Thursday, March 30, 2017
OR, if your husband is out of town for a week - with Amish bacon, and lingonberry jam.
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk (or use a cup of milk replacing 1 Tablespoon with lemon juice)
3 Tablespoons honey
2 cups gluten-free baking mix (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 oz.(1 stick) COLD butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon sized pieces.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with two layers of parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, buttermilk, and honey. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes to soak the cornmeal. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a food processor and pulse to mix. Add cold butter and pulse until mixture is coarse. Pour the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture and stir to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 8 times until smooth. Using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass about 2 inches wide dipped in flour (I dip mine in a little water), cut out 6 rounds. Arrange rounds on cookie sheet. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes or until biscuits really start to rise in the oven, then turn heat down to 400 and bake for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and serve with jam or butter and honey.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Other than that, I'm not a big fan of most sandwiches made at home. Just meat and cheese and iceburg lettuce is too boring and unless you add a bunch of mayo (I HATE mustard) too dry. My husband happily goes off to work each day with one, mayo-free, just some sandwich sprinkle spice from Penzey's, but his work has a nonprofit cafeteria where he can add a side salad for a dollar or two. But I decided to start adding more veggies to my sandwich and it made a lot of difference. Try sprouts (I make my own as grocery store sprouts do have a higher risk of salmonella than most lettuces), add mushrooms, or avocado, tomatoes or spinach. Cranberry sauce is good with turkey or "veggie turkey" especially with a thin smear of fat-free or dairy-free cream cheese. Ditch the mayo. Keep the meat lean or a vegetarian protein adding a little pepper, teriyaki sauce or barbecue seasoning to it before baking and only use a thin slice of cheese (better yet use hummus, keeps the sandwich moist and also healthy). Decorate with a toothpick with a pickle spear or add some shredded cabbage with rice vinegar as a side (a non-fat "coleslaw")
Serve on a whole grain, sprouted grain, or gluten-free bread, whatever you prefer. No thick white bread - that defeats the whole purpose of a healthy sandwich.
Yum - I didn't know a lunch sandwich from home could be this good!
Friday, March 24, 2017
I actually like this better than just the carrots and could eat it regularly (and it's less than 200 calories a cup and SO creamy.)
Browned Butter Carrot and Sage Soup
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
handful of fresh sage (leaves only, and washed)
5 cups chopped carrots
1 and 3/4 cups water
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or use chicken or vegetarian "chicken" broth, both also good)
3/4 cup reduced fat half-and-half
dash of salt and white pepper to taste
Heat butter in a Dutch oven and heat until it's starting to brown and go frothy. Add sage and cook until starting to crisp up, remove with slotted spoon. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in carrots. Add water and broth; bring to a lively simmer over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer until the carrots soften (25-35 minutes). Cool 10 minutes minimum (so you're not pureeing piping hot liquid) then puree the soup a cup or so at a time in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in half-and-half and salt and pepper, return to saucepan and heat on low until warm. Garnish with a few croutons and a sprig of fresh herb of choice.
Use olive oil instead of butter.
Instead of cream, omit the onion and make a "creme" substitute out of roasted onions (it's really amazing, not tasting exactly like cream but with the same texture and depth to add to recipes). If you don't do onions and can eat soy, blend tofu and water in a 1/1 ratio to make a "cream".
Veggie "Cream Substitute:
Makes 3/4 to 1 cup
3 large sweet onion
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Coat the onions lightly with extra virgin olive oil, and roast them at 400º F in a pan that's not a lot bigger than they are until they are very dark on the outside and molten soft on the inside—the insides should not have taken on any color. That's about 45 minutes in my oven. Let cool. Once they have cooled, Remove the peels, and add the onions into a blender. Blend until very smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Finish by adding salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and olive oil to taste, then blend 20 to 30 seconds more. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Use as you would cream to finish a dish. Will keep in the fridge for 3 days and in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Great to make mashed potatoes with for vegan friends.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Although eating better quality food and starting a serious work out program this last year has made me feel better (and I lost 9 pounds without any sort of structured "diet"), I also am making an effort to make more "me" time. Working full time, maintaining a couple of blogs plus twitter and facebook for marketing the books and working on the next book (which is almost like having two full time jobs) and family leave little time to just relax. For me, it's the occasional board game with my husband after dinner with a glass of wine and a long soak in the tub while my husband then happily curls up with nothing else to do but enjoy a book or putter in his shop.
I love my baths and have a number of bath products, my new favorite being the new "Tub Tingle" bath bombs from SACS & Co. But I was out!
