Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Intentions



I read an article recently on www.care2.com, suggesting three different ways to usher in the new year. It's short and interesting, you can read it here.

The author makes a good point about New Year's Resolutions. They usually don't work. They're often lofty goals that are out of reach and have no action plan attached. This author suggests "New Year's Intentions" instead. I like to set goals for myself for the new year. I try to make them about something I'm already involved in, something in which I'd like to improve. It's important not to set goals too high. 

In 2012 I planned to send out my completed fiction novel to three agents, write my first non-fiction, get it published in eBook format and begin the second non-fiction. I accomplished the first two and began some research for the last one. Looking back, I can say to myself, "Not bad." I realize these weren't huge, but they were doable. 

I also believe it's important to set goals/intentions that motivate you to take care of yourself. Purpose in this new year to set aside time to rest, to exercise, to meditate, to be thankful for your health, accomplishments and family. Remind yourself throughout the year that you are valuable, talented and good. Remind yourself that you are the apple of the eye of God. He rejoices over you and wants all the best for you. He's cheering you on and empowering you to do and be all He's made you to do and be. 


Here's my non-fiction eBook that came out in October. You can find it at my website, www.christiannaturalist.com, or on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or anyplace you find eBooks. 


For comment, please share any success with New Year's goals you've had or any goals you're making for 2013.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Delicious Pineapple Enzymes

After a steady diet of celebration foods, you might feel like your body needs a boost. I do. And if you can add enzymes that heal, all the better.

Bromelain is the enzyme found in Pineapple, it helps digest proteins. This particular enzyme is used to reduce pain and swelling, help clear sinus infections and aid in the healing of colitis. All very helpful during this winter, holiday month.

Lactase is the enzyme found in any fermented milk product. The fermentation process turns lactose into lactase. It helps people with a lactose intolerance and is good for digestion.

So here's a recipe using yogurt and pineapple that will pick you up the morning after a big holiday meal. You could add a scoop of dairy-free Coconut Ice Cream instead of the yogurt for a light and delicious dessert.


Pineapple Smoothie

(check out www.recipes.prevention.com for this and other healthy recipes)

FROM:  EAT UP SLIM DOWN ANNUAL RECIPES 2005 
This decadently thick drink satisfies my desire for ice cream. Sometimes I vary it by adding coconut flavoring or chunks of strawberries.
Photo: Mitch Mandel


INGREDIENTS
Serves:   Prep: 5min Cook: 0min Total: 5min
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a blender, combine the yogurt and ice cubes. Blend, pulsing as needed, until the ice is in large chunks. Add the pineapple and blend at "whip" speed until smooth.
NUTRITIONAL FACTS PER SERVING
CALORIES282.7 CAL
FAT3.3 G
SATURATED FAT2 G
SODIUM167.1 MG
CARBOHYDRATES53.4 G
TOTAL SUGARS48.2 G
DIETARY FIBER2.2 G
PROTEIN12.9 G

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tasty, Nutritious & Leftover

I enjoy cooking and I enjoy hosting, especially during the holidays. Those celebrations, coupled with attending various other dinners and lunch parties, can make a body feel bloated and lazy. Plus there are leftovers to keep us in the same comfort-food trap for weeks to come. I like to get creative and see how many nutrients I can add to leftovers. If you mix the fatty food with lots of vegetables or in a salad, you end up with a light and healthy way to use leftovers.

Here are a few ideas:

Make a pasta and mix in leftover veggies from one of your dinners. Veggies such as asparagus or brussel sprouts, even green beans work well with pasta. Drizzle some olive oil over it and add a tablespoon of grated cheese such as Gruyère,  Bemster, or swiss, and a splash of herbed salt. Now you have a light, healthy meal in one dish.



How about Burritos or Enchiladas?

Burritos: Put pieces of leftover turkey in a large frying pan and a little water. Add a can of drained black beans, chopped green chills, and chopped onions. Cook until warm and the onions are softened. Place a large spoonful in a whole grain tortilla and top with your choice of shredded cheddar, sour cream, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, or whatever you enjoy on your burritos.

Enchiladas: Mix shredded or chopped leftover turkey in a bowl with light cream cheese or soft tofu. When combined add a can of drained black beans, and green chills. You can spice it up with a dash of chili powder and/or tabasco sauce. Put a large spoonful in a whole grain tortilla, wrap tightly and place in a backing dish. Top with shredded cheese and some black olives or jalapeños. Smother with green chili enchilada sauce or another enchilada sauce. Be sure to choose an all natural or organic brand.

Soups and salads are great for using up leftovers and providing nutrition. Use the turkey carcass for a great turkey soup. Refrigerate after cooking, then scrape off the fat the next day. Reheat and add vegetables of your choice and wild rice or barley. Of course you can throw anything you have over torn lettuce and you have a meal in a salad bowl. Pieces of turkey meat add protein to the salad. You can also throw on some leftover veggies. Even if they've been cooked, cold vegetables such as green beans and carrots can be chopped up and added to a salad.

