Friday, January 31, 2014

Spicing Up Our Lives!!!

One of the best meals in our that's guaranteed to get Tacos.  We usually have little to no leftovers, and it is one of the few leftovers that my kids will eat.  But when I started this change in my life I became an avid label reader.  Unfortunately, there was a bunch of junk I knew was "not so good" in it, but when kids will eat something...  Anyway, I kept buying it because I couldn't find anything better.  But then...

I discovered Maria's blog.  By chance, and a Google search, I stumbled onto Maria's blog named Maria Mind Body Health.  I read, and read...then I read some more.  I couldn't believe how much information she had.  I couldn't believe how much sense it made.  And I couldn't believe how many awesome looking recipes there were.  She has a ton of options for replacements of crucial ingredients that are harming our bodies.  I was blown away.  Then I read that she'd asked people to challenge her to make something they miss because of changing our eating habits.  So now when I'm looking to replace something I normally buy I check her blog first.

That's kind of how I stumbled across this recipe for taco seasoning.  Low and behold I had all the ingredients, and I just happened to have a little container to mix and store it all in...what a deal!

The ingredients are basic staples for most of us.  I bet you have them in your cupboard right now...well maybe not the pepper flakes, but I bet you have most of them.  It's just a matter of putting them all together. 

And it makes such pretty sand art...LOL!!!  Well, that is until you shake that puppy up!   As soon as it was all mixed up it was time to use it. 

Now I'm going to introduce you to something you really, REALLY need in your kitchen.  If you're a mom, if you have a busy life, if you're single and just don't have a ton of time...if you have a kitchen...then you need this!  This is a Bean Pot from Celebrating Home...and I'm linking you to my friend Stephanie's site!  She is an amazing consultant who gives her hostesses the absolute most she can.  Anyway, this bean post is the best way to make anything with ground beef quickly. 

I had gotten the ground beef out of the freezer, but not early enough for it to be defrosted.  So I just threw it in the pot and started to nuke it.  I started at 3 minutes then got it back out to begin breaking it up.  Oh, you'll love one of these tools too...

It's Pampered Chef's Mix 'N Chop.   It really breaks the meat up quickly.  I love it.  Anyway, back to the meal...I cooked the meat in 5 minute increments, breaking it up each time, till it was cooked through.  Then I drained the meat just like I would if I'd cooked it on the stove top.  It took about 10 minutes from start to finish, it's less messy and certainly less heat than the stove top version.  Then I added 2 tablespoons of the healthy taco seasoning and about 1 1/2 cups of water.  Mixed it all up and put it back in the microwave for about 8 minutes, stirring half way.

To serve it up healthy I layered lettuce shreds, the taco meat, cheese, cream cheese mixed with salsa, and a few dices of Roma tomatoes.

Oh man, it was SO good...but boy was it spicy.  I'm sure adjusting the red pepper flakes would help reduce the heat if you're not a heat person, but I actually liked it.  I probably will add more cream cheese/salsa next time to tame it down for my mouth, but I won't change the recipe...
...see, it was a home run!!!  Oh, and just so you know I've always had issues with taco seasoning because it never seemed to settle well in my stomach.  I always ended up with indigestion....but not this time!!!  Even with the heat I had absolutely NO reaction with this seasoning, and I no longer take my acid reducer at night (which I've done for the past 12 years).  If that's not testimony to this way of life I don't know what is!!!
Seriously, check out Maria's blog.  You will not be sorry!!!  Thanks Maria!
Till next time,

Oh, just an FYI...I'm not getting paid for any of these things I'm saying.  This is my personal opinion and experiences.  I'm just an open book!!!
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Changes Aren't Always Easy!!!

I have days!!!  You know "those" days?  The ones when you just want to chuck the whole thing...Yeah, those days!!!  Yesterday was one of those days, or maybe I should say last night was one of "THOSE" nights.  Here's the scoop.

My husband has been out of town this week.  It's made for a crazy schedule for this taxi mom.  Yesterday was supposed to be the craziest of all.  Initially I was to take my oldest to his school (10 miles or so round trip), come home quickly to grab the youngest two kids and stop at the elementary for my daughter and then take my middle son back to the same school I'd dropped my oldest at earlier. things often do it didn't quite go that way.  My daughter woke with a sore throat, and since we've had strep throat in our family in the last month I had to keep her home to get it checked (it was not by the way).  So, I ended up taking both boys to school early and saved some steps.  Add to that my oldest had more Jazz practice last night downtown, and a trip to the doctor for my daughter.  It was a lot of miles logged.  On top of spending quite a bit of time in the car I ended up spending a bunch of time in the kitchen deep cleaning it and prepping for our dinner.  I roasted and peeled garlic, cooked chicken and did a TON of dishes all in preparation for this Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup.  Everything was prepped and ready to throw it all together once the kids were home from school.  It all had to be done and eaten by 5:30 so I could get my son downtown.

