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Posts Tagged ‘learning to live healthy’

Did you know that eating fat doesn’t make you fat? It’s true!

That stuff they call margarine isn’t real food either. It’s gross, it’s harmful and you should stop using it! But you don’t really use that junk, right?

Real food is always better. Always. But even the ones you think are real and wholesome aren’t always as they seem. Take butter for instance. Did you know that butter, yes, the real kind, usually has added preservatives? It’s sad but true. But there’s hope.

Making butter is ridiculously easy! 

Cream, a mason jar and twenty minutes easy.

Fill a mason jar half way with heavy cream.

Put the cover on.

Now shake the day lights out of it!

Shake, shake, shake…

Shake, shake, shake….

The cream will get thick. Keep shaking.

When you think something MUST have gone wrong, keep shaking.

You are almost there….

And then all of sudden, it will happen! The thick cream will separate – buttermilk and butter.

Strain the buttermilk….

But save it for something else like soaking chicken or making biscuits.

Now you have to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out of the butter.

Add some salt if you like and roll into a log and refrigerate.

You have butter!

AND buttermilk!

This butter doesn’t have preservative like that other stuff, as I mentioned, so you want to use this within two weeks.

It isn’t always cheaper to make your own butter but it can be. It depends on the cost of cream and the amount of fat. Some cows produce a fattier milk. If you are lucky enough to know someone with goats (or even better, have your own!) butter can be made with goats cream too. It will be a bit different, but just as good.

I got about 3/4 of a  pound of butter from one quart of milk. Plus about 2 cups of buttermilk. That is a savings over purchasing butter and buttermilk separately. And I don’t get the preservatives.

There is an easier way….

You can use a blender, mixer, hand mixer or food processor and cut the time in half.

There can be mistakes…

The second time I made butter, or attempted to make butter, it was a disaster. We took turns shaking the jar, the mister, babes and I. How fun! We sat and watched TV, chatted and made butter together. But in our fun we somehow missed the separation phase and just kept shaking. We ended up with what looked like chunky whipped cream. Which is just what I turned it into, with a bit of honey (or sweetener of choice) and a bit more whipping.

What happened? We shook the buttermilk back into the butter. Yes, it can happen. I had no idea. I also don’t know if the process can be altered again. I had had enough shaking for the night and never cared for the experiment to be finished.

Now let’s get a wee bit technical…

I’m not saying go ahead and smother everything you eat in butter. I’m not Paula Dean. Although I do love her to pieces. I’m just saying butter isn’t as scary and horrible as we tend to think. And it’s way better for you than something bugs won’t even touch! (Some still claim this isn’t true,but I tried it once and found the margarine free of ants and butter loaded with them. I did not, however, leave it long enough to find out if they moved over once the butter was gone.)

  • A 1994 Harvard Medical Study showed that eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53%
  • More recent studies have shown a strong link between consuming trans fat and earlier death
  • Butter does not contain trans fat – margarine does (minus a few newer varieties)
  • Both butter and margarine have the same amount of calories
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods
  • Butter has many nutritional benefits – margarine does not, unless they are added
  • Butter tastes better!
That old urban legend about margarine being one molecule away from plastic is truly false, however, real food is always best. Something made with “ingredients” like margaric acid, used in making margarine, is not.
If you aren’t into making your own butter at least opt for the real thing. Ditch that tub of tasteless, dyed stuff.

Tomorrow we will talk about flavoring your butter!

Live Well!
~S 

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Making your own yogurt is super easy!

I mean – boil milk, whisk in cultures, cover and wait – easy.

Yes, even you can do it.

Here’s what you need –

1 quart whole milk
1 Tablespoon plain yogurt (yes, just your favorite store bought yogurt)

In a pan heat the milk slowly to just before a boil. You can get technical with this and use a thermometer, but  it really isn’t necessary. You just have to heat it until the top is shiny and tiny bubbles just start to form around the outside. But if you are worried you won’t do it right, or just like to use your fancy little thermometer than heat it to 180-185 degrees. You shouldn’t get a skin, but if you do just take it off.