One more idea for today. If you've made a healthy pumpkin pie, why not eat it for breakfast? My kids always enjoyed this during the holidays. After all you've got eggs, squash, milk or tofu, spices and a little sweetness to make breakfast a treat. 

Enjoy your holidays without the feeling that you can't get off the couch. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Enzymes - A Key to Health

image from Taste For Life 

Enzymes are proteins that bring about change inside a cell. Some split cells apart, or break them down, while others join cells together. Without them our body could not absorb nutrients or break down food for assimilation during digestion.

Every living cell produces enzymes, so our body already has some. We can add more and different enzymes by eating foods with enzymes or taking enzyme supplements.

We all know that vitamins and minerals are absolutely necessary for good health, but did you also know that the body cannot assimilate them without the work of enzymes?

You may understand the importance of digestion. All the functions of the body are affected by the digestion and assimilation of our food. If it is not properly digested all sorts of health problems arise. IBS, colitis, crone's disease, and constipation are all directly associated with poor digestion. Many other illnesses come about as a result of poor digestion as well. Without enzymes to break down the food, there would be no digestion at all.

< SIDE NOTE: Can any scientist who studies the complexity of the body, and who understands mathematical probability, honestly deny intelligent design? >

Click here to see a short, simple video about how enzymes work.

Our body needs enzymes. Below is a chart listing several helpful enzymes for the body. These can be found in food and supplements.

Digestive Enzymes

WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR YOU
Have you noticed that your digestion isn’t what it used to be? There’s a simple reason for that. The body’s manufacturing of enzymes slows as we age. These protein molecules work throughout the digestive tract to give us energy.
The good news is that supplemental enzymes, taken when you eat a meal, can aid digestion. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common enzymes and their uses. 
Enzyme
What It 
Digests
Used For
Bromelain
Proteins
Pain and swelling, sinus infections, colitis
Cellulase
Fiber
Blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, intestinal tract detoxification
Invertase
Carbs
Sugar digestion, bacterial infections
Lactase
Lactose (milk sugar)
Lactose intolerance
Lipase
Fats
Celiac and Crohn’s diseases, indigestion, IBS
Pancreatin
Proteins, fats, carbs
Digestive problems, viral infections, sports injuries, food allergies, autoimmune disorders
Papain
Proteins, fats, carbs
Pain and swelling, diarrhea, psoriasis


SELECTED SOURCES
“Bromelain”; “Lactase Enzyme Oral”; “Papain;” www.webmd.com
“The Health Benefits of Cellulase,” 5/29/11; “The Health Benefits of Invertase,” 7/1/11; by Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, Global Healing Center, www.globalhealingcenter.com
 
 By: Jane Eklund


Monday, December 3, 2012

Giving from the Heart

I'm not one of those people who knows the perfect thing to give each person. You know the kind who can find a gift that is special and specific to each recipient. I admire them. Once in a great while I can actually pull it off. But usually I just don't think of the right thing for the right person until it's too late.

I'm excited this week because I get the chance to bless the leaders in our church. I'm making them dinner. This is something I can do. I enjoy cooking when I make time to focus on it. I enjoy offering healthy, delicious food to those I love. We've budgeted time and money for it and it's finally happening this week.

My hope is that the food will be as good as if we'd taken them to a high-end restaurant. Most of us don't have the finances to go to those places, at least not often, so I hope it's a treat.


Here's my menu: Italian Roast Beef, Roasted Butternut Squash, Green Bean/Shallot Ravioli Salad, and Lemon Bunt Cake for dessert (I think).

What do you love to do that you can offer to others this year? It can be homemade, it can be simple, it can be inexpensive, as long as it's from the heart.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday Shame

I'm so embarrassed about the behavior of my fellow Americans. Each year it gets worse. Each year the shopping season, also known as Christmas, creeps closer and closer to Thanksgiving. This year it invaded Thanksgiving as many stores opened on Thursday evening.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is a day for family, it is a day to remember all our blessings and take time to give thanks to God. It's a day to feast, visit and rest. It is also a day when businesses are mostly closed, people don't have to work, buy or think about the cares of day-to-day life for one day.

I mean how desperate are we to buy one more thing? To beat someone else to the sale? To sacrifice our dignity, our compassion, and possibly our safety on the altar of materialism?

How I wish every single person in the United States would've boycotted the stores on Thursday. Can you imagine? All the stores that planned for sales on Thursday, forced their employees to leave family and friends to sell stuff and try to control the crowd, imagine if they were empty. Employees standing around staring at each other, their steps echoing through the empty isles. Ah, the image makes me smile. Maybe after that they never would've opened on Thanksgiving again.

But we Americans love to buy. It's now our national duty to buy and keep on buying. We must feed this insatiable monster inside us that continues to grow. And we won't stop until people are killed in the mass chaos of it all.



Then we'll have legislation that will help us control the beast within. The federal government will have to limit how stores offer sales because the people can't be trusted to control themselves.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

Lord, we need more of your Spirit.

