Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Motivation

So I am still stuck on last Monday's motivation.  I just can't get it out of my head that animals fed GMO corn or soy experienced infertility, multiple miscarriages, and finally in the 3rd generation sterilization.  Since we don't have data to reflect 3 generations in humans, it makes me determined to feed my little people as GMO free a diet as possible.

Today I'll mention the only human experimenting done with GMO.  This is pretty creepy too.

The first human experimenting suggests that "Functioning GM genes remain inside you."

"Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.[39] This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.

"If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics.
If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.
Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.[40]"  Institute for Responsible Technology

Makes me want to drink a bottle of GM canola oil while eating a bag of GM corn chips, maybe Frito Lays, which are probably fried in canola oil and chasing it down with GM soy milk.  I'm going for the living pesticide factory in my gut.  How about you?

Oh, and if this information is wrong and there are no functioning GM genes in our bodies, I have cut out processed foods and other junk foods that lead to a host of other health problems anyway.  So either way, my kids win and are healthier!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Almost Half My Life Ago

Almost half my life ago my daddy was taken from this earth tragically.  I can't even begin to explain how a 19 year old, college sophomore, living 8 hours away from home copes with that loss.  It was brutal.

I never thought I would be able to smile again or feel the kind of joy that just makes you light up all over.  I was wrong.  It took years but I feel that joy.  I smile real smiles that are brought on from real happiness! I live my life and love it.  As an adult woman and a mother of 3, I can now look back and be thankful for the years I had with him and be thankful for the years of mourning that are behind me.  Both experiences have molded me into the person I am today.  And I like her!

I'm not so naive to think that I'll never mourn again.  But I have learned that there is a season for mourning and a season for rejoicing.  Glad to be in the season of rejoicing!

For years I cried because I missed my daddy.  But mostly I cried because I couldn't stand to think of the pain he was undoubtedly in the hours before he died.  I thought of his screaming out for help which never arrived.  I could go on but there is really no need.  I could hardly bear it.  It haunted me for years.

And then delivering my first baby changed my perspective on death.  I remember just as I was about to give birth to my first child feeling so heartbroken for the child birth process she was about to endure.  How traumatic!  Here was this precious little baby, a little person I would have died for before I even met her, about to experience the intense pain and pressure of exiting the birth canal.  And I could do nothing to stop it.  I could do nothing to help her.  It was just something she must endure.

And yet at the same time I felt just giddy at the thought of actually meeting her, holding her near me, looking at her sweet little features.  I could hardly wait.  My delivery nurse told me I was going to laugh my baby out!  I couldn't wait to get that precious little girl in my arms.

For 9 months she had known nothing but warmth, safety, constant food, and comfort.  But in an instant she was thrust into this new world.  A world where she would have to learn to fend for herself so to speak.  A world which she knew nothing about and, for that matter, not a single person.  She had only the comfort of my voice, which she heard A LOT during those 9 months.

Oh, but once she truly experienced life, the womb could not compare.  I think of death that way.  We live this life on Earth.  This is all we know, all we have.  It defines us, gives us purpose.  What should happen if we are suddenly taken?

And then there is the pain of death.  The traumatic event of crossing over from life to the hereafter.  I have started to think that just like the new born baby exiting the womb, into this exciting world, the moment we leave this life to enter the hereafter is similar.  It's painful.  It's traumatic.  It's heartbreaking.  And yet, just like that baby wouldn't want to go back to the womb once life is tasted, my daddy wouldn't want to come back to earth after tasting heaven.  This just makes me feel better.

And I can only imagine our Heavenly Father awaiting our arrival.  Waiting to hold us near, tell us "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Oh and the rejoicing in Heaven that must be going on upon our arrival!

And then for years after his death I heard his voice in so many of my situations.  I remember a time in college when I scheduled 2 dates the same day.  While I was on the second date, I ran into the guy from the earlier date.  Awkward!  When I told my daddy we laughed and laughed and he said, "Natty Boo, how do you get yourself in these situations?"  And boy, I got myself in some situations!  I'll tell you that!  I often heard his voice and that phrase for years to follow.

I was thinking about how I really don't hear his voice anymore.  I'm not that little girl that he knew.  It breaks my heart to write that sentence.

