Friday, December 28, 2012

BAKED BEANS WITH COCONUT SUGAR

I fully intended to post this before Christmas, but failed to do so. I hope you all had a blessed Christmas. Ours was different this year. My oldest son didn't make it home due to ice and snow. He offered to brave the storm, but it is not worth the risk. So, hopefully we will see him next weekend. There a lot of pros and cons to having grown children. The worst thing for me is that I don't get to spend enough time with him. We have always been very close and so this is very hard on me.

When I was growing up, my Dad's family would all gather at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. Grandma always made ham, potato salad and baked beans. This is one of my favorite meals. At Thanksgiving, the only thing I would eat was sweet potatoes and a roll until I was in my twenties. I didn't like turkey or dressing or mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce or pecan pie or pumpkin pie, etc. Yes, I was a picky eater. But, I always looked forward to Christmas Eve dinner. My dad always liked ham, potato salad and baked beans as well. So, after Grandma passed away, we carried on the tradition. The last Christmas Eve that my Dad was with us, he ate 3 helpings of my baked beans. He said they got better every year and now they were perfect. I cherish that memory. He died 2 weeks later. So now every time I make baked beans, I think of my Dad and my Grandma and wish they were sitting there eating them with me. 

I always used pork and beans to make baked beans. However, pork and beans have high fructose corn syrup in them! I know, CRAZY! Isn't it! So, I've been trying to come up with a recipe for baked beans that is healthier and lower in sugar. 

Of course, everyone knows that beans are good for you. They are high in fiber and protein and also have significant amounts of folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and Vitamin B6. 

I've been doing research on coconut sugar and using it in place of brown sugar in recipes with great results. I live in a small town of 25,000 and the only place in my town that carries it is our small health food store. However, all of the larger health food stores carry it and you can buy it online at Amazon or Vitacost. 

Coconut sugar is much better for you than refined sugar for many reasons. Here are a few: 

*   It does not spike your blood sugar and is safe for diabetics; 
*   It is unrefined so it retains all of its natural minerals and vitamins; 
*   Contains Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc.

Coconut sugar is a great substitute for white sugar or brown sugar. Because it is unrefined, it has a grainy texture. If you want it "finer" just pulse it in a food processor a few times. 
   
So, here is a recipe for healthier baked beans. No HFCS, low glycemic, high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. And since we've upped the nutrition factor in so many ways, a little bit of bacon isn't going to hurt you, but it sure does make these beans YUMMY. FYI - bacon doesn't scare me near as much as HFCS, aspartame, and all those other chemicals that are labeled as "food". 

BAKED BEANS

1 large onion, diced
5-7 strips of bacon, chopped
2 - 16 ounce cans pinto beans, navy beans or 1 of each 
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup ketchup (NO HFCS)
1 tsp Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire sauce (NO HFCS)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar, but coconut is healthier)

Saute bacon and onion in a skillet until onion is tender and bacon is crisp. 

Drain the liquid from one can of beans, but use the liquid in the other can. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together including bacon and onion. 

Place in square casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 

NOTE: Before putting in the casserole dish, taste to see if any of the ingredients need to be adjusted. If you like them sweeter add a little more sugar or honey. If you like them spicier, add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or a shot of hot sauce. The great thing about cooking is that you can adjust ingredients to your liking. In my opinion, recipes are only suggestions and ideas. I very rarely go by a recipe as it is written. 

I pray that 2013 brings you many blessings including love, good health and prosperity. 

Lori 

Monday, December 3, 2012

BLOOD DRAW NIGHT

I try my best to keep a good attitude & positive outlook, but nights like this get to me. Once, sometimes twice a month we have to take 4-7 vials of Kevin's blood. All the tubes but one are taken after we get his needles in, but before i hook him up to the machine.  The last tube is taken after treatment is over, but before I get him ready to push his blood back to him.  I hate blood draw nights! I am not a nurse! I am just a wife trying to take care of her husband.  I need octopus arms. It really frustrates me that nephrologists charge $50,000 a month and they don't do any of the work. I understand that home health can't come everyday for 4 hours.  But it sure seems like they could come once a month to draw blood.

Tonight we had trouble getting the tubes to suck his blood in, so we have to improvise in order to get his blood in the tube.  While trying to figure out what to do we forgot to clamp his line coming out of his arm off, so blood went everywhere.  All over him, all over my hands & feet, all over the carpet that was just shampooed last week. But I don't have time to clean up the blood until after we get the tubes filled up and get him attached to the machine and going so I can get all of the blood I can back into him.

As if one blood spill for the night wasn't enough, we did the same thing at the end when preparing to draw the last tube. Needless to say, I am stressed out and my neck is hurting again.

Sorry for ranting. Thanks for reading and please keep us in your prayers.  We are so ready for him to be healthy again and we believe that God is still does miracles.

Blessings and love,
Lori


 

Friday, November 30, 2012

THANKSGIVING AND WASSAIL IN A CROCKPOT

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was different this year, but wonderful. It was a day full of family, friends that are like family, food and laughter. My brother had go to work that evening. He is a truck driver so he is gone a few days at a time. His beautiful wife went to Louisiana to have Thanksgiving with her sister, so my brother came and ate with us before he left for work. I am 15 years older than him, so I have always treated him more like a son than a brother. I am so thankful that God has blessed him with such a sweet wife that takes such good care of him. And I am so proud of him for being such a hard worker and taking care of her.

My new daughter in love is from Colombia, South America, and of course, since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, her family does not celebrate Thanksgiving. We invited them over to teach them about Thanksgiving. They enjoyed the food and even though they do not speak much English and we speak no Spanish, we are learning to communicate well. I think their favorite foods were turkey, dressing and broccoli & rice casserole.

That afternoon Kevin's Mom and Grandma came by to visit. Grandma will be 90 years old this month! She is moving a lot slower, but she still gets around.

Later that evening my dear friend, Jaree and her sweet girls came by to eat and visit. My heart was overflowing with thankfulness for all the wonderful people that God has placed in my life.

I started cooking on Sunday in order for everything to be ready to eat by 2:00 on Thursday. So, here is how the week went down:

Sunday - baked pecan pie (without corn syrup) and placed in freezer.

Monday - Made cranberry chutney.

Tuesday - placed turkey in brine (apple juice, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper & thyme); cooked cornbread for dressing; baked brownies for trifle & made Cole's favorite chocolate crackle cookies.

Wednesday - Made lemon meringue pie, key lime pie, chocolate pudding for trifle and pumpkin roll. Boiled eggs. Took pecan pie out of freezer to thaw.

Thursday - Up early to get turkey out of brine & wash off excess salt. Baked turkey (stuffed orange, apple, garlic in cavity, rubbed olive oil, salt & pepper all over before roasting - juiciest turkey ever!).  Made broccoli & rice casserole in crockpot. Prepared cornbread dressing with sausage & apples; candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows; deviled eggs; Rhodes frozen Texas rolls (my guys' favorite rolls); put Grant's butterfinger brownie trifle together and made Wassail in another crockpot.












My neck decided to get stuck again on Sunday. Great timing! I have herniated discs, damaged nerves & all kinds of nice & painful things in my neck & back. It hasn't hurt that bad in several months, but my neck locked up on me and had a pinched nerve that shot through my right shoulder & caused my right hand to go numb. I am EXTREMELY right handed and had a whole lot of cooking to get done, so this was not good! I would get as much done as I could while Kevin was on the machine and when he got off dialysis, he would stir and mix for me. I hate taking pain medicine, but didn't have time to slow down, so I was popping Aleve and Advil just to keep going. I was in so much pain. I absolutely could not have gotten it all done without Kevin's help.

