Jenna's Blog

45 Bloggers, 45 Chances to Win, $45 Shopping Sprees!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by Jenna M

45 Blogger Giveaway!

45 Chances to Win $45 to SwansonVitamins.com!

In honor of our 45th Anniversary, we're going big... no, HUGE! As if the 45 Healthy Foods Giveaway isn't enough, we decided to offer even more chances to win!

We have paired up with 45 fabulous bloggers to host $45 giveaways on their blogs all this week. (Okay, there are actually 49 bloggers. I got a little carried away.) Each blogger is giving away one $45 shopping spree to SwansonVitamins.com.

If you're new to Swanson, take a look around our site. We sell all kinds of natural health products, like:

Swanson Health Products' 45th Anniversary

#Swanson45Giveaway Bloggers:

Thank you to all of the wonderful bloggers for participating! Make sure to check out their blogs after signing up for the giveaways, as they all have delicious recipes and fantastic health tips to share with you.

Unless otherwise noted, each giveaway will run Monday, July 21st, through Sunday, July 27th.

An Organic Wife

Cook Eat Delicious

Equally Yolked

Erickson and Co.

Natural Chow

The Fit Cookie

My Food & Fitness Diaries

Daily Pea

My Name Is Yeh

Lift Pray Love

Delights & Delectables

The Real Life RD

Living the Before

The Little Honey Bee

Perfection Isn't Happy

Salted Plates

Simplify, Live, Love

The Fueled Athlete

Beautiful Mommies

Eats From The Oil Patch

This Beautiful Frugal Life

Run Bake Blog

The Big Man's World

Running with Spoons

Beauty Baseline

Livy Loves to Run

Dine, Dash & Deadlift

Predominantly Paleo

Multiply Delicious

Neon Is My Color

London, Like the City

Nutrition Nut on the Run

Live Fit Love Chocolate

Treble In the Kitchen

The Fit Fork

The Workout Mama

Fit, Fed and Happy

Girl Gone Veggie

Barr & Table

The Healthy Beauty Blog

Hungry Healthy Girl

Clean Eats, Fast Feets (Begins July 22nd)

Fitful Focus (Begins July 22nd)

Hummusapien (Begins July 22nd)

Clean Eating Veggie Girl (Begins July 22nd)

It's Progression (Begins July 22nd)

Jill Conyers (Begins July 22nd)

Jessie Loves To Run (Begins July 23rd)

Keep Calm & Carry On (Begins July 24th)

You Betcha: 45 Fargo Facts You Need to Know

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 by Jenna M

Think you know Fargo? Think you know what makes us tick? Ohhh, yaaa, suuure ya do! Read up so you can spot a true Fargoan next time you find one of us!

 

1. Up here we call casseroles “hot dishes.” And hotdish isn't an adjective. It's a noun. Sometimes a proper noun. Say it loud. Say it proud. "I'm bringin' Hotdish!" 

 

2. BBQ can sometimes mean sloppy joes. Be prepared to eat either when arriving at a potluck.

 

3. In Fargo, dinner means supper and lunch means dinner. Don’t confuse us.

 

4. Brunch is also a big deal in Fargo. We basically just love food here.

 

5. People in Fargo receive emails about going to the Sons of Norway for lunch because it's liver and onions day... and they are actually excited to go.

 

6. When summer arrives in Fargo, it goes a little something like this:

 

7. Alas, summer doesn't last long in Fargo.

 

8. Winter is coming. For real.

 

9. When it hits, expect multiple layers.

 

10. You may also find people combining coats with shorts, because logic.

 

11. Socks are acceptable year-round. Yes, even with sandals.

 

12. It's normal to switch from air conditioning to heat in the same day.

 

13. Think your car is safe outside in winter? Think again.

 

14. Plan on waking up at least 10 minutes early on those icy mornings.

 

15. Snow day in Fargo? Indeed.

 