I wanted to put a video with this blog, but I can't bring myself to do it. If you want to see the horrors carried out by your fellow man this weekend, check it out on YouTube. There are plenty of videos from all over the country.

If you'd like to see our family's attempt to avoid Black Friday, check out my husband's blog, "What I Love About Black Friday"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Minimalism = Maximum Effort

I'm in the beginning stages of cleaning house. I'm not just talking about sweeping, vacuuming and wiping counters. I'm talking about the pull-everything-out-of-nooks-and-corners-and-get-rid-of-clutter kind of cleaning.

We've been in our house for about 15 years and all of us are keepers. We don't let go of things easily, especially books. I've been feeling like the walls are closing in on me for months, maybe years.

"Clutter is a state of mind. It can be the things we haven't done which prey on our minds, like unreturned telephone calls and appointments not made. . . Everything we do not use or wear, or which we are keeping in case it comes in handy one day. . . For one reason or another. . . we hang on to situations and ideas which do not let us move on. . . All these attitudes clutter our thought processes but by clearing out our physical clutter we see the benefits of 'letting go', which will help us to clear out the mental clutter restricting our development." Excerpt from the book FENG SHUI: Mind & Body; Spirit & Home, by Hale & Evans, page 82.

I love clean, open spaces. They make me feel like my spirit can soar. And I know that if my hands are empty, God can fill them. But it seems to take so much time to keep up with the clutter, to throw or give things away as soon as they enter the house. I feel guilty because something was a gift or it holds a certain memory, or I'm just not sure what to do with it, so I set it aside and put off deciding what to do with it for later. Yet holding on to all these things becomes oppressive and later the task is bigger.

FENG SHUI tells me not to try to tackle the whole house at once, but it's weighing on my mind. I try to do one room at a time, but that leads to another because if I move something from the bedroom to the family room, I must make room in the family room for it.

Another question I have is--Where do I keep all the stuff I want to give away until I have time to take it someplace? Oh and--Where do I take it?

Here's a before & after picture I found on the internet. 
Which one invites clear thought and enjoyable play? 



So today I struggle with this elephantine task. I hope to report success by the end of the year.

How do you tackle cleaning out? Or how do you stay on top of it every day?
I'd love to hear your experiences and tricks.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Phytonutrients Could Save Your Life


"Phytonutrients play perhaps the most important part in preventing cancer and heart disease." ~Don Colbert, M.D.

"Phytonutrients are . . . highly protective against heart disease and cancer." ~Andrew Weil, M.D. 

What are these miraculous nutrients? 

They are plant compounds that come from fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients are what give fruits and vegetables their color, flavor and scent. And they are naturally disease resistant so they help your body fight disease.  

So how do we get more phytonutrients into our bodies? We eat more fruits and vegetables.

You thought I was going to suggest some expensive supplement or juice, didn't you? 

There may be some of those products that add phytonutrients to your diet, but they are not as effective as adding more fruits and vegetables. You see God made the things we need. Given enough of the food God made, and told us to eat, we will have what we need. 

Obviously in today's world of technology, our food, water and air have been polluted, which is what makes it difficult to eat right. I don't claim that any of us can avoid all things that cause cancer or heart disease, but we can help the situation by being mindful of what we choose at the store. Organic produce is always better since you avoid the pollution of chemicals used as pesticides. Choose brightly colored produce. Eat whole, raw, or slightly cooked fruit and veggies as often as possible. And eat LOTS of different varieties, in all the colors God has created. 

Enjoy your phytonutrients! 





Monday, November 5, 2012

Yummy ImmuniTEA Boost

Have you felt that little tickle in the back of your throat yet? Or the dry throat syndrome that often accompanies cooler weather? Well here are a couple of yummy recipes that can help. 

Honey Lemon Tea
-2 Tablespoons (or more to taste) each Raw Honey and freshly squeezed Lemon Juice. Add to a mug
-Pour steaming water over them to fill the mug. 


Spicy Apple Tea
(recipe from "Organic & Natural," October 2012, by Lunds and Byerly's)

-Equal parts water and fresh apple cider or bottled apple juice.
-1 spiced rooibos tea bag, or 1 tsp loose rooibos tea per 8-oz serving.
-Cinnamon stick

1. Bring water/apple cider mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.
2. Add tea and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bag or strain, if using loose tea.
3. Serve immediately. For added sweetness, add a cinnamon stick to each cup of tea.



Each ingredient in these two recipes has wonderful, healing properties for winter colds and coughs. Plus they're just warm, sweet and comforting even if you're not feeling under-the-weather. Mix and match any of the ingredients or add other healing teas, herb or fruits to make your own delicious tea. 

Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years. Up until World War II many used it for its antibacterial properties. Its wide-spread use dropped considerably when chemical antibiotics such as penicillin began to be produced. However, honey's healing properties have not changed. It is a powerful medicine, both internally and externally (on skin abrasions, for example).

