Tips for Healthy Eating When Eating Out

pexels-photo-313700.jpegI Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

The menu looks disappointing. I probably shouldn’t have come with my friends. What can I eat in this restaurant? Maybe I’ll just give in and order a burger. This is too hard!

We all face this dilemma at some point after deciding to eat a plant-based diet, but here are a few tricks (ways out of temptation) to help you maintain a healthy diet even if there isn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the menu:

— First of all, look at the soup, salad and appetizer sections of the menu. It is quite possible that you will find something suitable there. Many times appetizers that are meant for sharing are huge and can easily be your whole dinner. One of our favorite restaurants has a delicious Hummus Platter Appetizer (a platter of fresh romaine lettuce topped with homemade roasted red pepper hummus, and garnished with sliced tomatoes and warm toasted pita bread) that I adore. It is meant for four people to share, but I always order it as my entrée when we go there, and it is more than enough.

— Look at the side dishes. You can certainly put together a satisfying meal of three or four vegetable sides (not french fries, macaroni, and onion rings!) and a salad. Cracker Barrel calls this a Vegetable Platter, and it’s becoming popular in other restaurants, too. Keep it simple and be creative.

— Sometimes you can find a great vegetarian pasta dish already on the menu, but if you can’t then look at the options that are available, and don’t be afraid to ask if a dish you like could be prepared minus the meat and/or cheese. Most restaurants are happy to comply. I usually request mushrooms instead of the meat. My husband will request nuts be substituted for the meat in his pasta dish.

— If one entrée comes with broccoli and another comes with mushrooms and peas, then ask your server if you could please have the pasta (baked potato or brown rice) minus the meat, but topped with broccoli, mushrooms and peas (because you know they already have those ingredients in house) instead. Restaurants teach their staff that a satisfied customer will be a returning customer and will tell their friends, so they are more than willing to make you a satisfied customer.

— Even fast food restaurants are becoming veg-friendly. Burger King has a veggie burger. It’s not on the menu, but ask for it. Subway and Moe’s (you probably know of others) both have several vegetarian options that you can put together however you like, and they are very inexpensive. Ethnic restaurants offer many unique plant-based dishes that are sure to please, so be courageous and try something different. You might be surprised to find a new favorite food!

— Finally, if all else fails just ask the chef if he can prepare a special meal that meets your dietary requirements. Some of the most delicious restaurant meals we’ve enjoyed were the result of simply making that request when the menu looked hopeless. Many chefs welcome the challenge. You won’t know if you don’t ask. The better restaurants always try to accommodate.

So please, don’t be intimidated by menus or refuse to go out to eat because you’re afraid you won’t be able to stick to your new healthy lifestyle if you do. Meet your friends for dinner! Enjoy their company, and don’t stress out about what to eat. In the whole scheme of life it is, after all, just one meal. You don’t have to live like a hermit to eat healthy. Just be creative and enjoy the journey … To life!

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Beefless Stew with Dumplings

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My mother made the best beef stew ever! It was hearty and delicious. On a cold winter afternoon the aroma of her simmering stew filled the house, and we couldn’t wait for dinner time. Since giving up meat, the vegetable stews I tried making just seemed too light on flavor and texture. They weren’t the satisfying meal I remembered from childhood, and they left me feeling disappointed — until I hit on this recipe. Yay!

I call this Beefless Stew. It has all the flavor I remember, but none of the beef! Hearty enough to please my picky husband (he actually went back for thirds) and no unhealthy fat and cholesterol, this recipe is one you will want to make often. It is especially good with Grandma’s Dumplings!

I started everything in the crockpot. Hours later, when the vegetables were almost cooked through, I transferred the stew to a large pot on the stove (because you just can’t keep stew at the boiling point in a crockpot). The liquid must be boiling in order for the dumplings to cook properly, so don’t forget this important step.

Ingredients:

For best results start with room temperature ingredients.

