Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hummus and Crackers


If you are short on time, this is a very simple lunch that takes no time to prepare.  I like to make my own hummus, and these individual cups are a bit small, but they are a great option to have in your refrigerator when in a pinch.  I packed two cups for this lunch, with some Whole Foods water crackers, carrot sticks and some fruit salad.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Healing Soup Lunch When Feeling Under the Weather

 

This is perhaps the most important lunch to have available to pack up, especially during the school year as germs are spread around and it seems that everyone is sick.  It is a good plan to weekly make homemade broth and a batch of healing chicken soup during the fall and winter months.  You can keep portions of soup (and biscuits) in the freezer, so they are available when needed for a lunch.
 
At the slightest sign of a cold, flu, or stomach bug coming on, it is critical to watch what is eaten.  Absolutely no sweets of any kind and no cold drinks, not even ones with natural FoodsbyGod ingredients.  Sweets feed cold germs and your body will be hampered and not be able to ward off the illness.  Gut health is also very important, and the healing chicken soup with homemade broth is the best way to heal one's gut.  Also stick with room temperature water or herbal teas when fighting as illness. 
 
Be sure to have a wide-mouth thermos on-hand in your house (or multiple ones if you have several children).  When packing something hot, while heating up the food to pack for lunch, boil some water and fill the thermos with hot water.  When the soup or other food is hot, pour out the hot water and immediately fill with the hot soup and screw on the lid of the thermos.  If you pre-heat the thermos in this manner, the food will stay hot until lunch time. 
 
Typically when one is not feeling great, one's appetite is diminished.  Listen to your body and teach your children to do the same.  Eat a light lunch and drink plenty of room temperature water throughout the day.  If I were not feeling great, I would not pack up much for lunch (as shown in the photo).  The thermos of soup and a few whole grain sweet cream biscuits would be plenty. 
 
Taking precautions like this can save you time and money, allowing you to avert an illness.  However, this is a delicious lunch even if you aren't feeling sick!  Leftovers soups and stews for lunch are great choices, especially as the weather turns cooler.  I would then add a fresh raw veggie and fruit to my lunch (remember to eat the fruit first).  An excellent lunch option - enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weekly Challenge - Week 39 (September 24, 2013)

Create new food triggers and memories. 
 
 
Certain smells and songs and even foods can bring to us nostalgic good memories of happy times with loved ones.  Unfortunately for most of us, the foods that are associated with these memories are junk food (birthday parties at McDonald's?) or sweets loaded with processed sugar.  So this week's challenge is to become aware of your food triggers, and if they are not good ones involving FoodsbyGod, work on establishing new ones.

We discussed food triggers at our September class.  I brought the bowl of fresh fruit salad above.  This is one of my good food triggers, but not all my food triggers are good choices like this one.  I told the class that though I have not had any sweets with processed sugar in years now, I absolutely LOVE a good white wedding cake and that I was not sure if I would have the willpower to pass that up!  (As you might know from previous posts, I am a sugaraholic and have been very addicted to processed sugar in the past).  Wedding cake was the first thing that came to my mind when mentioning food triggers and the strong desire for a piece of white wedding cake that this memory produced was amazing to me. 

Since the class, thinking more about why white wedding cake sounded so good, I realize it is not the taste that is so appealing (it would be so sickly sweet to me now - yuck) but the emotional feelings associated with it.  I thank God for showing me this because after recognizing the emotional pull of this food this last week, I know that I now could easily pass it up if offered some.


I pray that each of you can piece together these connections too and bring them into your conscious mind and become free of them.  I think my love of white wedding cake stems from my two older sisters' weddings - I was in both.  I was a flower girl in my oldest sister's wedding at the age of three and watching all the preparation and seeing my big sister in her beautiful white wedding dress was magical for me at that age.  Ending the night with a piece of the sugary sweet bakery white wedding cake planted deep memories into my mind of fairy tale happiness. 

Joanna brought this idea of food triggers to my attention the weekend before our class (thank you, Joanna).  Her food memories are of special times at home with her family after a long tiring day indulging in an endless supply of store bought sweets: cookies, cake and ice cream. Her family would eat away while they relaxed and laughed together.  What great memories of family bonding but all wrapped up with wrong food choices.  
 
Thus the pull of wrong food choices is difficult to overcome especially if you are unaware of the emotional connection.  If you come home tired after a busy day, you don't want to reward  yourself and your family with this kind of unhealthy food.  This is the type of food trigger memories that one needs to realize and break. 
 