DIY Bath "Bomb"
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup Epsom salts (I gave them a few pulses in the food process to make them finer)
1/2 cup Citric Acid (I found on Amazon)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup corn starch
2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 and and 1/2 teaspoons water
Essential oil (I used lavender) 10 drops for lightly scented 1/4 tsp for heavier scented.
1 teaspoons beet juice (for color).
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. Combine (it will fizz up, that's the expected chemical reaction.) Stir until combined and spoon into muffin tins, pressing down with a spoon or with gloved hands
Leaves some room as they do expand as they dry. Let sit at room temperature to dry out 3 hours to overnight. Store in baggies away from kids and pets (these would be toxic to eat) and enjoy in your bath. When they are done, they will have risen up to the top of the muffin pan and smoothed out, and will be dry and firm to the touch. They were a little more "crumbly" than the purchased ones, so I just stored them in baggies and dropped the contents into the tub.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Get some rice cooking in your steamer.
In a coffee cup mix a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (or use half as much of powder), the juice of a lime (about a Tablespoon), a teaspoon of honey (or half teaspoon of sugar) and cayenne pepper to taste (I like mine spicy).
If you want to be totally soy free use gluten free breaded chicken bites. I used the veggie chicken pieces since it was one of my meatless days - I like the Gardein ones which do have a little gluten and soy in them. I cut them in pieces and just nuked for a couple of minutes then crisped them up in a fry pan. Remove from heat and cover with lid to keep warm.
When the rice is a few minutes out from being done, stir fry in a tablespoon of olive oil half a bag of frozen oriental veggies (mine was a mix of broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts and red pepper). When veggies are crisp/tender, toss with your protein and sauce and serve with rice.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Horse Creek Soap Berry Vanilla and Lovespell
Today's post is off the healthy recipe theme and covers another part of my life I updated to live healthier, doing so about eight years ago. Just a note: I was not asked to review any of the products here, or provided money to review them. I only post on this website the products I love enough to buy and use in my own home.
What you put IN your body is essential to good health, but what you put ON your body is also very important. The skin is the largest organ of the body and some of what is put on the skin will be absorbed into the body. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked into the skin’s absorption rates of chemicals found in drinking water. It showed that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage. (1)
You're kidding me right?
Yes, Other studies found the face to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces and an absorption rate of 100% for (ahem) "delicate" areas of the body. (2)
And another peer-reviewed study showed 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients. (3)
U.S.researchers have reported that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.
Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks).
I started with my soap. Most soap dried out my skin, but looking at the ingredient label of my moisturizing soap was an eye opener. I was using a generic product that was similar to Dove, but not made by Unilever.
SODIUM COCOYL ISETHIONATE AND/OR SODIUM LAUROYL ISETHIONATE, STEARIC ACID, SODIUM TALLOWATE, COCONUT ACID AND/OR LAURIC ACID, WATER, SODIUM ISETHIONATE, ETHYLENE/VA COPOLYMER AND/OR PEG-12 OR PEG-8, SODIUM COCOATE, COCAMIDOPROPY BETAINE, FRAGRANCE, GLYCERIN, SODIUM CHLORIDE, TETRASODIUM EDTA, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, AND TETRASODIUM ETIDRONATE.
Plus it started turning to mush in the shower after 10 days, so even though it was cheap it wasn't a bargain.
You can get unscented or a number of light scents. My all time favorite is Fresh Snow which is just sold around the holidays. When I said favorite - I bought a dozen bars of it as it's just made once a year I didn't want to run out.
OLIVE OIL, COCONUT OIL, PALM OIL, GOAT MILK, AVOCADO OIL, SHEA BUTTER, COCOA BUTTER, CASTOR OIL, LYE, FRAGRANCE, COLOR.
That's it. Now I'm sure someone is going to say "lye? Isn't that caustic?" Technically yes, but you can't make soap without it. Not going to happen. In a soap like Horse Creek, that is superfatted, the chance of any irritation in the tiny amount of lye needed to process is about zip. You are more likely to be sensitive to a fragrance in any brand of soap than the lye that's used to make it.
In addition to the soap and the lotions, there are also some great lip balms (the sweet orange is addicting) and a rose/clay sugar scrub that's just yummy.
At $5 a bar it might seem pricey for soap, but after using them a year, I can tell you a bar lasts 3 times longer than the soap I was using, so it's very competitively priced for the quality.
Next are the skin and body care items that I have used over the years. I admit, I've strayed to try a high end name brand or two a close friend was using or selling and always came back to these products, especially after looking at some of the toxic ingredients in some of the popular brands.