I didn't try to "healthy" everything up too much. I had way too much to do and not a lot of time to do it in and I wanted Tiffany's family to have a traditional Oklahoma Thanksgiving.  I did, however, use Truvia baking blend in all my baked goods. It is a blend of Truvia & sugar, so it's not sugar free, but it's low sugar. Everything baked up beautifully, except the meringue. As far as taste goes, you can't tell a difference in the taste or texture at all. But the meringue didn't get big & fluffy like it does with real sugar.

Hot apple cider or Wassail is one of Cole's favorite things. It also makes your house smell sooooo good! I make it in a slow cooker.  Tiffany's family loved it and so did Jaree's girls. Here is how we do wassail:

WASSAIL IN A CROCKPOT

2 - 64 ounce bottles of apple cider
1 cup orange juice
1 can sliced pineapples
1 or 2 oranges, sliced
5-6 cinnamon sticks
handful of red hots (optional)

Place all ingredients (including the pineapple juice) in a crockpot on low setting, or you can put on high, then turn it down once it gets hot.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season full of love, peace, laughter and happiness.

Lori



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY


I've been playing around with different cranberry recipes the last few years and the one I made last year was the biggest hit with my family. I was shocked that it became my teenage son's favorite Thanksgiving food, except for chocolate pie. Nothing will ever replace chocolate as his favorite food.

I'm not sure what to call it. It's not really a salad, maybe more of a chutney or relish. Adding a little jalapeno and serving it over a block of cream cheese really put it over the top. The tartness of the cranberries combined with the sweetness of the orange and pineapple plus the little kick from the jalapeno is delicious.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

1 - 12 ounce pkg of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup Stevia or Ideal
1/2 cup orange juice (or zest & juice of one orange)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

OPTIONAL - chopped pecans or walnuts
                       1 jalapeno (seeded & chopped)

Place cranberries, sugar and orange juice in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken. The cranberries will burst open and will spit at you, so be careful and keep little ones away.

Once it thickens, stir in crushed pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts or jalapeno, if using. Stir for a few minutes until thoroughly combined.

It will be chunky. If you want to leave it chunky, that is fine. Or, ONCE IT HAS COOLED, you can take an immersion blender and blend it up a little. You could also put it in a blender. This does help break up the tiny seeds that you get from the fresh cranberries.

Let it chill for a few hours or overnight. Can serve alone or over a block of cream cheese with crackers. If you love cream cheese as much I do, you are definitely going to want to try this.

NOTE: If you want to thicken it up a little more, add a little Wondra or cornstarch mixed with water. I found a great thickener online at King Arthur Flour Company. It thickens without clumping.

P.S. I just looked up chutney in the dictionary and it says chutney is a mixture of sweet and sour flavors, such as fruits, combined with spices. So, Cranberry Chutney it is!

Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving,

Lori


Saturday, November 3, 2012

STOCKING UP HEALTHY & ON A BUDGET

With all of the natural disasters that have been happening lately, we decided that it was time to stock up and prepare in case of a disaster or emergency. Preparing for an emergency or disaster was part of our home dialysis training. Since Kevin's life literally depends on having electricity and medical supplies, we have to be prepared. About 10 years ago we had a horrible ice storm and were without electricity for 7 days. Since then I try to always have flashlights and extra batteries handy as well as candles and lighters. Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast this week and stopped New York City, New Jersey and others in its tracks. Some people may be weeks without power. Please keep all of these people and the workers in your prayers as they try to clean up and get back to normal. Trying to stock up on non perishable foods while maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge, but I've been doing some research and want to share with you what I've come up with.

MEDICAL - In home dialysis training they gave us a red folder with a list of Kevin's prescriptions; all of his doctor's contact information; emergency contact information; letters from his doctor stating that he is on life support and needs immediate medical attention in case of disaster or emergency.  They told us to keep that folder somewhere other than our home in case we lost our home, so I keep that red folder in my office at work.

MISC SUPPLIES - Hand held can opener; utility tool; flashlights & extra batteries; wet wipes; hand sanitizer; band aids; plastic forks & spoons; lighters; alcohol pads; dust masks, etc. You get the picture.

FOODS - Canned beans (great source of complex carbs, protein & fiber)
                 Canned veggies
                 Canned soups
                 Tuna (great source of protein)
                 Salmon (great source of protein)
                 Granola bars
                 Canned nuts
                 Crackers
                 Peanut butter
                 Juice boxes
                 Bottled water
                 Cans of V8 juice
                 Ensure, Slim Fast or other protein drinks
               
My local Homeland grocer has Libbys canned vegetables on sale for $0.69 a can this week and Big Lots has Green Giant canned veggies on sale for $0.65 a can. While they are that cheap is a great time to stock up. I also found Kashi and Nature Valley granola bars at Big Lots for $2.00 a box. They are great sources of energy and don't have a lot of junk in them. Big Lots also had canned and jars of nuts on sale. Nuts are a nutritional powerhouse.

Most canned soups are loaded with HFCS, MSG, preservatives, sodium, etc. But Progresso has some without all of that and Campbells now has a new line of "Natural" soups without all the junk in them. Big Lots has the Campbells Natural Soups for $1.25 a can, plus I had a coupon for $1.00 off when you buy 3 cans.

Big Lots also had wet wipes, bottled water, flashlights and jumbo packs of batteries very cheap.

Anyone that knows me knows that I do not go to my local Walmart. Our town has the worst Walmart in the world! I don't have the time or patience to go there. You can't get in and out in under an hour and always have to stand in line to checkout for 30 minutes. The only time I have to shop is my lunch hour, right after work (but I have to be home by 6 to get Kevin hooked up to the machine), and on Saturdays or Sunday afternoons. You couldn't pay me enough money to go to our Walmart on a Saturday. I watch the sale papers, use coupons and shop at Homeland, Walgreens, Dollar General and Big Lots. I can shop in any of those stores and be in and out in 30 minutes.

Eating healthy, stocking up and being prepared for an emergency can be done on a budget. It never hurts to be prepared just in case. If you have any other tips that I left out, please share.

God bless each of you and keep you and your families safe and healthy always.

Lori

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

QUINOA CHICKEN SPAGHETTI (GLUTEN FREE)

I'm really excited about sharing this recipe with you. This is a gluten free, high fiber, high protein, no processed foods, casserole dish. My husband, teenage son and his friends can't get enough of it. I'm going to have to start making two pans at a time. It also makes great leftovers.

I used to be the Queen of cooking with canned soups. I bought cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup 5 cans at a time. It was so easy to mix in a can of soup into some rice or pasta or pour over some meat, sprinkle with cheese and everybody loved it. Fast & easy. But, those canned soups are loaded with sodium, preservatives and lots of chemicals that apparently my liver didn't like too well and now I also know aggravates my arthritis. So trying to cook meals my guys enjoy eating without using the canned soups has been very challenging.

Also, since throwing out most of the processed foods, Kevin's blood tests have improved greatly. We have to draw blood once or twice a month and mail it to a lab for testing. The lab sends the results to his nephrologist that he sees once a month. The doctor and nurses are just amazed that his numbers have improved so much (i.e., calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, etc.). If that's what eating REAL food can do for someone whose kidneys don't work, just imagine what it can do for a normal person! All of those chemicals and preservatives put so much stress on all of your organs.

