Category Archives: food

Real food for the right reasons. . . What I’ve been reading up on lately.

Ever since my last blog post, I feel like I jumped head first into a big lake, thinking it was just a pond. Hopefully this post will show you what I mean by that!

What I mean to say is, in the last month or so, I’ve slowly discovered all these amazing blogs that have taught me oodles of information about what it means to eat and be healthy. And I thought I had that down since I’m a nurse and all, right? Ha! I wish! To the contrary, I’ve been learning that most of what I have learned in my little old nutrition class that was only 1 month long (is it really only that important?) was mostly false, filled with government sponsored (figuratively and actually probably literally too) information.

Some new things I’ve been learning…

– Saturated fat is actually GOOD for you, and all those “healthy” oils (like canola, soybean, etc.) are actually harming you. See here for more information on that one.

– Along the lines of fats… coconut oil is AMAZING for you! Use to to cook and bake instead of using butter (which I also learned is actually good!) and especially without all those polyunsaturated oils. See here for more info.

Milk… the kind you buy in stores that is pasteurized and homogenized… is quite bad for you. Not that milk itself is, but after they heat it up to kill all the “nasty bugs” in it, they also kill anything good in the milk, too! And when they homogenize it (make it all one consistency), they denature all the good nutrients. Best way to consume milk: RAW! Yes, hard to find (need to find a local farmer!) and also yes, it’s more expensive. But once you learn how BAD store-bought milk is (even organic is really no better if it’s not raw), you won’t want to touch it again (I know, it’s what we grew up on!). See here for more great info.

– Eating grass-fed meats/dairy and pastured poultry is the best way to go both for you and the environment. You hardly get any nutrients out of those regular conventional (battery farmed) chicken eggs and that meat that comes from cows who ate corn rather than grass. Not good… See here for more info.

Soaking or sprouting your grains/legumes (and even milling your grains at home) is the best way to get the most nutrients out of them! See here for more info.

Fermenting your vegetables/dairy is also the best way to get all those nutrients and protect yourself from anti-nutrients. Ever heard of kefir or kombucha? Yeah, me neither, but I have heard of sauerkraut! See here and here for more info.

Soy is particularly bad for you if you are trying to have children, as it has an estrogenic effect that can decrease fertility in both men and women! Look at any of your store bought foods (especially those in boxes)… I can almost guarantee that there’s some form of soy in them!) See here and here for more info.

So anyway.

I could go on for days about what I’ve been learning, but I’ll stop there. Amidst all of these new discoveries, I’ve been learning too is that although I believe it is important to take care of our bodies and the environment, as best as we can, you also can only do as much as your budget and time allow. But also, it’s so very easy for this to become an idol (as with anything in life), as I have found in the last couple weeks. Not that there’s anything wrong with being excited to learn about all of this, but it shouldn’t be my main focus. If the ultimate goal is not to honor God through your body, then it’s for nothing.

Colossians 3:1-3
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

And more encouragement for when it’s hard to be healthy!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do no lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

There’s probably a hundred more verses that would better suit what I’m trying to get at, but that’s what I’ve come up with for now. :) Remembering to keep the focus always on Christ. Soul first, body second. Whatever you set your mind and heart on, that is what you are worshiping and showing the world what is most valuable in this life. I want to feed myself both with spiritual food (“I am the bread of life” -Jesus) and also physical food, but always with the ultimate purpose and direction of being better suited to follow and worship the Lord.

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Soup and Fajitas

I ended up making a couple things after my last post that were great and helped me use up some of those ingredients. One was Heidi’s potato soup, which was amazing! Funny thing is that my Papa (Grandpa) asked me for the recipe (on facebook, even more funny) and he accidentally put 3 cups of flour instead of 1/3 cup… oops.

So tasty though, when made right! Thanks Heidi!

I also tried making my own homemade pasta sauce using canned diced tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley and a couple other ingredients. These weren’t really on my “list”, but it was something I had been meaning to try for awhile. It came out runnier than I would have liked, but it was much more flavorful than I would have imagined it to be. I even got to use my immersion blender that my mother-in-law got me for Christmas. Yay! That’s definitely going to come in handy over the years.

And to top it all off, tonight I made fajitas for the very first time with my new-ish cast iron skillet. You have to understand, this is my husband’s absolute favorite meal, so he’s been nudging me to make them for a while now. I’ve always been afraid to for some reason. It was so easy! I used a recipe from allrecipes.com and used these cute mini sweet peppers that I picked up from Costco with my mom. All in all, great quick meal.

Husband was VERY pleased, and even more pleased when I did the dishes right afterward. Sometimes it’s amazing how I forget to do those simple things to bless him.

