Monday, March 25, 2013

Taking a break this week

Hey everyone, thank you for coming and reading my blog. I have enjoyed sharing my journey with you. This week I am taking a break to attend the healthy life summit.

I listened last night to some of the speakers. They were wonderful.  I am dedicating the time that I would have spent blogging this week to educating myself. This is a wonderful opportunity. I hope to take full advantage of what they have to offer.

The conference is free. Each day the five speakers are up and streaming for 24 hours. From what I heard last night it should be a wonderful rest of the week.

Check it out.
1. go to the village green network
2. Sign up with your e-mail address
3. they will send you daily e-mail reminders
4. tune in and listen

They do have an option available to purchase the conference so you can listen later on at your leisure.

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity. In the meantime; feel free to look about the blog, read some of the older posts, get to know who we are and what we are all about. Good health to you. Please come back next week when I will have updates on all the great things that I am learning at the healthy life summit.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Is it an intolerance to wheat; or the processing of the wheat?

 I keep hearing more and more about Celiacs disease and gluten intolerance.  I have come to believe that many people are not allergic or intolerant to wheat itself, they are having troubles because of the way it is processed.

I have been reading up about the processing of wheat into white flour. (I have included the best link below for describing this process) It is disgusting what is left once you take away all the good stuff.  We process the wheat into something that some would no longer consider food. They keep on changing and adding to the mix until they get a substance that is far from the wheat that it began as. Then we mix it and mash this stuff with a whole variety of other chemicals into the food -like substances that we find lining our supermarket shelves.

Ants and other insects do not recognize white flour as food. White flour kills them. Try it for yourself. Set out some white flour near an ant pile. Many will not even come close to the stuff. Those that  find the white flour will shrivel up and die after getting into it. We are being poisoned by white flour.  It is no wonder that people feel better when they get this stuff out of their diets.

Getting the white flour out is a challenge. You almost have to make everything from scratch.  Desserts made with whole grain flour are usually a flop. (I have been there.) White flour has been processed and created to behave in a certain way, whole grain flours do not have those same properties. Chef Brad has created a whole grain flour mix that can be interchanged with white flour with fairly good results. It is a mix of  spelt, brown rice, and pearl barley. I have used it with pretty good results.  I choose to eat fruit for dessert. I have found that I really do not love the cakes and cookies as much as I once thought. Fruit is sweet enough for me now days.

Getting the white flour out of breads, now that creates a whole new set of troubles. Nearly everyone will tell you that you have to have white flour to create the gluten to make bread rise and give it structure. I know many people who add a dough enhancer which contains gluten and several other chemicals to aid in the rising process.  I do not want this!  I want a good whole grain bread that has just a few simple ingredients that I understand. I can't find that in the store. Finding a bread that is 100% whole grain that does not have a load of  extra ingredients is hard to find.  I think I will make my own, but I am like so many who have tried to make bread with 100% whole grain flour and end up with bricks. So we go back to part white and part wheat flour in bread; Until recently when I discovered something.

One of the biggest culprits causing the problems with getting whole grains to make good bread is the yeast we are using. The overwhelming use of rapid rise dry yeast in the 1980's really changed the face of bread making. Before this you had a wet yeast, or yeast cake, now these are nearly obsolete. (In some parts of the country you can still buy yeast in a cake form).  Bread bakers and homemakers were constantly trying to get product out faster and faster. Waiting around for bread to raise was lost profits for companies and a pain for homemakers who had hungry mouths to feed. The advent of rapid rise yeast was a dream come true; now we can produce bread in less than half the time. The results were pretty good, but it changed the texture of the bread.  So they went back and changed the properties of the flour to keep up with the changes in the yeast and achive the desired results.

Most notable of the changes in the white flour is the addition of potassium bromade. Bread flour is the most common to have this chemical added. It works like a charm reacting with the yeast to make perfect bread. It makes the bread stronger and springier. It allows for very consistent results, it makes it easier for the machines to produce our bread. The bread will behave the same each and every time. which is imperative when you have a machine creating the product.  The problem with the stuff is that it is a toxic substance that is banned in several other countries. There are several states that are requiring labeling on the bag of flour you buy at the store, but what about the  comercially made bread? Often it is just labeled as enriched white flour.