A bowl of fresh fruit salad that I brought to the September class is an example of one of my good food triggers.  For several reasons, a big bowl of fruit salad brings back wonderful nostalgic memories for me.  Even more special would have been placing the mixed fruit salad in a watermelon bowl rind.  This is a good food trigger which I have and fortunately will be one of the 'happy' food memories that my sons will probably have.  The memory of relaxing summer morning bonding with the family and eating fruit salad on our screened porch.  It is also a standard that I fixed for their birthday parties which hold happy memories.
 
Another 'good' food memory that we have established in our house is popcorn and Izzie nights.  We have an air popper in which we pop our organic popcorn, and then I drizzle it with real sweet cream butter and season it with freshly ground good quality sea salt.  We would watch a movie together and take a break half way through to make the popcorn.  Then we would put a tablecloth down in the center of the living room floor (just eating food outside of the kitchen area was a special treat) and finish our movie night with popcorn and 'soda'.
 
So my challenge to you this week is to begin to replant good food memories into your mind and into the minds of your children.  Be intentional and claim victory.
 
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12: 1 - 2

Monday, September 23, 2013

Waffle and Smoothie Lunch




Yesterday's To_Go_Lunch idea, a salad, may not be an option for your child's school lunch, but today's lunch idea is a very kid friendly option (even for big kids like me!).  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my school lunch almost everyday growing up so even to this day, I don't really enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  But there is something special about nut butter on a waffle... 

 
 

 
I love my gluten-free waffle recipe and thus whenever I make waffles, I make extras and freeze them.  After the extras have thoroughly cooled to room temperature on a cooling rack, I put waxed paper between them and seal them in a Ziploc bag and put them in the freezer.  They reheat easily in the toaster or if you are packing a lunch, they don't need to be thawed.
 


 
I like to use different nut butters, not just peanut butter, on my waffles.  My current favorite is raw walnut butter (but it is VERY expensive!).  Raw almond butter is also a good choice plus there are many other kinds of nut butters.  I typically buy organic nut butters.  Also, be sure to read the label.  Many nut butters contain sugar - don't buy those.  I like to buy the ones that are packaged in glass jars.
 
If you are packing a lunch, put nut butter on both pieces of waffle and then sandwich the pieces together.  I like just the nut butter on the waffle, but you can also drizzle on a bit of raw honey.
 
With this lunch, I have packed some fresh organic raspberries that were on sale at Costco last week (a special treat for my raspberry loving guys) and some raw carrot sticks.
 
I have also made a yogurt smoothie which I've poured into a thermos.  A nice, wide-mouth thermos (as shown in the photo) is an essential item if you pack lunches.  It can be used for cold or hot foods.  Be sure to pre-chill your thermos with ice water before filling with your smoothie and your smoothie will still taste great hours later.   There are many, many different smoothie possibilities - experiment and have fun creating your own favorites.  


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lunch Salad Which Satisfies



I typically don't snack between meals, but only if I eat a satisfying breakfast and lunch.  So if I have a salad for lunch, I need to add some good protein and fat to it. 
 
For my salads, I always start with a bed of greens, typically spring mix lettuce or baby spinach (I usually buy the one pound organic half and half mix from Costco) though there is nothing better than lettuce from the garden.  (Lettuce is a cool weather crop for North Texas and is easy to grow.)  Triple washed store bought organic lettuce is a quick and easy alternative though.  I also usually add at least one other fresh vegetable to my salad.  On the salad in the photo, I have added sliced organic cucumber (which is a summer crop and thus won't be in season much longer).
 
My favorite protein to add is leftover shredded cooked chicken (it is really good if you pre-grill it as described in the chicken salad recipe).  When I cook chicken, I typically make extra, shred it and put it in the freezer.  It is then easy to take out a bit for a salad.  If you are packing a lunch you don't even need to thaw it first.  Be sure to pack your salad in a insulated lunch bag though and include an ice pack since the meat and dressing need to stay chilled. 
 
For the salad in the photo, I added some sliced ham pieces.  Be sure to buy a ham that is not loaded with additives.  Hard boiled egg is another good protein option for your salad.  I topped my salad with some grated cheese.  Remember to grate the cheese yourself since pre-grated cheese contains anti-caking additives.
 

