Saturday, August 21, 2010

Roasted Vegetables



I have been on a roasted vegetable jag this past week, it's a delicious way to get more vegetables into my diet. It's also a tasty way to use up any vegetables you have laying around so they don't go to waste. The best combination in my opinion is:

Potatoes or sweet potatoes
Carrots (I like baby carrots, no chopping required)
Red Onion (you can use any onion you like, red onions are my favorite)
Broccoli (optional, but so delicious when roasted)
Beets (optional, so full of fiber and delicious!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium or large bowl, depending on how much you are making, add your vegetables after you have peeled and chopped them (peeling is not absolutely necessary). When all the vegetables have been added to the bowl, drizzle olive oil (enough to coat) over them, then drizzle some balsamic vinegar as well. Add plenty of salt (several good size pinches depending on how much you are roasting) and some pepper. With your hands mix them all together to coat evenly. Have a baking sheet nearby covered with some parchment paper, pour onto parchment and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-30 min. depending on how much you are roasting. After 20-30 min. take out baking sheet and with spatula, mix the vegetables around a little, then put back in oven for another 20 min., they should look nice and caramelized and smell wonderful!

I love the savory, sweet flavors, it makes me feel all warm and happy inside...perfect comfort food! I would love to hear what some of your favorite combinations of veggies to roast are!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

How I lost my hearing




It's natural for humans to be curious and I've never been offended by someone asking me how I came to lose my hearing. In fact I love to talk, I talk too much, that it gets me into trouble sometimes but, I digress...I was not born deaf, but it does run in the family on my mother's side, most of her family wear hearing aids. However only my mother, myself and my sister lost our hearing when we were children. I have two brothers in their thirties who have not been affected at all and we have a theory for that...it seems to only happen to the O blood types, my brothers are blood type A like my Dad. My mother and her family are blood type O as I and my sister are...pretty interesting isn't it?

Because I was not born deaf, I learned to talk well as a baby, my paternal Grandmother used to tell me I would imitate the roosters that crowed in the morning. When I was two, I came down with Rosiola and developed a high fever that went above 106 degrees, I was taken to the hospital and put in a tub and flushed with alcohol. They were able to get my fever down thankfully, but my audiologists feel this incident caused me to lose my hearing at a very young age (my mother and sister were around the age of 11 when they lost theirs).  I was four years old when my parents noticed that while talking to me when my back was turned, I would not hear them. They finally took me to have my hearing tested and I was found to have profound hearing loss and would need the help of a hearing aid. Now 35 years ago technology was not as it is today, unfortunately the hearing aid was not well fitted and I was only four years old, I didn't know any better. I ended up losing even more hearing because of that. It is at this time that I naturally learned how to read lips, from just watching people's lips as they talked.

There were times when I was not very happy with my parents decision to send me to public school. It was challenging sometimes to say the least, but I made many memories...good and bad...made many friends who helped support me and get me through the tough times. I had some wonderful teachers who went out of their way to give me a little extra attention and of course some who felt I should be treated as any other student, because life isn't fair and you have to either sink or swim.

With the help of a hearing aid, I can hear almost normal, however I am very reliant on the lip reading, my comprehension without it is terrible. I've had many people ask if I know sign language, but I don't, I would love to learn though. I am delighted that technology is making life a little easier for deaf people, we have closed captioning, subtitles for movies, texting features on our cell phones...it all helps tremendously!

 I'm thankful for all the experiences that I've had in life, it has shaped me into who I am today...a good person ( I hope). I am happy, I have a wonderful life and I don't have any regrets!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time to break the vicious cycle

"Insanity- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Albert Einstein

This quote really resonates with me because I know I do this in so many areas of my life. Now at age 40, I am obese and experiencing some very scary health problems, if I continue to stay on this loop trail, I'm not going to make it much longer. I have so much to live for, my husband, my young children and just plain life. I want to live!

I finished reading "Dr. Bob's Drugless Guide to Balance Female Hormones" By Dr. Robert DeMaria, he mentions that if we don't change our eating habits, how can we expect our health to change. Too many people, myself included, want the magic pill, that will make us healthier and cure all our ailments, because we have developed so many poor eating habits that it's too hard to change.

I am making the choice right here and now, that I'm not going to continue eating ice cream, brownies, cookies, white bread, french loafs and cake and expect myself to be in excellent health. I plan to practice Dr. Bob's eating recommendations to balance hormones since mine are pretty out of whack! I have hypothyroidism, my progesterone is low, I had to take natural progesterone during each of my pregnancies and lost one because I did not know I was pregnant and didn't get on the progesterone in time. I have been plagued with acne since I was in high school. I thought one of the benefits of getting older was that the acne would go away...no such luck for me ;-)

I will be cutting out gluten, dairy and refined sugar and adding more vegetables and healthy fats to my diet. It will not be easy, but I am very motivated right now, I want to live, Lord willing, to see my children grow up, attend their weddings and meet my future grandchildren. I would also love to travel the world with my husband after he retires.

