Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting The Most Out Of Your Food: Part 3 (Why Use Whole Grains?)

Whole wheat bread flour (ground from hard red winter wheat) on left, whole wheat pastry flour (ground from soft white wheat)on right.

Why Use Whole Grains?
A wide variety of whole grains is important in your diet. Switching up your grains could help avoid food allergies. Not only do I use whole wheat bread flour, pastry flour and whole corn meal, once or twice a week I serve my Three-Grain Hot Cereal (made with steel cut oats, rolled barley and quinoa - the world's highest protein grain). My kids love it. I also used this same recipe, added a little water or milk and put it in the blender to make baby food. Just pour into ice cube trays, freeze, pop out and store in a ziplock bag. Add to any other fruit or veggie for a complete meal for baby. We also have granola at least once a week, made with rolled oats and lots of different nuts.

Refined grains: White flour, white rice, etc

Are refined grains healthier for you if they are "fortified"?
*Many times these will be labeled as fortified, but it is of little value. Fortified means they added a handful of synthetic vitamins and minerals after a bunch of essential factors have been removed or destroyed. Some of the vitamins added during this process may even be dangerous. Some researchers believe that excess iron from fortified flour can cause tissue damage and other studies link excess or toxic iron to heart disease.
*The safety of bleaching hasn’t ever been established.
*Anything puffed should be avoided – process of high heat and pressure to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. Nutrients are destroyed in the process and are very difficult to digest.

What are the Benefits of Whole Grains?
*provide vitamins E and B and minerals in abundance.
*Fiber – indigestible cellulose plays and important role in digestion and elimination
*Best to soak first to get optimum nutritional benefits from the grains – helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors. (I rarely do this - just too busy, but even if you don't do this, using whole grains it is still way better than refined grains).
*For those who have wheat allergies, make sure you use whole grain alternative flours such as whole grain cornmeal.

Not all whole wheat flours are the same:
I really recommend you use two different whole wheat flours. I made a lot of mistakes when I first started cooking because I was using whole wheat bread flour in my baked goods. That is one reason I started my blog, so that other people wouldn't have to waste their money experimenting like I did. 

-Whole wheat bread flour (usually hard red winter wheat) – high in protein, good for breads, tortillas, etc
-Whole Wheat pastry flour (usually soft white wheat) – lower in protein, good for baked goods, cookies, cakes, etc.
 *Can see the difference in color in the above picture.

My next post will be specifically about different kinds of sugars, good and bad, and how I cook with the good. So continue to stay tuned!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Simply Saturday - Sleeping Beauty

My bloggy friend, Jenn (A Country Girl's Ramblings), is hosting a photography post called "Simply Saturday". I thought I'd get brave and join in, even though I'm a novice in every sense of the word, and this is technically a Sunday that I'm posting this (Sorry Jenn, just saw it today). This picture sums up today. My sweet daughter was an ill "Sleeping Beauty" this morning. Her fever had broke, but you can still see the sweat in her hair, evidence of a rough night both for her and her parents. Most outside activities stop when we have a sick kid. I was telling Michael this morning how we need to thank God even for our sickness because it forces us to slow down for a bit and get out of our every day routine. It always makes for great family time and more rest.  Hailey is doing better now and eating a little.

See my post on natural medicine if interested. It tells what we do when our kids are sick. We've never had to take our kids to the doctor due to sickness since we started using these techniques.

Hope you all have a wonderful day of rest.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting The Most Out Of Your Food: Part 2 (How Has Industrialization Affected the Way We Eat?)

The first question I asked in my MOPS presentation was "How has industrialization affected the way we eat?"

One of my favorite quotes from the "Nourishing Traditions" cookbook addresses this topic very well.

“Father technology has not brought us freedom from disease. Chronic illness in industrialized nations has reached epic proportions because we have been dazzled by his stepchildren – fast foods, …convenience foods, packaged foods, fake foods, embalmed foods,…-all the bright baubles that fill up the shelves at our grocery stores, convenience markets, vending machines and even health food stores.” “The premise of this book is that modern food choices and preparation techniques constitute a radical change from the way man had nourished himself for thousands of years and, from the perspective of history, represent a fad that not only has severely compromised his health and vitality but may well destroy him; and the culinary traditions of our ancestors, and the food choices and preparation techniques of healthy non-industrialized peoples, should serve as the model from contemporary eating habits, even and especially during this modern technological age."

