Ten Healthy Tips for a Whole Foods Holiday

Hi gang! If you’re just joining us, we’re doing a little series ’round these parts that I like to call Have a Whole Foods Holiday. I think it’s catchy. Even if it’s not, someone pointed out to me the obvious truth I hadn’t thought of (I’m tired and in the middle of a move, ya know) that this is the time of year when we consume the greatest quantities of sugary, processed, unhealthy stuff we’ll pass through our lips all year.

{Here’s the link to part one in case you missed it.}

I’m not declaring an all-out war on all things processed, mind you — and pass the sweet potato fluff — but I am aiming to take one step at a time, to implement gradual changes that will result in more whole, healthy stuff arriving at the Collie Clan’s dinner table.


{Christmas 2010’s Health Food: Two Months Prior to Baby Bro’s Arrival!}

Today my friend Laura Anne (who you may have met round these parts before) is sharing some simple tips that will help you steer your food wagon in the direction of healthier choices.

Born up a tree!


So, I was so pleased when Caroline wrote this post. One of the things that shocked both my Mum and I is a recipe book a lovely person gave to her when she was visiting her best friend who currently lives in the USA. Every single recipe involved concentrated tinned (canned) soup. I won’t lie to you – I was horrified.

While at university, I studied Health Promotion. My eating and cooking habits changed dramatically while studying Health Sciences. So did my peers’. It did make my food bill a little bit more expensive, but I think it was worth it. It was also amusing to watch as the snickers bars and packets of crisps (potato chips) we brought as a snack at the beginning of year slowly disappeared, and bags of nuts, dried fruit, bananas, satsumas and apples replaced them. It was almost a silent competition to see who could bring in the healthiest snacks and lunches!

Here are my top tips for making your diet more healthy. These are (hopefully) simple things you can do to help you make meals a little healthier, but still enjoyable!”

  1. Steam rather than boil. Not only does it give you a little more space on the hob, [US translation: stove] again, steam keeps more the taste and nutrients in your veggies! If you don’t have a steamer, you can do this pretty easily by rinsing your veg, putting the teeniest bit of water in the bottom of a bowl, covering it up and popping it in the microwave for a few minutes. The more veggies you have, the longer it takes to steam. 🙂
  2. Grill rather than fry. Much less fat involved! Oh, and try to use poultry over your red meat too. Turkey mince is a great alternative to beef mince (ground meat).
  3. You do actually need fat in your diet, but some fats are much better for you than others. Monounsaturated fats are the ones you want to pick over the saturated and polyunsaturated. If you can’t be bothered checking labels – olive or rapeseed oil based products are a good way to go. Unless you are allergic or something! Avoid hydrogenated fats like the plague.
  4. Sometimes you need to use those woks and frying pans. Invest in an oil sprayer. No. I do not mean the ‘5 cal olive oil spray’ you see in the supermarket. That stuff is full of other rubbish that will mess with your digestive system. Buy an oil sprayer you can fill yourself with olive oil, and use it to spray your frying pan/wok to say goodbye to ‘whoops more came out than I planned’ moments that led to oily greasy dinners.
  5. Water down your fruit juice. Fresh fruit juice is the best, but is full of sugars. Watering it down means you drink the same amount of fluid but it’s a bit better for your teeth, and it means the juice will last longer. You’ll soon find that drinking juice ‘straight’ will seem really strong to you!
  6. Ask yourself this question: do I really need to add salt to this? The current RDA (recommended daily amount) of salt is 3-6 g for an adult, 2-5g salt for a child, 1g for a baby under 1 year old. Do you know that your average can of soup probably has 1-2g of salt in it? Start looking at labels for the sodium content, and I promise you’ll be shocked as you begin to realise how much salt you can consume in a day without even adding it to your crock pot. Buy reduced sodium salt, and try to avoid cooking with it – use herbs and spices to flavour instead when you can.
  7. Avoid the ‘diet’ drinks and food. Sweeteners and the stuff they put into ‘diet’ products really screw up your digestive system. If you really want that can of coca cola, go for the ‘full fat’ version rather than the diet one. Why? See here for just one article on why diet soda is so badly named. I can testify to this one, because my appetite went NUTS last summer when I was taking lucozade sport when I was cycling.
  8. Sugars. A similar thing to salt, you’d be shocked how much sugar is already in what you eat. I’m a sugar addict. I love fruit, I love chocolate, I love baking cake and eating it. For this one, let me refer you over to Bethany Hamilton. I now try to bake using honey rather than refined sugar, or using unrefined sugar.
  9. You still need carbohydrates. Your kids especially need those carbs. But again, for us adults, moderation is key. Also, you’ll find eating complex carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain bread over white bread) is much better and can actually help combat sugar cravings.
  10. I love cheese. I use it a lot while cooking these days, since I can’t eat red meat anymore, and have become an almost vegetarian. However, it is pretty fattening. So, if you can use more mature cheddar or other hard mature cheeses you can use less cheese in your cooking for the simple fact a mature cheese has a much stronger flavour. As for milk, semi-skimmed has same calcium content as the full-fat stuff. So use a more skimmed milk for less fat in your meals! (Kids under 2 need the full-fat for growing though!)
  11. And an extra bonus tip: Eat seasonally. It’s amazing how much cheaper you’ll find it if you do. Have you seen the difference in the price of a punnet of cherries in July compared to in November? 🙂


Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Laura Anne! You just answered a couple of food question marks for me!

Hope you all enjoyed it! Have an extra tip to add to the list? Please leave it in the comments!


Have a Whole Foods Holiday: Roast Tomato Sauce

Hi guys and gals! I’m kicking off a Whole Foods Holiday series today {pause for a round of applause} with a wonderful step-by-step from the awesome magician/Mom behind a site I’ve shared with you before, Se7en. {Here’s the Travelling Tuesday where I showed you around her place!} Mrs. Se7en and her Se7en + 1 kididdles do some amazing things in the kitchen. Often involving food. But also arts and crafts. And homeschool. Today she’s introducing a simple way to make your own Tomato Sauce in Se7en easy steps!

Born up a tree!


Many folks think that cooking from scratch is quite unachievable, and it is easier to just buy instant meals, instant sauces and well instant everything!!! What we have discovered as a family is that we eat more and more food, cooking from scratch. It all began with having an allergic child and I started reading food labels.

While I was looking for allergens, I discovered just what we were eating and I didn’t want to feed it to our children. The trouble with pre-prepared food is that it is packed with heaps of sugar, and filled with unnecessary additives and colorants. We made a decision to start cooking from scratch. It is not only healthier but it is a whole lot cheaper. Remember the more an item of food has been processed or packaged and the further it has traveled the more expensive it is going to be. Often it is just so much easier to buy bulk and save and make a batch of something.

It wasn’t really an overnight switch, just a consistent and conscious effort to change and eagerness to try new recipes with our kids.

Now don’t for a moment think that cooking from scratch means that we spend hours bent over a sweltering stove and neither do we have fields of vegetables growing in our backyard. Okay, I confess we do keep our salad planted in the garden!!! It just turns out that not only is it a lot cheaper to cook from scratch, but it is a lot of fun. And I want food with my kids to be fun, I want them to enjoy the process of food preparation and I want them to feel a sense of pride in a meal well-prepared.

We started by baking our own bread and then we moved onto pasta and before we knew it we were cooking all our meals from scratch. My older kids have become adept at them and I tell you, you will never want to eat shop bought pasta again — you just won’t!!! The first few attempts were a grand mess, and nothing like the smooth ease that you see when watching the “Food Channel,” but practice really does breed success.

Today I am going to show a really easy way to make sauce and a standard recipe in our house: Fresh Roast Tomato Sauce From Scratch in Se7en Steps:

Let’s Meet The Players:

  • A Batch of tomatoes.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed garlic, you can use whole garlic cloves as well.