Come join me on my journey to health, break the vicious cycles in your life, let's live life to the fullest!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Delicious, healthy toppings for your yogurt.

Now that you've made some crock pot yogurt or you have some of your favorite plain store bought yogurt, what do you do with it? Good news, your options are boundless! Here are some of my ideas that you may find tempting...

1. Sweetener- I have found liquid types like raw or regular honey, agave and liquid stevia to be best for yogurt since they blend well and keep the yogurt texture nice and creamy. Granulated sugars will be gritty, however stevia powder may work. I personally like NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia (can be found online at iherb or in certain health food stores), it has a very nice vanilla flavor and is not bitter.

2. Fruit- Any fresh or frozen fruit can be a topping for your yogurt. If you have some fresh strawberries (if frozen set them out to thaw for a bit) put a cup of them in your food processor and pulse a few times if you like them chunky or longer if you want a nice, smooth puree. Add some honey, agave or stevia to sweeten the strawberries to your liking then add to your yogurt. Fruits like raspberries or blackberries have seeds that can bother your teeth, so puree them in your food processor or blender then strain the juice through a fine mesh wire strainer.

3. Essential Oils- Adding pure, food grade Essential oils can be a delicious and healthy way of flavoring your yogurt. I would only flavor the amount you will be eating right away, as EO's are naturally anti-bacterial and may effect the beneficial bacteria of your yogurt. Lemon and Orange are wonderful flavors...and I recommend using Young Living's pure, food grade EO's, they can be found on my Young Living website.

4. Nuts-Using your favorite nuts as a topping, adds a wonderful crunch and a pleasing, tasty layer of texture as well as a source of beneficial, heart-healthy fats.

Here are a couple of my recipes to get you started...

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Organic Braeburn Apples (or your favorite kind)
Hormone free butter
Cinnamon sugar (see recipe for this here)

Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees. Use 1 TBSP of butter for each regular size apple, if using small apples like I did, use a approx. 1/2 TBSP of butter for each one. Use a TBSP of Cinnamon Sugar for each regular size apple and only 1/2 TBSP for the small ones.


Peel and slice your apples in thin slices, here I'm using my Apple, Corer, Peeler, Slicer...love it! You'll end up with these little, cored out, spiral sliced apples.



Slice them in half and you'll end up with crescent shaped apple slices...perfect!



Put all your apple slices in a bowl and melt your butter either on the stove or in the microwave for approx. 30 seconds. Pour melted butter over the slices as my oldest son is demonstrating here.



Sprinkle your Cinnamon Sugar over the buttered apple slices. My daughter is helping her Mommy with that.



Here is my younger son mixing it all together. Are you detecting a trend? Yep, this is perfect for kids to help make, it's fun and tasty!



Pour the contents of the bowl in a 13" x 9" baking pan. No need to butter the pan! Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, take out the pan, stir the apples and put back into oven. Bake for another 20 minutes.



Stick a sharp knife into apples to test for tenderness, if they pierce easily then the apples are done. Let sit and cool on the counter top, then...



top your sweetened yogurt with it...you could add some nuts on top as well.

Blackberry Sauce

2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
Your favorite sweetener ( I used 5 drops of NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia liquid)

Put blackberries in food processor or blender and blend till you have blackberry puree. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour your puree into the strainer. Using the back of a spoon, smoosh the puree through the strainer till all you have left is seeds...and there will be a lot of seeds! Add your sweetener to the blackberry sauce, adjusting as needed to your taste.



Spoon over yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, etc...

Your taste buds will thank you, your body will thank you, your family will thank you...need I say more ;-)

What are some of your topping ideas?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yes, You Can Make Yogurt In The Crock pot!



I first learned about making yogurt in the crock pot from Stephanie O'Dea's blog A Year of Slow Cooking, she had tried the recipe and said it was great, so I decided to try my hand at it and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and inexpensive it was to make homemade yogurt without buying any special yogurt equipment. This is my third time around, so while I am not a pro, I am pretty comfortable with the routine and have had nothing but successes! Here is the link to the original recipe from Stephanie's website How to make Yogurt in the Slow Cooker 

I have taken some pictures and documented the process. As you will see it's extremely easy to make, just takes a bit of time...


Crock pot Yogurt

1/2 Gallon of Organic Whole Milk (or at least hormone free milk like Alta Dena)
1/2 C. of plain or vanilla yogurt (the vanilla won't change the flavor much) must contain live/active cultures


Poor the cold milk into your crock pot and turn it on low, let it cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

After cooking it on low for 2 1/2 hours, turn off your crock pot and unplug it. Keep the cover on your crock pot, and let the milk sit for 3 hours. Let your store bought yogurt sit on the counter and come to room temp for the last hour.