Honey is good for joints, helps fight colds and respiratory infections of all kinds. It can help the battle against environmental allergies, bacteria and even parasites. Raw honey contains natural antibiotics, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, which all help the body to heal. And honey is a natural cough suppressant. A spoonful of honey alone can calm a cough and boost the immune system. 

*Note about honey: Raw is better for its healing properties. Do NOT give honey to children under one year of age. 

Lemon have an abundance of Vitamin C, famous for treating colds, flus, and respiratory infections as well as a host of other benefits. Lemons contain antioxidants which boost the immune system and speed up the healing process. 

Rooibos is an herb from which a deliciously mild tea is made. It's full of antioxidants and has been known to aid in digestion, sleep, relaxation, and more. It comes from the bark and leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant, which grows in South Africa. It's often called red tea, or African tea.

Apples, well, we all know the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." There are many reasons for that. Of course, apples contain Vitamin C and are good for the immune system. But did you know that they're known to help the body fight cancer, obesity, and diabetes? Apples are cleansers and can help eliminate radiation. Apples help reduce bad cholesterol while building the good stuff into the blood. You may want to take a Google journey to find out more about all the healing properties of apples.  

Cinnamon is not only delicious, but healing as well. "Cinnamon raises vitality, warms the system, stimulates all the vital functions of the body, counteracts congestion, improves digestion, relieves abdominal spasms and aids in peripheral circulation...The health benefits of cinnamon can be attributed to its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, astringent and anti-clotting properties. Cinnamon is rich in essential minerals such as manganese, iron and calcium. It is also rich in fiber," says Kevin Hayden in www.truthisreason.net. 

How do you use these medicinal powerhouses?




Monday, October 29, 2012

Stop Cheating Sleep

We in the West seem to have a love/hate relationship with sleep. We always talk about wanting more sleep. Many deal with chronic fatigue, yet we cram more and more things into our schedule robbing minutes or hours from our sleep time.

We look for ways to stretch the day. We're so busy trying to accomplish and buy more, or just have more fun. This is how we interpret success. But in order to do it we have to work harder and sleep less. I see it in middle-aged people who're desperate to build their retirement as well as keep up on the current bills and put children through college. I see it in young people, as if some unseen force compels them to stay awake late into the night. Often they don't even use those sleeping hours for homework, they just stay awake with friends, in front of the television, or on Facebook. Like toddlers who are so afraid they might miss something they don't want to go to sleep even if they're about to drop from exhaustion.

There is a lack of trust deep within us that tells us we must control our day. It borders on neurotic.

"Cease striving and know that I AM God."
~Psalm 46:10

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; 
yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"
~Matthew 6:26

We know that sleep is important to our physical well-being. Studies show that the lack of sleep (eight or nine hours is optimal for adults) increases our risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood-pressure and Alzheimer's. It causes foggy thinking and poor memory, lack of sex drive, and it breaks down the collagen that protects the skin and keeps it looking young. These are just a few of the problems connected to lack of sleep. 

Our first and most important remedy for this serious problem is to make sleep a priority. Guard the sleeping hours diligently. Remember that the hours before midnight are the best for the body to repair itself. A good rule of thumb is to plan to get in bed by ten on a regular basis. 

If you have trouble falling asleep you can take a bath with some soothing essential oils such as Lavender, Valerian, or Clary-sage. Any combination of them would work too. You only need 5-10 drops in a bath.  

Check your diet. A healthy diet full of living foods increases ability to get good rest. You may also enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner for minerals, digestion and relaxation. A cup of herbal tea before bed is helpful.

If you just can't fall asleep or you wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep, take one tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast in a small amount of water or juice. Stir and drink. The chromium in the yeast balances the blood sugar and allows you to sleep. It works for me every time, even if I drink a Latté in the evening. (I don't suggest coffee in the evening if you have trouble falling asleep). 

So here's my prescription for better sleep:
   -Trust God to help you accomplish what you need to do in your waking hours. Let go of the need to control.
   -Set aside 7 - 9 hours each day for sleep and guard them diligently.
   -Eat right.
   -Plan a routine of relaxation during the hours before bed. (wine with dinner, herbal tea and/or warm bath before bed).
   -Nutritional Yeast for difficulties falling asleep. 
(Also resist the urge to nap during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night).

Let's stop trying to cheat sleep. Let's make friends with sleep. It's a buddy we can't live without.



What helps you sleep? Please share it here in the comments. Thanks!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Do Less, Accomplish More

There comes a time in life when you begin to think that all your effort and busyness has accomplished nothing. It feels like years, or decades have been lost to scurrying, stressing-out and possibly worrying.



One of my favorite movies is "Uncorked" (1998). The main character, Ross, is busy trying to find his niche, trying to prove his life has value and he can produce something. All the while he's neglected to use his greatest talent, playing the guitar. Meanwhile his eccentric uncle, Uncle Cullen, undermines everything he does. It's later discovered that Uncle Cullen is devising a plan to force Ross to begin to play music again. The uncle has some great lines in the movie.

