May 31, 2013

Smoky-Spicy Chicken with Rice-E

Chicken and Rice.
It's a staple, but quite frankly, it can be boring.  Bleh even sometimes.
But today I was inspired.
I used my Smoky-Spicy seasoning as inspiration for this dish that is E, or energizing, in the Trim, Healthy Mama world.  
First, I got my rice cooking.  I use a medium grain brown rice, but feel free to use what you have.  I put 1 T of the seasoning per 1 cup of rice.  You may also want to add some chicken stock to the water for flavor and increased nutrition.  Cook it stovetop or in a rice cooker.

Smoky-Spicy Chicken with Rice and Cheese Sauce
The chicken.
I cooked mine is a large, enameled cast iron pot with a lid, but any heavy pot with a lid will work.
  • Heat pan with a touch of oil in the bottom.  About 1-2 tsp.
  • Add boneless,skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces, into hot pan.
  • Add 1 T of seasoning mix per pound to the chicken and stir.  You could also season it in advance and really let it soak in, but that requires some kind of organizational level that I have yet to find. 
  • Cook until golden.
  • Add an enchilada sauce (my recipe to follow), stir thru and cover.  Let simmer for 30 minutes or so.
  • Serve with rice and cover with cheese sauce.
You can add cheddar and sour cream or guacamole for family members who are crossing over or not on plan.

Enchilada Sauce 
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3-5 dried chilis
  • 4 cloves of garlic
Put all in a food processor until liquidy and smooth.

Cheese Sauce
Melt first 3 ingredients over low heat.  When cheese is melted, add Glucomannan, stir well and remove from heat.
Even baby Chase likes it!

May 30, 2013

Smoky-Spicy Seasoning Mix

I love it when things work.  I like to play around and experiment, but really, I like it when a plan comes together.
I have made my own nacho seasoning for a while, but it just wasn't quite what I was wanting.  So I tweaked it a bit and this is what I came up with.

4 T chili powder
2 T smokey paprika
4 T cumin, ground
2 T onion powder
2 T salt
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground

I mix them all together and store in a glass, half pint jar.
It takes about 1 T per pound of meat.  

This has a smokey taste, but a little zing to it as well.
My little friend enjoys it too!

May 29, 2013

Out With the Old

I started blogging about 5 or 6 years ago and just found out that all the old photos and posts are gone as the company reformatted.  I got the email and was in a post baby funk so I didn't bother to copy it over.  I don't know that I even have the passwords anymore.
What irritates me the most is that the main reason I have for blogging is because I can post a recipe or remedy and never have to worry about finding it later.  I can use google or the search in the side bar to find things.

But maybe it was time to get rid of the past and look to the new?

So I was thinking about all the things I learned and posted and realize that I need to keep learning and posting new things.
We moved to NW Ga just over 8 years ago, and I worked at establishing my herbs and various plants over this time.  I often tend to plant things because they speak to me on some level, not because I'm looking for a harvest.
Elder flowers
Elder plants grow all up and down the Etowah River that I live near.  I planted one in my yard and the last 2 years it has been spectacular.  This year it is covered with blossoms that I can use for my Children's Composition formula.
I went to my old standby, Practical Herbalism by Phil Fritchey.  It's a great book that focuses on 46 herbs, their uses, folklore and cultivation.
This year, my plants flowered profusely and since I was out of my elder flower stash, I thought it  would be good to dry some flowers.
Practical Herbalism has detailed steps as to how to do this, but I tend to have issues with following directions?
The flowers are tiny and with the current weather there was no reason to use the dehydrator.
I picked the entire cluster and allowed them to dry initially in the direct sun outside for a couple hours.  I then moved them to a warm, dry area to complete drying. This took several hours. I then gently removed the flowers and stored them.
Elder flowers, dried
Make sure you label and date anything you harvest as well as be 100% on your identification.  I you don't have access to a plant, or doubt your skills at identification, then I encourage you to check out Mountain Rose Herbs.  They are one of the few places that I will order from at this point as they seem to take the same care that I would.

