Monday, February 28, 2011

So far on the challenge

Not doing too bad so far.  Yesterday instead of the deer stroganoff we had baked pork chops (just seasoned with salt and pepper, no breading), Fried potatoes(fried in 2 tbsp coconut oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and chili powder) and steamed broccoli(with lemon juice, salt, pepper and a bit of butter).  Tonight is going to be German Pancake Soup from The Gracious Pantry.  Modifications I'll be making will be to substitute cauliflower for the broccoli and to add some leftover pork chops from last night.  Oh and I don't have marjoram so I'll substitute some other seasoning for that, probably thyme.  It sounds good and it's a bit chilly tonight so I think it will go over well with the kiddies.  Hubby is working out-of-town this week so I don't have to worry about pleasing his palate. The kiddies are used to being my guinea pigs and so will try anything once.

So today's plan was:
Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in olive oil
Lunch: some teriyaki chicken and steamed rice from restaurant on campus (not exactly clean but I wanted something warm for lunch)
Dinner will be as described above, the pancake soup
Snack, nothing planned but have some starfruit that needs to be eaten so will have that for dessert.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with flaxseed, almond butter, honey
Lunch: probably tuna salad
Dinner: Deer Stroganoff on whole wheat egg noodles and un-fried green tomatoes
snack: fruit(probably cantaloupe)

Breakfast: Oatmeal/honey muffins, hard-boiled egg
Lunch: homemade granola bars (it's my long day and I've not time between classes for a big lunch)
Dinner: Chicken (to be determined on how I'm going to fix it) and sides(again t.b.d)
Snack: carrots and hummus(homemade)


Thursday and Friday I'll have to figure out.  I'm thinking some hamburger pizza on homemade crust on one day, we'll see.  I'm not the best at sticking to menu plans.  I'm trying and I'll get there because I have to.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clean-er Pancakes

1st day of challenge

Today starts the first day for the next 3 months of this challenge.  So far so good I guess. For breakfast I had a version of clean-er pancakes.  They would of been better if I had used whole-wheat flour, but all I have right now is unbleached white flour.  I also could of substituted some oats for some of the flour.  I didn't really think of that till after I had it mixed up.  So will keep changes in mind for next time (probably tomorrow). Anyway my plan for eating today and tomorrow are:

Saturday 2/26/2011
Breakfast: Clean-er pancakes and Kroger brand Just Fruit blueberry spread
Lunch: Homemade leftover chili
Dinner: Grilled chicken and Garlic pepper beets
Snack: Homemade granola bars

Sunday 2/27/2011
Breakfast: pancakes (going to change up the recipe a bit)
Lunch: Chicken salad, whole wheat tortillas
Dinner: deer meat stroganoff, unfried green tomatoes
snack: clean-er chocolate chip cookies

I'll post next weeks menu plan on Sunday after I finish getting it worked out.  Also recipes to come.

Friday, February 25, 2011

F You Sugar Challenge

So on the Eat Clean boards there's this challenge where you go "white death" free for 3 months. Be done and looking and feeling fine in time for bikini's.   I'm going to try this, it's going to be hard.  There will be tears.  I've cut so much sugar out that it shouldn't be totally awful.  I've done a bad job of it this week though and am feeling sluggish and blah for it.
I may have to buy Tosca Reno's book Eat Clean recharged or maybe the cookbook to help with menu planning.  I'm going to have to menu plan.  I'm horrible about reaching for crap of the processed sugar variety when I don't plan snacks and meals ahead.  I'm going to have to plan out meals and snacks for my family that fit in with this challenge, that are affordable (read: really cheap) and my bunch won't feel like I'm feeding them cardboard.  I need to find natural sweeteners that are frugal.  I love stevia but it's not exactly cheap.  I've not tried agave syrup, again it's not cheap. Honey is great, but not cheap.  So maybe I'll buy these and just use them frugally.  I know if I add spices/seasonings, such as cinnamon, that we associate with sweet eats I can trick myself and my bunch into thinking we are eating something sweeter then what it really is.
So starting tomorrow stay tuned for recipes and meal plans that incorporate these ideas.  Also, if you have any links to any good recipes that use clean, whole, affordable ingredients then please share in comments.  I guess a trip to Whole Foods or Fresh Market is in store for the upcoming week.  This is starting to sound like work. Oh well, if it was easy then the reward at the end wouldn't be so great.

