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Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Toxic Life

A few weeks ago, Andrea from Oscar Health Insurance contacted me about writing a post on detoxing our bodies for their detox life project.  


Oscar uses technology to help members stay healthy.  Oscar provides health insurance in New Jersey and New York and provides tools like their mobile app and Misfit rewards program that allow members to better keep track of their health without the stress. They also have a team of trusted health professionals and nurses on call for any health questions you may have.


I'm going to take a guess that when you hear the words "toxic" and "detox", they conjure up words in your mind like; chemicals, preservatives, poison, skulls and crossbones, cleansing, treatment centers and many more. You might think of the articles you see on facebook or on the news warning of foods to avoid, do this or that cleanse, etc..More and more we are hearing and reading about the importance of avoiding things that are toxic to our bodies, skin, health and changing the way we eat, the way we view food and health and even "detoxing" our bodies on a regular basis. 

I am 100% for all of that. I believe our health is so important, I believe that we need to take care of our bodies and be intentional with what we put in to them. Our own family has been on a journey to healthier eating and living over the last 8-10 years. It hasn't been easy and we aren't perfect but it's a journey and one we plan to continue.  


"Take care of your body, it's the only place you have to live"

Does it seem daunting to make changes? Take baby steps if you need to, just make some changes. They'll begin to add up. Here are some tips that have helped me in this area:

  •  Take time to really learn and become informed about the ingredients in your food. 
  • Try to incorporate one new healthy choice every few weeks or every month, such as a smoothie a day, more salads, walking at least 10 minutes every day, avoiding soda, take a healthy cooking class, join an exercise class or buy a dvd. 
  • Decide to eliminate all foods with certain ingredients, like HCFS and find an acceptable substitute. I started with Ketchup.
  • Try to buy organic or local when possible. I try to incorporate the dirty dozen as well as organic milk and organic or at least grass fed meat when possible. Just do your research.
  • Search the internet for new recipes, blogs, FB pages to follow that will help with your journey to health. Check out the From My Kitchen tab for some great recipes. Like this healthy Quinoa Salad or this Avocado Corn Salad.
  • Find a way to incorporate exercise in to your daily routine. Do you normally take the elevator, take the stairs instead. Park a little further away from the doors. Find a friend to exercise with you. 

 Your physical body isn't the only area that suffers from toxins and is in need of a serious detox from time to time. I believe that our emotional, mental and spiritual health is equally important and is often in need of detoxing. If we neglect these areas, they will ultimately affect our physical health. Weight gain, stress on the heart, premature aging have all been linked not only to our physical health, but to our mental, emotional and spiritual health as well. We are surrounded by "toxic" news, "toxic" people, "toxic" thoughts, "toxic" environments. Have you ever considered this? Stop and think about those areas and how they affect you. It goes without saying that you can't eliminate every "toxic" situation or person from your life, BUT you can make some changes that will improve your own well-being, perspective and health. Maybe you have chaos in your home or workplace. Maybe you realize the friends you surround yourself are not a good influence. Maybe your FB news feed is filled with negativity. Maybe you daily look in the mirror and abuse yourself with your words. Maybe you have allowed your past to define you. Maybe you are holding on to sadness, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness. Maybe you are a chronic "Eeyore", you worry about everything and think the worst. Do you see how these things are counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle? 

I DO NOT like going to the doctors. I want to stay as healthy as possible so that I can continue to enjoy this beautiful life I've been given.
Here are some ideas to begin detoxing your life. These are things I incorporate or that others I know incorporate:


  • Pray/talk to God
  • Worship
  • Listen to music that calms, builds you up, speaks to you.
  • Keep the clutter in your home/office to a minimum, know where things are so you aren't frantically trying to find them. Have a system of organization that works for you.
  • Take a walk to clear your head so you can think clearly.
  • Take a yoga class
  • Read the Bible
  • Read books that encourage you, take you out of your comfort zone and inspire you.
  • Laugh daily.
  • Read quotes. See my Pinterest board of quotes I've saved.
  • Listen to Podcasts. 
  • Go to the Mall (my friend shared this...it made me laugh..retail therapy I guess..lol)
  • Attend a 12 step program
  • Sit and soak in the beauty all around you.
  • Know the friendships that bring you down and place boundaries on those.
  • If you are easily drawn in to other peoples drama, hide those people on FB, surround yourself with those who are positive. 
  • If your job is causing too much stress, be willing to find a new one if you can't do something to fix the current situation. 
  • Check out my 31 Days tab for some encouragement (I only posted for 24ish days)
  • Take pictures...this relaxes me. 
  • Let go of bitterness and anger. 
  • Choose to forgive.
  • Watch funny movies or You Tube videos.
I hope these give you just a few ideas and at least make you consider the importance of detoxing your life. 

If you have any questions about Oscar Health Insurance, here are a few links to the FAQ. 






