November 9, 2013

Day 125 and Butternut Squash Soup

Over the years I have occasionally tried blended soup, you know just really putting myself out there to experience a cuisine that I never even remotely grew up with. Sometimes it tasted pleasing. But most of the time I couldn't get past a weird mental thought that I was eating the consistency of baby food. (Interesting what our minds can do to us.)

In the celebration of moving forward and experiencing the vast ways of loving a healthy lifestyle, I tried again the other day to have a blended soup while out to lunch with a friend. We were at a local bistro getting ready to order and their banner for their seasonal Autumn Squash Soup caught my attention. Who could resist " a blend of butternut squash and pumpkin, simmered in vegetable broth, honey, apple juice, cinnamon and a hint of curry." 

Oh my goodness! It was nourishing food for my tummy and body and the perfect sweet to curb my cravings. Who needed to bother with the temptations of their bakery display with this amazing soup to cuddle up with?

Once back at home I got the cooking bug. What could I do? Could I possibly have that soup again AND be in the comfort of my home? I googled recipes and quickly found copycat versions a plenty. I think I would like to try this one eventually. But for my first try, I settled on a recipe from a favorite blogger read of mine called Nosh and Nourish. Kelly is a pretty amazing kitchen gal and such a transparent easy to read sweetheart. Here is her recipe that I gleaned from. The one thing that I truly changed in her recipe is that she used acorn squash and I used a butternut squash. I don't know how the taste is different as I confess I didn't grow up on gourds. But now I will most definitely start playing with them.

My breakfast today!
I gathered ingredients yesterday and made my first blended soup! It was fun and not nearly as difficult as I had imagined it to be. My house still smells so lovely full of spice and richness. So good in fact that instead of juice for breakfast, I am having a bowl of squash soup. giggle giggle
Below is Kelly's recipe with my adaptation.

Oh and for a side note, I went to this website to learn how in the world to prepare a butternut gourd. I followed the guidelines for baking it in shell and then scooping out the inside. I also followed her suggestion of roasting the seeds for enjoying.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut Squash
4 Apples peeled and sliced, I used Galas
1/2 diced sweet onion
4 Carrots sliced into thin coins
1 TBSP Olive Oil plus extra
32 oz. vegetable broth
1/2 TBSP Ground Ginger
1 TBSP fresh sage diced
1 TBSP Minced Garlic
11 oz. Coconut Water
1 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

1. Preheat over to 450 degrees
2. Cut squash in half length ways, remove seeds and brush inside of gourd with extra olive oil
3. Place face down in 9 x 13 dish and bake 45-1 hour until squash is soft.
4. Saute onion, garlic and carrots in the TBSP of olive oil for 5 minutes
5. Add sliced apples, chicken broth and coconut water.
6. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
7. Remove skin (and green veins) from squash and add to simmered mixture.
8. Puree in a blender or use and immersion stick
9. Add diced fresh sage, ginger, salt and pepper
10. Enjoy!  Serve with a topping of pepitas (roasted squash and pumpkin seeds) for a yummy crunch.

Yields approximately 8 servings

Celebrating God's goodness!

October 21, 2013

Day 106......Gluten Intolerance

sunset on Clear Lake, California

My husband and I are celebrating our 24th anniversary this week by spending some long awaited time together and enjoying new sights around us.  Currently we are in Nice, California. Beautiful wouldn't you agree?

For food, we are having fun but doing different than we would have done in previous getaways. A normal day used to be that we would have a breakfast of french toast, skillet meat and eggs of choice. Lunch would and dinner would be eaten out as we explored new stomping grounds. A few of the meals we would grill some red meat out on the deck and pair it with a small salad and a huge portion of rice or pasta.

This time things are so different, tasty and fun! We packed our juicer and have used it each morning. Snacks are apples, oranges and grapes along with some tasty almonds, peanuts and pumpkin seeds. Dinners have been nice home done salads that we heap on our plates without guilt. Today we had lunch out and it was a fun time at the local Subway.

Thank You God for healthy choices even when we are living out of the normal day to day grind.

I just got done reading a really good article of gluten intolerance and want to share it here.

Be bless in all you do and as always celebrate God's goodness!

October 1, 2013

Day 86.....Checking In and Making Vows

When I read back over my last post, I am amazed at all that has transpired in such a short amount of time. I had written that I was digging in to do a 5 day Reboot to help me keep focused. I am really glad that I did those 5 days. They truly helped me to stay focused as I spent time with my Nana and with my family. I needed very little sleep as we did round the clock shifts with my mom and cousin through all hours of the nights by Nana's bedside. Even when I was sleeping, I preferred being on the small couch in her bedroom than off in another room. Yes the Reboot helped me to stay grounded.

(If you like, you can read about my Nana's last days and how we recently celebrated her life by going here and here.)

