Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Taquitos Little Mama Style

  • 1lb cooked chicken, shredded (simple roasted chicken recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup homemade "Mom's Taco Seasoning" (recipe to follow)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 T carrot puree
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • flour tortilla shells
Make It:
  1. Start by bring the water and taco seasoning to a boil.  Stir in carrot puree and chicken, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
  2. While chicken simmers, pour beans into a food processor or blender and puree, adding water as needed.
  3. Mix beans and cheese into chicken mixture and remove from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Warm your tortilla shells in the microwave until they are flexible enough to work with.  All microwaves are different but I do this by stacking them on a microwave safe plate, cover with damp paper towel and heat on high for 30 seconds.  (I have a super power microwave :)
  6. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture in a line down the center of a tortilla shell.  Leave a space about 1/2" from each end of the tortilla.  Roll up and place, seam side down, on a foil lined baking sheet.  Repeat on remaining tortillas.
  7. Spritz the tops of the tortillas with a little heart healthy oil and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  8. Serve with sour cream, salsa or guacamole.

Mix together the following ingredients:
  • 6 t. chili powder
  • 5 t. paprika
  • 4 1/2 t. cumin
  • 3 t. onion powder
  • 2 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 2 crushed beef bouillon cubes or 2 t beef bouillon granules
  • 2 t corn starch
  • 1/2 t crushed oregano
  • cayenne powder to taste
Store in an air tight container.
To use, mix 1/4 c. seasoning with 2/3 c. water and simmer with 1 lb. cooked meat of choice.

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The Easiest Roasted Chicken EVER!

I can not take full credit for this idea / recipe.  The idea to use my crockpot to roast a chicken came from my friend Jessica, who said she does it all the time!  I have since seen a lot of pins on Pinterest about doing it too!  How did it take me so long to hear about this?  Well, anyway, the following is instructions on how to do just that AND make some wonderful broth afterward!
When you are selecting your chicken, make sure that it will fit into your crockpot.
Start by rolling up 3 balls of aluminum to place in the bottom of your crockpot.  This will form a make-shift rack for the chicken to sit on.  If you have a rack that will fit down in there you can use it, you should probably spray it with some oil just to be safe.  Alternately, you can use large pieces of veggies like onion and celery to rest the chicken upon.
  •   Fill the cavity of your bird with aromatics like onion, carrots, celery, parsley and garlic if desired.  You can skip this step if you want.  You can change that up according to your taste, perhaps some halved lemons!  Just chop the veggies in large chunks, nothing small because you are going to be pulling them back out later.  Make sure to pull the legs back together and "seal" the opening.

  • Generously sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper, and place in the crockpot breast side down.  Drizzle with a little cooking oil.
  •  Cook on low for 8 + hours depending on the size of the bird, basting occasionally when juices start to collect in the bottom.  It is not necessary to baste it if you are wanting to start it and them leave for the day.
Now, after you have picked apart your chicken and have a pile of skin and bones left, don't throw it away!!  Take everything from the chicken that you did not eat (including the veggies and herbs that you stuffed it with, skin, bones etc) and put it in a stock pot.  Throw in some parsley, carrots, celery, onion, garlic if you did not stuff your bird with these items.  Cover with water and simmer, covered, for an hour or two.  Strain the broth using a mesh strainer and allow to cool down to room temperature.  When the broth has cooled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator overnight.   The next day, there will be a waxy layer across the top, this is the fat.  Remove the layer of fat and divide your broth into what ever freezing portions you desire.  I like to use ice cube trays for this and then put the cubes in a freezer baggie after they solidify.

For less than $5 I made two dinners and a lunch for my hubby and 8 to 10 cups of broth!!  BONUS:  all super healthy!  I controlled all of the ingredients that went into it!

      Strickland Sentiments: Oh.My.Word. God is so good!

      Check out this post from a friend of mine! How wonderful!! They only need $2500 more to reach 100% funding for their adoption!

      Strickland Sentiments: Oh.My.Word. God is so good!: I would never in a million years dreamed we would raise almost 100% of our funds needed to bring Chloe home in less than a year. Today was ...

      Sunday, January 29, 2012

      The Quest for a Healthier Family - February

      I have stuck with my January commitments to health so far with no retaliation from the family!  Now it's time to decide on February!  I have chosen to buy local, hormone and antibiotic free meat and eggs.  Since we live in an area that is plentiful with farms, this should be pretty easy.  If you do not live in a farming area, I bet you could find hormone and antibiotic free meat and eggs if you take the time to shop around.