If you haven't watched the movie "Food, Inc", it is a must-see. There are some disturbing images, but I believe everyone needs to see where their food comes from, whether it is visiting the farm where you get your farm-direct meat or seeing the meat factories where meat in the supermarkets come from. I believe we need to make informed decisions when it comes to our food. Knowledge is important! "Food, Inc" is available via instant streaming through Netflix. Here is the official trailer:

This is also a must see! I call this the "Eternal Happy Meal" clip. If this doesn't concern you, I don't know what to say. 

Again, I don't think we can afford to continue to turn a blind eye in the name of convenience. Can we consider something that simply fills us up and tastes good "food". It concerns me the way "faux health food" is being sold as "health food". We need to be looking at labels. A good rule of thumb is if you can't pronounce something on the back or there is a list of ingredients a mile long, then it probably isn't good for you. Also be aware of tricky marketing labels. A friend of mine pointed out that corn syrup is now being labeled as simply "sugar". It is still corn syrup. You need to know what kind of sugar it is. If it is healthy sugar, believe me, the company will have not problem putting that on a label!

My next post will be discussing the benefits of using whole grains and how I cook with them. So continue to stay tuned!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting the Most Out of Your Food - Part 1 (Q & A)

Last year, I wrote a little bit about this resource/cookbook, "Nourishing Traditions", on my blog. I just had the privilege of doing a presentation for our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. It forced me to organize my thoughts on a matter I've been researching for over 4 years now, using both this book and many other resources. I thought I'd break my presentation out into several blog posts and share it with the rest of the world. I hope you find it helpful, useful and most of all inspiring!

First, I thought I'd address some questions I get asked frequently and I thought I'd address them on my blog.

1. Did you grow up eating this way? 
Nope. Didn't know the first thing about cooking completely from scratch or what healthy eating looked like. I never really liked many vegetables or fresh fruit, certainly nothing raw! Luckily, I mostly grew up on a ranch so we always had good, free-range beef to eat. Now that I'm older I appreciate that much more.  

2. What sparked your passion for healthy eating?
Four and half years ago I went to my first MOPS meeting. They person speaking was talking about Nutrition. She through out some ideas about why refined sugar and dyes were bad for you. This was completely new information to me. I was stunned to think what I had been feeding my son (3 at the time) and myself and husband. It is still hard to not to feel guilty, especially when I saw the difference in health between my children when they were babies and toddlers. I just had to start somewhere and me being an "all or nothing" kind of person, I got rid of all the white sugar, and white grains in my home. That what I started with. Everything else (choosing raw milk products, healthy fats, salt, potatoes, home cleaning products, etc) came in good time after that. Being involved with Healthy Families Network really helped me as I gleaned info from the other ladies further along in their journey to healthy eating. Thanks, gals!

Also, I believe eating healthy is a biblical principle. I think it is an important part of being a Proverbs 31 woman and also treating our bodies like temples. I think God wants us to be as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so we can serve Him to the best of our abilities for the short amount of time we live on this earth.

3. Are your husband and kids on board?
When I presented the idea of changing the way we eat to my husband. He said he was fine with any changes as long as I didn't "take away his bacon or his coffee". That's been the deal ever since. We have bacon or sausage at least once a week. I try to make sure it is all natural, but sometimes it isn't. He grew up eating a lot healthier than I did so he was thrilled to see me making things from scratch and getting back to what he considered "real food". 

As far as my kids go, my son was 3 years old when I implemented all these changes. I had to remove the bad stuff completely from our home. Healthy things start looking really attractive when that is all there is. Plus, I really tried to keep the same recipes I'd been using, just modifying them to make them healthy. Most of the time he was just fine with it. If my kids don't like something, they either do without or they eat it. For awhile, Josiah refused to eat my mayo because it tasted different, now he loves it. I don't keep a lot of choices of snacks around the home, which helps a lot. We have to tell our kids that "no they can't have seconds on salad until they eat their dinner". Great problem to have!

3. Can healthy food taste good?
You bet! Whenever I bring something to potluck or gathering, I'll tell them eat up, it's healthy for you! They can't believe it could possibly be healthy with all that fat and sugar. It's all in the kind of fat and sugar you use! 

