Clear the Clutter, Hope's Healthy Kitchen

How to Stock Your Kitchen

We are off on another road trip starting today as an early celebration of our wedding anniversary……I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we got married and in October, we will be together 20 years!  Where does the time go?

No, this is NOT a picture of our kitchen in our forever home But we do have lots of space.  As a result, I am always on the hunt to find ways to keep things well-stocked and organized.  What about you… do you have an organized kitchen and pantry?  Are you ready with plenty of items on-hand to whip up a healthy meal anytime – without having to leave the comfort of your home?  Keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping and putting groceries away to be a prep pro!

PANTRY PERFECTION

Your pantry may not be this big (not mine BUT ours is about this big!).  Organize your pantry or cupboard in sections:

  • Baking ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Mine also includes chips, brown sugar and anything else I may need when baking.

  • Oils & vinegar (mine are actually over my stove in a cabinet so they are easy to reach)

  • Herb & Spice blends (a totally separate cabinet close to the stove so I don’t have to go to far)

  • Canned goods: beans, lentils, fish, tomatoes, vegetables

  • Dry goods; pasta, rice, quinoa

TIP: Put veggies like onions and potatoes in bins and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Mine are in Tupperware bins in yet another cabinet in the kitchen.  LOL.

STOCK YOUR FREEZER

Is meal prep a thing at your house?  The closest I get to meal prep in the freezer is having lots of frozen vegetables, and meats on had.  Extra portions of meals (aka leftovers) are also frozen for those quick easy lunches or dinners when I’m not feeling well.  For many, meal prep means making big batches and then lay soups, broths, and chili flat in resealable bags for use during the week. Always keep frozen veggies and fruit in your freezer, along with your favorite protein.

TIP: Freeze leftovers in family-or-individual-sized containers for a quick “heat-and-eat meal” for the nights when you’re too busy to cook.

FIND IT FAST IN YOUR FRIDGE

Divide your fridge into sections:

  • Dairy/eggs, condiments (in the side door)

  • Veggies/fruit, meat/fish/poultry on a tray or plate to avoid leaks or in drawers if you have them.

  • Beverages

TIP: Keep prepped veggies and fruit near the front for quick access

SHOP WISELY 

The foods you choose to fuel your body directly impact your health. Whether you’re shopping online or stocking up on groceries to avoid the grocery line, here are some kitchen staples to keep you going:

Greek yogurt | Buy: 2%, plain, non-sweetened | Why: Fat-free can mean added sugar, and flavored yogurts can greatly increase your sugar intake.  Plain greek yogurt adds extra protein and can be “sweetened” with fruit or granola or a little Stevia.

Canned tomatoes | Buy: Low sodium | Why: We want to live well and feel great. For some people, too much sodium can make them retain water.

Olive oil | Buy: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil – this is the healthiest because it comes from the first pressing and no chemicals were used in extraction | Why: Light olive oils do not mean light in calories, often, it means light in flavor.

Canned beans | Hack: Rinse your beans before use and reduce sodium by almost 30%

Pasta | Buy: Look for the first words to be “whole grain” on the ingredient list | Why: You want to avoid overly processed refined grains

Nuts & seeds | Buy: Natural, unsalted | Why: Sometimes nuts and seeds are coated with partially hydrogenated oil and added salt

Canned tuna & salmon | Buy: Packed in water, low sodium | Why: It will have less sodium and added fat

Crackers | Buy: Look for “whole grain” to be the first words on the ingredient list. They should have at least 3 g of fibre per serving and be low in sodium Why: Crackers can be overly processed and made with refined grains | Hack: Make your own healthy crackers with Everything Bagel Crackers.

 

 

Finally, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Buy real food. Use wholesome ingredients.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry (in-store or online).

  • Always have a list and stick to it.

For kitchen tips & tricks, recipes and more, check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook or my website at www.HopesHealthyKitchen.com

Have an Epic Day!

Feel Good Friday, Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board.

It is a perfect way to nosh yummy goodies over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or even a mocktail.  It’s a fun way to get creative and add pops of color to your menu to impress your guests. From the board up, here’s how to make an epic charcuterie board.  Whether you are hosting a party or enjoying a family movie night, these are alway a lot of fun.

 

THE BOARD

You don’t have to get fancy here! A simple flat, sturdy surface will work—in any shape or size. You’re going to add layers of goodness on top, so any wooden cutting board, platter, or plate will do the trick.

COLOR & TEXTURE

What makes a great board pop is layers of color and texture. Think bright: reds, greens, yellows, and oranges—strawberries, cherries, olives, sliced peppers—and texture, shiny and smooth, along with rough and edgy—think figs, crackers, and dips.

START WITH DIPS

These are essential – they deliver the extra punch of flavor to each bite. Put your dips in small bowls, along with olives and pickles, cubed cheeses, jellies, and mustards, placing them on your board first, then build the rest of the ingredients around them. This will anchor your ingredients and you can use different shapes and sizes to add depth and variety.

