A Simple Healthy Herb Garden

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A few years ago I started collecting a few small herbal plants.  I now have basil, oregano, rosemary & parsley.  The cool thing about green onions, you can take some with roots from the package you get from the store.  Stick them in a pot of dirt and you’ll never have to buy green onions again!  Choose what herbs you already cook with.  I started it because I read how the stuff you buy in the jars is full of chemicals to disinfect all the bugs and ‘fertilizer’ that accidently gets mixed in with the leaves!  Yum.

 

They are easy enough to grow.  You mostly have to remember to water them!  And they will need a certain amount of sunlight.  Each plant should have a little plastic thing in the pot that tells you what its water and sunlight requirements are.  It would be optimal if your kitchen window was sunny enough, but I’m not that lucky.  All my plants are in the back yard.  I keep them in flower pots because it’s easiest to control the soil, and in Florida we have to deal with bad weather and all kinds of bugs.

So I have these cute little herbal plants, I try to remember to go out and cut what I need before each meal, but that only works when I’m not in a hurry!  And my husband never remembers when he does the cooking.

I brought some leaves in and put them in the refrigerator and they just sort of wilted and didn’t look very appetizing!  I googled drying herbs and they said to hang the plants upside down in a cool, dark, dry place!  I actually LOLed out loud – my typical Florida home has NONE of these!

In Walmart they have the cutest glass jars for dried herbs I’ve ever seen.  They have really nice labels you can write on and snap tops just like the stuff you buy.  Since they are clear, you need to keep them in a dark cabinet.

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I cut off a ton of leaves off my very big basil plant.  Don’t destroy the plant and leave a few leaves for when your recipe calls for fresh herbs.  You can trim off the longest branches of the plant and it will continue to grow!

I placed the basil leaves on parchment paper on my largest cookie sheet.

I preheated the oven at 200 degrees. Turn off the oven and THEN put the leaves in.  I’ve been told that if you make it higher, you will lose all of the essential oils and taste inside the leaves.  Because the leaves shrink down so much after drying, it took an entire plant to make half a jar of dried basil.  But it’s a decent size jar.

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I made sure that the leaves were not over lapping, otherwise it takes longer for them to dry.  But it they are not completely crumbly in your fingers, you can stick those pieces back in the oven.

Line your work area with a paper towel under your herb jar and just start crumbling.

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And that’s pretty much it!  Now your herbs are dried they will last longer and be at your fingertips when you are ready to cook with them!  It’s really simple to do.  You really can’t mess it up!

One more tip, when growing your herbal plants, don’t let them flower.  The plant will send all it’s resources into the flowers and you will not get as good a flavor from the leaves.  So pinch or cut off those flowers as soon as you see them!  Here is what the budding flowers look like on the basil plants. They are the small pointy things on the tips of the stems.DSC01081

Let me know how it went for you!  It’s really not that hard, and it will eliminate one more nasty chemical assault on your body!

Have a great day!

Donna

 

 

 

Cold Weather and Eating Baked Goods

In a nutshell, when you are cold you start to crave carby things.  Carbs help you produce fat that keeps you warm.  But just because you want it doesn’t mean you should have it!  I’m sure most of us have plenty enough fat to keep us warm!

Put on a sweater and bake something that is yummy but not full of carbs.  Here is a recipe I got from my friend at the Low Carb Connection.  I’ve changed the low carb flour for almond and coconut flour.  Use one or the other but NOT BOTH!

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Cranberry Walnut Pie

Ingredients

1 cup low carb flour  (OR 1 cup almond flour & ¼ cup coconut flour)
1 cup xylitol
2 cups cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9 inch pie pan or spray with Pam.
  • Combine the flour and xylitol in a large bowl. Then stir in the cranberries and walnuts.  Toss to coat.
  • Melt the butter, but don’t get it hot or it will cook the eggs. Beat the eggs in a large glass.  Add almond extract and melted butter.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Make sure everything is completely combined.
  • Add to pie pan. You really have to push it down with your fingers, and make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes.  Let it slightly brown on top.

