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Friday, May 28, 2010

Scallion Pancakes and Egg Drop Soup

This is a simple dinner that can be made with ingredients you probably have on hand. It doesn't take long to make, and is a kid favorite around here. The scallion pancakes are dipped in sauce, which makes them fun to eat. The kids also like the swirls of egg in the soup.
Scallion pancakes are a street food in Taiwan. You can find vendors selling these steaming hot pancakes, wrapped in paper, so you can eat on the go. They are usually quite large, but I made mine about the size of my frying pan, for obvious reasons.

Egg Drop Soup 

Boil 2 cups chicken broth in a medium saucepan. (Add salt if your broth is unsalted.) Add chopped scallions to taste. Beat 2 eggs with a fork.  Slowly add the eggs while stirring. Serve.

Scallion pancakes


1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup flour
Sesame oil
4 Tbsp  chopped scallion greens
Fat for frying

Mix flour and salt in the base of a stand mixer. Add olive oil and boiling water. If dough is too soft, add more flour (up to 1/4 cup). Knead about 5 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes. (I skip this step, or just let it stand for a minute if I'm really in a hurry; it still turns out.) Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out into a rectangle, brush with sesame oil and sprinkle with scallions.

From the long end, roll the dough into a cylinder, pinching the ends to seal. Coil into a little snail shape. Repeat with remaining dough. You can let the dough rest here for about 1/2 hour. I'm sure a chef could tell you why this step is so important. I'm not a chef, but a mom who is sometimes in a hurry, and I sometimes don't let it rest at all. ( I don't get to rest, why should my dinner?) Roll the coiled pancakes into circles, about 8 inches in diameter.

Heat fat in frying pan. I use beef tallow, but lard would also work well. If you don't have either of those, my next choice would be a combination of olive oil and butter. Whichever you choose, heat the fat, fry the pancake for about  to 3 minutes per side.

Dip in soy sauce, or try the egg roll dipping sauce here.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade and Vegetarian Foodie Fridays.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My new goal: no sugar

My youngest baby is 7 months old, and last time I checked, I'm still carrying around about 19 extra pounds (mostly in my lower body, see photo above). This is my fourth baby, so I have been through this before, but the weight wasn't coming off as fast as I would have liked (which, if you want to get technical, never comes off as fast as I would like). I decided it was time to really get serious about trying to lose this weight: I was going off sugar. I decided first to do an experiment. I wanted to see first if it was really hard, and second if it helped me lose weight any faster. For my experiment, I would go without any refined sugar or white flour for a week. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you probably know I don't eat a lot of sugar anyway. We hardly eat anything that is all white flour, but I would often mix it with wheat as a compromise with my husband.

The first question: was it really hard? NO! There were a few things I purposely didn't have around: no chocolate chips in the freezer, and I didn't make any muffins. I used honey or maple syrup in place of sugar for a sweetener, and I felt like I was getting plenty of sweet tastes in my diet.

The second question: Did I lose weight any faster? YES! After one week, I had lost 3 pounds. That was unexpected and really exciting for me. I don't think I lowered my calories at all, and I ate a lot of fats during that week. If I ever needed a treat, I made chocolate fudge with no sugar.

So, I've decided to continue on with my no sugar/ no white flour diet a little while longer. I know a goal should have specifics, like how long I am going to keep doing this...but for now, the goal is just to continue.

Confessions: The only times I have had sugar in the last month have been times when I was out to eat. Really, I don't know that there was sugar in it, but I'm just going to assume the pizza hut had some HFCS and the Pickup Stix was loaded with sugar. Oh, yeah, and the other time I cheated was my husband's birthday (even though I didn't even have sugar on my own birthday!). He requested I make him a German Chocolate Cake from scratch. It was the most fabulous cake I think I ever made and I have to say, totally worth it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