The purpose of this blog is to focus on my health choices so.....
the day she passed, I had been out of juice for 24 hours and someone brought 4 huge boxes of doughnuts. Yeah..... Things slowly declined for me after that. My digestive system was not happy to say the least. But my will power said that comfort food and fellowship with family go hand in hand.

I was the primary point person for all the funeral arrangements so my time was willingly and gladly wrapped up in tasks for two weeks. During that time I had 1 or 2 juices a day and usually a huge salad also each day.....along with so many other things.

Now the memorial is finished. It is time for me to move forward. It is time to remember that focusing on me is important. And it is important to remember that beating up on myself has no place. A friend recently reminded me of that. It is important to just let it all go and move forward.

I started exercising again yesterday and it was grueling. That is okay. I will find the rhythm again.

How cool and appropriate it is that an article on Foods That Help Fight Depression was in my box this morning. It is an interesting read.

Now I need to muster up the attitude to Reboot again and cleanse all this junk out of my system. 3 days, just 3 days of focus and I will feel clean and the cravings will be gone.  Each day is a new day. Each choice is a new choice. Each minute is an opportunity to move forward.

I celebrate God's goodness!

September 11, 2013

Day 66.....Foods That Cause Stress

I am really tired this evening but I wanted to sit and catch up on a post before my head hits the pillows.
Today is my 66th day and 3 days ago I decided to do a 5 day reboot. At a later time I plan to explain more of what that means but for now I will simply sum it up by explaining that I am doing nothing but juices and water for those 5 days.

I had decided last week that I would do this because giving our digestive systems a break occasionally is a good thing. After 2 months of focusing on health, I was starting to notice a bit of carelessness in my food choices and "no thank you" was becoming absent in my daily vocabulary. Nothing bad mind you but I don't want to totally sabotage myself. So a bit of cleansing is a great way to rid those cravings.

Another thing that prompted me to do this was an article I read on 5 Foods That Cause Stress. While those ingredients weren't in my daily eating, I figured that focusing a bit of intensity will help me through this time. I say that because our family is in a heavy emotional time right now as my Nana transitions into the final stage of her life on hospice. Soon she will be standing whole and healthy and full of joy with Papa God in heaven.

Doing food restrictions during this time may seem crazy as food can be such a comfort. Until recently I never thought I would do this. But I am finding this week that doing juice and water only is helping me to stay calm and focused in doing all the things that need my attention. I am not pacing or wanting to drown my emotions in that chocolate pie on the kitchen counter. The instant fast food that seems to be building in my parents fridge isn't calling for me. Sure those pepperoni slices smelled good in the oven but nothing beats a tall glass of  'peach pie juice'. I have been making all 5 juices first thing in the morning and packing them with me. That way I can sit with Nana and not feel pulled in any other direction.

For a guide, I am using the juices listed on days 6-10 of the 15 Day Reboot Guide. Many of the recipes are one that I first started with and forgot how much I liked them.I am grateful for the guide so that I don't have to think through what I am doing in the kitchen. I am also grateful for the team at Reboot for making such a wealth of information and support readily available and free.

We are all tired and emotionally raw. It is hot and still 88 degrees in the house at 11 pm with the current heat wave we are experiencing. But despite all of that, I don't feel nervous, shaky, fretful, anxious or swollen. I feel focused.

Thank You God for Your love and care. I celebrate You!

September 5, 2013

Day 60.......thoughts on my progress

Today makes 60 days since I started my endeavor to focus on a healthier more beneficial me. Just a few posts back, I shared my excitement concerning exercise. I am still loving it and have been learning more things about myself. One of the fun things that has happened.....well it didn't start out as fun. I had stuck with my husband's glider but was having problems with it. It just so happens that my feet are really super wide. It is a hassle when trying to find a pair of shoes but I have learned to live with it. However when using the glider, my feet were more wide than the support bar I stood on. So I would get severe cramps in my feet and have to stop a couple times to rest those muscles during my 45 minute workout. Eventually I got the wild idea that we needed to get a different piece of exercise equipment that we could both equally benefit from.

A quick 2 day look on our local web classified ads and I found the perfect thing. We got a great blessing of a deal on an elliptical machine. It is so cool and snazzy. There are 10 levels of tension, a computer read out for distance, speed, heart rate monitor and personal fan to stay cool. I love it! My feet don't cramp up anymore. That makes me really happy.

5 days a week I am doing 45 minutes on this great machine and boy is it a workout. I am positively drenched before I get halfway through.

This brings up a good point and new thought I have been entertaining.
I have always had a hard time exercising. Not only am I not coordinated and have had to deal with these unique lungs of mine but I can't stand to be hot. My revelation is this......I couldn't take getting hot because I was always dehydrated. My husband giggles at my logic and says I am weird (in a loving way) so I don't know how sound my thinking is.....but it makes sense to me. I would overheat and not sweat easily because I was always lacking hydration. Now that I have tons of juice and water always in my system, I break into a head to toe sweat and don't even realize it because I am busy having fun.