Now for the hard part. Take it off the heat and wait for it to cool. You have to wait until the milk is warm enough to activate the cultures but not kill them. About 140 degrees. You can put it in another bowl to help the process along. Or even put it in a water bath.

When the milk is cool whisk in the yogurt. Now, don’t get all over zealous with the yogurt. Adding extra will not make it more yogurty (there I go again) or speed the process any. It will have adverse effects. Trust me. One tablespoon per quart of milk. But you don’t have to be super precise either. I told you, this is easy.

Next, spoon it into jars. I like to use a mixture of mason jars in various sizes. Leaving a space at the top to add fruit and such. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.

Now, place the jars in a pan and wrap with a towel.

Put this pan in a warm safe place like the oven. I’m not showing you this part. It’s scary and embarrassing in there. Must. Clean. Oven.

Be sure to NOT turn the oven on. NOT. 

Now you wait. Again. It takes about 12-15 hours for the process to complete. Give or take. Again, it isn’t precise. Just be sure to leave them alone. The more you disturb them the less likely they are to do as they are told.

Once they have set to a solid consistency they are finished. Ready to eat! Or flavor. Keep in mind, this is plain, unaltered yogurt. It will be tart. You can sweeten it with some honey or agave.

You can strain the yogurt in cheese cloth to make it thicker. Essentially, the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is the straining process. Greek yogurt is strained to make it creamier. Here in the U.S. you are buying “Greek Style” yogurt not actual Greek yogurt – meaning strained and thicker. True Greek yogurt uses sheep’s or goat’s milk. If you like yogurt thicker you can strain the end product through a piece of cheese cloth or even let the milk stay at that just before boiling point a little longer to evaporate the milk some.

You can make your next batch using some of this one and never have to buy yogurt again!

Now let’s talk about flavor!

You can add anything you like. Fruits, nuts and grains.

Here are some of my favorites – 

  • Pomegranate
  • Banana and walnut
  • Apple and cinnamon with honey and pecans
  • Frozen mixed berries
  • Orange
  • Cherries and macadamia nuts
  • Granola and dried cranberries
  • Chocolate chunk granola

Mmmm. I could keep going.

You can also use it for dips and marinades – 

  • Mixed with lots of fresh or dried herbs like chives, parsley, tarragon and garlic for veggie dip
  • Mixed with lime, ginger, cilantro and gram marsala for chicken
  • Mixed with coarse brown mustard, garlic, pepper and parsley for pork

The options are endless, as they usually are when in the kitchen. And yogurt is filled with healthy probiotics that are essential for healthy digestion and optimum immune response. They are killed off when heated, but used as a marinade yogurt helps keep meat moist and adds tremendous flavor.

Now let’s break it down….

I made 64 ounces of yogurt for $1.50

The cheapest I have found Chobani is $1.00 for 6 ounces. That equals $10.00 for 60 ounces!

4 ounces less – $8.50 more

Are you ready to try making your own yogurt?

Live Well!
~S 

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For those of you who remember The Migraine Chronicles – Take 1, I’d like to update you.

For those of you who don’t, go look. We’ll wait…

Back already?

Ok, here goes. I was super excited to share with you the fabulous news. Well, until last week that is. That’s right. I hadn’t had a single migraine since writing episode one! And since starting the supplements. I was taking magnesium and evening primrose daily. Every day. Or. Well. Almost every day.

Like with most things, I start out all gung-ho. Staying on tract. Doing everything right. Sticking to the plan. And then it starts to go south. But I had done quite well this time. I was determined to figure this thing out. And I guess by forgetting to take the magnesium and evening primrose I did just that.

All of sudden, there they were. I mean I literally blinked my eyes and they appeared. Vision spots. It was like a movie playing in slow motion. Nnnoooooo! And I was stumbling through the house, racing for the herb cabinet. Racing for the magnesium. And the ibuprofen.

It was terrible. Full bore sickness, pain, horror. Ok, ok, I’m feeling a bit dramatic today. But it was bad. Made worse by the realization that I did this to myself. I hadn’t taken either magnesium or evening primrose is two weeks. Sigh.

