Born Again

I was listening to the radio and this Third Day song came on.  I love Third Day, and I love this song.  It takes me back to my early thirties, those first giddy, heady years in love with the Lord.  I remember clearly the first verse I ever highlighted in my Bible:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

You can see by the joy on the faces of all these people being baptized, that as the song suggests, they feel like they are living for the very first time!

(scroll to bottom of page and pause the player to view the video)

 Dean Ornish

A lot of people are not familiar with Dean Ornish and his work, but he is a doctor who is having fantastic results reversing cardiovascular disease through a regimen of eating and exercise.  He wrote a book called "Eat More, Weigh Less" which essentially advocates a low fat vegetarian diet.

This video will give you some startling facts.  If you haven't figured out yet that the way we eat, a relatively new diet and lifestyle, is not health promoting, then hopefully this will help you see the light.

(turn off player at bottom of page before starting video)

 A Blog Award; otherwise known as "Me, Really??"

I am truly surprised and humbled to have been given a blog award.  (You mean, someone actually reads this?! lol!)  And the really funny thing is it came from Michelle over at Girl Gone Granola, a fellow "Chick with chicks" that I would readily have bestowed this award on myself.  She definitely meets the qualifications for the Stiletto which are as follows:

I want to salute the women who balance life, family & relationships with style & class!  Those women who share their experiences with us…who encourage us, inspire us, teach us, make us laugh and basically keep us going!  You know who they are!   While you read this blog, your family is looking at you wondering what the heck you are laughing about so hard…or why the tissue is necessary for internet browsing.  It’s the one that the kids are excited about cuz a new post means a new craft project or family outing.  The one that inspires you to be a better mom, friend, person in general.  The one that reminds you that we are all “in this life together” and you’re not the only one going through the hard stuff.  The one that you secretly wish your blog was like…

Part of receiving this award, is passing it along to deserving women bloggers.  The "rules" say 5-10 others should be awarded, but I'm not much on rules of this sort.  To me it's like those emails that you get and tell you that you have to forward this to 10 people in the next 15 minutes or you will wake up tomorrow looking like Shrek.  I pretty much ignore those too. (and so far, I haven't turned into Shrek)   Time to pass on this award to some other women out there who are inspiring me on a regular basis.  I am passing along 3, count them 3, Stiletto awards.

First I have to bestow the Stiletto on Michawn at Michawn's Meanderings.  Michawn and I first met in a Bradley Method birth class when I was pregnant with my first and she was pregnant with her second child.  Since then, she and her family have gone on the mission field in Brazil.  Michawn blogs about their life as missionaries, raising their four children, and shares great insights.  And what would I ever do without my diva cup after she blogged about it and clued me in?!   ;)  Take the Stiletto and wear it proudly, friend!

Second I bestow the Stiletto on Katie for her blog The Journey.   (and reading it will take you on one!)  Katie is 20 years old and blogs about her life in Uganda as an adoptive mom to 14 girls and taking care of hundreds more.  If you haven't read Katie's blog, then this is a good post to start with to get an overview of how she got where she is today.  Getting a blog award is certainly the last concern on her mind, but given the criteria, there is no woman who deserves it more.  God bless you, Katie, and all your girls!

Last but not least on my list is Courtney at Women Living Well.  This blog is full of great biblically based encouragement for Christian women.  I love her honesty and heart for God and I constantly am finding just what I need in her archives or latest post.  I used to go to a bible study back in Arizona that was based on Titus 2:3-5, where the more experienced Christian ladies came alongside those of us still trying to figure it all out.  To me, reading Courtney's blog is just like that - having a sister in Christ come along side with wisdom.  Keep inspiring us, Courtney!

There you have it - three great blogs to check out - and 3 ministries to pray for. (I know the correct grammar would be "3 ministries for which to pray" so that I'm not ending a sentence in a preposition, but boy, doesn't that sound stuffy??)  Read them, pray for them, and be blessed by them.

 Reading Labels

It is very important to read the labels on the food you buy.  (I use the term "food" loosely here, and you will see why shortly)  I don't want to take it for granted that everyone who stops by this blog knows how important it is to know what you are taking into your body.  The whole point of eating is supposed to be to give your body the nutrients it needs to function and stay healthy.  But we have transformed it into something else - a smorgasbord of sugar, salt, and chemicals to tantalize our tastebuds, and get us hooked like an addict to the very stuff that will ultimately harm us.