Guess what?!
Yesterday I had to purchase a new pair of pants. I don't want to buy a bunch of clothes until I have lost more weight. But to have one pair that actually fits correctly for the moment is a nice thought.

When I started this journey two months ago I was in a super tight sized 14 pant made for curvy women. It was so tight that I had to pour myself into them and really should have worn the next size up. The boot cut leg that should have had a complimentary swish to it was snug enough to be called a skinny jean. Not a pretty sight.

Yesterday while shopping I tried on 8 different types of pants starting with the curvy full figured style and then tapering down to the regular sizes. I tried on a 12 regular and it fit! Then I jumped off the mental bridge and tried on a 10 petite......and it fit!

I stood there in the dressing room overwhelmed and did a little jig. :-) Then I talked myself through a pep talk. You know the one that sort of goes like this...... sizes and numbers don't really matter. A number is just a number. It is how you feel inside that is important. But the other side of me was laughing and saying, "Hey if the 12 regular and the 10 petite both cost the same and they both fit it is a no brainer which one to buy." I mean really......which one would you buy?

I am so grateful and I feel so good and encouraged.
In actuality I have only lost 6 pounds this month. I am grateful for every ounce of it but of course have wanted those big dropping numbers to keep showing on my scale. I guess with all my exercising I am reshaping and building muscle (which weighs more) way more than I thought. Thank You God!

Celebrating God and all of His goodness!

August 28, 2013

Day 52.....The Inquiries

As my husband and I move farther along in our health quest, people are starting to really take notice. In the beginning we received friendly encouragement and cheer leading along with advice and a hint of skepticism. Now however, we are getting many inquiries and tons of questions from family and friends wanting to launch their own quest.

That we could in a sense be inspiring others to be health conscious blows my mind. We are not formally educated in what we are doing. It is simply a day by day journey that is teaching us what works with our bodies as we glean information. It is humbling, encouraging, inspiring and motivating to keep going for others as well as ourselves.

You may notice a new tab up at the top of my blog page titled "Common Questions". These are the things we are getting asked over and over again.

God bless you as you celebrate His goodness!

August 27, 2013

Day 51.......My New Body Talks To Me

* I have learned over this past week to listen more as my body sends me signals. As I shared before, if I indulge in a huge amount of sugar like a piece of cake or ice cream; I end up with plugged sinuses and a sneeze fit to boot. Now I catch myself with the learned conditioning of saying no to that desire for a sugar binge. It is more than a guilty thought saying, "I shouldn't do that". Now it is a flashback that says, "ugh! Remember the last time? No thank you."

* Saturday evening after I had pretty much gotten over that horrid emotional crash from the gelato ice cream I wrote about, I let myself munch on a bit of cheese dip and veggies at a party. Again, that was a huge punishment as well. I barely made it home because I was doubling over in intestinal pain. I know the ingredients were predominately fake with pre-packaged salted seasonings and velveeta cheese (a former temptation of mine). I don't know if it was the 'no real' of it all or the dairy but that is now a BIG no thank you!

* Over the years I have pursued many eating styles, exercise fads and driven myself into the emotional turmoil of pity parties and despair. My poor husband has put up with much as I have squeezed our pocket book dry and wedged emotional walls between us because of my body rolls. I have focused on my own perceived self image and chased after a society that sets unrealistic expectations.

So today when I was making the bed, I happened to be thinking about how I am nearing 2 months on this journey and I am still having fun. I said, "Lord what is different this time?"  He instantly said, "You know who you are in Me and you are not scared to fail anymore."

That makes my heart exclaim Shazam (like Gomer Pile) and Hallelujah!
Thank You God for Your freedom in learning and moving forward. Thank You for increasing my boundaries of perception and mirrored self worth. Thank You for the nourishing things You provide us with that fill our bodies and delight our senses. You are an amazing and fun creator.

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 22, 2013

day 46.....Keep Moving Forward

I am sitting emotionally quaking in my chair as I write, scolding myself for lost ground and then reminding myself that it is all about moving forward.

There I was yesterday at the local warehouse sized store. It was a daily 94 degrees and humid. Plus my family is in heart breaking turmoil right now with changes happening. So there I was checking out at the register and pleased with the items in my cart. The food bar was in my view and I thought, "I really want something cold and cheap...a reward.....because it is not about never having things again. It is about choices."