I decided to try my hand at mashed "potatoes" which in low carb world means mashed cauliflower.  Here's the thing, I've NEVER liked cauliflower.  Of course that was a childhood thing, but I've not given it a "real go" in my adulthood.  So since I kept reading that cauliflower was bland and just takes on the ingredients you add to it then I thought "Why Not?!?"  I found this recipe.  I added butter, but didn't have any green onion.  I don't know that I cooked it completely because it was a bit watery...

Let's face doesn't matter, I DO NOT LIKE CAULIFLOWER!!!  It is NOT as bland as people say.  It truly has that cauliflower flavor.  GAG!!! 
I tried putting it under my soup and it did cover up the taste, but then I had a texture issue.  Needless to say it wasn't a pleasant experience!  The cauliflower ended up down the disposal, but the leftover soup is in the fridge.  Hopefully today I can eat that and see how I like it without the other...maybe that will be a success. 
To finish off the rest of the story...after the unsuccessful meal last night I got really discouraged.  I was really hoping for success with the cauliflower since it looked like a great replacement for the potatoes I LOVE!!!  I needed to find some more recipes for this weekend's Super Bowl party and I second guessed every recipe I saw.  I was just ready to throw in the towel so to speak, but I was tired, I was influenced by a bad experience and frankly needed to just finish out the day with a good night's sleep. 
This morning things are much better.  I've found the recipes I need for this weekend, the kids are at school successfully without too many miles, and I'm off to the gym as soon as I'm done with this post.  Some days are rough, but often it's just a matter of perception...and a good night's sleep!!!
Till later,


Monday, January 27, 2014

Chocolate!!! It makes me Happy, Happy, Happy!

Raise your hand if you like chocolate!!!
I love it...but I'm a female, of course I do.  Do you know what else I love...COFFEE!  I love Starbuck's Caffé Mocha...but do you know how much sugar is in it???  Actually, I don't either, but I'm sure it's a TON more than I'm supposed to have.  Sooo...I needed to come up with something to replace my sugary addiction.
I had to think..."How does Starbucks do it?"  Pumps of chocolate syrup plus espresso with some steamed milk...that sounds about right.  The first thing I had to find was a sugar free chocolate syrup so off I went on an internet search (what did we do before the world wide web???)  I found this recipe from kitchen TREATY for Homemade Chocolate Syrup.  Her recipe is not sugar free, but I have sugar substitute right...why not.  And the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples. 
So after a stop at Hobby Lobby for this 11" square half off (gotta love Hobby Lobby)...I came home to try my hand at chocolate syrup. 
I started with two different sugar substitutes: xylitol and Just Like Sugar table top version.  I decided to mix it half and half then add the other ingredients just like the recipe calls for.
I didn't bring it to a boil because I've learned from past experience that xylitol doesn't burns!  Let's not make that mistake again!!!  I gave it a taste and it wasn't sweet enough...too bitter.  So I added about 1/4 cup more of xylitol.  It's still a bit bitter, kind of like really dark chocolate, but not so much as to turn me off of it completely.  It still has that chocolaty flavor that we all love!!!
The syrup started to thicken up fairly quickly so I didn't have to cook it near as long as the recipe states, so I had my trusty helper (my daughter) grab the camera and help me document my new adventure...thank you Sweet Pea!!!
I poured all that lovely chocolate goodness into my new bottle.  It filled it about 2/3rds of the way.  Then I had to try it out!!!  So on went the Keurig since we had to see if I could get close to that Caffé Mocha I love so much.  I chose a Kahlua coffee and got out my heavy cream (I have no way to steam it so I have to forgo that step) in anticipation of mocha yumminess!!!  It wasn't quite as sweet as my Caffé Mocha, but I can handle it costs a heck of a lot less!!!  It was pretty good...not perfect, but good enough for me!

Now I can have my addiction without the guilt.  Maybe next time I can add a bit of sugar free whipped cream.  Who knows...but its sure to be good!!!
Till next time...


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Another day, another recipe! And it's very so many ways!!!

Another day to find something new to eat.  It's amazing to me how delicious many of these meals are that I'm finding.  This morning's breakfast comes from an adaptation from Thrive-Style and Maria Mind Body & Health.  I took a bread recipe from Thrive-Style's Fancy Grilled Cheese and paired it with Maria's Gravy recipe with just a small tweak of my own.  Maria's recipe calls for chicken or beef broth and I used heavy cream instead.  The break was like a light, fluffy pancake and the sausage gravy was SO awesome!!!