I also always protect my skin from heavy winter winds/cold when working outdoors and summer sun with a layer of beeswax cream before I go outside (which has a natural spf of 15) from
I can honestly say that my skin, using good quality skin care which nourishes the skin with real, not synthetic ingredients, not only does not look eight years older since I started using these products, but I'm usually mistaken for early 40's, NOT late 50's. Good genes, a lifetime of sunscreen and a diet rich in foods that promote collagen have helped a lot, but the skin care has made a noticeable difference. Especially in the chronic redness and irritation I always had with dry skin and Rosacea.
Point and shoot selfie at age 57. (no filters)
1. Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484.
2. Kasting and Kretsos.Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2005;18:55-74 Robinson et al.
3. The Importance of Exposure Estimation in the Assessment of Skin Sensitization risk. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42:251-259.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
I'm doing 3-4 days a week - 60-minute sessions with one 90-minute session on the weekend, Weights (with an emphasis on arms as that was my weak area), cardio, boxing, and strength training to my Piano Guys CD (seriously, best workout music). I can also do the entire session without having to stop for several minutes to catch my breath between sets. Planks went from 5 seconds to 3 minutes and my partial meniscus-less knee only hurts when the weather is changing (accu-knee) instead of 24 and 7. My 3-pound weights are now 8-pound weights (going for repetition rather than overall weight lifting) and a 10-pound medicine ball was added to the mix.
One year in, without dieting, just cooking healthy food/healthy fats food more often with more fruits and veggie laden meals but still enjoying some wine and treats on a regular basis, I lost 18 pounds and 2 pants sizes. I can also wear sleeveless shirts for the first summer in 10 years.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
If I add a glass fo wine I think I've covered all food groups.
This week was not my finest in the healthy eating department. My husband was gone all week, I was working on a project at home and things were happening in life that were stressful. With pretty much perfect credit, I got a bill sent to collection for a fairly recent diagnostic medical exam that I never had.
I had a few things working in my favor:
The diagnostic procedure was in a state I moved away from and haven't revisited in 10 years
The address they sent the bill to, I'd moved from 12 years ago.
The last name of the "patient" was my maiden name, and I was long married at the time of the exam.
I was never a patient of the doctor that sent "me" for the diagnostic procedure, I was simply in the system for the medical group he was part of, or at least was 10 years ago.
I have no records of physical issues that would have required this procedure, being a licensed airline pilot, those things are in my FAA flight surgeon records.
Road tolls would show me driving from Chicago to Indianapolis early that morning to start duty at 9:30, leaving duty at 1800.
There's just not enough pizza for the week I had.
Still, the collection people didn't believe me, thinking I just "forgot" the exam (which I would have had to drive 650 miles to get, a procedure, readily available 5 minutes from where I lived), and told me I should just call the doctor and take care of the bill.
But his practice was closed, patients being picked up by a large medical provider in the area. (really, I need more pizza).
Fortunately, a very kind woman named Kim, a financial counselor at the large medical group who inherited the record when the practice that billed me closed, realized they inherited a billing error and got it sorted out though my credit report hasn't updated yet. She probably spent half an hour on the phone with me trying to sort out what had happened. Kim - you are an angel. Bless you.
But at the start of the week when I found all this out let's just say red wine and cheese may be on the endangered species list by now.
So this weekend, my husband home and things back to normal, time for some healthy eating after a fairly big breakfast of gluten-free biscuits (King Arthur flour recipe) and gravy.
You know I love smoothies. I tried the Daily Harvest home delivery smoothies once a year and a half ago and the initial ones were VERY good, with really healthy ingredients, but a little more than I wanted to pay. Then later shipments arrived with the contents fused together as if they had thawed and refrozen, and they seemed smaller, so I didn't order again.
Then I noticed in my Schwan's catalog they now have smoothies.
Most of you in the US are familiar with Schwan's - the big yellow truck that delivers flash frozen meals, fruits, veggies and ice cream to your door. My Dad was a huge fan when he and my stepmom got up there in years and didn't like to cook much. He still ALWAYS has their pot pies and GoldnNugget ice cream bars in his freezer and a couple of the skillet meals if he has one of the home health aides that's not much of a cook (they're hired for their nursing care, the house and cooking tasks are provided, but some are more skilled at that part than others).
I like them too. I do tend to make 95% of everything from scratch, including my bread to save money but my family does have some favorites
The Toaster Waffles - before I ditched regular wheat I absolutely loved these, they put grocery store frozen waffles to shame. They're crisp with a pillowy interior and a wonderful vanilla aroma.
The Ciabatta rolls (great for dinner or make little pizzas out of them for the little ones).
