Monday, December 23, 2013

Refreshing and Anti-inflammatory Berry Smoothie!

Each and every morning I start my day with a cup of French Press coffee.  It is truly one of lifes simple pleasures that I enjoy and have no desire to give up or cut out of my diet. Immediately following coffee, I make a fruit smoothie that is full of all things anti-inflammatory to get me going on the right track.  I have had many requests for my recipe, so I finally measured the ingredients and included it at the bottom of this post.

First off, I use my Magic Bullet which is the most incredible invention of all times.  I found one last summer at a yard sale for 50 cents and couldn't resist.  I gave it a try and I have been hooked ever since.  By the way, right now Costco has an amazing special on these with all kinds of extra cups and blades.

Into a blending cup, I add Flaxseed Meal which is a great source of Omega 3's, vital to good health and fighting excess inflammation.  I also add Greek Yogurt for calcium and to get the necessary probiotics needed for intestinal health. Greek Yogurt is also high in protein.  POM juice is pomegranate which is completely calming for inflammation.  Last of all, I add minced ginger.  Ginger is such an anti-inflammatory that, for me, it works better than ibuprofen for minor inflammation.  I purchase the ginger in a tube for easy use. Not pictured are the frozen berries that I use for fiber and vitamins.  Using frozen berries rather than fresh allows for a cold smoothie without watering it down with ice.  After blending I just take the blade off of the blending mug and add a straw.  Perfection :)

Anti-Inflammatory Berry Smoothie

3/4 cup frozen berries
3/4 cup POM
1 tablespoon flax meal *
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 heaping tablespoons of non-fat Greek yogurt

Place all ingredients in blender or Magic Bullet cup and blend until smooth.  Enjoy :) 
*If you are not ingesting flax on a regular basis I recommend starting with a teaspoon and gradually and more so your body accepts it better.

* I am now adding 1 teaspoon of Organic Greens Complex to my smoothie.  You get all the greens you would ever need in one small scoop.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


As  I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to avoid having surgery.  Well, it didn't work out that way.  My foot was so damaged that no amount of healthy eating would have healed it.  Fortunately, I was able to enjoy summer and wait until last Friday to have the surgery done.

Now I am home recovering and must keep off of my foot for the next 4 weeks.  I just received a text from a dear friend wondering if I am bored yet.  Nope....not yet.  I love to read and this has been a fabulous excuse to do nothing but lay around and read.  I have also had great friends visit.  Best of all, my wonderful hubby is here taking care of me and keeping me company.

One thing my husband was worried about was what to cook for our meals.  Maybe I should emphasize WORRIED, because he was actually freaked out about it.  The first few days we had lasagna.  I truly mean for the first few days.  My friend Savannah made us a few lasagna's to put in the freezer.  And my husband did put them in the freezer. Then pulled them out of the freezer.  Every day for three days it was a running joke because I would text Savannah and say "Guess what we are having for dinner?"  "Guess what we are having for lunch?"  Thank the Lord for her wonderful lasagna.  It allowed us time to get into a routine and gave Ed time to work up his cooking courage.

Today, I am so proud of him.  He actually found a recipe on my blog for Avocado, Cheese, and Egg Stacks and made them for lunch.  He did AMAZING.  See the picture:) They were delicious and beautiful. Great job honey!

His confidence is built and I can't wait for dinner.  He is making Spaghetti Salad and Grilled Salmon.  I am so thankful for such an amazing husband.  God has truly blessed me with him. All in all, I think this will be a great month recovering.  Reading, visits from friends, and great food.  Not so bad for a surgery that I dreaded all year :)  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stuffed French Toast for Company

One thing about me that I may not have mentioned yet..... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having company.  This summer we haven't had nearly the amount of guests that we usually have, however, the last couple of weeks we have had company and it has been awesome.

One thing that can be a challenge for me is cooking for my guests.  I want to stay true to the food I need, yet make sure I am making food that others will enjoy as well.  Breakfast is my greatest challenge because I feel bad offering either granola with yogurt and fruit, or oatmeal every morning.   I feel like when company is here it is special and breakfast should reflect that feeling. 

