Wednesday, July 31, 2013

creamed spinach

                                Simple creamed spinach

Yummy and so easy prepare. Serve it with a simple steak and you have a great dinner.

Simple creamed spinach

yields 4-6 servings

1 1/2 pounds spinach
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2  of a small onion finely chopped 
4 tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
sprinkle of nutmeg optional
Parmesan cheese and chives for garnish (optional)

1. Heat about 1 inch of water in a large pot 
2. Add the spinach cook and stir until wilted. This should only take a minute or two.
3. Drain the spinach in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle 
4. Squeeze out the excess water and chop the spinach. Set it aside.
5. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until warm.
 While the milk is heating,
6.  Cook the onion in the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until soft (about 4 minutes).
7.  Stir in the flour and cook a minute more. 
8. Add the warm milk, whisking and cooking until thickened ( two to three minutes)
9.  Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
10.Stir to heat the spinach through then serve.  
Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chives if desired.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Be still and rest

The art of being still/quiet is something that is being lost. We are bodies in motion and we tend to be in motion all the time. We are constantly going even in our sleep. Our young people are experiencing sleep issues. Many young people are even texting in their sleep. As adults we are not getting enough restful sleep. So many experience sleep apnea. I see it on Facebook. I find many of my friends online making comments like this "can't sleep again, Why am I awake, sleep, I need sleep" and on it goes. Many can overcome sleep/resting issues simply by changing a few behaviors. 

 Meditation and Yoga have been key for me. I find that the resting part of yoga is nearly as important than the yoga poses themselves. I am beginning to understand the wisdom that was given by the Lord in Exodus 23:12 "Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day though shalt rest"  Rest is an essential state of being. Our bodies and brains are not made to go, go, go all the time. It is so not healthy for us. Many other cultures still have a rest period as part of everyday life and culture, but here in America we all seem to live the life of "New York the city that never sleeps".  It is becoming the United States a nation that never sleeps.

I have found that turning off all the distractions and taking a few minutes to get ready to sleep is very helpful. A regular bedtime routine is really important. I have found a few minutes  of deep breathing and relaxation really helps me to get into sleep mode. I have also found a sleep position.  After I breathe and relax a few minutes I put my body in that sleeping position my brain says "OK time to sleep now".

Photo courtesy of public domain image

They are just little things that make a big difference. It eliminates the tossing and turning for hours. I love that I can get to sleep alot sooner. I used to get in bed and my brain would start up I would spend over an hour thinking  about all the things that I missed doing during the day. Then I would go into a state of "oh I wish I could sleep, come on sleep brain". I would routinely spend two hours or more trying to fall asleep. I have found that a few minutes spent in quiet/ still time will save me hours of sleeplessness and I feel more rested. 

Resting our brains and bodies on a regular basis is super important to our well being. If you want to be more productive at work, before you get that afternoon slump take five to ten minutes and close your eyes, take some deep breaths and regain your focus. If you can get out into the sun and let the light "recharge" you it is even better.  It is more effective than fighting off that afternoon slump. It is invigorating and once again, a few minutes spent in quiet time will save hours in the long run. 

Now it is your turn, how to you find rest and repair for your body and soul? Leave a comment below for others to be inspired.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beans, beans, the musical fruit

Beans, they are good food for the body yet here in America many people eat them once or twice a year. Why is this so? Probably because nearly every six year old goes around chanting a little thing they heard in school that goes something like this "Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot, the more you toot  the better you feel, so lets eat beans at every meal." Is is any wonder that passing gas is so funny to a six year old?

Beans do tend to cause gas for some people because they are are so high in fiber and other things that our bodies have forgotten how to use. For many of us beans/lentils are a foriegn food that our bodies don't know what to do with.  What was once a staple of the diet has become nearly extinct except at the occasional barbecue, and then the jokes start. Yet the key to helping with the gas trouble is to eat beans/lentils regularly. Eat beans 3 times a week and watch what happens. (alot less gas) 

People all over the world eat beans and lentils everyday. Our Grandparents and Great Grandparents ate beans as a staple food. What has happened since that stopped? Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and a whole heap of other diseases and things have exploded upon the scene. We have gotten away from the goodness of the whole foods like beans and our bodies are telling us. It would do the body good to get back to the basics and eat beans more often. Many of the "preventable diseases" can be helped or prevented simply by adding things like beans back into the diet.

Part of the trouble is the time that it takes to prepare beans. To cook them from scratch takes time. even with a pressure cooker it takes time to cook them. Canned beans can be a great way to begin to add beans to your diet. They are convenient and easy to use. The other part of the trouble is "I don't know what to do with them besides making soup".  They can be used in soups, salads, or tossed into casseroles.  Lentils can be used to extend ground meat especially when well spiced.