The last key ingredient is a good salad dressing.  Don't skip the dressing, you need good quality fats in your diet to properly absorb the fat soluble vitamins.  If you are packing your lunch, be sure to put your salad dressing in a separate small container or your salad will be wilted by the time you eat it.  If you don't make your own, buy a good quality dressing.  I like the Annie's Organic Caesar dressing shown in the photo.  The things that I look for in a good dressing are:

 
 
1.  Expeller-pressed or cold-pressed oil (though don't pick ones that contain soy oil).
2.  If sweetened, only with honey, no sugar.
3.  No artificial ingredients (store bought dressings typically contain xanthan gum, which is a thickener and o.k.).
 
I have included some crackers with my salad for this lunch.  It is difficult to find crackers that do not contain ingredients on the foods/ingredients to avoid list.  Most organic crackers contain enriched flour, one of the ingredients that I never eat.  The crackers shown in the photo are something that I picked up at the store recently.  Other Back To Nature crackers contain enriched flour, but this one does not, though they are not organic and are high in salt.  Two other cracker options that are acceptable (though none are optimal) include Mary's Gone Crackers (contains soybeans) and Whole Foods Organic Water Crackers (made with white flour).
 
Developing a good cracker recipe is one of my goals for this coming winter.  In the meantime, I use crackers sparingly.
 
Salads are a great lunch option and there are so many different possibilities you can make.  Let your creative juices flow!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ham and Cheese



Ham and cheese is a very popular lunch option, but today's deli ham is loaded with additives such as nitrites, nitrates, MSG, and even corn syrup.  All these additives are on the foods/ingredients to avoid list and these common deli meats are not part of a FoodsbyGod diet. 

If you purchase better quality deli meats from stores like Whole Foods, they are very expensive, running about $11 to $14 a pound.  A better option that I have found is to purchase a small natural ham which runs about $6.50 to $8.00 a pound. 


I hope you are convinced to buy better quality meats after watching the videos in yesterday's post.  I purchase small ham chunks (either Pederson's Natural Farms or Niman Ranch) from Whole Foods or Natural Grocer.  These hams have a good shelf life in the refrigerator if you don't touch them directly with bare hands when slicing (hold it with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap).  Be sure to then seal the left over ham back up well and it can last a couple weeks in the refrigerator. 
 
I slice the ham into chunks for ham and cheese bites (as shown in photo above) or I slice it thin to make ham sandwiches or ham wraps.  Be sure to pack your lunch in an insulated lunch box and include an ice pack when you are taking meat.

 


Cheese is also very expensive.  I buy Organic Valley raw cheeses when they are on sale, various local raw cheeses, and I also buy two cheeses from Costco (shown in the photos above).  Buy white cheese, all orange cheese is colored.  I look for European cheeses since many of the horrible USA ranching practices, such as using growth hormones are not allowed in European countries.  Local raw cheeses are the best choice if you have access to a local supplier.  One excellent source in the DFW area is Veldhuizen Raw Milk Cheeses
 
For this lunch, I packed organic cucumber wedges for my fresh veggie and organic red grapes for my fresh fruit.  Remember to teach your family to eat their fresh fruit first for better digestion. 
 
If you are going to include a chip or puff with your lunch, make sure you buy an brand that does not contain artificial ingredients and if it contains corn, that it is organic.  Shown in the photo are Bearitos Cheddar Puffs.  We don't buy many processed chips or snack items - this was a special treat for the start of the school year.  We bought a bag since it was on sale and was being sampled at Whole Foods.  A better option is to pop your own popcorn and include a baggie of popcorn instead.  It can be popped the night before if sealed up after it cools.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chipotle Grill Better Quality?

 
I don't really know but I do know that they are trying to make people aware that how animals are raised is very important.  As I have mentioned many times, the quality of the food you eat is critical.  If you eat poor quality foods (those that are heavily processed or raised 'conventionally'), you will reap poor quality health.  It is inevitable.  You may be fortunate and have started with better nutrient reserves, but eventually your body will run out of these stored nutrients which are required for good health and you will develop health issues. 
 
I have two videos for you to watch today.  Both are by Chipotle Grill, which is one of the few restaurants that we eat at occasionally. 
 
The first video is one that Chipotle Grill has made to introduce a new mobile game aimed to educate people about the quality of our foods.  I hope after watching it that you are encouraged to support local farms and ranches that are not using conventional, mass production methods that are bad for the land and create poor quality foods.
 