All alone canning tomatoes

Canning is a monotonous process. I enjoy it, but it's easy to let your mind wander. While canning tomatoes today, I thought of my pioneer forebears, who surely did this same task a couple of hundred years ago.  I got interrupted by the baby crying, by the two year old wanting to "help." Pioneers probably had more kids running around than the three I have home today. Maybe they would gather together with a big group of women, talking and peeling tomatoes to store for the winter. maybe an older child would be put in charge of the babies, or the women would take breaks to watch the kids. Maybe most of the kids could run around outside, because the world was a little safer then, and you could actually let kids do that.
When the tomatoes were ripe and they had more than they could possibly eat fresh, it would be time to can. Today, I'm alone in my kitchen canning tomatoes for no other reason that the fact that I was out of canned tomatoes, and they were on sale for 50 cents a pound.
I've had lots of canning "parties" where friends come over and we spend the day canning. I'm sure the pioneers would be envious of us, complaining of the heat in our air-conditioned house, the dishwasher ready to go when we dirty another load. But today, I'm a little envious of them. A little nostalgic for a time when this kind of homemaking skill was the norm, and it wasn't quite as hard to find people who were interested in canning also.
The method to canning tomatoes is very simple. You can use either a pressure canner or a water bath canner. Most fruits can be canned using a water bath canner, while vegetables need a pressure canner. Tomatoes lie right on the border for acidity. That means, as long as you add some lemon juice, you can use a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner. A water bath canner is much less expensive. I bought mine for $12 at Kmart several years ago. It's just a big pot with a holder for the jars. (Pressure canners usually cost somewhere around $100.)

Boil a large pot of water. Dip tomatoes in for one minute, then set in a bowl of cold water. Scoop out the ... and peel off the skin. Place whole in jars. Press down to fit in as many tomatoes as you can. (They will shrink a little while canning.) Add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice per pint or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice per quart. Add sea salt if desired.

Keep unused lids and rims in a small pot of water heated at a low temperature. When the jars are filled, wipe around the top edges of the jar. Put lids and rims on. Boil in a water bath canner for 85 minutes.

Canned tomatoes will last at room temperature for about 1 year. These are a great alternative to store bought canned tomatoes (in actual cans) because the lining of those cans reacts with the acidity of the tomatoes, leaching BPA (bispenol A) into our food. BPA is a neuroendocrine disruptor. Canning your own is a cost effective way to avoid BPA, which is especially important for young children. (Source)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese is creamy and tastes much better than the store bought alternative. Store bought ricotta cheese has added preservatives to make it last longer. Ricotta's not hard to make, and unlike mozzarella cheese, doesn't take any special ingredients. All you need is milk, buttermilk and salt.

This recipe makes about 4 cups of fresh ricotta. It can easily be cut in half if you don't need that much. Although, there are so many yummy things to do with ricotta, you may just want to make the whole thing. Ricotta works well in lasagna recipes as well as stuffed shells or manicotti. You can also drizzle a little honey and some berries on top and eat it as a dessert. Ricotta can be served on top of pancakes, english muffins or crepes with a little maple syrup for sweetness.

This recipe comes from Cooking Light Italian. The only thing I changed was to use full fat dairy instead of low fat.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

1 gallon whole milk
5 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp fine sea salt


Combine milk and buttermilk in a large stockpot. Cook over medium high heat until a thermometer registers 170, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). When it reaches 170, stop stirring. The cheese will start to separate from the whey. Keep heating until the temperature reaches 190. Remove from heat.

Drain cheese in a colander lined with damp cheesecloth. Whey will drip out. Reserve this for a later use, such as soaking oats for oatmeal. Let sit for 5 minutes. Gather edges of cheesecloth together and tie to a kitchen faucet or another place where it can drip into a bowl. Let drip for 15 minutes.

Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Stir in salt gently. Cool to room temperature.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5 Reasons I love yoga

Yoga has definitely been an acquired taste for me. I didn't like it right away. It was so different from anything else I did in my life. It was slow. It was quiet. It kind of didn't seem like I was doing anything at all... Several years ago, I was asked to teach a Senior yoga class at the gym where I taught. I slowly came to appreciate that quiet time, where we would turn out the lights and focus on how our bodies felt.

Now, I do yoga almost every day and I love it. Below are 5 reasons why.

1. You can do it anytime of day. Maybe you're thinking you can do any workout any time of day... but it's not true. If you do cardio, or even heavy weightlifting in the middle of the day, you're going to have to take a shower afterward (you know you're not fooling anyone with that perfume shower), which means an added half hour at least to get all ready again. If you workout at night, it can make it hard to fall asleep. Cardio and weightlifting raise your core temperature, making you feel hot. That can also make it hard to sleep. Yoga, on the other hand, can help you wake up in the morning. It can help you relax before bedtime. It can also be done mid-day, with no shower necessary.

