Category Archives: Life

Reading your way to better health


When we decided at the end of last year to host a book club at my store, The Daily Apple, I had no idea it would be so eye-opening and so much fun! When we chose the book, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter I had not read the book and I had no idea how much I would love this book.

I always enjoy reading a good book about health but this one tops the list for importance of subject matter and proper research. Dr. Perlmutter clearly shows us how what we are eating is affecting not only our brains but our daily health. For those of you who want research and in-depth information on how the body works, this book is for you.

Early on in the book club, we were discussing changing how we eat. And one of my favorite comments from the group was when a woman said, “Well I figure whatever I have been doing is not working so why would I not try this approach.” This is such a powerful statement. So many times we go throughout our health journeys not feeling well. We try everything we can to improve our health and nothing works. We exercise more, we take pills to help us feel better, we try everything we possibly can but often fail to take a look at the food we are eating! We make hundreds of excuses why we cannot change what we eat.

Every week I was inspired and encouraged from the people in the group! It is so fun to learn alongside of people who are positive, difference makers. The people who attended the book club were determined to make changes and slowly work on improving health. These women were genuine, real, honest and positive! It was so refreshing to see a group of positive people come together and then notice how healthier eating improves the way we feel.

Dr. Perlmutter teaches us to look at what we have been taught about healthy eating and then ask ourselves if it has really been working. He dispels the myth that fat is bad. He makes a strong argument that our bodies (and especially our brains) need fat.

This book gives eye-opening, heart-wrenching stories of how healthy food can improve serious health conditions. Chapter 6 was one of my favorite because he talks about other health conditions that grain free diets can help with…things like Tourette’s, autism, anxiety, depression and more. I got really emotional when I turned the pages of this chapter. And my hope is this book will help open our eyes to how the foods we eat affect how our bodies behave.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and give it a read. And even if you don’t want all of the research and scientific explanations, you can skim through that part and still get the point of the book. I am excited to announce we are having another book club at Schafer’s Health & Gifts in Worthington, MN, on Tuesday, March 4. If you are in the area, I encourage you to attend. I am sure we will have a great group of people who want to take small steps to improve their health. And hey, even if you do not live around Worthington, you can participate in the book club through our Facebook event- where we will share ideas, recipes and more.


Fresh food delivered locally


When I met Freya Thurmer last year summer at the Worthington Farmers Market, I could tell she had a real passion for fresh, local food! We instantly connected in talking about locally grown, whole food. When I met her husband Tim, a week or so later, it was obvious they both have a passion for growing quality food. They had some of the best salad greens and kale I have ever tasted and for the first time in my life I tried a lemon cucumber. It was so delicious and even better it was grown just down the road near Jackson, MN.


Recently on a cold winter day, when Freya told me about their new endeavor 10 Acres Flat, I was ecstatic! Aww, the thought of fresh, local produce in the dead of winter is such a pleasant thought. I am so excited that we now have a farm share program in the local area. On the 10 Acres Flat website, the Thurmer’s describe their business as follows, “A farm share is also commonly known as community-supported or community-shared agriculture (CSA). When you buy a subscription from 10 Acres Flat it’s just like a subscription to the Sunday Times or Newsweek, but instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a box (share) of locally grown fruits, vegetables and other fresh farm goods (eggs, dairy products, meat, etc.).”


We took time Tuesday, to enjoy a cup of coffee at the local coffeehouse (BenLee’s in Worthington) and talk about local food and the Thurmers “Midwest Farm Revival.” The time went way too fast.

Freya relocated all the way from the mountains of Idaho to the prairie of Jackson, MN, for love. She previously taught agriculture and FFA and managed the University of Idaho’s organic farm. The Thurmer’s currently live on Tim’s family Century farm in southwest Minnesota.

“I love growing food. Everybody wants to do something they love and I am lucky enough to be able to do it,” she said. “It is important for me and my family to get food grown locally because it’s more nutritious, it tastes better and it supports the local economy.”

Being a part of a CSA, gives people the opportunity to experience varieties of fresh produce they have never tried before (kind of like the lemon cucumbers I fell in love with at the farmers market last year). Freya talked of tomatoes as being a good example of a crop that offers a wide variety. There are many heirloom varieties and a small scale farm can produce more options.