1 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil

1/4 cup barley or rice

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green cabbage

2 large carrots, sliced

3 – 4 potatoes, cubed

2 Tbsp. Pumpkin puree, optional

1 cup peas (fresh or frozen, thawed), set aside

6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 whole bay leaf

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, to taste

Turn the crockpot on High and add about 1 cup of the vegetable broth, the oil, onion and garlic to the bottom of the crockpot. Cover and allow those ingredients to steam on High while you prepare the other vegetables.

When all the other vegetables (except the peas) are ready, add them to the crockpot along with the remaining broth and spices. (You will save the peas to add when the other vegetables are almost tender). Turn the crockpot to Low, and cook for 6 – 8 hours.

When the vegetables are almost tender, turn off the crockpot and transfer everything to a large stockpot. Add the peas, and heat to a slow boil. Now it’s time to add the dumplings!

GRANDMA’S DUMPLINGS:

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sea salt

3/4 – 1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk

1 1/2 Tbsp. firm coconut oil

Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in the coconut oil until it looks like tiny crumbs. Slowly add the milk until a sticky dough forms. Drop spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling stew (try to drop dough on the vegetables and not the broth).

Cook at a low boil for 10 minutes uncovered, then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes until the dumplings plump up and are fluffy.

Remove from heat and gently stir with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, How’s that New Year’s Resolution Going?

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The start of a new year is a funny time. People ponder the state of the goals they set during the previous year and resolve to do better this time around. Lose weight, finally read that book, get your finances in order, clean out the hall closet — every missed opportunity and put-off chore is on the list of things we resolve to make happen this year. Because it’s a New Year, a fresh start — anything is possible!

One thing I have been thinking about for a while is this blog. I’ve noticed that there are many blogs out there based on diet and food. Recipes abound for any diet you wish to follow. But, for some people, like me, you need more than a recipe to entice you to alter your diet even if it will improve your health. As a believer, I had to be convinced that following any specific diet was God’s will, so I researched with an open mind, read and prayed a lot. After two years I was convinced that a vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet was the correct diet for humans. Fad diets come and go, but this one has stood the test of time for promoting optimal health and longevity. This isn’t the answer I was hoping for (believe me, if there were a hot fudge sundae diet that worked, I would tell you!), but I am convinced this is the truth.

So this year, I resolve to share more about what God’s word has to say about the food we should eat. There will still be recipes, but more about what the Bible says that convinced me to permanently change my diet 18 years ago. It wasn’t because I loved vegetables (or even animals). My lifestyle change was an act of obedience to what I knew God was telling me. And, I believe that when you ask God a question, and He answers, then you’d better do what He says. I hope that throughout this new year you, too, will understand the wisdom of God’s original diet (Genesis 1:29 – Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”)

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True Food Kitchen, coming to a location near you!

20161217_142206-truefood-kitchenWhile traveling in Atlanta, we had the pleasure of visiting a refreshingly different kind of restaurant. True Food Kitchen is dedicated to not only serving delicious and unique recipes, but their menu closely adheres to the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. True Food Kitchen is based on the idea that food should make you feel better — not worse — and that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste to live a healthier lifestyle. The menu includes a variety of gluten-free, organic, vegetarian and vegan options influenced by Mediterranean, Asian, and California cuisine. The restaurant uses locally seasonal and organic whole foods whenever possible. It was nice to see a menu that is light on meat. (The meats available are “clean,” if you must have it.) Hot and cold teas, smoothies and natural juice blends are offered along with an extensive wine list, seasonal cocktails using fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices paired with organic spirits, plus local beers and cider.

We visited True Food Kitchen for an early afternoon brunch. From the list of teas and refreshers I chose one called “Medicine Man.” It was an iced triple-brewed black tea with cranberry, pomegranate, honey, and sea buckthorn. Very refreshing. From the extensive list of tantalizing main dishes I ordered the vegan Ancient Grains Bowl with tofu. Not really a bowl, this was more like a platter (no complaints here) and came with miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow peas, grilled Portobello, avocado and hemp seed. The portions were more than generous, and I was the last one at our table to finish eating because I did devour every delicious morsel.The prices at True Food Kitchen are moderate for upscale casual dining.