2. Yoga is everything I want for my old age. Yoga helps keeps you flexible. Your posture is straight and tall. You keep the joints lubricated and able to move. Isn't that what we all want when we are old? Mobility, flexibility and good posture? When I taught the Senior classes at the gym, I had a woman who would come diligently to the aerobics class, but never to the yoga. She once told me that she was having trouble turning her neck and it made it hard to drive, since she couldn't see over her shoulder. Another woman overheard, and said she didn't have that problem, because we always stretched our necks in yoga. Yoga also tones the muscles, keeping you strong and fit.

3. Yoga helps you calm the mind. That is important for everyone from students to stay at home moms to busy professionals. Taking deep breaths really helps you to slow down the mind. I don't know about you, but sometimes my mind is a never ending to do list. Yoga is a time when I can finally set that list down and feel really peaceful.

4. Yoga is for everyone. Yoga doesn't take a lot of equipment. All you need is a sticky mat, and maybe a yoga brick or strap. It can be done in your home with a DVD or even just going through the poses on your own. My two year old came and joined me on the mat today while I was doing yoga. He was able to do a pretty decent downward facing dog. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising, because babies seem to naturally do many yoga poses as they become more active. Elderly or injured people can also benefit from modified yoga. It truly is an exercise for every body.

5. Yoga helps you set goals. You can always improve with yoga. It is a constant state of progressing--you can always progress to the next level of intensity. And yet, yoga focuses on doing what your body feels comfortable with today. There isn't the pressure to keep up with anyone else. Instead, it's an inside drive, to listen to and understand your body, and to work with your body to get to the next level.

If you haven't tried yoga before, I'd encourage you to get out there and give it a try. Check out a Yoga DVD or book from the library, or better yet, take a class at a local studio.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Avocado Egg Rolls

Does that not look delicious? It is all real food, minus the store bought egg roll wrappers. If you are really ambitious, I'm sure you could make those yourself too, but I went with store bought myself. The ingredients on the list were okay. The two items I would have changed were to use wheat flour instead of white, and no "sodium benzoate" as a preservative. 

Anyway, even with the store bought wrappers, these were awesome! They tasted just like restaurant egg rolls, only much better for you because they were fried in healthy fats instead of a combination of soybean and other polyunsaturated fats you'd get at a restaurant. Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


Dipping Sauce

  • 3-4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • garlic cloves
  • green onions
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


Add all ingredients and mix well.

  • Egg Rolls

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 egg roll wraps
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch 
  • Egg Roll wrappers
Beef Tallow, Coconut oil, or Lard for frying


Thinly slice avocados. Lay out an egg roll wrapper. Fill the center with 2 avocado slices, tomato, red onion, and cilantro. Mix cornstarch with 4 Tbsp water. With finger or pastry brush, apply cornstarch mixture to top and sides of egg roll wrapper. Fold in bottom edge (about 1 inch), then left side, then top, then right side. Press to seal. Repeat with remaining egg rolls wrappers. Heat cooking fat in a deep pan. (I only use a small amount in the bottom of the pan.) Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Dessert, Dessert, Dessert

    If you are going to have dessert, make it count.

    I really try hard not to eat something just because it's there. Most store-bought cookies, cakes and candy are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. And almost as important... most of the time they don't even taste very good! My husband and I always ask each other "Is it worth it?" and if it's not... we pass. The more you do this, the easier it becomes!

    An easy way to make dessert healthier is to focus on fruits. Try berries with whipped cream, or frozen bananas. The other night for dessert, we had whole wheat graham crackers (sweetened with honey) spread peanut butter on top, sliced bananas over it and topped it all off with chocolate chips.


    For cookies, my main changes are to use wheat flour and reduce the sugar. I generally start by reducing the sugar by half. Sometimes that's all you can do, but other times, you can reduce a little bit more. This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, with the sugars already reduced by half. You can use full sized chocolate chips, but using mini chocolate chips helps you use less without feeling deprived-- you still get lots of chips in every cookie. Blend the oats in the blender. I like to make these cookies in a pan for bar cookies, so they are nice and thick.

    Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

    1 cup butter
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 cups wheat flour
    2 1/2 cups powdered oats
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp vanilla
    Mini chocolate chips
    Walnuts or pecans

    Cream butter and sugar. Add brown sugar, then eggs, then vanilla, then baking powder and baking soda. Once all is mixed together add wheat flour and powdered oats (blend oats in blender first). Then add chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, or 21 minutes for a 9x 13 pan.

