Monthly Archives: June 2010

Celebrating 4,000 Blog Hits with a Special Post by Guest Author, Carissa Sipe Davis

Carissa is a dear friend, wife of a pastor (Todd Davis) in Brighton, Colorado, mother of 2, dental hygienist, and currently launching two business ventures! She’s an inspiration and a joy to be around, so I wanted her to share a little of what she’s been learning.

Meet the Author: Carissa Davis and her family (photo by Kelly Penwell)

“I have really appreciated Melissa’s blog a ton! The posts are so helpful and inspiring. Even the name rings true to so many of us because the journey to lean is truly that—a journey! It is a never-ending battle of self-denial! I might add to the title though. Just for the sake of argument, I’m not sure that Melissa’s journey is primarily a journey to leanness, but more, it’s a journey to health! It seems to me that although being skinny is definitely our motivation much of the time, the things that Melissa has posted on this blog are doing so much more than making her skinny; they are affecting her whole body. Her muscles are becoming stronger through the workout routines; her blood is flowing more easily throughout her body because her organs are working much more efficiently; she is able to think more clearly; she has more energy; and along with all that, she is getting skinny! Eating right and exercising is truly affecting her whole body for the better.

“The idea of total body health has been on my mind for a while now. If you look around, it is not hard to find people who have been diagnosed with things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Neither is it hard to find people who are ALWAYS sick, or even more commonly, whose kids are always sick. I often hear, “I have no energy.” Does this sound like you? It sounds like me. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease all run in my family! Who’s next: me or my kids or both????? Now please don’t get me wrong; I believe in a Sovereign God who ultimately is in charge of everything. I get that! But while the Bible is very clear on that point, it is also very clear that we need to live responsibly. 

“Experts agree: fruits and vegetables form a very important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Almost every day, another piece of research or another news story heralds the risk-reducing power of our dietary choices, especially the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. The recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day is 7-13 servings. Does anyone really do that? If you do, I applaud you!!! That’s awesome! Being totally honest though, on a good day I have only gotten four, maybe five servings. For those of us with kids, our responsibility is even greater because we need to be teaching our kids how to eat healthily and to love the things that are good for them instead of the fattening sugary stuff that is so easy to feed them. 

 “Since this job has proved very difficult for me I was elated to find out about Juice Plus (!!!! Juice Plus is the convenient and inexpensive way to add more nutrition from fruits and vegetables to your diet every day. Just taking two Juice Plus Orchard Blend capsules and two Juice Plus Garden Blend capsules every day is all it takes! The Orchard Blend is made from seven different fruits (apple, orange, pineapple, cranberry, papaya, peach, and acerola cherry), and the Garden Blend is made from ten different vegetables and grains (carrot, parsley, beet, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, tomato, oat bran, and brown rice bran). If you have kids, there are also chewable gummies that taste fabulous! My son Brode asks for his gummies because he loves them so much!

 “I know you may be skeptical. There are so many supplements being marketed out there. What proved the value of Juice Plus to me was the extensive clinical research that has been done on the product. Juice Plus is the most thoroughly researched brand name nutritional product on the market. Leading research Universities and hospitals have done the studies and even more research findings are about to come out in the next few months on things like the effect of Juice Plus on gum disease (an important one to me as a dental hygienist 🙂 ) and the effects of Juice Plus on pregnancy (Did you know that it has been proved that synthetic prenatal vitamins can actually make women sick? That’s so helpful during that first trimester right girls ;-). I do have a great article on that if anyone would like for me to send it to them, but that’s another whole discussion). Anyway, to see more of the research, go to

 “It really is simple; we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Period!!!! The personal testimonies are compelling: fruits and vegetables make you feel great, they make you and your family less sick, and they reduce the risk of disease for you and your family. If you need help getting your fruits and vegetables, try out an all natural, whole food based nutritional product like Juice Plus. If you have any questions, please visit their website, or if there are any questions that I can answer or articles I can send you, please feel free to contact me at

“Thanks Melissa for asking me to do this article. It is so easy to become passionate about something that is so simple but helps so much!!!!”

Recipe: Blueberry Salsa from Southern Living

I found this in this month’s Southern Living magazine and just couldn’t resist trying it. I was pleasantly surprised how great it was! And so pretty! You might consider adding a Tablespoon of diced white onion to make it truly red, white, and blue! 🙂
What a colorful salsa for 4th of July!!