Yep I really did. I ordered the $1.50 3 scoop chocolate chip gelato and sat down. I enjoyed it. It was cool and tasty, though not as satisfying as I remembered from the past. As is typical for me in this new lifestyle, I sneezed up a storm as the (sugar or dairy, I haven't figured which is the trigger) entered my system. My sinuses filled and throbbed as I toyed with finishing it off or throwing it out. Crazy in retrospect that it was a question to ponder.

I looked it up later and found it to be 551 calories. Not as bad as I thought it would be and the scale didn't yell at me so I figured I would be okay.

Boy was I wrong!
Last night and today have been the worst. My cravings are back in full force. I have had to go to the store 3 times in the last 24 hours for various things in preparation for feeding my husband's Hood 2 Coast team that is running this weekend. Each store visit finds me almost panicked seeing the stuff that I had lost interest in but now with the sugar dose in of food are swirling in my head. It is awful! My smart sense and reasoning are absent as I read the tabloid "diet" titles at the check out lane and wonder if I should try something else instead of what I am doing for more results. How crazy is that?

And I feel so irritable and sad.
Granted the family heartaches really are a big deal and it is enough to make anyone sad. But if I were to totally stay on track with correct life giving foods then I would be equipped to better handle what is happening.

Keep moving forward......
Last night my daughter and her girl friend watch a cartoon called Meet the Robinson's. I love cartoons and finding spiritual life application in them.
During the movie, the characters celebrated when the young hero failed. They said now that he failed he can keep moving forward to find the right answer. It is a very valid point. Use the failure as a stepping stone to go higher in finding the right way. It is a learning experience and it teaches me. It is not for beating myself up with and throwing a pity party in the corner.

God doesn't hold on to the past so neither should I.

August 20, 2013

Day 44.....It is so Exciting

The thrill of good food, yummy juice and refreshing water is too exciting!
One slight variation of ingredients can open a new adventure ride.
Here are the simple recipes I discovered today.

Glory Water Infusion
slice thin and add to 1 pitcher of water
1/2 english cucumber
1 lime peeled
1 branch of basil

I let this sit for 4 hours and then drank all the water and used the same ingredients to make a 2nd pitcher of water.

Then after that pitcher had set, I used the same ingredients to make a yummy incredible juice. Grandma always said 'waste not want not'. But even if you haven't set those ingredients aside to make a water infusion, you can still make the yummy juice by following this recipe.

1/2 english cucumber
1 peeled lime
3 celery
1 granny smith apple
1 branch basil

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 19, 2013

Day 43.....Infusion

It seems every week I am gaining a new health food obsession. The past few days have been all about the smell and flavor of fresh basil. The fragrance is like a smiling wake up call. The flavor is teasingly addictive.

The last several days, basil has helped me to discover the fun of infused water. It is causing me to drink more and more water and that is great because I wasn't drinking enough. Now along with my daily juices I am also drinking at least 1.5 pitchers of water each day.

I made some to take to a family event yesterday and they all loved it too and were asking me for recipes.

So with that in mind, here is what I did.
Harmony Infusion

Slice thin the following ingredients
1/2 peeled orange
1/2 peeled lime
1/2 granny smith apple
add the leaves from 1 branch fresh basil
*makes 1 pitcher of water - approx. 8 cups water

Today I did something a little different.

Crisp and Clean
Slice thin the following ingredients
1/2 English cucumber
1/2 peeled lemon
1 small branch basil leaves

*makes one pitcher of water - approx. 8 cups water

** note that I make this up first thing in the morning when I get up. I personally find the flavor is best if I let it all sit in the fridge for a bout 4 hours and then remove the ingredients from the water. After that time, it becomes too strong in flavor for me. I put all those ingredients in a container and use it in my morning juice the next day. Yum!

And while I am sharing, here is another fun juice that I created the other day.

Morning Kiss
1 orange
1/2 lemon
1/2 granny smith
3 carrots
2 handfuls of spinach

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 17, 2013

Day 41......Interviewing my husband on health

So today I thought I would ask my husband a few questions on his perspective of our food journey thus far. Here is what he has to say.......

Me....What caused you to pursue a healthier lifestyle?
Him....My wife and watched a movie, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. And eye opener. Being a runner and cyclist, I imagined myself healthier that the average guy my age. The movie made me realize I was not as healthy as I thought. 

Me....How long have you been on this new lifestyle?
Him....37 days

Me....How has this experience been for you?
Him....Amazing. I've lost 25 lbs

Me....Did you have any notable health improvements?
Him....Yes my doctor told me I could stop taking my blood pressure medication. Also, as a runner it used to be uncomfortable around my middle to run. I would use a sweat band to sort of hold things in place. Now I can run with no pains and no help. I feel free! 

Me....What are your plans now?
Him....Now that I feel so much better and have a healthy outlook, I plan to keep doing 2 drinks per day and enjoying daily salads for my dinners and fresh veggies and fruits for snacks.

