Monday, August 19, 2013

Easy Gluten Free Lunches and Portion Control

I have recently come across the idea of bento boxes in my wanderings through Pinterest and various blogs. Being artistic, loving food, needing to lose weight, and having food allergies/intolerances in our family all just seems to mesh so well with the concept of cramming food into little boxes in a creative, visually stimulating way!  I have been reading The Just Bento Cookbook for more ideas, and the author brought out some good points about weight loss and using bento boxes for portion control.  Over the last several years, a lot of the fun and enjoyment of eating good food has waned since it seems that so much is off limits for us now.  The bento box is bringing back some of the fun, and there is a sense of excitement over the meal to come when my kids take a lunch with them to work or college now.  It doesn't feel so bad at meal time, when they are seeing their friends' lunches and then looking at their own.  In fact, Cassie has had coworkers asking her about her awesome lunches and how can they do bento boxes too--that's just with the food being put in the cute boxes.  I haven't even started doing cute things with the food, yet, though I have been looking at some of the cute cutters and tools they have on Amazon as well as on All Thing For Sale.  For now, I have just been trying to arrange the food in a visually pleasing way, incorporating brightly colored fruits and vegetables, perhaps with a square of dark chocolate hidden among the fruit slices. I did manage to find one small cookie cutter of a butterfly in my baking supplies that was small enough to use for kiwi slices.  My girls did  love that!

Cassie and Moriah are especially loving their lunches.  Moriah loves sculpting and being crafty, so she is wanting to make her own bento boxes, even when we are just eating lunch at home.  Cassie is creative as well, but she is loving that I am putting so much effort into her lunches, seeing it as a sign of love.  She is also telling me that using it as portion control is really working.  Because her lunch looks so nice, she is eating slower and getting full faster.  She lost 2 pounds in less than a week!

Along the same idea, there are these easy lunch boxes that can be used in similar ways as the traditional Japanese bento boxes.  I have found that my guys prefer their lunches made in containers like these rather than the more creative, artsy looking boxes.  I still can make their actual food look pleasing to the eye if I am in the creative mood, but with their line of thinking, why bother?  lol.  As one son so aptly put it, "Why go through all the trouble to make some cool-looking food sculpture or picture if I'm just gonna eat it?"  When I explained it would be me making it for him, not him making it for himself, suddenly he got the idea it was his mom putting extra effort in making him a lunch, and then his sentiment changed to, "Well if you're gonna do it, then please do.  I just wouldn't do it myself!"  I think he got the picture that it would be his mom sending him a little extra message of love through the effort of preparing him a special lunch.

If you also are intrigued by the idea of playing with food or using bento boxes to try losing weight, you can go here and find out how to win your own set of easy lunch boxes to start with!  I know my daughters have been loving the bento boxes I've been making them, and my husband and sons just seem to be happy that I am giving them food other than a typical sandwich for their lunches/meals away from home!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spiritual Food--Colossians 1:9-14

The last couple of weeks, I have been facing some unexpected health challenges.  I have been researching like crazy, learning all I can about nutrition and what I can do naturally to try to correct any imbalances I may have.  However, I also realize there are definitely some spiritual elements to deal with as well.  Stress plays a big part in my physical well being (not just proper nutrition).  I have been dealing with so many things over the last several years.  I know I have been carrying some emotional stress as a result of not always fully putting my faith in God.  I sometimes feel helpless as I try to figure out how to get out of the situations I am in, or I worry about the future outcomes.

There are so many scriptures that pop into my head.  One passage I feel like sharing right now because it continues to come to mind.  Colossians 1:9-14--"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins."

This was a prayer that Paul and Timothy prayed for the faithful believers in Colosse.  I find that I keep praying this not only for myself but for a lot of people coming to my attention lately.  It seems to me to be a perfect prayer, one that we can all learn from and implement in our lives.  Instead of asking God for things, for good health, for bills paid, etc., isn't it better to ask him to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding? I know that I am worthy because God has declared me so and loves me, His daughter.  However, I do want to walk out that knowledge in my life.  I don't think it's enough to have a mental knowledge that He has made me worthy.  I want to demonstrate with my life that I am His child, that I am worthy.  I want to show forth good fruit and really know Him, and then He will give me the strength, patience, endurance, and joy that defies our natural understanding and logic, to get through whatever trials He has decided we should walk through for whatever His reasons are.  No matter what is along this path He is walking with me, I want to demonstrate joy and thankfulness.  He has delivered me from the power of darkness, and I live in the kingdom of Christ.  I am saved.  I am forgiven.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you that I am no longer under the control and power of darkness.  Thank you that I am, right now, living in Your kingdom in the spiritual realm.

No matter what I face in the natural, I know that I am a child of God.  He has given me every blessing and the power I need today to face the trials I must go through.  He will give me wisdom and understanding as I need it.  If I continue to ask for His guidance, I need to stop second guessing decisions that I make based on what I perceive to be His guidance and just leave my family and myself in His hands, even if the outcomes seem to be different than I expected.  In the midst of it all, as I demonstrate joy, patience, and endurance, I want the world around me to see and know that God gives his children peace in the storm, that we can get through anything without falling apart, and if a person accepts God's invitation and decides to walk in the knowledge that he or she is God's beloved and worthy child, he or she can also experience His peace and joy in life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where Have I Been?

Ok.  So it has been a VERY long time since I have posted anything.  In fact, I rarely even looked at my blog in the last two years (Has it really been that long?), except to find recipes that I recorded here and misplaced the hard copies to.  I was incredibly busy and had to prioritize things in my life.  So, blogging was set on the back burner for a time.