4. How can you afford to eat healthy?
See this previous blog post for to answer this question. We spend on average $350 to $400 on month on our grocery budget. Usually it's on the lower end. That is for 4 people, and yes, my kids are eating as much as I do now. This budget also includes things like stationary items, ziplock bags, parchment paper, toiletries, paper items, etc. 

With the exception of my last pregnancy, Hailey's stitches and a few vaccinations, we haven't had a doctor bill or dentist bill for any of us in 4 1/2 years. Yes, there is something to be said for healthy eating!

5. How do you have time to make so many things from scratch?
Click herehere and here for my blog posts on this subject. You'll love this one!

I shared with my MOPS group that I only cook 2 or 3 times a week, the rest of the time I'm using up leftovers. Why make one lasagna when you can make five?! It doesn't take that much more time and I'm saving myself hours in the kitchen. It convenience food at its finest!

So I hope these questions have piqued your interest and you are willing to come back for the rest of the series.

God Bless and Happy Eating!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Introducing: Family Night!

After reading "Growing Kids God's Way", I got inspired to start a weekly family night. For us, this ends up being on Sundays. We decided to take turns planning it, that way we would all have to step into each other's world at least once a month. Josiah got to plan it first and we got a cheap pizza Pizza Hut and watched a Bugs Bunny movie on our Roku. It was great because he had a budget to work with and he learned a lot. He even figured out how to save some money, and we did something out of the ordinary.

Hailey planned the next Family night. She wanted a tea party, so we made "high tea" for dinner. The kids helped me make cucumber sandwiches (had to add lunch meat and cheese for Michael). We sliced up some fruit and had some scones and mini cupcakes to boot. We also used fancy dishes, which the kids always love. We worked on our table manners, too. Michael and I are planning on taking the kids to the ANZAC Tea Parlor when they are ready. He wants it to be a dress-up affair. He said he'd even wear his dress blues for it. They're table manners are rather appalling at the moment, so this may be a few years off yet.

Michael took most of these pictures. I think he's having fun with the new camera, too. I bought this hat at the ANZAC Tea Parlor years ago, it belonged to the owner's mother. I love it! I'm such a hat person. I so wish hats were in style because I'd wear them a lot more!

I took this pic of Michael being a sweetheart and choking down some tea for our daughter's sake. He's a black coffee guy, so this is a real stretch for him. What a man!
Hailey ended the night with a rousing game of "Trouble". I'm sure going to enjoy seeing what the kids are going to come up with. It will be Michael's turn to plan one next. I'm sure it will have something to do with the outdoors, which will be a stretch for me since I don't like doing outside activities during the winter. 

Anyway, the kids are really looking forward to it and it is good for our busy family to have a scheduled evening where we know we will be spending time in each others' worlds. The idea of these nights is to build a solid family identity which should help them feel more secure and make good choices. Yeah for Family Nights!

How about you? Do you have a special family night? If so, I would love for you to leave a comment and give me some Family Night ideas.

God Bless,

Friday, January 21, 2011


I've been playing around with the video camera on my camera. I shot this fun video of Josiah and Hailey having fun cleaning the floors. Clearly, they've watched the movie "Up" a few too many times!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ham and Corn Chowder Recipe

As promised, here is the ham and corn chowder recipe I made up the other day. It was delicious! I'm always looking for good ways to use up a meaty ham bone. 

Ham and Corn Chowder Recipe:
1 meaty ham bone
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
4 medium potatoes, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried marjoram leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups of milk
2 cups sweet corn
2 more cups chopped ham (optional)

Cover a ham bone with water and simmer all day long either in on the stove top or a slow cooker. Add water if the level gets below the bones.
About 1 1/2 hours before serving, take out the bones, leaving the meat in the broth you just created. Add onions, celery, potatoes, garlic and all spices. Boil 45 minutes. 
Mix the flour and cold milk together in a separate bowl. Pour slowly into the soup, stirring constantly. Add the corn and extra ham. Heat until thickened. 

Serves approximately 1 gallon. This soup freezes well.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Meanderings

Hailey and Josiah love getting into my gigantic stainless steel mixing bowl and spinning each other around in it. It is a great game to them. I'm also giving you a sneak peek at the oak bookshelf/window seat my husband is currently building for me. As soon as he gets the cushion and the back sewed, I'll post some pictures. All I can say is he's in for it now because I know he can build simple beautiful furniture. I've got another four books shelves I want him to build now. He's so handy! I love that he isn't afraid to take on something new. Pottery Barn's got nothing on my hubby!

