Friday, May 30, 2014

GOOD NEWS! My popcorn book is available

I did it! I got finished with my popcorn cookbook before the end of May.
It has been an incredible journey as I have continued with my two blogs, and taking care of my family. Thank you for all your continued support here at life less hurried.
How do you enjoy popcorn? Do you eat your popcorn simple and plain with just a hint of salt, or do you do enjoy it fancy and sweet; dipped in chocolate, and drizzled with caramel? Whether you like your popcorn savory, sweet, or a little of  both---This cookbook is for you.

Download your  kindle copy by clicking one of the links below

                     For the love of popcorn: A cookbook for popcorn lovers of all ages

My other cookbook is now available in a printed book version. 

Click here

Monday, May 26, 2014

Multi-tasking---friend or foe?


There are times when we must multi task, but to make it a way of life is absurd (spoken from a woman who used to live that absurd life).  Women are notorious for multi-tasking and for many, it is an addiction and a way of life. There was a time I thought that multitasking was a way that I was supposed to live. It was the surefire way to get to ahead and obtain the American dream.  I had come to believe that to be successful in life you had to have a great ability to multi-task. I was pretty good at it, but not near as good as my sisters and others that I used to compare myself to.  I was driving myself crazy trying to keep up.
I'll let you in on a little secret. The most successful people in life Do not multi-task. In fact they are the exact opposite, they are notorious for being obsessed with and focused on only one thing. Those who are truly successful know one of the secrets to success in life is that you get what you think about most of the time.  If you are thinking about twenty things at once, which are you thinking about most? None of them. You have to have a main target that you are shooting. Shooting at 15 different targets at the same time (even if you hit one or two) does not make you a great archer, but yet this is what we are doing when we multi-task.       

I was so much into believing in multitasking as a way of life yet my husband didn't get it.  I used to get so upset at him and what I called his one-track mind.  He was totally opposite. He would get focused on one thing and I could not get his attention to shift with me. He would focus on that one thing until he got it, or finished it (which would sometimes take days or weeks). I got tired of hearing him talk about this one thing. It would make me crazy.  He would be working on a project and ask me to come help and I would say, " Just a minute let me finish A, B, and C first."  I would hurry and finish reading the page in my book, switch the laundry over and feed the cat on the way out the door to help him on his project. I would help for a while, but my mind would be wondering when we I could leave because I would remember six other things that I wanted to get done before dinner, what was I going to make for dinner? I would excuse myself from helping him and be back to doing all the things that I thought needed to happen.

This pattern was a trouble for us because  his love language happens to be quality time. I found myself not spending quality time with him because I was too busy multitasking to get accomplish all the things I wanted to do to show him that I loved him.  When I was spending time with him I was absent because my mind was always going over what the next six projects were going to be. It was not working for us. I was becoming great at multitasking but I was failing at being the good mother and wife I wanted to be.  On the outside I looked like I could do it all, but on the inside I was feeling crushed, overwhelmed, and exhausted by it all. I  felt like was screwing up everything in a big way.  This was not the way I wanted my life to be.

I would get so tired trying to do it all.  I was spending my time spinning my wheels trying to do everything but not doing any of it well, in fact I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to get out of the messes I created by not paying attention to the important things. I am making big efforts to have a focus and quit juggling everything.  I am happier now that I have learned to juggle only the important things.  I have found that taking time for the little moments really makes a difference.  It is better to live in the moment rather than waste the time thinking about what the next moment brings. I have quit driving my life about at a hundred miles an hour. I have learned to slow down and enjoy life and enjoy the people I am living with.

It has not always been easy. In the beginning I would spend time trying to be in the moment with my children and wondering if there was something that would be more productive.  I could not find the joy in just being with someone and not having three other projects all going  on or lined up to do next. I have learned that time spent really engaged in knowing someone is not time wasted. It has been a journey for us all.  My family is much happier when I live in the moment with them, when I show up, look up and pay attention to what is going on around me.  They are beginning to know that they are important to me, it shows through my actions when I engage with them. It is even harder now in our busy world, but it is important to slow down and take part in your own life. You have the ability to make your world whatever it is you want, you just have to decide what is important and let the rest go.