Since I can't eat regular pasta because of diabetes and arthritis, finding good pasta alternatives has been a challenge as well. I like whole wheat pasta and can tolerate it in small amounts, but have noticed my body feels better when I use brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta.


Quinoa is now considered a superfood. It is gluten free, anti inflammatory, high in fiber, high in protein, loaded with heart healthy fats, magnesium, Vitamin E, calcium and many other "good for you" things too numerous to list. Quinoa is great for diabetics and of course, anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. This quinoa pasta can be found at any natural food store or in the organic section of the grocery store.

QUINOA CHICKEN SPAGHETTI

16 ounces quinoa spaghetti
3-4 cups chicken, cooked & shredded
 
½ stick butter or olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (green or red)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced or chopped

3 tbsp flour (all purpose or gluten free) 
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 tsp minced garlic
Salt & pepper

2 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar, Italian, your favorite)

Cook quinoa according to package directions MINUS 1-2 minutes, pasta will finish cooking in the oven. Drain & place in large bowl with shredded chicken.

Melt butter or heat olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Add chopped veggies and cook until veggies are soft.

Add flour to veggies in skillet and sauté until flour is incorporated into mixture. Whisk in chicken broth. Whisk a couple of minutes, then add milk. Continue to whisk until it reaches gravy like consistency. Add garlic, salt & pepper and mix in well.

Add sauce to pasta and chicken and stir together until thoroughly combined. Transfer to greased 13x9 casserole dish.  Top with your favorite shredded cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees 25-35 minutes or until cheese is melted. 


NOTE:  My husband loves cheddar cheese and I love white cheeses (provolone, mozzarella, etc.), so I put cheddar on half and shredded Italian cheese blend on the other half. My son's friend scooped out of the middle because he wanted both. Ha ha!

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does.

Blessings to you all,

Lori  


Thursday, October 11, 2012

CHILI FOR A CROWD

The annual Red River Rivalry is this weekend. Oklahoma and Texas football fans will be glued to their television screens. It is supposed to be cool and rainy. All of these things add up to perfect chili weather. Here is my family's favorite chili recipe. Enjoy!    BOOMER SOONER! 

LORI'S CHILI FOR A CROWD

6 pounds of ground beef, ground turkey or ½ of each

3 packages Williams original chili seasoning unsalted
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
3-4 cans tomato sauce (depending on how moist you want it)
1 large onion – chopped
Minced garlic (to taste, I use about 3 teaspoons)
Salt
Paprika
McCormick Hot Shot (Black & Red Pepper blend)
McCormick Mexican Chili Powder
Louisiana Hot Sauce (OPTIONAL – a few shots or more if you like it hot)
Shaved or chopped dark chocolate (OPTIONAL – 1-2 ounces at the end – adds great depth)

Brown beef and/or turkey with chopped onion in a family size skillet or 2 regular skillets.  Salt meat and add 3-4 shakes of Hot Shot (depending on how spicy you want it) while browning.

In a large saucepan, Dutch oven or crockpot, add browned meat, Rotel tomatoes and chili seasoning packets. Thoroughly mix together.  Add 2 cans of tomato sauce and 1 can tomato paste and mix thoroughly. If you need more moisture, add more tomato sauce.  After it reaches desired consistency, add minced garlic and a few shakes of Mexican Chili Powder.  You can also add the dark chocolate at this time. Mix thoroughly and let simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

All ingredients can be adjusted to your specific tastes. If you don’t like it too spicy, leave out the McCormick Hot Shot and Rotel tomatoes.   

NOTE: I use a meat mixture of 80-90% ground round or ground chuck and ground turkey. It cuts down on the fat content, but when allowed to simmer so spices can meld together, you can’t tell it has turkey meat in it. I've also used 1/2 beef and 1/2 deer meat and it was just as good. Deer meat is extremely lean and good quality protein. 

Using low fat meat in this recipe makes it really healthy. Lots of lean protein, very low fat and loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. 

Blessings to you all,
Lori 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FALL CAMPING 2012

I LOVE FALL!! We go camping every Fall with our friends, The Beanes. Teri enjoys the gorgeous Fall weather as much as I do, so it works out well. We take a stack of books... now she takes her Kindle, I am still in the stone age and still take my stack of books. We relax, read, sit by the campfire & just enjoy the beauty of the season. This year, my cousin, Larissa, and her husband, Eric, borrowed his parents' RV & came with us. Larissa is related to both of us. Larissa's Mom is Teri's cousin. Larissa's Dad was my Dad's brother. The more we spend time together, the more we realize how much alike we are. I am so thankful to have her and her "Hottie" in our lives.

We had so much fun. Our wonderful hubbies cooked an awesome breakfast for us each morning.


We have always taken our dachshund, Slick, camping with us. She is almost 20 years old & not getting around very good, so she stayed home with Grant. As we were loading the RV to get ready to go, she sat at the bottom of the steps & cried. It was so sad.  I think it really hurt her feelings when we took Hank & Lucy instead. Hank & Lucy had a great time. They were very well behaved especially considering they are only 9 months old. They didn't stay the whole time. We were concerned about having them in the RV while doing dialysis, so I took them back home.

We take the dialysis machine & equipment with us & do it in the RV. We were getting ready to hook him up and realized that we forgot to bring needles. My son and his wife had come down to visit since we were so close to Durant and Tiffany remembered that she had seen a dialysis clinic in Durant. She quickly found the phone number and after calling Kevin's dialysis nurse, Tiff & I made a trip into Durant and "borrowed" needles from the Durant Dialysis Clinic. We are so thankful that we have an RV and that we can take the equipment with us, but we are sure hoping that this is the last time we have to do that. Hopefully he will have a new kidney and feeling great the next time we go camping.

One of the easiest meals to make while camping or anytime, is a "boil".  Everyone calls it something different. Some call it Frogmore Stew, others Shrimp Boil, Crawfish Boil, etc. We use a turkey fryer. Fill the pot with water (I think it would taste even better if you used chicken broth), add 2 packages of Old Bay or Zatarains seasoning. When the water starts to boil add an onion (cut into chunks), small potatoes or chunks of potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender, probably 10-15 minutes. Then add frozen small corn of the cob. Cook another 5-8 minutes. Then add smoked sausage and/or brats. Cook another 5 minutes. Add fresh or frozen shrimp and cook another 5 minutes. Serve on newspapers, platters or large bowls. You can add as much or little of each of these items as you want or need, depending on how many are eating and what your favorites are. You can use crawfish or frog legs or crab legs, etc. There's really no set way to do it. Just throw in whatever you like. Just remember to put the item that has to cook the longest in first, then the rest according to how much cooking time they require. Shrimp only requires a few minutes of cooking time. If cooked too long, it gets tough & rubbery. Easy one pot meal and very little mess.

Happy Fall!

Blessings to you all,
Lori










Thursday, September 20, 2012

NOT YO MOMMA'S MEATLOAF

While growing up meatloaf was a regular at my family's dinner table. While the rest of the family ate meatloaf, I usually ate a bologna sandwich. I hated meatloaf. For years I thought all meatloaf was dry and flavorless and could not understand why so many people loved it so much. One night many years ago, my husband asked me why I never made meatloaf and I told him it was dry and disgusting. So we talked about what we liked and didn't like and I decided to try to make a meatloaf using the flavors that we knew we liked. Of course, as with a lot of my recipes, it has Rotel tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce in it. I do buy these items in bulk when I go to Sam's.