It's just a beat off of biscuits and gravy and I don't even miss them!  That's the best thing about this whole thing...finding recipes to replace things I miss to curb all the cravings.  And they're all good...and GOOD for you!!!  It's so worth it.  Here's how it's paying off:

Each day things improve.  I feel so much better.  It's such an awesome journey!  Thank you Lord for such success!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chocolate Muffins and a New Way of Life!!!

It has been a LONG time since I posted and my a lot has happened.  We've gone through a complete marching season with my oldest son and his first year of high school.  My, but that is a TON of fun.  We enjoyed a great holiday season with my family up north.  We've had a snow storm, an ice storm, and enjoyed some time at home with all the kids.  But the biggest change has been my way of life.

I've spent my whole life believing that I'm overweight.  Clear back to high school I thought I was fat.
So, really I wasn't that fat, but in my mind I was.  I've struggled for years.  I've always thought "I can never change this so I might as well just accept it and deal with it".  This past summer I found myself at my highest weight ever.  I was happy, but I wasn't healthy.  I could feel the impact of all that weight on my body and I knew I had to do something. 


In August I saw one of my husband's friends who'd lost a bunch of weight that year.  I asked him what he'd been doing and it was a program that removed sugar from his diet to kick start his liver.  I knew we couldn't afford the program, but I also had to do something.  I began praying about it and started to do some research on sugar free dieting.  I came across the Beyond Diet plan and loved the testimonials.  I watched one of her videos and began to see what the sugars were doing to my body.  I was an addict that was for sure, and here was a step to break that addiction.  I still knew I couldn't do this alone, so I kept praying that God would just step in and do what I couldn't...and that would be self control. 
I got started and it was HARD!!!  It hurt, I was hungry, I wanted to give up...but I started to see changes.  It wasn't in my body yet, but I noticed if I ate something with high sugars in it I would feel dizzy and light headed.  It was my blood sugar raising.  I didn't like the feeling, so avoiding sugar became easier.  Then I joined the gym.  I started feeling better and saw more changes...slowly but surely.  I kept praying right through it all.  I wanted to give up MANY times, but I just kept hearing "This isn't a sprint; it's a marathon".  God just kept giving me the strength to push through. 
I started searching for recipes to help me make the right choices each time.  I found Maria's blog Maria Mind Body Health.  She has a ton of recipes, but with each post she explains why our bodies react in certain ways and what causes it.  She recommends the Keto diet...or I prefer to say "way of life" vs. diet...and so I started adapting what she was saying into my foods.  What I found is that there are tons of delicious alternatives out there that are really good for you.  If you are willing to put in the work and research you can do this too.  Here's proof:

This is January of 2014.  I've lost 36 pounds since starting this in September.  I haven't followed everything 100% all the time, but the majority of the time I am eating right.  I have a ways to go still, but the pathway I'm on is getting me there.  I PRAISE GOD!!!  He is the creator and designer of my new way of life.  Without Him I could NOT do this.  He's given me wisdom, strength and encouragement.  He's put amazing people in my life that are so uplifting.  Without that I couldn't succeed...and I will succeed!!!  My goal is shopping in the Ladies department, not the plus size!!!  And I will get there...with the Lord's help!

But that's not my only reason for posting today.  Here's one of the YUMMY recipes I've found to promote my new way of life.  It comes from Living Low day at a time (sounds like the right way to go to me).  It's a chocolate muffin, and it tastes very much like Sam's Club's big chocolate muffins.  Check out her recipe for Chocolate Muffins and my pictures below. 

For a sugar substitute I'm using Xylitol right now.  I find it's the closest tasting to sugar.  It has a bit of a cooling effect as an aftertaste, but it's not bitter or weird tasting like so many other sugar substitutes.  It can effect your digestive system, which I have experienced a bit, so I may check into other substitutes.  But for now that's what I'm using.  I also used natural peanut butter vs. almond butter.  I would love to get some almond butter, but these alternatives can be expensive, so for now I'm using what I have.  These are surprisingly easy, quick and delicious!!!  I do recommend chopping the unsweetened chocolate into pretty small pieces.  I happened to get one piece that was a bit too big this morning and it was rather bitter in my mouth, but that was only one small piece so I will make sure there are no larger pieces next time. 

If you're interested in a new way of life check out the three blogs I posted above.  For more great recipes try the following blogs as well, or follow me on Pinterest.  I pin every delicious recipe I find.

The Low Carb Review
DJ Foodie
All Day I Dream About Food
Splendid Low Carbing
And then there's one of my great friend's blog...
24/7 Low Carb Diner

If you feel like you just can't do it...take it from another Just Can't Do It ladies...YES YOU CAN!!!

Pray, Persevere, Start, Learn, Choose right...and take it ONE DAY AT A TIME!!!  It's your time!

In Christ's Love,