If you are in need of some recipes and things to do with beans and lentils The savvy vegetarian has some great ideas, recipes, and tips for adding more of this great food to your diet. Adding in beans/lentils is one of the projects I am working on for myself and my family. I will update later on about how this is going for us.  In the meantime, What is your favorite way to get beans/lentils into your diet? Leave a comment below as inspiration for others.

For more info on types of beans available, more recipes, and cooking tips, check out the sites below.
101 vegetarian recipes
life 123

shared as part of real food wednesdays

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

obsessed with processed foods

We live in a society that is addicted and obsessed with processed foods. It is hard to escape it. Even those who are on "special diets" still can't escape the call of  packaged/processed foods. They make it so simple to grab and go.

Just this last week on facebook I saw a call for help. It went something like this. I gotta go gluten free for three weeks. Which products do I choose and which packages do I avoid? I loved one of the first comments. "Eat food that God made". A call to go gluten free is really a call to avoid processed foods. The problem comes in the way we approach it. My husband comes home this week and tells me about a study he heard where going gluten free had no real effect on the majority of those who follow. It does not really supprise me. I am sure that those were the people that were going gluten free according to package labels, and not really changing the way they ate.

I see all those who jumped on the low carb/Atkins diet a number of years ago. You would see people eating eggs and bacon three meals a  day. Or a big greasy hamburger without the bun. How can this be healthy?  I read the book. It  talked about eating good proteins as the main part of the meal. It was eating low carb fruits and vegetables. It added in some whole grains and other good foods like nuts and seeds. It was not eat piles of processed meats, although that is how it became interpreted my many The book was advocating real food, with a few rules, for helping you keep the processed carbohydrates low by eating fruits and vegetables. People do not want to really give up the foods they love for fruits and veg nuts and seeds. We have gotten to where processed carbohydrates are such a part of us, that parting with them is really hard.  You could eat processed carbohydrates as long as you offset it with fiber. So all these "low carb" processed foods had a high amount of processed fiber additives. They added all kinds of fiber stuff to make it "low carb friendly". The other thing about the low carb was the sugar substitutes and alcohol sugars. These things really caused havoc on peoples bodies. It is no way to live for the long haul.

Vegan diets. Avoid all animal products. OK I get that. There are some good reasons to get rid of conventional animal products. There is alot going on with our system that I do not agree with, but the extremes that people go to on a vegan diet amazes me.  I imagined that people on vegan diets were eating mainly things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. What I have found with vegans is things like Vegan hot dogs, cheese, and burger substitutes. Things like Oreo cookies and other processed foods that are vegan friendly. It  really kills me. I don't see how this can be healthy for your body. It is not real food, yet it is made with no animal products so therefore it is good?

Then comes Paleo/caveman diets. I understand the call to get back to basics. They ate whatever was available to them. I am understanding how going no grains can be beneficial considering what we have done to our food sources.  I think it is more how we process the grains with all our technology  and the fact that people think that wheat is about the only grain to eat. Again I see the paleo diet as a call to avoid processed foods, yet people don't get it.  I see all these paleo friendly dessert recipes out there made with peanut butter and coconut flour. I am thinking, caveman did not eat like this. People are missing the point.

There are a ton more diets out there that I could go on about it all day, but the point is..... People are taking these things to the extreme. So many of these diets have so many rules, regulations, and guidelines. Don't eat this, don't do that. It is counting carbs, fat grams, calories, fiber grams, sugars etc and the list goes on.  People are taking these general rules  and guidelines and making them the gospel truth, and usually they are picking only one of the rules to live by. They take these rules and look about to see how they can still eat the foods they are addicted too and still make it fit into "the rules", and not getting the fact that the rules were intended to help guide you to whole foods and a change in the way you eat.  The large food manufacturers want your business. They want you to be addicted to their processed foods. They want to keep you coming back and buying these products. They will do all they can to somehow fit their products into your rules  or thoughts about eating. 

Is this the way your grocery bag looks,
full of fruits and vegetables?

My take on all this. Get out of the fast food/ boxed food mentality. Get away from what I can't or shouldn't eat. Look for what you can eat. Start eating whole foods. Buy fruits and vegetables and then eat them. Find ways to cook and prepare them in a way that you will enjoy. Learn about whole grains that are available. Eat real food as it is grown. Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are good food and are meant to be the staple. Eat beans more than the twice a year that most people eat them (as baked beans at a summer barbecue).  Make eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts the main event. Make these things the rule rather than the exception to the rule. You can still eat the other stuff, just in small amounts.  You will find that the boxed and bagged foods that you once loved will loose their appeal, and you will learn to love the good wholesome food. Try it and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

making english muffins

A year ago I got a natural yeast start. It was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but I have gotten a handle on it. I will not go back to commercially baked breads. They are full of sugar, salt, and additives. Plus the yeast and flour they use are not what I want to put in my body. I love making bread. It is nourishing to me and my family. With summer in full swing I am not as excited about baking my own bread and heating up the house. My alternative, English muffins. They are so easy to make and are cooked stove-top.

