Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Love My Freezer!

Here's some ways I make use of my freezer that makes my life easier:
  • Flash freezing.  So far I've only used this technique for freezing my fruit (ripe bananas), but apparently you can use it for scooped cookies, loaves of bread, biscuits, burritos, or whatever you need to freeze and don't want it to stick together or mush all over your freezer bag.  Basically you take the item, place it on a metal cookie sheet, stick it in the freezer till it hardens, remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bag until you're ready to use it.  (Dough items you'd obviously freeze before baking.)















  • Quick dinners.  Make extra and freeze it!  This one thing has saved us many a night since we had our little girl.  Sometimes we're just too tired or busy to make dinner.  Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?  Thought so!  Those are days when I just pull something out of the freezer and thank myself for planning ahead.  (Some people set aside time and make stuff specifically for the freezer, but I haven't done that since I was pregnant and "nesting" last summer.  If that works for you, do it.  I find that I do better with just making extra of whatever I'm cooking.)  Many meals you make will save well in the freezer.  If you're not sure a meal will, just freeze a small amount and see how it goes.  Soups, sauces, stir fry's, crock pot meals, burritos (prep the burrito, but freeze before you cook), veggie patties, etc.  Even doing this with grains (ie rice, oats, quinoa) will save you on a busy day.  To use the grains after thawing a bit, I simply warm them in a pot on the stove with a bit of water.  Oh, and how could I forget:  beans.  Soaking and cooking beans takes a lot of time.  Seriously, make extras!  I store all my freezer meals, beans, and grains in freezer bags.  It saves on space in the freezer, since they flatten and stack much easier than other containers.  We write on a piece of painters tape what is in the bag (so we can reuse the bag) and I also keep a list on the fridge of what's in the freezer and when I made it, so I can remember to use them.  I recommend letting whatever you're freezing cool completely before putting it in the freezer for better taste.  Also, don't thaw and refreeze anything!  Tonight we had this delicious dahl recipe.  This is a recipe that I always double and freeze.  (If you're not familiar with dahl, it's an ethnic lentil dish.  May not look pretty to some, but the taste is fantastic!) 















  • Quick cookies.  So, maybe I'll try the flash freezing technique with this, but one thing we enjoy doing at our house is making extra cookie dough and freezing that.  We put it on wax paper in a log shape, wrap it up and freeze it.  To use, simply unwrap, slice off pieces, place on baking sheet and bake.  Or, if you use a vegan cookie recipe, you can just slice off a piece when you want something sweet.  Not that I've ever done that...  Okay, well maybe my husband makes me swear I won't snack on the dough and actually save it for baking a batch of cookies.  Maybe... 
  • Make some homemade popsicles.  Need I say more?  We all love popsicles in the summer time, but there's a lot of junk in the ones you can buy at the store, not to mention they are way more expensive to buy.  There's all kinds of recipes on the web for fancy popsicles, or you can simply freeze some fruit juice and call it good.  Amazon has tons of popsicle molds.  If you don't want to purchase one, you can always make use of an ice cube tray and some toothpicks.  Yep, done that one before.
Hopefully these tips help you out.  I've found that things like this make healthy eating WAY easier for me.  And tastier too.  What would I do without my freezer?!  Hmm...  Did I miss anything?  What are some other ways you make use of your freezer?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

3 Ways to Boost Your Smoothies

Here's just a couple of ways I like to add some extra goodness to my smoothies (green smoothies and otherwise).
  1. When you steam your veggies, don't throw out the water! Put the water in ice cube trays and use these cubes in your smoothies. It's a nice way to not lose the water-soluble vitamins from your veggies. All of my ice cube trays are now filled with various cubes of green, orange, and white.
  2. Add a spoonful of coconut oil. Benefits of coconut oil here. (I should do a whole post on this stuff. It's amazing, and not just for eating...)
  3. Add some chia seed gel (which you make by soaking chia seeds in a bit of water). More about chia seeds here.

Do all three! I'm sure if you googled it, you could find more ideas, but that's good for now.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Use Kale in a Salad

Maybe it's a bit ridiculous that I'm writing a post on this, but I only just recently learned how to do this, so I'm going on the assumption that I'm not the only one who wondered about this. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my green smoothies, but I'm not a smoothie everyday kind of gal. Those are more of an occasional treat thing to me, though I will be having them more often as it gets warmer. Plus, I like to chew my food!

To prep your kale, rinse it and rip or cut it away from the main stem (ripping it off is faster and more fun). To use kale in a salad, prepare your entire salad, pour on your salad dressing, mix it in and let it sit for 5 minutes or so. The dressing will soften the kale a little and make the leaves nice and tasty. It's just another way to get your greens and also add a new texture and some variety to your salads.