Fully cooked microwavable bacon (when you just want a quick BLT)
The whole sockeye salmon filet - growing up on fresh caught what we find in a store in the Midwest is NOT that great, the catch of the day usually being Perogies.
The southwest roasted corn and beans - less than $8 for two pounds, mix with rice and cheese and you've got a great vegetarian lunch burrito as it's already seasoned perfectly
and their frozen fruits and veggies, so fresh and good tasting. (the roasted sweet potatoes are the bomb, especially drizzled with some pear/cinnamon balsamic vinegar before roasting).
But I'd not tried their smoothies. I'm glad I did
Healthy ingredients - this tropical one had mango, carrots, sweet potatoes banana, and pineapple. I mixed it with a cup and a half of a mixture of orange juice and goat milk kefir.
Great Taste - even my husband, NOT a fan of smoothies with veggies in them, took a sip and said, "that's good!"
Easy: no chopping, no dicing
No gluten/no sugar/no sodium
Ready in two minutes.
You will need to add more than just water, juice or coconut milk work great.
More $$ than making from scratch but they were HALF the cost of the Daily Harvest smoothie or ones from a "smoothie bar" kind of eatery (you can add protein powder or spirulina and such if you wish).
They also have a strawberry banana and a green smoothie (with peaches, pineapple, broccoli, and kale).
I really liked the tropical flavor I just tried - I didn't notice the taste of the sweet potato and carrots after mixing it thoroughly with the juice and kefir. It also made enough for a glass and a half and it was filling. If I added a heaping tablespoon of Vega Protein powder, this could be a meal.
Thanks Schwan's! I will be re-ordering!
Monday, March 6, 2017
I really like how my skin is looking since switching to organic products especially in that it's been shown that what we put on our skin ends up in our bloodstream. I'm almost 59, and people still think I'm in my early/mid 40's. Good nutrition and skin care has made a huge difference.
But this winter, with all of the dry air, my skin was especially dry and irritated and I tried some honey and olive oil based products that I really liked after my beloved Simply Birgit line of honey-based organics had to close shop due to some health and family changes for the owner.
Honey Girl Organics. Located in Hawaii, all of the products are hand-crafted from the rich vibrant nectars of organically grown flowers. This nectar is transformed into nutrient dense honey and beeswax by the magical work of bees. Honey Girl mindfully harvests and blends this honey and beeswax into HGO's pure product formulations under low heat using minimal processing methods to ensure you receive the best quality creams. From the farm directly to your doorstep!
I tried their cleanser, both regular and for super sensitive skin, face and eye cream, both regular and sensitive, skin food, toner, serum, mask, scrub, and nail/cuticle cream.
The super sensitive line has the olive oil, beeswax, and honey that the regular line does for great moisturization but doesn't have the citrus essential oils that add Vitamin C but can possibly irritate the most sensitive of skin (which would be me). I didn't have any irritation with the regular line but liked there was a choice without paying more. I also got some small samples of products with each order I place (I've already reordered).
The toner is great for all skin types. In the morning, I don't wash so not to strip my super dry skin. I simply put a little toner on the pad and wipe to get rid of any dirt that's accumulated during sleep. Made from simply purified water, honey propolis, essential oils and witch hazel, it combats wrinkles and puffiness by stimulating blood flow in the capillaries as well as balances sebum production, which benefits both oily and dry skin types.
The Scrub - OK this is my new "Holy Grail" product and made me feel like I'd had one of those uber expensive spa facial treatments. Made with pure aloe butter, super -fine cane sugar, organic diatomaceous earth (to draw out impurities), aloe gel, raw Pupukea wildflower honey, organic coconut oil, essential oils and grapefruit seed extract. I just rubbed a bit over dry skin, wiped off with a damp washcloth, used the toner and my skin was as soft as can be. It also didn't irritate my rosacea which is a huge plus.
The mask it also amazing, crafted from their wildflower honey, organic diatomaceous earth, french green clay, Hawaiian blue-green algae, royal jelly and propolis from honey, you will both deep clean and feed your skin as the mask stimulates collagen production.
You apply it to slightly moist skin. It's a green cream mask that when applied in a thin layer with a couple of drops of warm water quickly goes on and then dries. I couldn't resist when I saw my green face in the mirror. I squeezed into my husbands one size smaller than me jeans and T-shirt, then opened the bathroom door where he was sitting in view in the dining room and did my best Incredible Hulk stance and growl. He laughed and muttered something about "other guys have normal wives" but I couldn't resist. Fifteen minutes later, in the bathtub, the mask removed easily with warm water. My face just glowed.