I have avoided these troubles by grinding my own wheat into flour. I really enjoy the smell and experience of using fresh ground flour. Then I use a natural wet yeast. I grow my own yeast.  I love not having to rely on yeast from the store. It has been a learning experience. I will include links below so you can read about my  beginning experiences with the yeast.  I have finally got to where most of the time the bread turns out great.

 I have to remember to slow down and let the yeast do its job in its own time because it is a living thing. Our food should be living. I should be able to see it growing. This is why I avoid most of the food-like stuff at the grocery store. I shop the perimeter and buy food that I know and understand. The produce section is my favorite part of the grocery store. I love being in touch with my food. It nourishes me on so many levels. I hope you will also let your food be nourishing to your body and soul.

Links for additional reading
caleb wornock on natural yeast

my adventures with the natural yeast

making waffles with the natural yeast white flour
wisegeek on brominated flour
live strong on bromade in flour
chef brad website

Monday, March 18, 2013

helping a picky eater

Having a picky eater can be a real challenge. There are some children (and adults) that are putting their health at a real risk by eating only one or two things. How do you help a picky eater and encourage them to enjoy a healthy variety of foods? I have some suggestions below.  

© Sorinus | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

1. Don't be picky yourself. As a parent, you are the example for your children. If you are picky, they assume that they should follow suit and think that this is normal behavior. I have met families where the parents are picky eaters, they expect that the children to try new foods, yet they are unwilling to try new foods themselves. It does not seem to work.

2. Try it Tuesdays, new food Fridays etc. Pick a day to try a new food as a family. You never know; you may find a new family favorite. It does not have to be every week, but make it a part of the routine (every other Tuesday for example). A word of advice in this situation, make and enjoy a new food, but incorporate it in with foods that the family already understands and knows. For example. If you are going to try a new meat, serve side dishes that they love.

3.  Let the picky eater choose a recipe or new food to try. Letting them be in control can ease the tension and make trying new foods a more pleasant experience. Browse recipes together and let them help pick out the new food or recipe. My Nephew picked out radishes to try; who knew they are one of his favorite foods?  He did not know until he tried them.

4. Ask questions. One night at dinner, my daughter tells me she does not like the salad I made. Upon further investigation she was able to tell me that she does not like the strong flavor of raw onion in it. We made the salad again, we made it with a milder red onion and she decided that she liked it.  My son has a hard time with raw tomato and cooked green beans. It is a texture issue. I was able to talk with him and figure it out. Just a few days ago he asked if we could grow a bunch of green beans so that he could enjoy them raw. "when you cook them don't cook mine," he says. Which leads to my next point

5. It is the food, or the preparation technique? I love peas, but mushy, canned peas, I am not going to eat them.  Sometimes it is the food, and sometimes the way it is prepared. Beets for example, some people like them pickled and some like them plain. If you do not like the strong vinegar flavor, pickled beets may not be the way to go. I have a friend who likes cooked broccoli, yet she will tell you "raw broccoli tastes like grass." 

6. Everyone must try the new food. This is the rule.  You do not have to eat a whole plateful of the stuff, but give it a try. At our house, it is a bite for each year old that you are. (they are small 7,5 &4). Find something that works for you family.

7. You are allowed to not like things, but only after you have tried it at least twice.  Giving the child the option to try it and decide for themselves if they like it or not gives them real power over the situation. They need to know that you are not forcing them to enjoy it, you are just giving them an opportunity to explore new options. There is a study out there that says that you have to be exposed to a food twelve times before you can really decide if you like it or not. I think this is bogus. After twelve times some people will give up and eat the darn food; they will tolerate it, not like it.

8. Be patient all these things. It takes time. Some foods you may grow into. Mushrooms is an example for me. I did not think I liked them when I was younger, but now I enjoy them on a regular basis.