I went through my old recipe box and found a card for Stuffed French Toast.  When my kids were young I would make this on Thanksgiving morning. With a little tweaking of the ingredients, I made this for our company and ended up with a delicious and special breakfast that I could eat guilt free.  I switched the white bread out for Daves Killer Bread which has Omega 3's....yay!  The other thing I did was used Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese instead of regular cream cheese.  I found this product at Walmart and it has live cultures and much less fat.  The brand is Green Mountain Farms.  I also used only half the egg yolks and replaced them with egg whites.

It's great to know that even with diet restrictions, entertaining and dining can be so rewarding :)

Stuffed French Toast

12 slices bread (no crust) cubed
2 - 8 oz packages Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese, cubed
6 eggs
6 egg whites
2 cups non-fat milk
1/3 c pure maple syrup

Put eggs in a bowl and whisk.  Then add milk and syrup.  Set aside.

Put half the bread in bottom of  a 9x13 pan.  Then put cream cheese as next layer.  Top with the rest of the bread.  Pour the liquid mixture over the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.  Serve with fresh fruit :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spaghetti Salad With Garden Fresh Produce

This morning was such a beautiful September morning.  Since I know the cold weather is not too far away I stayed outside enjoying the sun to the fullest.  I took a short bike ride first.  Then, of course, this time of year there is always a good amount of work to do in the gardens and the flowerbeds so I got busy pulling weeds.  My rewards for the effort I put into the garden this morning were tomatoes, cucumbers, and a sweet red pepper. 

I decided to use my freshly picked produce and last nights left over spaghetti noodles to make a cold spaghetti salad.  I Googled some recipes on line and got a few ideas.  The recipes I found all called for bottled Italian dressing and I never have that on hand since I make most things from scratch.  I prefer to make things homemade because then I can choose which oils and other ingredients go into the recipe.  Healing with nutrition is important to me, so cooking the food myself is always the best plan.

I used olive oil for its amazing health benefits along with red wine vinegar for the dressing.  The fresh veggies are just picked and full of vitamins and flavor.  The garlic and paprika are known for calming inflammation in the body. So this salad is a winner for staying healthy.   What I came up with is absolutely delicious and I hope you give it a try. 

Cold Spaghetti Salad

12 oz cooked whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 sweet bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)

To make the dressing, mix the oil, vinegar, paprika, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and nectar.  Whisk the together well.  Pour the dressing over the cooked spaghetti noodles. 

Cut up the tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into small pieces.  Add them, along with the Parmesan into the spaghetti and mix well.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sunshine, Tomatoes, and Salsa

After a couple of cloudy and rainy days, the sun made an appearance again.  It was refreshing to have a bit of a cool down and some needed moisture, but I am always happy to see the sun again. 

I have been in a surgical boot for about 3 1/2 weeks trying to allow my foot time to heal.  But this morning I put on my tennis shoes......
                                                          donned my new helmet.......

                        .....hopped on my bike and rode like the wind in the beautiful sunshine.

It was such a wonderful and freeing feeling.  I didn't put any weight on my foot and, taking extra precaution, used my heel to pedal.  I wonder if I could have been doing that all along.  Hmmmm......

When I returned home, I wandered out to my garden and found beautiful, lush, ripe red tomatoes tucked into the green leaves of the tomato plant.  I picked them with such excitement that had there been a witness they would have laughed at my enthusiasm.  Nothing beats the incredible scent of fresh picked tomatoes from the vine. 

By the looks of things I will be getting quite a few tomatoes this year.  I enjoy canning tomatoes for use in soups, stews, etc. in the winter.  One thing I haven't done in many years though, is make salsa.  When the kids were little my friends and I would get together during tomato harvest and make huge batches of salsa to can.  The first year we did this ended up with a trip to the emergency room for my friend, Gloria.  She had been scraping the seeds out of the jalapenos by hand without realizing the burning effect that would come to her skin later.  So, use caution or better yet use gloves, when prepping the jalapenos. 
Unfortunately, I don't have that recipe anymore, but, you can find some great salsa recipes on the Internet. Let me know if you have one to share :) The peppers, onions, and cilantro that go into salsa are nice and calming for inflammation.  As long as you do not get a reaction to nightshade veggies, then eat up and enjoy :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bittersweet progress and Curried Cranberry Chicken Subs!