What a colorful salsa for 4th of July!!

Prep Time: 15 minutes


  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (2  cups  fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped; 1  cup  whole fresh blueberries)
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (I used 2 Tbsp. of the diced jalapenos from a jar!)
  • 1/3  cup  diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt (I also added about a tsp. of sugar to sweeten it up a bit)


Toss together coarsely chopped fresh blueberries, whole fresh blueberries, fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh cilantro, seeded and minced jalapeño peppers, diced red bell pepper, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Serve immediately, or cover and chill 8 hours.

Southern Living, JULY 2010

AND…We Passed 4,000 Hits on My Blog!!

…so, look for a guest article from Carissa Davis…hopefully later today.

I’m Back from My Blogger Break!

I’m back from my blogger break, and doing well! Both tests went off without a hitch, so the hours of studying were definitely worth it. Anatomy Test was over Muscles, Bones, and Nerves. Nutrition was over Healthy Lifestyles, Sports Nutrition, and Eating Disorders. So, a lot of really good material all crammed into one week. But it’s worth it. I have class tonight, and then we get a full week break next week for July 4 Holiday! Yeah for a much needed break!

So, here’s an update on some weekend meal plans:

Saturday: I was quite pleased. I was only 2 grams over on carbs and 1 gram over on fat, but still within calorie and protein ranges, and I got a lot of vitamins and minerals today. Plus, I worked out and did a lot of studying.

Breakfast was 4 oz. 2% organic milk, 1 mini spinach-bacon-mushroom quiche, 1/3 c. blueberries, and 1/3 c. strawberries with 1 tsp. of raw sugar, and 2.5 c. of coffee with skinny caramel creamer.

Lunch was another slice of quiche and a bowl of leftover broccoli soup.

I had 2 c. of kale with 2 Tbsp. of organic ketchup for a snack.

Dinner was 1 c. grapenuts cereal, 1/3 c. blueberries, and 1 c. blueberry kefir (a yogurt drink).

Sunday: Yeah for thinking ahead. I know we have plans to have pizza with friends tonight, so I’m planning ahead to balance out the day. I was well within every range except for being a little high on protein, but not too excessive.

Breakfast: 1 slice quiche, 1/3 c. blueberries, 1/3 c. strawberries, and 1 c. coffee with skinny caramel creamer again.

Lunch: 3 oz. pork tenderloin, 1 c. mashed potatoes, 10 asparagus, 2 sliced roma tomatoes.

Dinner: 2 slices cheese pizza, veggie tray (carrots, cucumbers, and red pepper strips) with a Tbsp. of hummus, and blueberry salsa (recipe to come) with low-fat, baked tortilla chips. Okay, I also had a piece of cookie bar, but I was still within ranges.

Monday and Tuesday were good too, but I won’t bore you with the details. They basically mimicked the two days above. 🙂

Blogger Break – until Wednesday

I have a big test on Monday followed by a big test that’s due by midnight on Tuesday. So, this is what I’ll be staring at for the next several days.

My New "BFFs": Meet MacBook, Anatomy Book, and Nutrition Book!

Meanwhile, I’m taking a break from the blog. Should we pass 4,000 hits (almost there!), we will have a guest blogger, Carissa Davis! I’m very excited about what she has to share with us all! So, stay tuned!

A Glimpse into What God is Teaching Me

There are so many things going on in my head and heart recently, so I wanted to put a few of them out there. There may be some “stream of consciousness” style going on here, but I’m just trying to put it all on one page and see a big picture emerge. I’ve been using the NLT (New Living Translation) for my personal reading recently and it’s been a joy to read and see things in a fresh way. So, the passages quoted below are from the NLT (underlining is mine).

Proverbs 4:23-27 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

Proverbs 6:6 says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!” And verse 8 says, “They labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.”

Proverbs 11:12 says, “…a sensible person keeps quiet” (compared to the gossip in v. 13).