I hope this encourages you and your family to get out and try some new foods.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What is your dieting attitude/style

Dieting and getting healthy is something that is prevalent all around us here in the United States.  It seems that you can hardly turn on the TV or computer without someone trying trying to sell you something to help you get healthy or lose weight. How do you react to all this?

I have identified 5 different attitudes in dieting and getting healthy.

1. There are those out there who want to be healthy or lose weight yet it sounds too hard to do it the old fashioned way. "Give me a pill",  they say. These people are not willing to give up the pleasure of food and the addictions that they have. They live in the world of "I will take my cake and eat it too".They are wanting a quick fix, and are typically dissatisfied when they do not get the results as quickly as they desire. They may have tried many diets before with limited success because their diets only last for a few days or weeks and have no time to really show their effects.

2. There are those who are of the attitude of "If it ain't broke don't fix it What's wrong with what I am already doing?" These people tend to go along with whatever seems good at the time. They tend to float along in the crowd. They don't tend to care to much about what they eat, they just eat what tastes good. they may have a small desire to lose weight or get healthy, but in the end it is not enough to warrant making changes.

3. There are those out there that want to get healthy, yet they need someone to hold their hand. "Tell me how to do it! give me a detailed plan." They are really good at getting started. They follow the diet books to the letter. They are  extremely good at sticking with a diet.  They tend to live someone else's system.They do well, but when they get bored with the same recipes/foods; they tend to go off the diet. They have a hard time incorporating anything other than what is written in the program.

4. There is another variety of people out there. They are the people  that get it into their head that one certain food/juice/or supplement is "it". They have found the miracle cure for everything. They get going on that one thing. They often drive others crazy preaching about how great this thing that they have found is.

5. And lastly, there are the gung ho lifestyle changers. These people get real excited about healthy eating. They tend to throw out the "bad food" in the house. They fill up the house with good healthy food. The problem with these people is that they want to make sure that everyone around them eats healthy too. They turn into the food police. They can make life miserable for those around them who lack enthusiasm or are not ready to go "cold turkey" like they have.

Where do you find yourself? Which type do you identify with on the list? 

Tune in next week when I  I will share some strategies, helps and hints for losing weight and becoming healthy in body, mind and spirit.

quick and easy cake mix cobbler

So.... this is no healthy recipe, but it is a yummy recipe that comes together quick. It is one that we make only a couple times of year. We often make it over the fire in the dutch oven during the summer months on camping trips. It requires very little work and just a few ingredients.

Cake mix cobbler

To make the cobbler you will need

1 quart fruit, juice drained reserving about 1/4 cup juice  (we use our home canned peaches or apples)
1 cake mix
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) liquid. The original recipe calls for a can of soda pop. We quite often use the liquid from the fruit instead.
1 cube (8 Tablespoons) butter

1. Place the drained fruit and the reserved 1/4 cup juice in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish  or in the bottom of a 12 inch dutch oven.

2. Mix the cake mix and liquid together just until moistened. It is good to leave some lumps. When camping we often will use a large gallon size zip top bag to mix the batter, it makes clean up a breeze.

3. spread batter over fruit

4. cut the butter into pieces and dot the top of the cobbler with the butter (see photo below)

5. bake in a 350 oven for about 20-25 minutes until browned and set.

6. If cooking in the dutch oven cook with about 24 charcoal briquettes. 8 on bottom and 16 on top.

An easy way to figure heat for a dutch oven.  For a 350 degree temperature you want to take your dutch oven size and double that. This gives you about the number of briquettes needed. You then divide this into thirds one third for the bottom and two thirds for the top.

 This is great served warm or at room temperature. When camping we make a cobbler in the evening, whatever is left over makes for breakfast the next morning.

ready to go in the oven

all done and ready to eat

Monday, March 11, 2013

Are you really living life?

                                                                   © Talisalex | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

 I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someones garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Wonderful words from a wonderful lady. She spent many a years serving by the side of her wonderful Husband Gorden B Hinkley. They were an inspiration to so many.