I really think it’s the magnesium doing the trick on the migraines, but the evening primrose has absolutely been helping with hormones and the other crazies I won’t go into detail over.

Did you know this was evening primrose?

Yup, you’ve probably seen it growing wild on the side of the road.

It works wonders for women’s health. It’s also great for inflammation. Especially for rheumatoid arthritis. Which is why it probably helps with the migraines. It also is used to treat eczema.

So, needless to say, I am back on track. Taking these supplements daily. Or, as often as I can remember.

Have you had any luck with either of these supplements?

Live Well!
~S 

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It’s my favorite time of year!

Spring!

Everything is new. Freshly emerging flowers and herbs. Buds forming on trees. Birds finally singing. The peepers freshly emerged from their Winter depths. I love raking the fallen leaves from the beds to find little sprouts and hidden secrets. The parsley held on tight through the snow and ice.

It was a fabulously mild winter here in The Shire this year. (my loving term for New Hampshire incase you were wondering) And a gloriously early Spring. With days in the seventies already… nearly unheard of here for March… it’s been hard to sit to write or anything really that doesn’t involve luxuriating in the sun and digging in to the gardens. I’ve been raking and planting seeds (Not in the ground. You’ll see). Plotting new beds and the expansion of others.

All the while the mister watches from a distance. A mix of love and concern on his face.

What will she get herself into this time? And will I be dragged in with her kicking and screaming to no avail?

It’s both exciting and a bit daunting looking at all the things that need attention. The blackberries were busy in the Fall taking over the raised beds.

I almost don’t have the heart to tear them out. But I must. Today. The peas need to go in!

These mums that never got planted last year made it through! At least one that did, made it too. How wonderful.

For me, there is nothing better than a day spent playing in the dirt, nurturing plants, sipping some wine in the sun surrounded by my gardens, reading a book by the flowers and herbs with knowing satisfaction that I helped create this enchantment. Except perhaps sharing it with friends. It’s the quiet time there alone I like best though.  I am thrilled to be able to have so much extra time to do so this year.

It’s easy to take so much for granted. To expect things to last. We hustle and bustle through life. Trying desperately to do it all. To have the newer car, the bigger house. We spend our lives always searching for more when really, it’s all there in front of us all along.  Stop and smell the flowers! Slow down and enjoy Spring before it’s gone.

Live Well!
~S

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I am very excited to announce todays guest blogger!

Heather and I met in elementary school. We were in the same grade. The summer going into seventh grade my house burned down. We lost everything. That morning Heather had her father bring her over. She showed up with bags full of clothes. We became fast friends that morning. I love her dearly. She has an amazingly beautiful heart.  She really is such a lovely person. She is spiritual, she loves to sing, enjoys music, makes the people around her laugh and feel good and is here to share a great recipe with us!

If you can’t get enough of sweet potato or quinoa like me, you are going to be thrilled when you see this. In her quest to eat better she found this recipe and wanted to share with us.

“I decided to try the recipe from shine.yahoo.com because I love sweet potatoes and tater tots; plus, I am trying to eat more healthy. The recipe was easy to follow and they were super yummy. I thought you’d enjoy them as well since you are so enamored with sweet potatoes and quinoa!

 Xoxoxo
Heather”

Sweet Potato Quinoa Tater Tots

INGREDIENTS
1 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup golden flax meal
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup finely chopped small onion (from 1/2 small onion)
4 sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt, plus more
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I LOVE garlic so I also added 1 tsp. dehydrated garlic)
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine quinoa flakes and flax meal in a bowl; set aside. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray generously with nonstick spray. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl; set aside. Wipe out and reserve skillet.

Using the small holes of a box grater, finely grate potatoes to make 4 cups. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt. Massage salt into potatoes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl; add egg and mix well. Add reserved onion, cayenne, paprika, and garlic powder; season lightly with salt and pepper. The mixture should resemble a potato pancake mix but be on the dry side. Using your hands, form potato mixture into 1″ balls.

