Monday, March 22, 2010

tis so sweet...

Diabetes is a concern for me. Not just because it runs in the family - but because everyone is susceptible to it! The sugar packed treats and carbohydrates we've become so accustomed to enjoying everyday are just not doing us any favors when it comes to our blood sugars. Not to metion the fact that high intake of sugary foods and simple carbs decreases our good cholesterol which in turn, increases our bad cholesterol and triglycerides - creating a propsensity for coronary disease, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

Dr. Neal Barnard had a great show on how to reduce your glycemic index. Making simple changes to foods in our everyday diets can make a huge difference and keep us healthy and off of insulin! These are not tough changes to have to make:

White or Wheat Breads - instead, try Rye or Pumpernickel

White Potatoes - Instead try Yams or Sweet Potatoes (one of my favorites!)

Cold Cereals - Instead eat oatmeal or bran cereals

Restrict Refined Sugar like sodas, candy - you know, the good stuff!

Pasta is ok!

Beans GREAT!

All fruits and vegetables - YES!

I once had someone tell me that regardless if the sugar you eat is a piece of candy or if it's an apple, it all contains sugar and sugar is sugar. Not true! Fruits and vegetables have a lower glycemic index and do not affect your blood sugar the same way the simple sugars do in a candy bar. The processing in manufactured carbohydrates (sugars) creates air pockets in the food which in turn has a negative affect on our blood sugar as it more rapidly works it way in. The lower gi foods do not have this affect. They are lower and slower to be digested and the valuable fiber in the fruits and vegetables aid in the digestion of the nutrients in the food.

I was pleased to see that many of the foods on the chart that Dr. Barnard shared on his show...are foods that we eat regularly since the onset of our new food plan. Keeping those high non friendly sugars in check is a challenge and it takes self-control. But when it comes down to overall health, the common sense thing to do the right thing.


Friday, March 19, 2010

even when you do everything wrong...

Sometimes I feel like the day whips by me at lightning speed - so fast that I actually see myself spinning in circles trying to keep up with what's going on on my left side and then the right. I fully intend everyday to follow a schedule, develop a plan for completing tasks and be done by the time the family is all home so that we can have the family time we look forward to all day. But it doesn't always work that way, does it?

I realized a long time ago that trying to be perfect at everything certainly isn't important. The stress and anxiety that come with doing everything "picture perfect" is not worth it. I'm no good to my husband, kids, friends, family if I am overwhelmed simply because I want my meals, my home and my hair to look like it came out of a magazine.

So what's the key? Simply put - balance. There are days when I don't do anything right. I don't have the pantry/fridge stocked well enough to provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches for the day - and we wind up with grab-n-go meals for the day. The laundry is undone and the car is out of gas. I over-commit my day and wind up being out too long, creating a stressful evening trying to play catch up. Thankfully, even when I do everything wrong, my family has grace and they know this is not the norm. It almost makes me try even harder to seek and find healthy alternatives to the last minute or fast food lunches we ate as well as inspires me to take the time to develop daily routine that I can handle without last minute changes causing a dramatic interruption.

Balancing family, school, my work at home job, homework, church obligations and the strong desire to help my family stay well and illness free is no easy task....but my goal remains the same and I see little successes all the time. I am thankful for my understanding family who loves me and encourages me!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

onward and upward...

I knew from the beginning that our food plan transition was not always going to be easy. I'm ok with that. I like new challenges and I love learning. I feel the growth occuring as I research and test ideas and concepts that I've not entertained before. But like so many things in my life....this new method of cooking and eating and living really, is not widely accepted among friends and family. That's ok too. I've never been one to really be concerned what others think about me in that regard. I believe what I am doing is good for my family and will honor my God.

This journey to live healthier is not just about eating. Although my journalling seems to be mostly that, it's so much more. It's about becoming purer and healthier in every regard of being. I'm not going all zen - and I'm certainly not a radicalist (word?) but I believe change can be good - as long as it is good for you. I've really been enjoying the recipes I've tried and the ideas that I'm developing as I go. It seems my eyes are open now to so many new possibilities in the realm of cooking for my so much wider. I see things that I've never seen before. Be it items at the store, concepts in cooking or foods that can help your body heal itself. I've been so excited about transforming our occasional medicinal needs from over the counter or even prescription remedies to trying and using natural or homeopathic remedies. I truly believe that God created everything that we need within our earth. There are people far smarter and far more versed in this area than myself that have researched and tested and tried natural remedies. I belive that it is a perfect compliment to healthier cooking, to use healthier medicine when in need.