      Why did I make this choice?
      I have multiple reasons for making this change.
      • First of all, buying a cow or hog and having it butchered saves money in the long run.  We are getting a cow this week and we ended up paying hamburger prices for all of the meat, including the steaks!  As for the eggs, if you find people that have chickens that produce more eggs than they can eat themselves, they sometimes sell them very cheap or even give them away!
      • The local aspect is important to me because that means that my meat and eggs are fresh!  The meat hasn't been injected with any dyes or chemicals to keep it pink looking.
      • Many times animals are fed antibiotics to promote more growth.  Research has shown that in some cases animals can show as much as 3% more growth when fed antibiotics.  The problem here is that over time microbes in the animals become resistant to the antibiotics that the animal is being fed.  Why does that matter?  When you eat the meat, you are ingesting drug resistant bacteria, usually in the cases of food poisoning.  
      • Animals are also frequently fed hormones to increase growth.  This is major for me!  Residue from the hormones is left behind in the meat and thus YOU ingest them too!  Research has shown that this can cause a range of problems;  developmental problems, hormone imbalances, early onset of puberty in children and increased risk of colon, prostate and breast cancer as well as lowering the strength of your body's immune system.  It is also believed to interfere with the reproductive system.  These types of hormones have been proven to cause infertility in sheep.
      • EGGS - Well, whatever a chicken eats can be passed along into the egg.  After the above statements about the meat, I don't think I need to elaborate much here.
       Now, I don't want to get a bunch of mail telling me how I'm so wrong on this topic.  This is my choice because, although not definitively proven, the risks of these things scares me.  I know there are people out there that believe that things have been done this way for years and so far they haven't had any problems.  That's fine, I respect that.  Since this blog is about getting MY family healthier, I am just passing along information about what I am doing to achieve that goal.

      Saturday, January 28, 2012

      Amazing Chicken Strips

      My kids LOVE chicken strips and nuggets!  I'm sure any parent reading this can identify!  I hate how unhealthy frozen and restaurant ones are for my kids.  This is my recipe for homemade, oven ready, frozen chicken strips.  I adapted it from a Jessica Seinfeld "Deceptively Delicious" recipe.  You can change the amounts depending on how many you want to make.
      • Cut up several chicken breasts or tenders into to kid-friendly size strips.  I used 4 small to medium sized breasts.  Place them in a bowl and lightly season with salt, then cover with milk (I used skim).  Let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.
      • Lightly beat together an egg (I used a fresh egg from my friend Lisa) and some pureed spinach.  
      • In another bowl (or ziploc baggies) mix together a cup or so of panko bread crumbs, a dash of onion powder, a dash of garlic powder, a dash of paprika, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed, a touch of salt and a handful of grated parmesan cheese.
      • Pat chicken with paper towel to remove excess milk and dip in egg mixture then coat in bread crumbs.
      • Pour a heart-healthy oil into skillet (enough for the chicken to fry in) and warm over medium heat (may need to adjust heat depending on your cook top).
      • Cook chicken until golden brown and no longer pink.  Be careful not to crowd the pan.  Drain on paper towels.  If you plan to freeze them, take special care not to over cook them!  Remember, you will be heating them again!
      • If you want to freeze them, lay them out on a sheet pan in a single layer.  Place in freezer and when they are frozen solid, put them in a freezer baggie.  You could microwave them for a couple minutes or bake them in the oven, I would say 400 degrees for 10 minutes or so (depending on your oven).
      NOTE:  Typically, I would say to bake these in the oven.  I tried that, and I could not get the crispy breading that I was looking for.
      They ended up so yummy and moist!

      Friday, January 27, 2012

      This and That ...

      For the month of January, the healthy habits that I implemented in my family were adding flax to our diet and increasing fruit and veggie intake using the new "my plate" as a guide.  Things have gone very well!  I have learned several ways to add flax with out changing the flavor of the foods!  I have been serving a minimum of two fruits/veggies (sometimes more) with meals and adding finely diced and pureed veggies to various dishes.

