Save Money, Eat Healthy Food, Invest in Your Life {part 3/3}

in case you missed them:  part 1 and part 2

I’m thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed this series.  I’ve loved reading your comments, and if there are any other tips you have that weren’t listed, please share in the comments today.  I look forward to posting more “health coaching stuff” type of posts in the future :)

grocery haul - spring

Here are a few more basic tips to wrap up the series:

–> ALWAYS read the ingredients list.

This is more important than the “nutrition facts” section, which you really don’t need to ever look at.  The most healthful food doesn’t have an ingredients list (because it’s just one whole food), but whenever it does, find out; WHAT is in your food and Where did this food come from.  That’s the information that you need to know and that’s what will help you decide what items to choose.

For example, if there is less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving in a packaged food, the company can write “0g trans fat” on the label.  They’re legally allowed to round down.  But if you read the ingredients list and notice that there’s “hydrogenated oil” listed, you know that there’s some trans fat in that food – and any trans fat is dangerous.  See how that can be deceiving?

Some questions you can ask yourself if you’re pondering a purchase that may be helpful:  Is what I’m choosing a whole food?  Did it come from a plant or animal?  Is it one ingredient or ten?  How do I feel after I consume this?

Always read the ingredients list so that you know what it is you’re buying and eating.

–> Do some of your shopping online.

I’ve found that there are several staples I like to have in our pantry that I can purchase for a much better price if I purchase them online.  For our home, some of those items include; chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseed, nut and seed butters, oats and other whole grains, honey, maple syrup, blue corn tortilla chips, vanilla extract, coconut flour, cocoa powder, canned pumpkin, avocado oil mayo, and dark chocolate bars(!) and baking chips.

There are three main places I shop for these: Swanson Vitamins*, Thrive Market*, and Amazon.

*referral links

–> Make your own versions.

Granola, salads (the veg kind or the fruit kind), muffins, snack bars, dressing, hummus, french fries, smoothies, bread, trail mix, kombucha, desserts – there are endless recipes online with a quick google search to make your own versions of food for a fraction of the price.  You’ll know exactly what the ingredients are, it doesn’t require much of your time, and it can be a lot of fun to experiment!
(this is where ‘cook once, eat twice‘ really comes into play, too!)

–> Grow your own.

Plant a garden, grow herbs on your windowsill, cultivate potted veggies, etc. (I did this last one the last summer we lived in Minnesota and loved it – I grew bell peppers, jalepenos, and tomatoes right in pots on our front patio).

–> Let go of the pressure and stress.

Never buy something because you think you *should* or *shouldn’t*.  Don’t give into pressure, for better or worse – use your brain, trust your instincts, and let go of the stress that can so easily creep in when you’re trying to make “all the right decisions.”  A little trial-and-error, nutrition education, and balance will go a long way.

–> Do your best to choose healthful items and be grateful for all of the beautiful, available food we get to nourish our bodies with.

In an ideal world, “organic” wouldn’t be a label on certain, more expensive foods – it would just be how all of our food is grown (as it used to be years ago).  Unfortunately though, that’s not how things are now.  Do I think it’s best for us all to eat all organic food?  Of course.  But is it true that organic food is accessible and available to us all?  No, not even close.  So I say pick and choose what’s important to you, and choose what feels right.  Conventional produce is always better than no produce!

I also want to shed light on your WHY – it’s key for you to find your motivation for eating well.  Is it so you’ll feel better day to day, with fewer headaches, bloating, or aches and pains?  Is it so you set yourself up to have an active, happy future with your children and family?  Is it so you can honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) even in the small decisions you make each day?  Grasp that why and let it guide your choices.

Find a balance that really works for your lifestyle, do the best that you can for yourself and your family, and be proud of that.  That’s enough.  That’s what will bring you health.

–> Remember that every time you shop you get to vote with your dollar!


 Please feel free to leave any other suggestions you may have in the comments below!

Save Money, Eat Healthy Food, Invest in Your Life {part 2/3}

in case you missed it:  part 1

There’s a popular stigma about eating healthy, and it’s that “healthy eating” means eating very little.  And friends, that’s simply just not true.  Overeating aside, of course, there are so many real foods out there to enjoy, there’s no need to shortchange yourself!

Today’s suggestions focus in on the shopping aspect.

bulk bins at the grocery store

Here are a few more ways to save money while eating well (and plenty)!