Let’s Play The Game:

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    1. Begin by roughly chopping your tomatoes – I usually cut them into eight… quick and easy, no time for perfection!!!

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    2. Pop your chopped tomatoes into a roasting pan.

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    3. Lavish salt and freshly ground pepper onto your tomatoes And pop your crushed garlic into the mix as well. If you only have cloves of garlic – all the better. Drop the whole cloves into the tomato mix

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    4. Sprinkle some olive oil over your tomatoes and then pop the tray of tomatoes into a hot oven and leave them there to roast.

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    5. When your tomatoes start to brown then you take them from the oven and leave them to cool.

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    6. Once they have cooled you can put your roast tomatoes through the blender.

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    7. Blend away and keep it in the largest jar you can find on the shelf in the refrigerator.

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    And the Se7en + 1th Step:
  9. 8. Now when we make the sauce we keep it really simple, and then add whatever we want to it later when we use it for our meals. You can use your sauce in so many ways:
    • Plain with a few crushed basil leaves on fresh pasta, top it with a pile of parmesan.
    • As the topping for a pizza, We use it for lunch a lot. Roll out your batch of pizza dough, top with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and it is almost instant pizza.
    • Brown an onion or two and add the sauce and you have a fabulous sauce for Spaghetti and Meatballs.
    • Brown some onions and mince and then add your tomato sauce and you have almost instant bolognaise sauce.


Really a jar of tomato sauce is indispensable, so quick to make and then so useful in any number of dishes. If you would like to try more recipes like these then feel free to follow the link:


Thank you so much for sharing with us, Se7en! So glad you were willing to share some well-tested (and good-tasting) wisdom with us today!
Note to the readers:

After reading the recipe, I asked Se7en if you needed to peel the tomatoes because I wondered if you’d notice the peels in the sauce. She replied:

I am the laziest cook in the world and when a recipe asks for peeled tomatoes I often skip it and then I always regret it. However, with this recipe the skins are so soft after the roasting, and then once you have blended them you don’t notice them at all… really – and I have a few fussy folk who would mention it!!!

Thought you’d like to know! More Whole Foods Holiday is coming your way soon!


P.S. It’s not too late to join the Whole Foods Holidays party. Get in touch if you have something you want to share! Or, if you already have something on your blog that you’d like to link to, let me know — I might just host a little link-up for this occasion. 🙂

Got a Second To Give Me a Second Opinion?

Trying to decide on a Christmas card and my brain is slowing down this evening.

Will you leave a comment with your favorite?


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I’m not doing that square one I shared a few weeks ago because it’s square and takes extra postage.

If you’ve got a second, I’d love a second opinion!


Giveaway! Free Christmas Cards at Shutterfly

On Thursday, I spoke a little bit about Making Your Christmas Decisions Now — and I hope that my words didn’t feel like a whole lot of talk about what you should cut out of your holiday, without much talk about what you should put into it. There was one more thing I wanted to put into words but didn’t quite have a grasp of yet.

Which is probably always the case, but ya know.

When Jesus spoke up, announcing the beginning of His ministry He said:

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce,
“This is God’s Year to act!” (Luke 4:18-19, the Message)

There is a marked difference between the person who says they follow Jesus because of what they don’t do, and the person who says they follow Jesus because of what they do.

I am hungry for my life to speak His Name in action, for the world to see His people living in the name of Love. And when we celebrate the Father sending His Son into this world for us, I want it to be about Him!

So add that to those other thoughts if you will. And share some of your own, if you like!

Insert here, mayhaps, an unceremonious segue into a discussion of something I do very much enjoy, as a part of celebrating the Savior’s birth.

We are blessed with an incredible team of ministry partners, which you are welcome to join, by the way. They pray for us and partner with us to make our ministry possible. Some have even been supporting me since I boarded that plane in Atlanta to head for Scotland! Wowzers! That was six years ago!