    Dairy Desserts

    Dairy based desserts, like ice cream and pudding, blend well with maple syrup or agave nectar. These are less refined than sugar, and work well as a substitute. The other ingredients are good for you with lots of nutrition, like whole milk and eggs. These recipes come from The Joy of Cooking, with the only change in the amount and type of sweetener. Be sure to plan ahead, because these need time to chill.

    Vanilla Pudding

    Mix thoroughly in a heavy saucepan:
    1/3 cup maple syrup
    2 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
    1/8 tsp salt

    Gradually stir in, making a smooth, runny paste:
    1/3 cup whole milk or half and half
    Whisk in:
    1 2/3 cups whole milk or half and half
    Stirring constantly, heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low; stirring briskly, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat, then stir in:
    2 tsp. vanilla
    Pour into bowl or individual serving cups. Place plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent a film from forming.
    Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

    Chocolate Pudding

    Mix together thoroughly in a heavy saucepan:
    1/3 cup agave nectar
    1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
    1/8 tsp. salt
    Gradually stir in, making a smooth, runny paste:
    1/3 cup warm water
    Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat. For an espeically thick and chocolaty pudding, add and stir briskly until melted:
    1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    Stir in:
    1 3/4 cup half and half
    Place in a bowl:
    3 Tbsp. cornstarch
    Very gradually add, making a smooth paste:
    1/4 cup half and half
    Throughly stir the cornstarch paste into the chocolate mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low; stirring briskly, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, then stir in:
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

    Pour into bowl or individual serving cups. Place plastic wrap directly on the pudding to prevent a film from forming.
    Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

    No Sugar Dessert

    I have been trying to cut out sugar altogether for the last couple of weeks (I'll tell you more about how that's going in a future post). My new favorite treat is a chocolate fudge recipe I found here. SO. GOOD. And no sugar= no guilt! I follow the directions exactly, then pour it into petit fours cups (you could use muffin cups also, but I like the bite size pieces), and add a nut (almond or walnut) on top.

    This post is part of Pennywise Platter.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Real Food and Religion series: Wrapping it up

    Our real food and religion series is over. I have really enjoyed reading and learning from so many different perspectives. I found it interesting that even though some of the writers had similar religious beliefs, they translated to very different things in practice.

    It's interesting to understand why people do what they do. There are many motivating factors regarding what we eat and feed our families, and religion is just one of those. But it seems to be one that people are passionate about.

    For me, there are certain things I will never drink, like coffee, tea or alcohol. Science is sometimes ambiguous on all three of these (I've read good and bad about all of them), but God knows more than science, and it's not something I spend a lot of time worrying about. My beliefs in my faith matter a lot more to me than whatever new science may come out.

    Here are links to all the posts in case you missed any:


    Southern Baptist

    Lutheran meets Seventh-day Adventist

    Latter Day Saint (Mormon)

    Christ Follower

    The Levitical Diet


    Fundamental Christianity

    I wanted to say thanks to all the bloggers who participated in the series. They all have great blogs and you can visit them by clicking on the links below.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    What's Up With the FDA?

    My mother in law, Mickie, is a faithful reader of this blog. She emailed me the following, and I thought it had so many good points that I should just include the whole thing! Below her email I shared my thoughts on the subject: "What's up with the FDA":

    "My question is ..What's up with the FDA?
    Years ago they told us that Saccharin can cause bladder cancer and issued a Warning.

    Now when you look up the long list of artificial sweeteners, it includes Saccharin. They now say that it is considered a "mild carcinogen" and proceed to make a table of how much is considered a safe amount to consume.

    There seems to be a public demand for an artificial sweetener so they keep coming up with them. After time passes the FDA admits they are harmful, but eventually allows them to be back on the "safe list" once again. How can this be?

    I read an article recently about Folic Acid. The FDA knew it was important for pregnant women to get enough of this, but then the cereal and other food companies started adding it in their products in large amounts. Then one doesn't realize how much they are getting. Anyone that is not pregnant does not need the amount they are sometimes automatically getting. It is now known that it can be harmful in large amounts. Most people don't realize this and the FDA is not helping us at all.

    We are all aware of the harm that hydrogenated oil has, even partially hydrogenated.  Check the ingredients in a small package of Jiffy cornmeal muffin mix. They are still using fully Hydrogenated 
    Lard in that mix. The FDA is not helping us control the problem here either.