"I think the world could use a few more people capable of sitting still instead of scrambling around trying to do things," he says to Ross.

One of my all-time favorite lines is when Uncle Cullen says, "Life is a long experience of suffering, disappointments, and chaos, but the moment you stop squirming against the catastrophe of being alive, music flies out of the dog doo."

I'm beginning to realize that I cannot control this life. I'm also realizing that slow and steady effort accompanied with prayer accomplishes so much more than rushing to do, do, do in hopes of checking more tasks off of a to-do list. It's true, we get more tasks done that way, but we don't accomplish more of what is important and lasting.

Spending quiet moments with my husband on a weekend away will be a lasting memory that adds joy to our marriage. In spite of the temptation, I didn't even take my computer! And guess what...I got my new website up and running this morning. Nothing was lost. Much was gained.

I see God moving among our youth and in our community like never before. I used to think I had to work hard to make something like that happen. But now it's happening, seemingly on its own. God is moving sovereignly.

It's nothing but the grace of God.  But then nothing of value is.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin and other orange winter squash contain plenty of Vitamin A--great for vision. They're full of antioxidants, which increase immune function, lower heart disease and increase brain function. Pumpkin is good for the skin since it adds hydration and elasticity.

Today I thought I'd repost an old blog with this simple pumpkin dessert. Enjoy!


November 2, 2011.
Here's a great pumpkin recipe I found at Simply Organic. If you've read my blog for a long time, you know I rave about the benefits of yogurt and other fermented foods. That combined with the health benefits of pumpkin and we have a delicious, health-inspiring dessert.
Pumpkin Parfait
 This creamy concoction is a proven winner. No need to spend hours in the kitchen to impress a crowd — this dessert is a cinch to make and yummy to boot.
 Ingredients
2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin puree (or use the flesh of a pumpkin you roasted in the oven yourself)
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 tablespoons Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
38 ounces (one 32-ounce container plus one 6-ounce container) Vanilla Yogurt
1 1/2 cups granola with raisin.
Directions
In a bowl, stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk, and sugar. In 12 small bowls or ramekins, layer the pumpkin mixture and yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
Chef Suggestions
Instead of making individual portions, layer in a trifle dish.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Spicy Salsa Recipe



So here's the salsa I've canned every fall for several years. It's easy to can, or cut down the amounts and make just enough to have on hand in the frig. It's great with tortilla chips, on tacos and burritos, with eggs, on anything you use with salsa.

Salsa is a very healthy snack. It's full of antioxidants as well as vitamin C as tomatoes and peppers are both high in these. Tomatoes have been heralded as one of the best foods for heart health, but that's not all it does. Unlike like medicine there are no side effects (unless you have an allergy). So here's to your health.

I hope you enjoy it.

Terri's Spicy Salsa
5 pounds tomatoes, or to taste in the salsa. (Add more if you like more tomato and less if you don't).
4-6 green and/or red peppers (roasted, optional. You can also use Anaheim, Poblano, Banana or other kinds of peppers.)
2 Jalapeños, thinly sliced and chopped (more or less depending on taste. You can also use Serano or Habanero for more heat, Anaheim for less.)
2 medium-sized, chopped onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
5 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Vinegar (a little less than that)
Juice of one lime

1. Fill canner with hot tap water and preheat water and jars in canner. Prepare lids.

2. Chop tomatoes. Chop peppers and onions finely. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Ladle the hot sauce into the hot jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.

4. Put the filled jars in the preheated canner. Process pints for 15 minutes once water has returned to a boil.

5. Cool jars. Check seals. Label. Store.

If you don't intend to can the salsa, just bring it to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve cold.

What are your favorite ingredients for salsa? Anything unique?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Salsa & Spaghetti Sauce-Recipes for Harvest

I live in Minnesota. Up here, anticipating Winter could be the cause for psychological counseling in a large percentage of the population if it weren't for Fall. The beautiful autumn colors, the comfortable weather, and the abundance of food from the recent harvest warm us to winter's coming.

We look forward to cooking hearty soups and stews using produce we, or our farmers, have just harvested. We anticipate the many recipes we can make with the apples, pumpkins and root vegetables. Many of us will find an orchard to visit just for the fun of it. We'll drive out into the woods, see how many different colors of trees we can spot. We'll pick apples, then buy apple doughnuts, caramel apples, apple cider and apple butter at the gift shop. It's a wonderful time of year.

And of course, we look ahead to a Thanksgiving feast with friends and family. We will thank God for another year of abundance, even if we had struggles in the past year. We see He brought us through again and we are thankful.

The joy of this anticipation makes winter's coming bearable. And it makes the work that goes along with this season enjoyable. This week I've been canning tomatoes and salsa.  I love the feeling of going down to the pantry to take out a jar of my own tomatoes, salsa or spaghetti sauce rather than writing it on my grocery list. Do you know how many cans of tomatoes an average family goes through in one winter? I don't either, but it must be a lot since we use them in almost every soup, stew and chili we make. You can save on your grocery budget and know you're feeding your family something healthy, without preservatives.