16. Zero degrees is a “little chilly” or “not bad without the wind" in Fargo. Anywhere else, well...

 

17. While summer weekends are dedicated to going to the lake, winter weekends are for sleeping.

 

18. Or disappearing from people, because doing anything with anyone would involve someone going outside.

 

19. Or travel. We really like to get away when it's cold outside.

 

20. That's why our tiny airport (seriously, five gates) consists of non-stop flights to places like Orlando, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

 

21. But don't worry, we don't all hate winter in Fargo. In fact, some of us rather enjoy it.

 

22. Tell strangers you’re from Fargo, and they say, “Do you put people in wood chippers there?"

 

23. Speaking of wood chippers, both the movie and TV show "Fargo" were/are filmed primarily in Minnesota/Canada, but that doesn’t stop people from believing it’s all “based on a true story."

 

24. Bill Clinton admitted to regularly watching "Fargo" on Air Force One during his presidency. He told a crowd of Fargoans this once, clearly not knowing about #23 above.

 

25. Just to be clear, Fargo is located in NORTH Dakota. Not South Dakota.

 

26. Not Minnesota.

 

27. Not Montana.

 

28. And definitely not Canada. We're in the USA, people.

 

29. Like Canadians, Fargoans give vowels more syllables. It’s not “oh,” it’s “ooOOOh.”

 

30. We regularly use "oh for" (pronounced "oh fer") in conversation. Oh for cute! Oh for funny! Oh for nice!


31. We use the classic "Uff Da!" and "You betcha!" when appropriate. It's okay if you don't know what those mean.

 

32. Canadians end their sentences in "eh”; we end ours in "then." For instance, "Let's go to the store, then.” Also, "Are you going, then?”

 

33. If you're "headed out" somewhere (to the mall, for example) and invite someone else along, you simply ask "Go with?"

 

34. It’s bEg, people, not bAg. I don't care how you spell it. It's not what it looks like.

 

35. We basically have our own language.

 

36. “Rush hour” is another way of saying it took us an extra 5-10 minutes to get home, but we still get plenty annoyed!

 

37. Fargo is the only place on Earth that has a herd of painted bison. (Fun fact: the artist behind "Tigalo" works at Swanson!) 

 

38. Deer opener is considered a minor holiday and an excuse to miss school.

 

39. You can leave your purse, phone and car keys at the table when you go to the restroom without any worry.

 

40. In Fargo, a stranger will gladly help you shovel out your car, fix your flat tire or give you a jump. But don’t try to tip him for his trouble. That would be offensive.

 

41. Our relatives start juicy bits of gossip with the phrase, "Well, of course you know ____" or "Of course you heard about ____". These stories are almost always pointless and have nothing to do with anything, but let them tell you about it anyway. They feel accomplished, and that's what counts.

 

42. Fargo residents love striking up conversations with strangers. Come prepared with stories and hugs.

 

43. A true Fargoan can pick out a random stranger and instantly become “old friends” by working through which relative’s neighbor’s babysitter happened to date your cousin’s fifth grade teacher from “back home.”

 

44. It’s easy to become friends with a Fargoan. Just say hello. We’ll handle the rest.

 

45. Seriously, we're really nice here.

#SwansonChallenge: Wrapping Up Whole30

Monday, March 3, 2014 by Jenna M

We have made it to the end of Whole 30! After many changes and eye-opening lessons, the bloggers and I have conquered the challenge. Read on to find out how it all went, what we learned, and how we'll move forward.

Kristi:

Kristi

That’s a wrap folks. 30 days are in the bag and I am proud to say I made it through this challenge. I not only made it through, I ENJOYED it. Crazy, I know, but I really believe that getting cravings under control by removing the sugar and other processed foods has made a huge difference in how I feel towards food. I definitely started eating more for fuel, instead of because I was having an uncontrollable craving.