Me....What has been the toughest part of changing your lifestyle?
Him....Hasn't been hard.  My wife has been my amazing example (awe! He always blesses me!)

Me....What is your favorite thing to eat/drink now?
Him....Fresh juice

Me....Do you have a juice recipe to share?
Him....1 apple, 1 orange, 4 carrots, 1 kale and a hand full of blueberries.

My husband 2 months before Reboot

31 days into Reboot
Isn't he wonderful? He is my support and my hero!

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 16, 2013

Day 40......Exercise

My husband is my hero! He is such an encourager to me. He is right along beside me choosing a healthy lifestyle and he is loving his results as well.  I will have to share his success in a future post. For now, let's keep today about me.......giggle giggle.

I was mumbling and complaining last week to him because I am in this plateau of my body not wanting to let go of anything. I am really tired of seeing 182 on my weight scale. While I am not an expert by any means, I do know that our bodies have this muscle memory thing that happens when we yo-yo in weight. It recognizes the patterns of healthy and destructive eating and starts to hold onto fat storage as a backup just in case we choose to never eat again. That storage is usually horrid but our bodies treat it as treasure just because it already hold ownership. That is something of where a plateau comes from.

So, my plateau and complaining.....
I told my husband that I know I should be exercising but it is always easy to find a bazillion and one excuses not to. My breathing issues for one. I absolutely hate being hot for another. Then of course if I walk I feel guilty for not taking the dogs. If I do take them then it stops being exercise because they have to examine every single blade of grass and go in different directions. It is comical but not a cardio workout.

My husband, being ever ingenious, suggested I use his glider machine and the old tripod he rigged up to hold a tablet or laptop for entertainment. Good golly what an idea!

From that point on, I have been getting up every morning and gliding for 45 minutes while I plug into an episode of 'whatever' on Netflix to make the time go by. It is brilliant! If I were to have done the glider while simply watching the clock I would have worked myself slowly up to maybe 20 minutes and think that was special.

So I am stuck in the plateau for the moment but I am now eating healthy AND exercising and that is something to be excited about. Maybe I am still reading the same weight because I am building muscle and it is replacing that 'treasure trove'. It could happen.....

Thank You God for my husband!

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 12, 2013

Day 36.....Figs and Cake

I have a new fixation.....figs!
Maybe my mom would say different but I can't recall ever eating a fig before. I have had fig preserves. That was a favorite of my daddy. But he grew up in the south where figs seem to be prominent. Up here in the northern woods where I live now, I never hear of someone picking, growing, buying or preserving figs.

So I was intrigued when I stopped off at the local produce market and they had a sampler tray out with Dakota Figs on it.

Wow! Wow! Wow! They are sweet with a hint of tart and soft. They are the perfect pack and go snack. They are small enough that one could technically be popped whole in your mouth. But you can bite it away to savor the moment too. It doesn't need to be peeled and the varieties even come in different colors of green, red and purple so your eyes get a delight as well. I bet they would taste yummy cut up thin and placed on a rice cracker.

And actually those who know me will be shocked that I am saying this. But I am currently enjoying the taste of figs way more than the few bites of chocolate cake I had yesterday.

There I was in the kitchen, 5 weeks of no soy, gluten, processed flour or sugar and no dairy. I was making a gluten free chocolate cake for my 4 yr old niece's birthday. I had cut the tip top off of the cake to level it and no one was home to enjoy. I didn't hide or sneak or cheat. I simply wanted to see what would happen if I sampled it after being without anything for so long. Boy was I shocked. Not only did it not taste amazing like I remembered; but I started sneezing like crazy and got really congested. So weird! For 5 weeks I had no sinus issues and then BAM! It was GF so it couldn't have been that. It must have been the processed flour and sugar in the cake mix.  

Boy did I learn a lesson. Later in the afternoon when everyone else was enjoying cake; I said a big no thank you and sipped away on my healthy refreshing dessert drink. I did a mixture of watermelon, blueberries, apple and celery with a big branch of basil. Yum! That sure hit the spot nicely.

In every day and every way....Celebrating God's goodness!

August 8, 2013

Day 32.....A Kitchen Day

I have been in the kitchen all day today cooking this, making that, stirring ingredients and creating originals.

The first task of my day was to make dog food. I know.....when people hear that statement  it is either followed up by them trying to hide the humor in me being a crazy dog owner OR they want to know the inside scoop on what I do. I can't see your expression so I will take it for granted that you are interested.

It wasn't how I started out being a puppy owner. But I periodically read different things on how unhealthy commercialized dog food is. And THEN.....our fuzzy boy got sick from acute systemic allergies. It was a nightmare! We almost lost him. It took 2 years of home food and weaning him from steroids and antihistamines for him to look robust and not react to everything under the sun. Then when we adopted my dad's dog, he too developed allergies from general dog food being over processed. So these days I have a pattern set. I make a big batch up every 3 weeks and deposit into day sized freezer containers.

