I am so pleased to share a special announcement today! I’ve partnered with my friends over at MightyNest, an online store specializing in natural, non-toxic products for the kitchen and home, on a series of giveaways you’ll be seeing here on the blog today and in the coming months. The giveaway items all align with topics I wrote about in my book One Simple Change. This really could not be a better fit!

As you may or may not know, One Simple Change is a compilation of 50 ways you can transform your diet, adjust your lifestyle, and overhaul your attitude in order to benefit your health and the health of our planet. The book has been out for a couple of months and I really love getting feedback from readers. One of the chapters people seem to be resonating with quite a bit is the one about drinking water first thing in the morning. So I’m going to excerpt the book a bit here in order to revisit the topic of healthy water intake.

Water First Thing from One Simple Change | Healthy Green Kitchen

Drinking water first thing is really simple to do, and it can really be beneficial. Why drink water first thing in the morning? Our bodies are more than 60 percent water and, unfortunately, this makes us quite prone to dehydration. You can be dehydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty. Having a glass of water first thing and then drinking more throughout the day will help you avoid health issues that may be related to dehydration. Eating foods that contain water (like raw fruits and vegetables) and drinking additional healthy liquids will help as well.

The benefits of drinking water in the morning go beyond the physical, though: I find that having a glass of water right after I wake up makes me feel as if I’ve kicked off the day on the right foot. Since I’ve done something good for myself first thing, I am more likely to continue to make healthy choices as the day goes on.

Know that not everyone needs to have eight 8-oz/240-ml glasses of water every day, though. We all have different needs for water intake based on our size, activity level, our climate, etc. I suggest consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and healthy drinks, and listening to your body. Drink water when you are thirsty, and pay special attention to drinking more when exercising vigorously or spending time outside in heat. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your urine. When you are properly hydrated, it should be very light yellow (though certain vitamin supplements and vegetables like beets do color your urine, rendering it an unreliable indicator).

Avoid drinking water when what you are is hungry (to fill you up so you won’t eat a lot). That’s not useful and it may even be harmful. When you are hungry, your body needs food, not water. Not drinking enough water isn’t healthy, but guzzling glass after glass of water when you are not at all thirsty is not exactly a healthy habit, either! You can, indeed, drink too
 much water, and doing so may be dangerous: when you drink far more water than your body needs over a short period of time, you can dilute the concentration of sodium in your blood.

Water First Thing from One Simple Change | Healthy Green Kitchen

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Glad in conjunction with their #SAVEITSUNDAY program. With #SAVEITSUNDAY, Glad hopes to educate the public about the consequences of food waste, and I am proud they’ve asked me to be a part of the program. I am being compensated to share my #SAVEITSUNDAY experiences; all opinions are 100% my own.

Potatoes!

scone

My family loves them and I buy them a lot. The best way to store them has always been a bit of a mystery to me, though…I’ve never been sure whether or not you are supposed to keep them in the refrigerator.

I’m really learning a lot since I started doing these monthly posts in conjunction with Glad. According to the food storage experts over there, potatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator. And once they’ve been peeled and/or cut, they should be placed into a large bowl and fully submerged in water, then covered with plastic wrap, like Glad ClingWrap, or perhaps a tea towel. (To learn more about the best ways to prep and store your foods, see Glad’s Protection Pointers.)

Prepping and protecting potatoes means they’ll stay fresher longer. This is good news, because it means less chance of food waste! And now that your potatoes are going to last longer, you can enjoy them in many different ways: bake them, dice and pan-fry them, roast them, mash them. You get the picture…you can do so much with potatoes.

One of my favorite things to do with potatoes lately is to use them in this easy and delicious Shepherd’s Pie Recipe.

mashed potatoes for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
peas and carrots for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
beef and veggies for shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen
shepherd's pie before baking

Shepherd’s Pie may be one of those classic, basic recipes that everyone already knows how to make…but maybe not? You see, somehow I got to be 43 years old I had never made Shepherd’s Pie before a few months ago, when I happened on this recipe from Simply Recipes. Just FYI: true Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb (or mutton), while Cottage Pie is made with beef. So technically this recipe is for a Cottage Pie when made with beef…but, use ground lamb and it’s a Shepherd’s Pie.

shepherd's pie recipe | healthy green kitchen

Got it? Ok, here’s the recipe.
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Scones are easy to make and they’re so, so tasty. This blueberry scone recipe is a favorite around here; my daughter loves those so much, in fact, that she was pretty skeptical when I recently made this orange date oatmeal version instead. She didn’t even want to try them at first, but she came around eventually. She still prefers the blueberry ones, but admitted these are delicious, too :)

scone

These orange date oatmeal scones are not too sweet and they have some “heft” due to the oats. They are adapted from a recipe in the lovely book Irish Pantry: Traditional Breads, Preserves, and Goodies to Feed the Ones You Love (I was sent a review copy). I made a few changes to the recipe in the book, one of which was to halve the amount of butter. I have absolutely nothing against butter (I love it, in fact!) but two sticks seemed like a lot to me.

orange date scone recipe | healthy green kitchen
orange date scone recipe | healthy green kitchen

You can use a food processor to make these if you want to speed things up (and a food processor does make incorporating the butter into the dough a snap), but I made the recipe by hand and it worked out fine. I imagine you can substitute another type of dried fruit for the dates: the recipe in Irish Pantry features currants, but raisins or dried berries would work, too…you take your pick. Lemon zest and juice can certainly be used instead of the orange zest and juice, if you like, but I do like the orange date combo, I must say.

orange date scone recipe | healthy green kitchen
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Change. It’s something I think and talk about quite a bit. I even wrote a whole book
on the subject :)

Sometimes I hear from folks who wish to make some sort of change in their life. They tell me they’d really like to get from point “A” to point “B”. But they don’t know how to make that happen.

