Wednesday, May 30, 2012

80's fashion and Chia Pudding

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to chia seeds.  If you don't remember, there are supposedly a lot of health benefits to consuming chia seeds.  

I agree though.  I still think it's weird to eat these babies.
However, here is why I think you should regularly consume chia.  If they do happen to be the super-food that recent studies are proposing them to be, then you will be glad you have been including them in your diet.  If, in the future, they end up being something that we all are laughing about haven eaten, you will be glad that you are in on the joke with the rest of us.  Chia seeds are sort of like tight rolling your jeans.  We all look back and think, "why did I ever do that?" but, yet, we are all glad that during those years we fit in the crowd with everyone else.  

Could you imagine today being that one person at a party that says, "I never tight rolled my jeans?"  It would be social suicide.

I already told you that you can eat chia in your breakfast oatmeal.  Another way you can try chia is in chia pudding.  

Chia Pudding

  • 1/4 cup whole chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla brown rice protein powder (I used plain protein powder, Tera's Whey)
  • 1 T rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 drops of liquid stevia, or other natural sweetener
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
1.  In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except the banana and blueberries.  Stir.  A lot.
2.  Let sit on the counter or in the fridge for 8-10 minutes. Stir in the banana, top with blueberries and enjoy!
Mix it up well.

Let sit for a bit.  Go tight roll your jeans.  For old times sake.

Combine with your mix-ins.

Eating chia is strange.  But, definitely not the strangest thing I've ever done.  I'll save that story for a later day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

triathletes and recovery food

I am a triathlete.

OK, here's the fine print on that statement.  The triathalon was at the local YMCA and some of our competitors were old enough to be great-grandparents.  My great-grandparent.  Also, I did not do the swim portion of the triathalon and I got lost during the 5k run and ended up crossing the finish line from the wrong direction.  

That being said, in my mind, I am a triathlete.  Here's the details, in pictures.

1/4 mile swim.

5 mile bike.

5k (+1/3 mile to find the finish line) run

This is something my oldest mini has been begging me to do with him.  And even though I felt like barfing for my 36-minute portion of the race and the only part I actually enjoyed was watching him swim, I have been talked into doing it again.  He's kind of hard to say no to.

Speaking of my oldest mini, I took him to the pediatrician last week for a physical.  She expressed some concern because my oldest mini had fallen off his growth curve.  He has always been in the 50%ile for height and weight.  He dropped slightly off his height curve, this didn't surprise me, as he has spinal deformities that are progressively worsening, so as he grows, he doesn't grow straight.  Over time, we would expect him to fall off his vertical height growth curve.  However, he really dropped off his weight curve, from the 50%ile to the 30%ile.  Of course, the over-paranoid mother that I am, I initially started doubting my decision to change our eating habit as drastically has we have this year.  But, logically, I couldn't accept that he would be better off eating processed food and weighing a bit more than following the diet we eat now.  I decided to try not to worry about it.  Then, the other day, my oldest mini told me he wanted to make lunch for himself.  As he sat down with a heaping plate of food, I realized this.....if we all ate like him, we'd all be in the 30%ile!  And ever since then, my mind has been at ease.

For the sake of honesty, I did make one huge concession.  My oldest mini has swim team practice every night from 6-7:30.  That is 90 minutes of swimming laps, which is a huge calorie burner!  Unfortunately, he has no appetite after practice, so I have decided to let him drink one of these each night.  Over the last few years I have read that chocolate milk is the ideal post-workout recovery drink and my oldest mini is thrilled with that!

Another post recovery food that I enjoy is Larabars.  I have never actually bought a Larabar, but I have had plenty of them as freebies given to me.  Larabars are tasty and are actually made of real ingredients.  For instance, the peanut butter cookie Larabar has peanuts, dates, and salt.  So, actually, Larabars are an acceptable convenience food item for the McGhee family.  The downside to Larabars is that they are really, I'm talking nearly $2 a bar. So, I set myself a goal to find a way to make my own Larabars.    What I discovered is that making my own is fast, easy, and delish!!!