      Things that I have already altered over the past few years are: 
      • no soda in the house and only offered on special occasions
      • no "junk foods" in the house and only purchased for special occasions
      • 100% whole wheat bread and various other whole grain foods like crackers and pastas
      • real, unsalted butter - it has ONE ingredient, cream.  how many ingredients does your margarine, butter flavored spread have?  
      • I have been paying closer attention to labels and ingredients when making purchases
      • I use heart healthy oil, such at extra-virgin olive oil.  I have been using canola oil too, but I have learned somethings about it that makes me think it's not a great choice.  I will be looking into different options and keep you updated
      • NO artificial sweeteners!!!  Sugar may not be good for you, but it's a heck of a lot better than some chemical that was created to taste sweet!  Notice I said artificial ... that is not the same as natural sugar substitutes like honey, agave, stevia, xylitol etc.
      I'm thinking ahead to February, and what change to implement.  I am pretty sure that I have it figured out.  I do want to do some research to be able to explain why it is an important change.

      COMING NEXT WEEK!  (week of Jan. 29-Feb. 4)

      I am going to be showing you the SUPER easy way to roast a whole chicken that I recently learned from a friend, and how to make your own chicken broth so that you can control the amount of sodium!  I did this a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit in my house!  No more bags of frozen chicken "pieces"!
      I will also give you at least one healthy recipe to make from your freshly roasted chicken.  My fridge is stocked with tons of fresh fruits and veggies just waiting for the cutting board!  I can hear my new santoku knife calling me!!
      Side note:  There in nothing I love more in my kitchen than a great, sharp knife!  I got an awesome santoku knife for Christmas and it slices through food (even carrots) like butta'!!  Love it!!

      Stay tuned!!!

      Thursday, January 26, 2012

      Super Chicken Noodle Soup

      If you have read my recipes know that I am not about measuring things.  Amounts given are approximate ... make it the way you like it!

      1 lb. of cooked chicken, cubed
      8 cups chicken broth
      1/2 large onion or 1 small, diced
      2 stalks celery, diced
      2 large carrots, diced
      4 cloves garlic, minced
      1/4 cup rice, not instant
      1/2 cup pasta of your choice
      1/4 to 1/2 cup lentils
      handful fresh parsley, chopped
      handful fresh spinach, chiffonad :)
      salt and pepper to taste

      In a large pot, simmer celery, onion, carrots and garlic in the chicken broth.  Remember, a simmer is over low to medium low heat.  When the veggies start to become slightly tender, add the rice, pasta and lentils.  Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until everything is nice and tender.  Add the chicken, parsley and spinach.  Stir and remove from heat.  The hot broth will warm the chicken and wilt the spinach quickly.  Salt and pepper to taste!

      Tips for cooking your chicken:  simmer the chicken in a shallow, covered pan.  Do not completely cover the chicken with water, only about half way.  Use the cooking liquid as some of the broth for your soup.

      Garlic:  excellent for your cardiovascular health and blood pressure!
      Onion:  have been shown to help suppress the growth of harmful bacteria and also supports cardiovascular health and healthy blood pressure.
      Carrots:  have been shown to fight cardiovascular disease, inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and support healthy eyes.
      Spinach:  one of the most nutrient dense foods, low in calories but high in vitamins and dietary fiber!  Supports good cardiovascular health, combats various types of cancer and improves brain function.
      Lentils:  a small, quick cooking legume.  Rich in nutrients and dietary fiber.  Lowers cholesterol and prevents rapid spikes in blood sugar.  Promotes cardiovascular health and rich in iron.  All this with virtually no fat!

      Hidden Nutrition

      A while back I bought a book called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  It is all about adding pureed veggies to your food to make it extra nutritious with out your kids even knowing that they ate veggies.  You are still supposed to offer the veggies in their whole form too, this just ensures that they get the benefits from them, whether or not they eat them.  I don't completely follow her recipes, but I use them as inspiration to figure out which purees to add to certain foods.  I have had a lot of people asking me how to do it.  It could not be easier! 
      First, you chunk up your veggies and place them in a glass bowl or steamer.  I read something a long time ago that said you should keep your veggies in big chunks when you cook them.  Less surface area means less "lost nutrition" from the cooking process.  I don't know if it's true, but it makes sense so I do it that way!
      Add a few tablespoons of water to the bowl and loosely cover with saran wrap.  Microwave on high for about 5 to 6 minutes or until tender.
      Place cooked veggies in a food processor or blender and add a small amount of water.  I like to use my cooking liquid so that I can get back any nutrients that cooked out.  Puree until smooth, adding more water as needed.
      Scoop puree into an ice cube tray in rounded tablespoons.  Tap on counter to make sure it all settles in, and add more as needed to top it off.  Place in freezer.
      When your puree is completely frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and place in a freezer bag.  Make sure to label what veggie it is!  When you are cooking, simply pop a cube or two into your hot food, and viola!  Hidden nutrition!!