To make English muffins I have tweaked my bread recipe a bit. King Aurthur flour has a good English muffin recipe.

I used a biscuit cutter to cut my dough into rounds, but the King Aurthur recipe calls for rolling them into balls and flattening them out. either way, they are pretty easy to do. Let them raise slightly and then slowly cook them on the griddle. If you cook them on too high of a heat, they will be to browned before they get cooked totally through the center.

Here is a recipe that is similar to what I used except I used my natural yeast instead of the processed stuff

1 2/3 cup warm milk
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups flour  (I use a white wheat)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix all ingredients until well combined. It should make a nice soft dough.
Let the dough sit and rise for about an hour.
Punch dough down and place on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal.
Roll or pat out to about 1 1/2 inch thickness. cut into 2 1/2- 3 inch circles with a biscuit cutter or a glass.
Let the muffins rest about 30 minutes.
Preheat a griddle or frying pan to a low heat. Do not grease but sprinkle with cornmeal.
Place the muffins gently on the griddle and  slowly cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.
Let cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Don't worry we got a pill for that.

As seen on a T shirt advertisement for a clever chiropractor

I take aspirin for the headache caused by the Zyrtec I take for the hay fever I got from Relenza for the uneasy stomach from the Ritalin I take for the Short attention span caused by the scopederm T's I take for the motion sickness I got from the Lomotil I take for the diareah caused by the Zenikal for the uncontrolled weight gain from the Paxil I take for the anxiety from the Zocor I take for my high cholesterol because diet and exercise and regular chiropractic care are just too much trouble.

It is incredible we get so many commercials on television for these drugs where they spend the entire time listing the possible side effects that these drugs may cause. Magazines are full of three page ads explaining the side effects of their prescriptions. Sometimes I think I would rather live with the symptom than live with the side effects of these drugs. Oh, and then there are the new drugs that you didn't know you needed until you hear it on the TV.  The commercials go something like this, "Is your bellybutton misshapen, we can fix it. Is your big toe a little too large Dr John's shrinking cream will have that big toe back to the right size within two weeks time." You go to the doctor and it is like this, "You only take three prescription drugs? I will help you keep up with the Jones' who take seven prescription drugs a piece." Oh you have a family history...... you better take this pill "just in case".  And now there is, "You have Pre-whatever they think you might get"

Family history and genetics are only a very tiny part of the risk factors for so many of the preventable diseases that we worry so much about. (Did you catch that..... preventable diseases). Yes, Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and many forms of cancer are preventable diseases.  These things can be prevented and even reversed by treating the body well. Your food  and lifestyle choices can help or harm you. I choose to eat food that is nourishing and helps my body to run well. I am starting to be actively engaged in my health. There are many things I can do to prevent getting these dreaded diseases that those who sell the test equipment and prescriptions have convinced us all that we are going to get. They have convinced us that it is all a matter of time until we all get these diseases and there is nothing you can do. I call bullcrap on them. It is hard because society is so overwhelmed with this stuff that makes it easy to live the bad lifestyle and seeming impossible to escape.  But it can be done. 

I agree with Hippocrates. Let medicine be thy food. Eat well and live well.  

Come back often here at life less hurried for tips and tricks on how to live a healthy lifestyle in an unhealthy world. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rethinking real food.

Growing up in the eighties and early nineties we got a  message burned into our brains. FAT IS BAD, FAT IS EVIL. The message was everywhere.
see, hear, speak nothing of high fat foods, only low fat varieties
 It was all over the news, billboards, books, and infomercials showing us how to knock out the fat. Everywhere you turned you saw and heard about the benefits of a low fat or non-fat diet. The saying was "Fat is what is making you fat". We all followed these crazy low fat diets and what happened? We all got fatter and we still screamed for more low fat foods because doctors and health Gurus are telling us that low fat is the way to live. Food producers trying to keep up with the demand were loading up food items with sugar, salt and all kinds of flavorings and chemicals to make up for the lack of fats. It is not a good combination for health yet people still believe that low fat is the way to go because it has been beat into our brains that low fat is the way.

One of things that I am having the hardest time with is rewiring my brain to believe that FAT IS GOOD. It has been so ingrained in me that any and all fat is bad, I have struggled with buying those "high fat" foods. I have started buying whole milk and yogurt and real sour cream. Butter, and cream (which were so against the rules) are now a staple in my fridge.  I have started cooking with real olive oil and coconut oil.  I have added nuts, seeds and avocado as the major source of the fats in my diet. I feel better and my brain is working better because I am fueling it with the fats it needs to thrive, yet I still struggle with the thoughts that it might be bad for me because it is so ingrained into my brain that fats are bad.