Proverbs 11: 16 says, “A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth.” And verses 24-25 say, “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Proverbs 31 speaks of the capable woman. She is trustworthy (v. 11), rises early, cooks, and plans ahead (v. 15), is “energetic and strong, a hard worker” (v. 17), works late into the night (v. 18), “extends a helping hand to the poor and open arms to the needy” (v. 20), and even sews (v. 21-22). “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (v.25). She watches her mouth (v. 26), her pocketbook (v. 27), and her children (v. 28). And most importantly, she “fears the Lord” (v. 30).

My Notes:

I’m in school to become a personal trainer, so no surprise that a future career change is in my future. And though it’s exciting, every transition comes with a risk. I’ve been working at the same company for five years, have pretty decent benefits and enjoy what I do. I also love the people I work with! Change is scary, but it’s inevitable (though I’m not exactly sure when yet). So the verse about keeping my eyes focused and not getting sidetracked is something I need to keep before me.

Long term goal? I want to be able to work part time from my home as a personal trainer or life coach (may even write for a Nutrition or Fitness magazine or website), publish my own cookbook, and be a stay-at-home wife and mom. All in good time. I know, I know, I’m not getting any younger, but you’re only as young as you feel. And I feel about … 23 (even though I’m almost 6 years older than that). I’m taking care of myself and I believe God is in complete control. So, don’t worry, we want kids. But we want them in God’s timing. So, if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t,…I would love to adopt! All I’m saying is I don’t know exactly what God has in store, but we have some desires, and we believe those to be God-given, so we’re taking steps to get to the goals we think He has for us.

Another long term goal is to help with a church plant somewhere. There’s a church in Colorado that’s just starting up and we have several friends that either are already out there helping it or are moving soon. We’d love to be a part of this, but we know that 1. we need to find jobs, 2. we need to sell our house, and 3. we need to be content until God says go.

For now, I’m in school. After this semester, we’ve decided that I’m going to try to do the self-study method to get my personal trainer certification. Eyes on the prize: certification! As another step in the process, I’d love to work part-time for a gym and learn the ropes of running a fitness studio under a certified trainer. So, is Colorado a possibility? Sure, but not for another year or so, most likely. If I can find a job in a gym and get one year under my belt while getting certified, that will help me find a fitness job if we get to move. And if we don’t move, then I still want to work for a personal trainer while becoming one myself. God knows. He’s had it all mapped out long before we were ever born.

Meanwhile, my personal goals are to 1. be a godly woman (which means focusing on God first and foremost, watching my mouth, watching our money, planning ahead, and being as generous as we can be), 2. be a fit wife (physically fit and one that nurtures my husband), and 3. become a certified trainer. If I focus on a heart that pleases God, I honestly believe the rest will fall into place. So, I choose not to fear the future, but instead to “laugh” and fear God instead of fearing the future, like the woman in Proverbs 31. I choose to be joyful, gracious, and generous. And though my steps may falter along the way, God has prepared my steps and will continue to guide us each and every day.

Recipe: Kale Chips

So, I’ve seen these on lots of blogs and finally am getting up the nerve to try them. My friend, Katie, sent me a recipe a while ago with a recipe, suggesting I try them. So, here goes…

From Katie:

“Have you tried these? I found them on a blog and they had rave reviews…looked like something you also might be interested in. 🙂 I haven’t tried them yet, but hope to try them  soon. 🙂

“Baked Kale Chips
“Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places

“1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Lacinato or “Dinosaur” Kale but I understand that the curlier stuff works, too, possibly even better)
“1 tablespoon olive oil
“Sea salt, to taste

“Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

“Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle (well, actually the “pestle” was MIA so I used the handle of an OXO reamer, not that anyone asked) and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!”


Kale - Remove leaves from stems and rip into bite size pieces. This is two bunches. I reserved half of it to try again or in different recipes.

Discard stems, preferably by composting

Dry leaves and place in bag. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Add some salt, close up bag and shake (careful not to add too much salt).

Preheat oven to 300F. Spread kale evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy.

Kale and ketchup!

Overall, this was pretty good. I got a little too much salt on mine, but the ketchup helped balance it out. Do make sure to dry the leaves well so they crisp up. (PS, I also tasted it raw. It had the texture of curley parsley or arugula and kind of tasted like broccoli. I may try adding it to a smoothie in the morning. I noticed it was an ingredient in several of the smoothie recipes I’ve seen recently. And it’s in the Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness smoothie that I like so much, so it’s worth a shot.) Thanks for the recipe, Katie!