      Wednesday, January 25, 2012

      Less Than Perfect

      This is just a short entry.  I wanted to make sure that I clarified one HUGE point.  I am NOT perfect at staying away from junk food and always having a balanced meal.  If you read my post when I first started this endeavor, you saw that I am changing 1 or 2 habits at a time.  I am taking it slowly!  That is so important because if you change too much, too quickly ... you will not stick with it!  That being said ... I had a Coca-Cola and ramen noodles today ...
      I am blogging about this quest for two reasons:

      1.  To share with others the information and ideas that I learn and to give you, the reader, tips on how you can make improvements to your eating habits.
      2.  To be held accountable!!  This is so important because if there is no one holding me accountable for the changes that I say I'll make ... it would be easy to quit!

      Having a healthy diet does not mean that you deprive yourself of "treats" all together!  Allowing yourself to indulge, just a LITTLE BIT on OCCASION will help you from falling off the wagon.  If you love potato chips, but you say, "I am not going to eat any chips at all," it is likely that you will start craving them until you finally give in and go overboard.  What happens then?  You feel like you failed, decide that you can't do it, and then give up.  This is just MY philosophy and I am quiet aware that others may not agree, but this is what works for me to keep me from giving up!

      Tuesday, January 24, 2012

      Spruced Up Spaghetti

      Ok, so this isn't really a recipe, more of a tip to add nutrition to store bought food.  For some strange reason, my kids will not eat spaghetti when I make it with delicious, homemade sauce.  They are weird, I know!  Alas, I must buy store bought spaghetti sauce.  While not completely void of nutrition, it's not packed full of the good stuff that I put in homemade sauce and it just doesn't have the bright flavors.
      1. Add some chopped, FRESH parsley!  Use Italian flat-leaf if you want a strong parsley flavor or use curly if you want mild.  This will really perk up the flavor of the sauce.
      2. Add some fresh, chopped spinach!  Packed full of nutrition and it looks like parsley to the kids!  If you don't like the taste of spinach, I promise you will not taste it!
      3. Stir in a few tablespoons of carrot puree!  I love adding carrot puree to any of my red sauces.  It blends in nicely!
      4. Sprinkle in a little milled flaxseed.  Since the sauce is dark, it is not noticeable but gives you a punch of heart healthy omega-3's and fiber!
      5. Try whole grain or whole wheat pasta!  You will probably have to "wean" your family onto these ... the difference is slightly noticeable with whole grain and very noticeable with whole wheat.  If you want to give it a shot, try mixing it half regular pasta and half whole grain.
      You can carry these ideas over to MANY recipes!  I add fresh parsley and spinach to almost everything I cook!  As far as pureed vegetables, pick a veggie that is similar in color to the food that you are cooking and try it out!  If you are unsure, try just a tablespoon to start and "taste test" it as you cook!  You will be surprised how much nutrition you can add to your meals!  Another thing that I have found works with my family when I want to add extra veggies, finely dice them into tiny pieces. 

      Healthier Chili

      Ingredients (I do not measure very often, I just "eyeball" things)
      1 lb. ground beef
      1/2 med. onion, diced
      1/2 green bell pepper, diced
      1 large clove garlic, minced
      1 T Chili powder, adjust to your taste
      1 t cumin
      1 can corn or approx. 1 c. fresh/frozen, drained
      1 can pinto beans, drained
      1 can black beans, drained
      1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
      1 can tomato sauce
      2 T carrot puree
      1 to 2 T ground flaxseed
      1 T butter (real butter please, unsalted!)
      salt and pepper to taste

      Start by browning your beef, salt and pepper if desired, and then drain grease.  Add onion, peppers and garlic to skillet and saute until tender.  Add all remaining ingredients, I usually swish the tomato sauce can with a little bit of water to get the consistency that I want.  Simmer on stove top for 30 minutes or put in crock pot on low for a couple hours.