The second video is about Niman Ranch meats, one of the suppliers to Chipotle Grill and one of the brands of ham I purchase (more on that tomorrow).  I hope this motivates you to find local producers of your meats, those who are raising their animals free-range.
 
Watch these videos and be encouraged to buy better quality foods and ingredients, minimally processed and raised the way God intended (free range on a natural diet).  Learn where the foods you are eating come from and how they are raised and processed. 
 
Find local producers who are raising small quantities for the local market for the best possible quality.  For example, I purchase my 100% grass-fed beef from Burgundy Pasture Beef, where I have visited and seen how the animals are raised, and I know and trust Jon and Wendy who run the ranch.  They also deliver to most of the DFW area so I don't have to drive to their ranch to get my beef.
 
Here are some links again to help you find other local sources:
 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Meatloaf Lunch

 

 
We had a fun class last night with lots of sampling of quick lunch options.  With school starting back up, I want to give you some ideas (and motivation) to fix good lunches using God's foods and ingredients.  I will be posting various ideas over the next week.  Be sure to include an ice pack and get a thermos bag if you are packing perishable items like meat. 

 
Here is the first lunch idea.

Meatloaf - make extra meatloaf when you have it for dinner and fix cold meatloaf bites (with toothpicks) or cut some slices.  You can also make a meatloaf sandwich.  Great filling lunch option that is easy to fix if you plan ahead and make extra. 

Carrot (raw veggie) - always try to pack a raw vegetable to eat with your lunch.  Organic carrots are readily available year round and always a great option.

Fresh fruit - I also try to always include a fresh fruit at lunch time.  Remember to eat your fruit first and to eat in season.  Organic green grapes (don't forget to learn which produce you want to buy organic) or a fruit salad goes great with this lunch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weekly Challenge - Week 38 (Sept 17, 2013)

Replace your plastic food containers and dishes with glass or ceramic.


The first challenge this year was to drink a glass of water upon rising.  I wrote then about the importance of drinking out of glass rather than plastic.  I hope that you have made that change.  It is so easy to do and so important to your health.
 
 
I have since found several nice reusable glass water bottles at reasonable prices.  Not only is it important to drink out of glass or ceramic rather than plastic, but all foods you eat should also be placed in/on glass or ceramic.  Specifically, when you store hot leftovers or cool foods to place in the refrigerator, it is extremely critical that you don't use plastic. 

 
This is especially true if you have children, whose reproductive and mental development is most sensitive to the chemicals that leach into food and drink from plastics.  I am aware that glass and ceramic break, but children can learn to be careful with their dishes and cups.  I know; I have two teenage sons whom I have raised with glass and ceramic dishes and glasses.  For very young children, get them a stainless steel cup to use at the table and don't allow them access to it until they learn not to throw it or bang it.  They will soon be ready for their own glass drinking glass.   

Plastics all leach plasticizers or other chemicals due to their chemical structure.  Glass will not leach chemicals due to its chemical structure.  That is why dangerous acids and bases are stored in glass containers - because these glass containers are chemically inert and impermeable, nothing is leached from their structure.  Glass food containers are readily available and inexpensive.  Get some and use them. 

Soft plastics are made soft or flexible with plasticizers.  This has been known for years and due to public outcry, the chemical industry create newer harder plastics that don't leach the 'plasticizer' chemicals.  Everyone was happy for awhile.  But harder plastics leach another chemical, bisphenol A (or BPA). 

New studies were then released about health concerns and BPA, especially for children and infants.  The chemical industry in now working to slow the leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles and containers, BUT due to the chemical structure of plastics, the leaching of chemicals from plastics cannot be eliminated.  The higher the temperature the plastic is exposed to from food temperature or environmental temperature (i.e. stored in a vehicle in the summer in Texas), the more chemicals that will be leached or migrate out of the plastic.  These chemicals are linked to early onset of puberty, infertility, and cancer (such as breast cancer).  Don't be fooled with the new labeling on plastics stating they are BPA free.

All plastics will leach chemicals, if not BPA or plasticizers, some other chemicals, especially when warm or hot foods and drinks are put in them, and even a little bit is bad for your health.  Plastic wraps leach various endocrine disruptors, which can cause cancer, infertility and mental problems.  Styrofoam leaches styrene which also causes cancer, infertility, depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate, to name a few.  The disruptive hormone effects of the chemicals leaching from plastics has even been linked to obesity by altering the body's ability to metabolize glucose and lipids.  Combine this with poor quality man-made foods and chronic health problems develop.  Not surprisingly, our society has problems of epidemic proportions with cancer, infertility and obesity. 