The rewards are great for those who concentrate on living life 
 Leave a comment below on how you are engaging with the world around you

Here are links to the 5 love languages books by Gary Chapman They are wonderful books. I highly recommend them as a great reference for any family. They also make a great wedding gift.  


The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

The 5 Love Languages of Children
The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers New Edition: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively

Note the above links are affiliate links. This just means that by clicking you are allowing us to refer you to Amazon to buy the product. Doing so helps us to continue the work here at life less hurried. You can read the full disclosure by clicking the privacy policy tab at the top of the page. Thank you.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tuning the brain to the real food channel

As I have journeyed into better eating habits there are still some things that I really struggle with. These are things that I want to believe, but my brain has been "trained" to believe other wise. It has been a battle inside to retrain my brain, but it is working. I am changing my thoughts and my actions while improving my health. 


1. Probiotics.  I understand the fact that there are "good bacteria" that are essential for good health. I know that culturing milk to make yogurt and  kefir have really helped my gut, but sometimes my inner germ freak kicks in. I can't seem to help it when I have thoughts like..... "Food should not be left out on the counter growing things" or, "How do I know that it is not growing the wrong stuff?"

Being the chef and going through the courses that teach the danger of  bacteria because it can kill people, where we heard over and over again "hot foods are to be kept hot, and cold foods are to be kept cold" has made me a wee bit paranoid.  Milk (or any other food) left at room temperature for more than two hours, and/or kept in the "danger zone" sends out a red flag, it says "Danger, Danger, throw it out before it kills someone".  It has been a challenge to retrain my brain on this matter.


2. Fat.  Growing up in the low fat era has really had an impact on me. The more I learn about how good fats are helpful for the brain and heart, the more I have to turn down and drown out  those voices that keep telling me lies about fat. My brain and heart feel so much better when they have the proper fuel (fat). I am finally getting to where I do not feel guilty buying and using butter and other good fats.  I can use sour cream without the guilt that used to crush me.

It is still hard at times.  Because I am a large woman, I feel judged when I go to the store and buy full fat milk, butter, and cream. I often feel judged by my sisters who are plagued by the "fat monster" inside of them. They are still of the opinion that fat is the enemy. Fat itself is not the enemy, it is essential to good health, but the wrong fats can be detrimental. When I feel judged by others I have to just know deep down inside that I am getting healthier and the good fats are an essential part of it. I have to remember that they don't know about my inner struggles. They do not understand how badly my brain and body were damaged by a low fat (high sugar and starch) diet. They do not understand how the change of diet has helped my digestive system which was out of order.  One day my outside will reflect the health that I am feeling inside.  

3. Starches.  I do not have to have a starch (pasta, potato, rice, bread etc.) at each meal. As a naturally frugal person it has been hard. Meat has always been stretched out in a casserole or such. Sandwiches and cold cereal (cheap foods) have been a main part of life. We learned early on in school that starches are the staff of life and the basis for a good diet. If you look at the 1992 Food pyramid you will see that starches are at the base it is the foundation of our society. We learn it from a very young age. The first foods we are given as infants are the grains and starches.  It is a way of life for so many of us and it is hard to break free.


It has taken a long time for me to believe that I can have a dinner without a starch. Dinner for me would often start with which starch do I want; pasta, potato, or rice? Then I would build around it. In chef school we spent weeks learning how to prepare starches. This is how food is created, sold and marketed to us.  I have had to work really hard at changing things at our house.

I still have hard time thinking that A piece of fish and a salad or vegetable is a complete meal. I still want the starches to go with it. I am getting better. I used to crave starches so much that I would eat a full meal and then go and eat a bunch of carbohydrates a while later just to satisfy the carbohydrate/ starch cravings.  I was not full until I felt the warm comforting feeling of a carbohydrate load in my body. Things are slowly changing.