      Notes:  I realize that my picture does not have corn ... that is because I made this batch for the "big" family and my father in law said, "why would you put corn in chili?"  So I didn't put in this batch, but normally I would.  Also, you don't have to used canned ingredients.  I wrote it this way to make it easier for everyone to follow, substitute and adjust according to what you like.  The butter helps cut the acidity from the tomatoes, please don't leave it out.  Finally, I wrote to dice the onion and peppers (remember that diced is smaller than chopped!) because my family would be less likely to see them and pick them out or say eww and pass on the dish ... so I figured that others might be the same way.

      Why do I call this "Healthier" Chili?  For several reasons!  First of all it is loaded with veggies!  Onion, garlic, peppers, carrots, tomatoes (I know they are a fruit) ... they all have great benefits!  Also, the flax is a great addition to your diet, see my previous post "Quest for a Healthier Family" for more on that.  And finally I use DARK red kidney beans because they have more nutritional value that light red, which a lot of people tend to use because of their milder flavor.

      If you are not familiar with pureeing veggies for uses like this, I will make a blog post later about my pureeing adventures.  For now, check out "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld.  I don't follow her recipes to the letter, but I use them for inspiration.  I have also heard people say that they use baby food this way... that is if you happen to have some in your pantry!

      Monday, January 16, 2012

      Creamy Chicken Rigatoni

      Ok, so I love to look at a recipe and figure out how I can change it.  I rarely follow recipes to the T, usually because I don't have something that it calls for or I don't like something that is in it.  I adapted this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Penne a la Betsy.  Both of my kids ate seconds on this, and they are picky eaters!  I hope you enjoy!
      • 3/4 lb rigatoni, cooked al dente
      • 1 lb cooked chicken pieces, i used the left overs from the previous night's roasted chicken
      • 2 T butter
      • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 small onion, finely chopped
      • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1/2 c. chicken broth
      • 1 c. tomato sauce, not the flavored kind
      • 1 c. heavy cream
      • a handful of fresh spinach, chopped or chiffonad like I did
      • chopped parsley and basil to taste
      • salt and pepper to taste
      Cook your pasta, I used rigatoni because it's what I had on hand.  Tips: wait until the water is boiling and then salt the water - if you salt it first it will take longer to boil - make sure to salt the water to season your pasta.  The water should be at a full boil while cooking - this will keep the pasta from sticking.  Cook to al dente - tender firm - a slight bite to it.
      In a large skillet heat your butter and olive oil.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent ... make sure that your heat is not too high ... you do not want to brown the onion and garlic.  Add chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomato sauce until well incorporated followed by the heavy cream.  Simmer on low for a few minutes while you chop your herbs and spinach.  Tip:  stack spinach leaves, roll up and chop into thin slices for a nice chiffonad (fancy, huh?)
      Stir in your chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  When the chicken is warmed through, stir in herbs and spinach.  Finally, toss with pasta!  Enjoy!

      Extra notes:
      *You could add in a few tablespoons of pureed cauliflower or carrots or flaxseed to the sauce to add extra nutrition!  I like to hide stuff like that!  The spinach is a hidden veggie for my kids because they will assume that it is herbs!
      *Make your chicken pieces about the same size as your pasta ... it will be pleasing to your palate!
      *Curly parsley has a more subtle flavor than Italian, flat-leaf parsley.  Use Italian if you want a stronger flavor.
      *If you cook your pasta ahead of time, rinse it so it does not all stick together.  If you cook it simultaneously, don't rinse it ... the starch will help the sauce stick to the noodles!  Also, use noodles that have the striations to help sauce stick too!
      *If you do not care much for garlic, you can make the flavor more subtle in a couple of ways.  Peel it and smash with with the side of your knife.  After you saute, take it out.  OR The more finely you chop garlic the stronger the flavor becomes.  You are going to have to trust me on this one ... I learned it on Food Network.  When garlic is cooked it becomes mild and nutty in flavor ... give it a chance! :)
      *Try different types of onion for different flavors!  Red, yellow and white will all taste a little different!  You could even try shallot for a sweeter flavor!
      *Finally, my little lecture about the oil and butter.  Extra-virgin olive oil is heart healthy ... a little pricey but a little goes a long way!  When cooking with evoo, I usually have to turn my heat a little lower than normal because it has a lower smoking temperature.  Also, use REAL butter!  It is natural and your body knows how to handle it!  Margarine and substitutes are not natural substances.  Lastly, make sure to use both!  The  oil keeps the butter from burning.  They are good friends :)

      Pancake Mix

      This is my recipe for homemade pancake mix.  I started with a basic recipe and made substitutions to make them healthier.