Styrofoam is the worse plastic to use and SHOULD NEVER BE USED with food, especially with HOT liquids or foods.  This is a well known fact so I do not understand why coffee is often served in Styrofoam cups and to-go boxes at restaurants are made out of Styrofoam.  Don't be a blind follower, conforming to these unhealthy trends and pretending they won't affect you.  Just because you can't instantly perceive what is happening (no short term negative response such as a stomachache or headache), these chemicals are building up in your body and your children's bodies. 
 
Storing any hot food in any type plastic container is not good practice.  Did you know that plasticizers disrupt reproduction hormones?  People wonder why infertility in such a huge problem in our society today and spend billions of dollars on fertility treatments while continuing to use plastic.  Don't be a victim or subject your children to these terrible health problems that could be solved so easily by not using plastic.



Glass containers are readily available.  I like the ones with plastic lids (which do not touch your food).  We don't use plastic cups or dishes in our house either.  We drink out of glass glasses or ceramic cups, and use porcelain dishes.

The only use I have for plastic is to repackage chilled foods that I plan to freeze (glass easily shatters when the food freezes and expands in it) or to transport chilled foods.  I always first cool the food/liquid to just above room temperature in a glass or ceramic container and put it in the refrigerator first to chill.  Only after the food is chilled to refrigerator temperature do I transfer it to a plastic container to store in the freezer or to pack for a lunch.

While it may be difficult to learn which are the best quality ingredients to buy or to learn to cook from scratch, it is not difficult to replace your plastic containers with glass or ceramic.  Please take this challenge seriously.
 
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways but the folly of fools is deception."  Proverbs 14:8

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quick and Easy Meals

 
Though I love to cook and try new recipes, dinners that I can prepare in 30 minutes or less are my favorite for my many, many busy days when I don't have a lot of time.  Meals you make from scratch do not have to be complex and use every dish and bowl you own.  Carrot sticks, celery sticks or a simple lettuce salad are items that can be quickly paired with any of the meal ideas below. Always try to complete your meal with a raw veggie.
 
This photo is from one of our homeschool trips in our little RV.  We traveled around the country and would be gone for a few weeks to a few months at a time.  As you can see, I had a tiny space to work in but I cooked all three meals each day from scratch.  We ate out an occasional lunch, typically at a deli in a natural grocery store.  I was able to find wonderful coop and natural food stores all around the country and kept our little pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with excellent quality ingredients. 
 
Essential to being able to prepare quick and easy meals is proper planning in advance.  You must have the ingredients on-hand already in your house, so be sure to keep your pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with those items you use regularly.  Also spend the little bit of extra time before you go to the grocery store(s) and make a meal planner.  I no longer do a weekly meal planner, but I did for years.  It can help to keep you on track. 

Be flexible while shopping and look for those great buys - sale items and produce in season.  Buy good quality ingredients for your quick meals - I often do a grocery store loop while I'm out and have fun finding great deals buying my FoodsbyGod ingredients. 
 
30-Minute or Less Meal Ideas:
 
Tom's Quesadillas

and don't forget about leftovers.  Make a double batch of soups and stews and casseroles, like baked spaghetti squash.  Many of these foods taste better the second time they are heated up and it takes no effort to reheat them.  Eat well even when you have limited time! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Toasted Ravioli with Fresh Basil


Quick, tasty, nutritious.  My favorite type of meal.  Here is another simple, easy lunch or dinner option that we really enjoy.

 
Typically the most difficult part of quick meals is having the ingredients on-hand.  Thus it is essential that you do a meal plan each week before you go grocery shopping until you become proficient at cooking from scratch.    
 
Ingredients:
 
Homemade tomato sauce (I keep extras in freezer)
A good quality ravioli (the organic spinach cheese ravioli in photo is from Costco)
Fresh basil (very easy to grow in garden or a pot)
Organic olive oil
 
In a glass or good quality pot (not one with a non-stick coating), place frozen homemade tomato sauce to thaw and heat while cooking ravioli. 
 