Recipe: Spinach Bacon Mushroom Quiche


  • 5 oz. (or 1/2 bag) of frozen chopped organic spinach
  • 5 oz. (or 1/2 bag) of frozen mixed organic mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. all-natural bacon (2 slices whole for decoration on top of the quiche; cut the rest into small pieces with kitchen shears before frying)
  • 4 all-natural large eggs
  • 2 c. organic 2% milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 c. shredded Farmer’s cheese (or your favorite cheese: Swiss, Cheddar or Mozzarella would also be good)
  • 1/2 recipe of perfect, flaky pie crust (find recipe here)


  1. Make dough. You make this ahead and chill it if you want, then roll it out when you’re ready to bake. I had 1/2 recipe left from making my chicken pot pie earlier this week, so I pulled that out of the fridge and cut it in half. I rolled out 1/2 into a 10″ round for my 9″ pie plate. Then I took the last portion and divided it into 6 equal parts, rolled them into little balls, and flattened out into about 3″ circles. I put these into a 6 muffin baking dish. (You can do this while your bacon fries, as long as you don’t have the heat up too high where it cooks too quickly.) No need to grease your pans! There’s enough grease in the dough that it won’t stick!
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Thaw spinach and mushrooms. Squeeze out excess water (I used a paper towel and strainer for this; you could use cheesecloth if you have it around).
  4. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat. Don’t get it too crispy, since it will be cooked a little more as the quiche bakes. Drain on paper towel lined plate.
  5. Shred cheese (or your favorite cheese: swiss, mozzarella, or cheddar would also be nice).
  6. Whisk milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and thyme together.
  7. Assemble and bake:
  • Combine spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese and disperse in each pie shell.

Shells with spinach, bacon, mushroom, and cheese (egg mixture to the side)

A Closer Look at the Filling

  • Pour egg mixture over top.

Ready for the oven!

  • Just before baking, place 2 whole pieces of bacon in a criss-cross on top of quiche.
  • Bake at 350F. The muffin pan took about 40 minutes, where as the larger quiche took 50-60 minutes. (I started the timer at 30 minutes and kept adding 5 minutes until the tops were golden brown.)

Finished Products!

  • Let cool slightly before eating.

Spinach Bacon Mushroom Quiche

I served mine with coffee, fresh strawberries and blueberries. Yum!

Waiting on the coffee... 3 place settings because my brother is in town for the weekend (he was shocked when I brought him breakfast in bed)!

Breakfast is served! My sister gave me these adorable antique tea services, perfect for today!

Bon Appetit!

Nutrient Analysis Project: Do You Need a Multivitamin?

This week in my Nutrition class, our project was to track everything we ate for one day and look up the nutrient information on the National Agricultural Library’s website at This gives WAY more information than the Nutrition Labels on the back of the box. This was an eye opening assignment for me, and I realized that I actually do pretty well even before taking my multivitamin. I’ll post my meals for the day of analysis and my results at the end of this post. I can’t be too specific, just in case other classmates are out there reading this, but I will summarize my findings. I highly recommend everyone do this project, just to see where you stand. It is possible to get all of your vitamins and minerals from your diet and not have to take a supplement. Those who need to especially consider supplements would be children, elderly, and vegetarians or vegans (as certain vitamins and minerals are ONLY found in animal products and byproducts). So, here’s the project:

Nutrient Analysis Instructions:

  1. Record your food and drink intakes for a 24-hour period (include amounts: for example 1 cup cereal, 1 tbsp jelly, 3 ounces chicken).
  2. Go to, scroll down to the right to My Pyramid Plan and enter your personal information to get a personalized calorie (kcal) level to use for this assignment.
  3. For this project, we had to look up Energy (kcal), Protein (g), Carbohydrates (g), Fiber (g), Total Fat (g), Saturated Fat (g), Cholesterol (mg). There is not a DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) for fat or cholesterol, but there are recommendations. For cholesterol use 300 mg as your max daily allowance. To get your fat gram recommendation, calculate 30% of your calorie level for fat grams. Then 10% of your calorie level for saturated fat grams. Remember, there are each fat gram yields 9 kcals. So, divide your total calories by 9 then multiply by 30% (.3) for fat and by 10% (.1) for saturated fat.
  4. For vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, use the DRI Tables in the back of your textbook. (Since you don’t have the textbook, you can find the same charts that I have in my textbook here.) Make sure you use the Recommended Intakes for individuals (not the upper tolerable limits). For this part, we looked up Vitamin A (mcg), Vitamin C (mg), Vitamin E (mg), Thiamin (mg), Riboflavin (mg), Niacin (mg), Magnesium (mg), Vitamin B6 (mg), Folate (mcg), Vitamin B12 (mcg), Iron (mg), Zinc (mg), and Phosphorous (mg). (mg = milligram; mcg = microgram)
  5. Use the USDA nutrient website to look up foods and get their information: Do not just use food labels because that will provide incomplete information! When using this website pick Vitamin A content in mcg RAEs – NOT IUs (RAE = Retinal Activity Equivalents; IU = International Units).
  6. Add up your total intakes and compare your intakes to the recommended intake (DRI). Calculate your % DRI to see if you met your needs. To do this, divide your intake by the DRI and multiply by 100. For example if you consumed 65 mg vitamin C and the DRI is 90 mg then your calculation would be: 65 / 90 = .72 x 100% = 72% which means you were 38% below the DRI recommendation.

My Meals for the Day:

Breakfast: 1/2 c. blueberries, 1 c. strawberry soup, 1 c. coffee with 1 tsp. each of sugar and 1 tsp. of non-dairy powdered creamer.

Snack: 1 medium red pepper, 1/3 c. homemade hummus.

Lunch: 1 serving chicken pot pie, 1 plum.

Dinner: 1 c. medium grain white rice, 1/2 c. black-eyed peas, 1 tab of butter.

Snack: 1/2 c. vanilla ice cream.

My Results:


Calcium: 35.2% of DRI. I try to avoid an excess of dairy, so I may need to take a calcium supplement or consider calcium fortified orange juice. That or I can add a yogurt for breakfast.

Vitamin E: Only at 34.6%. My multivitamin yields 30 IU, which is basically equivalent to the RDA. I could also eat a bowl of raisin bran or have 1 oz. of sunflower seeds or almonds to naturally increase this level.

Magnesium: Only at 50.50%. My multivitamin adds 50 mg, but that still only brings me up to 63% of DRI. I should add a few tablespoons of peanut butter, an ounce of sunflower seeds and some extra spinach as good sources of magnesium.

Folate: 94.75%. Pretty good. And I take a vitamin supplement that has 400mcg of Folic Acid on top of that.

Vitamin B12: Only at 30.83%. Only found in animal products, which I don’t eat a ton of. However, my multivitamin adds 6mcg, which is almost 3 times the DRI. Adding a yogurt or a boiled egg as a snack would help, since B12 only comes from animal products.

Iron: Only at 63.25%, however my multivitamin does provide 100% DRI in addition to this, so I should be fine. Spinach would also help here.

Zinc: At 69.63%, however my multivitamin provides almost 2 times the DRI. If I add the yogurt and sunflower seeds, this level will also go up.


Vitamin C: 422.27% – 1 red pepper has twice the DRI of Vit C. Still didn’t come close to toxicity levels. UL is 2 grams, so I’m still far within allowed amounts.

Niacin: 147.39% – limit portion size of poultry. I consumed 20.6 mg of niacin, which is still 15 mg under the UL.

Vitamin B6: 130% – a little high, but fine. I consumed 1.69 mg. UL is 100 mg per day, which I am far below, so this is not of concern.

The Pioneer Woman Cookbook – 25% off all books at Ingles!

Can you believe that Ingles gives 25% off ALL books if you use your Ingles Advantage Card?! They had the Pioneer Woman Cookbook, which I’ve been wanting. I picked it up 3 times, then saw the sign posting the 25% off discount and picked it up for the final time to put it in my cart. Yeah! Beautiful pictures! And it’s an inspiration for me to keep writing my own cookbook – one of my life goals. 🙂 It’s also on sale at for $16 or $17, but if you don’t have $25 to order to get the free shipping (or just don’t want to wait, stop by your local Ingles and pick it up! Who would’ve thought a grocery store would be a bookstore too!