      • 2 1/2 c. AP flour, unbleached
      • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
      • 1/4 c. milled flaxseed
      • 1 1/4 c. instant, dry milk
      • 1/4 c. sugar
      • 2 T baking powder
      • 1 T salt
      Mix together and store in an airtight container.  Since the flaxseed is supposed to be refrigerated after opening, you should store your mix in the fridge or freezer.

      To make the pancakes:
      • 2 c. mix from recipe above
      • 1 c. to 1 1/2 c. water
      • 1 egg
      • 2 T oil or applesauce (3 T for waffles)
      • 1/2 c. fresh fruit, chocolate chips or nuts (if desired) 
      • try adding a dash of vanilla extract or lemon juice for little different taste! :)
      I keep my mix stored with the recipe taped to the container that way I never have to search for it.  Enjoy!

      The Quest for a Healthier Family

      My husband has been doing that P90X workout for a long time now.  He has lost 70 pounds!  He is now that size that he was when I met him at the ripe old age of 17!  He has become much more conscious of his health since starting this program.
      Also, I have a lot of friends who are very conscious of the foods that they prepare for their families.  I have always paid attention to not buying lots of junk food etc, but I have learned soooo much from these women!  I have learned things that are so simple, but you just don't realize it ... you know what I mean?  Well, anyway, I will share those things with you as I learn them.
      Some of the things that I recently learned are:  1/2 of your plate is supposed to be fruits and veggies (this is a duh type thing that I never realized); if a food has less that 1 gram per serving of things like trans fat, the manufacturer can legally say that there is NONE; light and fat free versions of foods are just chemical packed foods that your body doesn't know how to process ... if it comes from God, your body knows what to do with it.  There are many more things that I have learned, but I think it would be much easier to share what I learn as I implement changes.  The changes need to be gradual and become part of your lifestyle in order for them to "take hold."


      What is flaxseed?  It is the seed of the flax plant, and has been widely used as a source of food for thousands of years.  What is the benefit?  It is a source of soluble and insoluble fiber which is important for your digestive health.  It is a source of omega-3 fatty acid, or healthy fats that are important for heart health.  The third major benefit of flaxseed is that it contains lignans.  These are naturally occuring chemicals in the plant that have been found useful in the prevention of cancer.  Overall, flaxseed has been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases along with various other health benefits.  It's not a magic food, but when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle it can be very beneficial.
      How do you use it?  I bought milled flaxseed because I do not have a contraption that I can grind it with.  I mix it into things like yogurt, sauces, smoothies, ground meats, casseroles and bread mixes.  You could add it to so many things!  Note:  I have read that your best bet for storage of ground flaxseed is to keep it stored in the freezer to prevent it from oxidizing and losing it's nutritional potential.  I have actually read that about a lot of foods.

      We all know that fruits and veggies are important for your health, right?  Fruits and vegetables are natural, God-given sources of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to fight diseases and to function in a healthy manner.  They fight the free radicals that are wreaking havoc in our bodies and protect our cells from being damaged by those villains!  Free radicals are unstable molecules that try to steal from our healthy cells.  When it steals from a healthy cell, it creates another free radical and so on in a chain effect.  Does that make sense?  It is so hard to explain it well with out going into a science lecture!  Antioxidants provided by fruits and veggies "neutralize" the free radicals.  Are you beginning to see how it works?  If you want more info on this check out  It is explained in detail there.
      It is important to vary your selection because fruits and veggies all have different minerals and vitamins!  Also, eat BOTH cooked and raw!  The cooking process changes your food!  It's not a bad thing, it just means that the raw version and the cooked version have different benefits.  
      Did you hear that the food pyramid has been replaced with a plate? 

      Half of the plate is fruits and veggies!  I have been using this as a mental aid when I am preparing plates at meal time.  I really like this illustration!  So much easier that a pyramid and counting cups of this and that etc.!  Please, check out the USDA's resources at Choose My Plate!  So much good info and resources to help you create balanced, healthy meals!  It has games, graphics, tips, articles and more!

      So those are the two changes/improvements that I have made for the month of January!  So far, it is going over very well!  My kids LOVE fresh fruit, so that was easy.  I have been making smoothies with flaxseed and spinach hidden in them.  I finely chop spinach and hide it in stuff so that it looks like parsley, don't ask don't tell.  I have mixed flaxseed into lots of stuff.  Lastly, I have been mixing pureed veggies into various foods.  I mixed carrot into taco meat and cauliflower into mashed potatoes and macaroni.  Just a few tablespoons, it is not detectable to the taste buds!  TIP:  When you puree your cooked veggies you will need some liquid to get a nice constancy.  I used the cooking liquid so that I could get back some of the nutrients that were lost during the cooking process.