 I have enough flavors in my life, I have a full menu, but saying goodbye to a long held carb obsession is hard. I can't help but still hold onto it, my excuse;  "it is for the kids."  It is time to let that excuse be gone. I have learned that the kids can learn to love new flavors and textures too. They don't have to be raised to be a carb addict. Things can change; your health can change; It starts with changing you mind about food and it's power in your life.

What about you? What new thoughts and behaviors have you had to create to improve your health? Share in the comments below so we can all benefit.    

 Additional reading

 My first adventures into making yogurt
  My adventures with kefir

Why a high fat diet

Ex-vegetarian goes high fat/ low carb


Monday, May 19, 2014

making bread that is not a brick.

Homemade bread, there is nothing like it. The smell as it wafts through the house seems so warm and inviting, it can bring family and friends together in an instant; but the opposite is true when the bread turns out like a brick. How many times have you tried to make bread and it turns out anything but light, fluffy, and inviting?   Sometimes it seems that bread bricks are easy to make, it is especially true with 100% whole wheat breads. There are very few recipes out there that contain 100% wheat flour, and those recipes are notorious for ending up in the brick category.

As I was in Chef school and learning about bread making there was a notion that you cannot make 100% whole wheat bread that is good to eat. There was an unwritten rule that at least half of the flour has be white flour. I was being trained to work for the factories making modern breads like the ones I grew up with. These "so called" wheat breads were made by taking a white bread dough and adding a bit of wheat flour for taste and color, sometimes caramel coloring was added to turn the bread brown, but It was not whole wheat bread.  There are some better breads on the  market then the ones I grew up with, but there are still many "whole grain" breads out there that seem to be healthy until you read the label. Bread (in my world) should be simple with flour, water, yeast, and salt.  But when the list of ingredients gets to be 20 items long, and there is nothing that you recognize as food, we have a real problem.

I wanted to bet back to the basics and learn to make "real bread" the way it has been done for centuries. It has taken some time, but I have learned to make 100% whole grain breads that are light and fluffy and wonderful to eat.

 Here are 3 keys to making 100% whole grain breads that are not so dense and brick-like.

1. Let your flour/grains soak. No, I am not talking taking a bath, I am talking about the very basic preparation of grains that has been all but forgotten in our modern world. Before you begin your bread you need to soak the wheat and/ or the flour.

Why is soaking important? In a nutshell: soaking grains, nuts and seeds makes the nutrients more available to the body(it wakes them up), and it makes the food more digestible. The soaking of the flour also makes a difference in the flavor and texture. The Autolyse method of making bread where you soak your flour and then let it sit before adding your yeast can make a real difference in the texture and flavor.   

2. Take your time. (something that modern bakeries do not do) Soaking your wheat takes time. The other thing that makes great bread is to use less yeast and let the yeast grow for a longer period of time. We see just the opposite of this in our culture. It is amazing to me that modern bakeries can produce a loaf of bread in a matter of minutes. The modern bread bakeries in the United States are achieving this by adding more gluten, more yeast, and more chemicals such as Bromine to the bread products therefore decreasing the amount of time it takes to create a loaf of bread.  It is also extremely detrimental to our health.

3. The yeast matters.  Caleb Warnock has spent time researching modern food and it's dangers. He co-authored a wonderful book about baking with natural yeast. I got a natural yeast start from him nearly two years ago, and I am never going back. Sourdough works here too, but I like baking with a sweet yeast as opposed to the sourdough.  

I hope that this has been useful information that you can use to better your health and the health of your family. For more information check out the links below.

a bread a day  has some interesting information and notes as she blogs about her bread making adventures for a full year.

Caleb Warnock  on why yeast matters

passionate homemaking on why soaking matters

Natural yeast waffles

Happy baking! 