I don't do AS MANY crazy things as the younger me!  I've grown up.  The realization that I haven't heard his voice in years brought tears to my eyes.  In fact, they are streaming down my face right now.

But then I realized I may not need to hear him laughing at all of my antics anymore.  I SEE little bits of him every day.  I've got children who remind me constantly of him.  They are beautiful reminders of his gentle spirit and his kind heart.  Although my children will never know him, they embody so many of his finest qualities.

My oldest child, 1 of 3, would give anyone the shirt off her back.  In fact we went to a birthday party for a friend who was turning 40.  She went to her room and got all of her piggy bank money as she thought it would be fun to give a $40 gift since our friend was turning 40.  If you knew my dad, you probably at some point got a wad of cash handed to you.  He passed out cash like candy just to bring a smile to your face.  Generous with a pure heart!  

And both of my girls are quick to think of ways to help their baby brother when he is crying.  They run to get toys for him to play, they sing to him, or make funny faces.  At 2 and 5 they are already sensitive to others.  They have such tender hearts.

I could go on giving countless examples of how they remind me of his spirit.  I can just say that on the 17th anniversary of his death I am reminded daily of the best qualities in my daddy.

I have come to terms with his death and think of him fondly.  He lives on in my heart and he lives on through my children.

What a blessing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why On Earth Are We Eating This?

So I am having a bit of trouble staying motivated and on track lately.  A bit of trouble is an understatement.  Eating out when we are busy is getting us!  I need some Motivation.  So for a little while on Monday I am going to have Motivation Monday.

Today, I'm going to address Genetically Modified Foods.  By no means is this extensive.  Just a quick reminder to myself and maybe you, too.

Genetically Modified Food or Organisms, GMOs, are foods that have had a deletion or insertion of a gene to the nucleus of a cell.  

Monsanto is the company responsible for the vast majority of GMOs on the market today.  Monsanto is also the producer of Round Up.  You know, Round Up, the weed killer.  Well, most of the GMOs we are eating today have been genetically modified with a gene that is "Round Up Ready."  "Round Up Ready" seeds means we are eating food that has been modified to survive poison sprayed on it time and time again.  For the most part that is the only benefit.  And it really is no benefit to the consumer.  None at all! 

The main sources of GMO on the currently on the market now are soy, corn, canola, and cotton.  Here is a list of all the GMO food allowed on the market.

That's not so bad, I guess.  I mean none of us dropped dead.  Well, how about this to make you think?  GMOs were first grown commercially in 1996.  1996!  That is stunning to me.  We have no long term data to show the effects of this new GMO on the human body and yet we consume it daily.

There is however, long term data from animals.  It is frightening to say the very least.  Here's one:

"After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups."  source 

Or how about this study:  

"In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller (see photo) and could not reproduce.

"In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.

"When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes [PDF of Study], including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently."

Here's the kicker, "When Ermakova reported the high infant mortality among GM soy fed offspring, for example, she appealed to the scientific community to repeat and verify her preliminary results. She also sought additional funds to analyze preserved organs. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Samples were stolen from her lab, papers were burnt on her desk, and she said that her boss, under pressure from his boss, told her to stop doing any more GMO research. No one has yet repeated Ermakova's simple, inexpensive studies."

Although this one study has not been repeated, other studies point to GMOs causing reproductive problems.  Here are a few results from other studies:

"An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had [PDF of study], and the smaller the babies were.

"Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry's problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn.

"Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding 'neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior.' Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females 'at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens.' One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures. Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock.
"In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously."  Source

Again and again, research is at least offering clues to us about the long term health affect GMO food might have on humans.  That data alone should be enough for the government to allow labeling on GMO and nonGMO food.  If it is going to remain on the market the consumer should at least have the right and ease of removing GMOs from their diet if they so choose.  