Try:

Nacho Cheese Dip Mix – best served with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream

Ooey Gooey Queso Hot Dip – serve with tortilla chips, pretzel bites, veggies

CCB Dip – delicious with raw vegetables, potato chips, or crackers

MEAT & CHEESE

Have fun with the style here—serve cheese in cubes, slices, and wedges, including brie, bleu, fresh cheese, and cheddar. Genoa Salami, Italian Dry Salame, Peppered Salami, Prosciutto are great additions to your board—variety is what will make it stand out! You can even wrap Prosciutto around pickled asparagus spears and layer them on the board. Don’t forget your

CRACKERS, CHIPS & BREAD

This part is important – the delivery vehicle for all that goodness! Try to add two to four different kinds here. Get fresh baguette from your local bakery and make home-made chips and crackers to really take this over the top! We love the versatility of Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers because you can make them with sesame, sunflower, or chia seeds in place of the flax seeds in the recipe…or a combo of all three!

Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers – pictured

Everything Bagel Crackers

Pita Chips

FRUIT, VEGGIE & GARNISH

After you’ve stacked your board with your bread, chips, and crackers, it’s time to fill in the gaps with fresh fruit, veggies, and garnishes. There are no rules here! Just go with what you have on-hand, and what makes sense to you! Apple slices and grapes are obvious choices, but you can go nuts here—really! Add almonds, walnuts, cashews, along with apricots, kumquats, and more! The possibilities are endless. Garnish with fresh rosemary, mint, or parsley to add that festive green colour.

And, one last tip, try to add something sweet, savoury, salty, and spicy to every board to perfectly balance the experience and suit every taste in your bubble!

What are your best tips for making “boards”?  With summer coming, what will you add to yours to make it POP?  Share your ideas with us…

Have an Epic Day!

Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Habits

As many of you know, I have been on WW for an eternity. LOL.   I lost my initial 105 pounds and am happy to say, I have kept most of it off.  MS has caused some weight gain – the only thing I can attribute it to since I track and am stepping. I’m not beating myself up over it.  It is all about healthier eating and NOT the numbers on the scale.  Now if I could only remember that, all would be well.  Are you focused on healthy eating or the numbers on the scale?

Here are five tips to help you adopt some new healthy habits:

1.     START WITH A PLAN 

Planning out your meals for the week is a great way to set you up for success. I started doing it so I didn’t have to deal with MS struggles over what to fix for dinner.

My advice – Keep it simple. 

I usually plan out on Friday or Saturday knowing I will grocery shop on Sunday or Monday.  Pick least busy day of the week and take a few minutes to pick out some recipes and create a grocery list. I have a meal planner I post on the fridge so I can not only plan meals but also not repeat the same ones constantly.  For some, having “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays” can make it a lot easier!  Epicure has several collections with pre-made grocery lists, swap options, perfectly balanced plate suggestions, and pro tips throughout!

2.     MAKE TIME FOR COOKING 

Now for the fun part—preparing those delicious recipes you picked out!  Making time for cooking gives you the opportunity to try out new recipes, make good food choices, or even remake your favorite takeout dishes in a healthier way at home! YES, it’s also a great way to lower your food bill. Meal prepping looks different for everyone.  For some, it may involve prepping a variety of foods in larger quantities, so you don’t have to worry about it during the week. For others, it is cooking once and using the meat in several meals during the week.  Of course, you’ll need plenty of containers to store your meals and keep things fresh. Our storage solutions make it simple to portion out your ingredients and tackle hassle-free meals on the go!

3.     EAT COLORFULLY 

Adding color to your plate is a simple way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients. Keep an eye out for recipes with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. These foods are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats—key components to maintaining good health! Plant-based foods are also friendlier to our environment as they require fewer resources and greenhouse gases to produce. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint while also benefiting from the amazing nutrition benefits these foods bring to the table.  Check out some of our favorite plant-based recipes here!

4.     MAKE USE OF HERBS & SPICES 

Many people consume more sodium than they need. It’s easy to exceed the dietary recommendations, but the good news is salt is a largely acquired taste. So, over time you can actually sensitize your pallet to embrace lower levels of salt. Changing to sea salt or himalayan pink salt is better too. Seasoning your food with more herbs and spices is a great way to limit your sodium intake without missing out on flavor!  Epicure’s hand-crafted spice blends are perfect for creating low-sodium meals while also simplifying your time in the kitchen!  Many of them have NO sodium too!

5.     DON’T SKIP OUT ON DESSERT! 

Toss out the idea there are morally “good” and “bad” foods!

A healthy, sustainable diet won’t leave you feeling deprived and miserable. Food is meant to be enjoyed and your journey to good health should be no different. By giving yourself permission to eat “bad” foods, they lose their novelty and we’re less likely to obsess over them. Remember it’s not about restricting yourself, rather making balanced choices. Give yourself the freedom to consume the foods you love and your health journey will be a lot more enjoyable.  PLUS you’ll be more likely to stick to your routine long term.  Take a look at some of our favorite healthy dessert options !