Remember you are in control of what you put in your mouth.  Take control of your cravings.  Have a big glass of water before you eat something.  We don’t drink enough water anyway, and it’ll help you to feel full.  Then enjoy just one small piece of the cranberry walnut pie or my yummy Low Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies!  

You have to be serious and take control of what you put in your mouth!  But YOU CAN DO THIS!

Stay warm and press on!  Have a great day!

Donna

White Flour & Sugar the Cocaine of the Food World

The New Year brings Resolutions of losing weight, exercise and being healthier.  I personally have learned that what you put in your mouth GREATLY effects your weight, MORE than exercise.

There are tons of diet plans out there.  Regardless of what diet plan you use, you have to understand that white flour and sugar have addictive properties.   Don’t use this as an excuse.  The crack addict could say the same thing, but unless they give it up, they’re going to die from crack.

WebMD says, “SUGAR fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain also sees sugar as a reward, which makes you keep wanting more of it. If you often eat a lot of sugar, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough to break the habit.”

And they further say that, “Think you don’t have a sweet tooth, but crave bagels, chips, or french fries? These starchy foods are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars. Eaten without better foods, starches can make blood sugar surge and crash like sugar. White rice and WHITE FLOUR do this. Highly refined starches like white bread, pretzels, crackers, and pasta are WORST.”  You can read the whole article HERE.

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I do Low Carb and I use protein to help balance the natural sugar in foods to keep my blood sugar under control.  Why put yourself through the ordeal of more cravings?  I also use substitutions, ’cause a girls’ gotta eat!  I love my low carb chocolate chips cookies – look for my recipe here!  And the Low Carb Connection has the best low carb bagels and bread – I go EVERY single week!  They also ship all over the country and Canada!

Whatever diet plan you are on, you need to pay attention to the white flour and sugar in your body!  Don’t torture yourself with more cravings, and set yourself up to failure!  Read labels and educate yourself – there are a lot of hidden sugars and flours in processed foods.  The closer to the original form your food is, the less processed it is.  Apple sauce has a lot of added sugar, stick with a real apple instead!!

When you do get a craving, you need to think about it.  You need to ask yourself some questions:
1) What am I craving?  Something sweet? Salty?
2) Am I really hungry or do I just want to taste something?
3) What can I do to relieve my craving without going off my diet plan?
Sweet craving – I make fruit tea with Stevia.  Salty craving – I always have nuts available.
4) Am I going to have a meal soon, but I’m hungry NOW!  A big glass of water may work, or with Low Carb a mozzarella cheese stick and some nuts will tide me over.
5) What can I do to not think about food?  Get up and move around, take your mind off your craving and get some exercise.  DO SOMETHING!

If you really want to lose weight, you need to be committed.  You need your friends and family to support you and you need to write it down.  Support and Documentation will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals.

You can also message me here, with your questions and comments!  I’ve been there, I know what it feels like!  You are stronger than you think!  YOU can do it!!!

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Donna

Best Low Carb Cookie Recipe EVER!

Donna’s Low Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
½ cup chopped peanuts
1 ½ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick of room temperature butter
1/2 cup Stevia sugar substitute
½ cup packed Stevia brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teapoon extra virgin oil
2 egg
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Set out stick butter in large mixing bowl, on top of the stove to get butter at room temperature.  In a separate bowl mix together chopped peanuts, the flours and baking powder.

Add Stevia brown sugar, Stevia, vanilla, to room temp butter.  Mix until creamed together.  Add eggs.  Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.  Lastly mix in chocolate chips.

Use two teaspoons to form teaspoon size cookies.  This makes about 30 cookies.

 

God Doesn’t Want You to Overeat!

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I had a sobering lesson in my Bible Study today.  ““Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is BENEFICIAL. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.  “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” – but God will destroy them both.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 13.  To me this says that you have your own free will to overeat or under eat, but if you truly want to do God’s will you will not let food MASTER you!