–> Buy staples in bulk.

-Nuts and seeds
-oats, rice, any whole grains
-bags of produce (like a bag of potatoes or apples instead of just a few)
-beans and lentils (cooking your own is super inexpensive and easy – utilize your crockpot here!)
-yogurt (the larger tubs instead of the single serve containers)
-cheese (blocks instead of already shredded)
-meat (especially if buying from a local farmer)

Remember though that it’s only a good value to buy more at a time if you will eat them.  Otherwise, it’s just more wasted food and, therefore, wasted money.

–> Shop sales.

You can get aggressive with this and watch weekly ads, or you can wing it a bit when you’re at the store (like swapping turkey for chicken if you get there and see the turkey is on sale).

I love when frozen fruits and veggies are sale – it’s a great time to buy a few extras in advance since they’ll be perfectly fine in the freezer for a bit.  You can also buy more meat and beans when they’re on sale and freeze them for future use.

Same rule applies here though as above – don’t just buy something because it’s on sale – only get it if you’re going to use it.

–> Purchase in-season produce.

I’ve done a blog post for every month of the year about what produce is in season (you can use the search box on the right side bar if you’re curious) – this ensures you a better price and fresher food.

Pro Tip: utilize frozen produce during the wintertime, especially if you live in a very cold place this time of year.  Fruits and veggies are frozen at their peak of ripeness and as long as you don’t nuke them in the microwave every time, their nutrients are perfectly in tact!

–> Buy locally whenever possible.

-Visit your local farmers’ market

-Purchase products in bulk from nearby farms (especially meat since that goes right into your freezer and will be a fraction of the cost of a store).

-Join a CSA.  (click here to find one near you)

–> Pass on drinks.

Soda pop, high sugar juices, alcohol, etc. – they aren’t beneficial for your body (particularly when consume frequently) and they can quickly chip away at your budget.

–> Explore and compare different stores.

No need to buy everything at the same store every week.  Shop around a bit and see what stores hold the best value for foods you love and purchase often.  You might find that certain stores have more choices for you as well.

For me, I do the majority of our shopping at Trader Joe’s (I wish everyone had access to one!), but I also get bits and pieces at places like Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway (in CA, HyVee when we were in MN).


Be on the lookout for the final post in this series, coming Friday!

Save Money, Eat Healthy Food, Invest in Your Life {part 1/3}

There’s extra attention on eating healthfully this time of year, which overall, is a fantastic thing.  Along with that interest in eating better, the thought/comment that “I can’t afford to eat healthy” often makes it way into conversations, too.  Long story short, I completely disagree that it’s “too expensive” to eat well, and more often than not, that comment comes from a person who has little to no education on whole food nutrition.

As someone who budgets and can’t stand to waste money or food, I thought it would make a fun series on the blog to share what I share with my health coaching clients – ways to save money on healthful food and ensure you also have a healthy mindset about what you purchase and consume.  These are just the basics, but they’re things I remind myself of from time to time just to refresh and refocus, so hopefully this will be beneficial for you as well.

grocery cart 12.2.12

To kickoff a 3 part series, I’m going to share with you some of my advice for eating healthfully within a extremely reasonable food budget, all while investing in your health, for today and for your future.

So without further ado, here are my two cents ;)  . . .

–> First and foremost, decide on your priorities.

Truth #1: Americans spend less on food than people in any other developed country.
Truth #2: In many rankings (onset of diseases, early preventable death rates, mental illness, stress vs. happiness levels, etc.), Americans fall to the bottom in comparison with nearly all other developed countries.

I don’t believe those two are coincidental.

While the truth is that we’re all going to die at some point and we certainly can’t prevent everything, it feels fair to say that we can either invest in our health now (by lifestyle choices) or pay for our health later (pharmaceutical drugs, surgeries, etc.).  It’s simple yet profound to understand the direct impact the food we consume has on our bodies and minds.

And just to be clear, this does not mean that you need to eat all organic food, because while that would be awesome, it’s not practical for everyone or everything – it’s not at all the only way to make healthy choices.  I’ll address this more later.

–> Plan meals (and snacks).  Make a shopping list and stick to it.

Wasted Food = Wasted Money.

–> Never. Shop. when you’re Hungry.