And in addition to sending regular newsletters to report back to our supporters each month, we send Christmas cards at the end of the year just to say weloveyouthankyouthankyouthankyou and this time around to also say, lookwe’vegottwoboysnow,whoohoo! If only the cards would give me enough space to say everything I wanted to say with spaces.


We’ve had decent experiences with a few different companies over the years, but last year I designed our cards and my Mom’s Christmas cards with Shutterfly and they were beautiful. If I do say so myself. We also designed the cards from the first year we were married with Shutterfly with a sweet little picture from our wedding, but I don’t have that one to show you. Sowwy. Just imagine them being precious. Cuz they were.

I think I showed you a screenshot of ours from last year:

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{The Tank was still on the inside!}

And after I did that one we took some photos at Thanksgiving for my Mom’s and I designed hers with Shutterfly, too and it was a Stationery Card and the quality of the paper was lovely — it was like nice card stock instead of photo paper, if that makes sense.

I loved it!

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{That’s my nieceypoo in case you don’t know. She’s a darlingpreciousangelpumpkin and she’s presently working on potty training!}

They have some gorgeous new designs this year, and I think this one might be my favorite for showcasing my favorite photo of the year, thankyouverymuchmyHeroHubs.

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However, this one is square and requires extra postage and I don’t think I’m gonna spring for that. But look at that fresh, yet vintage little red bird! I love him!

So here’s the good news. Today we’re giving away, for you and a friend, a trip to Turks & Caicos with two first class tickets and…show ’em what else they’ve won, Vanna…

I wish.

But seriously.

I’m giving away 25 Free Holiday Cards at Shutterfly to three readers who are just lucky enough to have stumbled across this site today. Or else you’re here all the time, in which case, are we related?

I’m kidding again.

But seriously.

I have a brainbuster of a question for you to answer in order to enter to win this giveaway.

In the comments, tell me about a favorite memory from Christmas when you were a kid. Or, tell me about one of your favorite Christmas traditions. Or, tell me how you’re planning to Love More with Less this Christmas. Or, tell me whether you read this blog, and if you do, why.

You can pretty much talk about whatever you want, but don’t be cheeky.

The Bear will randomly select three winners out of the singing cookie jar that the Tank likes to play with. As soon as we can get it away from the Tank.

Just comment by Tuesday, November 1st, 12 midnight Eastern Standard Time.

Then you can head over to Shutterfly and look at their cards for this year. Hopefully in a few days you’ll score some for free!


P.S. Behave yoself and just enter once. If I discover you’ve entered more than once, your name won’t go in the singing cookie jar. I’ll email the winners their special codes to get their cards on Wednesday and announce ’em here. Amen.

P.P.S. You can have an extra entry if you like this site on Facebook. It’s the right thing to do.

P.P.P.S You can have one more entry if you subscribe to this site in a reader. It only seems fair.

Important Weekly Update

Hey Guys and Gals. I have several important things to tell you.

1. I tried this Baked Chicken with Peaches recipe this week and it was super easy and really good. The chicken breasts are so ginormous here that I only used four (and halved the rest of the recipe) and still had chicken left over for chicken pot pie two nights later, and a little chicken salad for lunch today. Score! I feel morally compelled to share this recipe with you. Not sharing it would, ethically, just be wrong.

But why are the chicken breasts so big here? I don’t know whether to be happy or concerned. Or both.


2. This season of transition is great, and hard at the same time. {Could I say grard?} I cry. On a regular basis. I laugh a lot, too. But these sweet boys of mine are a gift in the process. I shared at Signposts today about how they keep me looking up. If you’ve ever fussed at your kids and then regretted it, click over…you might be encouraged.

3. Tomorrow. October 29, 2011. Meet me back here for a giveaway. Three readers will win 25 free Christmas cards at Shutterfly! And that’s 25 cards for each reader, in case you were worried you’d win and have to figure out how to divide 25 by 3.

So don’t forget to drop by tomorrow! Entering will be easy, so don’t worry about studying up in preparation. And don’t forget to try those peaches.