We finally got around to making the volcano Josiah got for Christmas. Man, did he have fun with that! I think we went through half of a gigantic bottle of white vinegar, making it explode over and over.I love my new camera!
Josiah has been having fun making his Lego creations  as always. This is "Luke Skywalker and the Invasion of the Imperial Walker". Michael has been working on building a carburetor  for his T-Bucket Roadster. He got all the pieces for Christmas and now he is putting it all together himself. 

I got to go to a MOPS scrapbook/craft day this weekend. My sweet friend, Girlie, paid my way. In 8 hours I got 27 scrapbook pages done. This is one of my favorites. Very nice of my hubby to let me go all day. He gets to go steelhead fishing on MLK Day. Nice that we both got to do something just for ourselves this long weekend.

Josiah and his culinary creation that he calls "Dog Wa". It is essentially a piece of bread, fried egg, slice of ham, melted cheese with sauted garlic and mushrooms and cilantro. He added the carrots and cilantro for color around the plate. Look, he made me one too and it was surprisingly delicious.
I snapped this picture of Hailey wearing the tutu that was mine when I was little girl. I'm going to wait until she is 5 years old before I put her into a dance class. When it is time, I know she'll love it.
Josiah got an MP3 player for Christmas. I loaded all the "Seeds of Worship" music onto it. I love hearing him walk around the house singing scripture. It is awesome! Thanks for getting it for him, Diana. He loves it! 

Thanks so much for your prayers regarding my sis. She doing better. She got the 6 inch pin pulled out of her foot on Friday. She still in pain but it is getting better. Please continue to pray for her as she is still unable to take care of her household by herself. Pray God will continue to meet her every need through kind friends and family. Thank you!

God Bless,

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Gift

I'm having a ball learning how to use my new camera. I love how much crisper the pics are. I even got brave and went into the "cool functions menu" (no that isn't a technical term ;). I got a really good deal on a Canon Powershot SX130. I was able to buy it (along with a few other things) with a very generous Christmas bonus from my boss. I only work 6 hours a week from home and he still gives me a nice bonus at the end of the year. What a guy! 

I thought I'd share some random shots I took using some of the functions on my new camera. This first one I thought was so cool. It picks up one color (the chess board) and everything else is black and white. How cool is that? I know, I'm a nerd. You guys have probably had all this stuff figured out long ago, LOL.

This is my kids after eating some refined sugar and red dye ;) Had fun with the "fish eye" function. Yes, my kids really are this pyscho, LOL! Beware of redheads!

This one didn't turn out as crisp as I was hoping, but I wanted to show you how I decorated up this corner by the fireplace. We got an accordion from my uncle and I didn't know where to put it, so I just used it as part of the furniture and stacked some books under the basket vase. At first I thought it looked kind of junky, but it is growing on me.

I experimented with close up pics using my ham and corn chowder as the model. I'll try to post this recipe soon!

I'm super excited about the low lighting function. Now I can photograph my Christmas trees and they'll look better. Yeah! I know boring picture, but I was just experimenting.

Here is that function that brings out one color again. So fun! I can't believe I'm photographing fruit, LOL. Never thought I'd be doing that.

Josiah took this picture of me. With a little editing, I decided to use it for my new profile pic. I think I've got a budding photographer on my hands! Michael decided he wanted a new picture of me for his wallet. I guess it is high time he removed my high school picture. That was awhile ago, LOL.
I liked this function too, where the middle is in focus and the top and bottom are blurry. 

Hopefully my photography will improve with this new camera and you all won't be forced to look at blurry pictures anymore :) 

What about you, what was your favorite thing you got for Christmas?

I figured out how to make my blog available to those who want to follow it via email. Just click on the icon at the top of my sidebar to subscribe.

BTW, I was looking over my last post (whole wheat macaroni and cheese recipe) and realized I forgot a major ingredient - milk! I know a lot of you have already printed out the recipe, so don't forget to add 3 cups of milk to it. I've fixed it in the post, but just wanted to let you know in case you were wondering how much milk to use. Sorry about that!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese Pie Recipe

I love this dish. It is easy and I can double or triple the recipe and freeze it uncooked. It is also very versital, which I love. You can use different cheeses and meat combinations or no meat at all if you choose. I always like to throw in mushrooms and raw spinache in if I have it on hand. Everyone seems to like this dish.