"Without detailed tests, no one can pinpoint exactly what is causing the reproductive travesties in Russian hamsters and rats, Italian and Austrian mice, and livestock in India and America. And we can only speculate about the relationship between the introduction of genetically modified foods in 1996, and the corresponding upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems among the US population. But many scientists, physicians, and concerned citizens don't think that the public should remain the lab animals for the biotech industry's massive uncontrolled experiment."  Jeffrey M. Smith

This just makes my head spin.  I hope for the sake of our kids and grandkids we wake up and demand our government stop bowing to Monsanto's human experiment.  This billion dollar biotechnology industry may just be a ticking time bomb.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Farm Fresh Produce And Meats Delivered To My Door

Today was my first delivery from Farmhouse Delivery.  So far, fabulous!  Farmhouse has partnered up with other farms and offers a wide variety of organic items to the customer.  The weekly fee for the bushel of produce like in the picture above is $37 a week.  There is an order sheet to add on any additional items.  So I placed my order and also got a host of grass/pasture fed meats, mushrooms, pecans, and breads.  All from local farms.  Farmhouse also delivers organic baby food, herbs, breads, mushrooms, eggs, cheeses, and so much more.  Here is a link to the order form so you can see for yourself.

I do love to go to the Farmer's Market and get the produce myself, but found there is often not enough time on our Saturday family day.  Farmhouse is providing an excellent service to us!  This is the produce/food we want to eat, available by delivery!

I love that I am getting local produce!  Fresh, organic food that supports my local farmers!  Can't beat it.  And oh how tasty the strawberries were!  Gone in less than 3 minutes.  And all little people were asking for 3rds!

Farmhouse is my favorite organic find so far!!!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Me Some Lobster

Tonight is the second night in the past week I have made lobster.  My sweet husband stopped on the way home and bought some for me.  I can't get enough!  Love me some lobster.

I just thought I'd share the secret to making fabulous lobster that a little lady at Central Market shared with me.  So here it is: when boiling the lobster add salt to the water and then white wine.  I add the small bottles that I use for cooking.  Oh my.  I'd put it up against any restaurant lobster any day.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Childhood Favorite At Its Healthiest

Last week while I was grocery shopping at Whole Foods, I noticed something I thought would make my little people shout from the hills!

I hate to admit this but sometimes I plan a meal that is a total bust.  Other times I find myself running behind and it's too late to cook dinner.  Or like tonight, I finally ran out of groceries!  These are the times I need the "shout from the hills" kid dinners that will soothe complaints of kids and nerves of momma.

No matter the time, the place, the company, my little people could eat a hot dog.  I think they could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I don't condone eating hotdogs everyday.  Just saying that my little people could!

So that said, we have been eating all natural buffalo hot dogs when we eat them.  Last week I stumbled  across beef, chicken and turkey hot dogs.  We have taste tested all 3 flavors and they were well received by all 3 people.  The package says to boil the hot dogs but the kids don't care for them boiled.  And get this, the beef hot dogs are made from 100% organic grass-fed and finished beef!  All of the hot dogs are uncured and nitrate free.

I have to remind myself that these hot dogs are still processed meat.  "Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by adding preservatives such as nitrites or nitrates. Examples of processed meat include ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, sausages, bratwursts, frankfurters, hot dogs and some types of minced meat."  The chicken hot dog says it is "lightly smoked" and therefore meets the definitions of processed meat even though the hot dogs are uncured and nitrate free.

Although we only eat all of the hot dogs in moderation, I do like the fact that my little people can enjoy a childhood favorite at its healthiest.  I still wish they would ALWAYS like the food I make and have no need for a "shout from the hills" substitution!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Plans Were A Blast!

We woke up to a party yesterday!  We had heart-shaped waffles, chocolate covered strawberries and an apple covered with caramel and pink sprinkles.  My little people had the best time.  They had presents to open from their grandmother and special cards.  But the biggest hit was a gum ball necklace.

There were giggles and squeals of delight from one little gal and grumbles and grunts from another that was not quite awake.  The grunts turned to giggles with a bit of gum ball necklace delight, though.

After the breakfast party, I was lucky enough to be a mommy helper at 1 of 3's school Valentine's Day Party.  After school we had a playdate and then rushed off to yet another Valentine's Day party.  It was a busy and GREAT day!

 So here is the run down on all of our Valentine's Day plans.

The play dough was a huge success.  We had a friend over to help make play dough and all 3 girls couldn't get enough.  They loved measuring and mixing.  Really proud little girls.  And after the hard work of making the play dough, the girls played with it for 2 hours.  And since it was so successful I didn't dare move them on to painting the canvas.  We'll get to the heart art another day.  The next rainy day we will be making play dough again!  Note to momma's:  it was MESSY, MESSY, MESSY!!  Did I mention it was MESSY?  It was but so worth it!!!