Just tonight I pulled out the coffee creamer that my husband keeps in the fridge.  I was curious.  Here's the ingredient list:

corn syrup
partially hydrogenated soybean & cottonseed oil
sodium caseinate
mono and diglycerides
sodium stearum
dipotassium phosphate

Gag!  I need to get some good raw milk and let hubby use the real cream for his coffee - that would actually be healthy for him. (other than I don't think coffee is good for you, but that's another topic)

Here is another comparison.  I started buying a natural brand of peanut butter. You have to read the labels though.  The last time I went looking for the natural peanut butter, several of the name brand peanut butters had a natural variety on the shelf, but the ingredient list was still long.  Here's the comparison:

Natural peanut butter:

Jif Creamy peanut butter:
roasted peanuts
fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean)
mono- and diglycerides

So really, what would you rather eat?  What would you want to feed your kids?

The labels are there - start reading them and know what you are really eating.

 Global Food Market 101

How to feed the world ? from Denis van Waerebeke on Vimeo.

 In Memory of Rosie

Back in my single days, I was living in Phoenix Arizona, working as VP of Finance of a nutrition company, and driving Rosie, my beautiful red convertible camaro Z28...

there she is... hiding behind those chickies dressed up for a night on the town.

What a great ride!  I got to know several police officers during my ownership of Rosie, ha!  

I have to tell you about one in particular.  One morning I was driving to the gym before work.  I had to be at work at seven which meant I had to be up at the crack of REM to get in a half hour run, a shower and still make it to work on time.  Translation: nobody out on the roads yet.  

Being Phoenix, the weather was warm even before the sun comes up, so the top was down and I was likely rocking out to Third Day or Zoey Girl. (Zoey Girl was great driving music and what I was listening to when I did the 1/4 mile drag strip at the Firebird Raceway in 13.8 seconds at 102 mph, my best time ever as I was banned from the track after that run... something about some silly rules requiring a roll bar on convertibles running the track in less than 14 seconds... but I digress)

I was sitting at a red light, which was really one of my favorite things with Rosie, because a red light means that I get to GO when it turns green. :)  And I did.  I always took off like a horse released from the gate at the race track...but I did carefully monitor my speed and hit the cruise control when I reached the speed limit, which was 40mph on this particular road.  It was enough to make the car payments, insurance payments, and registration payments without adding speeding tickets to the mix.

Anyway, I had taken off and I noticed that there were headlights approaching rapidly from behind me.  Turns out it was a cop, but I wasn't worried because I hadn't squealed my tires or gone over the speed limit, so I just ignored him.  The cop had come up right behind me, then pulled into the right lane and came alongside Rosie.  The police intercom clicks on and I am sitting there in that split second before he speaks wondering just what is going on, then the officer says, "Wanna race?"  I was stunned.  He shoots me a big smile and peals out.  

And, no, I didn't race him!

Another great memory was Christmas of 2002.  I was hanging with a great group of friends that we called "my people" as in, 
"I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." - Jeremiah 24:7

My people were going to be celebrating Christmas over at Steve's house, a popular hangout spot for us.  I had arrived early in the day to help with the cooking, so I was there when Keith called with his unfortunate discovery.  He had a flat tire.  I volunteered to go pick him and his brother up and headed out in Rosie to do so.  When I got there, Keith asked for a present from me - he said it would make his Christmas to drive Rosie back to Steve's house.  No problem!  I climbed in the back seat and let the men take the front seats.  I will never forget that ride back!  It was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, 70 degrees, top down, and I swear Keith drove 70 mph between stoplights!  But I didn't care... I wouldn't be the one getting a ticket, so I just got to enjoy the ride. :)

Rosie eventually got traded in for the family sedan, and then the family sedan was traded in for the family minivan.  But I will never trade in the memories of good times with Rosie.

 You Gotta Kick the Sugar Habit!

Americans eat way too much sugar.  Besides the sugar we knowingly eat, it is in virtually all our processed foods these days.  Go to your pantry and start reading labels.  You will be surprised just how many of your food items include either sugar, fructose, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup.  I know I flipped out when I actually looked at the ingredients on a jar of peanut butter.  Here I thought it was a healthy thing to feed my kids!  But it is loaded up with HFCS and so is the jelly that accompanies it in a traditional PB&J.  Ugh!

Dr. Mercola once again has a great article about the dangers of fructose which I encourage you to read.  But here are some highlights for you:

So a very important point is that if you take two animals and you feed one fructose and feed the other one the exact same number of calories but give it as dextrose or glucose, its only the fructose-fed animal that will develop obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and high triglycerides, signs of inflammation, vascular disease, and high blood pressure.

Today, about 25 percent of all Americans consume over ½ pound of added sugars a day, according to Dr. Johnson's research. That kind of consumption equates to more than 180 pounds of sugar per year! And it just so happens this statistic dovetails nicely with the statistics showing that one in four Americans is either pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes.