His response? “I also really like ice cream and beer…” Oh dear.


Lonely Ingredients

So I have cupboards full of random and seemingly necessary ingredients that, of course, I haven’t used much of, if at all. I really hate to waste, and I love the feeling you get when you know you’ve used what you’ve bought wisely, but for some reason, I’ve struggled to find use for so much of what I’ve invested in over the last year and a half (since getting married and having a kitchen!).

So, please, help me out. Take a look at my list below and then take a second or two to tell me any ideas you may have for me. Any recipes you know of or just simple ideas for integrating them in simple meals or snacks, or. . .whatever!

PLEASE. I BEG OF YOU. HELP!

And thanks. :)

Now to the list:

Dijon mustard
Hoisin sauce
red wine vinegar
white wine vigegar (I blame my sister for these two items! Hehe, love you Jen!)
cooking wines- white, sherry, and (I think) red
Hot sauce, both Chalula and Tabasco
Chicken stock/broth
Beef broth
Cous cous
Corn meal
Dry ranch dressing mix
Old Bay seasoning
Wild rice
Brown rice
Various pastas (like ziti)
TONS of frozen veggies-  broccoli, corn, mixed veggies, peppers
Canned items like:
diced tomatoes
black beans
red kidney beans
whole kernal corn
tomato sauce
tomato paste
tomato soup

And a few more perishable items that need to be used ASAP:
Russet potatoes
Carrots
Onions
Celery (this will get used up anyhow, it’s so good with peanut butter!)

Sigh.

I think that’s it. This feels a little embarrassing to post, and kinda makes me feel like the spoiled foolish newlywed, but whatever, I’m calling out for help! A lot of the sauces/broths/wines were needed for a single recipe, but now I’m left clueless on what to do with them, not wanting to make that one recipe a gazillion times.

So go ahead. Brainstorm and give me some feedback.
THANKS!


Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Here is a super easy and tasty recipe I got from a friend at work. She also blogs and has a cute cooking blog here. I cooked this up while I was out of the “house” for our usual Sunday business (church, small group) and it was ready when we got home! Super easy and pretty darn tasty too! Maybe not the most healthy, but not bad either! You’ll have to try it.

Here goes:

4 Frozen Chicken Breasts (I actually had mine already thawed and it worked just fine)
1/2 a packet of Taco Seasoning
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 a jar of salsa

Spray crock pot with some non-stick spray and then put all ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Top with grated cheddar cheese and/or sour cream. Eat with flour tortilla or tortilla chips (we ate it with some blue corn tortilla chips).  I served it with plain old cooked brown rice with the sauce and grated cheese on top.

Love these one-pot recipes! Enjoy!


Trip South

We had a good but busy Thanksgiving weekend. I worked Thanksgiving day, which wasn’t all that bad, and afterwards I got to see John’s mom and brother and learn how to make homemade pies! We made pumpkin and apple pies from scratch. Boy is it a lot of work, but definitely worth it! John’s mom is quite the pro at pie crusts, I must say.

On Friday we left for a 4 hour drive down to the middle of Iowa to see my sister and new brother-in-law, along with my parents, brother, and his two kids. I loved seeing where Jen and Jerod (sis and BIL) live and stay for a day and a half. A really cute town and beautiful campus that they both work at! It snowed yesterday afternoon and looked very Christmas like… and did I mention that the food was really good too? Good job Jen on hosting your first big family gathering! You did a marvelous job, despite all the stress in the kitchen hours before!

Now we’re back to the cold buzzling city of St. Paul and back to work. Switching back to nights tomorrow night and it looks like it’s going to be a tough week. I don’t mind the working at night part but it’s the trying to plan my days/evenings in a way that doesn’t cause me to neglect sleep part that is so frustrating. Since I technically have all day and evening free, I sometimes have to schedule things throughout the day which can really mess with your sleep schedule, or lack thereof. After this week it should get a little better, I hope.

Speaking of my job, as I said in my last post, I’ve been looking elsewhere incase I lose my job at United. Within 30 minutes of writing the last blog post, I got a call for an interview at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Crazy huh? It’ll be on one of their ICU units, which would definitely be a challenging position, in addition to getting used to a new hospital and all new coworkers. One of my coworkers at United actually told me that she was working with a nursing student who works at Regions on that unit and she said it was a great place to work and that the manager is super nice and will hire me right away… which I found funny since this girl doesn’t even know me!