So there you have it. Sorry about that rabbit trail explanation.
After making dog food, I mixed up 2 batches of juice for myself. One was the Bye Bye Blues from Kelly at Nosh and Nourish (see my juice list for the amazing recipe). Goodness it is so very refreshing after being in the kitchen all day. I also made a fun new concoction of leftover veggies. I had a realization when I was looking at my chopping block of ingredients. I am really starting to gravitate away from the fruits and make mostly veggie drinks and I really like them green. How fun is that?!

3 carrots
4 celery
1 red bell pepper
2 kale
3 bunches of spinach
1 apple
1 lemon

My 19 yr old daughter sampled it and cringed at the green/lemon dose. But I love it. She is still currently in love with mega hourly doses of sugar and empty carb breads. I can totally understand how my drink would taste foul to her.

Last on the kitchen list was for me to make a huge pot of lentil soup to replenish my freezer stock. I keep a supply of single serving containers of soup in the freezer so that my on-the-go-family can grab and toss in the microwave.

Oh my goodness can I please say how proud I am of myself?! I love making and eating soup. But I have always depended on a can of this and a bag of that or the slab of bacon to bring flavor to my pot. Today I made a vegetarian lentil soup and I think it is better than anything I have ever made before. This whole juicing and falling in love with real food thing is causing me to really learn what flavors go together. Here is what I did....

My Own Real Lentil Soup
I did it from scratch for real!
Dice up and saute together 1 Walla Walla onion, 3 carrots, 3 celery & 1 red bell pepper in 4 TBSP of *coconut oil.

After the saute turns them bright and transparent, add 7 cups water and 3 cups **French Green Lentils and bring to a boil. 

Cover and turn to simmer for 45 minutes.

Add 2 diced large collard greens with stalks removed and about 10 inches of fresh basil.

Simmer simmer simmer. Salt & pepper to taste.

*Coconut oil doesn't tun rancid in the higher heats and doesn't leave the after taste that you might envision.

**French Green Lentils are known for their robust flavor and stay true to their shape when cooked. Other lentils turn to mush after being cooked.

Now I am sitting here enjoying the smells of my home. The kitchen is clean and my refreshing drink is nestled cool in my hand. It is a good day indeed.

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 7, 2013

Day 31.....Blueberries Galore!

Blueberries are one of God's many super foods. 1 single cup contains a small 85 calories and is packed with potassium, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, protein and Vitamin C. They also are a great source for manganese, antioxidants and are a natural anti-inflammatory. They are easy to pack and way more fun to toss and eat than a bag of chips.

These were so fun and easy to harvest!

I am so excited. A friend of mine gave me the inside scoop on where I could get tons of free blueberries. So this morning I headed out before the bees woke up and it got hot. An hour and a half later my giant 32 cup 'that's-a-bowl' was full.

I have been sharing the spoils all afternoon. I gave a container to my neighbor, our dog groomer and I have bags earmarked for my daughter, my mom and a friend.

I don't want to be a greedy glutton but I hope to go back again in a couple of days and pick more. They are just falling off the bushes and there are probably 40 bushes weighted down with the juicy goodness of sun swollen berries.
Thank You God for blueberries!
Celebrating God's goodness!

August 6, 2013

Day 30....The First Unveiling

Today is the big day. It is 30 days since I started this journey of cleansing and really evaluating how I treat my body. Wanna see how I am doing?  Here are a couple of before pictures. They were both taken on the weekend of our daughter's wedding 2 months ago. With it being wedding weekend, I shudder at how I made such an effort to look my best.....and it was all a mask for the unhealthiness I was carrying. I had lost 10 lbs. over the wedding prep months and thought I was just fine.

Rehearsal Night - Hubby & Me
Mom, Nana & Me

That was me at over 200 lbs. and pouring myself into my clothes because I refused to buy a larger size. I was so frustrated when I ordered that dress because I had to spend the extra money for more fabric and get it in a 16W. I actually cried before placing the order. I kept thinking, 'I make decent food choices. I use healthy meat and never buy beef. I prefer gluten free crackers (and cake haa haa). I have a smoothie every day and sometimes a salad at dinner. What is wrong with me? Am I doomed to feel like this all the time?'

What was wrong? My body was crying out for real nutrition; God's nutrition. And mega doses of it.

Here I am yesterday and today on my way to a healthy rest of my life.

I have a long way to go as a healthy weight for me would be another 50 lbs. But I celebrate and am so grateful for the progress that I have made. If someone would have told me I could lose 20 lbs in a month I would have laughed at the idea. Now I am living the reality. 