  • 1 cupe packed dates
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1-2 pinches of salt
1.  Add dates to a food processor and run it until the dates become sticky and well-chopped.
2.  Add peanuts to the food processor.  Run in bursts until the peanuts are chopped to the desired consistency.
3.  Add chocolate to the processor and run in bursts.
4.  Add salt to the processor and run another burst or two.
5.  Put the mixture in a glass pan and press down.  Let it chill for a bit before eating.  Go for a run while bars are chilling.  Recover with your bars.  And perhaps some chocolate milk.

Here is what dates look like before.....

...and after.....

With Peanuts, chocolate, and salt added.

Pressed into a pan.  Ready to chill.  

I urge you to try these!!!!  If you're cutting calories, fat, carbs....leave out the chocolate chips.  For a few dollars, I made about 8-10 Larabars, which would cost me about $20.  Score!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This week was the last week of school for my minis.  My tiny, girlie mini had her last day of school on Tuesday.  Here she is, very excited because she was going to celebrate her summer birthday with her classmates that day.

My boy minis had their last day on Wednesday.  They're looking forward to a summer of swimming, baseball, vacations, puppy-time, and lazy days with their mama.  Here they are on their last day of school.

You're probably wondering why my boy minis look like drowned rats on their last day of school.  Well, this is why.  They were ambushed.  By me.

First, I did this (don't mind the Happy Birthday balloons, it was nobody's birthday but all we had in the house).....

Not impressed?  You shouldn't be.  All this was simply my cover-up.  This here was my ambush....

When I picked my minis up from school I told them I had a surprise for them.  When we got home, they were less than impressed with my surprise, but humored me as I asked them to please stand in front of the garage so I could take their picture.  While they were standing there posing instead of getting my camera, I snuck onto the front porch and grabbed my water balloons and AMBUSH!  It was awesome, lots of screaming and running.

But, I forgot one thing.  Mama didn't raise no fools.  Guess where they ran?  Guess who ended up looking like she peed her pants?

A great time was had by all.  And once we all dried off, we did what only made sense.....enjoyed homemade popsicles!

I made these popsicles using a smoothie recipe that was passed on to me from my  best friend.  She has recently fallen in love again with fruits and vegetables, so she calls me regularly to gush about the beautiful produce she has in her fridge.  And then we spend hours talking about all the different ways we can eat fruits and vegetables.  It's lovely.  Not odd in any sort of way.

Best Friend's Fruit Smoothie (for those of you on weight watchers, I believe this is zero points)

  • handful of strawberries
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • whole cucumber (peeled or unpeeled;  I peel, best friend does not peel.  She's always been more of a badass than me.)
  • small handful of spinach (you can experiment with the amount of spinach)
1.  Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend WELL.

I added fresh mint from my garden when I made my fruit smoothie.  It was lovely.  Until I choked on that cute little mint leave that I put in there for photographic purposes.

This is a TRUE fruit smoothie.  This is what a fruit smoothie should taste like.....FRUIT!  If you are someone that loves fruit smoothies made out of a can of smoothie mix or ice cream, you will probably be disappointed in this.  If you are someone who can appreciate fruit for what it is, I think you'll love this.

I made a second batch of this smoothie and poured it into popsicle molds.  My minis loved them!

Happy Summer!!!  And to moms everywhere, I highly recommend a water balloon ambush on your minis!  Just make sure to hide the hose!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bucket Lists

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to put a running goal on my bucket list.  At the time, in my mind, there was only one goal worth putting on the list, and that was running the Boston Marathon.  However, in order to run the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify by finishing a qualifying marathon within a certain time.  So, I signed up to run the St. Jude's Childrens Hospital Marathon.  

Now, I wish this was an inspirational story where I could tell you I ran my qualifying marathon and finished with a qualifying time.  But I didn't.  I was on pace to do so and then something happened right after mile 20 and when I finished, I had missed my qualifying time by several minutes.  And as I limped away, completely chafed and missing 4 toenails, I realized something.....bucket lists are live documents and therefore are subject to being changed at any point in time.  So I happily went home and edited my bucket list, which now looks like this....

finish a marathon and live to tell about it.

