When most people start a diet, they focus on the numbers that appear on the scale, but Colleen Fields had a different sort of goal in mind, her dress size. In January 2010, Colleen weighed 304 pounds and wore a size 26 W. Her goal was to shed enough weight so that she could wear a size 12 by her 40th birthday. She knew she had just under two years to make it happen.
As a child, Colleen remembers being “chubby,” but says her real struggle with weight didn’t occur until after she had her second child. She gained 75 pounds with her son and never shed the extra weight. Then, a divorce and the demands of being a single parent caused her to gain even more.
Colleen explains, “I had a terrible marriage that left me with significant self-esteem issues. I left him shortly after my son was born and I poured myself into my kids (I also have a daughter, same father, who is three years older). I went back to school, I worked full-time, and I shuttled them to all of the normal kid activities – Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, gymnastics, baseball, soccer, dance, swimming, etc. I wanted to give them as much of a normal childhood as possible despite the fact that their father was not involved in their lives, and in the process I ignored myself. I would leave work, pick them up from day care, take them to their activities, grab fast food, get home and do homework, then put them to bed and I would do my own homework. There was no time for me and I didn’t make me a priority.”
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The first time I tried sunflower seed butter was at a farmers market in Portland, Oregon several years back. I had just passed by the third strawberry stand lining the market’s north side when I stumbled upon a tent with a middle-aged gentleman pedaling exotic-looking nut and seed butters. One of the butters was made of sunflower seeds. Despite my initial reservations I dipped my toothpick in, gave it a lick and walked away with a half pint.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when you visit a bustling farmers market. You try new exotic flavors and discover little gems of health like sunflower seed butter. Thanks Portland. I owe you my love of yet another nut butter for that one.
Since trying sunflower butter that first time I’ve experimented with making my own nut and seed butters at home in order to venture outside the peanut butter realm. Almond, cashew and chia seed nut butters are all delicious but I’d yet to try my hand at sunflower seeds. That is, until now.
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I spent a week in Portland, Oregon with my husband this fall. We fell in love with the city instantly and felt right at home with its laid back vibe. We hiked Mt. Hood, explored Hawthorne, did wine tastings straight from the barrel, I took a pole dancing class, and coveted the Portland Farmer’s Market.
It was just the getaway we needed – a lot of time outdoors, a lot of good wine, and a lot of even better food. The first meal we had came within an hour of stepping off the plane and it was a Banh Mi sandwich. It’s a Vietnamese sandwich that has become quite the trend recently, and I feel like we got treated to one of the best around.
The small bakery cafe served up the best French bread I have ever tasted. Stuffed inside, like any traditional Banh Mi, was pork, vegetables, and a dressing. Before I’d finished the first bite I knew I’d found something spectacular.
So good, in fact, I knew I’d have to create my own, especially after I learned that a standard Banh Mi can hit 600 calories with the pork, bread, and dressing! With simple ingredients like pork and vegetables, why couldn’t I make one that was better?
I got my chance when a holiday party needed something more substantial than cookies and champagne. Inspired by a true Banh Mi, I turned this traditional recipe into sliders and shaved off a few hundred calories in the process. Each of these sliders has only 181 calories!
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If you’ve ever known someone who had food allergies or you’ve suffered from food intolerances yourself, you know how much of a task it can be to find allergy-friendly foods that you can feel good about eating.
It seems the number of people with food allergies has been on the rise in recent years. According to a recent story from Care2, the number of people in the U.S. alone with gluten intolerances is close to 18 million with nearly 3 million of those having celiac disease. When it comes to dairy the news is even worse as an estimated 30 to 50 million adults have a lactose intolerance.
These numbers have clearly been on the rise and food manufactures have struggled to keep up with the demand for products that cater to this growing demographic. In addition to just vegan products or those that are gluten free, there’s also an increasing need for products that cater to several dietary needs, such as a person that is intolerant of peanuts, dairy and gluten. The number of these types of convenience products that cover numerous intolerances is slim. It was for this reason that Portland, Oregon resident Jennifer “Nif” Lindsay developed her own food company that did just that.
Lindsay’s company is called Niftyfare – after her nickname “Nif” – and unlike most specialty food producers it’s an artisan food manufacturer that seeks to simplify special diets.
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Last week I ran far, far away from home, where it’s been six-digit temperatures for the better part of the summer, in to the cool, loving arms of Portland, Oregon. I’ve never been to that part of the country and I can say it was just about love at first sight. To you Portlanders – well done! It’s one of the most beautiful, friendly, genuinely unique places I’ve ever visited.
I took in the scenic hikes at Mt. Hood, enjoyed tastings at local wineries, had lunch at the downtown food carts, and even picked up a bottle of honey (my go-to souvenir for any vacation). One of the things I loved the very most were the blackberries. They were very much in season while I was there, with many restaurants advertising all sorts of blackberry treats. The ones I enjoyed most were right out of a basket at the Portland Farmers Market on the PSU campus. Plump, juicy, and perfectly sweet… they were a far cry from any blackberry I’m used to having in Kansas.
When I returned home, I couldn’t get that sweet taste out of my mind. So this weekend, I made due with the blackberries I had access to and made what my husband called the best muffins I’ve ever baked. It seemed only right to share them with you.
I wanted a muffin that would let the blueberries shine, not be too heavy, and complement a breakfast rather than be the main course. I found a recipe that I could easily modify over at DozenFlours.com. Her recipe was great as-is, but I had to add a few of my own tricks to truly make it mine, make it a touch healthier, and help me savor that Portland blackberry flavor I was after.
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