      Ok, so please pray for me to be disciplined in this and truly make a lifestyle change!  Oh, and if you have additional info on the things that I learn please post a comment for me!  Don't jump ahead on me though!  Small changes add up!  One or two things at a time!

      I have been asked about using flaxseed in breads.  I got great info from the Hodgson Mill website on how to use it as a substitute!  They recommend replacing 1/5 of the flour with flaxseed.

      Strickland Sentiments: Ethiopian Inspired Quilt Raffle.....This.Is.Gorgeo...

      From the blog of one of my dear, sweet friends! A beautiful family, knowing them is a blessing to me!

      Strickland Sentiments: Ethiopian Inspired Quilt Raffle.....This.Is.Gorgeo...: What is a Coffee Quilt? Glad you asked ...

      Sunday, January 8, 2012

      I know you've been waiting in great anticipation!

      Wow!  I have not posted anything in a long time!  I'm sure that you all have been waiting to hear from me, pulling your hair out wondering what's going on!  LOL

      I had a stressful fall.  Four craft fairs, Operation Christmas Child, class parties, MOPS, volunteering at church ... I was busy!  Now that things have calmed down, I can actually write!

      *I have been doing awesome with keeping up with my daily Bible readings!  I have already finished reading 16 books!  I have been using the YouVersion app on my iPhone.  The reading plans on there are great for me!  I am currently doing a 30 day plan through the Gospels, but I usually finish them early.  I have bookmarked SO many passages!  When I finish, it will be my first time reading through the whole Bible!  I am looking forward to that accomplishment!  I have also been doing daily devotions in addition to reading through the Bible.  I am finding myself slowing shedding the anxiety that I usually feel during daily life.  I am SURE that it if from the comfort that God's word provides!

      *In the spring, Jon and I did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class at church.  It was VERY motivating!  We have incorporated many of the things that he taught us into our financial planning.  Not everything was "right" for us, but I think that no matter which financial study you do, there will always be things that you need to tweak in order to make it fit your situation.  We are very close to being debt free (aside from our mortgage), which is a very exciting thing!  I always had the mind set that debt is just a part of life, but now I see that it is something that weighs you down and keeps you from realizing the potential for your life!  We have set our semi-long term goals for buying property and building a home.  I posted it in my dining room where I can see it everyday.  Hopefully that will help me work harder toward getting out of debt and saving up for our dream home!

      *We had a wonderful craft fair season!  Three of the four craft fairs exceeded my expectations, the fourth was a flop.  That's ok though, it evened out.  I have made my plan for 2012 and am excited to get to work!  I learn ways to make things better every year!  We are locked into to GREAT booth spaces for next year!  We networked with some wonderful and talented crafters, which is important so that we can get the "scoop" on which fairs are doing well! 

      *Christmas was great!  Spending time with family, celebrating the birth of our Savior is so special!  Having Madelynne home from school for winter break was so much fun!  I can't wait until summer break!
      Some amazing things happened over Christmas and some sad things happened as well.  The Lord is so mysterious.  A woman who was my neighbor my entire childhood passed away tragically and my dad's cousin also passed away.  A family member of mine was blessed financially by an anonymous donor.  It was a substantial amount of money and it was exactly what he needed at that time.  This reaffirms my belief that the Lord hears us ... The exact gift that he needed at the exact time that he needed it! 

      *Now January is here.  Surprises keep coming!  Via Facebook, I have connected with an entire side of my family that I haven't met since I was a baby!  I learned a little "claim to fame" ... Allyn Stout, who was my Granny's uncle (I think that's right) was a pitcher for the Cardinals from 1931 to 1933.  He then went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants and the Boston Braves.
      Allyn Stout

      Kaitlyn is getting ready to turn 2 this month!  I can't believe how fast time has flown by!  She is talking up a storm!  It seems like she learns new words everyday and she is forming sentences!  It is so cute hearing her gab!
      Madelynne is doing great in first grade!  She is a straight A student and is an advanced reader in her class!  She loves school most days ... others she gets "bored" with the work.  She has an awesome teacher who she loves!