I may be pointing out the obvious here, but training for a marathon involves a lot of running.  I discovered that while I do love running, I don't particularly love getting up at 4 am to run 20 miles in the rain on Saturday mornings.  The bright side to marathon training, and perhaps the thing I loved best was carboloading.  Every Thursday night for months I made the same pasta dinner and I wolfed it down with a loaf of garlic bread, completely guiltless.  Now, I am telling you right now....unless you are training for a marathon and burning 2000 calories in 3 hours every weekend, do not eat this pasta dish on a regular basis.  But, if you're curious as to what cream, butter, cheese, and pesto taste like, give it a try.  But just once.  Unless you're making an addition to your bucket list.

Anyway, the reason I am telling you all this is because the other day I stumbled upon this recipe, and after reading the bloggers description I had to try it.  Just to see if it topped my beloved marathon training pasta.  

Spaghetti with Lemon and Parmesan
  • 1 cup (250ml (8.45 fluid ounces)) cream
  • 3 cups finely grated Parmesan/Pecorino cheese
  • juice and rind of one lemon
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2tbsn freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 500g (17.64 ounces) spaghetti, cooked and 1 cup of cooking water reserved

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.
  • Toss with the cooked spaghetti and add some of the reserved cooking water to loosen it up a bit if necessary.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and some extra Parmesan if required.

Here's what I have to say about this dish.  I ate it.  Mr. McGhee at it.  The minis all ate it.  Success.  Nobody said one word about it.  It was neither great nor disgusting.  But, it was easy and quick to make, which was important because it gave me time to enjoy this.

I served the pasta with tomato parmesan.  

Tomato Parmesan
  • tomatoes
  • basil
  • mozzarella, shredded
  • parmesan/pecorino, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
1.  Preheat oven to 450F.  
2.  Cut the tomatoes in half and lay on a baking sheet.
3.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper the tomatoes.
4.  Lay a basil leaf on each tomato.
5.  Pile cheese on top of basil leaves.
6.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes.  Then broil an additional 1-3 minutes until brown and bubbly.

We love these parmesan tomatoes.  I want to warn you though, the tomatoes are mushy.  I think that next time I will skip the baking and just broil to see if that keeps the firmness of the tomatoes a bit more.  

Before I sign off, I just want to say...I think it's important to have a bucket list in life.  I love to dream of adventures and challenges I want to experience in life, but I find that when I write things down, they often go from something I dream about to something I am doing.  It is amazing how when you put those dreams out there in the universe, the universe will find a way for those dreams to come true.  And for those of you with minis, show your kids what it looks like when mommy chases her dreams.  If for no other reason, than this......

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweeeeeeet potatoes!!!

I'm starting to notice a trend here.  About every 30 days, I have to come on to my blog and admit that we have slipped into our old ways and had a couple of days of bad food choices.  I am not sure if that's human nature or  what, but since I'm human...I'm using that as my excuse.

Saturday looked like this in the McGhee household....8 am swim practice, 10 am swim team meeting, 11 am hair appointment, 1 pm baseball pictures, 2 pm birthday party, 3 pm baseball game, 5 pm formal fundraiser.  9 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, noon, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4 pm, let puppy out to pee.  Somewhere around 10:30 am, I gave up and realized when in survival mode, one is not picky about what one eats.  And when one begins to lower ones standards slightly, a rapid decline in ones standards is quick to follow.  

Basically what I'm trying to tell you is that I ate like crap this weekend.  And I think I am trying to blame it on my minis and my puppy.  What's in the past is now in the past (and my past includes hot dogs, pizza, and tequila), so I am moving forward today and getting us all back on track.

If you are one of my regular readers you know that one of my true loves in life is sweet potato kale quinoa.  I have made that dish for so many people and everyone loves it (once they get past the quinoa looking like ants all over the sweet potatoes).  

Since I love the sweet potato-kale combo so much, I went on a hunt for another recipe that combines the two veggies.  As a sidenote, I am starting to realize I need to stop looking for recipes and start writing more of my own.  I end up changing 95% of the recipes I find and always feel like "I could do better than this" when eating the food.  And, yes, this is one of those recipes....but I'll give you the original recipe and then recommendations on how I would change it.

