We are creatures of habit. When we find something we like we don't change. Brussel sprouts and the way we prepare them is a prime example. Our normal preparation is clean, cut, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and roast in the oven. If we are feeling crazy we might add a little bacon, balsamic or galic. I've learned to not mess with Laura's brussels!
This past weekend we did a Chrismtas dinner with my side of the family and my mom had found some beautiful brussel sprouts. I've tried exposing to my family to brussels before and other than my mom and sister in laws haven't had much luck. So I figured what the heck let's try something different in the hopes they will try it. It got a couple more to try but I don't know if I turned them to be brussel fans.
This recipe was simply inspired by what was in the kitchen. We had brought some fresh pecans home from Texas. We had an orange that we didn't eat on our flight up to Minnesota and I had saved some bacon grease from our breakfast that morning!
The orange definitely livened the dish up quite a bit and pecans added a nice texture contrast, so I would say this is a win and we would love to hear what you think if you make it yourself.
One variation you could certainly try would be to add bacon to the dish. We didn't since we had it for breakfast that morning. But if you wanted to, just chop and cook the bacon in your skillet until the fat is rendered out, remove the bacon and start the brussel sprout process listed below. Then just re-add the bacon pieces the same time as the pecans.
It's hard to find someone that doesn't like chocolate. In our online accountability groups that we run we are always talking to people about how and what kinds of chocolate can be a part of a healthy diet. Yeah there is a way and we will get to that.
When the candy industry got their hands on the delicious cocoa bean they figured out a way to take a superfood and turn it into something super dangerous. They stretch the cocoa powder so far and add so much milk and sugar to their concoctions that chocolate as most people know it becomes a sweet treat. That is where the danger comes in to play. Sugar is addictive. (1) Consuming it leads to consuming more of it and your tastes begin to become altered. The amount of sugar it takes to sense "sweet" increases. (2)
This all equates to you needing tremendous amounts of willpower to control the quantity of eating these types of food. Guess what... that's a losing battle!
I mentioned above that the cocoa bean is a superfood! Let's talk about that and how you can choose chocolate that improves your health and doesn't lead to the damaging effects of consuming the candy industry's version of chocolate.
7 Health Benefits of Consuming Chocolate
1. Nutrient Dense - Chocolate from a micronutrient standpoint is very dense. It provides a large amount of iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. It also provides potassium, zinc and selenium. The fiber content of dark chocolate is one of the best benefits of consuming it. Fiber is a missing piece is a lot of people's diets and important for the health of your gut and blood sugar.
2. Controls Blood Sugar - One of the secret ingredients in chocolate that doesn't show up on a nutrition label is a phytonutrient called flavanol, particularly epicatechin. This compound has been shown to improve a person's insulin sensitivity. Therefore making your insulin work more effeciently and regulate blood sugar better.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure - Staying on the flavanol theme, this amazing little phytonutrient also increases the levels of nitric oxide in the blood which relaxes your blood vessels and therefore lowers blood pressure. (3)
4. Source of Antioxidants - You've maybe heard of the ORAC rating, it is a way to measure the antioxidant power of different compounds. Guess where chocolate lands when measured... yup you guessed it is right at the top of the list with some other amazing foods. Antioxidants are important, especially in whole food form, to regulate the levels of free radicals in our bodies. The less free radical damage that occurs in our bodies the lower overall inflammation throughout our body and increased health. (4)
5. Improves Cholesterol - Dark chocolate has been shown to increase the amount of "good" HDL cholesterol. It has also been shown to limit the amount of LDL cholesterol that oxidizes. This is due to the previous point about it being a powerful antioxidant. LDL cholesterol isn't inherently bad, our bodies actually need more of it than HDL. The problems with cholesterol arise when the ratio of HDL/LDL gets out of whack and/or it becomes oxidized and therefore inflamatory. (5)
6. Improve Brain Function - Better brain??? Yes please! Dark chocolate can improve brain function from a couple different aspects. First, blood flow, as mentioned above dark chocolate and it's powerful flavanols help with overall cardiovascular health and therefore better blood flow. A couple other powerful components in dark chocolate include theobromine and caffiene. These compounds are stimiulants that have both been shown to improve brain function. (6)
7. Improved Skin - Those same flavanols that we've talked about also help with protecting your skin from UV rays. This doesn't mean you should just lather up with melted dark chocolate instead of sunscreen, but it's fun to know that that treat you have can help in this area too. (7)
Hopefully I've made a case for why and how chocolate can be can considered a health food. Don't stop here though and go grab the nearest Hershey bar thinking you are improving your health. Let's talk about how you can select chocolate that actually improves your health and doesn't harm you.