After letting the milk sit for 3 hours, scoop out 2 cups of the warm milk into a medium bowl, add the 1/2 C. of store bought yogurt and whisk into the warm milk. Pour it all back into your crock pot and briefly whisk it all together. Put the lid back on your crock pot and cover it completely with two heavy bath towels for insulation. Let it sit undisturbed for 8 hours.


After 8 hours, take off the towels and the lid, and check your yogurt, it will be thickened but still a bit watery. Take a large, fine, mesh colander and line it with cheese cloth or even paper towels (mine were plain white) and place over a large bowl, pour the yogurt into the colander and let the excess liquid drain overnight in the fridge or a day and a half as I did in this case. Draining overnight or for 8 hours will result in thick and creamy yogurt, letting it sit longer makes yogurt cheese...yum!


A lot of liquid gets drained out and results in...


this thick and creamy deliciousness!

I love that it is essentially a blank slate that can be sweetened and topped with whatever tickles your fancy at the moment. I have found that liquid type sweeteners are best as granulated sugar does not dissolve well and will taste gritty. Honey, agave and liquid stevia are great! Stay tuned...tomorrow's post is all about toppings and my recipe for Baked Cinnamon Apples!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Healthier Cinnamon Sugar

I was about to name this post "Healthy Cinnamon Sugar" when I remembered, sugar of any kind is really not healthy, so I changed it to healthier, which it is and just as delicious as regular white sugar! I cannot quite remember how I came across coconut sugar or palm sugar as it is often called, it may have been mentioned in one of the blogs that I frequent, nevertheless I was very intrigued and wanted to try it since I read that GI index was 35...pretty low for a sugar and safe for diabetics!

Here is some information from the Navitas Naturals website:

Coconut palm trees are the natural source of this new wonderful and healthy sweetener alternative. Traditional sugar farmers collect the nectar of the blossoms from these sustainably grown trees, and carefully craft a caramel-like crystal sugar. Perfect as a 1:1 cane sugar replacement, Navitas Naturals Palm Sugar is easily incorporated into everything culinary, from favorite dessert recipes to homemade lemonade. Safe for diabetics and those looking for weight control, palm sugar is a naturally low glycemic index food (GI35), boasting almost half the GI of cane sugar. With vitamins like B and C, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, Palm Sugar really is the sweetest way to healthy lifestyle.


Navitas Naturals website
Source and Processing


Navitas Naturals Palm Sugar is made from the sun-kissed sweet juice of the tropical coconut palm sugar blossoms. Once the nectar is collected, it is kettle-boiled into a thick caramel, dried, and ground into a fine crystallized powder. Our Palm Sugar is 100% organic, vegan, kosher, and sustainably-grown.



Healthier Cinnamon Sugar

1/2 C. Palm/Coconut sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Have a wide mouth glass jar ready and a small bowl for mixing. Pour the 1/2 C. of sugar into small bowl and add the tbsp of cinnamon.



Stir well.



Pour into your jar using a funnel to avoid a mess, then label.



Here, I have two slices of Udi's gluten-free whole grain bread, toasted and slathered with raw butter and sprinkled with the delicious cinnamon sugar. Makes a wonderful breakfast or snack that you can feel good about serving to your family.

Enjoy!

Many health food stores are now carrying the palm/coconut sugar, it can also be found online. I like iherb, they are fast and dependable, their prices can't be beat! As a customer, I can offer a discount code for $5.00 off your first order FAT433

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Practicing The Principle of Moratorium In Our Home...

Until just a few years ago, I had never heard of going on a moratorium at home. I came across this concept in a book I read called "Living Well On One Income In a Two Income World" by Cynthia Yates when I was trying to curb my spending and live more frugally since we had just entered into a recession. My husband who is an excellent breadwinner was getting a bit stressed by my spending habits, which in truth were horrendous for a family living on one income.

When I read in Cynthia's book about moratoriums, it really clicked with me, I know that I am a hoarder and we had quite a bit of food in our pantry that was just sitting there not getting used. I decided right then and there we were going to go on a moratorium without really consulting my husband. Now he was not terribly against the idea but he is very picky about what he eats, so he was not very excited about me being creative with what we had and therefore our first moratorium was short lived.

I have since learned that to make a moratorium successful for you, four things should be considered...

1. You really should discuss it with your spouse before making your decision, it will greatly affect your success.

2. Determine how strict you want it to be, for example do you want to stop buying desserts from the store for 2 weeks and only make them with what you have at home (your body will thank you for that one).

