Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy Roasted Veggies

Many people have asked me, "Don't you get tired of eating veggies?"

The short answer is: "Sometimes, yes."

But the full answer is that I only get tired of eating veggies if I make them the same way each time. And there are many more ways to make vegetables than just having a salad. One of our favorite ways to have a nice hot meal during these cold weather days is to make roasted vegetables. And roasting vegetables can seem hard and complicated, but it really doesn't need to be. So I thought I would share with you an easy way to have roasted vegetables, and it is yummy too.

One of the complicated parts of roasting is choosing which spices to use. Many people avoid the whole concept of roasting their own veggies, because of the fear of seasonings. But it doesn't have to be hard. There are many great products out there that have seasonings already selected, mixed and portioned for you. You just have to choose a company and product that you agree with the ingredients and additives. These spice combinations can come in the form of a spice bottle like Mrs. Dash seasonings. They can come in spice packets like the typical chili seasoning or taco seasoning packets. But they can also come in the form of ready to pour bottles, like salad dressings or marinade sauces. I use them all, but usually one at a time.

Next, we must choose the vegetables. This doesn't need to be tough either. Not everything must be fresh from the produce section. If you are going to roast the vegetables, then you are planning on cooking them. They don't need to start out raw. In fact, frozen may be better. It takes many chemicals and enhancements to make "fresh produce" stay fresh while they ship it across the country. And sometimes it isn't all that great when you taste it. Nor is the price very reasonable. But frozen veggies are usually flash frozen from a very fresh raw and ripe stage with fewer chemical additives. They stay frozen through travel and cost less to ship, so the prices are more reasonable. And they taste yummy.

So now I have my spice mix and my frozen bag of veggies. What's next? Notice, you have a huge variety of choices just in the first two steps. You can have many combinations with different spice packets and veggie varieties. The taste options are basically endless.

Now comes the roasting part. You can chose between crunchy, crisp or soft veggies. What I mean by that is, what kind of pan you use and how hot the oven is will determine how soft your veggies are in the end. You can take the same veggie and cook it different ways and get a different texture each time.

If you want soft veggies, then use a deeper pan and a lower temperature oven. When I say soft, I do not mean mush, but rather similar to a steamed texture. I use a cake pan and bake it at 350. You can also heap the veggies in the pan more, just leave yourself enough room to stir the veggies once in a while.

If you want crisp veggies, then use a sheet pan with enough space to spread the veggies in a single layer and bake them at a higher temperature. I use two sheet pans and bake them at 400. You will still want to turn the veggies a couple times during the baking process. And if you want the veggies crunchy, like chips, then you will bake them longer in this single layer format.

There are so many choices and so many options, how do you decide what to try? I would suggest you pick your favorites first. What is your favorite marinade sauce and your favorite cooked vegetable? I like roasted corn and just a bit of butter. It may sound too simple or easy, because it is. I put a whole bag of frozen corn in a cake pan and bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour. I stir it every 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes, I add a bit of vegan butter. Yum.

I also like crunchy broccoli and cauliflower in an Italian seasoning. So I take a bag of mixed broccoli and cauliflower pieces,  put them in a mixing bowl or gallon size Ziploc bag, pour Italian dressing over them and mix until all the pieces are coated. I pour them onto a sheet pan, in a single layer, and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. I stir it every 15 minutes or so. And voila, yummy crunchy roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

When I go to the grocery store, I buy many different kinds of seasoning mixes and many bags of frozen veggies. We have roasted veggies every day and each day they are a completely different flavor and texture than the previous day. YUM!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hot Apple Cider

One of my favorite warm beverages during cold seasons is Hot Apple Cider. And when I say "cold," I mean that in two ways: temperature and health. It is chilly outside. The weather has turned cold and snowy. It is the perfect time of year to enjoy a warm beverage. But it is also a germ season. People are spreading cold germs and flu bugs through schools, churches, stores and restaurants, etc. Our bodies need an extra boost to stay healthy and thrive during this germy season. This Hot Apple Cider recipes works on both fronts to keep you nice and cozy warm, while keeping your body healthy, and it tastes good, too.

- Apple Cider
- Orange Juice (preferably with pulp)
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- (Optional: ginger, hot sauce, and honey)

I use a crock pot, so that this beverage can be cooking all day and ready whenever I (or my family) would like some. Also, it helps the house smell good and when company drops by for a visit, you have something to offer immediately. Win, Win!

I pour about a half gallon of cider into my crock pot so it fills my pot about 3/4 of the way full. Then I add the orange juice. If you want proportions, it is about 2 cups of orange juice to each half gallon of cider. Then I sprinkle in some pumpkin pie spice and stir until the spices no longer float on the top. Cover and let it warm.