“What I like about a CSA is developing relationships with people. You get to know the people eating your food and you have a greater sense of ownership of what you are putting in to your body,” Freya explained.

“Personally I feel the issues we see in children like ADD/ADHD is attributed to diet. The amount of sugar and processed foods in our diets have led to attention disorders and food allergies. The way we process the food and what is in it is making us very unhealthy. Why would you choose a food item with artificial dyes and preservatives when you can get food without it?”

Not only does Freya plan to supply people with quality, local food, she also plans to give people helpful information about the food they are eating. She will provide recipes for specific foods that are being delivered and she will also give instructions on how to preserve foods to store throughout the year. In the future she also plans to offer canning and food preservation classes at the Thurmer farm.

The Thurmers have committed to delivering farm shares to customers from Fairmont to Worthington. People interested in purchasing a farm share can check out 10 Acres Flat website or Facebook page. It is easy to get signed up and be sure not to miss the out on this great opportunity to get a variety of locally produced goods delivered for about 20 weeks May through October. Now remember, if you are interested contact them while there are still shares available. They need to know who wants to buy a share (or a half share) so they can plant the right amount of produce. So let them know soon because planting season is just around the corner!

New year: A time to make healthy changes

I love the month of January because getting healthier is one of the top things people are talking about. I am fortunate because in my business we see people every day who want to get healthier. But I love all of the excitement and interest people have in getting healthier come January 1. Now just so you know, I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because so many times people make resolutions and quickly get discouraged and do not keep with it…But this time of year gets us talking about healthy lifestyle changes. My hope is this interest and longing for a healthier life will last not just through the month of January but all year long.

There are many people who make commitments at the start of the year to get healthier and they do just that one little step at a time. They know the importance of making changes and they take that step and decide to start somewhere. So let 2014 be the year you decide to step it up a notch when it comes to taking care of your body.

So where do we start? Here are some recommendations that can be implemented into your daily life.

  1. First off, make sure you drink enough water. I know, I know we hear this all of the time but it is a simple way to be healthier. And when I say drink water here I mean straight water. If you need to flavor it use citrus fruits but do not add artificial flavorings or sweetener to the water.  And all of those “healthy” flavored waters do not count as a daily serving of water. The harmful additives are far worse than the benefits of the water. We all know water is important but the reality is most people are dehydrated. A good suggestion is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day! And if you drink soda, you should drink an extra glass of water for each soda you drink.
  2. Pick one unhealthy food or drink in your diet to cut back on or eliminate from your diet. For example if you are a soda drinker cut back on how much you drink and see if you can get to the point of not drinking any at all. If you love carbs make an effort to cut back on carbs. Do you eat too much processed food? Then cut back on your processed food intake. Remember, this is a process and as you start to change your eating habits you may feel some not so pleasant changes at first. Much of the food we eat today is highly addictive! So changing our eating habits has to be very intentional and it is hard work!
  3. The beginning of the year and at the change of each season is a great time to complete some sort of a detox. There are full body cleansing products you can purchase to help remove toxins from your body. Fourteen years ago this February, is when I completed my first whole body cleanse and started to get a handle on some of my bad habits including my 6 to 8 cans of diet soda a day and a pot of coffee. Just this simple change of not drinking pop and as much coffee helped me start to feel better almost immediately once the horrible side effects from cutting back on caffeine wore off. Even adding a greens drink to your daily regimen can help the body detoxify. Or you can complete a detox eating program like the 21 Day Sugar Detox or the Whole 30 Challenge. There are many options available. It is so important to give our digestive system a break and a cleanse of some sort can help.
  4. Start reading food labels. Be aware of what is in the food you are eating. If it has a lot of ingredients and words you cannot pronounce you probably should not be giving it to your body for fuel! Our bodies will only perform as well as the food we give it. We have the choice to fuel our bodies with whole, nutritious food or processed garbage. For me, reading labels gets me pretty fired up and discourages me from buying things I should not eat.


5. Eat more fruits and vegetables! These wonderful, colorful foods are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and they help us feel full.