The paella and the salad were out of this world!  And I have to mention that both were easy and should have been quick.  I used long grain brown rice and it took forever to cook.  Next time I will try a different rice. We love the dressing from the salad recipe so much that we made it again today.  My husband said that he only wants this dressing for the rest of his life.  Didn't make the chocolate dessert yet.  I'll try it soon.  Did make the coconut bark.  It was okay.  Next time I would use equal parts coconut oil and dark chocolate chips (both melted) and then add the toasted coconut and macadamia nuts.

And as I mentioned earlier, my daughters LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the gum ball necklaces.  So much fun and so super cute.  I think I'm going to make these for party favors for their birthday too.  Again, really easy and brought big smiles.

Valentine's Day 2011 was just the BEST EVER!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Super Cute Last minute Valentine Idea for Girls

I just found this website and had to share it!  the cutest idea ever!!!  i am so making this for my girls to open on Valentine's day.  precious!!!   Super job, sarah, from one charming party. 

valentine gumball necklaces by One charming party click on the link to find other super cutie ideas from this blog!

We all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but how about gumballs this year? A new take on the candy necklace, this easy gumball craft is sure to get you some hugs and kisses. You can give these to the sweet girls in your life or hand them out at a Valentine’s Party.
1. Using a metal skewer, pierce one side of the gumball. Hold the top of the gumball steady as you guide the skewer (see photo). This will prevent the skewer from slipping off the slick surface of the gumball.
2. Flip the gumball over and pierce another hole directly opposite to the first hole. If you try to poke a hole straight through both sides at once, the gumball will crack.
3. The hardest part is stringing the ribbon. Use a large needle to thread the ribbon through the gumballs. Thinner ribbon is easier to string. Tie a knot between each gumball as you string it.
Tip: Look for bags of single colored gumballs at your local party supply store.
Photos by Sara Westbrook.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lovely Valentine's Day Dinner For The Grown Ups!

Okay Mommy and Daddy, this one is for you!  Valentine's Day is Monday and if you are staying at home and cooking, I've got the menu for you!
I found this lovely healthy Valentine menu that is rich in aphrodisiac foods. Here are a few other foods that might be worth grabbing if you're cooking at home on Valentine's Day; oysters, figs, pine nuts, and pomegranate.  How about starting with raw oysters for an appetizer followed by the Arugula Salad with Roasted Asparagus?
Try adding figs and pine nuts to the salads to spice it up a bit!  And for dessert how about a bit of  pomegranate syrup drizzled over the chocolate pudding cake and strawberries.  One thing is for sure, the meal will be delicious!  

If you are wondering if I'm serving this for Valentine's Day, I'll never tell!
Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

Serves 2
Roasting asparagus brings out a deep, earthy taste and allows the tender spears to pair more easily with wine.
An aphrodesiac dish.
4 cups baby arugula leaves, loosely packed
8 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400° F. Snap off tough ends of asparagus and toss with about 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lay spears in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender crisp and slightly charred, about 5-10 minutes depending on thickness of the spears.
While asparagus is roasting, combine remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. To serve, toss arugula with dressing and divide evenly between two plates. Top with asparagus spears, sprinkle cheese on top, and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 160 Calories; 15g Fat; 4g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 223mg Sodium

Serves 2
Paella is a classic Spanish dish that is easy to make but looks impressive. If you need to reduce sodium in your diet, use homemade chicken stock so you can control the amount of salt or substitute water for the stock.
Aphrodisiac Recipe
1-1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red pepper, diced small
2 ounces pre-cooked andouille or chorizo sausage, sliced
1/2 cup long grain rice
6 large shrimp
6 mussels
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Heat chicken stock for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes in the microwave and dissolve saffron in the stock. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium high heat; add onion and red pepper and cook until barely soft. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and rice and cook one minute, then add saffron stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir rice, then lay shrimp and mussels on top of partially cooked rice, replace cover, and cook until rice has absorbed all the liquid, the shrimp are cooked, and the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes more. Discard any unopened mussels and sprinkle entire dish with parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Notes:  Some types of rice require longer cooking time and/or more liquid, so adjust cooking time and quantity of stock according to rice package directions; add seafood 5 minutes before rice is finished cooking.
Paella can be made with a wide variety of meats or seafood. To reduce the fat and cholesterol in this dish, substitute chicken breasts (cut into small chunks so they cook quickly) and white fish filets (cut into bite-sized pieces and add along with the mussels) for the sausage and shrimp, and add a little cayenne pepper to kick up the flavor.
Per Serving: 480 Calories; 20g Fat; 24g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 60mg Cholesterol; 684mg Sodium