I add the ginger, hot sauce and honey to individual cups. Just a dash of ground ginger, a drop or two of hot sauce (like Tabasco sauce) and a tablespoon of honey, and this beverages becomes a powerful boost to the body systems. It is soothing, calming, and empowering to your health.

If you are a fan of Apple Cider Vinegar, this is also a perfect beverage to add a dash of ACV to. The flavor blends perfectly and the health benefits are huge.

For those that want to make it look pretty: you can add a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, and apple slices or orange slices. They will float in your crock pot and look very festive.

I hope you stay healthy, warm and cozy this season. Enjoy your cup of cider!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How I Use Juice In Our Menu

Over the past 2 years, I have become an avid juice drinker. But not just the bottled juice at the grocery store. In fact, I steer clear of those. The juice I drink is real homemade juice from the produce itself.

In July of 2012, I chose to do a Juice Fast. I drank only fresh real juice for 15 days. We bought a juice extractor and each week we would load up on real produce at the market. Then I'd juice fresh juice each day and drink it all day long. I found many recipes that I loved. And I found that my body, even in my obese unhealthy state, really responded to the fresh juice. I felt GREAT!

I like to try new recipes. I also like to shop at thrift stores. So it makes sense that I find many recipe books and interesting health books at thrift stores. Sometimes the books are filled with WONDERFUL information and ideas, other times, not so much. But one book that was very helpful to me was written by a doctor, talking about his analysis of how fresh fruits and vegetables help our bodies and what they do for our systems. From this book, I found many wonderful recipes and was able to invent some of my own.

My favorite morning juice, one that I still make quite often, is a citrus blend that we call Zesty Citrus Cleanse. The basic recipe is 2 Ruby Red Grapefruits, 1 Lemon, 1 Lime, and a bit of ginger. As I have posted in the past, I like to make things in bulk, so I actually buy a full bag of each kind of fruit, sometimes also adding oranges, and then juice it all at once. I store them in clean glass canning jars in my refrigerator. And I drink some for breakfast every day.

It is commonly known that when a person wakes up in the morning they need food within the first hour in order to jump start their metabolism. The Diet Center menu plan instructed people to start with lemon water each day. The Hallelujah Diet menu claims that fruit, especially citrus fruits, are a natural body cleanse that helps flush waste from your body. And many books suggest having fruit during the day, thus allowing you all day to burn of the extra sugar calories. All of these reasons, and probably a couple more, led me to the conclusion that starting each day with a citrus juice is a good idea.

For me, this morning juice is critical. I am not a morning person. I wake up groggy and usually later than I had hoped. I have things to do and I don't want to take time to eat. Also eating is a relaxation for me, so when I stop to eat I start to lose my momentum for the day. So it is better for me to not eat in the morning. But my body needs fuel and my health requires something sustaining. The best solution is fresh juice. It is real juice filled with vitamins, nutrients and healthy calories. It is premade and only requires a quick shake and a straw. It is portable and easy to sip while I am doing other things. And the Zesty Citrus Cleanse is a fabulous boost to my system and cleanse for my body. I can feel it working immediately and it feels GREAT!

What is your favorite breakfast meal to break your fast?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baked Rice

Why do I bake my rice? Well, simply, because it is easier that way. I prepare food for 5 hungry people. We eat a lot of food that is made from basic ingredients and whole foods. That is great for health and can be nice on a budget, but it takes time to prepare such meals. So, I find easy ways to make lots of food.

I buy multiple different kinds of rice. Since we are gluten free, rice is a staple item in our menu. But the same kind of rice each time gets very old and common tasting. So we buy a different kinds of rice which gives us variety, while we are still eating a filling and yummy rice. It also gives us different nutrient values based on what kind of rice we choose. We have red rice, wild rice, brown rice, and occasionally white rice.

I bake rice in bulk. My family can eat about 6 cups of rice per meal. So I make somewhere between 10-12 cups each time I make rice. That allows us to eat one pan for dinner and still have leftovers to quickly reheat or add to other recipes easily.

So, you may wonder, how do you bake rice? Many people have been taught how to boil rice on the stove top. But it is true, you can bake rice. It is so easy and delicious, too.

Start by preheating your oven at 350 degrees. Also, lightly grease your baking dish. I use olive oil or safflower oil. Now measure out your rice and water. The ratio is still the same, 2 cups of water for every cup of dry rice. So when I make 12 cups of rice, I prepare 2 - 9x13 glass baking pans, putting 3 cups of rice and 6 cups of water in each. I put it in the oven and let it bake for about an hour. The rice is done when the water is absorbed.