    I think we have to be aware that we, as mothers might just have to control the problem ourselves. A lot of mothers are focusing on reading labels on packaged foods these days, which is good.  I think we need to continue to research and stay informed on food additives as much as possible. They fluctuate with time.

    All this is pretty scary....consuming safe, whole foods should be a matter of utmost importance for every Mother.  
    I commend your efforts in your blog!"

    Thanks, Mickie, for bringing this up.

    This is a subject I hadn't looked into much, so I spent some time on the FDA's official website. Just browsing the website was overwhelming. The FDA's motto is "Protecting and Promoting Your Health." They are responsible for Food and Drugs, but also Cosmetics, Tobacco, Medical Devices and more.

    I read that they are responsible for "taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement after it reaches market." (my italics)  The manufacturer is responsible for telling the public what's in a supplement.  So, as far as supplements are concerned, just because it's being sold doesn't mean it's safe. The people making the products are responsible for telling us how safe it is. (Sounds like the fox guarding the henhouse to me.) And then, after it has already been sold, the FDA will take action if it is unsafe. Umm... really, FDA? How will that protect my health if I've already bought and used that supplement?

    I read a bit in the section on food additives. They said, 'some people might be allergic or have reactions to color dyes, but it's not a high percentage, so we're just going to put it on the label so you can avoid it if you want to.' The corn muffin mix with hydrogenated oil would probably come under the same category. I imagine the official policy would be, 'Well, some studies show it's bad for you, but we've got a lot to do here, so we'll tell the manufacturers to go ahead and put a label on it, and you can avoid it if you want to.' Or in other words, "No Lifeguard on Duty here: Eat at your own risk."

    For a government agency who is trying to protect and promote our health, it sure seems like they are leaving a lot of the protecting our health up to us. The FDA says, "Some additives could be eliminated if we were willing to grow our own food, harvest and grind it, spend many hours cooking and canning, or accept increased risks of food spoilage. But most consumers today rely on the many technological, aesthetic and convenient benefits that additives provide." 

    I think many consumers today rely on these benefits because these foods are so readily available!  If the FDA didn't allow them to be sold in the stores, then people would go back to the basics of cooking, canning and even growing their own food. 

    The good news is that, whether the government is promoting and protecting our health or not, we can protect the health of ourselves and our families. Be willing to grow your own food, harvest, grind, cook and can. I'd rather accept those risks than the risks of being "protected" by the FDA.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Chanelle's Salad

    Salads are really just a combination of ingredients-- just throwing some vegetables or other toppings on a bed of lettuce. But some salads just work better than others. The flavors blend together, the dressing brings out the vegetables... That's what happened with this combination. I don't usually name recipes after myself, but I was so proud of how this turned out, I decided it could be my own salad namesake.

    This salad came from a combination of ingredients I had on hand. Since I liked it so much, I will be sure to have these ingredients on hand in the future to have this again! For a one person serving, I used a whole avocado.


    Lettuce (Green or red leaf)
    Grape tomatoes
    Sliced Red Onion
    Feta Cheese
    Optional Ingredients: chickpeas, kalamata olives


    2 Tbs red wine vinegar

    1/2 tsp. mustard
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp oregano
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 tsp lemon juice

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    Mix dressing ingredients with a whisk. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    This post is part of Fight Back Friday, Food Revolution Friday, Food on Fridays and Foodie Fridays.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Real Food and Religion series: Christianity

    Our guest post today comes from Cara Faus. Cara lives in Montana with her husband and two young children. She loves learning about nutrition and God's natural remedies through food, herbs, and holistic medicine. She writes at Health, Home and Happiness.
    Real Food and Religion: Christianity

    Christianity, being more of a relationship with God than a religion with strict rules, presents itself in many different ways. I am here to share how my relationship with God affects how I feed my family, how I am learning and growing in how I believe God wants us to deal with food, and personal convictions that I hold. Everything I share is going to be from my personal perspective, open to changing as I grow and change as a Christian and as I learn about health and nutrition. Further, I believe that God calls different people to focus on different things at different times; I don't think that my way is best for everyone in every situation. 