 
 
Heat a heavy skillet (don't use one with a non-stick coating) over medium heat.  Oil lightly with olive oil.  Place ravioli (stored in refrigerator, not frozen) in skillet and lightly brown each side.  I flip them a few times until they puff up like a pillow.  Remove and continue cooking rest of ravioli.  Dice up about 10 fresh basil leaves.  Place ravioli on plate, top with homemade spaghetti sauce and fresh basil.  Serve immediately.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Carrot Cake



Renee had asked if I had a carrot cake recipe, and I didn't but I love carrot cake.  So I thought it would be a great time to come up with a recipe.  Renee sent me a recipe she found on-line and I have modified it a bit.  One major change that I made was a reduction of the sweetener.  The original recipe Renee found had 1 1/2 cups of honey; way too much.  Pure honey is very expensive and that much is unnecessary.  I made a few other tweaks.
 

One tweak I had to make was to use some of my patty pan squash from my garden.  Since my latest experiments have been involving white patty pan squash, I decided to incorporate it into this recipe too.  The resulting carrot cake was quite tasty and moist.  I hope you like it.


 
 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (2 cups soft white wheat berries, ground fine)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded squash (patty pan or zucchini, peeled)
1 cup plain homemade kefir (or buttermilk)
2 large (or 3 small eggs), fork beaten

cream cheese frosting (below)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside.  Cream butter and honey together.  Add vanilla, kefir and eggs to butter mixture.  Slow incorporate dry ingredients into wet.  Stir in shredded carrots and squash.

Butter and flour two 8" round cake pans.  Place half of batter into each and place in preheat oven.  Bake at 350 °F for 25 minutes or until center is set.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Remove from pans and cool completely on cooling racks.  Can be prepared the night before or wrapped and frozen until ready to use.



Prepare icing and frost cake.  If you are not great at frosting cakes (like me) sprinkle chopped walnuts over the frosting to hide your mistakes and create a wonderful dessert.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick sweet cream butter, softened
1 package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
3 Tbl pure raw honey
1 tsp vanilla

Whip together softened cream cheese and honey until smooth.  Add softened butter and vanilla.  Whip until smooth.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weekly Challenge - Week 37 (Sept 10, 2013)

Experiment and have fun!

 
It is SO important that you enjoy eating the excellent quality real foods that God has provided for us.  Don't forget that you are not being deprived but that you are blessed by this knowledge.  This week get your hands dirty in the kitchen and whip up a new dish.  I have lots of possibilities for you - pick something that looks good to you.

Jon and I decided we should come up with a good basic yellow cake recipe that could be used for a birthday cake.  Our goal is to make it with freshly ground 100 % whole wheat pastry flour, pure honey or maple syrup, and real butter - all foods created by God with minimal processing - instead of white flour, sugar and margarine .  Since I have excess white patty pan squash (peeled zucchini can be substituted), it became part of the experiment too!  We had lots of fun with this experiment and we aren't done.  I am not giving you the recipe yet because it is still in progress but it was certainly yummy eating our experiment.
 
For this first try, we decided to ice it with the chocolate pudding that Jon has been making.  I knew this would not work well but I had no butter softened to make icing (the pudding was too soft and the top layer slid off!) and we wanted to eat the cake with some icing.  We had fun eating and laughing and making a mess. 

 


This summer's experiment that has become a regular treat was making chocolate milk.  We have further experimented and only add milk and ice to the pudding remains in the blender to make the chocolate milk (we decided it did not need additional honey).  I think Jon's high school graduation gift is going to be a Vitamix blender.  He loves experimenting and whipping up new concoctions in my Vitamix, using it almost daily.  He will definitely want to take one to college.
 
I have posted many of my recipes and I have SO many more to post and really there is a limitless number of recipes because the ingredients I have on hand changes each week and each year as does my mood and my inspirations for different dishes.  Now remember that before my sons were born, I did not know how to cook anything.  So if I could learn to cook meals from scratch and have fun doing so, I know that you can too.

Thus my challenge to you this week is to experiment (invite a family member or friend to help you) and have fun creating and eating a new food dish or concoction made with only real, quality ingredients (don't forget I have provided a list of foods and ingredients to avoid).
 
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Quick and Simple Meals

 
Are you busier than ever now that school has started back up?  This seems to be the case for just about everyone.  Even if you don't work or have kids in school, you are still probably affected because of the extra traffic on the roads or the extra projects in your life as the lazy days of summer come to an end. 
 
We live in a world of information and activity overload.  It is hard to escape this so you must plan your meals with your busy schedule in mind.
 
