Wednesday, July 29, 2009
What do you think about these wise words from King Solomon?
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
A merry heart doeth good like medicine: but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.
How much do encouraging words and a cheerful attitude contribute to our health? What are your thoughts on how building an atmosphere of joy effects our children's health? Please comment to share with us your consideration of these verses! I am very curious to hear your thoughts...
With peace and joy,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I hope that you are well! Even though I am still technically taking a blogging break, I have two links I want to share with you.
First, I have wanted to post about lacto-fermentation for a while. Simply, this is a process by which food can be preserved. Lacto-fermented foods are hugely beneficial to our systems since they contain prolific friendly bacteria. They are served as a condiment with each meal in order to increase the assimilation of the meal's nutrients. Sally Fallon includes a chapter on these foods in her book Nourishing Traditions. Now Shannon at Nourishing Days is posting a series on making these foods. It's worth checking out!
Second, I would like to share with you an interesting article on an investigative report into the lead content of crock pots... You might be thinking "Yikes!" The article is eye-opening. When lead content is below the approved FDA level, manufacturers are not required to disclose the amount that leaches into food. Yet it is the cumulative amount that effects our bodies. Read the article if you're curious... and be sure to read the first comment too!
May the rest of your week be full of joy with your family and in the kitchen!
Friday, July 17, 2009
My top priority is my children - their hearts and their minds. I need to start off the school year with a plan and in a hopeful state of mind. In order to do so, I need to take a break from blogging. I wish I could do it all and blog too. Really, I do. But, I have to be realistic. Lord willing, I will be back once school is underway. I still have so much I want to share about how we can bless our families with greater health...
If you've been a long time reader, know that I really appreciate your comments and your participation in this blog. I look forward to reconnecting when I return.
If you're a new reader, I apologize for the pause. Please enjoy the archives while I'm away. I look forward to getting to know you soon!
On a side note: Our children need attentive parents. They need parents who will really listen, who will ask the questions that probe their hearts and take the time to hear their responses. Our children need quantity time, not just compartmentalized quality time. I talk about the amazing position we are in as mothers, mostly in reference to how we can bless our families with health. But, more importantly, we have been put in a position to nurture our children's hearts. Let's not miss the precious opportunity!
Peace and joy,
Today I am toilet training little Tickle. I find that the whole process works so much better if the first day is really focused. So today, I am totally absorbed in watching my bare-bottomed little girl play on the linoleum.That being said, dinner will be simple tonight. Huge green salad. Leftover Super-Veggie-Spaghetti. And watermelon for those kids who have a hollow leg to fill with food.
The last two nights, we have had a Spinach Parmesan Quiche and White Chicken Chili from the freezer for supper.
I heard from a friend that you can grill cube steak. Really, I don't even know what cube steak is, but some of it came with my portion of our grass-fed cow. So, since I am trying to work more meat into my pregnancy diet, I am going to grill some cube steak tonight.
On the side, I'll steam some broccoli, slice some cucumbers and mash some potatoes.
After a holiday weekend full of extra cooking, I am very pleased that tonight is covered! I made an extra Chicken Nacho Casserole when I made one for a church pot luck yesterday. So tonight, all I have to do is toss a salad and I'm done. What amazing things will I get done instead of preparing supper tonight? I think I'll read to my kids ;-)
Tonight I am roasting three chickens again. It was so nice to have the extra chicken ready and waiting for me in the freezer last time around. I found it worth the time in deboning three at once, so I am doing it again.
I will roast oven potatoes and make a garden salad to go with tonight's portion of the chicken.
Tonight I am preparing beans and rice. I have small red beans soaking and I cooked a double portion of brown rice last night. I recently saw an interesting recipe for a beans and rice salad. Since it is HOT here in GA, I might just give it a try.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Today I'd like to introduce you to a new resource called Headache U. It seems like such helpful tool in narrowing down the specific causes of your personal headaches. Then, once you know a more specific trigger, you can find more targeted relief.
"Headache U is the perfect website for headache sufferers to turn to! By logging onto Headache U, you can begin to “Chart Your Course to Relief.” This first-of-its-kind online and interactive personal headache care tool asks you questions about your own experiences and based on your answers, guides you to resources… tailored specifically to YOU! Because sufferers want to spend less time worrying about their next headache and more time enjoying the fun things in life, Headache U matches sufferers with resources based on personal headache patterns, providing the steps toward getting relief!"