I find it very interesting how big of an effect certain types of foods have on an individual, not only physically but mentally as well. Speaking of which, I have to say that I feel much more clear-headed and focused. This is a great perk for anyone, but even more so for a college student like myself. I used to rely on coffee to get me over the hump, but that would result in a vicious cycle of energy highs followed by energy lows, and then the inability to sleep at night. My body did not need a stimulant to fix things; all I really needed was real food and no crap. Who would have thought, right? ;)

One big reason why I wanted to participate in the Whole 30 challenge was to continue my own healing process. I have been dealing with several digestive issues relating to my stomach, intestines, and gallbladder and have seen great improvement with turning to a paleo diet and getting rid of the foods I was sensitive to like gluten and dairy. After many years of slowing damaging my insides by consuming these foods, I had a long way to go in terms of building my system back up. I wanted to do something that would keep me accountable and motivated to stay the course with my way of eating. And if could accelerate my healing at the same time, then that would be a huge bonus. I do think Whole 30 did just what it was meant to do; provide a complete body and mind reset. I feel like I am digesting better now than when I first started the challenge and I contribute that to eating real food that my body can recognize and use. God gave us the perfect supply of food to fuel our bodies with…and these foods came from a farm, not out of a package. 

 

I also took this challenge as an opportunity to get creative with simple meals and simple ingredients. I really wanted to show people that clean eating does not have to mean eating the same boring thing over and over again. I know when I first started eating paleo for health reasons, I felt very restricted in what I could eat. At the time I did not know there was so much out there for me to make! Here is one last peak at what I ate, during the last week of my Whole 30 experience:

local pastured eggs, mushrooms, and plantains cooked in ghee

beef and spinach meatballs, stir fry veggies, and roasted acorn squash

local pastured steak with coconut oil roasted broccoli


meal prepping! Meatballs and sweet potato wedges, roasted


creamy pumpkin, chicken, and spaghetti squash casserole with stir fry veggies

sockeye salmon, arugula, and sweet potato wedges

 

I am so happy that I decided to take on this challenge. It was definitely worth giving up my treats and convenience foods because what I ended up with instead was something so much better…my health. You can’t just get that anywhere. So one last BIG shout out to Swanson for making this experience possible and helping me along each step of the way. This will be a month I will never forget.

 

Morganne:

Morganne

I’m not sure where those 30 days went, but it certainly seemed that the time flew!

So let’s start with the beginning…why did I agree to eliminate dairy, soy, grains, and refined sugars? Well, I took this challenge on for precisely that reason: it was a challenge. It was a way to evaluate what foods my body handles well, and what foods may be intolerable.  But, what I ended up getting out of this challenge… was so much more than that.

I view food completely differently. Rather than seeing “calories” to replenish, I see nutrition. I see the beauty of variety, a colorful plate, and the gift that food truly is to us. My energy, digestion, and skin have drastically improved…and my running and strength even improved! If you fuel your body properly, than your body will thank you!

The last week of the challenge was definitely the easiest for me, especially when it came to meal prepping and cooking. It became a routine to just grab a few good protein sources, vegetables, carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. I think one of the scariest parts of the challenge was the cost. Purchasing organic, all-natural and health food items can certainly put a dent in the wallet. I learned that ordering health products from Swanson Vitamins, such as coconut butter, coconut oil, nuts, almond flour, you could really afford these specialty items! Costco and The Fresh Market offer reasonably priced organic, grass-fed meat; bulk vegetable items, and eggs! The first week of the challenge my grocery bill was probably higher than what it should be, but I learned as the process continued.

I believe this way of eating will continue for me, with a few exceptions. I do miss my legumes - hello, big spoonful of peanut butter! I am not the biggest meat eater (although that certainly changed these past 30 days!) so I do love incorporating beans and soy for alternative protein sources. I also know my body can only handle these in small quantities, so I will respect that. As for my typical morning bowl of oats? I actually don’t see myself having these everyday like before the challenge. My body thrives so much more with a variety of nutritious foods in the morning! A plate of eggs, fruit, vegetables, and a sweet potato has now become a staple! And my nightly snack? I will only grab something additional to eat if I feel hungry…I definitely was able to break that habit!

