Saturday, January 28, 2012

Onion Dicing, made easy

I have been making lots of food requiring onions lately, which isn't too out of the norm- but I thought I'd share with you a technique to make dicing them as easy as possible!
I originally learned how to do this at Tammy's Recipes, and what a great timesaver and tear-reducer it's been!
First, slice the ends off your onion and remove the outer skin.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Easy Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Stevia

I got the idea for these easy mini cinnamon rolls on Pinterest (where many of my ideas come from these days).  They use store-bought crescent roll dough, some butter, cinnamon, and sugar to create little mini rolls in mini-muffin tins.  This is my version using stevia* instead of sugar, and crescent rolls with no hydrogenated oils (you could also make a simple homemade dough for these, like this recipe, ahead of time and store in the freezer after the first rise (or after your bread machine's dough cycle- just freeze in portions so you can take out however much you want at one time, let thaw, and make these cinnamon rolls).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sewing Project: BHG's Simple Six-Pocket Bag

I have been needing a small and simple tote bag to carry my daughter's pull-ups and extra pants and supplies when we run out on errands or when she's dropped off somewhere, because I was running out of room in my own purse/tote.
I found instructions to make this bag online at Better Homes and Gardens, and decided to give it a whirl.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Healthy Eating: 3 Weeks

It's been over two weeks (almost three, I believe) since my husband and I embarked on healthier eating for 2012.  Low sugar has been our main goal, and obviously no junk food, fast food, or desserts with the occasional less healthy meal (like pizza).  We have been replacing our desserts with things like banana-only ice cream (even chocolate!), and using stevia to sweeten things that would otherwise be full of sugar.
This week I am upping the ante again: I decided to follow Dr. Mark Hyman's Ultrasimple Diet.  It's a 7-day program that helps you detox from allergens and carbs, and helps your system "reset" from all the built up toxins.   He's been a guest on the Dr. Oz Show, but I just found his book somewhere online.
It's my first day on the program and although I'm not hungry, I'm definitely craving my normal carbs since I hadn't yet cut them out.  I was still having mostly whole grains, but now it's meat, veggies, and brown rice for a week (with some fruit and his "Ultrashake" recipe too).  It's helping me to remember it's just one week, and then I can have my oatmeal and other healthy things again that are not included in this cleansing period.  I can do almost anything for a week!  Especially when it's likely that I'll lose up to 10 lbs. and a few inches.  Can't forget to record my measurements tonight!
This was my dinner tonight.  It was chicken breast, lots of veggies, and brown rice followed by some berries.  Healthy and simple, with yummy seasonings (he includes recipes in his book).  I can do that!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten on Ten: January 2012

Regular Beauty on a Tuesday....
 Cuddling with his favorite thumb and blanket

Ten on Ten

Started by A bit of sunshine, Ten on Ten is a way to capture photos from your everyday surroundings for 10 hours (one photo per hour) on the 10th of the month.

From her site:

Happy tenth everybody I am so looking forward to the first installment of Ten on Ten for 2012! I hope you all have a wonderful day today capturing the beauty you find around you.

If you have never participated all you do is take one photo an hour for ten hours to document a simple + beautiful day in your life. When you are ready come back here and leave the link to your post on the linky party below. I am looking forward to checking out how your days take shape later on, have a wonderful day today friends! xo

I can't wait to post mine later.  Join me and comment with your link!
ten on ten button

Roasting a Chicken

When I first tried roasting a chicken, I was surprised at how easy it was.  It was a bit intimidating but once I figured things out, it's such an easy way to get at least 2 meals out of, it's something I try to do at least monthly if not more often.  It's so easy to pick up those already-roasted chickens at the grocery store, but do you know what they put on those?  I've heard they are some of the unhealthiest foods after all the additives (like MSG) and other bad-for-your things are rubbed on them.  Some are better than others, I'm sure, so I will be checking ingredients next time I am in the store.  But by roasting my own chicken I can choose organic and control what ingredients are put on it.
I bought Coleman Organic chicken at Costco.  The price is high at first glance (around $20 for two chickens) but when I figured out that I got three or more meals out of those two after making homemade stock and chicken noodle soup (after a meal of just plain chicken), it's worth it to me.
First, you want to take the chickens and rinse them, inside and out.  Pull out the bag of giblets that are inside.  You may choose to use those in your stock- especially being organic, they have lots of nutrients in them that you don't want to waste.  I learned a lot about that in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  I rinse those also and save them in a container for when I make chicken stock.

How to Roast a Chicken

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Storage Organizing Tips

Over the past 10 years of having our own home and yearly decorations, I wanted to share a couple of tips I have discovered to keep things neater for next year.

1. Label bins so you know what is in there
This is the first year I'm labeling the bins, even though I've wanted to for awhile now.  Every year we bring bins and boxes up from the basement without knowing what is where, and we have a whole room taken up with bins while we find everything we need to put the tree up.  It's generally well-organized, but not knowing where the stockings are exactly means more time and digging around.  So this year, I finally just wrote on a piece of paper with a Sharpie and taped it onto the box with packing tape.
If I had more time on my hands, I would try and make it prettier like she does here, but who cares, it's done and labeled and will be under our stairs for 11.8 months of the year, right?

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
All you need are frozen bananas and what I used to make it chocolate:

2-3 c. frozen bananas, slightly thawed
1/4 cup water
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8- 1/4 stevia powder, to taste

As bananas thaw for about 10 minutes or more (and even more if using a food processor), dissolve cocoa powder and stevia in water.  I put it in a container and shook it up really well.