I make my rice plain. I prefer to make the rice bland so that I can easily use the leftovers for other recipes. Plain rice can be added to soups, stews, salads, taco filling, stir fry, and eaten plain. We add all kinds of toppings to plain rice allowing each person to have it their own favorite way. Some of the toppings
we use include: gluten free soy sauce, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, teriyaki sauce, curry, etc. It is extremely versatile, easy to make and very healthy!

What do you enjoying eating with your rice?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's been 2 years? Wow! I'm Back!

A friend recently started a new blog and as we talked, I thought, "It has been a long time since I updated my blog." Come to find out, it has been over 2 years. YIKES! Sorry. But I'm back now.

It has been a wonderful 2 years and a crazy 2 years. We have made some major lifestyle changes and improvements towards health. I am excited to share it all with you! All about what I am learning and what I have experienced.

One major change is that our family is now vegan. We have stopped eating meat, fish, dairy, and most other animal products. Our exception is that we still use honey, but I am learning to use other sweeteners and nectars, so we will see if that changes in the future too. But, I digress, so yeah, we went vegan and we love it!

Also, we are currently transitioning to gluten free, no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives or other additives. We are doing our best to remove the chemicals out of our menu and out of our bodies. And sometime I will explain more of the reasons behind going gluten free.

We feel wonderful. The whole family has been changing our menu together. That has been a major benefit on this journey. And we are all noticing health benefits as we continue to transition to better eating and a healthier lifestyle. I am glad we can share our journey with you!

See you again real soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Journey Continues . . .

Hello again, I haven't forgotten you. I do apologize for being absent so extremely long. My journey toward health continues, and it is an uphill battle. How is yours?

So it has been 6 months since I have posted. In those 6 months I have continued to try to eat healthy and exercise, yet I have also continued to give into temptation and laziness. Not all the time, but enough to not make a dent in my health goals. So I continue to strive.

It is a new year, this is the time when we make new goals and try to restart our lives. Right? Well, I can't restart my life, because I am still facing the consequences of past struggles, emotional and physical obstacles and hurts that must be dealt with and overcome. So, I am not making resolutions this year. Instead I am "picking myself up by the boot straps" so to speak and continuing the journey before me.

My health has continued to degrade including some medical diagnoses that I am not satisfied to live with. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know the doctor has diagnosed me correctly, what I mean to say is that my health will not continue in this negative downward spiral if I can do anything about it.

I am continuing to learn about healthy, natural supplements, organic choices and benefits, and the lifestyle habits that plague us. So I hope to write more about these topics as the year progresses.

My journey continues and I hope your does too. Feel free to comment and let me know how your journey is progressing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Healing Our Hurts

It is amazing how being a parent can teach you things about God. Lately, I have been reflecting on my role of being God's child. Some of my best teaching lessons have occurred while trying to be a good parent to my own kids.

At this age, my kids think every twinge is an ouchie that must be treated. Every little poke needs a bandaid and every scratch needs a medicine. Every little discomfort needs to be smothered in kisses. And I love that my kiss can heal so many hurts. I fear the day that my kiss will no longer be enough.

This makes me wonder, Do I let God's kisses take away my hurts? Do I bring the little things to God and let Him sooth my ouchies?

Recently, one of my kids has been demanding comfort. Oh, it isn't angry tantrums so much as coming to me and purposefully pressing the wound into my lips rather than let me kiss it. This child will come for a hug and lunge at me rather than allow me to gently offer a hug. So we have been working on being gentle and not forcing things upon others, etc.

Today this child was hurt and came to me crying. I offered a hug and wiped the tears away. But since the child was crying, the nose was running. So my hug turned into an opportunity to wipe a messy nose against my shirt and arm. (It is true that being a mom, I get to deal with all kinds of bodily messes, and usually that is okay.) But today, I thought , "Ugh, here I offer a hug and kiss and instead I get yuckies all over me." Needless to say, the child and I had a bit of a conversation about healing the hurts and not getting mama gross.

Also, this got me thinking, When I come to God with my hurts, do I let Him heal them the way He knows is best or do I try to take advantage? When I'm hurting do I try to manipulate the situation or do I accept healing?

A fabulous book I have started reading, and based on the first two chapters I would recommend, "Healing for Damaged Emotions" by David Seamands. I look forward to reading the rest. We all have hurts throughout our entire lives and we need to heal.

May God bless you and heal all your ouchies! Have a great day!!