I was impressed with the cuisine and also the attention to environmentally friendly architectural detail, lighting, and décor. This truly is a green restaurant in every sense of the word. To learn more, check out their website: http://www.truefoodkitchen.com.

At the present time there are 16 True Food Kitchen’s scattered across the US, with 7 more coming soon. For my friends in the northeast, look for a new True Food Kitchen in King of Prussia, PA scheduled to open in Summer ’17, and in the Mid-Atlantic region Bethesda, MD in Spring ’17. Definitely try to find one near you… you won’t be disappointed!

 

Keep Calm and Drink Tea

I confess, I love tea. I love the flavor, the aroma, and the total experience of brewing and drinking tea. This probably started when I was the very active little girl of a late-in-life mother, whose mission it was to turn her youngest daughter into a “proper young lady.” As a special treat she would prepare a tea party for just the two of us and whatever dolls and stuffed animals cared to join in. I specifically remember her explaining the attributes of the fine china teacups, which I was only permitted to use on these supervised occasions. She would hold the delicate teacup up to the light so I could see the faint shadow of her fingers through the china, and then explain how “a lady” would hold the cup, take a sip, use her napkin, etc. This must be how my love for tea began.

Now, I appreciate tea for all its health benefits as well. There is something very civilizing about brewing and indulging in a cup of tea. Over tea confidences are shared, problems are solved, friendships are solidified, and nerves are calmed. All of these side effects of tea may help to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has been known to increase appetite and lead to fat storage. Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to many diseases, so controlling stress by stopping to enjoy a cup of tea during your busy day may benefit your health by reducing both appetite and tension.

Drinking tea (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) has been shown to increase the fat burning process up to 17% and caloric expenditure by 4%. Studies in animals and humans have even shown that drinking tea may reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat. That’s one great reason to choose tea over other beverages!

In contrast, alcohol is loaded with 7 liquid calories/gram. Beer contains a similar number of calories as sugary soft drinks. Red wine contains twice that amount! If you want to reduce your midsection, then reduce or skip the alcoholic beverages.

Unsweetened tea, hot or iced, is a healthier thirst quencher than carbonated soft drinks. It’s easy to drink a large amount of empty liquid calories without even realizing it when you consume soda, and diet sodas are no better for you. These chemical cocktails are hard on your stomach lining, tooth enamel and bones, and  have even been shown to CAUSE weight gain. The bubbles in soda also release gas in your stomach leading to embarrassing GI noises when you least expect them.

Fruit juices and energy drinks may seem like healthy alternatives, but these are loaded with concentrated sugar making it easy to drink excess calories on top of everything else you consume. Eating whole fruit is a much better choice than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals your body needs without the caloric overload leading to weight gain. Try sipping fruit infused tea instead — it’s and excellent way to enjoy the flavor of fruit without all those unnecessary calories.

If you are caffeine sensitive, then opt for teas with low or no caffeine. Flavored herbal teas contain little or no caffeine, and are a relaxing evening beverage. Chamomile tea is one herbal tea well-known for its calming effect on the mind and body. Always try to find an organic tea. If you garden, you can make tea from your own organic herbs. I have made excellent peppermint, spearmint, and lavender teas from my own backyard plants. Tea made from herbs picked right from your garden tastes so fresh, and it’s free!

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So, the next time you’re looking for a little something to drink, keep calm and drink tea. It’s an ancient beverage with modern health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Emotions Affect Physical Health

This is probably the most important post I’ve ever written, but as we start the New Year with the current level of civil unrest in the United States I feel that it’s important to address those who are still upset about the November election results. On the news and social media vicious, hateful diatribes are fueling angry protests along with fear and anxiety in those who were disappointed. Others, who were pleased by the election results, are alarmed and embarrassed that the rest of the world is judging us for the division in our country, worried that terrorists may decide this is the perfect time to strike our fractured nation. All of us are nervous about what we can say, even to family members, because some peoples’ feelings are still so raw.