Add to high-powered blender (like a Vita-mix) with bananas, and blend as usual.  Very chocolatey  and delicious.  My whole family loved this.

Get your chocolate fix without the processed sugar  :)

 See Healthy One-Ingredient Ice Cream

Friday, January 6, 2012

Healthy Eating: One Week

It's been a little over a week since we started eating healthier by cutting out the excess sugar, and so far it's going well overall.  The fact that I don't remember exactly how many days it's been is a really good sign for me!  It's been really helpful to find a couple of recipes to transition me out of eating so many sweets.  I was really terrible, I'm realizing now- I was totally addicted!  I made some

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oat Bran Pancakes with Stevia

On New Year's Day I made some delicious sugar-free pancakes using Stevia (again, I'm sure you are noticing a trend here).  I didn't actually have oat bran but I used ground up oats (using my food processor) instead.

   Ana Gourmet: Oat Bran Pancakes

Caprese Salad

This probably isn't new to any of you, but it's something I've been loving the last month or two. 
I'm not sure if the authentic version is different; I just remember this was how my mom has made it before.  We're not Italian though...

Caprese Salad
Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
Tomato Slices
Whole Fresh Basil leaves
Salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over top to taste

Make sure to get a basil leaf with each bite!  Yum!

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Ingredient "Ice Cream"

Is it too good to be true?  You can make ice cream with just ONE main ingredient?
Yes, and it's gluten, dairy, processed sugar, nut, and soy FREE!

The secret ingredient is

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Yummy Salad Formula

Salads are something that takes more effort to prepare than I usually feel like doing.  Once they are made, though, they are so yummy!  I haven't found very many restaurant salads that are just the right balance of ingredients and yumminess.  I vote for homemade and will be doing much more of these now that I'm sticking to my healthy eating plan.

One salad I made last week is below:

It included Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, dried cranberries, chopped apples, pecans and feta cheese with a homemade balsamic dressing (Mama's Balsamic). 

Love my Tupperware salad dressing shaker with pour spout- store extra dressing for next time in fridge

I think a good rough "formula" for salads would be:

Greens + 1 or 2 veggies + nuts + something sweet (dried or fresh fruit) + homemade or all-natural dressing = a great salad.  

If you can eat dairy some type of cheese on top is yummy too.

Happy Salad Making (and then eating)

New Year's Resolutions

My resolutions normally revolve around health- eating and exercise.  They usually don't last that long, unfortunately.
I somehow found motivation 4 weeks ago and started an exercise plan back then.  I joined a local, inexpensive gym.  I'm on the MWF during preschool schedule so I have two in school and one with me at the gym childcare.  Amazingly, it's been working out great so far!  I actually feel like it's a break in the day, some "me" time that I have been needing instead of an obligation.
I read on Pinterest that it takes 4 weeks to notice your own body changing, 8 weeks for family and close friends to notice, and 12 weeks for everyone else to notice a change.  That keeps me going!  I have seem some slight changes, but I haven't changed my eating at all.
Help!  I'm trying to stick to my resolutions!
 Until now.

Four days ago, my husband and I agreed to start a low-sugar, healthy eating plan.
This instills fear into my heart, and dread into my soul.
Ok, that is very dramatic, I know.  But I am scared to actually stick with this!  Scared to fail.  So ashamed of the amount of time I've been trying to do this, only to be drawn in again by the cravings and the treats.
I think I have accepted defeat too readily in the past few years.  Three kids in four years, adjusting to the ever-changing and always-demanding needs of little ones, I have hardly anything left to work on myself at the end of the day.
This time is different, though- we have drafted up a set of rules (although I am thinking of it more as a "covenant" since if I cheat, I would be letting my healthy eating partner down).
 After going through Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave Bible study at church, some of the root issues to my food addictions were addressed over the past few months.  That has created a great pathway to starting this plan with help from my husband.
This time, I am going at it with the knowledge that I need food from God (His Word- the Bible) everyday- even if just a "morsel"- something to start me on my faith journey for that day. 

I also have more thorough knowledge of what sugar is doing to my body- how it's affecting and causing the acne, the (mild, winter-related) depression, seemingly minor health issues that end up consuming so much of my time and my worry to cover it up, pretend I'm fine, act like it doesn't bother me. 

I know that during times of healthier eating and low-sugar consumption, my face was clearer.
I know that sugar and carbs affect insulin levels which in turn affect hormones throughout my body, I can't deny my part in causing this issue anymore.
But I'm still scared to deal with it head-on.  It makes me want to run away from the issue, to bury myself in other things, other snacks, other boxes of Christmas chocolate!

My supportive husband is amazingly offering to travel this journey with me- to pray with me along the way, to eat healthy too (which he wants to do) and to even take over simple meal preparation a couple nights a week so I don't burn out on healthy-meal-making overload.  What a blessing! 

So, here I am, starting a new journey with healthy eating.  I debated posting this on my blog- but I figured, there must be other people dealing with this issue, and what better motivation for myself to know people will be walking it with me and (hopefully) supporting me.  I'm on the fourth day and doing well, but still battling cravings :(

I've added some interesting health blogs into my sidebar.
And so far I've tried two or three recipe substitutions with no or low sugar, some with good results!  I can't wait to post those.

Happy New Year and may we all trust God in sticking with our new resolutions!