I’m honestly scared to introduce things back into my diet now that the challenge is over. I have been feeling my best during these past few weeks and certainly do not want to hinder that! There are tips about this in the book “It Starts With Food” so I will definitely be relying on these to continue learning about how foods affect me.

I recommend to anyone interested in learning more about their bodies and how food can empower your life to read this book, take on the 30 days, and truly evaluate your own body. It’s very empowering to know how foods affect you! The Whole 30 challenge, for me, ended up being a mind, body, and soul cleanse. I feel more in tune with my body, my hunger cues, what foods make my body feel at its best. 

And finally, let’s wrap up on a few tasty notes!


Two egg omelet with spinach and butternut squash, dippy egg baked butternut squash, steamed Brussels sprouts

Shredded chicken with salsa stuffed sweet potato, peppers, avocado

Tilapia with salsa and avocado, coconut oil roasted Brussels sprouts and plantain

Jenna:

Jenna

Well, here we are again. We've crossed the finish line. Thirty days of Whole 30 later, I feel awesome, and I'd do it all over again. In fact, I think I will. Here are some final changes and thoughts.

Sleep and Energy: I've written a lot about this, but my sleep schedule and energy levels have both dramatically changed for the better. I used to take an hour or more to fall asleep, and now most nights I'm out in under twenty minutes. I also feel like coffee isn't as necessary as before, and the tragic wish for a nap rarely occurs.

Hair, Skin and Nails: My hair is easier to work with. My skin continues to clear up and feel more moisturized. My nails are stronger. All good things. Enough said.

Weight Loss: Whole 30 isn't designed with weight loss in mind, but it's rare for someone not to lose weight during this challenge. I personally lost 14 lbs, and I've noticed by how my clothes fit now compared to before. The exercise is helping as well, of course, so I'll be sure to continue with that. While the weight loss is a great number, this challenge has taught me not to focus so much on the number but rather on how I feel. I still have a long way to go, but letting go of scale dependence has been very helpful.

Eating Mindfulness: It has simply amazed me how different I feel, and all because of food. This will encourage me to think more before I eat. My goal is to move into a mostly Paleo lifestyle (I say mostly because I'm not perfect). I know the foods I eliminated during Whole 30 used to have a negative effect on me, so why make them a regular part of my diet? I've learned that I don't need these foods, so I simply won't eat them now that Whole 30 has taught me how to stay away. There will be tasty treat moments (again, I'm not perfect), but those foods will no longer be a staple in my diet.

Final food images:

TWO

Strawberries, blueberries, cashews, almonds and coconut flakes. Breakfast of champions!

 

one

Tuna, egg and avocado lettuce wraps with sweet peppers.

 

Did you recently complete a Whole 30 challenge, or have you in the past? How did it go?

#SwansonChallenge Update: Week Three of Whole30

Monday, February 24, 2014 by Jenna M

Week three has come and gone, and our fearless bloggers are rocking Whole30! Time to check in and see how things are going for the Whole30 trio.

Kristi:

Kristi

Here I am, making my week three update and I am very happily surprised to say that I honestly don’t feel like I am on a ‘challenge’ anymore, but instead this has just become my normal way of eating. This is important as it shows me that it is something that can be maintained for the long-term (plus or minus a few treats, of course--gotta live a little every now and then!).