6. Find time to prepare your own meals. (And preparing a meal does not include throwing a frozen pizza in the oven to bake). We are all very busy but we cannot use being busy as an excuse to not eat well! So throw that excuse out the window and find a little time each week to cook.  Remember it is what we give our body that makes it work well. The better we eat, the better we feel and the better we can handle our busy lives. We all have different schedules so you have to find what works best for you. For me, Sundays are a good day to do food prep for the week. I like to make recipes in big batches and then freeze items to use through the week and beyond. Also, when we are preparing meals on the weeknights we make plenty so we have leftovers for lunch the next day.

7. If you are committed to becoming healthier, clean out your cupboards. Gradually use up the unhealthy foods you have hanging around your kitchen. It is much easier to eat healthy and feed your family better when there is not junky food in the house. If you have a lot of groceries stocked up this might take awhile but it is worth it. And for some of you—you might just decide to throw unhealthy items away to get rid of them quicker. Shortly after Christmas I did this. I threw away a few gluten free sugar cookies that were left from my family celebration. By this point, I was so sugared out I knew I could not keep them around.  And remember if getting your kitchen loaded with healthy foods is your goal, you have to quit buying the junk each time you go to the store.

Small, consistent changes lead to big, life-long results! You can do this!


It’s time for a giveaway…

Here it is—Be Real has its first giveaway under way and it continues through 12 a.m. January 19. It is easy to be entered to win. All you have to do is like our Facebook page and if you want an extra chance to win comment on any one of the Be Real blog posts! If you have enjoyed what you have read so far at Be Real, we hope you will share it with your friends so they can follow us too!


A special thanks to Schafer’s Health & Gifts for sponsoring our first giveaway here at Be Real. So why I am I giving away a Camelbak water bottle, coconut oil and tea? As we start off the new year and want to make healthy lifestyle changes these are a few products that can help!

The Camelbak will help you drink more water on a daily basis. We all know how important water is and it is one of the easiest things we can do to be healthier! The leakproof Camelbak bottles are great for a day at work (you don’t have to worry about spilling water on your computer) and they are great for traveling. Pretty much anytime of day you can pick up your bottle for some much needed water.

Coconut oil is one of my favorite products because it can be used for almost everything! I love it so much I actually have a jar in my bathroom and in my kitchen. I use it on my skin and face and I recently learned from who else other than my Mom that it works for deodorant too! I am happy to report I have been using it for about a month and it works great! Coconut oil is pure and it has moisturizing properties and it is a one-ingredient product. It is not loaded with icky chemicals and fillers. It is the real deal. And in the kitchen, coconut oil can be used as a cooking oil. You can fry eggs in it, put it on popcorn, put a spoonful of it in your coffee or tea to get healthy fats right away in the morning, use it in baking and if you are really brave you can just eat it by the spoonful.

For more coconut oil uses check out this list from Wellness Mama. The list truly goes on and on.

Now on to the tea, that we are giving away. I am not going to tell you I love tea like I love to drink water and use coconut oil. In fact, my goal this year is to drink more tea! I do like tea but I just don’t drink it as often as I should. So this year when I am in that afternoon lull and need a pick me up or when I need to relax and unwind I want to grab for a nice cup of tea. There are so many great health benefits from drinking antioxidant rich teas! This year, I will drink more tea. And hopefully you my followers will hold me to that.

Don’t delay, click here to get entered in our first giveaway at Be Real!

Here’s wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!



Fajitas de Navidad

WOW! There are no words to describe how thankful I am for all of your positive comments so far! I had no idea the blog would be so well read in just a few short days! Your words of encouragement are inspiring me to keep on writing and sharing! 2014 is going to be an exciting year and I look forward to seeing what God has in store! It is hard to believe 2013 is coming to an end.