Ever.  Just avoid it.  Pack a snack in your purse/bag so that if you’re ever running errands and get hungry, you can avoid getting groceries on an empty stomach.

–> Cook Once, Eat Twice.  (or three times or four)

Homecooking saves tons of money and is exponentially better for your health.  I’m a big fan of this saying because leftovers make my time spent cooking even more worthwhile – it allows for extras to be reheated for lunches or dinners on busy nights.

If you have an especially busy schedule and cooking dinner most nights just isn’t an option for you, I highly recommend picking a day each week, preferably the day your grocery shop, to spend one hour or less prepping food to grab throughout the week.  If you’re looking for inspiration, check out Lindsay and all of her awesome prepping ideas.

–> Do the preparation yourself.

This might add just a few seconds (literally) to your cooking, but it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run because you’ll get more for your money.  Shred your own lettuce, cut your own carrots, slice your own fruit, make a whole pan of healthy snack bars, dice your own chicken, mix up your own seasonings, etc.  This is a simple way to increase the value of your purchases, and it’s also a fun way to get kids involved in the kitchen after a shopping trip.


stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

My Thoughts on the “Holiday Fix” Craze

Coming in at second place behind political arguments, my social media news feeds have been plastered lately with holiday health fixes.

A “holiday fix,” as I’m calling it, refers to those 24-day challenges, meal replacements so you can skip some holiday food (womp womp), intense workout and meal plans to avoid gaining an ounce (the horror!) over the course of 6 weeks, etc.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, I’m annoyed of it, and I hope you don’t fall for it.  You don’t need to be “fixed” for Christmas.

I’m a certified Health Coach so, of course, this is not to say I don’t care about your health (or that you shouldn’t).  This is to say, however, that if you’re stressing so much about your body changing dramatically in the month of December that it’s making you miserable or driving you to starve, overeat, over-exercise, or pay ridiculous amounts of money for someone to order you to do those things, you’re doing it wrong.  You may also need to dig deeper into a more suitable, healthier (particularly mentally) lifestyle.

This time of year is not about fear, worry, or stress  – it should be just the opposite – it’s about anticipation, joy, preparation, togetherness, giving, and, ultimately, love.

What also bothers me about that marketing is that it seems to be using Christmas, a joyous season about God literally coming to earth to save us, as a way to make money and make people feel guilty for enjoying the fun traditions and experiences that surround us in this season.

To wrap up my rant, here are my two cents on your health this holiday season:

  • If your main goal is “just getting through” this time of year because of your worries, please reassess why you feel that way.  It’s likely your priorities are on worldly things and/or you’ve given in to the societal pressures of December. . . in which case, breathe my friend.  Refocus on what’s truly important and don’t wish this time away, you’ll never get it back again.
  • Buying/giving gifts is incredibly fun, but know your presence is the best gift you can give.
  • FOOD . . . it’s a big part of celebrating!  And this is a beautiful thing.  Don’t view it as something bad, look at it as one piece of the puzzle and stop worrying about every single thing that crosses your lips.  If you expect to finish Christmas dinner and feel so full you’ll declare you’re not eating for a year, maybe reign it in a bit (because we all know that feeling is not worth going over the top for).  But if your grandma makes her special pie just for Christmas dinner and it’s your favorite ever, eat some!  Is skipping dessert going to be a special memory for you in 10 years?  I really doubt it.  Enjoy it, people.
  • The exercise aspect?  If it fits into your holiday plans, great!  Maybe even do something fun with people you’re with (for example, I’m already really excited to workout with my sister when we’re home!  It’s possibly my favorite way to bond with her.)  And if there isn’t time for exercise or you don’t want to take the time for it, that means you have so many awesome things in your schedule you don’t have an opportunity to exercise – that’s arguably even better!  You’re busy living.
  • Stop seeking perfection.  We’ll never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be content and happy.
  • Memories. . .Make Some!!!!
  • Be Grateful for all that you have, especially the never-ending grace bestowed on you – new mercies, every day.  And your loved ones?  Let’s be oh-so grateful for them, too.
  • ENJOY!!!!  Christmas only comes once a year!