Loaded Sweet Potato Skins

What You Need 
  • 4 to 6 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds – make sure they are all around the same size) 
  • 1 shallot 
  • About half a bunch kale (enough for 2 cups kale) 
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked (I omitted the chickepeas)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (we used a blend of Monterrey jack and cheddar, next time I will use 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese) 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Fresh ground pepper 
  • Olive oil 
  • Sour cream and green onions, to garnish

What To Do
1  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the sweet potatoes, and prick them with a fork. Rub them with oil, and sprinkle with some kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until tender. (If you are crunched for time, you can pierce potato with a fork and bake in microwave).  
2  Meanwhile, finely chop the shallot. Roughly chop the kale. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the shallot until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the kale, and saute for a few minutes, until tender. Set aside.
3  When the potatoes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit. Cut them in half and scoop out about 1/2 of the inside, making sure to keep a layer of sweet potato within the skin so that it can stand on its own. In a bowl, mash the sweet potato, then add 1 cupchickpeas (drained and rinsed, if using canned), 1 cup shredded cheesekale, 3/4 teaspoonkosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.
4  Fill each potato skin with the filling (you may have some left over). If desired, you could top with more shredded cheese as well (though we did not). Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream and sliced green onions.  (I did not serve with sour cream.  Next time, I will drizzle with balsamic vinegar).

Prepare your sweet potato.

Mix your filling.

These were pretty good as written.  I think with a few changes that I suggested, they will be delish!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The key to happiness in life is low standards.

OK, so you all probably know me better than to believe that I really mean that.  But, seriously, isn't it wonderful when you have low standards for something and it turns out great?  I'm referring specifically to food when I say that, of course.

Yesterday, I threw some things in the crockpot and had no clue how it would turn out and low and behold, it was a total hit.  Here's the recipe.

Heids McGhee's low standards crockpot Mexican chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 chicken legs
  • taco seasoning (I used my homemade seasoning)
  • jar of salsa (I used deli made at my local market)
  • can of black beans
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of corn (canned or frozen)
  • cilantro (from my herb garden)
  • chives (from my herb garden)
  • tortillas
  • shredded cheese (Mr. McGhee and I used pepper-jack, the minis used cheddar)
  • sour cream
  • avocado, diced
1.  Put the chicken in the crockpot.  Sprinkle with taco seasoning and pour in salsa.  Stir.  Cook on high until chicken is done.  Mine took about 3.5-4 hours.

2.  Remove chicken and shred.  Return shredded chicken to crockpot and add corn and black beans.  Cook on low another hour.

3.  Serve on tortillas.  Add cheese, fresh cilantro and chives, sour cream, and avocados.

Eat while enjoying the pouring rain and the double rainbow that it brings.  Realize key to happiness is not having low standards, but finding happiness amidst the rain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Present Moment Living

Happy belated Mother's Day to all my mommy readers!  I hope you all had a fabulous day, I was blessed to have a fantastic weekend!  On Saturday, Mr. McGhee and I dropped the boy minis off at swim practice and we took the tiny mini to the greenhouse where we bought vegetables and fruits to plant.

We spent a good part of the day on Saturday planting our garden beds, watermelon patch, pumpkin patch, raspberry patch, and herb garden.  We also spent a good part of the day explaining garden hose etiquette to the boy minis, and then laughing hysterically as we broke our own rules by spraying them in the face.  

Is it just me, or is this a total American Gothic moment?

On Sunday, we did a little more planting and a lot of this.

(Take note of the phone in my hand, I am about to address that).

And, at some point on Mother's Day, when I was looking around my backyard, I realized....I've got a lot of wonderful things in my life that really need my attention.

Lately I have been really working hard to practice present moment living.  I have realized that I have been blessed to be given a wonderful life, who am I to not immerse myself and enjoy it?  One thing about present moment living is you have to limit distractions as much as possible and I have a distraction in my life that I realize is a huge hurdle in my desire to live in the present moment.  And, that distraction is the internet, specifically facebook, pinterest, and email.

Anyone who is Facebook friends with me knows that yesterday I let everyone know I am cutting way back on social networking.  I am not trying to turn this into another big resolution (giving up processed foods has been challenging enough), but it is more of a step towards my desire to lead a a more "present-moment" life. I am not someone who is addicted to Facebook, I rarely update my status or add pictures....however, I am totally guilty of when I find that my brain is bored, I often reach for the iPad and check out what is going on in the Facebook world.