Here's a tasty mix of romaine lettuce, red cabbage (though really, is that not purple?!), and kale topped with a creamy almond-curry dressing. Yummy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Neti Pot

It's funny, I always feel a little guilty when I have to admit I've been a little bit sick, even if it's just with a cold. I feel that since I try so hard to be healthy that kind of stuff shouldn't happen to me. But it does! I'm human and can't control the way my body reacts to everything. So, I've had a minor cold this week and have been using this:

This strange looking thing is not Alladin's lamp. It's a nasal cleansing pot, otherwise known as a Neti pot. Oh, how I love my Neti pot! For those of you unfamiliar with these, you put warm water and a bit of salt in there, put the spout into one nostril, tilt your head, and slowly pour the water, allowing it to come out the other nostril. It sounds a bit strange, yes. I was scared of trying it for a while, but after getting over my trepidation and trying it out, I was sold.

Neti pots remove pollen, dust, and excess mucous. They help your breathe more freely and can also relieve nasal dryness. They improve your overall feeling of well-being and balance and clean your energy channels. Some people use them daily. I only do every now and then, but it's still worth having one around.

(As a side note: Another easy tip for better breathing if you have a cold is to simmer a pot of water on the stove. Many people use humidifiers or vaporizers, but those really only help in the one room they are in. To really get the whole house an easier place to breathe, I've found this works way better! We actually don't even have a humidifier anymore. A pot is way easier to clean.)

You can find Neti pots in health food stores, though I've heard that many large chain grocery stores now carry them too. You don't want to share your Neti pot with others, so you may need more than one in your house.

What do you do when you have a cold?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our Favorite Breakfast--All About Oats!

We LOVE oats. Especially steel-cut oats. Steel-cut oats are made taking the dehusked oat grains and cutting them with steel blades (bet you couldn't figure that out), rather than flattening them by heavy rollers like rolled oats would be. Both kinds are whole grains, and both are good for you. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook, but because of that, you also stay full longer. There's nothing like a good breakfast that leaves you satisfied for a couple of hours! If you haven't ever tried steel-cut oats, give them a try!*



To make steel-cut oats we use three cups of water for every one cup of oats (3:1 ratio, though some like a 4:1). One cup of oats is enough for both Steve and I, though sometimes we add a bit extra.

To make it in a rice cooker (which is by far the easiest way for us): we just pour in 3 cups of water, 1 cup of steel-cut oats, sprinkle a bit of salt in, and put a drop of olive oil in (to keep it from bubbling too much, you don't have to) and push the white rice button. It's done in about 35 min.

To make it on the stove-top: bring your water to a boil. Stir in oats and a sprinkle of salt, turn down heat to medium-low. Cover with lid, but leave lid off a bit so it doesn't boil over (again, can put a drop of oil in to prevent boiling over). Stir periodically until water is absorbed, about 35 min.

Top it however you like. Some ideas for you: agave, molasses, cinnamon, applesauce, fresh fruit, nut butter, or milk. More ideas here.  (EDIT:  You will get more of the nutrition from your steel-cut oats if you soak them over night!  Simply get it all ready before you go to bed and then cook as directed in the morning.)

We eat this everyday, it is rare that we don't. We went camping last summer and one of the things Steve and I looked forward to when we got back home was being able to have our oats for breakfast again. We love it that much! If you feel you don't have the time to make steel-cut oats, just try eating some regular rolled oats (not the pre-packaged flavored aka sugar laden kind). Rolled oats are still just as good for you, but like I said, they might not stick with you as long as steel-cut.

Benefits of eating oats (source benefitsofoatmeal.com):
  • reduce the risk of heart disease
  • lowers cholesterol
  • can reduce risk of diabetes because it helps keep blood sugar levels stable (as all whole grains do)
  • can lower blood pressure
  • helps you absorb water to keep you full longer
  • provides many vitamins and minerals (such as iron, calcium, and folate-- nutrition content here)
  • they help everything move along, if you know what I mean :)
Save Money! Oats are inexpensive, so not only can you get health benefits from eating them, but you can save a lot of money by eating more oats and less store-bought cereal! So, really there's no reason not to!

*We buy our steel-cut oats in bulk at a health food store. Look for them at health food stores, smaller chain grocery stores, or I'm sure you can buy them in larger quantities online as well.

Another way to enjoy oats is in granola. For our granola recipe, click here.

Check out these websites to learn more about oats: benefitsofoatmeal.com and eatmoreoats.com.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Place to Start

I'm sure you've noticed that I often talk about loving yourself as you are. The beliefs you have about yourself will shape the way you view and function in this world. (For more of my thoughts about beliefs about yourself, click here.) In the midst of my saying, "Treat yourself kindly," I hope I'm not being misunderstood.