3. Decide how long you need or want to do this, having a goal date helps you stay focused.

4. Stick with it, don't be ashamed to purchase a few fresh ingredients or spices to make your meals more enjoyable, it's still less expensive than purchasing a whole weeks work of groceries!




Here is a picture of my pantry right now...time for a moratorium ;-)

School is about to start and with it comes all those lovely items we need to purchase for our children, so I can safely say my husband is with me all the way on this one, he's even agreed to not buy any of his favorite junk foods from the grocery store for two weeks. I've assured him we have plenty that I can make that will keep his sweet tooth happy.

Have you ever practiced the principle of moratorium in your home? I'd love to hear your stories!

Steph

Friday, August 6, 2010

Young Living Free Essential 7™ Essential Oil Collection

Earn a Free Essential 7™ Essential Oil Collection


This August, get all the benefits of the on-the-go Essential 7™ collection for free! Containing Lavender Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Lemon Essential Oil, Joy™ Essential Oil, PanAway® Essential Oil, Peace & Calming® Essential Oil, and Purification™ Essential Oil. This take-anywhere kit is the perfect kit for every home and every body!


To qualify for your free Essential 7 kit, place a single order of 195 PV* or more August 1-31, 2010 and you’ll receive an Essential 7 collection—a retail value of $91!





Everyday Uses



Rub Lavender Essential Oil on the soles of your feet to rest peacefully.

Inhale Peace & Calming Essential Oil when you want to feel relaxed.

Apply Peppermint Essential Oil to help soothe sore muscles, rub on stomach to help relieve nausea.

Use Purification Esential Oil blend to soothe insect bites, cuts, and scrapes.

And so much more! This Essential 7 kit is a wonderful kit to help you get started in essential oils, it's a terrific emergency kit!


If you are not a Young Living member and would like to join, or you just want to purchase products for you and your family's well being please visit my website www.youngliving.org/wildflowerdream  If you are interested in joining this wonderful company, please e-mail me through my website or respond here in the comments section, I am happy to help you any way that I can.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Food Philosophy.

I just wanted to share with you my thoughts of what healthy, nourishing food is and what I try to feed myself and my family. I believe the best food for us is wholesome, unadulterated and unprocessed as possible in other words as close to the way God made it. Sadly, I doubt there is much, if any foods out there that have not been changed by man to what he thinks is better...really, who can do better than God?! He made all things perfectly during his creation Gen. 1:31. Nevertheless, I try to purchase as much organic, whole grains, and whole fruits and vegetables as I can and eat them without cooking them too much if possible. I do not like complicated recipes (not that I have anything against them) because that's just me and the way I am right now...quick and easy is how I like it. I'm guilty of eating white flour products and other processed foods of convenience too, they are cheap and easy to get. Fortunately, I have noticed more and more people becoming aware of the need for healthier foods and are speaking with their money, supermarkets are taking notice and are now selling an increasing variety of whole grains and organic goods!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I now have a supply of fresh eggs regularly and I just love that! This year we are growing watermelons, tomatoes and pumpkins in our garden, it feels so good to be proactively taking control of what goes into our bodies. I am learning about eating raw and am trying to incorporate more raw foods into our meals. I have eaten raw cheese and it's delicious, as is raw butter. I have been thinking about getting raw milk for the kids cereals but have not done so yet...it's a bit of a drive to our nearest health food store. I am working on eliminating all processed sugars as well, they are just as bad as white flour products, spiking our blood sugar levels and contributing to obesity. I am obese myself and I know how I got this way...eating too many sweets and bread products whether they were processed or not! ;-)

I sincerely hope I have inspired you in some way to start eating more natural, wholesome foods as they are full of nutrition that our bodies use to grow and repair our tissues, we truly are what we eat!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fresh Eggs!

I am so delighted to have found a supplier of fresh, out-from-under-the-hen eggs! They are not your average large eggs, but a bit smaller and depending on the recipe, I usually add an extra egg. I love the colors, brown, speckled brown, white, light green...yep light green! I'm not sure what kind of chicken lays a light green egg, but I'll be checking into that as I am intrigued. These hens are fed organic leftovers although their feed is not organic, and they are free to wander around...sounds like happy hens! The yolks are a nice orange color, and the eggs themselves taste great! I am always striving to find fresh, healthy food for my family and I believe the fresher the better. For those of you who live in the Temecula area, Delaney's Hundred Mile Market sells fresh eggs and much more! You can learn more about them here http://www.localharvest.org/delaneys-artisan-foods-market-M24058 Delaney's is not my supplier, but I wanted to offer my readers a source that I know has fresh eggs regularly if you do not know anyone raising their own chickens with a surplus of eggs.
I wish you and your family much health and happiness, God bless!

Steph