May 28, 2013

Washing Away the Fat?

Today is Trim, Healthy Tuesday.  Check out Gwen's and Stacy's blogs for more great lifestyle tips and recipes!
I have expressed my desire to not be legalistic when it comes to food.  I don't want to live by how many grams of this, or how many servings a day of that, that I can have.
This is part of the appeal that Trim, Healthy Mama has to me.  You can eat whatever, whenever and how much you want.  It's just knowing that not all foods, or amounts, are conducive to weight-loss.
I also enjoy knowing that I can be really organized with meal planning, but if I slack off, then it's still pretty easy to put something together and we will probably not starve any time soon.

Lately, there's been much buzz within the THM world about getting rid of excess fat in meats that are traditionally higher fat, like ground beef.  I will admit that I don't always buy grass-fed, organic meat.  This just doesn't suit my life or budget at this point, and I will admit that I shop the sales. I do tend to buy what's on sale, not the ground beef with the least fat.
So, I'm wondering if all that I've been hearing about "just rinse it and drain it, and your ground beef will be nutritionally like grass-fed" is really true?  On THM this means that the meat just became a more versatile ingredient as it isn't a low-fat diet.

This intrigued me to a degree.  I obviously don't have too much to think about because this took up some room in my brain.

I do tend to rinse my ground beef if I'm adding it to a red sauce or making nacho meat, but when doing this it didn't seem to make it like grass-fed beef I have used.
Then I was thinking about how fat congeals easily when I wash the pan if the water isn't hot enough.  Instead of washing it off, am I really just making it adhere even worse and defeating my purpose altogether?

The skeptic in me wasn't buying this, but I figured there had to be some smart people out there with too much time and university or government money who did studies on this type of thing, and I was not wrong.  There are studies and recommendations regarding this.  You can find some here and here even.

It appears that if you do choose to rinse and drain ground meat, then you can remove a great deal of fat.  Meat with the higher fat/lower priced lost the most ( also had the most to lose), but just cooking and blotting/allowing it to drain will also make a huge difference.
Rinsing was studied using water at 150 degrees followed by a 5 minute draining as well.

So technically, you can drain, blot and rinse your beef to significantly reduce the fat content.  I will add that if your meat is from a questionable source, this might be especially beneficial as hormones and pesticides are often bound to the fat of the animal.

How to do it?
For crumbled meat:
Brown your meat till, well, brown.  It should be 160 degrees according to the powers-that-be.
Heat a quart of water to 150-160 degrees, not boiling.
Remove the meat from the pan and place on 3 layers of paper towel (yes, the instructions I found specified 3 and the ground beef fairy will be watching you!).  Let it drain here for 30-60 seconds.  Blotting with additional paper towels.
Transfer blotted beef to strainer of some sort and pour the hot water over top.  Allow 5 minutes to drain.
Proceed with your recipe.

Burgers won't have as much of a reduction in fat as they can't be rinsed, but this is the protocol for lowering fat with them:
Cook patties
Drain on 3 layers of paper towels for 1 minute, turn and let the other side drain for 30 seconds.

You can, with proper steps, be sure that you are lowering the fat in the meat that you buy and bring it to the level of grass fed animals.  This will help to make your purchases more versatile in the THM world.
The fact is that I probably won't waste time rinsing meat regularly.  Draining, maybe.  I am pretty cheap and that is a lot of paper towels though.  And then you have the whole flavor deal too.
But it is nice to have options of using ground beef with an E style/carb focused meal.

Luckily, you can see the stats (note Table 3), and are free to make your own decisions.