Check out these two great books on whole grain bread baking.

The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast: Breads, Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls and Muffins by Caleb Warnock, Melissa Richardson 1 Spi Edition (8/14/2012)

Please note that the amazon links are affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure by clicking the "privacy policy" tab at the top of the page.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Grilled shrimp

Grilled shrimp, there is nothing like it. They are so wonderful and so easy to make. We grilled some shrimp and made a quick and easy dinner that was a hit with all of us but my son who doesn't care for seafood so much.


1 to 1 1/2 pounds of raw shrimp deveined with the shells on


1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons apricot jam
1 clove of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Mustard of your choice

1. Whisk the marinade ingredients together

2. Pour the marinade over 1 to 1 1/2  pounds of shell on shrimp (deveined but with the shell still on)

3. Let the shrimp marinate for 10-30 minutes (depending on the size).
 For a quick reference on shrimp size check out this Shrimp size chart.

4. Preheat the grill

5. While the grill is heating skewer the shrimp in preparation for grilling

I love a nice flat metal skewer for this job. The round skewers tend to let the shrimp twirl on the skewer and it makes them hard to turn on the BBQ.   Mr Barbeque himself, Steven Raichlen has designed some great metal skewers. Check them out.
Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue 3/8-inch Wide Signature Stainless Steel Grilling Kabob Skewers (Set of 6) - SR8025
(If you don't have flat metal skewers you can use a pair of bamboo skewers and slide them in side by side). This helps so you can turn the shrimp easier.

6. Scrape the grill, or brush with a grill brush like this one,
Charcoal Companion Compact Rosewood Handle Grill Brush

7. Once the grill is scraped or brushed, take a little vegetable oil on a wad of paper towels and run it across the grates (this helps ensure the shrimp won't stick)

8. Lay the shrimp on the grill and cook 2-3 minutes for small shrimp (51-60)
or for larger Jumbo shrimp (21-25) 4-6 minutes.

Color determines doneness. When they turn pink and there is no sign of grey they are done. They really do cook quick, do not leave the grill.

9. Serve them up right away.

notice the shrimp are turning pink


We ran out of skewers and grilled some of the larger shrimp right on the grate which works, but it is hard to keep them  turned. It is a lot easier to turn them on the skewers

The skewers make a really nice presentation and it keeps the shrimp from escaping down to the fire beneath

The kids were so happy to have their own skewer of shrimp. The girls loved the shrimp dinner. They thought we had something special. It was fun and it was so easy to do.
 We served up the shrimp with a simple salad and some fruit from the fridge.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Seasonal affective disorder and nutrition

There are many people I know who really struggle emotionally in the spring, and many more who struggle through the fall and winter months. Many are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

What is Seasonal affective disorder and what are its symptoms? Here is a definition taken from the Mayo clinic's website. Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.  Take a look at your life, think back upon the last year or two, do you notice a difference in your mood in the springtime as opposed to the fall? (Often those closest to you can help you identify if you suffer from moodiness during certain periods of the year).


From the Mayo clinic website here is a list of symptoms that one may experience with this disorder.

Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)

Winter-onset seasonal affective disorder symptoms include:
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating

Spring and summer seasonal affective disorder (summer depression)

Summer-onset seasonal affective disorder symptoms include:
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased sex drive 
From the Mayo clinic's website ..... The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. It's likely, as with many mental health conditions, that genetics, age and, perhaps most importantly, your body's natural chemical makeup all play a role in developing the condition.  Women in particular seem to be more prone to experience this disorder as well as those who live further away from the equator, family history is also a large factor in determining if you will suffer from this disorder.