I hope this is a helpful tool for you. What other natural remedies help your headaches? Comment to share your thoughts... you may just bless another reader! And, if you use Headache U and love it, come back and tell us!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Did you know that you can use Plain Yogurt as a healthy substitution for Sour Cream? You should try it! It can be used in dips, in Mexican dishes, dolloped on soups or chili. Where else do you use Sour Cream? In most cases, I bet you could make a switch.
You can also substitute Plain Yogurt for Mayonnaise at times. I do when I make Potato Salad. I just mix some fresh herbs, salt, fresh garlic and Plain Yogurt in with cooked potatoes... sometimes I mix in a little brown mustard as well... throw in some green onion, diced bell pepper and black olives... or whatever veggies strike your fancy... and Voila! You've got some healthy potato salad. I get rave reviews on my potato salad at picnics. No one even knows it's loaded with probiotics ;-)
So what do you use Plain Yogurt for? I'd like to know...
For more Works For Me Wednesday Tips, check out WeAreThatFamily.
Monday, July 13, 2009
But, we ran into a problem. The young tree produced far more fruit than its small branches could hold! We had to pull 100 baby apples off the tree so that it would support the ripening of the last fifty or so. I let the apples sit on my counter for over a week while I tried to decide how to make good use of our first "harvest."
Since the apples were crisp and sweet/tart like a Granny Smith, I decided to make applesauce. It was my very first try. And, surprisingly, it turned out quite delicious. Here's what I did;
First, I had to wash the 100 baby apples. No big deal here.
Then, I had to peel the 100 baby apples. Big deal here. This photo was taken at the point where I decided my knife needed sharpening if I was really going to make it through all 100. If we live here next summer and our apple tree blesses us with abundant fruit again, I will invest in an apple peeler. That is, of course, if the apples are big enough to fit into the mechanism.
Then, it got back to being easy again. I added 2 cups of water and steamed the apple pieces until they were soft. I did this while we were eating our Saturday Supper of Super-Veggie-Spaghetti, so I am figuring it took 35 to 40 minutes.
Instead of putting the soft apples through a food processor in batches, I decided to give my hand blender a try. It worked beautifully. So easy. So clean. I would use this handy appliance for applesauce again! I added 1/2 cup of honey to the blended, warm apples just to take some of the tartness away. The applesauce turned out the sweetness of store-bought "natural" applesauce, which was what I was aiming for.
I ended up with two quarts of applesauce - one for the fridge and one for the freezer. It's debatable whether it was worth the time in peeling the 100 baby apples. But then again, what else was I going to do with 100 baby apples. They taste much better as applesauce than they did as apples!
I am looking forward to the next batch of apples from the tree! And, I'm really hoping they will be terrific apples just for eating.
I know I say this every time I post a winner, but I am so thankful for each of you who read my blog. Your encouraging words are such a blessing to me! Thanks for participating!
For your health,
Thursday, July 9, 2009
"I have a question for you. With all the conflicting information out there, proper nutrition for health and also for weight loss is so confusing! I'm just wondering what your take is on eating for weight loss. I just discovered (on your blog) that using Splenda contributes to weight gain not loss!! Who would have thunk it? LOL! So, how do I balance it all out -- eating for health, for weight loss, and also eating frugally, and not spending my entire life in the kitchen??!!??!!"
Balance is elusive, I find. Some weeks I feel like I am always in the kitchen. Some weeks I think I'm so far behind in my goals since I am not in the kitchen all week. Bottom line is that we do the best we can with the resources we have.
One important key is to do what you can for your family without comparing your family to other families. Each of us have different resources of time, money and kitchen help. Prayerfully do your best! And remember that ultimately we are only stewards, and not "Lords," over our bodies.
Honestly, I don't have a lot of experience with weight loss except for two scenarios. First, I finished college with an extra 30 pounds that I needed to shed. And second, I have had baby weight to lose after each delivery. With each of these times, I didn't use any of the popular diet prescriptions. Instead, I just ate according to What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, which is our basic model for what we eat anyway.
The three guiding principles from the book are:
1. Eat what God made
2. Eat it as close to how God made it as possible
3. Everything in moderation
I have blogged about this topic here and here. With these three principles, and proper exercise, the weight came off naturally. One drawback I see in the popular diets is that it is very difficult to follow a plan that your family is not following. However, eating God's way is something we all should be doing, even if we as the mom are eating less in order to lose weight.