Maybe you don’t realize it, but many diseases have emotional roots. Anger, hatred, bitterness, and worry all build up within your mind and body, creating the perfect environment for disease to flourish. You’ve felt the physical effects of those toxic emotions: the tightening of your chest, rise in blood pressure, elevated temperature, loss of appetite, inability to sleep or concentrate on anything but how much you hate another person. Those emotions are not healthy! Heart disease, arthritis, IBS and other GI problems all have emotional components which block physical healing. I’ve even heard one doctor say that he could predict which cancer patients would survive their illness simply by observing that person’s attitude about life in general. If you want to stay healthy start with your mind. If you are fighting any illness right now, this is imperative.

What emotions are ruling your days and nights? What thoughts are fueling your deepest emotions and reactions to today’s news? Worry is just wasted energy. If you say hatred or revenge, then please ask yourself why you would ever give someone else that much power over your own physical health. Divisive comments, snide remarks, and a critical attitude fuel “dis-ease” within your own body.

No matter who is in office we must remember that we are all on the same team, citizens of the same country, the United States of America. A leader has been chosen, and everyone on the team wants peace and prosperity in our nation. Creating discord within the team will not give us success. We may not like everyone on the team, but we do want our team to win, right? If the captain of our team fails, we all fail together, and nobody wants that. At the very least we can pray for our leaders. They need all the help they can get!

If you really want to be healthy, then start this New Year in a new positive frame of mind. You can reject negativity and feel the weight of the world lift from your shoulders. You don’t need to carry that heaviness! When critical thoughts begin to surface think of how you can encourage. If you disagree, how can you help? A wise man once penned these words about what should fill our minds during turbulent times:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Truer words were never spoken. If you want physical health, then take control of your emotions, starting with your thoughts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup

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The winter holidays are in full celebration mode! If you haven’t eaten a cookie all year, you will this month. Parties, baking with the family, snacking while enjoying in the annual Christmas movies on TV — don’t be surprised if someone in your house comes down with a cold. Did you know that eating sugar suppresses your immune system for the next four hours?  With all the added sugar we consume at this time of year, is it any wonder that flu season tags right along after the holidays?

Mom always said that chicken soup is the best medicine for a cold, and she was right. With this recipe even a vegan can get all the benefits of her age-old remedy without sacrificing a bird. It tastes just like the real thing!

Ingredients:

1 – 2 TBS. Organic coconut oil

2 carrots, chopped

1 stalk celery (including leaves), chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

6 – 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (can use frozen)

1 can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup frozen organic corn

4 – 5 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped fine

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups vegan “chicken” broth (I like Imagine brand No-Chicken Broth best)

2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 cup small dry pasta

Melt coconut oil in a stockpot or dutch oven. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, ginger, and curry powder and cook for another 2 -4 minutes.

Add the vegan “chicken” broth, garbanzo beans, corn, garlic, bay leaf, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Turn heat to high and heat to boiling. Add the pasta. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pasta is tender. (If not serving immediately, cook pasta less than the recommended time because it will continue to cook in the hot soup).

Makes 8 – 10 servings.

Don’t wait ’til you’re sick to enjoy this delicious soup. It will be one of your favorites!

 

 

 

If It Makes My Husband Notice, Then I’m All for It!

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Recently I tried a brand new line of skin care products from a brand new company, Wellness Prioritized. First let me say that I have not been paid for this review, and I did not receive any product or discount. I purchased both products at full price from Amazon.com after a friend’s recommendation.

Why the review? Because I think everyone who is interested in the quality and purity of the food they put into their body is also interested in the quality and purity of the products they put on their body. Whatever we put on our body is very efficiently absorbed by the skin, so we should try not to introduce harmful chemicals and fragrances that many skincare lines contain.