I have been waiting to write a follow up blog post from The Biggest Challenge Yet  for the day I had great news to report.  Great news to me was reporting that my foot had healed because of cleaning up my diet again. However, my foot has not healed yet.  I have come to realize though, that I do have great news to share. 

Since I have cleaned up my diet again, the inflammation has decreased greatly in my body so that except for my foot, I am pain free.  Even though I may end up having surgery on my foot, I cannot negate the fact that an anti-inflammatory diet works for me.  I am thankful that this healthy alternative to medication helps me.  This is great news!

With summer here and in full swing (also great news) I am also thankful to be out enjoying the beautiful days.  I make sure that no matter what I do, I take my food with me.  When we go kayaking I pack a cooler full of delicious food that calms inflammation.  Some great inflammation fighting snacks to munch on are:

Kalamata and Green Olives
Fresh cherries
Hummus with cut up veggies for dipping such as celery, carrots, sweet peppers
Salsa and healthy chips such as Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips
Almonds and dried cranberries mixed together
For a delicious main course that is easy to pack in a cooler and convenient to eat while on an outing, try these Curried Cranberry Chicken Subs.  They are a favorite of ours :)
Curried Cranberry Chicken Subs

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • Leaf lettuce

  • Mix together the chicken, red onion, mayonnaise, and  curry powder.  Add just enough olive oil to get a moist consistency.  Add in dried cranberries.

    Spray the inside of the hoagie rolls with olive oil spray and place face down on the grill.  Lightly brown the rolls.  Watch closely to avoid burning.

    Spoon 1/4 of the mixture on each hoagie roll and top with lettuce.  Serve and enjoy!

    *You can also serve on a bed of lettuce as a salad instead of using the hoagie rolls.

    Saturday, June 15, 2013

    The Biggest Challenge Yet!

    Summer is beginning with some great changes.  I accepted a part time position last July and it truly affected every area of my life.  I did love the job, but it did not fit into the lifestyle that we were wanting at this stage of life.  After much prayer and discussion with my husband, last week was the end of my short career.

    A great deciding factor to quit the job was the fact that I need to have foot surgery and the company I worked for was not able to grant me the time off when it was needed. Everyday I worked, the pain increased.  RA was attacking my body with quite a bit of inflammation and it did this to my foot.

    As the inflammation caused the toes to spread apart the capillaries and cartilage tore causing my toe joint to pop out.  If you are thinking "ouch," you are almost correct.  It is actually more like "OUCH!!!" The surgery to correct this problem is quite painful with bone cutting and pin placement involved.  ICK!

    My Rheumatologist, who is always trying to get me to add another DMARD (Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drug,  feels that the answer to the inflammation problem is for me to begin taking Arava.  The way the drug works is that it blocks the formation of DNA, preventing cells from developing, especially in the immune system. Not good! I want my DNA to keep forming DNA.

    Once again, after much prayer, and talking with my husband, friends, and family, I have decided against the drug.  My personal challenge is to attack this inflammation the only way I am comfortable with, through nutrition.  My hope and prayer is that when the inflammation calms down, my foot will heal without the need for surgery.  It is a big reach, but I am pretty determined.

    Now that I am back to my homemaker roots, I have the time to take better care of myself and my disease.  I have time once again to be a better friend, mom, and wife.  I am so thankful and feel extremely blessed that we are at a place in life that allowed me the freedom to stay home. 

    I am beginning with the basics in anti-inflammatory eating starting right here.  This is my biggest challenge yet, trying to avoid surgery by turning to nutrition rather than medications.  I have seen miraculous changes over the years in my healing through nutrition and I cannot imagine that it would fail me now. Only time will tell :)

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Lack of creativity in the kitchen.....cured!