I know this meatloaf is not for everybody. But, if you are like me and have stayed away from meatloaf because you thought it was all dry and tasteless, I promise you that this is one the moistest and most flavorful meatloaf you have will ever eat.

Healthy note - This works well with 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground beef. The tomatoes, onion and peppers add lots of nutrients and antioxidants. Adding oats to the mixture is a sneaky way to add some fiber.

I urge you to read ALL labels. Hunts is the ONLY tomato sauce that I have found in this area that does NOT have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other chemicals in it. Also Lea & Perrins is the ONLY Worcestershire sauce I have found without a bunch of junk in it. HFCS is scary stuff. It is toxic to your body, especially your pancreas and liver and it causes inflammation in the body which creates pain and stiffness. And if you are diabetic, you really need to stay away from it because when it hits your blood stream it instantly raises your blood sugar.  Since I have degenerative arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease, I have noticed that any time I eat anything with HFCS it causes swelling & inflammation in my body to the point that the pain is almost incapacitating. Since I have eaten HFCS FREE & focus on eating anti inflammatory foods, the swelling & pain has drastically decreased. If you have pain or any inflammatory disease (arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, etc.), try avoiding HFCS and eat more fruits & veggies. Try it for 2 weeks and I guarantee you will see a huge difference. It really upsets me that our government allows food manufacturers to put so many toxic chemicals in our food. Sorry. That is my rant for the day. I hope you try this recipe and that your family enjoys it as much as mine does.

MEATLOAF

1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsps olive oil or coconut oil

3 lbs ground beef (or ½ each ground turkey & gr beef)
1 cup Oats
1 sleeve saltine crackers (or 1 cup of breadcrumbs)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
2 eggs
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (I only use Lea & Perrin’s – NO HFCS)
Garlic salt (to your taste- I use a LOT)
2-4 tsps McCormick Hot Shot (or just regular black pepper)
1/4 cup tomato sauce (I only use Hunt’s - NO HFCS)

Saute onion and peppers in oil until soft.  In a large bowl mix all above ingredients together with hands.  Place mixture in 13x9 pan and bake at 350 about 45 minutes. Pour sauce (recipe below) over top and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

SAUCE
1 regular size can tomato sauce
2 tbs mustard
1/4 cup ketchup (Hunt’s has NO HFCS)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar + 1/4cup honey)

Mix together well and pour over top of meatloaf. Bake for 10-15 minutes more. 

Wishing you all many blessings and much love, 

Lori 


Monday, September 10, 2012

WHITE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Kevin loves enchiladas and for years I have made chicken enchiladas with cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup. Since we don't eat canned soups or processed foods anymore, I had to come up with a different recipe for chicken enchiladas. The Joyful Momma's White Chicken enchiladas  have spread like wildfire on Pinterest and does not use any canned soups, so I tried it.
(http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/white-chicken-enchiladas.html)

I had to leave out the green chiles because Grant does not like green chiles. He will eat Rotel, but mostly picks out the tomatoes & chiles. They were very good. Grant loved them, but they weren't spicy enough for Kevin, so I had to "kick them up a notch" as well as try to add a little more nutrient value.

Also, the second time I made them, I doubled the sauce because we do live in the South and my guys like everything smothered in gravy or sauce. A single batch is good, but they preferred it with more sauce.

This weekend, I put the enchiladas together (except the cheese) Saturday night & placed in refrigerator. Sunday morning I set them out on the counter before we left for church so they could come to room temperature. When we got home I just sprinkled cheese on top, put them in the oven while I made some taco rice and dinner was on the table in 30 minutes.

Here's my version of White Chicken Enchiladas.

 WHITE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS 

10-12 soft taco size tortillas (use your favorite- corn, flour, wheat, etc)
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 can Ro Tel tomatoes, drained
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste (I used McCormick Hot Shot)
2 tablespoons chili powder (we like McCormick Spicy Mexican Chili Powder)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.

2. Mix chicken, tomatoes and 1 cup of cheese.

3. Put a couple of tablespoons of chicken mixture (more or less depending on how much chicken you want in each one) in tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in pan. Continue until pan is full.

4. In a sauce pan, melt butter, add onion and saute until onion is soft (about 5 minutes). Add flour and cook about 1 minute.

5. Add broth & milk, whisk until smooth. Add salt & pepper to your taste and chili powder and garlic powder. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

6. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

7. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.

8.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Chopped cilantro or parsley can be sprinkled on top if desired.

NOTE: To soften the tortillas, add a little more flavor and great health benefits, you can heat the tortillas in a little coconut oil. Just put a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a skillet. When it gets hot, place tortillas in one or 2 at a time, just for a minute or two on each side. When the start to bubble up, I flip them over. Let cool on paper towels a few minutes before assembling the enchiladas. It is worth a few minutes of your time for the added flavor and health benefits. In case you have been living on another planet and have not heard about the incredible benefits of coconut oil, here's a link to get you started. http://www.deliciousobsessions.com/2012/05/122-uses-for-coconut-oil-even-more-of-the-simple-the-strange-and-the-downright-odd/http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/white-chicken-enchiladas.html
http://www.deliciousobsessions.com/2012/05/122-uses-for-coconut-oil-even-more-of-the-simple-the-strange-and-the-downright-odd/

GLUTEN FREE/WHEAT FREE VERSION - Use corn or brown rice tortillas and gluten free flour. King Arthur makes a wonderful gluten free flour. 

Wishing you all blessings, joy, happiness and lots of love,

Lori

Monday, August 20, 2012

PROS AND CONS OF HOME DIALYSIS

Kidney failure has become a common disease. Just 10 years ago it was a rarity and mostly from complications of diabetes. But, now there are more and more otherwise healthy people having to go on dialysis and/or get a kidney transplant. We have had several people ask us about it and Kevin's nephrologist has Kevin talk to patients that are considering home dialysis. So, I thought it might be helpful to post a blog about the pros and cons of home dialysis from a patient and caregiver point of view. Chances are that you know someone that will have to go on dialysis, so please feel free to share this post with them.

There are different types of dialysis. Peritoneal is done through a port in the abdomen and usually done at night while the patient is sleeping. Since this is not the type that we do, I do not know much about it.  

Kevin does hemo-dialysis which is done by inserting 2 needles in the patient's arm, one needle pulls the blood out and runs the blood through a filter on the machine which cleans the blood and then the other line pushes the cleaned blood back to the patient. They say that hemo is the most efficient type. Hemo is done in dialysis clinics usually 4 hours a day 3 days a week. Or you can choose to to do it at home. 

PROS OF HOME HEMO-DIALYSIS: 
1) The home machines are smaller and gentler than the clinic machines, therefore they are easier on the patients' bodies. 
2)  Does not leave the patient "wiped out" like the clinic machines do. 
3)  Since you are cleaning the blood 6 days a week instead of only 3, the patient feels much better. "Bad" feeling days are much less frequent. 
4)  Fluid buildup (swelling) is almost non-existent since you are pulling the excess fluid off 6 days a week instead of only 3. FYI - since their kidneys don't work, the fluid that normal kidneys get rid of everyday, just sits in their bodies and accumulates which could result in fluid building up around their heart and/or lungs which would lead to death. The machine takes the excess fluid off while it is cleaning the blood.
5)  Can be done anytime that you are home. Do not have to work around clinic hours, which is very beneficial if you continue to work.
6)  You can load up the machine & supplies and take them on vacation with you.