Selecting the Right Kind of Chocolate
The candy industry has a pretty good hold on chocolate production. This past summer we made a stop in Hershey, PA to check out Chocolate World!
Chocolate World should probably be renamed Sugar World. By weight I'm guessing a standard Hershey bar contains more sugar than cocoa. We had to search pretty hard to find some true dark chocolate in the big Hershey store. Even the dark chocolate we found was less than desirable according to what I consider healthy.
Here is a simple equation that I created that you can use determine whether or not the chocolate you are eating is health food and will provide all the benefits listed above, somewhere in the middle, or straight up candy and the negative effects outweigh the benefits.
In general the higher the percentage of cacao the healthier the chocolate. In order to get into that moderately healthy category you should be looking for at least 60% cacao but most likely you will need 70%. Once you start getting over 80% that is typically when your chocolate starts becoming health food.
One thing to close with is that consuming chocolate can improve your health if you choose the right kind but it is also a calorie dense food since most of it's calories come from fat. Don't take this information as an opportunity to go hog wild on dark chocolate thinking that because it is healthy it can't affect your weight. A typical chocolate treat for us is usually 2 squares from a dark chocolate bar or about 1/2 of what a serving size is supposed to be according to the packaging. This is enough to give us the health benefits along with our chocolate fix without consuming a huge amount of calories.
We hope this information helps you understand chocolate a bit more and how it can and should be part of a healthy diet. We encourage you to share it if you think it is something your friends need to hear.
1. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake
2. Reduced dietary intake of simple sugars alters perceived sweet taste intensity but not perceived pleasantness.
3. How do dietary flavanols improve vascular function? A position paper.
4. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide
5. Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder.
6. The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people.
7. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
It's hard to believe it has be 8 months since we left our home in Minnesota. So far our travels have taken us to 35 states and we have logged over 13,000 miles on our motorhome. Yeah we've seen a lot and moved a lot. It's been fantastic so far and we have really loved every bit of it. We've made some new friends along the way and have immersed ourselves into the RV community that is out there.
One of the reasons I wanted to write up this blog post because I know a lot of people that do what we do or intend to have questions about the relocation process is like. There is some good information out there and there is some bad information out there. We found all of it.
One of the good pieces of information that we came across early on was through Escapees. Escapees is the company/service we use to get our mail forwarded. They are based out of Livingston, Texas with a few other locations around the country. It was through them that I was able to setup a time to chat with a domicile lawyer named Miri Wakuta that works with Loring & Associates. As an escapees member we were able to setup a free consultation back in February where she guided us through the process of what it takes to switch our domicile from MN to TX. That benefit alone is worth the price of your escapees membership.
The big thing that she stressed and this isn't legal advice but intent was a huge part of proving your new domicile. The more evidence you have to prove you intend to live in Texas or whatever location is key to establish your domicile. She mentioned things like joining Escapees and getting a Texas address but other things that would prove intent could be things like registering vehicles, using doctors and other services in that state, and actually living there.