We are still battling with Jeremy's eczema. I can't believe the amount of remedies I have collected from the doctors! While they may work for a time, the eczema continues to return and be a real problem for everyone. This week we are trying Grapeseed Extract. It's working! It doesn't burn him when he applies it and the rashes are breaking up and clearing. He is more open to using this form of treatment than any other we have tried. Cleansing his system from the inside out is another treatment we will have to approach, however, I've not found one yet that I think he will accept. Oral vitamin E and eating almonds and other emolient rich foods are slowly being introduced to his diet. Overall, he is being a good sport.

These changes are all going to take time - but I am optimistic. I believe we can increase our level of health, encounter better sleep, enjoy more energy and maintain a suitable weight by taking the time to use foods and supplements that were designed to help us do so. I'm hoping that in time we won't need OTC pain killers for headaches or body aches and that we will see tangible results in the near future.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

is it soup yet?

One of the most exciting things that has come out of this quest for better eating (for me anyway) is the fact that I have learned to enjoy creating homemade soup! What a blessing this has become. Such a versatile, healthy meal that uses your creativity in such a delicious way.

I can remember wanting so badly to be a good soup maker when I was first married. After all, every good wife can make homemade soup, right? Not! I stunk at it and therefore, gave up. It looked so easy and after all, didn't you just have to throw everything in a pot, heat it up and that's it? Oh, how foolish I was. Perhaps my imagination got away with me..."Stone Soup" was one of my favorite books as a child. I have never forgotten that book and often recall it. And as many times as I do, I hear myself saying " it soup yet?" Probably more of a phrase relating to life in general as I seem to have a knack for "play on words" type communication. As I've written before, I tend to be a big picture thinker and am constantly relating various concepts together.

Like life...soup takes time. If you rush soup, you won't get the results you are looking for. If you forget a step and try to cut corners, well, it might be soup, but it won't be the true creation it was meant to be. Life is the same way. We get up in the morning and fly through our days, cramming fast food breakfasts down our throats, eating in our cars and skipping lunches because we just don't have time. We miss out on friendships and important memory making moments because we need to hurry up and get somewhere. Sadly, the end result is us falling exhausted into our beds at night, with digestive issues, depression and anxiety. Feelings of isolation and insomnia can wreak havoc on our minds as we blow through time at microwave popcorn speed forgetting to slow down and allow ourselves to be the creation we were intended to be.

My favorite new soup is a variation of a beef barley recipe a good friend gave me. I like to brown a chuck or sirloin steak and then simmer it in organic beef broth, garlic, onions and a myriad of other items and spices for about 2 days. Yes, two days! I let it cook for hours until it falls apart...then I refrigerate it overnight and then start again in the morning. After a few hours of more simmmering, I add some water, more broth and a cup of red wine to the pot, along with a cup of barley (so good for you!) and some vegetables of choice. The longer this soup simmers, the more delicious it is.!

Psalm 46:10a - "Be still and know that I am God..."


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

when you have the right tools

When I was much younger and first married, I truly did not understand the necessity or the blessing of having the right tools in the kitchen. Being somewhat simplistic by nature, I never thought to attain more than the common, everday kitchen tools (ie: pots, fry pan, crock pot) and some basic utensils; can opener, a couple of big spoons for mixing (mixing what?) and maybe some measuring supplies, just in case I baked a cake (from a box). Though I wasn't completely ignorant of cooking from scratch, it certainly wasn't a lifestyle. And forget about spices. Salt and pepper were the only ones I thought I would ever need...I was so naive!

Today, I'm still somewhat simplistic I suppose, compared to many, but my realm of cooking tools has definitely grown. I have things like a blender, a juicer, food processers (big and small) baking stones and more. Items I never thought I would own, nevermind use on a regular basis. My hand utensils have also grown in number and I find myself wondering how in the world I ever survived without a garlic press or a mini whisk!

These tools, now everday helpers in my kitchen, make it possible for me to grow and explore new ideas and recipes to continue to develop our food plan. I have also found out that with just a little careful planning, remnants of ingredients from one recipe need not be discarded but can easily be used in another recipe a day or two later. Savings on time and grocery money - I'm all about that.

I made crockpot lasagne last night, with ground chicken browned in olive oil. Made my own tomato sauce and made a creamy filling with cottage cheese and a little ricotta. Spices like basil (always have some fresh on hand), fennel seed, oregano, nutmeg, sea salt and pepper make a world of difference! I always add a little red wine to my sauce to enhance the flavor. Layered in the crock pot and topped with mozzarella and parmesean cheese, it's a quick, low mess and high protein meal! I'm using the left over sauce in my homemade beef/veggie stew tonight!

I thank God everyday for the tools I have - leaving me more time to care for my family in other ways.