    Our convictions about food are to eat food naturally as God designed it. We believe that before the fall of man everyone ate a raw vegan diet from the garden, not requiring any work. After the fall, and subsequent flood, we believe that humans have needed to do a little more work for their food (till, plant, harvest, hunt, cook- Genesis 3:19) and that God did give us the knowledge of how to properly prepare foods, along with specific dietary laws. While we know that following the food-related laws is not necessary for salvation (Romans 14:20) and we have no desire to be legalistic with them, we do think that they are good guidelines as a general way to eat, and that's why God gave them in the first place. 

    We don't want to drive anyone away from God because of our eating habits, so if our general 'eating rules' are going to be an actual hindrance to helping someone's relationship with God, then we will gladly eat whatever is appropriate at the time.

    Our food convictions as of now:
    We stay away from pork, bear, or any animal that doesn't have cloven hooves or fish that don't have fins and scales. The pork issue is what comes up most often, and I will happily eat a BLT at someone else's house, though I just keep in mind that 'unclean meats' aren't the best thing to serve my family and we choose not to buy and serve pork. For me it's more of, "God said this- if I don't have a good reason to go against it, I'll go ahead and just do what He said in the Bible."

    We eat whole foods that have been traditionally prepared. I believe that God either directly told people how to prepare food (such as soaking grains), or He gave earlier generations intuition on how to make food in a fallen world most nutritious. 

    We seek medical help naturally first, in most cases. We're doing the GAPS diet, which doesn't allow grains although there are many mentions of grains as acceptable food in the diet. I believe that God gives us understanding of the body, and oftentimes gentle solutions to chronic problems through diet. I also believe that a diet with too many non-food items (preservatives, food dye,etc) in it will cause problems, though it will be different degrees for different people. While it may sound extreme to some, I felt God was leading me to get rid of a root canal I had, and a variety of health problems went away that were associated with it.

    We strive to balance doing what we believe to be best for our physical bodies with what is realistic and best for us and others spiritually.  This is constantly changing for our family; you can see in our 'journey to real food' that we are constantly taking baby steps to eat how we think God would like us to. We also are constantly checking ourselves to try to make sure we're not being over the top and trusting in food rather than God for our health. 

    We want to make sure we're not focusing on food to the point that we neglect other parts of our lives- so our meals aren't always perfectly balanced if it was more important to rock a cranky baby to sleep or help a friend move. Sometimes we do order pizza (for hubby and me), and sometimes the kids eat date-nut balls for dinner ~smile~. We try to think of what is the best thing I could be doing at this particular time- and that isn't always going to be preparing a fresh balanced meal three times a day; though I believe that as I get better at planning and family management, it will be possible to eat 'God's best' just about all the time. 

    With the kids, because we feel that as parents it's our duty to give our kids the best start reasonably possible, we do avoid letting them have food that we know will harm them. As a result, I do end up saying 'no' to french fries or Coke for the 9-month-old, or gold fish crackers for my 3-year-old who is on a diet to help with some developmental issues. While this could be too legalistic for some, it's what are convictions are regarding balancing the physical needs of our young children (especially since we can see a difference in them, so we know it affects them) and the feelings of those who are around our kids and may offer food. My husband and I don't mind eating a little junk food every once in a while to better 'fit in' with others, but we  can handle stuff better since we're adults without health issues.

    We have friends that we fellowship with that eat how we do, but as a general rule our church still eats the typical American diet. We usually just try to not focus on food, but focus on the Lord and everything seems to work out just fine!

    My thoughts on the book The Maker's Diet. I think this book is great for any Christian who is interested in changing their diet, whether it is to loose weight or for a health issue like diabetes. 

    How God has lead us to look into different child-related issues including birth, breastfeeding, and vaccinations.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Healthy Snack Ideas

    My sister requested a post about healthy snacks. Then she added "besides fruits or vegetables."  Well, that's hard to do, because most of what we eat around here are fruits and vegetables. I was still able to put together this list, but could use some more healthy ideas, so be sure to leave your good snack ideas in the comments section if you have something yummy to add.

    For snacks, the key is to having it readily available. If you're like me, you aren't going to sit around and wait for an egg to boil when you are hungry for  a snack-- I want it now! So, I always try to have some snack foods available. Boil several eggs at a time and keep them in your fridge. Make a large batch of hummus and buy pre-cut vegetables (or just pre-cut them yourself and save some money). Keep fruit dip in the fridge. Whatever it is you like, plan for it ahead of time, so that you're not reaching for anything you can get your hands on when you need a snack.