I have a great little book called, "The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food" by Janet Bachand Chadwick. I'd like to share a couple of Janet's recipes for preserving your tomato harvest. (Here's a trick if you don't garden: Go down to the local farmer's market and buy a case of tomatoes to can for your family's winter).

Kate's Fresh Salsa (from The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food)
2 large tomatoes, chopped seeded
1 medium Vidalie or sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped green chilis
2 drops Tobasco sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes to blend flavors.

If you make the salsa ahead of time, leave out the chilies until just before serving.

(excerpted from Weekend! by Edith Stovel and Pamela Wakefield (Storey Publishing).

Jan's Spicy Spaghetti Sauce (from The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food)
10 Quarts tomato puree (approximately 30 pounds tomatoes)
4 large onions
1/3 dried sweet basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup honey or sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

1. Puree tomatoes in a hand-cranked strainer. (My note: If you don't have a hand-cranked strainer, you can dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then into very cold water. This allows you to remove skin easily. Then chop or process tomatoes and continue with the recipe.) Chop onion finely. Put the vegetables with remaining ingredients in a large roaster. Stir well. Bring to a boil on top of the stove.

2. Cook, uncovered, in a 200 degree F oven for 10 hours. Do not stir.

3. One hour before cooking time is up, fill canner with hot tap water and preheat water and jars in canner. Prepare lids.

4. When cooking time is up, ladle the hot sauce into hot jars. Leave 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or to each jar to ensure the safety of the sauce.

5. Put the filled jars in the preheated canner. Process: 35 minutes for pints and quarts, once water has returned to a boil.

6. Cool jars. Check seals. Label. Store.

Tip: Citric acid is added to seasoned tomato sauces to guarantee that the sauce is acidic enough to be canned safely in a boiling water bath. Citric acid is available from your drugstore and will not affect the flavor of the sauce. Instead of citric acid, you can use 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice per quart of sauce. 

[My note: A canner is a very large pot that goes on top of the stove. It has a rack in the bottom to hold the jars up a little. You fill it with water and bring the water to a boil. When your jars are filled and covered, you place them in the boiling water for 35 minutes, as it says above, then remove them to cool.  You can buy jars, lids, and rings to screw over the lids at most grocery stores and drug stores. Years ago I found a canning kit at Wal-Mart. It has a wide funnel perfect for canning jars, a magnet stick for lifting the lids from warm water (which makes them soft and ready to use. Be sure to pat them dry with paper towel.), a long flat knife-like plastic thing that you insert in the jar to release any bubbles before placing the lid on top, and a tool for grabbing the jars out of the boiling water. I'm sure these are still available. If you can't find such a kit, here's one I found from Kmart: (or google "Canning Kit").
Next week I'll give my own salsa recipe for canning. It's super easy! 



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Love Your Enemy

Our world is full of so much fear and anger. We need to pray for peace and let's pray for opportunities to show love to those who are different, those we disagree with, those we may fear. That's what Jesus would do. Remember our fight is NOT against flesh and blood, it is spiritual.

Our enemy rages against us these days. He may be able to turn public opinion against us. We may even suffer serious persecution as believers in the West. But let's recognize WHO our enemy is. It is not the people, but the spirit behind the actions of people. It is Satan, himself.

Jesus said to love the people. Let's take some time this week to consider what it means to love those who hate us. Our heart must really love . . . even our thoughts. We can only do this with the power of Jesus' love in our own lives.

Remember too, that Jesus already defeated Satan. He has already won the victory. Battles may rage on, but the outcome of the war is finished. We fight in prayer and we fight from victory.

The only way to win battles over rage, hate and fear is with love. Love confuses and conquers hate.

Lord, give us opportunities to love our neighbor.

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, 
bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, 
and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you."
~Jesus, Matthew 5:44


Monday, September 10, 2012

A Bounty of Ginger

I found a big tray full of fresh ginger at the Farmer's Market last week. I usually don't use that much ginger, but I know how good it is so I couldn't resist. Now I need to use it. I'd hate for it to dry up before I can make good use of it.

Ginger is a wonderful natural medicine. It's the best thing for digestion and upset stomach. It works well as a tea for stomach issues. And it's so soothing! Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory. It's great for joints.

It's also a great flavor to add to savory or sweet dishes.

I cut a few thick slices to put in some chicken vegetable soup. It tasted great.

With cold season approaching, keep in mind that you can boil a few slices in water as a soothing, healing tea with a tablespoon of honey.

Ginger is wonderful in Chinese and Indian food as well as most Fall/Thanksgiving recipes. Ginger can enhance any of your standby dessert recipes that call for spices.

Help me use up my ginger stash. Tell me how you like to use ginger.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Starving or Feeding the Flesh?