Christmas Tree

workout log 9/13 – 9/19

Sunday, September 13th
30-minute Walk
Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown – level 1 – 35 minutes

Monday, September 14th
60-minute Walk

Tuesday, September 15th
rest day

Wednesday, September 16th
30-minute Walk
this workout, 5 times through:

just the basics full body strength workout

Thursday, September 17th
rest day

Friday, September 18th
60-minute Walk

Saturday, September 19th
the following upper body workout, only I skipped the jumping jacks part and tacked on 15 medicine ball crunches and 15 leg raises:

Upper Body Non-Stop Strength Training + Cardio Workout -

workout log 9/6 – 9/12

I mostly walked this week for workouts – that always works best when we have company.  I did, however, get my first postpartum strength training workout in.  I was sore (that great kind of sore) for a few days after – loved that!

I had my 6-week PP visit with my midwife and she said that I’m healing great and all seems to be well.

Looking forward to more of a variety in workouts this coming week!

baby Roen in the stroller

Sunday, September 6th
30-minute Walk

Monday, September 7th
60-minute Walk

Tuesday, September 8th
rest day

Wednesday, September 9th
30-minute Walk
and this workout from Julie…this was my first postpartum strength workout and I loved it:


Thursday, September 10th
rest day

Friday, September 11th
60-minute Walk/Hike

Saturday, September 12th
45-minute Walk

The Mental Side of Postpartum Fitness {workout log: 8/30 – 9/5}

I added in a couple yoga sessions into my week of (now) regular stroller walks.  I don’t know how many times I’ve done this video, but it’s probably a couple hundred – it’s my favorite yoga workout and I’ve been doing it for years.

When I did the workout this week though, what was once a good and semi-relaxing stretch, now had me all sweaty and a bit sore the next day.

A little voice first told me how pathetic it was that this video had me so worn out, but it was quickly silenced by reality – I gave birth just 5 weeks ago, and my fitness level significantly changed during the 9 months leading up to that, for good reason obviously.  I’m grateful for my health and proud for getting some exercise into my baby-consumed day.  I also think it’s exciting that I have a ways to go to get to the fitness level I want to be at – it’s a good test for my competitive-with-myself quality.

I loved the yoga sessions from this week…I’ve missed the sweaty feeling of finishing a challenging workout!

We have company here again now this week, so my plan is to still get in several walks and hopefully a session or two of yoga in there, too.

yoga - jillian michaels yoga workout

Sunday, August 30th
35-minute Walk
10 minutes of Yoga/Stretching

Monday, August 31st
60-minute Walk
Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Video – level 1 – 35 minutes

Tuesday, September 1st
30-minute Walk

Wednesday, September 2nd
50-minute Walk

Thursday, September 3rd
Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Video – level 1 – 35 minutes
30-minute Walk

Friday, September 4th
rest day

Saturday, September 5th
30-minute Walk

July: Seasonal Produce

Happy July 1st!

This means we’re halfway through 2015 already.  How crazy is that?!

A new month means I have a new list of now-in-season produce for you.  This is quite possibly the best time of year for fresh produce.  Let’s take a look at what’s available in July…

When you eat fruits and veggies that are currently in season, you consume produce that contains an even higher nutritional value.  The produce is also more flavorful, fresh, and cost-effective!

farmers' market strawberries

Be on the lookout for the following fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market and area farms, food co-ops, and grocery stores this month!


  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Plums & Pluots
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries


  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Green Onions
  • Greens (various varieties)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (various varieties)
  • Mushrooms (various varieties)
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

**if you’re searching for a farmers’ market in your area, check HERE – this is also a great site for learning about local-to-you produce since the above lists can’t be completely accurate for every geographical region**


We are more than the way our body looks in a photograph. Oh, so much more.

I was scrolling through yesterday and fell upon this article:

The Amazing Way Pink Responds to Body-Shaming Tweets

To say I was annoyed that this happened to her is an understatement.

To say that I’m annoyed that this is constantly happening in our society is an even bigger understatement.

When did we get health so disgustingly confused with physical appearance?

Whether it’s about how a woman looks in her dress at an event (by the way, if I’m going to be vain, Pink looked beautiful and I can’t believe anyone would ever think to shame her appearance)…or whether it’s about getting back that “body after baby”…I’m just so tired of it.

I rarely seek out this kind of media anymore because it’s not only encouraging these photographers/writers/haters to be so unrighteously critical, but it’s not good for my own self-image either.