I feel good. I have more energy, think clearly, sleep better, move easier and have no nagging digestive issues or embarrassments. My stomach doesn't cut off my breathing when I tie my shoes! My clothes are loose. My skin is clear. I am now having something of a love affair with the true flavors of real food as my taste buds dance and sing with the joy of nutrition. Sugar doesn't hold me in its shackles and the smell of theater popcorn no longer brings me to my knees.  

I have been teasing my husband that he is going to have to get me another wedding ring. My size 10 ring is getting really loose on my finger. As a matter of fact, when I play ball with our dogs, I have to move it to my thumb for safety or it will fly across the yard with each toss.

I received a most interesting compliment the other day. A friend and I were talking and she piped up with, "Oh my gosh! I never knew your eyes were so big!"
Can I be transparent and say just how much that thrilled me? Without being vain; we all love to hear compliments. My eyes used to be my biggest compliment but it has been a long time since I have heard any compliments at all.

 Thank You God for the joy and victory in this journey! I praise You for Your strength and encouragement and being my supplier for all my needs.

Until tomorrow, celebrating God's goodness!

August 5, 2013

Day 29......Another Time Saver Tip

Time is such a huge concern as well as a stumbling block when trying to eat healthy. Fast food and ease is all around us in billboards, tv, newspapers and magazines. It seems you can't pass a street corner without some fast food temptation offering to save you time and cater to the ease of our fast paced life styles. And it is alluring as all get out. I mean, you are tired after work and if you buy that tub of chicken at the drive thru window then that means you can spend more time together in the evening with your family without working in the kitchen, right? Yeah....been there done that too many times.

Say yum!
Now a-days I have a much better solution. I keep ready cooked chicken in the freezer. No, not the precooked kind. I make my own. That way I can control the salt and feel good about what my family is eating.

Here is what I did today. I took a bag of chicken breasts......
Wait confession first. I abhor touching raw meat. I always have. It is not a "scared of germs thing". There is just something weird in the texture of it all that gives me goosebumps and I can't explain it any more than that. So I buy the boneless skinless breasts and figure the cost difference between that and the work of cleaning a fryer is worth it to me.

.........Ok, back to what I did.
I laid out several chicken breasts in a pyrex dish, drizzled a couple tablespoons of coconut oil on them and used some seasoning. Then I covered it all with tinfoil and baked into juicy perfection (so my family says). Once the chicken was all cooled off, I laid them in a clean pyrex and set it in the freezer for an hour. After being flash frozen, they are easy to slip into a freezer safe bag or container and put back in the freezer. So now there is instant juicy already cooked chicken to grab for a salad, sandwich or (my daughter's favorite) top ramen.

So that is my tip.  :-)
Tomorrow I hope to share a progress picture on how I am getting healthy.
For now.......Let's Celebrate God's goodness!

August 4, 2013

Day 28.....A Little Prep is a Time Saver

As is typical for me a few times a week, I planned my day of juicing to help with the business of life. Sundays are a go go go day.
Here is what I juiced this morning.

Tasty Delight
6 carrots
6 celery stalks
2 apples
1 orange
1/2 fennel bulb with stalk
2 bunches of spinach
2 black kale
1/2 English cucumber (not in the pic)

Yum! It was enough to make my breakfast, lunch and late afternoon snack. It is so refreshing! I am delighted with the fun taste that the fennel provides. Maybe my taste buds are crazy, but to me the fennel gives off a sweet and ever so slight licorice flavor. It brings a smile to my face every time I use it.

How to handle a busy day
Like I modeled above, making 2 or 3 juices at once is a huge time saver. It is best to drink juice at its freshest. But I must be doing something right since I am getting healthier every day.

Another really handy thing that I have learned to do is to prep a few things for maximum ease and preservation. Here is what I did after making a trip to Costco this afternoon.

The big bag of celery : I cut the bottoms of each bunch and put everything into that big container of water on the left. The cold water keeps the celery crisp and it is easy to lift the lid and grab however many stalks needed. That container lasts us just under a week.
I'd like to do something of the same with all of our carrots but I need to get a good sized container to accomplish the task.
All of those square containers on the right : those are the 2 pineapples and watermelon that I cut up. This makes it easy to grab for juice or as a snack.

So far those are my secrets to share. But as I think of more I will be sure to write them down here.  For now.....

Be bless and celebrate God's goodness!

August 2, 2013

Day 26.....Unforeseen Benefits

I love how the bright colors of produce are helping me to wake up and feel happy in the mornings. Aren't those fun colors? Often separation of juices happens if you don't immediately drink up after juicing.

Doesn't this look like a fun good morning?
As with most mornings, I used my morning kitchen time to make enough for 2 meals. Today my breakfast & lunch concoction consisted of the following ingredients and I think I shall call it :

Good Morning Beautiful
1 red apple
1 orange
1 lemon with peel
6 celery stalks
6 carrots
1/4 head red cabbage

It has a touch of sweet along with the refreshing blend of nutrients. And more color is always a good thing. The more colors you get in a day makes your body happy and complete.