The journey towards getting AND keeping healthy habits can take time so be kind to yourself. There may be challenges along the way but try to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I am always here to bounce ideas around with you.  Remember, you are NOT alone. If you’re looking for motivation, support, and dietitian-approved tips, we invite you to join our online community and #EpicLife Challenge starting on May 10th!

Have an Epic day!

Hope Wissel

How It All Started: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I know it is Tuesday and we usually do a Tastefully Tuesday BUT this is a milestone for me.  I swear it has been longer BUT the internet doesn’t lie, right?  LOL.  So, 9 years ago today I took the first step towards blogging.  For those who don’t know the story………it was a challenge issued by the AMAZING Vanessa Coppes to step out of my comfort zone.  Well, I did it!  It was the start to a daily  blog posting for many years.  Since MS, I have cut back to about once a week but I’m excited to be writing again.

My heart breaks that this still goes on today.  Bullies come in all shapes & sizes; young & old.  If you know someone who is making you uncomfortable in your surroundings (home, work or neighborhood)… guess what you are being BULLIED!  No one deserves to live like this…. With the advancement of social media, the bullying techniques have changed; sadly it now is more prevalent than ever before.

This is MY first every blog post… yes there are grammar mistakes, yes there are some typos.  I didn’t change anything about it because it was from the heart ❤ and I wanted to share my heart with you………

I just wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means that you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

As a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things that I had when I was growing up and more for my daughter, Belinda. Isn’t that every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  I moved to a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area that had a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and it was affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to be changed to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken that she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

Here is when the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker that loves working with troubled kids. As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park that as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure that her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talks about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives that people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t do any of that. 

Many believe that if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all that I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know that bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I that “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure that Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent & confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this….share this with someone who may need to know they are not alone….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel, Unclutter Your Life

Finding My Purpose

We have been home from an amazing vacation for a few days and are adjusting to the cold weather.  UGH!  I do like the change of seasons BUT I am NOT a fan of cold weather. Sunshine definitely helps me to clear my head and is good for my MS.

My word for this year is ACCEPTANCE so let’s recap the first month. January was full of playing the comparison game especially in my business.  I have been digging deep to find  my “why” and as of today, it is still not clear.  To say the least, I have been beating myself up a little.  After 11 years, you would think I would be jumping on the bandwagon to kickstart my business in the new year with excitement, yet I can’t seem to find it.   Acceptance for me is about living in the moment, being grateful for the gifts God has given me and trying NOT to fix, manage and control things.  I can say I ended January with a win.  🥰  As we got ready to go on our road trip, the weather on the southern track was getting bad (an ice storm was coming to SC, NC & GA).  So, we changed plans.  Left a day early, drove longer than we originally planned, rescheduled hotel reservations & beat the storm.  In the past, I would have been a hot mess but with God’s help, we were blessed with safe travels and an amazing week.

I know…. what does all of this have to do with finding my purpose, right?  I was able to unplug in the hopes of finding my purpose.  I was able to stop and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

I have been thinking about “What is my MAIN reason for my business?”  Believe it or not, it has become just a way “to make some extra money”.  No it hasn’t always been the  FIRST thing on my list.  Crazy, right?  It has always been to make a difference then it was about the money.  How the money can help me to make a difference.  Through working the steps in my recovery, I have been learning about me. I still want to make a difference in the lives of people but I’m not sure what it actually looks like.

 

Here are some ideas from the Direct Sales Education Foundation on Finding YOUR Purpose

  • Listen to your inner voice and hold off on asking others what they think. Before you start seeking opinions on what your purpose should be, tune into your inner voice for inspiration.  Once you have a definitive idea, then it’s time to gather opinions from others.  As a people pleaser, I struggle with this one.  I don’t want to disappoint people.
  • Follow what is exciting, not what is easy. In business, just as in life, the easy choice may not always be the best one.   WOW!  This is so true.  The grass may not always be greener on the other side.  If you are excited about your choice, you are then willing to do the work!
  • Tap into your instincts and emotions rather than logic. You obviously don’t want to ignore logic completely, but when finding the purpose for your business (or in your life), your instincts should take over. Instincts and emotions are powerful enough to guide us to do great things. When faced with a difficult question or decision, listen carefully to your initial gut reaction. This does not mean to act impulsively, but rather to let gut feelings lead the way on your journey.  For many hard-working and ambitious people, this is not always the easiest thing to do, but it certainly is important if you want to find your true purpose which drives you toward success.

I was never out to change the world, some may say the results of my work does it but it was never my purpose.  As a Social Worker, I wanted to help people improve the quality of their life – no matter how small a change it was for them.  As I look to work my businesses this year, I want to make a difference – one smile at a time.  The end result will be success in my business and in life while helping others get what they want.

What have you done to find your purpose? Would you add to our list? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Have a blessed 💝  day!