So often my focus is on how to feed the flesh. I believe it's important to take care of the physical body in order to live and work for God with energy and vitality while we're here. We are to be good stewards of the physical body we've been given just as we are to be good stewards of our spirit. And I confess, I'm one to look for comfort, whether comfort food, a comfy place to sit with a soft blanket, or a comfortable schedule with lots of down time.

I've been thinking about the flesh recently in the bad sense of the word--that part of us that is pulled by the world. It's the part that wants only comfort, it wants its own way in everything. Like a toddler demanding his or her own way and stomping a foot. Can't you just see those arms crossed in the front and a pouty lower lip sticking out?

What if the parents allow that toddler his own way? What would happen if she got everything she wanted? We call that being spoiled, and spoiled is a good word for it because it means bad or rotten. If an apple is spoiled, it's not good to eat. We throw it away. If a child is spoiled he grows up angry and resentful, unhappy because he always expects to get his way out of life. This person may end up in jail or just miserable as an adult. She will always be looking to feed her flesh.

In our nation, the god of sex has a stronghold and is gaining power every day. Now even our political parties are defined by it. More people may vote this year based on their fleshly sexual desires, or their belief about sex than on any other issue. Whether abortion or same sex marriage, the issue comes down to wanting our own way with our flesh.

The church is no different. We want our own way. We're comfortable and spoiled. We need to ask ourselves, "Where is my allegiance?"

If my allegiance is to Christ, then I deny the desires of my flesh that conflict with His will. I don't redefine His will so that it fits my desires. This is our sacrifice. Christ sacrificed it all for us, now it's our turn. So today, I'm suggesting starving the flesh by denying its sinful pleasures. Make it suffer. Let it weaken and die to this world, that you might live to Christ according to the Scriptures. It won't always be easy, but neither was the path Jesus chose for us.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Herbal Iced-Teas . . . Yum!


Herbs contain natural therapeutic properties. We use them regularly in hot tea, so why not iced-tea? Take any herbs you grow in your garden or find at the farmer's market. Get creative, add fruit and various fresh herbs to black or green tea, or skip the tea and just use herbs.

I saw one iced-tea recipe with sage leaves and apple slices. I'm going to try it with a black sun tea, then mix with half apple juice, topped with apple slices and fresh sage in the glass. 

Do you feel tired? Add lavender to your iced-tea for a pick-me-up. Have you had a stressful day? Try some fresh mint in a tall glass of iced-tea for relaxation. Lavender and Mint can refresh as well as relax. 

Here are a few more recipes I found, but don't hesitate to venture out in your own creativity.

Herbal Iced Tea Recipe: Lavender Lemon Quencher

May/April 2008
http://www.herbcompanion.com/cooking/lavender-lemon-quencher.aspxBy Dawna Edwards
Fresh and thirst-quenching, this cool summer tisane is perfect for a garden party or simply to calm nerves and aid digestion. Makes about four 8-ounce servings.
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon balm leaves, chopped OR 1 tablespoon dried leaves
• 1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds OR 2 teaspoons dried buds
• 2 cups hot water
• 2 cups cold water and ice
• Fresh lemon for garnish
1. Steep lemon balm and lavender in hot (80- to 90-degree) water about 3 minutes.
2. Add cold water and ice.
3. Serve over additional ice with lemon wedges.


Herbal Iced Tea Recipe: Peach Pick-Me-Up

April/May 2008
http://www.herbcompanion.com/cooking/peach-pick-me-up.aspxBy Dawna Edwards
Make the most of summer’s most heavenly flavors with this sprightly tea. Fresh, fully ripe peaches are best, of course, but you can substitute canned or frozen peaches in juice (not syrup) when fresh peaches are not available. You can prepare the mint tea ahead of time, but always mix in the peaches just before serving. Makes about six 8-ounce servings.
• 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
• 4 cups water
• 2 cups pureed peaches, chilled
• Fresh mint leaves for garnish
1. Steep mint leaves in hot (80- to 90-degree) water for 3 minutes.
2. Pour peaches into a sieve to remove chunks.
3. After the mint tea has cooled completely, mix it with the strained peach puree. Serve cold, garnished with fresh mint leaves.





Monday, August 13, 2012

Loose the Energy of Money

I've been thinking about something recently. If it ever caught on it could be a world-changing movement. Want to know what it is? Want to be part of something that has such a huge positive impact on the world?

Sharing.

Yup. Simply put it's sharing with those in need. I mean think about how great it could work. (Especially in the Church). If someone has money in the bank, they could offer to lend it to someone who has an urgent need. No interest charged. The person would plan to pay the donor back as soon as they could or a repayment plan could be arranged. 



The banks don't give any interest on savings worth speaking about anyway. And this would help someone in need as well as building treasure in heaven. (Side note: I think our currency in heaven is going to be those things we did that pleased the Lord--we might call that currency "Pleasing Points.")