Roll potato balls in quinoa flake mixture. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with nonstick spray. Working in batches, cook balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer tots to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

I’m making them this weekend! Let me know what you think.

Live Well!
~S

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You find it decorating your plate at your favorite restaurant. It’s tossed into salads and sauces. But did you know that parsley is so good for you it could help you fight Cancer?

It’s true.

Parsley is more than a fresh, flavorful seasoning. It has been sought after for centuries for its medicinal qualities. Cherished by ancient Romans, mentioned by Pliny, in Greek Mythology and even by Hippocrates. Parsley has been an integral part of both culinary and medicinal culture and revered in both. And you thought it was just a decorative addition to your dinner plate.

Some Parsley Folklore –

  • It was believed in medieval times that it grew in the garden only if the man or woman of the house was honest.
  • When chewed, it would keep away the devil.
  • Worn to ward off intoxication.
  • At Roman weddings wreaths were given to protect against evil spirits.
  • Used as a protection against poisons.

Here are a number of health benefits of Parsley –

  • Cancer fighting properties – contains flavonoids that helps protect cells against harmful oxidation and phytochemicals affect cell division allowing for the correction of DNA mistakes. Considered most effective on treating and preventing Leukemia, Lung cancer, Colon cancer, Pancreas cancer, Ovarian cancer, Prostate cancer and Breast cancer
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Mercury Detox – mix with mint and help rid the body of Mercury
  • Good source of vitamin K for healthy bones, tissue and blood clotting
  • Vitamin A for healthy vision and immune response
  • Vitamin C for healing and healthy skin
  • Provides folic acid, vitamin b complex, for red blood cell production
  • Potassium for healthy blood pressure
  • Iron for preventing anemia
  • A natural diuretic that helps soothe the urinary tract and prevent kidney stones

Used to treat –

  • Kidney and urination problems
  • Water retention
  • Menstruation
  • Menopause
  • Clear toxins in liver and kidneys
  • Calm nervous system

Some interesting uses for Parsley –

  • Medieval revelers placed it on their tables and on themselves to absorb odors
  • Made into wreaths and hung on tombs and used for burial ceremonies
  • Used in protection amulets and placed around the home for protection

Parley is quite easy to grow in both your Kitchen Garden and on a sunny window sill. I have had great success with my parsley seeding itself in my herb garden. You can start yours from seed, inside 6-8 weeks before last frost or directly sown after the danger of the last frost, or purchase fully grown plants. Place them in a sunny location. Water deeply at least once a week and do not allow to dry out completely. Cutting herbs encourages fuller growth so be sure to use your parsley often. Snip the stalks close to the ground, starting with the outside. Parsley grows from the center. In the Fall, allow the plants to go to seed and harvest for next years crop.

What is your favorite recipe including parsley?

Live Well!
~S

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Yes, I’m on a quinoa kick. I had all this left over from making the Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes. So, what to do? Make Tabouleh!

For all you traditionalists out there, I know, I know. Tabouleh is made with Bulgar. And I am a traditionalist with some subjects too. Just not this one.

Quinoa Tabouleh

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 lime juiced and zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

* I had a lime that needed using. 1/4 had been cut off for something else so I chose it for this recipe out of necessity. Use what you’ve got!

In a small bowl combine lime and zest, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk and set aside.

Combine all other ingredients. Toss and top with dressing. Allow to sit so flavors meld for some time.

You could really do anything you like with this. Add other veggies and seasonings. Cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock to add flavor. Having something like this in the refrigerator is a great way to help encourage healthy eating. It makes a perfect snack. You know we should be eating 5-6 small meals a day, right? That isn’t always easy. We don’t have time to chop and cook mid morning or afternoon. Make things like this ahead of time and be READY. This offers protein and nutrients in the quinoa, healthy fats in the oil, health benefits in the parsley and veggies. Pair it with lean meat or hard boiled eggs and cucumber slices or other fresh veggies and you have a great lunch or dinner.

Oh, and it’s super frugal!

Let me know what you think!

Live Well!
~S

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