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese Pie Recipe

3 cups dry whole wheat macaroni
1 lb grated cheese (If I'm making it with ham, I use swiss, if I'm using hamburger or sausage, I use sharp cheddar)
3 eggs
3 cups milk
1 Tbl salt
1/4 tsp pepper
*optional: ham, sausage, hamburger, shredded meat, mushrooms, garlic onion, green or red pepper, raw spinache or herbs

Cook macaroni until tender. Use a little oil to keep it from sticking, can add some salt to the water, too. Drain. While that is cooking, mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Mix well. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13 pan if needed (I use stoneware, so I never have to grease).  Sprinkle a good layer of cheese over macaroni. If using meat or another optional ingredients, sprinkle that over next. Then sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Pour milk and egg mixture over the top evenly. May dot top with butter before baking if using a low-fat cheese.  Bake 45 minutes to an hour or until middle is set solid and sides and top are crusty.

Even your pickiest eaters should love this one :)


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Handmade Heirloom Dress

Michael's grandma made this baby/toddler dress a few years before she passed away over 10 years ago. She won 2nd Place at the county fair with it. It is a beautiful handmade garment. My SIL sent it to me when Hailey was born to get some pictures of her in it. Hailey is now 3 years old and finally fits in it. Unfortunately, it is very short for her long legs because it is meant for a younger toddler, so we took some pics as best we could. I took these with my old camera. I just got my new Canon in the mail today but haven't had time to mess with yet. So excited! Can't wait to try it out!

I love the little hat. You can't see it very well, but it is open in the back and left room for Hailey's "almost bun". Hailey loved wearing for the photo shoot. Thanks for the loaner, Abby!

I'm going back to my sister's house tomorrow to help her out. She is still having a hard time recovering from her bunion surgery. It is very painful and they want her to wear the boot at all times, making it excruciating. She can't leave her foot down for very long at all, making it very difficult to manage her home. Sounds like her 3 year old is basically having the run of the place because he has figured out that his mom can't do anything about it if he tells her "no". Not good! Please pray for Stacie's difficult situation and that I would have traveling mercies (looks like it might snow again) and health for everyone. My kids have mild colds and Stacie and some of her kids also have mild colds. I praying I'll be able to not only help Stacie with the housework and discipling, but that my visit will also lift her spirits as she is battling depression, boredom and loneliness. Thanks to all you prayer warriors out there!

God Bless,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Roast Lamb Recipe with Braised Garlic/Thyme Sauce

Roasted leg of lamb has become our Christmas dinner tradition. I've tried several recipes over the years, but haven't found anything that comes close to being as good as this one. I got it out of the "Complete Entertaining Cookbook". It is simple and requires minimal ingredients, which is always a plus. I prepare it Christmas Eve so it is ready to roast on Christmas Day, making my job easier.

Roast Lamb Recipe with Braised Garlic/Thyme:
1 leg of lamb (I prefer boneless), around 5 lbs
4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
Thyme sprigs cut into 1/2 in pieces
salt and pepper

The day before I plan on cooking the roast, I slice slits all throughout the roast and alternately stuff garlic slivers and thyme sprigs, about every square inch or two along the top and sides of the roast. I cover and let it sit approx 24 hours.

When it is time to cook the roast, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and sprinkle roast generously with salt and pepper, including the sides and the bottom. Place uncovered in roasting pan. I use a meat thermometer and take the roast out when it registers 130 degrees F, approx 1 & 3/4 hours. The middle will be rare and the ends medium, just the way we like! 

For Sauce:
two cups beef stock or broth
2 to 3 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 or 4 fresh thyme springs
1 cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
1 Tbl sucanat or brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

While lamb is cooking, heat the above ingredients to a boil and then let it simmer, uncovered for an hour. The flavor should be strong. When done, discard thyme sprigs.

When lamb is done, take it out of oven, let sit 10 minutes with some tin foil loosely covering it. Then carve into slices, pour sauce over sliced lamb and put the rest of the sauce in individual dipping bowls, making sure to serve several cloves of the braised garlic in each bowl. 

Serve the lamb with some herbed mashed potatoes and a green salad and you got yourself a wonderful meal that even people who don't like lamb will love ;)

From My Kitchen to Yours,


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