What I always tell them is “congratulations!”. Because wanting to make a change (ie being motivated) is awesome…really awesome. It’s where change begins.

I think of the process of permanent habit change as a journey over stepping stones. Being motivated means you’re standing on the very first stone. Take the next step and you’ll be on your way.

As you travel over the stones, you may be tempted to take giant leaps in order to speed things up; maybe you think you can handle skipping over a stone or two. Try not to do that, though. Focus on going slow and on taking small steps.

You may trip and even fall; maybe you’ll take a step or two backwards. On these occasions you will probably find yourself frustrated and questioning the whole process…wanting to give up. Know that it is natural and normal to feel this way…setbacks are pretty much inevitable on any journey, including the journey of change.

Be kind to yourself when things aren’t going as you planned. It’s totally ok to stop and take breaks, and to rest, when you need to. But after you rest, keep moving forward. Keep taking those small steps, because with each small step, you’re practicing your new habit. You don’t have to be anywhere close to perfect…you just have to be consistent. Soon, your new habit will become a permanent change!

I have seen small steps work their magic in my own life many times. As an example, I recently went from from someone who had never touched a barbel to someone who lifts heavy weights at the gym 4 days a week (and loves it). This did not happen overnight, though: it has taken more than a year for me to get to this point.

squats 550

I was motivated to learn about and then progress with weight training, so I took the steps necessary to make that happen. These steps included finding a gym where I am comfortable, getting to the the gym on a regular basis, working with coaches, asking for and incorporating feedback, doing research on my own, tweaking the way I eat, and getting lots of rest.

It’s not all “rainbows and unicorns”, though. Some days I feel tired. Or sore. Progressing slowly often tests my patience and sometimes my workout doesn’t go as well as I planned. Sometimes I can’t go to the gym when I want to because: life. But week in and week out I do go when I can…I am consistent.

So if you want to make a change- any kind of change (diet, lifestyle, attitude, etc)- embrace the process as a journey. Focus on taking those small steps and on being consistent, not perfect. Keep moving forward (but don’t sweat the occasional stalls or steps backwards too much).

You’ll get there.

Happy New Year everyone! Yes, I know I am days late in wishing you my very best for the coming year, but my holiday break was pretty busy: my dad got married (yay!) and we went away to visit my husband’s family. (I also may or may not have spent a day or two in my pajamas binge-watching Drop Dead Diva but don’t tell anyone about that, ok?)

2014 has kicked off with me doing something new and completely out of my comfort zone: radio interviews to discuss my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Life; I’ve done 6 so far. The very first one I did was LIVE and ONE HOUR LONG, with call-in participation from viewers. I was terrified beforehand and did a lot of sweating while I was on the call. The ones since then have been shorter but they are still a bit stressful for me, not going to lie.

During these radio interviews, I’ve been talking a lot about the overriding concept of my book…the idea of making one small change at a time. I’ve been talking about why it’s important to take things slow, and to become comfortable with the fact that permanent positive shifts in your health and well-being do not happen overnight. My feeling is that if I can convince one person to stop doing extreme things (such as lengthy juice cleanses, diets that eliminate carbohydrates, or exercising for hours a day) in the name of health, then I will have succeeded in what I set out to do in writing this book. Small tweaks to the way you eat, your lifestyle, and your attitude work just fine…they work better than fine, actually. Small changes can be really powerful if your goal is to have a happy, healthy life.

If you are wondering exactly what kind of information is in One Simple Change, you should know that while I do share my nutritional philosophy throughout the book, there’s much more to One Simple Change than that. I touch on many, many other things that come into play when you are approaching your health in a more natural and holistic way, such as sleep, exercise, and stress management. Some chapters are devoted to matters related to living in a more eco-conscious manner. There are also 15 nourishing recipes. My friend Kaela called it “The Self Help Book for People Who Hate Self Help Books” which made me laugh (but it’s really true).

I don’t expect everyone to love everything about the book, but I really do believe there is something for everyone in One Simple Change. I even find myself re-reading specific sections and applying them to my own life lately…this may seem ironic but I need to take my own advice sometimes!

The first printing of the book sold out but more are on the way. My publisher tells me One Simple Change should be back in stock Amazon.com and elsewhere next week, which is great. Once again, thank you to everyone who has purchased the book and let me know that you enjoyed it! Cheers to change! I plan to continue celebrating healthy, simple lifestyle changes on my blog throughout 2014 and I can’t wait to share many more posts with you.

As I mentioned above, there are 15 recipes in One Simple Change. These are recipes I chose to include because they are somehow related to the content of the book. This homemade yogurt recipe, for example, comes from the chapter titled “Cook More” but it’s also related to the chapter called “Get Some Culture”, which is about eating more cultured/lacto-fermented foods.

diy yogurt | healthy green kitchen

Yogurt made with live cultures is high in protein, calcium, and probiotics, which aid the digestive system. I’m a big fan of low-tech yogurt making; you don’t need any fancy equipment to make wholesome plain yogurt.

diy yogurt | healthy green kitchen
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