With Joy UNquenchable,

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blackberries, Blackberries, Blackberries....oh and Ice Cream

I have picked a lot of blackberries lately. They are in abundance here in the Pacific Northwest. I laugh when I walk in the grocery stores and see the price to purchase them. I cannot fathom spending money on a fruit that grows wild right at our doorsteps. Yes, you have to be careful since many people spray them to get rid of the nuisance, but I find the right places and simply pick them for free! Yesterday I made quite a few jars of freezer jam and Tuesday night I made a yummy Blackberry Crumble with homemade super easy Ice Cream. 

You'll have to excuse the pictures with this post...the original pictures disappeared in to thin air somewhere between the card and the computer...it was weird..so these aren't the best because the crumble was a day old but oh well. You'll get the idea. 

The ice cream is the one I'm sure you've seen floating around the internet...only 3 ingredients and you don't need an ice cream maker. It has been so hot here and there is major road construction on the way home so I knew ice cream would not survive the usually short trip from the store to home and there was NO WAY I was making another trip to town later after the workers were done for the day, so this recipe made sense. It did take awhile to set up so you need to be prepared to give it 5-6 hours, but it is totally worth it. The initial prep work is quick and it is so good!

The Blackberry Crumble recipe came from Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer. I swapped out the blueberry flavored almonds for walnuts. Here's the link for her recipe, though I will post it here as well. If you haven't visited her blog, please do, I am always encouraged, inspired and come away wanting to make the 4 hour drive from my house to hers to visit and be a fly on the wall...lol. She has a recipe for the ice cream I made as well, though I grabbed it from a different site. I rarely use a cookbook anymore, but mostly find my recipes online.


Blackberry Crumble

Crust: 

6 Tbs. Melted Butter
1 c. All purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Berry Mixture:

6 c. fresh blackberries
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

Instructions:

1. In a bowl combine all crust ingredients, mixing with a spoon. It will be "lumpy".

2. Combine ingredients for berry mixture and place in a greased 8x8 pan (or whatever pan you have available). 

3. Sprinkle crumb mixture on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and top starts to brown. 

4. Cool for about 15 minutes. Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream.

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. vanilla
beans from one vanilla pod (optional)
Here's a link to other flavors 

Instructions:

1. In a bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine heavy whipping cream and beat at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

3. Fold in to sweetened condensed milk.

4. Pour into a loaf pan and place in the freezer for 5-6 hours. 


With Joy UNquenchable,

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies


I mentioned in my previous post that I had gotten a new mixer and was testing it out with a few recipes. The second recipe I made was Peanut Butter Cookies. So far I am liking this mixer and after one more recipe test, I will write a post on it. 
These cookies are so good. I made them and sent the  majority off with my hubby to work, saving a little less than a dozen for us at home...I know how our self control can be. 

Ingredients:

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

1. In bowl of a mixer, combine peanut butter, butter and sugars. Blend until well mixed.
2. Combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to wet ingredients, mixing after each addition.

3. Drop onto lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, checking periodically.

I love the flavor of peanut butter cookies. They are probably one of my favorite cookies, besides white chocolate macadamia nut. 

With Joy UNquenchable,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gluten Free-Sugar Free Blackberry Tarts

I have a few recipes to share over the next few days. Hubby bought me a new mixer and I'm testing it out to see if I like it. I tend to be a person who, once I like a brand, I stick with it. I've had my Kitchenaid mixer for over 15 years and have loved it. A few months ago hubby spotted a Bosch Universal  Mixer at Costco and told me about it. I had never heard of nor seen one before so I checked it out in the store, came home and watched some online videos and decided I'd like to give it a try. I have wanted a larger mixer and one of the selling points on this was it's capacity, and the ease of adding ingredients. The Costco price also included a slicer/shredder attachment. It also has a spot for other attachments as well. So far I've made these tarts and some peanut butter cookies, today I'll try bread. I really want to get a good feel for how it works in different scenarios with different "loads". I'll post my final thoughts later this week.
While we are not "gluten-free", at the moment my oldest is on a 6 week anti-inflammatory diet. We also have several friends who do not eat gluten and I love finding new recipes, because while I love my bread, I want to limit my intake. However, gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean "healthier" or "less calories", so one must be careful.

One thing to remember when making gluten free recipes is that you are not going to have the same textures necessarily as if you were using full all purpose flour. Sometimes you can get pretty darn close, but there's just a difference. It also depends on the flours you use. For this recipe I used only GF oat flour. It almost had more of a combination of a shortbread/cakey texture. The flavor was really good. It was delicate and had to be lifted with a spatula off the bottom tart disc. 

Ready for the recipe? I thought so. I found this recipe on Rodales Organic Life site along with several other recipes.