    • Apples/ Bananas and Peanut butter dip- mix equal parts yogurt and peanut butter
    • Peanut Butter Apples- Cut an apple in half and scoop out seeds and stem. Fill the cavity with peanut butter. Put the apple back together. It travels well and won't turn brown. Plus, it's like a little apple surprise that something is hiding in the middle.
    • Smoothies- I like a frozen banana blended with peanut butter, ice, and milk. Berry smoothies with milk and yogurt are also delicious.
    • Grapes and cheese


    • Vegetables with Hummus- carrots, sugar snap peas, and grape tomatoes are good
    • Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers- Alternate grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls on a skewer. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Sprinkle with dried basil. The friend who taught me this one also uses cut up string cheese if she's out of fresh mozzarella. Of course, you could always make your own...
    • Veggie platter- A while back I bought one of those platters with a circle in the center for dip and sections all around. When I put veggies on there and a little hummus or dip in the middle, the kids think they are having a special treat, even though it's still just vegetables (Don't tell them; we've got a good thing going here). For dip, I mix 1 cup sour cream with 1/2 tsp. of each of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, parsley.

    There are very few store bought crackers I would recommend. When you read the label on most of them, you will see hydrogenated oils, added sugar, and all kinds of other additives and preservatives. If I had to buy some from a store, I would probably go with Kashi brand. But there is the option of making them your self. I have made both of the recipes below. I use Katie's method of rolling them right on my baking stone. It makes it much easier and you can roll them really thin.
    Also, it's a good idea to add some fat or protein with your crackers (like cheese).

    And more...

    • Cottage cheese
    • Hard Boiled Egg
    • Nuts and dried fruit
    • Yogurt
    • Slice of whole wheat bread with butter or peanut butter for fat
    • Popcorn popped in coconut oil

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Real Food and Religion series: Southern Baptist

    Our guest post today comes from Michelle Brumgard. She has a blog called Traditional Simplicity where you will find her blogging about real food, time management and Miessence.

    Real food and religion is very interesting. "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin is the book I recommend to everyone in describing my religious beliefs about real food. If you wish, skip everything else in the book, just read the sections referencing the bible. Why does the Genesis diet not work? He tells us and shares the bible verses that confirm these beliefs. Real food is how my two Great Grandmothers, who both recently passed away at 98 and 103, ate every day. Realizing the way they ate and lived had something to do with their fabulous health into golden years, I began to think about real food. After reading "The Maker's Diet," I was convinced real food was the way for me to eat. I am a Southern Baptist, if I were to "label" my religion. Southern Baptists view the bible as the ultimate authority in shaping their lives. We believe in only one God, who is revealed as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A heaven and hell is very real. The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, believing God sent his only Son to earth to die on the cross to forgive us from all our sins. By faith, asking God to forgive us of our sins and acknowledging our belief in his son dying for those sins, gains us entrance into salvation; eternal life in heaven. This is the only way to heaven. We remember God's grace in sending Jesus to earth through the Lord's Supper. After receiving God into our lives and accepting him as our savior, we believe in baptism of the new believer. We do not believe in infant baptism. Baptism is meant to be a symbolic act, picturing what Jesus Christ did for the new believer through death, burial, and resurrection. It is only done by believers and as a testimony of their new faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is also a symbolic act of washing away the past life, resurrecting in the new life, as a new believer in Jesus Christ. In all my life, I cannot recall learning about any specific teaching of how a believer in Christ should eat. I recall many of potlucks and even my church today, holds an annual Chili cook off. So food is very much a part of our fellowship. In my personal quest to live the best life God has created for me, I am continually seeking to glorify his name. I do believe that when Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden, it became mandatory for them to consume flesh for protein. They needed the meat protein to sustain their lives in the new, hard, manual work they were now required to do. I have also become to believe we should try to eat foods as close to the way God created them, hence my belief in real food. I am often asked what I mean by real food. The simplest explanation I can give is, how did God give it to us? I believe he gave us wood to create fire and that the food was meant to be cooked. He did not give us the chemical equations that now create much of what fills out grocers. God gave us beef cows, dairy cows, deer, elk, bear, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and so much more. He did not give us high fructose corn syrup, MSG, red dye, etc. Eating as close to the way God created, I hope to continually strive to feed my family this way. If you have any questions or want to join with me in this journey, stop by my site "Traditional Simplicity."