Serves 2
These decadent pudding cakes are quite rich, and I find that sharing one is satisfying enough. Use organic fair trade chocolate if you can. You can make these up to four hours in advance and keep them at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic, until dinner; refrigerate any leftovers.
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 62-70% cacao
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
Mint leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter the insides of two 6-oz. ceramic ramekins, and then dust liberally with sugar. Place inside a glass baking dish and set aside.
Combine sugar and water in a small pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. While sugar is dissolving, roughly chop chocolate and place in a small bowl; pour hot syrup over the chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate is melted. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until fully incorporated before adding the next piece. Whisk in egg and then flour.
Divide batter evenly between the two prepared ramekins. Create a water bath by filling the baking dish with hot water to halfway up the outsides of the ramekins and place entire baking dish into oven. Bake until cakes have risen and tops just barely begin to crack, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove ramekins from water bath. Let sit for 2 minutes, then using a hot pad, invert cakes onto dessert plates. (Note that the cakes will be difficult to move once they adhere to the plates.) To serve, spoon sliced strawberries onto cakes and garnish with mint leaves.
Per Serving: 498 Calories; 40g Fat; 8g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 153mg Cholesterol; 217mg Sodium

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The $35,000 Recipe

My little 2 of 3, the pickiest of picky eaters, LOVED these cookies!  She couldn't get enough.  So she got her own little video to prove her love.  

I graduated from Baylor University many years ago with a Bachelor of Science.  My major was dietetics/nutrition.  And all I have to show for money spent on the tuition is a few modified recipes.  They are quite yummy and healthy so I guess that part is good!

So here's today's $35,000 recipe.

Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 butter nut squash baked and then skin removed (pumpkin can be substituted too)
1 large egg
1/2 cup vanilla coconut yogurt 
1/4 honey 
1/4 molasses
6 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 cups unbleached flour 
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Use a mixer or place in blender butternut squash, egg, yogurt, honey, molasses, applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  I used the Vitamix to blend together until smooth.  Add the flour and stir just until it is mixed in, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a very generously rounded tablespoon measure, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets spacing about 2 inches apart (cookies shouldn’t spread much). Bake at 375ยบ for 13 to 15 minutes.

Remove from tray and let cool.

Makes about 18 cookies

Natalie's Note:  I find if I bake all of the cookies at once, they are eaten at once.  Really, they are gone almost before they are cooled.  So today I made 7 cookies and froze the rest.  My thinking on the 7 was that my husband and I could have 2 and the kids could each have one.  It didn't work out so well for us.  The girls ate 2 and the adults and baby had one.  I froze the rest of the batter in balls.  I had to put the entire bowl in the freezer so the dough was hard enough to make balls.  Then I let the balls freeze and transferred them to a freezer bag.  Now I'm making a few hot cookies for my husband and myself.  We were robbed earlier!!!  FYI there is a serious increase in cooking time when cooking frozen ball batter!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Valentine's Day Family Fun

Can you believe Valentine's Day is Monday?  I wanted to share our fun family Valentine's Day activities.  I know that two little ladies will be so pleasantly surprised and thrilled with these little treats.  I'm telling you, they are the craft QUEENS and they love to create...anything!

We are going to start our Valentine festivities off with a play dough party.  I found a recipe for no cook homemade play dough that kids can make themselves.  My kids LOVE to make anything but since they LOVE play dough this is going to be a blast.  We are going to make a variety of red, pink and purple play dough.  I have heart cookie cutters and a host of others if needed.

Here is the recipe for the homemade no cook play dough:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring

Mix all ingredients except water. Add water slowly in small amounts until dough is easy to handle. Store in air tight container. Add food coloring to the water for better results.

Then it's painting time!!!