The Super skin food is a moisturizer that has greater concentrations of nourishing ingredients than the face and eye cream and felt great after the mask. It would work for oilier skin as well. For my super dry skin I think I would stick with the face/eye cream or the night cream but everyday use but it was wonderful after the mask. One nice thing is it only takes the smallest amount of product so it will last a long time.
HoneyGlo Face Serum contains five rich plant-based oils:
Organic Hemp Oil, a rich source of Omega 6 and Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids improve chronic dry skin conditions—dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema—and calm acne.
Hemp oil also helps prevent moisture loss and premature aging, and its high levels of vitamin D promote soft, smooth, and hydrated skin.
Organic Jojoba Oil is actually a liquid plant wax similar to our own skin sebum. It’s advanced molecular stability, mild odor & color, and high absorbency makes this an excellent oil for skin care. It helps with any imbalance in the skin, like psoriasis and eczema, and has the ability to repair.
Organic Rosehip Seed Oil is considered a ‘dry oil’, meaning it leaves no greasy residue. This oil is extremely high in essential fatty acids and is a great agent in fighting dry, weathered and dehydrated skin. It works wonders on scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. Rosehip seed oil is particularly high in vitamin C, linoleic acid (omega 6 oil), oleic acid (omega 9 fatty acid), lycopene (antioxidant) and beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A and antioxidant).
Organic Carrot Seed Oil has strong antioxidant properties, helping in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. They also sent samples of other products such as body cream and foot cream which I'm going to try.
This serum was really soothing on my winter chapped skin which totally aggravated my Rosacea and noticeably softened the lines around my eyes.
The nail and cuticle cream softens and removes excess cuticle while providing nutrition for stronger and healthier cuticles and nails. After just a few weeks my dry nails that regularly tore with home improvement work and gardening were healthier healthyier looking.
Big thumbs up Honey Girl!
Sunday, March 5, 2017
First - I don't digest peanut butter really well and after 17 years as an airline pilot, I have eaten so many little bags of peanuts when there wasn't time to run into the terminal for food, just the smell makes me a little nauseous. Peanuts are a legume, not a true nut and not everyone does real well with them and almond butter always seems a bit grainy to me. So this week I tried some sunflower butter. WIN! It was creamy and tasty and compared to my husband's peanut butter had:
more healthy fats
It also has:
TWICE the calcium
THREE TIMES the Vitamin E
TWICE the iron
and it has Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, and Phosphors, essential nutrients our peanut butter didn't have.
Smeared on some gluten free toast it was a tasty breakfast.
I saw these in our closest health food store having read how good they are. $3.60 for one little tart but it says to eat just half, and honestly half was enough to satisfy.
There is no dairy or wheat in these, and they are full of healthy coconut oil. The ingredients are simple - organic shredded coconut, organic blue agave, cashews, organic virgin coconut oil and coconut sugar, almond flour, lemon juice, organic coconut flour, orange and lemon juice, and sea salt. Half a tart also has 4 and 1/2 grams of fiber
Apple Cider Vinegar - and use the organic with "the mother" (the sediment that is full of all sorts of good for you things), rosewater, honey, and essential oil - that was it. Since my toner bottle was soaking to remove the label, I stored this in a spare beverage bottle and will fill later (yes, the "funnel" is the top of a water bottle). At less than $4 to make 12 ounces its cheaper than any handcraft brand you can buy and it started to clear up those persistent white bumps I get from clogged oil glands without totally drying my skin out. My husband even complimented me on how soft my skin was after using this as opposed to a commercial version with a lot of witch hazel.
1 cup rosewater - Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness of irritated skin, get rid of acne, dermatitis and eczema. It is a great cleanser and aids in removing oil and dirt accumulated in clogged pores.
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs) ACV restores the proper PH levels to your skin, the beta-carotene helps to counter future skin damage, and it also helps treat age spots, pimples and acne scars, reducing their appearance over time. It also helps with the bumps you get from clogged oil glands, common as we age
5 drops essential oil. Lavender essential oil is one of the best essential oil for sensitive skin. Its soothing properties calm down inflammatory skin conditions including eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and insect bites and stings, as well as hives.
2 generous Tablespoons of honey - Honey is naturally antibacterial, so it's great for acne treatment and prevention. Full of antioxidants, it is great for slowing down aging. It is also extremely moisturizing and soothing, so it helps create a glow. I use Manuka or Beechwood honey from New Zealand. It's more expensive than domestic the but the benefits are worth the price. New Zealand honey is the bomb.
That's all my friends - come on back later for more DIY healthy things, product reviews, and recipes.