Before I started Whole30, I NEEDED my evening treat. I have a raging sweet tooth. It didn’t matter if I was actually hungry for more food or not. I feel like I am getting a handle on true hunger now, instead of just cravings. It is an empowering feeling to not be under the power of sugar. I am using food for fuel and for health, not any psychological reasons.  Furthermore, once you get rid of sugar for a given amount of time, things like plain ol’ fruit start to taste like candy of the gods. Seriously. It’s pretty cool! The number one choice is of course fresh, whole fruit, but for a change of pace every now and then I’ve been reaching for some dried mango slices. They are delicious!

eggs, plantains, and brussel sprouts cooked in coconut oil


bison and onion stuffed acorn squash with an egg baked on top, and roasted green beans

bison and stir-fry veggies cooked in ghee with sweet potato wedges


dried mango

Morganne:

Morganne

I cannot believe three weeks have already passed in the Whole30 challenge! This week was difficult due to a stomach bug that had me knocked out. Food did not sound appetizing in the least bit. The only thing I wanted was toast and butter. I refrained and stuck with squash and coconut butter. I am not sure if this actually helped, but mentally it made me feel a little better.

Besides a minor setback, I have still been really enjoying the foods on Whole30. Being sick validated the fact that your body needs real, whole foods to properly function and thrive. As I mentioned in my introduction, doing the Whole30 challenge was a way to stay accountable for cleaner eating and help heal my digestive system. I am so happy to say that this has been the best decision I could have made. My energy has continued to increase, my food has been more satisfying, and I have not had any gastrointestinal issues.

After my first week, I was constantly searching for recipes to make and try, but I have learned that it can be really simple to put meals together. Just grab a protein source, a starchy vegetable, and some healthy fats and you are all set!

Two hard boiled eggs [protein] + baked sweet potato [starchy vegetable] + almonds [healthy fat and protein] + apple

Spinach omelet [protein]  + salsa + avocado [healthy fat] + coconut oil [healthy fat] fried plantains [starchy vegetable]

Shredded chicken [protein] mixed with guacamole [healthy fat] and salsa stuffed mushrooms + coconut oil [healthy fat] roasted sweet potato fries [starchy vegetable] + brussel sprouts

Jenna:

Jenna

It's hard to believe that three weeks have come and gone! I continue to enjoy swapping pictures and recipes with Kristi and Morganne as well as other bloggers and people participating in Whole30. You might think you'll run out of recipe ideas, but I guarantee you'll never find a shortage if you know where to look. If you need inspiration, try searching for "Whole30 recipes" or "#Whole30" on various social media outlets. A lot of my recipes come from Pinterest and bloggers. You can also dig around the Whole30 website. Try thinking of this challenge as a health expansion instead of a restriction. You'll go far!

Morganne talked about her traditional eating plan last week, so I thought I'd focus on that in this post. While I didn't normally eat six small meals a day like her, I did have a strange schedule. Some days I wouldn't eat breakfast. Some days I'd have four smaller meals. Some days I'd snack at work and cave on eating treats brought in from coworkers, so I wouldn't feel like eating dinner until closer to bedtime. This threw off my sleeping schedule, my sleep quality, my mood, and my ability to find a life balance. Whole30 has taught me the importance of an eating schedule. Food should not control your life, whether healthy or unhealthy. If you commit to an eating schedule you won't have to think twice about it or stress over it.

For me, eating within an hour of waking up is important. It gives me that morning boost of energy and helps limit coffee intake throughout the morning. Next, I found a lunch and dinner schedule that complements my work and post-work lifestyle. I may have a small snack between lunch and dinner, especially if a post-work workout is involved, but otherwise I stick to the three meals. I think a lot of people follow a similar schedule since that is the recommendation, and it seems to work.

Apart from the food schedule, things are still going well for me. My skin is continuing to clear up, my sleep schedule continues to improve, and I just feel better overall. That being said, I can tell my body isn't even close to completely healing. This process will take a while, but I'm well on my way and couldn't be happier!

Now, time for food. Apparently this week was bison week for me. Here are a couple food photos:

one

Bison burger salad with mixed greens, tomatoes and broccoli slaw.

 

two

Bison meatballs with Dukan Diet Marinara Sauce and asparagus.