We are going to make heart art for their room.  And since the girls are now sharing a room, it will be a perfect addition to their "big girl" room.  I'm going to get pink and purple paint as well as sponges cut out in different heart sizes for the girls to paint and decorate their canvas.  I even saw a really cute canvas that only used cookie cutter shapes to decorate.  The picture above used a star cookie cutter to create that masterpiece.  I'll give them choices.  No telling what our Valentine canvas will look like!

And finally, we are going to chow down on Coconut Macadamia Bark with dark chocolate chips.

Coconut Macadamia Bark

Servings: 12 squares of bark or more


1 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
2/3 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
dark chocolate chips (A LOT) :)


Mix together oil, coconut flakes and nuts. Line a pan or plate with parchment paper.  Pour the oil mixture onto the parchment paper. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Break apart into pieces of bark. Store in the freezer.

Look for photos soon after Valentine's Day of our final products!

We are going to celebrate Valentine's Day with these fun activities.  What do you have planned for your little ones?  Please share.  I may add some of your suggestions to make our day even more fun!

Our Family Project And We NEED Your Help!

My oldest daughter is in kindergarten.  She loves school and we LOVE her school.  Grandparents day is in April and it is a really big deal!  All of the children invite their grandparents to school for the day.  Each family is responsible for coming up with a family project to share on grandparents day.  The pictures below are our grandparents.  We love them!

Can you guess what our family project is going to be?  Well if you guessed cooking together and eating healthy meals we all prepare, you're right.  We will make a display board with pictures of all the cooks and of course our favorite recipes we have made together.  3 of 3 will only be shown eating as he's just too little to do much of the cooking yet!  But those 2 girls of mine are some cooking queens!  We'll even have a few samples of our favorite snacks!

The usually rushed, running behind me wants to get a head start.  And 1 of 3 and I need a little help from our friends.  We need responses from friends on ways this blog has encouraged you or helped bring healthy changes to your family too.  We would be thrilled to add your comment to our display board as a way our project has touched other friends' lives.  If you have a comment, great, please leave it below on comments.  If not, that's okay.  Please continue reading anyway.

I appreciate your time to respond.  I am lucky to have you all as my friends and readers!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Too Darn Good For My Own Good!

I tried out a new recipe for the Super Bowl.  It turned out so fabulous that I don't think I can make it again for a long while.  Why, you ask?  It was just too darn good for my own good.  I ate and ate and ate and overate.  I ate so much I felt SICK!  That doesn't happen often.  And as I lay in bed moaning about how I ate so much I vowed it would be a long while before I made this again!

Around 8 p. m. on Saturday night I made a big pot of Bison and Shiitake Mushroom Chili for the Super Bowl on Sunday.  By about 10 p. m. there was just a little left.  Needless to say, we didn't have Bison Chili for the Super Bowl.

I found this recipe on Organic Authority and it just read like it would be out of this world.  I thought it was!  Here's the recipe.

FYI:  I included a red bell pepper and excluded the creme fraiche and green onions.

Bison Chili with Shiitake Mushrooms from Organic Authority

  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground bison
  • 1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle seasoning
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 1/2  cups of red kidney beans (fresh preferred, soaked overnight if necessary (read package instructions), most canned foods contain BPA liner)
  • 1 1/2 pounds chopped fresh organic tomatoes (or canned Eden tomatoes, no BPA)
  • 3 cups beef stock (add more if needed to reach desired consistency)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses
  • 1 cup organic cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Creme fraiche
  • 2-3 chopped green onions for garnish

Heat a deep, large skillet or a pot over high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the meat. Season it with salt and pepper, browning and crumbling meat, for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate and return pot to stove.
Keep pan at high heat, add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, coat pan, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sautee mushrooms until browned and tender, remove from pan.
Add remaining veggies to the pan, once the onions, peppers and are soft add the mushrooms, back to the pan.
Add 1 cup of red wine to pan to deglaze pot and reduce to a syrup. Add meat back to the pan, season with chili powder, adobo, cumin and chipotle seasonings.
Add red beans, tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, brown sugar, molasses to pot.
Simmer for 45 to 1hour, until flavors combine.  
Top with Creme fraiche,  cheddar cheese and green onions and serve!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh So Yummy Blueberry Muffins!!!

My little people were so very cold when they all arrived home today.  1 of 3 asked if I would please make something warm to eat.  We settled on blueberry muffins.  And since you all know that I am trying to cut most sugar out of our diet I had to make my own recipe.  It was a smashing success.  All 3 people ate them and had seconds.  We ended up having a "tea" party with hot chocolate.  Sorry 3 of 3 but you do have 2 older sisters!