I do not advocate giving up, being lazy, or not taking care of yourself.

Doing less when you really could do more in the guise of being nice to yourself, is just as destructive as being hard on yourself because it is a lie. Honesty is first and foremost of importance when dealing with self.

The reason why I talk so much about accepting and loving yourself is because in order to truly improve and become the kind of person you want to be, acceptance and non-judgement is the place to start. Let me just say that again: it's only a place to start.

The world would tell you this process is linear and goes this way: fix (a), (b), and (c) about yourself and THEN you will love yourself. Do not be deceived by this lie! It's more of a circle really. Love yourself as much as you can, then you will have an easier and happier time changing (a), (b), and (c), which will increase your ability to love yourself and so on.

(We have this sign hanging right by our front door
.)

I am under no delusions that I'm done progressing. Not at all. I could make a long, long list of all the things I'm working on and trying to improve. But I am also under no delusions that I am capable of changing my worth or my being-worth-loving by anything I do. That is already an innate part of who I am as a child of God.

Infinite worth + (or -) my efforts = infinite worth. I always did like math. :)

Realizing this and BELIEVING this is only a place to start.

I'm sure there's someone out there who's thinking, "Okay, that sounds fine and all, but what if I can't get to that place? Am I doomed to not only be flawed but also to not ever love myself?" To that person, I would say this: ask yourself, "How would I treat myself if I believed that I was of infinite worth? How would I treat my body if I really thought it was a gift?" Do what you would do if this were true, being open to the possibility that it is true, and I guarantee you'll find yourself increasing your ability to believe it.

This applies to all sorts of self-improvements, but for the sake of this blog, I will stick to how it applies to you and your body. Love yourself as much as you can. Put effort into the way you treat your body. Do it for the sake of health, for having energy, feeling happy, and living longer. Looking like your best self will be part of the benefits too. Your ability to love yourself will increase. I will share specific ways I've learned to treat my body well. You? Get yourself ready to start.

Image: Jon_Marshall on Flickr

Monday, February 20, 2012

Body Image: Making that Choice

Sigh... This blogging thing just hasn't been happening much. Sorry. I'm absorbed in other things. Other really good things. But I do think about writing on here. I'm waiting for the app that will just allow me to write a blog post in my mind and post from there. When that happens, I will break down and get an i-phone. I write blog posts in my head all the time. But, alas! I have to type this out all by myself. Boo. :(

I was asked to share my take on body image and motherhood. To tell about my feelings on body image after having a baby, I have to talk about my feelings about body image before having a baby, cause they haven't changed one bit. Let's glimpse into my past, shall we?

I did not always have a healthy body image. In fact, once upon a time, it was very much unhealthy. I could blame my struggles on growing up in the dance world, as well as the body bashing culture that is all too prevalent among females, and no doubt those things were factors in my problems, but they weren't at the heart of it. The heart of it was being ashamed of what was inside; an unhealthy body image was just the way my struggles were manifested.

Now, I won't go in to to detail about behaviors and my personal battles, because I don't feel it's necessary, but I will share this: all the obsessing over my appearance just made everything I struggled with worse. I became even more ashamed of myself, more afraid, more unhappy, and more disconnected from my body.

There came a point when I realized that in order to be happy I had to let go of all the obsessing I was doing. I realized that if I couldn't love myself as I was right then, the person I was inside and out, then nothing I did was EVER going to be enough. If I couldn't love myself with the number on the scale saying what it did, I wasn't going to love myself even if that number dropped. (I knew because when it did drop I didn't feel any better.) To me that meant risking not changing and always being flawed.

I decided to be happy.

It took many years for me to get to a really good place after that. At first it was fighting against my natural way of thinking. But eventually it became more of who I really was. My world changed. I began to make healthy choices out of love, not out of spite and trying to fix myself.

So, here I am. In all fairness, I do have to say my body isn't that different from how it was before (having the lifestyle I do and the kind of pregnancy I had). But it is different. My belly is softer than it used to be, I have a six inch scar from my c-section, and my clothes don't fit like they used to. If I wanted to, I could be critical. It doesn't matter what size you are or what you look like, if you choose to be down on yourself about what you look like, you will be (we see it all the time in the celeb magazines).

I choose not to be critical. I like myself. I like being happy. I love being a mom and if never looking exactly like I did before is the price for getting to be a mom, it's a price I will gladly pay. To quote Amy Adams, I "wasn't put on earth to look good in a swimsuit." Am I perfect about this way of thinking? No. But I keep on making that choice. There's so much more to life, so much more to me, than that. I'm taking care of my body. I'm enjoying where I'm at in life right now. And I'm happy.
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