The interview is on Tuesday at 11am… so please say a prayer for me if you can! I’m not sure if this is where God would want me to be, but I know that we do need a steady income and this is all that’s come my way so far. The tricky part would be if I get a job offer and still don’t know about the status of my current job… but we’ll “cross that bridge when we get there” (in the words of my mom).  God never said things would be predicatable and easy, but that he would guide my path in a way that grows me and challenges me to depend more on him and find my ultimate joy and satisfaction in HIM ALONE. And since he is the only stable thing in the universe, I suppose it’s good that he’s forcing me to depend on him! :)


Firsts

Some firsts that I’ve experienced in the last couple days:

-bought my first pair of dark denim jeans! I love them!

-had my first eye exam since I was a kid (I believe), and what do you know, I found out I don’t, in fact, have the perfect vision I always thought I had. Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been squinting more, so when I went with my husband today for his eye exam, I asked if they had room in the doc’s schedule if he could take a look at my eyes and they had room for me. During the exam I was amazed that when the optometrist changed his little machine around, I could see better suddenly! I’ve never ever experienced that, so it was pretty cool. So, I got a prescription (apparently a pretty simple one… I’m a little far-sided and have a slight astigmatism). John and I both picked out out a pair (with a little tension when I really did not like the ones John wanted for himself)… and we should have them within a week! It’s very weird to think that I’ll be wearing glasses… I’ve been the only one in my family (besides my dad) who hasn’t had glasses for a long time. I’m kinda excited though! I really liked the ones I picked out. Pictures to come sometime soon!

-had my first experience shopping at Trader Joe’s today. In case you haven’t heard  of it, it’s basically a privately owned grocery store, yet there are lots of locations around the country, and they don’t have big name brand stuff but have mostly their own packaged foods which (I think) are all-natural. They also seemed to have a lot of organic foods. I’ve heard so many positive things about it from friends so we tried it out. Doesn’t have the variety or selection I’d like, but it’s nice that they have your basic essentials (plus some) and at reasonable prices, most often cheaper than Target or Cub! 

-and the last one, I’ll be making fish tacos for the first time tonight, and, Lord willing, eating fish tacos for the first time tonight as well! Apparently they’re really yummy? My mom obviously never thought so when I was growing up… never even heard of them until I left college. 

My life’s been pretty exciting, huh? ;) 

Another first that’s coming up… we’re having my sister and my new brother-in-law stay at our place on Saturday night after our cousin’s wedding. First time we’ve ever had a couple stay over with us, and first time we’ll really get to hang out with Jen and Jerod since they’ve been married! Last time we hung out they were busy moving stuff, so it should be fun this weekend. :)


RNC

So as most of the country probably knows, the Republican National Convention is going to be in St. Paul, MN this coming week. Perhaps not all of you readers know that I live in St Paul and our apartment is probably an 8 minute walk from the Xcel Energy Center where all the action will be. I also work super close to this center and if I had to drive to work (I walk), I would have to park kinda far away from the hospital and get shuttled into town. Our hospital is expecting a super low census over the week of the RNC, especially on the post-surgical unit that I’m on right now since there aren’t any scheduled surgeries (just emergent ones will happen). And I’m supposed to be taking care of four patients each day this coming week, probably won’t happen because we won’t have enough patients for each nurse to have four (that’s the most a nurse typically has on a day shift at our hospital, which is good!). So we’ll see how that goes. The RNC may prolong my orientation just because of lack of patients… 

But anyway, it’s going to be a very interesting week. I’ve already seen some protests (if seeing hippy looking 20-somethings on bikes mingled with many many St. Paul police officers counts as a protest) and I’m sure we have a lot yet to come. We will probably be able to just walk down our block and look down over the Xcel and see some of the action. I’ve also been noticing lots of helicopters flying overhead, which is already starting to get annoying but I’m sure will just be increasing over these next few days. It’s going to be weird to be watching the RNC broadcasted on the news knowing that it’s only a couple blocks away! Probably won’t ever happen again in my lifetime. 

This was a pretty boring post, but like a said a couple days ago, I’m trying to stay up to date on this thing. I’ve noticed that it really helped me to get out my thoughts about work the other day and I felt a lot more at peace after just typing it all out. 

So, tomorrow John and I and my brother-in-law, David, are probably heading to the Minnesota state fair. We usually go every year. It typically consists of walking around and looking at various farm animals and people watching (sometimes that’s more interesting than the animals!) and of course, eating the obligatory mini-donuts, grilled sweet corn, Sweet Martha’s bucket of cookies (sadly, my husband knew the exact name of them!), and the bottomless milk station. Should be lots of fun, and calories! Which is why I’ll be up bright and early to do a nice long (aka 2 mile) run tomorrow…