And this is what I have learned in the past few years.  Facebook is one of the worst thing that has ever happened to human civilization.  And, if you disagree, and think Facebook is the best thing that has ever happened to you, I challenge you to re-examine the relationships you have in your life.  If something wonderful happens to you, and the first thing you do is reach for your phone to update your Facebook status, that is a huge problem.  If something terrible happens to you and the first thing you do is reach for your phone to update your Facebook status, you have an even bigger problem.  Because here's the deal, of the 25 people that comment on your status to give you sympathy and say they will pray for you, 24 of them won't.  I would even venture to say that all 25 of them won't.  And, does reading those 25 comments really bring you comfort in your saddness? You know what will?  Having a relationship with a best friend (or sister) that you can call and she will say, "I've got on my sweats and I have a  bottle of wine.  I am coming over and we will cry together."  And, for pete's sake, when something good happens, call that friend that will jump up and down on the phone and scream, "I've got on my sweats and I have a bottle of champagne.  I am coming over and we will celebrate together."

Facebook is changing the definition of the word friend.  It puts the person you went to 3rd grade with and haven't talked to in 30 years in the same category as the person who lays in bed at night worrying about you when they know you are upset.

So, I am challenging all of you to think about what I said.  I am NOT challenging any of you to give up Facebook (I am still challenging you to give up processed foods, though).  I know I will not close my Facebook account completely.  I have amazing friends (ones that I call regularly and they hug me even when I have snot bubbles from crying) that live far away from me.  I have a sister with incredible minis that lives far away from me as well.  And, I have online friends from all over the world that I meant through a support system when my oldest mini was born.  So, I know I will still bop into Facebook occasionally to check up on these important people in my life.  But, to the other 310 friends on my Facebook account, my home has an open door and I would love to give you my time and attention.

Now, I know that some of you may be scratching your heads right now.  Why would a blogger encourage people to get off the internet and focus on connecting with the people in their lives rather than the people on the computer screen?  I started this blog to inspire people to give up processed foods, and have quickly realized that  my blogging is about so much more.  I have learned that I can impact people's lives and inspire them to make healthy choices.  And that, in turn, has made me evaluate my life and really think about what is my purpose, what legacy do I want to leave?  That is a scary question to ask yourself, because we all know that the life we want others to think we lead is often vastly different from the life that we actually do lead.  So, I am committing myself to being authentic and I think the easiest way to be authentic is to strive to live in the moment.  And I know by writing this, I realize, I am totally putting myself out there....but everytime I put myself out there, the response and encouragement I receive is overwhelming.

So, there you have it.  Another new goal for Heids McGhee.  Authenticity.  Present moment living.  And, in the spirit of authenticity, I need to let you know...this weekend, in a desperate moment we went through the McDonald's drive through for lunch.  And, I bought dark chocolate almond milk (which has more than 5 ingredients).  And, I may have lost my cool when my tiny mini dumped an entire 12 ounce glass of the dark chocolate almond milk on my bedroom carpet.  And, I did shoot Mr. McGhee my "why the hell are you giving a 3 year old a 12 oz glass of dark chocolate almond milk with directions of 'go find mommy'?" look.  And, I am failing miserably at potty training my puppy.  And, I have a dress to wear on Saturday that doesn't  zip, yet I just ate a brick of cheese and a banana/dark chocolate almond milk/peanut butter smoothie for lunch.

Total authenticity.

And, if you've made it this far and are still reading....God Bless Ya!  Believe it or not, I've actually got a recipe to share.  This is a roasted carrot recipe that was super easy to make and we all loved it.


  • 6-8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise down the center
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (I used dried, didn't have fresh)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh parsley, chopped (I had some, forgot to add it!)


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Mix vinegar, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and olive oil.  
  3. Place carrots round side down side-by-side on a baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together balsamic and brown sugar until combined. Add olive oil. Drizzle the whole mixture over carrots. Toss to coat.
  5. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots are crisp-tender and caramelized (cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of your carrots). Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Super easy and totally delish.  And, I just realized, I didn't plant any carrots in my garden.  That's tragic!