I am certainly not saying that weight loss is simple. On the contrary, I know that it can be a very grueling process. But, I still think it is very important to follow God's plan for eating when we are trying to lose weight. If I had to suggest a weight loss diet, I would recommend the following:
- Eat nothing artificial.
- Eat everything in moderation.
- Eat as much fresh, raw foods as possible.
- Exercise diligently so that you do not lose muscle and thereby lower your metabolism.
- Don't give up no matter how long it takes.
- And, if you really want a program to follow, consider substituting this healthy weight loss shake for a meal or two each day. This program is the only "diet" that I find isn't full of artificial ingredients or other disordered eating habits. It includes a high-quality nutrition supplement that supports muscle preservation, maintains steady energy and prevents unwanted cravings.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Stonyfield Farms has offered my readers another giveaway package. I love this company! You can read why here.Stonyfield is introducing a brand new product for babies... YoBaby 3-in-1 Meals. Some of you may make your own baby food... some of you may purchase baby food already prepared... but we all need convenience at times. This new Stonyfield product is a great way to feed our babies and toddlers a meal on the go without sacrificing nutrition. It is a unique 3-in-1 combination of protein-packed yogurt + fruit + veggie purée in one cup. Sounds like a great way to sneak in veggies!
YoBaby 3-in-1 Meals come in three delicious flavors -- Pear & Green Bean, Peach & Squash, Apple & Sweet Potato. And the single serve 6-ounce cup offers 50% more than current 4-ounce YoBaby multipacks.
This is a great prize package... it includes a reusable YoBaby bag, an organic YoBaby bib, an Eric Carle growth chart, 5 FREE YoBaby 3-in-1 coupons, and a travel YoBaby bowl with lid and utensils.
To enter, just submit a comment saying that you'd like to win. It's as simple as that! You may enter this giveaway until 11:59:59 on Sunday, July 12th. On the following Monday, I will select a winner at random and post the winner!
For your littles' health,
This OJ works for me! For more Works For Me tips, visit We Are That Family.
Note: Florida's Natural did not compensate me for advertising their product. In fact, they don't even know I posted this! I only mention their brand because it is what we drink. Pretty simple, huh?For your health,
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
It has been our family tradition to go blueberry picking every Fourth of July. And, part of the tradition is Blueberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. We have been doing the same thing for ten years, and each of us eagerly await the day.
Unfortunately however, waiting until the Fourth this year meant waiting too long. The farm operator where we pick said that this year's peak was two weeks earlier, which meant more difficult picking... and fewer berries. But, on the brighter side, we all had an opportunity to exercise contentment, gratitude and other positive character traits that need exercising from time to time.
We may not have left with enough blueberries to last all winter, but we did leave with plenty for cobbler (plus enough for breakfast these past few days... and for freezing a few quarts too).
My cobbler recipe is an adaptation from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions. And I guess it is not technically a cobbler since it doesn't have dough on the top. It is more like a Blueberry Crisp. This time around, I increased the recipe by 50% because of the growing appetites in our family. This is one dessert recipe that I don't mind my kids eating a full portion of since it is mostly fruit.
I started with 8 cups of freshly picked, washed blueberries.
- 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat or spelt flour
- 1 1/2 cups of whole oats
- 3/4 cup of melted butter, we use an awesome amish butter
- 1/2 cup of Sucanat
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. real vanilla
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! For more recipes today, check out Blessed With Grace and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I have been roasting three chickens in my turkey pan, freezing the meat in meal-sized portions, and making several quarts of stock with all of bones and such. This has been a great solution. I have chicken ready in the freezer for those meals that have to be prepared quickly, which has been a lifesaver through this unscheduled season.
Here's how I've been doing it:
First, I thaw out my chickens in the fridge. Then, I rub them with extra virgin olive oil and place them in my turkey roasting pan. You see here that these three were so big that one had to fit on its side. (I also use this pan for cooking up huge quantities of pumpkin and such.) I sprinkle them with salt and pepper only since I don't know the final dish the meat will make. I wouldn't want clashing herbs or seasonings!
Then, I cover the chickens by making a "tent" with foil. The pan came with a lid, but I prefer to allow some air circulation.
See the pile of bones? Don't throw those away! There are so many minerals and other nutritive properties in those bones. Making stock is a great way to make use of every nutrient in the chicken!