There has been so many trials and changes in our lives that I don't have time to explain it all now.  I can, however, give you a list of some of the things we have dealt with.  I went back to school, and then our oldest daughter, Cassie, became very ill.  We spent many months taking care of her and going to various hospitals and doctors.  We found out my grandparents both had Alzheimers.  I quit school to care for them.  My grandfather passed away in June 2012.  We started remodeling our house.  Cassie went to college locally.  We found out we were expecting a new baby, who arrived in March.  Chuck graduated in May 2013, with 2 bachelors' degrees, and he immediately got hired as an associate pastor at our church.  Our youngest daughter got very sick last summer, which did something to her immune system. She has been sick a lot over the past year and has been experiencing a lot of allergic reactions to things, especially to wheat and dairy.  She now has to carry an Epipen and an inhaler as well as take other allergy medicine regularly.  We continue to be involved with our entertainment business, though we haven't been actively promoting it.  Our kids are all very involved in extra-curricular activities as well.  We are constantly driving someone somewhere.

I want to say that I will be posting things on a regular basis again, but I can't make that promise.  However, I will try to post more often.  I have some things I have been working on that I would like to share.  I may, though, be posting some things that are not related to food since my life consists of a lot more than cooking right now!  :-)  Be prepared to see some changes in my blog over the coming months!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Homemade Almond Milk

I hope you all are getting excited that winter is almost over!  I know I am!  In fact, I just ordered some vegetable seeds, just so I'm prepared and ready for the first opportunity that comes along to plant spinach.  I have recently gotten a few other items that have me chomping at the bit, waiting for spring and fresh, local produce, about one of which I will share in a moment.

School has been going well for all of us, and I am finally used to my new schedule.  The kids have adjusted well, also, and enjoy going to school with us on days when Chuck and I are both on campus.  I set them up in the library, or even in our classroom with us, and they do their schoolwork quietly while we are in class.  Since I am only in class for an hour at a time, it works well.  They are learning to do work independently, and when I get done with my first class (I take 2 on those days) I check their work or help them with the subjects they need help with before going to my second class an hour later.  There are actually a few days when I have class and Chuck doesn't, so he stays home with them and helps them with their school.  This is really working well for us and has forced us to make necessary changes in our habits while becoming more disciplined in all areas of our lives.  In fact, the kids' chores and school work are getting done faster and better than before I was in school.  I think that having Daddy home and monitoring things is really helping them to be more disciplined, and I am truly grateful for that.

My diet has been changing drastically in the last few weeks.  I had to do a report for Biology class, so I researched and wrote about how our body pH affects our health.  I have learned so much about the role that food plays in our lives, and it is really helping me to make some adjustments that I have been wanting to make.  I am significantly increasing the fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds in my diet while decreasing the amount of grains, starches, and animal products, though not completely eliminating them.  I am thus losing weight and am ecstatic that the pounds are beginning to drop off again.  All my food cravings are disappearing, as well. 

This brings me to some other news--I got a Vita-Mix!!!  I am so excited!  I have been wanting one of these champions of blenders for quite awhile, but finances have not allowed it until now.  My old blender (wasn't really that old) was dying a slow and painful death (and making all kinds of noises) due to all the blending with nuts (family loves the Nacho Cheeze Dip), so I decided that since we seem to use our blender a lot that it would be worth it to get the Vita-Mix.  Besides, it has an awesome warranty and great track record.

Along with my new blender, I purchased a nut milk bag, with the intentions of trying to make homemade almond milk again.  I've made it in the past, but I strained it with cheesecloth, which turned out to be a huge, messy endeavor that I decided wasn't worth it.  However, I came across this nut milk bag that had such great reviews I decided to give it another shot, and I am so very glad I did.

I have been making my own almond milk for a couple of weeks, now, and it is delicious!  The whole family loves it, including my husband.  I think the texture is similar to dairy milk, and it is just the right sweetness that we like.  I can control the ingredients that go into my milk, so I don't use the gums and sugars that the store-bought milks have in them.  I got this recipe from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, modifying her recipe for Vanilla Mylk.  My husband isn't crazy about vanilla milk, and we really just wanted a good milk to put over cereal.  I will come up with a version of vanilla milk and chocolate milk, soon.

I seem to have misplaced my camera for the moment, so I can't share pictures right now.  I will try to get some pictures up, soon.  Enjoy!

Homemade Almond Milk
1/2 c. raw almonds, soaked at least 12 hrs. and rinsed
6 pitted Deglet dates
a pinch of sea salt, optional
5 c. cold, fresh water (not the soaking water)

Put all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.  I blend it in my Vita-Mix for almost a minute.  With a regular blender, it may take a couple of minutes.  Pour the milk into your nut milk bag, holding it over a bowl with a spout or a pitcher.  Gently squeeze the liquid through the nut milk bag until it is all strained out.  You should be left with ground up almond pulp.  You can reserve this for other recipes if you're like me and don't want to feel like you are wasting food.  I made cookies with my last batch that turned out pretty good.  I will share the recipe when I get it perfected.  Pour your milk into a glass pitcher and store it in the fridge.

I have also been making green smoothies a lot.  They really seem to be helping me with food cravings, energy, and weight loss, and they taste great!  I simply use 1/2 spinach and 1/2 fruit with a little water to help things move along in the blender.  I know it sounds nasty, but when you have that much fruit, you really can't taste the spinach.  My whole family loves them, and I feel good because we are eating a ton of greens and fresh fruit.  I have noticed, too, that they are choosing to eat a lot more fresh fruit and veggies for their snacks and at meals.  Yay!

Last but certainly not least, I just have to post this link to my daughter's video on youtube.  I know it has nothing to do with the subject of my blog, but I'm just so tickled that she is singing her very own song in her very own video on the internet!  Check it out!