These are great words to live by. Getting out and serving others is beneficial to those who are serving and those who receive the service. Service is essential to the health of our bodies. There are physical changes that go on in our bodies and brains when we serve other people. It is also good for building our communities. We cannot thrive on our own. We have to help each other. This is the law of life.

What are you doing to serve in your community or family?  Are you living and changing the world around you?  If you are not, what can you do to serve those around you?  One of my favorite hymns is "Have I done any good in the world today?"  It goes a little something  like this

Have I done any good in the world today?  have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad, or made someone feel glad? if not I have failed indeed.  (It goes on, But I love the chorus.) Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above, doing good is a pleasure a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.  GET OUT AND SERVE SOMEONE TODAY!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Raising a family of mud pie makers

Snow is melting, it is revealing all that was lost underneath. Lost mittens, forgotten toys and such are showing up in puddles everywhere. My children love to explore the world around them. They are finding real joy in discovering those lost treasures hidden under the snow and in the puddles/mud.                    © Nanadou | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

 I think I am  going crazy from mud puddles that come into my home. It is a challenge to keep it clean, but it is worth it! Yes, I said mud puddle messes are worth it. If the children are mud puddle jumping and mud pie making, they are gaining all kinds of health benefits.

© Rtrembly | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Some of you are ready to tune me out and think that I am off my rocker. What kind of health benefits come from making messes and playing in the mud?  Have you ever really watched a kid playing in a puddle. They jump in with both feet with reckless abandon. My son loves to see how high/ far he can make the water go. He works hard on calculating how to jump just right to get the best effect. While jumping in puddles kids senses are heightened. Their brains are really working hard when jumping in puddles. (and we just thought it was all about fun)

Kids jumping in puddles are joyful. There is something joyful about puddle jumping. As children we did not worry about the mess, it was all about the fun and joy that comes from splashing about in the puddle. Then someone told us that mud and puddles were bad and we couldn't do that anymore, and that we had to grow up. To those people I say Go and splash in a springtime puddle. Find the joy that comes from that.

My children love puddles and love to play in the dirt. We end up with alot of dirt in the house. Dirt in the house is worth it! It means the children have been outside breathing the air.  It means they have been exploring the world around them. It means they have been discoving God's creations. It means they are becoming one with the world around them. It is not just toddlers that need the mud and dirt, it is older kids too, they need to experience the touch and feel of dirt beneath their toes and fingers.

Playing in the dirt is good for all of our children emotionally and phsyically. They are exploring and using their immagination. This means  that they are moving and growing. But it is more than that. They are connecting to the world  around them, and that is important. Another important thing that happens when you get your hands dirty, your body gets an immune boost. There are microbes in dirt that you cannot get anywhere else. Playing in the dirt  could be considered "nature's flu shot". It has been proven that kids that play in the dirt and are exposed to those microbes found in dirt are healthier in the long run.

                                                                 © Tonyoquias | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

People of all ages need to be in the dirt. They need to be off the couch doing something productive with their bodies and brains. Playing in the dirt or working in a garden can do this for them.A family garden can really be a boost for a family. The older children/ teenagers can really reap some benefits from this. It keeps them busy and helps them to see where our food comes from. There is something about growing your own food. It enlivens all the senses. It is a wonderful experience to see food grow from a tiny seed or seedling to something wonderful and edible. Even if it is only a few vegetables or herbs in a pot, grow some food with your children, experience the health benifits together.   So what are you waiting for; get to it, plant a garden, build a sandbox, go find some dirt.

below are some interesting articles to read about kids and dirt.
kids health play in the dirt

web MD should kids play in dirt?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

rediscovering the flavor of popcorn

Again this week we heard about the danger of butter flavored microwave popcorn. Popcorn is a wonderful food; It is full of fiber and satisfying yet is has had a bad rap because of the butter flavor used commercial preparations. 
It is crazy we have come to expect that a microwave is how popcorn is made, and this is how it is supposed to taste. I am reminded of a time that the neighbor came over to borrow our microwave to cook his popcorn because his microwave did not have a popcorn button.
© Romanna | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Do your kids even know that you can make popcorn without a microwave?  Do you remember having popcorn cooked without the microwave? 