So if you are suffering what do you do? Medications are often prescribed to help deal with the symptoms. Psychotherapy can also be used effectively to help you deal with the changes in emotions. Light therapy also seems to help. Which is the best for you? There is no right answer as each person is different. Again from the Mayo clinic website  There is no known way to prevent the development of seasonal affective disorder. However, if you take steps early on to manage symptoms, you may be able to prevent them from getting worse over time. Some people find it helpful to begin treatment before symptoms would normally start in the fall or winter, and then continue treatment past the time symptoms would normally go away. If you can get control of your symptoms before they get worse, you may be able to head off serious changes in mood, appetite and energy levels.

For me, managing symptoms is a bad way to live. I do not agree with the traditional way of thinking in this country which is to manage symptoms. If you look at current treatments for most diseases and disorders the advice given is to manage the symptoms. Most of the symptom management  is done with drugs, many of which have terrible side effects. I know that many of my friends and family members suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many of them have turned to dangerous drugs and I see too many side effects from taking them. I feel that there has to be a root cause for this disorder. There has to be healing beyond the drugs and expensive therapies.

I too have suffered from this disorder. After giving birth to three babies right in a row I thought I was experiencing post partum depression. Then I noticed that it came back year after year. It seemed that two years after the last baby was born I should not be experiencing post partum depression anymore.  I was also having a lot of other health problems, in the midst of it all I found relief and healing for myself through research, and digging for a root cause of my ailments. You can read about my thoughts on how healing is more than symptom relief. It was during this time of my life that I discovered what (I believe) could be one of the root causes of  Seasonal  Affective Disorder.  My belief is that SAD may be a result of vitamin and mineral depletion; specifically vitamin D, but also the B vitamins.

Think for a moment, Vitamin D  also known as the sunshine vitamin. It is made in the body when we are exposed to sun. During the winter months there is a lot less sunlight and people tend to barricade themselves in their houses and then they become depressed and so on and begin to experience the so called "symptoms" of Seasonal affective disorder, could there be a connection?  One of the treatments for this disorder is light therapy. Light therapy is done by exposing patients to bright lights therefore increasing the vitamin D levels in the body. Are you beginning to see it yet?  There are some great articles examining Vitamin D and depression.  There are several other articles examining Vitamin D and anxiety levels.  Could it really be that simple? Could it really be that SAD is really a lack of vitamin D? The truth is; there is plenty of evidence to show that you can treat Seasonal Affective Disorder and its symptoms by increasing Vitamin D.

People are finding relief and healing through raising their vitamin D levels, yet you won't hear this as part of the mainstream treatments. If it is mentioned, you will quickly see or hear something like "There needs to be further studies" Or, "There is not sufficient evidence to support these findings"  Why is this so?  Sunshine is free, and Vitamin D cannot be patented. Therefore, there is no profit in treating SAD with vitamin D.  There will be plenty of people telling you that vitamin therapy is bogus and the best thing to do is to treat the symptoms with their drugs, their light therapy products.  If you increase your vitamin D levels naturally and begin to feel better you no longer need their products, then what? They no longer have a customer, it defeats their main goal which is to keep you buying their products.

What about Vitamin D; how do you know if I have a deficiency? Doctor Richard Becker often states that if you live in the upper portion of America (north of San Francisco) you are most likely deficient. (remember as stated above, one of the factors for developing SAD is your distance from the equator).  Current Vitamin D guidelines by the Institute of Medicine set a blood level of 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) as a goal for good bone health and overall health. However, some doctors say people should go higher, to about 30 ng/mL to get the full health benefits of vitamin D.  Forward thinking doctors such as Dr. Becker have said that this is way too low. 20 ng/mL may keep you from getting rickets (which is what a severe deficiency will do to you), but for superior health it should be between 60-80 ng/mL. The FDA has recently increased the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin D from 200 to 600 iu (international units) daily. It is still way too low in my opinion.