May 27, 2013

Babies and Stairs

It seems that whatever you want your baby to avoid, they will be automatically drawn towards.  In our case, it would be the stairs.
I had a hard time finding a baby gate that was wide enough and then discovered that my little dude was pretty smart and quickly figured out how to move it and get thru.
Then I found a design to make your own for baby or for your pet.  I tweaked the design and made my own functional gate.  It's light enough for us to easily move, and doesn't look like an eyesore.  It also won't require making repairs to the wood when we no longer need it.
I used 1 inch PVC pipe to make a frame with a cross bar.  A hacksaw was used to cut the pieces to size, and was simple enough for me to do myself even.
I made it simple and cut out 7 pieces that were all 24 inches long, and then bought the 1" joints with 4 elbow joints for the corners and 2 "T"s for the middle brace.  It took me less than 10 minutes to measure, cut and assemble the frame.  I could have made it longer or taller, but figured it was easiest to just make all the sides the same and it fit what it needed to fit.
I picked out a heavier, upholstry-type fabric that I liked, and then made a slip cover based on the size with adjustments made for joints and seam allowances.  I will admit that I haven't sewed the bottom seam, but have it pinned so that I can clean or replace it as needed (I would never say I'm just too lazy to stitch it by hand, but you may feel free to call it as you see it.)
Baby was initially confused and confounded by the blockade, but figured it out as it is light and easy to move.  We now use the throw pillows from the couch to brace it.  He cannot move it at this point.  So I'm calling it a success!

May 24, 2013

THM...More Guidelines Than Actual Rules...

Yesterday I shared about what I have learned and the changes I've seen with Trim, Healthy Mama.
The thing I loved most about this book is that there is no calorie counting.  You don't need to watch points, or carbs grams or anything.  No food is really off limit, but you have to realize that some foods are not condusive to you losing weight.
The book teaches you about combining your foods.  It isn't too complicated, but can take a few days to really get the hang of doing.  You eat protein with most meals and then round them out with either fats or starchier carbs within a certain range.  Your low-glycemic carbs, like cabbage and broccoli, are pretty much unlimited and when bathed in butter are considered a good fat source.  You probably need to say good-bye to white potatoes and most breads though if you want to lose weight though.
The book explains how making these changes will cause your body to lose weight.  The book also encourages you to not stress over food, and to not make it an idol within your life.
This hits home with me.  
For years, I counted carbs.  I knew how much fat, protein and fiber was in every bite I ate.  I recorded it all daily and analyzed and stressed over it all to find the perfect balance.  Yes, I was thin and fit, but I worked so hard at it and it was a priority in my day.
I'm not working at it now.  I'm focusing on what is really important in my life.  Food is a secondary, though necessary.  It's function is to serve only to fuel what I need to do.
I know that many people don't have my obsessive history and need boundaries to learn the plan and that is fine.  
Gwen has spent more time than I ever will writing down a review of the book.  I suggest you read her blog and her Start-up Guide for all the details you could want.  (I actually suggest reading the actual book, but you get what I'm saying, I hope.)
It has just been very freeing to me to look to guidelines and not to have a ton of rules to follow to get it perfect.  Because I guess I've figured out that real life is seldom perfect?

May 23, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama

This is the book that has changed my life.
No, like, seriously.  It has.

This is me in November with my wonderful family:

And for perspective, this is even a rear view:

You might think, hey, she's not horrible, or you just had a baby.  Those were things that what I was thinking.  I was exercising, but, man was I hungry.  And I like to eat.  And I wasn't that thin before I got pregnant anyhow, you know?  Plus I'm older now.
I kept making more and more excuses as to why I couldn't lose the weight.  I kept getting heavier and heavier until my 5'8" frame peaked at 186 pounds.
Then I heard on facebook about this diet book called  Trim, Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.  It didn't seem like the normal, here's a menu, exercise like crazy and starve deal.  And it isn't.  It is a unique way of looking at diet that has worked quite well for me.
I have tried a lot of things.  I have failed or given up on many things, but the THM plan is a life plan.
The book is long (over 600 pages), and there is a learning curve to figuring it out, but once you do, it is a life plan.  There are very few topics that this book doesn't address in some way.  The banter between the authoring sisters is a little wacky, but overall, some great, practical wisdom is here.
I have seen changes in my body and health that I didn't think would ever be possible at this point in my life, and I think most of this is related to what I have learned from this book.
The lesson I guess I've learned is that there is always a solution.  No one plan might work for everyone, but you can't just give up. It's been 8 years that I've been working at healing and eventual weightloss.  It took time, but I've learned a lot about what didn't work for me and why.
Now I can focus on what is working and just go on and enjoy life.
Like I said, this book is massive.  It is available both as a hard copy (that rivals the phone books of old) and a digitial copy (kindle, nook, or pdf).  I will admit that I have a hard copy and the pdf both as I don't want to be without and have loaned my book out since getting it.
So, how have I dropped over 30 pounds without even trying?  How do I plan on losing those last 10 stubborn pounds?  I'll be telling in the coming days...
My 44th birthday in February. 20 lbs lost.
30 lbs lost in April (sorry, not the best shot)