I have been realizing more and more practical benefits around our home when it comes to juicing and healthy food choices.

My Dishwasher
My sorta full dish washer.
Juicer parts airing out on the counter.
It used to be that I ran the dish washer every day and had to invent ways of getting it to all fit. Now I run it about every 5 days and even then it isn't overflowing.  I even put in extra things now like the dog food bowls.

I Have Help
I used to feel like I was chained to the kitchen. I did all the washing, cooking, prepping and putting away. Everyone else knew how but somehow it simply never got done unless my hands did it. Now my wonderful husband helps prepare juices and salads and even cleans up after himself. It is amazing!

Our Trash
I was taking out the trash this morning and realized that our trash load has diminished as well. It used to be that our recycle kitchen can had to be emptied every day sometimes twice a day because of all the cardboard boxes. Now it is almost non existent. (Wow! And I thought I was feeding us healthy.)
Our waste can gets taken out every day; not because it is full but because the compost gets smelly.
All of these changes make our new lifestyle even more fun!
Thank You God!

Celebrating God's goodness!

August 1, 2013

Day 25....Indulgence

sweet temptation

Last night, for reasons left unsaid, I was feeling a bit antsy, emotional and pinned. While I will freely admit that I gave in to the urge to binge when I knew full well I wasn't hungry; I also want to toot my horn and celebrate how I did it. My "binge" consisted of choosing to gulp down a glass of ice water and 2 handfuls of blueberries.

I'd really love to get to a point where I do not eat for emotional reasons. But I absolutely love that my choice (without any self scolding or see-sawing) was health above all.

Thank You thank You thank You Jesus!

old barrel vs. the new barrel
Recently, I had to purchase a replacement barrel for my juicer. We had been pushing hard root veggies through our juicer without cutting them up small enough to be nice to the machine. The consequence was the barrel is what gave way.

It still works but with each use the seam spreads just a little bit more. I didn't realize it when I ordered the replacement but it is even better than the original. It has grinders all the way around the barrel and I love it. We are finding that it is maximizing our juice volume even more. That is really awesome because it maximizes our dollar as well. Goodness our compost was already so dry. I didn't know there was any more liquid to be had.

This morning I made a volume of juice to last me most of the day while I do all the things that need my attention. Here is what I juiced. It made over 6 cups of juice and will hold me until dinner tonight.

1 english cucumber
2 oranges
2 carrots
1/2 cup of pineapple
3 celery
1 granny apple
1/2 red delicious apple
4 handfuls of spinach

Yum! Yum! Yum!

Celebrating God's goodness!

July 31, 2013

Day 24.....Could you eat all that?

Can you eat all of that?
The other day, our oldest daughter watched me prepare for a juicing feast. She said, "Mom I am so proud of you for doing this. Your will power is amazing. But what is the difference between juicing and eating? Can't you just eat that and be done?"

That was a good question; one that had been on my mind at one time or other as well. The answer is this.
If you are wanting to focus on packing in the nutrients without all the bulk then juicing is the answer. Look at the volume of food needed for 1 drink. I could never eat that much in a sitting.....and then be ready in a couple hours to do it over again.

As I look at this cutting board full of amazing produce, an important rule of thumb comes to mind. That rule is the 80/20 rule. I have been seeing it in every corner of the web that I go to for research. It means that we should strive for 80% veggies and 20% fruits while juicing. Using this rule helps to get the incredible array of nutrients from the veggies while balancing out the sweet of the fruit. Fruits are power packed too. But it is better to have sustaining energy instead of a sugar spike.

By keeping that rule in mind and having fun with colors, you can create all kinds of fun and inventive drinks that are eye catchy, pleasing to your palette and packed with life. So have fun! Create and enjoy!

Celebrating God's goodness!

July 30, 2013

Day 23......Celebrate

Today I am sitting here enjoying another recipe I found. It is so interesting how as my taste buds change to embrace real food I find I am loving it more and more.

Today is called Green Elixir by Claire Georiou at Reboot.
One of the things I love about the Reboot recipes is that they encourage and list out things you can use as substitute. Her recipe calls for pears but I used apple instead.
Here is what I am drinking in my beautiful celebration glass.

4 kale leaves
1 large cucumber
1/2 fennel bulb
1 large granny apple
2 celery stalks 

A word of advice: Have fun and celebrate yourself!
Get out those one wine goblets that sat in the back shelf because you were worried about calories. Nutrient rich juices taste good in anything from a plastic tumbler to sparkling crystal. But why not give yourself the added joy of celebrating you. You are most certainly worth it!

Celebrating God's goodness!