CONS: 
1)  Machine and medical supplies take up a LOT of room. You need to have a room just for your medical supplies. We had to turn our college son's room into the medical supply room.
2)  If the patient and caregiver work full time, as we both do, your free time is extremely limited. We get off at 5 & have to rush home to get him hooked up so that we can get in bed by a decent hour. It takes 30-45 minutes to get machine & supplies ready. Treatment time is anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Then it takes about 20 minutes to unhook & tear down machine. You only get 1 day a week off of dialysis, so how you spend that time is so precious. No more spur of the moment dinners or movies or time with friends. If anyone wants to see us they have to come to our house & visit while Kevin is on machine. We only make it to one church service a week and we miss being with our church family so much. We have to miss a lot of our nieces' & others' ballgames, birthday parties, weddings, showers, etc.
3)  If you are a homeowner and work full time you know how hard it is  to keep up with maintenance, repairs, etc. It is almost impossible to take care of your home and yard when you work full time and do home dialysis.
4) Machines break down and have problems. Technical support for dialysis machines is just as bad as they are for cell phones & everything else. Except you have the added pressure of having a person hooked up to the machine with a pint of his blood hanging out there waiting for you to do something.
5)  Experience in nursing is very handy for the caregiver. Medical terminology, procedures, drawing blood, etc. are not normal to most people. I went to college to be a legal assistant and have worked in oil & gas for 25 years. I can tell you how to drill a well from start to finish. Division Order Title Opinions (DOTO), Joint Operating Agreements (JOA), assignments, deeds, drilling reports, etc. are my "normal" & I am very confident at what I do. I did not go to medical school & never had a desire to be a nurse. My brain is not "wired" that way. I have got it figured out now, but it does not come as easy to me as chains of title, legal descriptions & that type of thing does.
6)  Insurance and medicare will not approve for home health nurses to help a patient with dialysis in the patient's home. We have been told it is because dialysis is such a specific type of nursing that the nurses would have to be specially trained and since they would have to be in the home about 4 hours everyday it would be too expensive.

I could list more pros and cons, but I'm sure you get the idea. We are so thankful that we can do dialysis at home so that Kevin can continue to work and he feels so much better than he did when doing it in the clinic. However, we are so ready for him to get a new healthy kidney so that we can get our lives back. I told him that once he gets his kidney and feels good that we are not going to be home for a long time. I get so tired of staying home. I am ready to go have fun with our friends and family again. I look forward to the day when we can drive to Durant after work and have dinner with my precious son and daughter in law. It's only an hour away, but is impossible right now because of dialysis.

Of course, if the patient and caregiver do not work, then they do not have the time constraints and added stress. A patient is eligible for disability immediately upon starting dialysis. Kevin still feels good enough to work. He just tires more easily and has to be careful with his left arm because of the fistula. He is not supposed to lift anything over 50 pounds. He works for a great company that has been very supportive and he has a great co-worker that doesn't let him do the heavy stuff. Because he has such great insurance through his employer, medicare was going to cost us more than it was going to help, so he opted out of medicare and disability. We are so thankful that God has kept his hand upon him and allowed him to continue to work. All of the doctors say that he is the healthiest dialysis patient they have ever seen. They believe that once he gets a transplant that he will heal quickly and be back to his old self in record time. I can't wait to have a big party with all of the wonderful friends and family that have been so supportive throughout this journey.

I hope this post helps someone to better understand dialysis. If you know of anyone that needs someone to talk to about it, let me know. We would be glad to talk them. We believe that God allows us to go through things so that we can glorify Him and help others along the way.

Wishing you all many blessings and good health,
Lori 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

CHICKEN FAJITA RICE

People are always asking me how I have time to cook every night. Well, the truth is that I don't cook big meals every night. It really is just a matter of planning ahead. If your meat already cooked then it takes only a few minutes to whip up a healthy dinner. And at least one night a week we have turkey or chicken smoked sausage with sauerkraut which takes no more than 10 minutes. We also eat lots of salad and popcorn for dinner.

I buy meat in family packs. For instance, cook a family pack of ground beef, put 1/3 or 1/2 in a container for later and use 1/3 or 1/2 now. First night can be used for spaghetti, the next night or a few nights later, use the other 1/3 or 1/2 for fast & easy tacos, burritos, sloppy joes or pizza. I buy chicken breasts in the family pack, bake them all in the oven, then put 2-3 in Ziploc bags & freeze. When I cook roast beef, I always cook two. We eat one with potatoes, carrots and gravy, then later in the week I shred the other one and simmer with our favorite barbecue sauce. Or send one home with Cole. Before he got married, I sent lots of food home with him every weekend. And, of course, I enjoyed doing it.

Kevin has made great progress in eating healthier, but Grant is a whole different story. He is very picky, so coming up with something healthy that he likes is very challenging. Grant loves fajitas and he loves rice so a couple of months ago I had some leftover fajitas, cooked some brown rice, mixed them together and Grant ate it up. This has become a new family favorite and a regular in our dinner routine. I hope your family loves it as much as mine does.


CHICKEN FAJITA RICE

2   cups brown rice, cooked
2   cups (more or less) chicken fajitas, cut into bite size pieces
     (SEE PREVIOUS POST FOR FAJITA RECIPE)
1    can Ro Tel tomatoes
1/2  cup cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2  onion, chopped
Veggies – your choice (corn, peas, chopped zucchini, etc.)

Cook rice in microwave according to package directions.  While waiting for rice to cook, heat a little olive oil or coconut oil in skillet, add onion and your choice of veggies and sauté until veggies are soft.

Add chicken fajitas, rice, tomatoes and cheese to skillet with veggies. Mix together and heat until cheese is melted.

NOTE:  See previous post for chicken fajita recipe. This is a great way to use leftover chicken. You could also use a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store or buy the pre-cooked chicken fajita meat for a super fast & easy meal. But, making your own fajitas only takes about 20 minutes, you have control over the ingredients & it tastes sooooo much better.

Blessings to you all, 

Lori 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

FABULOUS FRIENDS & FAJITAS


Since 1995, our family has camped for a week at Lake Texoma with my husband's dad, stepmom, siblings and their families. Grant was only 3 weeks old the first time he went camping. Luckily we all have RV's, so it's not roughing it too bad. It has been wonderful for our sons to spend an entire week with their cousins every year. They have made great memories. I don't like the heat, but I went every year while the boys were little. However, the last few years, the boys were old enough to take care of themselves and I only have 10 days of vacation at my current job, so I have stayed home and worked while the guys go play.

Kevin takes the dialysis machine and LOTS of bags of dialysis water and needles and gloves and all the other medical supplies with him to do dialysis in the RV. Since I was not going, his little brother, Brad, came over every weekend for a month so that I could train him to be Kevin's nurse. They would fish early in the mornings, then do dialysis in the afternoon when it was too hot to go outside anyway. I'm so thankful for Brad and glad that Kevin still got to spend time with his family.

I stayed busy every evening after work doing things that I don't have time to do because I usually have to run home as soon as I get off work and get him hooked up. I got a massage, got my hair done, spent one evening with my lovely BCF (best cousin forever) and her wonderful hubby, and spent a glorious evening with two of  my best friends celebrating a big birthday for one of them. I didn't get much rest, but I had so much fun all week long.

My friend, Fran, loves Mexican food. My other friend, Jaree, is trying to watch what she eats just like I am, so I made healthy Mexican food. We had chicken fajitas with whole grain tortillas, avocados and corn & cabbage salad. Fran's favorite dessert is coconut cream pie. I am not ashamed to admit that meringue intimidates me. I have made it and it turned out okay, but it stresses me out! However, my friend, Kathy, is one of the best pie makers in the universe!! Here is a picture of one of Kathy's incredible pies. She was nice enough to make a coconut cream pie for Fran. God has truly blessed me with the most incredible friends.