Now here is where it gets a bit tricky....There are vitamins D1, D2, and D3 which all are lumped under the vitamin D umbrella. All are closely related but have different effects in the body. Vitamin D2 is what we talk about in preventing rickets, and is the one that is usually added to milk to help in bone formation. Vitamin D3 also acts in the same capacity for the building of bones. The interesting thing about vitamin D3 is that it acts as a hormone in the body and really affects the brain. (remember as stated above from the mayo clinic, your body's natural chemical makeup is one of the major factors) Hormones are a major part of our chemical make-up. As a hormone, vitamin D3 is vital for health, it is key for healthy brain function and it definitely affects mood.

How does one get more vitamin D3? Vitamin D3 It is found in some foods like egg yolks, liver, mushrooms, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, but mostly we get it from sun exposure. Many of us are not getting the recommended 30 minutes of sun exposure 3 times a week (without sunscreen).  Sunscreen can effect the way our body absorbs sunshine and limits the amount of vitamin D we create. 10-15 minutes of midday sun without sunscreen can create well over 10,000 units of vitamin D3 in our body but with a spf 15 sunscreen applied, we would have to expose ourselves to 3-4 hours of sun to get that same effect, and people really worry about skin cancer and other things. For many people supplementation is the answer, especially if you are found to be very low in vitamin D3.

It is important to have your levels checked and find out the number. Many doctors will tell you that you are Ok when you are in the "normal" range of 20-30 ng/mL (Nano grams per Milliliter) , but research has shown that to be healthy, levels should be in the 60-80 range. So this leads to the question, how much should I supplement?  Dr. Becker and others recommend that you could supplement with 10,000 units or more of vitamin D3 on a daily basis for several months to get the blood levels up to a better place. At this point have your levels checked again. He then suggests 2,000-3,000 units a day for maintenance.

That seems like a lot, so you may ask; Can you overdose on vitamin D? Yes, there is always a risk, but the risk is very minimal. The Mayo clinic's web site says that you would have to take 50,000 units of vitamin D daily over the course of several months to reach a toxic level. At a toxic level you may experience nausea, weakness, and vomiting, and possibly kidney problems due to increased calcium in your blood. But this list is a lot shorter and not near as scary sounding as the list of side effects of taking a regular and properly prescribed dose of some of the  drugs for anxiety and depression, not to mention the drugs for insomnia.

There is another concern, the drugs commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia often have a side effect of depleting the B vitamins. A body depleted of some of the B vitamins can look like depression, insomnia, anxiety and moodiness. In essence, the drugs used to help relieve the symptoms can lead to more problems and to a dependence upon them, (but they won't tell you that, they just increase the dose). It is a really bad cycle that people are stuck in. Start with depression, soon you have insomnia, anxiety and irritability which usually leads to more medications and or higher doses. If you have been on some of these drugs to control symptoms of SAD please have your vitamin B levels checked to see if they are low as well. Many people suffering from SAD have low levels of Vitamin D3 and the B vitamins.    

I have presented a lot of information here. Take it as you may. Do your own research and feel out what may be right for you.  For me, the benefits and risks of high level Vitamin D supplementation and a B vitamin complex are miniscule in comparison to the risk of being hooked by the large pharmaceutical companies. I want to be in control of my own health. I choose to be different, and think differently than most. I do not give into the demands of big business. I am the keeper of my own body and soul.

Helpful links
healing is more than symptom relief

Vitamin D and depression

Vitamin D and anxiety levels.

Mayo clinic web site

Dr Becker's Nutritional supplements

Vitamin D as a hormone

Friday, May 2, 2014

Creamy mushroom and spinach bake

This was a quick and easy dish that I prepared for supper the other night. We enjoyed it, so I thought I would share.

Creamy mushroom and spinach bake

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Grease a casserole dish with butter

1 package of frozen chopped spinach
Spread the spinach in the bottom of the casserole dish

1 1/2 cups mushroom gravy
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small can of mushroom pieces drained
Mix these all together and spread over the top of the spinach

Slices of Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
About 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper

Lay slices of mozzarella cheese across the top and sprinkle with bread crumbs and black pepper
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until it is hot and bubbly and the top begins to brown.