It's a twofer

Wow two posts today.  I'm either really bored or just procrastinating. Actually a bit of both I guess.  I read parts of past blogs in my archive and oh  my have I been through a lot of changes and other moments in the past 6 years. I've moved at least 3 or 4 times, not sure I posted everytime.  Have had issues with family members (issues that seem to have a recurring theme, you think some people would get off the merry-go-round already it's time for something new).  I've gardened, I've tried several different diets/eating plans.  Still not skinny, I'm sure I'm healthier then what I started at and I'm learning so much and have pretty much settled into a healthy-ish lifestyle.  My children have grown and matured so much.  We've lost and gained pets. It's amazing to see where I've been and getting an idea to where I'm going.
I'm thinking I need to change the name for my blog.  I'm not sure what yet, but this one just isn't fitting the bill any longer.  


I'm blessed I know that.  I have a great husband, four wonderful children.  We've had fairly minor health problems that have been resolved, either naturally or minor surgeries.  I'm blessed in that my husband has a good job and I'm able to receive a college education.  I'm blessed to live in a time that women can and are encouraged to be educated.  A hundred years ago it may of not been possible.  50 years ago a college education wouldn't of been expected of me.  I'm blessed with a loving if not frustrating family.  My sisters are there when I'm bored and want to chat, when I need to vent, etc.  The great thing about having 3 sisters (well 5 but one I don't know and one I keep losing contact with as we both have moved quite a bit.  We'll contact each other again sometime/somehow I'm sure. I didn't grow up with these two so I'm not as close to them) is that someone is always available.  I try to make myself available to them as much as possible, too.  I have a brother that I'm a bit estranged with but, I know if I needed him he would be there if he can. I have another brother but I don't know much about him as I didn't grow up with him.
Anyway, I'm blessed in that my husband and I own our home and have so far been able to keep it.  I'm blessed that I can be there as much as I can for my children and not have to work two or more jobs to keep them fed as I know some do.
I'm blessed that I'm able to take measures to be healthy and I'm willing to do what it takes.  I've had an off week this week exercise/eating- wise but I'll regroup and be back on track soon.
I'm blessed with many fortunes (just not the financial type).  I'm loved and love, I have great friendships and try to be a great friend, I live in a good neighborhood, I attend a good college, My children attend a great school.
I have opportunities to improve myself and must work on that.  If I begin to think ill of someone I meditate to try and get rid of those feelings.  It does me no good and I truly wish them no harm, if they need to be abrasive then that's their thing.  It needs not apply to me and I shouldn't let it affect me. I need to learn to procrastinate less.  This is the hardest improvement I need to make.  It's been a lifelong habit and I need to change it. So I'll be working on that one baby step at a time.
So what blessings do you have in your life? What do you need to do to allow more in? Procrastination and forgiving or at least tempering my temper are my main two.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Home-steader Day of Action

This is Urban Home-stead Take Action day, due to a certain family trademarking an idea/phrase that has been around for many, many years.  I may not be a true Urban home-steader, but I'm trying to get that way.  I grow my veggies and flowers organically as possible(well I don't use pesticides, herbicides or anything else I don't want in or on my body and my family's bodies...Hubby has trouble with that at times because he wants the fake, bigger, brighter less bug eaten crops.  So I have to hide the Miracle-Gro® he buys).  I'm getting a coop ready for chickens and we have a goat (who's primary chore is keeping the grass mowed/chewed down and eating the poison ivy/oak and being totally petable ).
Anyway if your wanting to keep a tradition going and discourage people from trademarking this tradition for their own monetary gain please sign this petition:
Petitions by|Start a Petition »

and join/like this facebook page:

If they are allowed to get away with this what's next? Someone going to trademark cooking? raising children? living, breathing?
For a good article on this go to Seasons in the Soil  they also have posted links to other bloggers that demand action be taken against the bullying and self-serving tactics done by these people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trying to Stay Motivated and Homemade granola bars

I almost talked myself out of going to the gym yesterday.  I had just bombed a test (which the professor is going to let me retake Thursday, woohoo) and really had the just-want-to-go-home-and-sulk thing going on.  I was talking to Hubby as I walked from class to the parking lot and he talked me into going.  His words were "Why not just go to the gym, it'll put you in a better mood and you won't be all cranky later" actually I think he said I wouldn't be a cranky butt later but still he was right.  Of course he doesn't need to know he was right, his head is big enough as it is. So I went and spent 30 minutes on the weight machines.  Working my frustrations out with pec flys, leg press, leg extension, standing quad machine( I forget the name of the exercise) and leg curls.  Then went to the cardio side to do 30 minutes on the elliptical.  Saw the trainer I was with when I took advantage of the 20 dollars for 4 training sessions.  It was great. Afterwards, I was wore out but feeling better.  This morning I'm a little sore but still glad I went.  Wednesdays are my day when I can't make it to the gym, so this afternoon I'll make my oldest son work out so he can maybe pass his PT test so he can rank up in the Civil Air Patrol.  It's all he has left to pass and the poor kid is so lanky and skinny it's probably going to be the hardest part.

Now on to Homemade granola bars.  I found a couple recipes last night and combined pieces of them so that I could make the granola bars for today.  Wednesdays are also my day where I don't have the time to grab something to eat at one of the restaurants on campus so I have to have something I can snack on during lecture.  Being a tight week money-wise I decided to make some and they turned out yummy.  Sorry I don't have a picture, my camera battery died.  I do have the recipe here:
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg
3-4 tbsp ground flaxseed
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 cups old fashioned oats
2 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut

In a large bowl put:  1 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp honey and coconut oil.  Mix well.
In another bowl combine oats, flour, cinnamon and baking soda
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well, fold in coconut.

Press into a large greased baking dish (i'm not sure the size of the one I used it's a large brownie pan).
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool and cut into bars.

These were yummy, not too sweet and had more of a cookie/brownie like texture then a granola bar feel to them.

Nutritional Data from (approx.)

12 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories  237.9   Total Fat 5.3 g    Saturated Fat 2.5 g    Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g   Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
 Cholesterol 35.4 mg  Sodium 118.3 mg Potassium 85.6 mg  Total Carbohydrate 43.2 g  Dietary Fiber 3.5 g    Sugars 16.8g  Protein 5.6 g

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day...Bah Humbug

Just not feeling it this year.  It's the first year in a long time that I've not been working and have not had the money to get Hubby anything for Valentine's day.  Not that I've been able to give him much in the past, just a little something to show my appreciation for him giving me his heart so long ago.
It makes me a little down to think of it.  I feel better when I can't give him something for christmas then when I can't for Valentine''ll be the same in two months for our 15th anniversary.  It sucks and makes me feel less and I feel like I should do more for the man who gives me everything he's able to.  Without him I would not be able to go to college full-time without working part-time. Who would I vent to when people, events, life gets to me.  No one understands me like him.  No one could hold me and make me feel beautiful at any/every size like him.  He thinks I'm beautiful in the morning in my wore out sleep-shirt, my hair going 360 different ways, sleep dried in the corners of my eyes, drool dried on my cheek, raunchy morning breathe going on, all befuddled due to a lack of caffeine (yep there's an image huh).
I'll try to show him somehow.  I know he needs to be shown as he's feeling a strain of bills coming and all this snow has gave him a couple short weeks meaning a couple short paychecks.   The cold, dreary snow days haven't helped any and hopefully we can get out and do something next week and enjoy the nice spring-like weather forecast.