My favorite recipes are the ones that are simple and quick.  My dinner, shown in the photo, took about 30 minutes of my time to fix.  (I do not include the slow cook time for the roast in this number - but the roast time is so flexible you can work that around your schedule.)  
 
The roast takes some advanced planning and 5 minutes of your 30 minute prep time in the morning.  I used a 100 % grass-fed roast - a large one so that I would have extra meat for another meal of BBQ brisket and beef drippings/juice for beef barley soup.  So my 30 minute prep time for this dinner helps to make two more meals later in the week. 
 
25 minutes before dinner -
   I took the roast out of oven and let it sit covered while I made the rest of dinner
   I then started the quinoa on the stove top (watching it as I cut veggies)
   I next prepared the ingredients for the squash dish
   Then I placed lettuce for salads on our plates
   Finally I stir-fried the squash with sage and pulled the roast meat apart.
 
In less than 30 minutes, a delicious meal was on the table. 
 
Simple Roast:  5 minutes to prepare in morning (multi-hour to cook - very flexible to accommodate your schedule).
 
Place lid tightly on top and put in oven at a low temperature (use 225 to 275 °F) and bake for 5 to 10 hours depending upon roast size and temperature chosen.  You can also use a crock pot.  When done (this cooking method is very forgiving - I cook it until I'm ready the make the rest of dinner), remove from oven and allow about 30 minutes to rest.  The meat was so tender it pulled apart without needing a knife to cut it.  Less than a minute needed to pull the meat apart and place it on a dish for dinner. 
 

Quinoa:  5 minutes to prepare
 
I made a simple, quick version for this meal (I did not add the celery and almonds, just some sea salt and turmeric to the water).  Start this first and then let sit at least 15 minutes while preparing the squash.  Fluff with fork with ready to dish.

 
Summer Squash and Sage:  15 minutes to prepare
 
This take the longest time to prepare but as you fix more dishes with fresh vegetables, you will get faster chopping up the vegetables.  If I were a professional chef, I could probably have done this in 5 minutes!  But it is worth the extra bit of time for this step, because even if you are slow it still doesn't take that much time.
 
Salad:
 
Your salad doesn't have to be complicated.  Short on time - just make a salad of organic spring greens.  For this salad, I used some Annie's Organic Salad Dressing (I like the Caesar variety because it does not contain soy oil or sugar) on my lettuce.
 
Nutritious, delicious meals made from scratch do not have to take all day to fix.  Many of my recipes take very little time to fix.  If you are short on time, find quick, easy items to make as I did for this dinner.  You will be rewarded for your efforts when you feel better and have improved health.  Don't forget to buy the best quality ingredients you can find.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Encouraging Words and Ideas from Others

My goal is to help you realize the importance to your health and well-being to eat foods which God created for our bodies.  Breaking free from the typical American diet can produce some amazing results.  I love to hear the stories of others who are on this journey and their successes.  Several persons from our classes and who are following this blog, have been willing to share their stories - and I thank each one of you and pray for continued blessings for you on your journeys.

 
I have shared my story, my journey, to good health through eating real foods which nourish our bodies (as opposed to man-altered processed foods which deplete our bodies of essential nutrients).  Everyone is at a different place on this journey and it has taken me many years to get to where I am today.  Wherever you are today on this journey - whether just beginning or beginning to experience your own wonderful successes - my prayer is that you are inspired to continue.
 
I hope you are encouraged by these guest posts!

Beverly:
Salad in a Jar

Gerri:
Gerri's Story of Sharing
 
Jennifer:
 
Joanna:
 
 
 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beef Barley Soup



Delicious and a great way to use homemade beef broth and barley, both of which are extremely nutritious.

Ingredients:

1 lb. 100 % grass-fed stew meat or ground beef, cooked
1 Tbl organic olive oil
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 large mushrooms, diced (or 8 dried, reconstituted)
3 cups homemade beef broth (or chicken or combination)
3 cups filtered water
3/4 barley (dehulled or hulless, not pearled)

1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dry)

Brown ground beef or stew meat (cut into bite-size pieces) in heavy skillet.  Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Prepare vegetables.  Heat heavy skillet again (I use my cast iron) to medium heat and add olive oil.  Sauté vegetables and then add meat, homemade broth, and water (and parsley if using dry).  Add barley and bring to gentle boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until barley is soft, about one to two hours.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Turn off heat.  Add parsley is using fresh.  Serve immediately.