Now that you've read my ramblings, here is my recipe for fajitas. Bottled marinades can have HFCS or other sugars & lots of artificial & unnecessary ingredients. This marinade is very simple & uses ingredients that most people keep on hand. It works great with chicken, steak or shrimp. Making your own fajitas is easy, plus much healthier and less expensive than a restaurant.

FAJITA MARINADE

1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup Lea & Perrin's worcestershire sauce        
1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder

Whisk all ingredients together and pour over chicken, steak or shrimp. My favorite is a combination of all three. Place marinating meat in refrigerator and let set overnight or at least a few hours.

I make this up the night before (or in the morning before work) and when I get home from work it’s fast & easy to throw it in a skillet with a little hot oil, sliced onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Serve with your favorite tortillas & toppings. Add a side salad or veggies and you’ve got a delicious healthy meal. 


NOTE:  Lea & Perrin's is the most natural worcestershire sauce I have found. All of the other brands have HFCS & artificial junk in them. I actually wrote to Lea & Perrin's thanking them for making such a great product with great ingredients and they sent me several coupons. Woo hoo!

COCONUT OIL - If you are trying to use more coconut oil for the great health benefits, fajitas is a great way to get your coconut oil. Cook your fajitas in a little coconut oil. And put a little coconut oil in a skillet, when it gets hot, put your tortillas in the hot oil for 2-4 minutes on each side. It makes the tortillas absolutely delicious!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

TANGY CHICKEN & APPLE SALAD

It's too hot to cook! Using a rotisserie chicken from your supermarket makes this chicken salad fast and easy. Apples and nuts add a nice crunch, while the spicy mustard, lemon juice and hot sauce add a little kick. And the hint of cream cheese makes it tastes indulgent. 

Using mayo with olive oil cuts back on the bad fats normally found in mayo and adds good heart healthy fats.

Time saving tip - I buy family packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts and bake on the weekends, then put 2-3 in ziplock bags and place in the freezer.

TANGY CHICKEN & APPLE SALAD

3 lg or 4 small chicken breast, cooked & shredded
1/4 cup chopped pickles (your choice) or relish
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 apple, peeled & chopped (any kind)

Dressing:
3/4 cup mayo with olive oil
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1-3 dashes hot sauce (optional)

OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds

In a large bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until well blended. 

Add chicken, pickles, onions & apples and stir until well coated with the dressing. 

Can be eaten immediately, but I prefer to make this up the night before and have it for lunch the next day. Delicious on whole grain bread, croissants or a bed of romaine lettuce. 

I hope you like it! 

Lori 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

PEPPERONI PIZZA BALLS


THESE ARE NOT HEALTHY.  However, they are very tasty and a great crowd pleaser for a party. 

My sons LOVE sausage balls. When they were younger, I would make double or triple batches on the weekends, put them in ziplock bags & put in the freezer. It was so easy to grab a few out of the freezer, wrap them in a paper towel & microwave for them to eat in the car on the way to school or babysitter. During their teenage years, our house seemed to be overflowing with teenage boys all the time. And teenage boys are always hungry! I came up with the idea of combining sausage balls and pepperoni pizza together.  These quickly became a favorite of my sons and their friends. 

PEPPERONI PIZZA BALLS
2 lbs ground beef OR 1 lb ground beef & 1 lb sausage
4 cups Bisquick
1 pkg Lipton Savory Herb & Garlic Soup mix
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 pkg Hormel pepperoni (chopped)
12 oz shredded Italian cheese
a few sprinkles of grated parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly using your hands. Roll into golf ball size balls and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. The bigger the balls, the longer they need to cook. If your balls are smaller, they won't need to cook as long. 

NOTE:  For a healthier alternative - ground beef and sausage can be replaced with ground turkey and turkey sausage. However, if you are using all turkey, you probably should add 1/4 more marinara sauce to keep them from being too dry. 
You can also omit the pepperoni or use Tofu pepperoni. 

I hope you all have a safe and happy Independence Day. God bless America and keep all of our soldiers safe. 

Lori  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHOLE GRAIN SUGAR FREE BROWNIES


If you just can't past the idea of eating black beans as brownies, here is another recipe using oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. Again, I have just taken out the white flour and sugar and replaced them with whole grains and NATURAL sweeteners with zero or very low glycemic index. And if you have not heard about the amazing health benefits of coconut oil, just google it and start reading. After researching coconut oil the last couple of months, I am convinced that coconuts are one of God's greatest gifts to the human race.

WHOLE GRAIN SUGAR FREE BROWNIES

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (OR you can use 1/2 cup butter)
1 cup Ideal or Stevia (OR 1/2 cup Stevia + 1/2 cup coconut sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

Melt butter and coconut oil either in a large glass bowl in microwave or in large saucepan on stove. When butter and oil is melted, stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Add cocoa, flours, salt and baking powder and mix well. Do not over stir. Batter should be a little lumpy. If you over stir brownies, they come out tough.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook.
TIP - It's always better for brownies to be undercooked, than overcooked. When you overcook them, they get hard and dry.

Have a blessed day!

Lori 

Monday, June 25, 2012

SUPER HEALTHY BROWNIES & THE EVILS OF WHITE FLOUR

My baby boy turned 17 last week. His favorite food is brownies. He also likes chocolate pudding. The last couple of years I have made him a trifle layered with brownies, chocolate pudding and crushed Butterfinger candy bars. (That recipe was shared with me by my friend, Stacy) Of course, I had to try to healthy it up a bit, so I made chocolate pudding using almond milk and Ideal. I also made 2 different recipes of brownies, both without white flour or sugar. Both were pretty good.

You guys are probably getting tired of my rantings about the evils of white flour and sugar, but I am absolutely convinced that they are the main causes of so many diseases today. I looked up the glycemic index of white flour and saw that it is the same as sugar. People need to be aware that eating white flour is the SAME as eating sugar. It turns to sugar in your body. It is so heavily processed there is nothing to digest, so it hits your bloodstream immediately and causes your blood sugar to spike. It also creates inflammation in your body. For anyone with arthritis, lupus, MS, etc. INFLAMMATION = PAIN.

I also have good reason to believe that white flour and sugar cause cellulite. I never thought about it until after eating anti inflammatory for about 6 months and I noticed that my cellulite was going away. I have only lost 40 pounds and have come to a standstill on weight loss (I am down 2-3 sizes). I am still overweight, but I am amazed at the reduction in cellulite. I've copied a couple of links to some articles on white flour that agree with my theory.

http://www.shapemag.co.za/health-nutrition/fight-cellulite-at-every-meal/

http://thediabetesclub.com/nutrition-in-bread-the-problems-with-enriched-white-flour/

So, on to the recipes. I had heard of black bean brownies, but I do NOT like black beans, so I was hesitant to try them. I wish I liked black beans. They are a superfood! Loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. So, now I found a way to eat black beans without my taste buds knowing I'm eating them. I know it sounds really weird, but you will be surprised at how good they are. Of course, the texture is a little different, kind of like eating a protein bar or other healthy bar, but these brownies are super low calorie, NO sugar, high in fiber and just really really really good for you. And they are chocolate!

BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil (or 3 tbsp vegetable oil)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup Stevia or Ideal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into greased baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes or until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of pan.