Made it to the Gym Today and Happy 13th Birthday to my Girl

I started to write this yesterday but Hubby came home and then the kids then we had to do some running for Daughter's birthday.  So I guess I'll finish it this morning.

It is Friday, it is suppose to warm up and I'm so glad. I made it to the gym today, not too big of a thing until I get to where I'm going more then once a week. I want to go, I love it when I do. However, I'm forever talking myself out of it. I have self-esteem issues and I know that most everyone at the gym is more worried about how they look then what I look like.  When I catch someone looking at me they usually just smile, nod and go on doing whatever it was they are doing.  So I know I don't care, but my poor, beat down self-esteem has issues.  It's gotten better over the years, but still needs work.

Anyway, this weekend is all about Daughter(pretty much). She's thirteen now, a teenager.  I'm wondering where is the time going and how come I have all these big kids now.  I don't feel old, I feel like I'm still in my mid-twenties at the latest (yes I know 32 is not nowhere considered old...unless you're a vehicle, then you're an antique).  Yesterday we went and bought some clothes and a cake for her and Sunday we are taking the kiddies and Daughter's bf to the circus.  Which will be awesome as the kids haven't been and Hubby and I don't ever recall going to one either.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow day and Apple-Cornmeal Muffins

We got about 3 inches of snow yesterday afternoon and today it's a balmy 25 degrees outside.  So it's a perfect day to bake something in order to help keep the house warm.  So here's what I've came up with so far:

I took this recipefrom Fitness Magazine:

"Blueberry-Cornmeal Muffins
In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cornmeal, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda. In another large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 slightly beaten egg, 1/2 cup pecans, and 1/2 cup blueberries. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine. Mist muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. (Leftovers can be frozen.) Serve with 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 hard-boiled egg."

and adapted it to this:

Apple-Cornmeal Muffins
  1. In a large bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 tsp sal, 1 tablespoons baking soda.
  2. In another large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup coconut milk, 3/4 cup 2% milk, 1/2 coconut oil, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 slightly beaten eggs
  3. Slowly mix wet ingredients with dry then fold in 1 cup chopped apples
  4. grease muffin pans pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes
  5. Makes 24 muffins.

The kiddies loved it and ate 3 muffins and wanted more.  I wanted to save some for tomorrow so it was a no go.  They were different but not in a bad way.  They weren't real sweet as you may be used to muffins being.  After the second bite you get used to the flavor and I liked as well.  I liked that the recipe uses little white sugar and mostly sweetened with the molasses and honey.  I'm trying to switch over to natural, less processed sweeteners and this recipe helps.  It also uses coconut milk and oil, both I'm trying to use more in order to enjoy the health benefits of them.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Lifetime Changes and Homemade Yogurt

After a week of staying fairly close to sugar-less (well as close as I had the will power to do), I'm surprised about how greatly the little I did do affected me.  I noticed this yesterday when I gave in and ate two snack cakes.  A couple hours later I was feeling bloated and gassy, my lower back hurt, my stomach hurt. I was miserable for most of the night.  I'm better this morning, still a bit bloated feeling.  So I'm deciding that this needs to be a lifestyle change.  In a short week I've figured out there is a limit to how much sugar intake I can handle and it's less then I realized.  One small sweet a day or so doesn't seem to affect me too bad.  Any more then that and it seems I'll have the symptoms I had last night.  I'd rather not do that anymore so I'm going to continue to: not add sugar to my coffee(I've gotten accustom to the taste now and Dunkin Donuts coffee tastes better without cream/sugar), no added sugar to my oatmeal (it's just as good with a little coconut oil, honey, fresh fruit).  I'm going to make some chocolate chip cookies for the family today and I'm going to try and halve the sugar in it and see how it turns out.
Okay in another post I mentioned I was going to attempt homemade yogurt.  Yesterday I did this and I am so glad I did.  It is so much better then store bought.  The yogurt has this rich,creamy, melt-on-your-tongue texture and flavor.  I drizzled a little honey on some this morning and it was perfection.  Here is the recipe I used:

Homemade Yogurt
I haven’t experimented with soy milk, but regular milk -whole, 2% or 1%) and goat’s milk work very well.
1 heaping tablespoon of the best plain yogurt you can find, making sure it contains active cultures (no additives, stabilizers etc).
2 1/2 cups good quality milk (I like to use organic)
Bring the milk to a full boil in a saucepan, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the scalded milk into a bowl, through a strainer or cheesecloth if you have acquired any brown bits around the edge, and cool until you can hold your finger in the milk and count to 10.
Place the yogurt in a small dish and add some of the milk to it to warm it up, then whisk it back into the milk. Pour into a glass jar (glass holds heat well), wrap in a towel or sweater and put in a warm place for about 6 hours or overnight. In the morning put the jar in the fridge to chill and you should end up with a lovely jar of fresh yogurt.
 I got this recipe from The Family Kitchen
Here is what I did with mine:
I used a quart of whole milk (Kroger's 1.70, I forgot the exact price but this is close)
I added one heaping tablespoon of Dannon's Greek yogurt (1.00 Walmart)

I didn't bring the milk to a boil, instead I brought it up to 180 for 10 minutes (I read on another forum that this was best).
Then I put the pan in a sink filled with a small amount of cold water to bring the temp down to 100 degrees
I mixed the yogurt (mine may of actually been more like 2 tablespoons, it was heaped up real good, lol) with about half a cup of the milk to warm it up like the recipe said.  Then I mixed it in with the rest of the milk until the yogurt was well incorporated. I then put the milk/yogurt mixture into a clean/sterilized quart canning jar.  I took a small cooler and put a bath towel in it and set the jar of soon to be yogurt in the towel and wrapped the towel around it.  I took two more quart jars and filled them with warm/hot water (110-120 degrees) and put one on each side of the yogurt (outside of the towel).  I then took the cooler and set it in a warm place (in my case that was in the laundry closet on the top shelf while I was  doing laundry, the dryer kept the area nice and warm).  Then let it set for 6 hours. After it's set up you can put it in the fridge to chill or drain it for greek-type yogurt or yogurt cheese.  Use it as you would any plain yogurt.
The yogurt after 5 hours incubating, just one more hour to go and it was already looking and smelling like yummy yogurt.

Yummy homemade yogurt with honey for breakfast this morning.  Now I'm wondering why I didn't try this sooner.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Day 4 and 5

Day 4, yesterday, was a horrible.  It was raining pretty hard so I skipped classes.  The windshield wipers on the van don't work most of the time and I lose power if I go through a puddle(it stays running I just lose power to everything else like steering, brakes, lights, power steering and super hard brakes in Memphis traffic is a bad thing).  So for safety's sake I stayed home.  Being home all day with it raining and the wind trying to blow everything down was rather boring.  So I gave in and ate two donuts (we have no more thank goddess) and ate some spice drops and a snack size mounds bar.  Not a good day, I gave in to my sugar addiction.  Today was better but still not great. I ate a snack cake before leaving for class and I got a blueberry muffin from Dunkin Donuts on campus.  I didn't eat all the muffin though, they are just too big for that.  I'll get pass this and do better the rest of the week.  I probably just need to eat more protein.  I've read that for sugar/carbohydrate cravings you should take in some protein.  I don't understand that reasoning as if I'm wanting some thing sweet then a steak or bowl of beans won't due.  I need to get some more almonds or any kind of nut.  They can usually satisfy a sweet tooth gone awry.
I think this afternoon I'm going to try and make some yogurt.  I've been reading on it, it seems super easy.  It may take some doing since the house is kinda cool and I've got to keep it at a certain temp for 4-8 hours.  I really want to try it though and start implementing fresh yogurt in some of my recipe to boost up the calcium and protein content.  I'll let my invisible readers here know how it turns out, with pictures if I remember to snap them.