The label states that Wellness Prioritized is an all natural, organic, vegan skin care line. This caught my attention immediately… no toxins, really? I was skeptical.  The fact that it is made in an FDA approved facility, and not someone’s kitchen or garage, put my mind at ease. As someone who still gets occasional breakouts I am very particular about the products I use on my skin, and have a drawer full of rejects to prove it.

I gave both the body lotion and the body butter a one week trial. When using, I noticed that both products have a mild clean fragrance… no offensive chemical smell at all. The gentle herbal fragrance is derived from pure essential oils. Check out the ingredients in the lotion.

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I LOVE the Wellness Prioritized Body Lotion for everything, especially my face!  I know, I was surprised that a body lotion could be used as a facial moisturizer, too, but it works! After using the lotion morning and night for just a few days, and while not wearing any makeup, my husband remarked that my skin looked so nice. He asked, “Are you doing something different? Were you out in the sun?” Wow! This is a man that doesn’t notice anything! I could come home from the salon with my hair three inches shorter and six shades lighter, and he wouldn’t say a word. If HE notices, then it works!

The body butter is a bit thicker than the lotion, so I have not tried it on my face.  For hands, heels, knees, and elbows (you know, all the rough spots) it works great. The weather here has just started to get cold. Already I’ve gotten one of those painful skin cracks on my thumb. I applied the Wellness Prioritized 100% Vegan Shea Body Butter on the crack several times a day, and it healed right over. I am going to be using the Body Butter a lot this winter!

So, my opinion: I give both these Wellness Prioritized products two thumbs up. I can’t wait to see what they add to their line in the  future!

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning!

 

Are you wondering how to eat as you search for answers to your health problems? Has your search led you to more questions than answers? Are you concerned about the health of planet Earth as well as your own body? Sixteen years ago I was asking all those questions, too. I read everything I could find on health and nutrition. I spent days in the library and online studying the scientific research, taking and comparing notes, searching for answers only to become more and more confused as everyone from the FDA to fad diet promoters each led me down yet another rabbit trail of doubt. I prayed for guidance.

Instinctively I knew that the answers to my questions were to be found somewhere in the oldest book of wisdom known to mankind, the Bible. Thinking this would take forever, I started to read, determined to root out the answers to a healthy diet. To my surprise, the answer was hidden in plain sight in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible!

Genesis 1: 29  Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

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Then it dawned on me… a plant-based diet is not something new and suspect. Vegetarian diets are not recent inventions by New Age gurus. Eating a healthy whole food plant-based diet is the oldest and most efficient diet in the world! Always was, always will be. If you are wondering where to look in your search for health, why not start at the very beginning?

 

 

Zucchini Chips

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Do you have an overabundance of zucchini in your garden right now? Are your friends and neighbors starting to avoid you because they can’t accept any more of your extra zucchini “gifts?” Well, this recipe will help you to easily preserve your harvest without using up any freezer storage space (or annoying your friends). When you pull out these raw zucchini chips on a cold winter night people will gobble them down like they’ve never seen zucchini before in their life.

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When you have a large bowl of sliced raw zucchini it’s time to make the marinade. (You may have to make several batches of marinade in order to coat all the slices).

Ingredients:

1 TBS. olive oil

2 TBS. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 TBS nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor)

Extra nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top

Pour the marinade over the chips and gently toss them to coat. Make sure that each slice is coated. It helps to slide a coated slice over an uncoated one, front and back, to get the flavor onto each chip. Make more marinade as needed and repeat the process until all slices are coated.

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Arrange the coated slices in a single layer on the mesh dehydrator trays making sure that they do not touch each other. Lightly sprinkle more nutritional yeast on top of each slice. In order to maintain a raw chip dehydrate at only 110 degrees for 10 – 12 hours. I usually dehydrate overnight and then check them in the morning. Add more time if necessary. They are done when all the chips are dry and crisp.

Allow the finished chips to cool in the dehydrator before storing them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. These will stay crisp and tasty for months stored this way, and you can enjoy your fresh garden produce any time of the year. Zucchini chips are great for parties and healthy lunchbox treats, too!

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Fresh, green veggies… enjoy zucchini all year long!