Now, in case you like frosting on your brownies, I found this recipe on another blog, but I can't remember which one it was. (DISCLAIMER: this is NOT my original recipe) I did not have avocados so I haven't made it yet, but it sounds delicious and really healthy. I think it would be delicious on the brownies. 

AVOCADO FUDGE SPREAD
2 avocados 
1/4 cup Agave or honey
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Thank you for reading. Blessings and good health to all of you.

Lori 



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TURKEY SAUSAGE & POTATO CASSEROLE

It's almost Father's Day! My Dad passed away in 2002 and I still miss him everyday. I am so thankful that God blessed with me with a husband that I can be proud of. He is a country boy & a junk collector, but he is honest, dependable, hard working, loyal, trustworthy, hard working,.... did I say hard working? And a Godly man. He is a great example to our sons. A few of my husband's favorite things are potatoes, Ro Tel tomatoes, eggs & cheese.  So anytime I cook all of those things together in one dish, he is a happy man.

A friend that I used to work with shared her breakfast enchilada recipe with me several years ago and I make it regularly. It is delicious. I will share that recipe in the next post. There are possibly millions of breakfast casserole recipes. Everybody does it just a little bit different. Food Network Magazine had a "Potato Crusted Quiche" that looked like something my husband would like, so I made that a few weeks ago. He liked it, but it didn't have enough kick for him. It was meatless & basically just eggs, potatoes & cheese. But the potatoes made such a pretty presentation that I wanted to play with it some more.

Of course, I wanted to increase the nutritional value, so I added tomatoes, onions, spinach & zucchini. Then I added turkey sausage for extra flavor without the bad fat, and added one of the best fats that everyone should be eating, coconut oil.

This recipe is a little more time consuming because of lining your pan with the potatoes to make a crust, but it's Father's Day. They deserve something a little extra special. And FYI - this dish is husband, teenager and co-workers approved. I hope you enjoy!

NOTE: This can be prepared and served immediately or assembled the night before and baked the next day.


TURKEY SAUSAGE & POTATO CASSEROLE

6-8 red potatoes or 3-4 russet potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper (I use McCormick Hot Shot)

1 pound turkey sausage
few tbsps coconut oil or olive oil
potatoes (I added parsley & Basil)
1 small zucchini, chopped
Handful fresh spinach, chopped
½ lg or 1 small onion, chopped
1 can Ro Tel tomatoes, drained

6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp flour

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel & slice potatoes into circles.  Line cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Spread potatoes on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Potatoes should be soft, but still firm. You need to be able to pick them up with your hands & place them in your pan.

sausage & veggies
TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 degrees.

Get oil hot in skillet then add turkey sausage, zucchini, onion, & spinach. Cook until sausage is done and veggies are tender. Add Ro Tel tomatoes and stir into sausage mixture.

Beat eggs, milk & flour together.

Place potatoes on bottom and sides of greased or buttered 13x9 pan. Remember the potatoes are your crust.

Spread sausage mixture over potatoes. Then pour egg mixture over sausage. Top with cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese).

Ready to eat
Fresh from oven
Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

OAT WHEAT PANCAKES

One of the things that I have missed most by not eating white flour is pancakes. I didn't eat them very often, but every once in awhile, I would crave pancakes. I have tried unsuccessfully several times in the past year to make healthy pancakes that were good enough that you didn't miss the white flour. Until a couple of weeks ago when I came up with this recipe. These pancakes were delicious! My husband even liked them.

As you know, typical pancakes are a nightmare for diabetics or anyone with any type of inflammatory disease. All that white flour combined with the high fructose corn syrup, which is all most pancake syrups are, instantly makes your blood sugar skyrocket and creates inflammation in your body.

But, these pancakes will not raise your blood sugar and do not create inflammation in the body. Plus, since they are whole grain they also have fiber. Eaten with honey or Agave syrup is yummy sweetness without spiking your blood sugar.

FYI - Agave is a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index, so it is safe for diabetics or anyone trying to limit their sugar intake. I love the "Ohgave Amaretto Maple Flavor Agave Syrup".




So, for Father's Day, if you have a special Dad in your life that loves pancakes, but has to watch his blood sugar or just wants to eat healthier, make these for him. All of the sweetness, but none of the sickness, pain or guilt.


 I'm working on another Father's Day recipe, but haven't got it perfected yet. My husband loves eggs, omelets & quiche. So he still has to eat a few more samples before I'm ready to share the final product. I will hopefully have that for you in a few days.
 

Thank you for reading. I appreciate the ones that have shared their ideas & recipes with me.
I love sharing recipes and healthy information with people. We are all in this together until God calls us
home.


Blessings to all,

Lori 

OAT WHEAT PANCAKES
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup oat flour
2 tbsp sucanat or brown sugar or honey
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups buttermilk
3 tbsps oil (I used coconut oil)
1)               In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2)               In another bowl, combine egg, milk & oil. 
3)               Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Batter should be slightly lumpy.
4)               Scoop onto hot griddle coated with cooking spray. I
5)               Pancakes are ready to flip over when the top side has little bubbles on it.
6)               Spread butter on hot pancakes and serve with pure maple syrup, honey or Agave syrup. 

 




Friday, May 25, 2012

BROCCOLI CAULIFLOWER SALAD

It's Memorial Day weekend. Time to get the grills ready and begin the cookout season. Salads are always good for any cookout. One of my favorites is broccoli and cauliflower salad. I love broccoli and cauliflower raw, cooked, roasted... it doesn't matter. I just love it! A local restaurant, Cattle Rustler's, has a great salad bar and my favorite item in the whole restaurant is their broccoli cauliflower salad. It is delicious.

Here is my version of broccoli cauliflower salad. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Nutrition facts: Anti inflammatory properties in broccoli, cauliflower, onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar & pepper.
Protein & calcium in Greek Yogurt. 
Fiber & antioxidants in broccoli, cauliflower & raisins. 
Broccoli helps lower cholesterol, has Vitamins C, D, A & K.
Cauliflower has beta carotene, Vitamins C, K & B6.
Onions are rich in polyphenols, flavonoids & quercetin which make them very heart healthy. Help lower cholesterol & blood sugar, helps prevent blood clots & increases bone density. Also has Vitamins C & B6. 
Raisins have boron for strong bones and help protect eyes from macular degeneration.


BROCCOLI CAULIFLOWER SALAD
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces  (or 2 bags of precut broccoli & cauliflower)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bit size pieces
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup raisins

DRESSING
¾ cup Mayo with Olive Oil
¼ cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp orange juice
¾ cup Stevia or Ideal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper or Louisiana Hot Sauce

Add all dressing ingredients to small bowl & whisk together until completely smooth. If dressing is a little thick, add a couple of teaspoons of milk to thin it out.

Place broccoli, cauliflower, onion & raisins in a large bowl. Pour dressing over veggies & mix until thoroughly coated.

Refrigerate at least a few hours before serving, preferably overnight. Taste better the longer it sits.

OPTIONS – For extra flavor you can add a few pieces of crispy crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts or pecans.

 Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend. 

EATING TO LIVE, NOT LIVING TO EAT

Lori 




Friday, May 18, 2012

TIFFANY'S GRADUATION & SCRUMPTIOUS SPINACH DIP

I am an introvert. I really don't like parties or being around a lot of people. But, God has blessed me with an abundance of wonderful friends and the best church family that anyone could ever dream of. So, I go to lots of parties, dinners & fellowships. Party food is my favorite kind of food. Little bite size nibbles of deliciousness. One of my favorite go-to recipes for any get-together is Spinach Dip. I always keep the ingredients on hand in case something comes up at the last minute.