Listen America, can we please just stop judging each other based on how we look on the outside?  Health is utterly important, but physical appearance is not an indicator of someone’s health or happiness status.  So instead, how about we start supporting each other in living happy, healthy lives?  How about we quit analyzing the way a person appears?  How about instead of “ways to lose 5 pounds” it’s “ways to prevent illness” or “ways to have more fulfilling days?”   How about we stop shaming and start encouraging.

Let’s start seeking inward, looking at hearts, actions, and intentions.
Let’s start truly caring about people.

Healthy Living Survey

Hope you’re having a good week so far!  Taking it easy with a fun survey today…

1. What did you eat for breakfast? 

Today I went for an old favorite…hot oats with coconut butter, cinnamon, hemp seeds, blueberries, and peanut butter.

hot oatmeal breakfast

2. How much water do you drink each day? 

A lot!  Even before I was pregnant I drank a lot of water each day, and now it often feels like I can’t get enough of it.  I’d say between 9-12 glasses a day right now.

3. What is your current favorite workout? 

Walking!  I go for a walk almost every day.  I’m also enjoying some strength training workouts – I do one or two a week (this one is currently my favorite).

run path

4. How many calories do you eat each day?

I have no idea – I really don’t care about calories.  I bet if I had to count now though it’d be a whole lot!  Baby needs FOOD.

5. What are you favorite healthy snacks? 

smoothies, an apple with peanut butter, a banana with almond butter, hummus with veggies and crackers, hard-boiled eggs

apple snack

6. What do you usually eat for lunch? 

I eat lunch at home every day so it really varies – I love that I get the whole kitchen to choose from and usually have time to cook up something if I want to.  Often I’ll have leftovers from a recent dinner, eggs with avocado toast, a salad, some kind of meat with some variety of potatoes, or even just a huge smoothie.  I snack again in 2ish anyway!

7. What is your favorite body part to train?

Assuming this is non-pregnancy training…lower body.  But I enjoy doing arms/shoulders/back too.

8. What is your least favorite body part to train?

Core workouts are easily my least favorite.  They always have been.

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?

Let’s say “less healthful” food cravings…I’d say it’s cookies, but I don’t get sugary cravings too often anymore.  I definitely chalk that up to eating extra protein and healthy fats.  When I really want cookies though I often will make my own version  to fulfill my craving and enjoy the treat but not have the excess sugar consumption that’s in store-bought cookies.  Who really likes store-bought cookies better anyway?

peanut butter avocado cookies from lindsay at the lean green bean blog

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements? 

I currently take a whole food prenatal vitamin each day and a DHA supplement a couple times a week.  Both products are from The Honest Company.

11. How often do you eat out? 

Probably once a week on average.  I like to cook and we like to save money (and eat healthier) by eating in.  Usually though Jesse and I will go out somewhere for a meal on the weekends.  We definitely eat out more living in CA than we ever did in MN because there are so many awesome places to try here.

Jesse - Tacubaya - Mexican food - date night - friday dinner

12.  Do you eat fast food?

nah…though the exception to that is Panera or Chipotle once in a great while.

13. Who is your biggest supporter? 

My husband, my sister, my friends.

brooke & danica - finished dirty girl 5k mud run

14. Do you have a gym membership?

Yes but I don’t use it as nearly often as I should.  Being pregnant put a damper on my desire to attend fitness classes :/

15. How many hours of sleep do you get each night?


16. Do you have a “cheat” day? 

Nope!  I don’t believe in that sort of “dieting.”

17. Do you drink alcohol? 

Yes.  Well, not right now of course.  But non-pregnant me enjoys a social drink.  If I’m being truthful, I’m looking forward to a glass of red wine sometime at the end of this year.  (can you drink alcohol when breastfeeding? I’m guessing not…I need to look into this.)

18. Do you have a workout buddy? 

No, not a human one anyway.  Zida goes for a walk with me almost every day, but she’s a little more spaztastic than I’d like and there’s also that whole thing about having to carry around her poop.  #worthit

zida - california - walking trail

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle? 

That’s an easy answer for me:

My Self-Confidence.

It’s changed my life in nearly every way (that’s the beauty of holistic health), and I’ve even seen it “rub off” on family members and friends, too.  What a blessing that’s been!

20. What is the last healthy thing you did? 

Talked with a friend on the phone…relationships are an important aspect of health, too!


I’d love to hear your answers to…

#3.  What is your current favorite workout?

#13.  Who is your biggest supporter?

#20.  What is the last healthy thing you did?