Reducing sugar in your diet can be tough for some people. After all, sugar is just as addictive as cocaine

I encourage you to read the article to learn about the safe level of fructose to ingest and healthy sweetener alternatives.

 Peace, Love, Chicks

 With a Peep Peep Here and a Peep Peep There...

With the arrival of warmer weather, a.k.a. spring, it was time to get chicks.  I found a farm via craigslist that had Buff Orpingtons available as either day old or 2 wk old chicks.  I wanted Buff Orpingtons because they are a good dual purpose bird, which means they are good at laying eggs and they produce good meat birds.  Add to that the fact that they are a friendly breed and good brooders and they are my first choice for a chicken flock.  Our last flock was a combo of the Buff Orpingtons and Silver laced Wyandottes.  We were not fond of Randy the Wyandotte rooster other than as jambalaya.  I am hoping the Orpington roosters are more friendly, especially knowing us from tiny chick to adult.

Anyway, we drove to Gladbrook Iowa yesterday, about 1 1/2 hours north, and picked up our order of 25 two week old chicks.  We actually got 26 as he threw in an extra one with our order.  The girls LOVE these little critters and had to hold one the whole way home in the car, fighting off sleep to keep cuddling their new treasures.

Here are the chicks in their brooder.  I couldn't find my small waterer out in the barn, but an ice cube tray is working out very well.

It has worked out well that I had tore off the drywall and left up the studs.  It gives me a place to hook on our heat lamps for the brooder.

The chicks trying to sleep.

The girls got up at 3am last night and came down to see the chicks.  I got up and explained that it was the middle of the night and they had to go back to bed.  They obediently went back to bed. (fortunately!)  Then this morning, Trinity was the first one up.  The first words out of her mouth to me were, "Now can I hold a chick?"

Angelina got up a little later and asked, "Mom, is it morning now?"  I told her yes.  "Can I hold a baby chick now?"  Again, I told her yes.  "I need to get a towel so it doesn't poop on me."  Ah, yes.  They learn quickly. :)

 What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

I got this in an email this morning and I loved these.  Can I get an Amen?!

When I say that 'I am a Christian,' I am not shouting that 'I am clean living.'
I'm whispering, 'I was lost, but now I'm found and f-o-r-g-i-v-e-n!'

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean up my mess.

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are farrrrrr to visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say 'I am a Christian,' I'm not "holier than thou,"
I'm just a simple sinner who has received God's good grace, somehow!

What does it mean to you when you say 'I am a Christian'?

 Knowledge is Power

Great resources given for educating yourself!

 Changing the Way We Eat

Well, it has been about 4 months since I went on a rampage about what we were eating as a family.  It hasn't been easy and we still have a long way to go.  But here are a couple key points I have learned through this process.

Being The Teacher has worked out better than being The Enforcer.

At first I just changed what I would make and everyone could eat it or go hungry.  I had some hungry kids sometimes.  It became a struggle at every meal to not let them eat what was now deemed unhealthy.  Eventually I gave up.  I cooked them meat.  I gave them dairy.  I just didn't have it in me to do the battle.  But I did start really teaching them why mom was eating so differently.  The word "healthy" became an everyday occurrence to describe a food choice.  What has happened is that over time my kids are now picking up on the difference.  Now they will ask me about different foods and if they are healthy or not.  (since daddy still brings home "unhealthy" food choices)  They still choose to eat unhealthy foods sometimes, but they are gravitating more and more to the healthy food.  Nothing rocks my world like my daughter saying, "I don't want that - it's not healthy." :)

There can be a happy middle ground.

I saw on GreenSmoothieGirl  a suggestion for getting kids to eat better.  Make them eat a big plate full of salad first and then they can have whatever they want.  Great suggestion!  They are more likely to eat it knowing then they are free to choose their dinner.  BUT, they are filled up with good raw veggies first, so less likely to eat too much of anything else... a big plus when that choice isn't healthy.

Now, if only dear hubby were as easily taught as the kids!  Sad but true, most of us adults are so ingrained in our way of eating that it will take a health crisis so get us to change.  Kids are our future though, and we just have to start taking accountability for what we are feeding them.

Here is a great video of Chef Ann Cooper, who is known as the Renegade Lunch Lady.  She has a website where you can learn more and get involved in making meals better for kids at home and at school.

 It's Time to Wake Up

Did you ever see that movie with Julia Roberts, "Erin Brocovich?"  There was that scene where she was talking to the mom about how the water was making them sick and the electric company knows all about it.  At first she just didn't want to believe it.  But then she has the wake up moment, and turns and looks at her kids splashing in the pool in the back yard.  She immediately starts calling to them to get out of the pool.