Dust off the old hot air popcorn popper! Make popcorn with real butter on it! taste the difference that real flavors make. You and your family may not be a able to get enough. Fall in love with popcorn all over again.  

                                                            © Lauria | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

If you are in the mood for some real great popcorn try popping it on the stove. I have included instructions for stove top cooking with coconut oil, and  for making simple kettle corn YUM!

To cook popcorn on the stove top

you will need
1/2 cup popcorn
2 Tablespoons of oil  I use coconut oil. It adds a really nice flavor.
a large pot  (four quart or larger) with a lid
large spoon for stirring

1. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over high/ medium high heat  for about 30 seconds until it starts to shimmer.

2. Pour in 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and shake the pan about to coat them in oil. Let them settle in a single layer on the bottom of the pan

3. Cover and listen for that first pop

4. When you hear the first pop, shake the pan back and forth gently over the heat until the popping stops.

5. When the popping stops, dump out the popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt stirring with a large spoon to distribute the salt. 

That is all there is to making wonderful tasting popcorn.

To make kettle corn at home

You will need

1/2 cup popcorn
2 Tablespoons of oil
2-3 Tablespoons white granulated sugar (using something other than this will not get the same results) 
a large pot  (four quart or larger) with a lid
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over high/ medium high heat  for about 30 seconds until it starts to shimmer.

2. Pour in 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and shake the pan about to coat them in oil. Let them settle in a single layer on the bottom of the pan

3. Cover and listen for that first pop

4. When you hear that first pop, carefully open the lid away from your face so the steam and any popping kernels will not come out at you. Quickly add the sugar and salt. Replace the cover and  shake to distribute evenly.

5. Continue to shake the pan back and forth gently over the heat until the popping corn slows

6. When the popping slows, working quickly so it will not burn; dump out the popcorn  into a large bowl and sprinkle with a few more sprinkles of salt on the top.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Spring is coming and so is the asparagus

Asparagus what a wonderful vegetable. I love springtime when it becomes available and somewhat affordable.  
© Razvanjp | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

There is alot of nutrition and health benefits packed into this vegetable. It is high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, and vitamins A, B6, and C.  There are many health benefits associated with asparagus. It is known to be benificial for heart health. It has been known to help stabilize blood sugar, and  aid in relieveing depression, inflammation, and joint discomfort. It has been used in the treatment of the aids virus, M.S., and cancer.

How to pick asparagus.

Pick asparagus with straight stalks with uniform green color and a compact pointed tip. Pick asparagus that is small in diameter. You really want it no thicker around than a crayon. Smaller stalks seem to be more tender. Allow 1/3-1/2 pound of asparagus per person as a generous serving.   

How to prepare asparagus

Snap off the root end of the stalks. Peel off the scales and stringy skin from the lower part of the stalks. For very small stalks this step may be skipped.  Wash well, and then cook in boiling salted water.  You can blanch them in a large deep skillet for 3-5 minutes until just tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Asparagus becomes mushy and slimy very quick. remove the asparagus right away from the hot water and cool in cold running water, or in an ice bath. Drain on paper towels until ready to use.

You can also steam the asparagus. Some swear by this method. claiming that the tougher ends cook in the water, and the tender tips cook in the steam. To do this; place the spears upright in a very deep pot. (You can tie the spears together in bunches of 8-10 spears to aid in keeping them upright). Add boiling water to 1 inch deep. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Remove from the steam bath an cool the asparagus in cold running water to stop the cooking.

Once cooked, the asparagus can be kept in the fridge for several days. It can be eaten cold or warmed again. It can be made into salads, or soups. It is great grilled, roasted or deep fried. This vegetable is beautiful and makes for a nice presentation. Because of it's strong and distinct flavor simple preparations seem to be the best. Lemon, butter, and garlic seem to lend themselves well to the flavor of asparagus. One of my favorite preparations is  a simple cream of asparagus soup.  However you prepare it make sure you enjoy the health benefits of this wonderful veg.

who knew?  There is a whole website dedicated to asparagus recipes and tips


more info on asparagus