Last Saturday, my daughter in love graduated from college. She is not only beautiful, but she is incredibly smart. She made straight A's in college which is a great accomplishment, but an even greater accomplishment since English is not her native language & she has only lived in the United States for a few years. I am so proud of her and so blessed to have her in our lives & as part of our family.

Tiffany's brother, Kevin, is graduating from High School this year also. So, their parents threw a party for the both of them after Tiffany's graduation. I made my Spinach Dip, but instead of serving it with crackers decided to serve it in wonton cups. I took wonton wrappers, put them in mini muffin tins & baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They made cute crunchy little bowls to put the spinach dip in. I did not put the spinach dip in the bowls until right before serving so the bowls would not get soggy.

The only "bad" ingredient in this recipe is the sour cream and you can use light sour cream to make it less fat. Spinach is loaded with good nutrition. Did you know that spinach has protein? I didn't until I was looking up the nutritional data for this post. It is really low in calories, high in fiber, iron and Vitamins A, C & K. Also has Vitamin E, B6, folate, beta carotene, calcium & magnesium. And is very beneficial for colon & liver health, as well as being anti inflammatory. No wonder Popeye got super powers when he ate spinach!

Most people make spinach dip with vegetable soup mix, which is good, but not quite flavorful enough for me. I LOVE garlic! Using the Savory Herb & Garlic Soup Mix makes this spinach dip so much tastier. 
 
SPINACH DIP

1 box frozen chopped spinach (thawed & drained)
1 – 16oz container of sour cream
1 small can of water chestnuts (chopped)
1 package Lipton Savory Herb & Garlic soup mix
 
When spinach has thawed, squeeze out excess water.  Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and refrigerate for several hours before serving.  Letting it sit in the refrigerator for awhile allows all of the flavors to blend together better.

Serve with your favorite crackers. Delicious served in a bread bowl. The round Hawaiian bread is our favorite. Or you can skip the crackers & bread & just serve in wonton bowls.

For the wonton bowls - I used a package of 60 wonton wrappers and doubled the spinach dip recipe. It was exactly enough dip for 60 little bowls.

Eat your spinach. You will be glad you did.

Lori

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BERRY VANILLA TRIFLE, ALMONDS & OMEGA 3'S

I do not claim to be a nutritionist. I am only sharing the information that I have found that has helped me this last year on my journey back to health. I am not where I want to be, but praise God, I have come a long way in a year's time. This time last year my liver was failing, my blood sugar & blood pressure were high, cholesterol was high and arthritis had taken control of my entire body. I was in terrible pain 24/7. I got through work everyday, but would go home & not be able to move & literally would cry myself to sleep because I was in so much pain.

Now, a year later, taking NO DRUGS, my cholesterol is perfect, blood sugar & blood pressure is perfect, liver is healthy and I can walk, even jog with minimal pain. I'm not going to lie & say I am pain free. I have permanent nerve & joint damage & bone spurs. But I CAN MOVE & I enjoy it! I even started exercising a couple of months ago. I bought a Malibu Pilates Chair. I keep it in the living room so I can exercise while Kevin is on the dialysis machine. I am feeling better & stronger than I have felt in 15 years. And NO DRUGS!! It is amazing how good & strong you can feel when you focus on eating the foods that God put on the earth for us to eat & stay away from processed foods. 

I have found that eating an anti inflammatory diet is the key for me. Which is lots of nuts, eggs, green veggies, fruit (berries & pineapple especially), beans, whole grains, avocados, etc. I probably eat more meat than I should, but I love meat & being from Oklahoma, I love beef. I eat very little sugar, white flour & processed foods. I eat a handful of almonds (no salt, no oil) everyday as well as put almond milk in my coffee. Almonds are an amazing superfood. They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which makes them anti inflammatory. Almonds have fiber & 1 cup has 25% of our daily calcium &125% of our daily Vitamin E (which is a powerful antioxidant). Our bodies do not produce Omega 3 fatty acids, but they are essential to good health. Our only source of Omega 3's is through food. Omega 3's are needed for healthy cells, brain & nerve function. The best sources for Omega 3's are fish and nuts.

I am trying to use almond milk more. Lately I have used it when baking & am very pleased with the results. Here is a comparison of cow's milk vs. almond milk: 
Almond milk - 1 cup = 30 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 sugar, 1 g protein
Skim milk - 1 cup = 130 calories, 0 fat, 18 carbs, 0 fiber, 18 sugar, 10 g protein
1% milk - 1 cup = 120 calories, 2.5 g fat, 15 g carbs, 0 fiber, 15 sugar, 10g protein
2% milk - 1 cup = 130 calories, 5 g fat, 13 carbs, 0 fiber, 13 sugar, 9g protein
whole milk - 1 cup = 150 calories, 8 g fat, 11 carbs, 0 fiber, 11 sugar, 8g protein
Notice that when the fat is taken out, the sugar & carbs go UP. Almond milk is great for people with dairy allergies. Vitamin D is also added to almond milk. And there are no hormones or antibiotics in almond milk like there are in dairy.

Last weekend was my Mother in law's birthday. She loves strawberry shortcake, so I tried to "healthy it up" a bit. My friend, Lana, suggested layering the berries with vanilla pudding which sounded very tasty. So I made a trifle with a sugar free homemade vanilla pudding using almond milk. I did 1/2 almond & 1/2 dairy, but next time I will use only almond milk. The pudding turned out sooooo delicious! I hope you enjoy!


SUGAR FREE BERRY-KIWI VANILLA TRIFLE

2 pints of fresh strawberries, sliced                                                          
3 kiwis, peeled, sliced & halved
1 cup blueberries                                    
1 cup Stevia or Ideal
¼ cup orange juice

Place all ingredients in a bowl & mix together making sure that fruit is thoroughly coated in Stevia. Cover & place in refrigerator. You can make this the night before & it will be juicy & delicious. But, it will still be good if you don’t.

VANILLA PUDDING
¾ cup Stevia or Ideal
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cups Almond milk  (YOU CAN OMIT THE DAIRY & USE 3 CUPS OF ALMOND MILK)
1 ½ cups milk (I used 1%)
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1)               In a medium saucepan, combine sugar & cornstarch.
2)               Stir in milk. Cook & stir over medium heat until thickened & bubbly.
NOTE: It’s going to take awhile, but I promise, it is worth it.
3)               Remove from heat. Gradually stir 1 cup of milk mixture into egg yolks.
4)               Add egg mixture to milk mixture in pan. STIR CONSTANTLY until mixture comes to a GENTLE boil.
5)               Turn off heat. Cook & STIR 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
6)               Stir in butter & vanilla.
7)               You just made completely from scratch, no processed ingredients, sugar free & healthier vanilla pudding.
8)               Delicious warm or cold.
9)               For this recipe, you will want the pudding chilled.

In a trifle bowl, spread a layer of fruit on bottom. Spread a layer of pudding over fruit, then another layer of fruit over pudding and so on.

OPTIONS:  You can tear angel food cake into chunks & layer it under the fruit. You could also top with slivered almonds or shaved chocolate or toasted coconut or whipped cream.


IF IT DIDN'T GROW, CRAWL, SWIM OR WALK, EAT IN VERY LIMITED AMOUNTS. 

EATING TO LIVE, NOT LIVING TO EAT. 

Blessings to all, 
Lori