We just finished our last Christmas celebration with family this past weekend. My husband’s children were here and we had a great time. And of course with holiday celebrations come lots of delicious food. For the last three or so years, we always made Sesame Pork Loin when they are here and mashed potatoes. At Thanksgiving this year my husband had the idea to change up the menu and do a Feliz Navidad meal. I loved the idea (I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine) and traditional Mexican food has plenty of gluten free options so that always makes me happy! The kids loved the idea also and so that is what we did. We prepared a meal of fresh guacamole and homemade fajitas. I vowed about three weeks ago when I made beef stew with a homemade seasoning (blog post on this coming soon)—not to buy any more store bought seasoning packets. The seasoning packets are loaded with extra fillers and preservatives and many contain MSG. It is so easy to mix up a seasoning mix; I can’t believe I just figured this out. I have used store bought seasoning mixes my whole life and never thought twice about it but on this journey of a healthier lifestyle I know it is much healthier to make from scratch and it is cheaper!

So here it is—my fajita seasoning mix that was a hit! The mix was my contribution to the meal. My husband prepared the meat and vegetables. For our fiesta, I quadrupled the seasoning recipe. You can also make up seasoning mix ahead and store in a glass container so it is ready to go when you need it.

IMG_0178 (800x549)

Fajita Seasoning Mix                                                                                                            1 tbsp. corn starch (can use arrowroot or tapioca flour)                                  2 tsps. chili powder                                                                                                               1 tsp. salt                                                                                                                                    1 tsp. paprika                                                                                                                           ½ tsp. onion powder                                                                                                             ½ tsp. garlic powder                                                                                                              ¼ tsp. cayenne (more or less depending on preference)                                   ½ tsp. ground cumin

Stir ingredients together and then add juice of one half lime

IMG_0188 (800x551)

Three Meat Fajitas
4 chicken breasts (sliced or cubed)                                                                               1 bag frozen shrimp, tails removed                                                                          1¼ lbs. steak of your choice                                                                                           6-8 peppers sliced (red, green, yellow or any combination you like)  2-3 onions                                                                                                                 Avocado or olive oil                                                                                                   Seasoning mix (see recipe above)

Sauté vegetables in a pan with oil. When almost done, add 1 tbsp. seasoning and stir. When done remove from pan. Then cook meat. For this recipe you can mix all meat together or cook each meat separately. If you cook all meat together add the shrimp later (be sure not to overcook shrimp and steak). Add the seasoning mix when meat is almost done. Simmer for several minutes and then serve. Serve meat and vegetables on tortilla shells or for a healthier alternative skip the shell altogether and enjoy the flavors of the meat and vegetables. Top with fresh guacamole, cilantro, cheese, and/or jalapeno slices.

IMG_0194 (568x800)

Happy New Year to each of you!


Is the first post the hardest to write?

So I have a tons of ideas I want to write about on this blog. My list is growing each day since I first decided I was going to do this. But wow, trying to decide what to write for this first post has been very difficult. It was less than a month ago, I got the idea to write a blog. I talked it over first with my husband and when his response surprised me I continued to give it more thought. You see I thought Doug would say, “Amanda, you are already too busy—when will you have time to blog?” Instead he said, “I think that is a great idea. It would be a way to use a lot of your skills.” We both vowed to think about it and pray about it. I then begin to talk to others about it and when everyone’s response was favorable I decided now was the time to get going.

So right in the middle of the busiest season of the year at my two retail businesses I got to work making this blog a reality. For those of you who know me, you know this is not surprising. I like to have a lot on my plate and I do like to be busy doing things I love (yes I have had to learn over the years to say no to activities that I don’t feel passionate about…we will save that post for another day).

Feel free to check out my About page to learn more about my faith and food journey. The story will continue to unfold here on the blog. After much pondering on what to call my blog and my new endeavor, I chose the name I originally liked the best. Be Real. It is really that simple. Be Real in faith and find hope in the truths of the Bible. And Be Real in choosing the foods we eat.


The recipes on this blog will all be focused on real food recipes…no junky additives and over processed recipes here. You see, I believe all of us could feel better if we ate a better diet without all of the carbs and sugar. Most serious health problems could be avoided or fixed if we would just change what foods we are putting in our body. I have heard story after story during the past five years while working in my health food stores of people who have changed their life because they changed the foods they eat. This is powerful information and we have the power to help ourselves. This is a timely message—our future and our children’s future depends on it!

Here’s to being real (even when it is really, really difficult),

~ Amanda