giving respect to our bodies.  Yes, at 2 AM sometimes you wish you have a microwave to warm milk for a baby – but for us, it’s worth it.

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The Healthiest Store Bought Pizza : AC LaRocca’s Ultra Thin Crust Pizza

AC LaRoccos Ultra Thin Crust Sprouted Grain Pizza

August 25, 2013 | Posted in Eating Well | By

We don’t often get store bought pizza, but when we do we get the healthiest store bought pizza we can!

I almost always cook dinner from scratch.  If it’s not made from scratch then we splurge and order out.  I never buy something from the grocery store and reheat it – I just haven’t been satisfied with the options available to me, especially for pizza.

Until now.

I have finally found a premade dinner I am OK with eating.  I think it’s the healthiest store bought pizza I’ve ever seen!

The Healthiest Store Bought Pizza I've Ever Had: AC LaRocco's Ultra Thin Sprouted Grain Crust Pizza

The Healthiest Store Bought Pizza I Ever Had

A. C. LaRocco’s Ultra Thin Crust Pizza in Old World Veggie.  It’s a thin grain crust topped with diced tomatoes, spinach, onions, garlic, red peppers, oregano, rosemary and thyme.  The entire pizza is 340 calories, with 20 grams of complete protein (has all the amino acids your body needs), 6 grams of fiber, only 16% of your daily carbohydrate requirements, 50% of your daily value of vitamin C, 60% Vitamin A, 20% Calcium and 16% iron.  Can you see why it’s the healthiest store bought pizza, now??

My only “dislike” is the sodium value, weighing in at 32% of your daily sodium value for the entire pizza.  It’s something I would serve in moderation to toddlers, kids or people on low sodium diets (depends how strict you are and how you coordinate it with the rest of your food for the day).  However, I’m conscientious about sodium consumption so I can get away with it… especially since we consume very little sodium before dinner time

The pizza is all-natural but does have added ascorbic acid, sodium bicarbonate (a component of baking powder), calcium chloride (a firming agent) and xantham gum.  I prefer my food free of any stuff, but I’m still sold on the calorie count.

And did I mention it’s delicious?  It’s a small pizza, so it’s appropriate to eat for an entire meal based on the calorie count.  I usually share it with my husband along with  several vegetable side dishes because my rule is to have a plate at least half full with veggies.

So  What’s the secret to this pizza?  A sprouted grain crust.  Gotta love sprouting – that’s how this pizza has so much protein.

At about 8″ in diameter, this pizza is on the small size.  There are other flavors this is the only one that’s so low in calories and high in protein.

The pizza usually sells for around $6, but I picked up a stack of them on closeout at Kroger for $3.49 – can’t beat that!  You can visit their web site at Better4ufoods.com.

UPDATE 4/10/2015:  I seems that AC Larocco has been acquired by another brand.  I am not sure if the brand is keeping this product line, but it looks like they are.  Please check the nutrition information on the packaging to make sure it’s still the same – it’s not uncommon for brands to change recipes!

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