Step 1: Get a Texas Address! - Done
The next step in the process for us to was going to be to register our vehicles. This was a little bit of curveball for us. When we set off in April our first stop was Augusta, Georgia so that I could attend The Masters golf tournament. We didn't think our next steps through too well, because after Georgia we started heading towards Texas to get vehicles registered. We made it as far as New Orleans before we realized we didn't have our new titles for vehicles yet. We purchased our motorhome in February and our Jeep in March and the titles were still hung in the MN DPS. One more curveball to add to that mess was that both titles would have to be mailed out to our old MN address, and because they are legal documents they can't be forwarded, so they get sent back to the state. Then once they get them back I could apply to have them reissued to our new Texas address. Needless to say we weren't going to wait around in Texas until the middle of summer to get all of that taken care of, we had a lot of the country to see!
So we headed back east and up the East coast with a couple stops back in the Midwest between April and October. If you want to follow all of that you can go HERE.
By the middle of October we were on our way to Texas with titles in hand. This is where we really started researching what we needed to do and what the steps were to get everything switched over.
We started here with an Escapees document that does a pretty good job laying everything out and the locations you need to go to take care of stuff. To me that is all kinds of complicated. So here are the easy steps that we took plus some info on taking the driving tests I had to take to get the proper license in the state of Texas. More on that later!
Step 2: Get insurance that is valid in Texas
We did this prior to getting to Livingston, TX. We chose to get our insurance through National General which is who Good Sam contracts out to provide "Good Sam" insurance. We found the prices were actually better than what we were paying using our old insurance and coverage was very similiar. Wish we would have switched earlier.
Step 3: Get vehicles inspected
We did this at Soda Auto Repair in Livingston. It cost us $7 per vehicle to get this done. It only took 10 minutes. The inspection just looks at whether lights, brakes, wipers, etc work. There is no emissions check in Polk County.
Step 4: Register vehicles in Texas
This involved going to the County Tax Accessors office in Livingston. To get our vehicles registered we just needed copies of our titles, inspection certificates, proof of insurance and I think I had to show them my MN drivers license. You wil also need to tell them the weight of your RV. I snapped a pic of the vehicle tag that is inside my coach and states the GVWR. I think the cutoff is 26,000 pounds if you are more, you pay more. Oh and a check, no credit cards! We paid right around $600 to get our motorhome and Jeep re-registered.
Step 5: Get Drivers License
This process wasn't too bad. I read horror stories from people needing to provide all kinds of documentation and it wasn't bad at all since we had passports. We just had to show them our vehicle registration, our escapees card which was proof of our Texas address. Then we showed them current passports, social security cards, and our MN drivers licenses. If you don't have a passport then I believe you need to provide a birth certificate. The cost for each drivers license was $25.
Applying for a Texas Class B Non-CDL License
This is one area where I got a lot of bad information. I think part of it was due to the fact that the DMV in Livingston didn't have a standardized practice for how they treated RVer's even though they saw a lot of them. I read stories of people needing to parallel park their rigs, taking multiple sections of the CDL test, air brake testing, etc.
Talking with the employees at the DMV in Livingston it sounds like they finally have a system for dealing with RVers so hopefully the information I give you is all you need.
There was a lot of information out there on who needs to take this test. People were saying because we drive recreationally versus commercially we don't need this special endorsement on our license. Not true!
I know for a fact that anyone driving an motorhome over 26,000 pounds for a dry weight needs to take this test. I'm pretty certain anyone with a combined weight between truck and trailer over 26,000 pounds also needs to take this test. I don't want to be one of the blogs out there handing out bad info so I'll stick to the motorhome side of things.
The process of getting this endorsement involved taking a written test that was solely based on Section 14 in the Texas CDL Handbook. It was a lot of questions about the size of vehicle you are driving and permits needed. I remember there being something about road flares vs flags. There was some stuff about farm vehicles. The test is 20 questions and you need to get 14 correct to pass. I read through that section of the handbook a couple times and took some online practice tests and was able to pass on my first try. There is also an app that has some CDL practice tests. I wasn't able to find any practice tests specific to section 14 so I just took it as good knowledge to know about driving a big rig.