Dairy farmers know that fat is good. They just supply what the public market is demanding. We are demanding low fat dairy products so they keep supplying them. It is so ingrained in us. Low fat dairy is being sold to us for our children's health telling us that our kids will get fat if they eat full fat dairy, but know this, a calf that is not fed enough fat will die. Mother nature made milk as a good start for growing babies. Even our own babies need the fat and nutrition in mother's milk to survive. We need fat to survive. Our brain is sixty percent fat. We need the essential fatty acids for our brain to engage properly. So many are getting the wrong fats and an overload of them. We are getting plenty of fat into our diets, yet our brains are starving  and crying for fat because we are not getting the right fats that our body and brain can use.

We need real fats, the fats produced by nature itself. Olive oil pressed right from the olives, coconut oil squeezed right from a coconut, avocados, nuts, eggs, seeds etc. These things I understand. Many of the other oils I choose not to use as often. Soybean, canola, cottonseed and many other oils are so unnatural. Take some plants that have a relatively small amount of oil in them and grind them up, mix them with  toxic chemicals  and put them under extreme pressure in order to extract that small amount of oil. Then it goes through a whole process of heating and more pressure and more chemicals to clean and deodorize it so it does not taste and smell of all the chemicals. Take this highly refined oil and run electricity through it along with other stuff to hydrogenate it and you have something that our body does not know what to do with, yet we eat this stuff by the boatload. Nearly every packaged product on the grocery store shelves (and many in the health food stores) contain hydrogenated oils. These are the bad fats that we should avoid and for good reason, yet so many of us are eating a ton of these processed fats because they are hidden and we do not see them and do not really register that they are there.

Because it is so ingrained in us that fat is bad, we are eliminating the added healthy fats  (the ones that we can see).  It is easy to eliminate those things we see.  so many  people avoid things like avocados, nuts and eggs which we really should be adding to our diets.  "They are high in fat,  so I can only eat them occasionally." Yes they are high in fat, but it is the good fat that our body is trying so hard to get into the brain. We should be eating so much more of them and so much less of the junk we are eating.  So many avoid cooking with butter or olive oil and use a nonstick cooking spray which I avoid like the plague (more on that in another post). Learn to cook with real fats. Avoid the processed foods. Just about any food that comes in a bag, box, or can that is ready to eat will have some form of these over processed oils in it not to mention the preservatives. We need to eat food as nature made it, not as man made it.

I have had to work hard on eliminating these negative thoughts about fat. It is getting easier  because my brain and body are saying "thank you." I am feeling so much better because I am eating well. I will continue to eliminate the junk that does nothing to fuel my body and brain.

photos courtesy of Microsoft images

shared as part of real food wednesdays

Monday, July 1, 2013

Apricots; Food of the Gods?

Apricots are  food that has been nourishing people for years. It is a wonderful fruit that is good for the body and skin. They are high in the B vitamins as well as magnesium. The oil from the apricot pits is used in beauty products around the world. It is a wonderful thing to add to your diet.

Apricots are a wonderful fruit that are so easy to prepare, just wash and eat leaving the pit behind. The pit is easily removed, even my littlest could do it.  Last week we had some and our children ate so many of them I felt lucky to get any of them. They just flew right out of our fruit bowl. It seemed like I brought them in the house and they disappeared into little bellies.  I love that my children are loving and eating vegetables and fruits.

Fresh is the way I prefer to eat apricots. I do not care for canned or dried, yet they are wonderful. Apricots add a wonderful sweetness to many dishes. We have discovered that canned apricots make a wonderful smoothie base.  I am finding ways to eat the apricots I canned. An apricot puree made from canned apricots is a nice topping for pancakes or waffles. I just do not enjoy them straight from the can or jar. Canned apricots have got a bad rap in the military. There is a bit of superstition surrounding those who eat them. I have included the link to that story below.
Apricots causing superstition in the military.

One of the most popular ways people enjoy apricots is dried. I avoid many dried fruits because they use sulfites to aid in the drying process. I tend to have allergic reactions to these products. But for those who do not have such reactions dried apricots offer a powerhouse of nutrition that can be enjoyed on the go.  Dried apricots can go into salads, sandwiches breads and other things. It can be a great way to get good fiber and nutrition into your diet.

I really enjoy apricot nectar. It is wonderfully thick and rich in flavor and texture no wonder is called the nectar of the Gods.  I do have to watch what I buy, as so many of the popular brands are using less apricot and more corn syrup or other things. Watch what you buy, but  make sure you enjoy this wonderful  food. We tend to eat the same two or three fruits, apples, bananas, and oranges being the most popular here in the United States, but there are so many more choices out there. Expand your horizons get out and enjoy more fruits and vegetables including apricots.

apricot recipes
health benefits of apricots

shared as part of real food wednesdays