To use all three carcases at the same time, you will need an extra large stock-pot. But, don't let making stock scare you. It is actually really, really simple. Sorry I don't have photos for this process...
- Place all of the bones, skin and everything in your stock pot.
- Cover with fresh, pure water.
- Optional: add three to five carrots and three to five celery stalks for extra flavor.
- Add three tablespoons of vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones.
- Let stand for thirty minutes.
- Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface.
- Cover and let simmer for 12-18 hours.
- Optional: add a bunch of parsley for the last ten minutes. This will impart extra mineral ions to the stock. (This tip, and much of this process, belongs to Sally Fallon.)
- Remove bones and strain stock into large bowls.
- Refrigerate until the fat congeals at the top.
- Skim and discard the fat.
- Divide the stock into pint- and quart-sized portions and freeze for future use.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Then Rainbow got whacked with the pole on her knuckle. No serious wound, but she was out of the game for a while. She came and sat down next to me. Spiderman followed, having no one to continue the game with. The little girls were collecting rocks around us. Like I said, this was the kind of morning I couldn't have planned. I just talked with my kids...
After a while, I thought about blogging. I was thinking of what I might write to encourage you today. I decided I would ask my kids. I said, "If you could give one health tip to the moms who read my blog, what would you say?"
Spiderman, who will be seven this month, abruptly said: "Don't eat candy; eat grapes or granola bars instead."
Rainbow, who is nine, thought about it all morning. At lunch, she said: "If you want to help your children be healthy, you can feed them lots of carrots for their eyesight and eggs so they will be smart." (You can read the reasoning behind eggs in this previous post.)
Witzy, who is just four, hummed her little Five a Day song from Signing Times Volume 6. I would love to post a video of it today, but it is not available for public use. Rachel Coleman sings this incredibly catchy song teaching little ones to count to five while they add up their fruits and veggies each day. "Any way you slice it, or dice it, or peel it, it's gotta add up to five a day!" Very cute song... so worth checking out the dvd.
So there you go. From my kids... if you want to help your kids be healthy, teach them to choose their foods wisely, making sure to include at least five fruits and veggies each day. Make it a game... and enjoy the adventure!
By the way, have you ever tried Dragon Fruit? If you haven't, be on the lookout for it. This is just the type of adventure your children will love. Even if they don't love the fruit itself, it is such a thrill to see its scaly pink outer skin and then reveal the beautiful black and white speckled flesh inside.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Crystal does a wonderful job keeping me in the loop with coupons and special deals. She also keeps me thinking frugally. I enjoy her blog and her positive perspective on mothering. So, hop on over to read my post and browse around on her blog if you have not been there yet!
A new study has recently been published that links diet soda with an increased risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type II Diabetes. Read the summary of the study here. It's worth three and a half minutes of your time.
For your health,
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
A few years ago, I began to cull some evidence that the slow and steady workouts I had been spending my time on were not as efficient as a shorter interval workout. Efficient in terms of fat burning and muscle toning. I also read an article that described how the long, slow, steady workouts were not as beneficial in keeping our heart muscle functioning at top notch.
The research showed that during a slow and steady workout, such as a walk or a jog or a session on the elliptical machine, our metabolisms will start to "preserve" energy by slowing down. This is the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve. We want to burn more calories and more fat, not keep it. But, in a long, slow workout, our bodies prepare for a marathon and keep the energy for what might come. I guess they just don't understand that we will stop after 45 minutes or so.
However, when we put our body through interval training - where we mix short bursts of maximum exertion with periods of active rest - we keep burning fat and calories at a peak rate. This type of interval training also keeps our heart muscle working at its peak potential.
I have used this type of training for a few years. It has been a good use of my time. Instead of 45 minutes, I exercise 25 and get even better results. I have even seen interval training exercise dvds put out by some of the biggest names in exercise. These workouts are usually 20 minutes plus the warm up and cool down. Sounds good, huh?
If you don't use exercise equipment or dvds, you can still work this exercise theory into your running or your walking. You can time yourself for two minute bursts of maximum effort and equal active rest times to let your heart settle back into a steady rhythm. The goal would be to work up to three minute fast intervals with two minute rests. Just walk or jog at a slower pace during your recovery time.
You could even change things up by alternating fast and slow songs on an ipod. It doesn't have to be meticulously methodical... the key is just to vary up your exercise intensity. Keep your body guessing. It will do your metabolism good.