Granted, we may not be paid back, and here's the rub. . . we have to be okay with that. We must continue to love without any animosity, trusting the Lord to be our Provider, as His Word promises.

When we share like this, it's best to consider it a gift and then if the person is able to pay it back and they do, we'll be pleasantly surprised. But if they can never repay us, be assured the Lord will not be outdone in generosity.

But if we give to others in their time of need, the Lord will make a way for us in our time of need. Then everyone will have provision enough.

Doesn't this sound like the New Testament church?

(Please repost this to Facebook or Twitter or something and see if we can generate some interest).

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Inspired What-Ifs

The Olympics are so inspiring.

Have you ever met young people with such dedication and commitment? These people in their teens and twenties are focussed on one thing alone. They don't go out late with friends, they don't eat junk food, they don't see the newest release from Universal Studios, they don't even get jobs to buy that nice car they saw for sale down the street. They eat, sleep, practice, work out, practice, do some school work-if they're still in school, practice some more, go to sleep then get up and do it again. They give almost every waking hour preparing in some way to be the best in their sport...they hope...the best in the world.

This isn't pie-in-the-sky hope. This is hope with feet. This is the kind of hope that gained people in the ancient world approval, according to Hebrews 11. We might view this kind of approval in the same way we view a gold medal. This is the approval by the world of a job well-done. Hope that moves a human to such effort that the results bring this kind of approval is more than a wish.


This hope is what Hebrews 11 calls faith, or conviction. I think we relate better to the word "conviction."

If I have the conviction that I can be the best in something, it motivates me to action...or does it? That kind of dedication and effort is very rare today. I can honestly say I've never been that dedicated to anything in my life.

The sad part about that confession is that I've never even given that kind of effort to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God interceding.

And all for me.

Those drops of blood he sweated out due to severe emotional stress...those were for me. The crown of thorns pressed down into his forehead and temples...that was for me. The suffocating anguish He endured while hanging on a wooden crossbeam by gigantic nails pierced through his wrists and feet...that was all for me. For me and for you.

There are so many promises I see in scripture, promises of God's kingdom power available to us here and now. Promises I don't see fulfilled.

But what would happen if I dedicated myself to prayer? What if I prayed and kept on praying until I knew how to pray?

What might be possible if I read the Bible and believed those promises were for me today? What if I put feet to faith because of the conviction that nothing is impossible with God?

What if...?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

God's Pesticides

I never cease to be amazed by God's creation. He thought of everything.

For example, at this time of year, the pests are relentless. They seem to eat everything in sight. My one cabbage in the garden is full of holes from these little guys. I can't even see them, but they're having a cruciferous feast out there. I refuse to use pesticides on my veggies, but what's the use of growing them if my family can't enjoy them?

Enter God...oh, yes, He's here and He already knew our need for healthy pesticides. That's why he provided just what we'd need long before we knew we needed it.

For a great example of God's provision, take a look at this recipe from the Herb Companion:
Click here for the complete article.


Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray

• 10 to 12 large cloves garlic
• 4 to 6 hot chile peppers, dried or fresh
• Generous 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
• 10 drops cinnamon, vetiver or eucalyptus essential oil, optional

1. Put garlic, chiles and water into a blender and puree contents until foamy.

2. Let mixture stand at least 2 hours or overnight. When mixture settles, you will have a coral-colored liquid with sediment at bottom.

3. Pour through a strainer lined with fine cheesecloth (or through a coffee filter or jelly bag) to remove particles that could block the sprayer valve.

4. Pour concentrate into a jar with a plastic lid (not metal), add soap, stir and label.

5. Store in a cool, dark place until needed, up to a few months. For a 1-quart or 1-liter spray bottle, use 2 tablespoons concentrate and fill the rest of the bottle with water.

6. Spray plants late in the day, so the hot sun can’t burn the plants. Cover the top and bottom of leaves. Reapply Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray as often as needed, but allow several days between applications.


Read more: http://www.herbcompanion.com/2008-06/garlic-child-insecticidal-soap-spray.aspx#ixzz22D3wSCvr


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inner City Silence

"A day filled with noise and voices can be a day of silence, if the noises become for us the echo of the presence of God, if the voices are, for us, messages and solicitations of God." ~Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Poustinia.

Poustinia is a little book that was in my room in a meditation center, Pacem in Terres, I visited last year. It is full of thoughts about silence and communion with God. 

It's very important to get away once or twice a year for times of silence. We don't even comprehend quiet anymore. But it's just as important to find true silence in the midst of the noise and chaos we live in every day. 

The voice of God is speaking. If only we can still our own busy thoughts to focus on His voice and hear His words to us. If our minds are tuned to Him, then even traffic noise can bring a message from our Lord to us, children playing in the park can grant us some insight to the spirit realm, or a news announcement on the radio can lead us into prayer.



The key is to set the mind on Christ first thing in the morning. Turn your heart to Him. Dedicate the day to Him. Bring your thoughts back to Him whenever you think of it throughout the day. 

Then...Listen.

He's speaking to you.