    As much as I love to create and cook in the kitchen, occasionally I get in a funk.  The past couple of weeks it has seemed much easier to go out to eat rather than stay home and cook.  There are a couple of downsides to eating out.  Besides being financially irresponsible, it is almost impossible for me to eat right in a restaurant.  My discipline is not so great and the temptation wins out every single time.  Of course, by later on that same night, I regret the food choices that I made. 

    Yesterday I went shopping and out to lunch with a friend.  I am now totally inspired to cook and create once again.  All she did was tell me how she made tacos with quinoa instead of meat and....bam....I was completely cured of my funk :)  Thank you Rachel!

    Tonight I went after it and really enjoyed the results.  Here is how I made my quinoa tacos!

    Quinoa Tacos

    1 cup quinoa
    2 cups water
    1 tsp paprika
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 can black beans
    1/2 can fire roasted green chilies
    1/4 cup organic salsa
    Parmesan cheese or shredded cheese of choice

    Rinse quinoa and pour into a pot with water and spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Take off of the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork and then stir in the salsa, chilies and beans.  Scoop the quinoa mixture onto a tortilla, with lettuce and shredded cheese of choice.  Roll up like a soft taco and enjoy.

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    Spaghetti Squash and Mediterranean Pasta Sauce

    One of our favorite meals is Mariana Sauce over spaghetti squash. This past summer we grew spaghetti squash in our flowerbed. It was the hugest squash plant I have ever seen.
    We had a fun squash harvest and ........

    As you can see.....
    My husband had the most fun of all! 
    The great thing about winter squash is, if kept in a cool place it will keep through the winter.  So, tonight we are going to enjoy a yummy spaghetti squash from our garden.
    Squash is packed with vitamins and a great alternative to spaghetti noodles. While I love traditional spaghetti, occasionally it is a good switch with lower carbs and calories to boot. 
    Preparation is very easy.  First you cut the squash in half lengthwise. Place each piece right side up on a cookie sheet and cover with tin foil. Bake for about an hour. Check to see if the squash is done by piercing the inside with a fork. If it is tender then the squash is done.
    When the squash is done, I take a fork and flake out the squash and it comes out resembling spaghetti noodles.  Then I top it with my favorite Mediterranean Pasta Sauce and mmm mmm good. Enjoy :)
    Mediterranean Pasta Sauce
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    • 1/8 cup red wine
    • 1 can diced tomatoes
    • 1/8 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
    • 1/8 cup capers
    • 2 TB.sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp.pepper
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    Over medium high heat saute the onion until caramelized, then add garlic and saute for a minute stirring constantly. Add red wine and stir the red wine making sure to mix the caramelized onion mixture well. Add the remaining ingredients. Turn heat down to low, put lid on pan, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    This sauce is excellent served over spaghetti squash or whole grain angel hair pasta with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan over the top.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Pizza Night is Back!

    Pizza nights are a great American tradition. Our family has enjoyed quite a few over the years. Of course now, I must look at the facts concerning this delightful dish. Your standard take out pizza is loaded with saturated fat, white flour, and sugar.  Since all three of those ingredients affect my body by causing too much inflammation, that means I will have to say no.
    In an attempt to bring pizza night back to our home, I tried to make whole wheat pizza crust. Yes I said "tried" because it did not turn out so well. We seriously needed a hammer and chisel to cut it.
    Recently, I received a box of Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads to try. Guess what??? I used the wholegrain flatbread to make pizza and it worked! Yippee! Many times whole grain choices are pretty disgusting, but, The Stonefire Wholegrain Naan is soft, fresh, and delicious. It was super easy too. All you need to do is spread pizza sauce over the bread, add your favorite toppings, and bake. I chose an organic pizza sauce and topped it with Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, red onions and Parmesan cheese.
    Typically I like to make our meals from scratch and I would love to find a great recipe for pizza crust (hint hint). But, sometimes it's nice to have an alternative for quick easy meals. This is one alternative I am sure I will have again. Even though I am on a strict eating plan, I don't have to miss out on pizza night anymore :)