May 22, 2013

Get Moving!

I have a toddler.  A 13 month old, to be exact....
He is a free spirit... not bound by the clock or calendar.  He doesn't care if it is 5am and he is awake, or if it is 11 am and he is sleeping.  He's also pretty much open to eating most any time, day or night.  He just isn't very discriminating it would seem.

So one morning we were up at 5am and I thought I'd turn on the tv and watch the weather like I do each morning, but my morning news hadn't started yet.  So I turned the channel and sat mesmerized by Shaun T doing Hip Hop Abs for the next 30 minutes.
And the kicker is that you 'get all this' for just $19.97!!!
Actually it's closer to $28 with shipping, but I was hooked.  I spent way too much time researching and watching infomercials.  Amazon gave it great ratings as well (and it's the same price as the infomercial with S/H btw).
I was obsessed with having Hip Hop Abs and got the set for Mother's Day.
I will say that for the price there are several choices for workouts ranging from 5 minute turbo ones to 45 minute ones that leave you in a sweaty, sore mess on the floor.  The core workouts are Cardio Abs 1 and Ab Sculpt 1 that are each under 30 minutes.  The suggested workout calendar recommends doing 2 workouts on some days for maximum results, but I've been happy with the results despite not doing two a day.  Getting in a shorter workout is pretty easy most days, but putting aside an entire hour seems like a pretty big feat and chunk of time.
There is also a Total Body dvd and one that focuses only on the Legs, Butt and Thighs.

So, after 3 weeks, has there been a difference?  I won't be posting before and after photos, but I have lost an inch around my waist.  My son said I had rock hard abs, but that they were hard the last time he felt them too.
I had to remind him that the last time he had felt my stomach I was 9 months pregnant and it was a baby that was most likely making things feel hard, and not my muscles.
Now I'm not a dancer, or that flexible, or graceful, but I do like to mix things up.  I like to enjoy a workout, because when it gets down to it, if you don't enjoy it, you won't do it.  These dvds are fun.  Chances are I don't look like the people in the workout, but I'm kind of alright with it.  I'm still having a good time and more importantly, I'm getting a good workout.
So, I'm not quite ready for a belly piercing just yet, but you never know?

May 21, 2013


It's easy to get into a rut.  To get stuck.  To get comfortable.
We all get there and it's not a happy place for me.

You see, I used to be a wife, mother, homeschooler, who also had a job that I loved, played at herbs and had plenty of free time for this play in general.
Life is now much sweeter, but much more simple and less complicated.  This initially sounds good, but I'm afraid there is a certain level of routine that sets in with a toddler in the house.  Routine is good for toddlers, but I need to remember that inside of me, there is still a mind that needs stimulation and a body that needs more than just chasing children.

So what does all this mean for the summer for me?
My goals include to study herbs more with practical applications (this means to get my hiney outside and harvest), to actually get some of the reading done for our next school year BEFORE the school year starts (I'm embarrassed to say how few things got read and actually completed for this year), to advance my homemaking skills (and I hope this doesn't sound as dorky to everyone else as it does to me), and to add milage and burn to my workouts.

I'm planning on committing to blogging again.  To document and to share some of the things that work for me in life.  I think that this helps to keep my attitude positive and keeps me in a happy place as well.

So basically, I hope to get comfortable with being uncomfortable over the next few weeks.