I took this test at the same time that I applied for my license. After I passed I was then issued basically a trainer's permit/license for this endorsement until I was able to take the road test. Also I had to pay an additional $11 to upgrade from a standard license. After passing the written test I was able to setup an appointment to take my driving test which the earliest they could get me in was 1 week from the time of my written test. So we extended our stay at Rainbow's End park and hung out in Livingston a little longer. I've read this is about average for what they are booked out on driver's tests.
The Driving Test
I showed up about 10 minutes early and parked in the large lot south of the DMV building. The instructor later had me move my rig to the shoulder of N. Washington Ave facing south. They didn't ask me how I got the rig there, which was a small concern since technically I wasn't licensed to drive it. The pretrip inspection included testing the brake lights, turn signals, headlights, wipers, and horn. Even though I have air brakes they didn't ask for any of those tests. After that, Talia who was super friendly hopped in and read through a document and we were off.
We started heading south through town, looped back on highway 59, exited onto a frontage road, came back to Washington Ave heading south. Did a lane change then turned left and headed north on highway 146 for about 1 mile. We turned onto a side street where she hopped out and instructed me to pull forward about 100 feet and back up straight down the street until where I dropped her off. No turning, no parallel parking!!! After that we made our way back to their office and were done! It took 25-30 minutes max. Nothing tricky! Didn't get asked about road signage which is another thing I read you would have to do. Not a bad thing to pay attention to, but wasn't part of my test.
Overall they are mainly looking to make sure you use your signals, mirrors, and understand how to move your vehicle between lanes and take a corner.
Hope that helps a few of you that are considering going through the process! If you have any questions feel free to reach out via email or the comments below and I'll do my best help.
Don’t think you’re qualified to help other people get healthy?
Do you think you have to be a personal trainer or have some degree to do what we do?
Think you have to be in perfect shape or have all the answers?
Do you have a HEART that breaks when you see people hurting? Do you have EARS to listen? Do you have PASSION and FIRE to help others? Do you want to SERVE others greatly and help them change their life? Do you want to make a little extra $$? I put the financial benefits last, but they’re certainly not least. There are so many companies out there now that can make you a little extra money (Thirty-One, Pampered Chef, Jamberry, Younique, DoTerra, Rodan & Fields)…the key is finding one that fits YOUR passions and the things you’re excited about…while fulfilling someone else’s need.
I have to pinch myself day in and day out because I truly can’t believe this opportunity and how it’s changed our lives and changed me from the inside. I’m not going to lie…I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose when I first started, so I don’t have an incredible physical transformation like some people. My transformation has been mainly from the inside. Since becoming a Beachbody coach I have become more confident in my own skin AND in my abilities. I’ve become stronger and able to get past my struggles and insecurities. My focus and time management has gotten better because heck, life is busy but if you have a DREAM you find ways to make things happen. Do I still struggle with these every once in a while? Heck yes. BUT the emphasis that Beachbody puts on personal development and growth definitely makes those struggles easier to get through.
The blessing that coaching has been in my life is just incredible. I share this not to somehow help myself but to help you! Beachbody can be that community you are looking for. It can be the thing that keeps you committed to working out and taking care of your health. If you want to know more about what this coaching community and business opportunity is all about we would love to share it with you.
We are currently parked in a campground in central Texas between Houston and San Antonio. There isn't anything super fancy about this park or its location. One upside though is that there are pecan trees everywhere and it's pecan season! If I had the patience I could easily fill up a 5 gallon bucket in less than hour. We've been snacking on them a bit but decided to try to use them the other morning in combination with a new pancake recipe.
If you follow us you know that we love our pancakes and they are a weekend tradition. You also know we need gluten free options since I can no longer eat anything glutenous! I wouln't consider these pancakes health food but they are close. The flax in them provide a ton of Omega 3 fats which are super good for you. You also get a decent dose of protein and fiber too!
The sauce/sryup that I made is the thing that turns a fairly healthy pancake into a bit of a treat! Enjoy it though because it's delicious and a much better way to enjoy pancakes then use a boxed premix.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.