Crust:

1 1/2 c. oat flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. coconut oil, lard or butter (I used coconut oil and chilled it a bit before adding it)
1/4 c. cold water

1. In a bowl of a mixer add flour and salt. Add your choice of "fat" and pulse or mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Sprinkle in cold water, a little at a time, stirring with a fork or mixing in mixture till dough begins to form a single ball. 

3. If you have time, place dough in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap for 30 minutes, chilling the dough helps it hold together (and it is hard to hold together). 
4. I divided my dough into 4 pieces (then saved any scraps and got another 2 tart crusts). Roll dough out to appropriate size for tarts and carefully place in tart pan (molding and pressing in to bottom and sides of pan). Trim edges. 


Tart Filling: 

Ingredients:

4 c. blackberries
2 tsp. arrowroot powder
2 tsp. water
Honey and maple syrup to sweeten

Instructions:

1. Combine arrowroot powder and water..stir. Add to berries along with honey and maple syrup...it is a matter of how sweet you want it. 

2. Stir and pour berries in to tart crusts. 

3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. 

I just had to post a picture of our pup in the background. I was trying to take pictures with natural light and she kept standing there staring at me. Probably licking her lips.

We topped ours with coconut whipped cream. I made a mistake in that I forgot to chill the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. I put it in for a bit, then put it in the freezer. Still did not thicken enough when I whipped it. I poured it in a bowl and froze it for just a little bit till it set up, then scooped it out with a mini scoop. Tasted great. I had flavored it with vanilla and cinnamon. 
With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, July 20, 2015

Secret Recipe Reveal: Sticky Chicken and Potato Skins

One thing I like about the Secret Recipe Club, that I've had the privilege to be a part of over the last several years, is the challenge of finding a recipe from one blog to make and share. I love receiving my assignment and then browsing all the recipes, reading about the author, learning new and wonderful things. 

This month I was assigned the blog Our Eating Habits, authored by Jamie. Here is a clip from her About Me page:



I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to dine out. Eating is a big part of my life, so I make sure everything that goes into my mouth is tasty. Why waste time and calories on bad food? I strive to be creative and fun in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes, and new restaurants. I am so excited to start this new hobby and share some yummy tidbits with you. I hope you all enjoy!!


Her blog is filled with amazing recipes and I just realized I never even looked at her baking/beverage tab....SAY WHAT!? Man! I'm going to have to go back and take a peek. I pinned a few recipes to try, including her Stuffed Pizza Pretzels, and her Chicken Broccoli Casserole, but ultimately chose her Sticky Chicken Legs and Crispy Potato Skins. I made two because one was a main and one was a side (both of which I needed for a meal anyways). 

I love crock pot recipes and was excited to try a new one...I think for this one I needed to add more seasonings. I loved the flavor, but it needed a bit more seasoning for me. The potato skins were a hit. My hubby got home late from work and even cold he loved them. I'll have to make them again. I attempted to make some with sweet potatoes, but I think I cooked them too long and all the "filling" came right off the skin, just leaving the thin flimsy skin...oh well..I saved the fillings of all potatoes and will make mashed potatoes with them tonight.

Let's get on to the recipes! 

Sticky Chicken Legs
courtesy of Our Eating Habits

Ingredients:
1/2 c. Honey
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1/3 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 c. Soy Sauce
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. Franks Red Hot Sauce (I had buffalo sauce so used that)
black pepper
10 chicken legs
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. Water

Instructions:

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. 

2. Spray inside of crockpot with cooking spray and add chicken. Pour sauce over chicken and stir to coat, then cook on high for 3 hours. Remove chicken. Combine cornstarch and water then add to liquid in crock pot. Stir and cook on high for 20-30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Return chicken to pot and cook until chicken is re-heated through about 20 minutes. 

3. Serve and enjoy.


Crispy Potato Skins
Courtesy of Our Eating Habits

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes
2 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 c. Salsa
2/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 bacon strips cooked and crumbled
2 green onions chopped
6 Tbs. mayo
4 Tbs. sour cream
2 Tbs. ranch dressing
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Instructions:

1. Clean potatoes and prick with a fork. Wrap in foil and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 45 minute or until tender. Remove and cool long enough to handle. 
2. Cut potatoes into 4 wedges and scoop out potato. Leave just enough to hold the skin together..take your time so the skins don't rip. Brush melted butter on skins and place skin side down on baking sheet. 
3. Top with salsa, cheese and bacon. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Top with green onions. 

4. Mix together remaining 4 ingredients. Scoop in to sandwich bag and drizzle over potatoes.

5. Eat and Enjoy. These were definitely the star of the show.

I felt like the cheese melted too fast so I think next time I would actually bake the skins with just melted butter on for a little bit, then take out, add toppings and bake for about 5 minutes or just until cheese melts. But they were a huge hit, so yay!!!




With Joy UNquenchable,

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