Well, that is a great analogy to what is happening in our country right now.  Last fall began my wake up call when I first read The China Study.  It was the start down the path to learning just how bad our food system really has become in America.  I am now faced with trying to pull my kids and husband out of the pool, so to speak, and help them understand why.

I am becoming more and more convinced that we need to change the way we view food in this country.  The evidence is overwhelming and I am constantly posting things on Facebook about our food.  Now I am going to start posting it here too.  We, as a nation, need to have a wake up moment.

(scroll down and turn off the music player to view the video)

 More Raw Cooking

Is that an oxymoron?  Or can cooking justifiably be applied to the creation of a meal or snack out of food regardless of whether heat is applied?  Just something I was wondering...

Anyway, in my quest to stay motivated to eat healthy, I have signed up for a slew of health emails to be delivered to my inbox.  This keeps me inundated with information to keep me on track.  I currently am receiving emails from the following:

Renegade Health
Dr. Mercola
World's Healthiest Foods
Natural News
Raw Family
Former Fat Guy
Raw Mom
Dr. Fuhrman  (author of Eat to Live)
Beautiful on Raw
Hallelujah Acres  (this one has been a link to a daily online video during the 60 day challenge, which is almost over!)

I love having the information waiting for me everyday in my email.  If anyone has other recommendations, I would love to know about them!

Sometimes if life is too busy, they just get deleted or put in a save folder to read later if it looks interesting or has a good recipe.  One of these that I saved was from The World's Healthiest Foods.  He sent out a recipe for 15-Minute Dark Chocolate Truffles.  Here is the recipe:
Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 3 TBS almond butter
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 3 TBS unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut
  1. In a food processor, drop the prunes and dates through the feed hole one by one. Scrape the processor bowl and run until the prunes and dates are smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for the coconut. Run until smooth and scrape the processor bowl with a spatula as needed.
  3. Roll the mixture into 12 one-inch balls and roll in coconut to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Makes 12 pieces

Well, sounded yummy to me and I had just bought prunes so I had all the necessary ingredients.  We were on!

We just put the whole thing in the Blendtec and it whipped it up in no time at all.  The girls loved helping to coat the balls in coconut.  Our batch ended up making 24 little truffles.  Our whole family liked them except for Angelina.  That really surprised me because she is our little prune eater.

Funny side note: I found that out on a road trip back to Maryland a couple years ago.  I had brought a big bag of mixed dried fruit for snacking on.  Angelina was just a little one then, but boy, did she love them prunes!  Unfortunately, too many prunes for a kid still in diapers is NOT a good combination.  I could smell a diaper change was in order and pulled over at the next rest stop.  Boy, did I have NO idea what was in store for me.  It was a diaper explosion!  I had to strip her completely bare and used up the rest of my wet wipes in the diaper bag getting her clean.  Just an FYI for other moms out there. ;)  It is funny looking back on it now, but was decidedly NOT funny then!

So back to the truffles.  I did like the truffles, but I am not so sure that the long list of ingredients garnered that special of a taste or texture to go to that effort.  They tasted very much like any of the chocolate treats I have whipped up before.  Raw almond butter is very expensive to get unless you have a Trader Joe's nearby. (which I don't, boo-hoo!)  So if I could make something equally good without it, that would be my preference.  I probably won't make this particular recipe again.  I usually just mix dates, walnuts, and raw chocolate to make a "raw brownie" and they taste almost identical to the recipe.  I don't usually roll them in coconut, but that would definitely be an option.  I also have done the same thing with raisins, walnuts, and raw chocolate for a "chocolate covered raisin" flavor.

Actually, I think this recipe ended up tasting very much like the raw bar recipe I posted on here.

On to the second raw recipe attempt.

I have read a lot of rave reviews on Kale chips, even seeing them referred to as Raw crack.  Apparently, these are the addictive, can't stop eating them or even wait for them to finish dehydrating, raw version of potato chips.  Now that Kale is showing up in the stores at reasonable prices, I was ready to give it a go.
I cleaned my kale and massaged in the oil and spices.

It sure looks yummy.  There is a recipe for cheesy kale chips made with nutritional yeast, but I was too impatient to wait for my nutritional yeast order to arrive, so I plunged ahead without it.  These kale pieces went on a pan and into the convection oven at 100 degrees.

My verdict was...
Do have an incredible potato chip like crunch?  Yes!
Are they addictive? Not so much.

I did not like the flavor one bit.  No one in the house liked them and a whole bunch of kale was wasted.  A real shame.  I am hesitant to try this one again, but I may try just a small batch of a cheesy kale recipe and see if that improves the flavor, because the crunch was indeed lovely.

So there you have it... 2 new raw recipes tried, and 2 recipes that won't be made again.  I will continue searching to add to our repertoire of quick, easy, and delicious raw food.