Oh So Yummy Blueberry Muffins:


1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup yellow squash puree and I added a small bit of cauiflower
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
evaporated cane juice sugar to sprinkle the tops of the muffins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or use 12 jumbo muffins tins placed on a cookie sheet.

I boiled my yellow squash and cauliflower.  Next time I'm going to steam them.  Place the squash, cauliflower, applesauce, and yogurt into a blender and puree.  In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.  In another bowl, combine puree mixture with egg and agave nectar.   Mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and with a spatula, stir until just combined.  Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tray, filling each cup about 2/3 full.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the evaporated cane juice sugar and return the muffins to the oven to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before turning the muffins out.

I was so pleasantly surprised at just how yummy the muffins turned out!  And my 3 little people agreed!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Failed Miserably!

Failed miserably is actually being quite kind.  I had trouble even getting started.  I'm refering to the Double Dog Dare and I have to admit it went down hill fast.

I have to admit to myself that the best I can do is the salad a day.  And I can over do the one once of nuts a day.  You read my blog.  You know I way over do the "NUTS."  Right?

I tried to steam 2 servings of greens a day for my husband and myself.  I bought all of the greens.  They rotted in my refrigerator.  I always had an excuse not to make them.  Today's picture is my proof.  I tried to eat 3 servings of fruit a day but my kids beat me to it.  I mean, I could buy more but who am I kidding?  It would probably go to waste too.  We were doing fruit/veggie smoothies for a while but it's too cold now.  And finally not so much on the 1/2 cup of beans or legumes a day.

Oh, I did just fine on all the things I had to give up with the exception of a bit of sugar in the dark chocolate chips.  I'm not giving up.  I'll try again in a few weeks.  Or maybe the Spring or Summer.  Fall is looking good too.

Okay so I'm just going to plug along doing my best to be healthy.  I just can't put any extra demands on myself.  They seem to overwhelm me.  I'm sticking to the salad a day and then whatever sides I have in the one home cooked meal I make.  I'll get there.  I have the want to just not so much the time/energy.  It'll come!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

rBGH Free Milk Products And They Aren't All Organic!!!

Well, just in case you would rather NOT serve up rBGH milk to your family, today's post is dedicated to listing companies that have pledged to go rBGH-free.  The good news is there is an alternative to the rBGH milk on the market in grocery stores.  And there are even options that are non organic.

Certainly ALL organic milk products are rBGH free.  My friend told me about Organic Valley Milk.  It is a nationwide company owned by farmers.  The milk is produced and delivered in its region.  So when I buy it at the grocery store, I know that it came from a Texas farm.  That is cool.  Their website has detailed information about the different farms and regions available.  Who Is Your Farmer?  When we go to the farmer's market we love Texas Daily Harvest Organic Milk.  The girls can't get enough. Yummy!!!  

There are also some companies that labeled their products rBGH free.  Whole Foods non organic cheese does label rBGH free but follows up with this statement: "The FDA has said there is no significant difference between milk from cows treated with rBGH and untreated cows.  No test can now distinguish between milk from treated and untreated cows."

Here are non-organic companies that have dropped rBGH from their products:  General Mills (Yoplait yogurt), Dannon yogurt, Costco's "Kirkland Signature," Target's "Archer Farm," Sam's and Walmart's "Great Value," Safeway’s "O," Publix’s “High Meadows,” Giant's "Nature's Promise," Fresh and Easy store brand, and Kroger store brand.  I'm sure there are other brands also.  I'll update as I find out.  It would be wise to ask the store you frequent if they provide rBGH free milk products.  The list provided is just a sample.  Please visit this link.  It detailed information on  rGBH free products.   Here is another link that provides brands state by state and details the products they produce.  It may be wise to double check and ask your local grocery store to in fact be sure.

When in doubt as to if a milk product has rBGH look for "organic," "hormone free," and "rBGH or rBST free."  Like I stated earlier though, it is hard to find products labeled.  Or maybe it isn't hard, there just aren't many products that are rBGH free.  

Why does everything have to be so complicated?  I just want wholesome fresh milk and milk products without the research.  Monsanto, you are a trouble maker!!!!