In Living Beyond Yourself – Exploring the fruit of the Spirit, Beth Moors says “It is no accident that the subject of physical appetite is immediately followed by the exhortation to let nothing master us.  Many Americans-bone thin to morbidly obese are mastered by food…

…Setting aside the physical effects…the loss of control and the addiction to overeating is deeply guilt-provoking and self-defeating…It is not God’s will for us to be mastered by anything other than Him.  He wants us to be free from obsession: from the obsession of eating and from the obsession of not eating…

…Your food-related addiction may be so overpowering that you have already surrendered to a life out of control.  Please think about it, my Friend.  The temporary comfort of food cannot begin to match the inevitable long-range guilt and self-defeat.  If you have every other area under control but you are mastered by food, which is a portion of your broken-down wall, Satan will use it to trample you.  If you often feel out of control and guilt-ridden after you eat, you need God’s help to repair the broken wall. The process may be One-on-one, or God may lead you to ‘someone with a little skin on her’ for encouragement.  Christ-centered groups can help you feel less alone in your struggle.**  Seek Him and find out.  He already has a plan for your release.” – Beth Moore in Beyond Yourself – Exploring the fruit of the Spirit.

**First Place is a Christ-Centered Health Program, available from Lifeway Christian Resources (Beth Moore).  It helps people follow a healthy lifestyle plan while utilizing biblical principles and Bible Study.  Call them at 1-800-458-2772.

Please exercise caution and be mindful of your own body. These views are mine alone, based on my own experiences. Always consult a professional for additional guidance and assistance. 

So, now I know that I have to answer to God, when I overeat!!  Sobering words indeed!   Let me know what you think of this post and my blog!  I need encouragement too!
Until next time,
Donna

Eating Low Carb in the Real World

Parties

Make sure you don’t go into a ‘high carb situation’ hungry.  Make sure you have a snack before you leave your house.  Pay attention to how much time it will be until you’ll be eating again.  Don’t set yourself up to be hungry and tempted to cheat!

If you are going someplace with lots of foods you do not eat anymore.  Offer to bring something to share, and make it something that you CAN eat, along with others.

When people offer me their high carb foods, I just say “I can’t eat that.”  It seems to go over better than “I don’t want to eat that.”  If they press me, I just say I lost 30 lbs, and I want to keep it off.  I feel better and healthier this way.  Sometimes it gives you an opportunity  to help someone else into the low-carb lifestyle!

Bring snacks with you that you can eat, for emergencies.  I always have almonds, walnuts and/or pecans in my purse!  If it’s not super hot out, you can carry cheese sticks in your purse!  I’ve seen cheddar varieties as wells as mozzarella.  If you’re a guy, or can’t use a purse, and you’re going to a party – bring it in your cooler with the drinks.  Use your imagination – make it work for you!

I love sweets, but being out I can’t eat ANY of those goodies, when we’re out.  I make sure I have my low carb chocolate chip cookies with me!  They sell tiny plastic containers that keep them from getting crushed in my purse.  *I’ve up-dated my cookie recipe and it’s easier to make!  Check it out below!

Restaurants

When ordering food in a restaurant I always end up modifying what’s on the menu.  What I put in my mouth is MORE important than what the waitress thinks of me.  It’s their job to make ME happy!  I look for the protein and what it’s cooked with.  I can usually dissect something enough to make it editable and fairly low carb.  I order sandwiches without bread and the sauce on the side.  There are lots of hidden carbs in sauces and gravies.  I substitute veggies for the rice or potatoes that comes with EVERYTHING!

When it’s just my husband and I at a restaurant, we tell the waitress not to bring the bread basket.  It’s just going to be wasted, and some days it’s hard to resist!  If I’m really hungry that’s when I pull out the nuts from my purse to tide me over.

I’ve stopped drinking soda, and the caffeine in unsweetened iced tea can bother me.  So what can you drink at a restaurant?!  I get ice water with extra lemons.  Then I add the Stevia I bring with me.  Perfect low- carb lemonade and it’s free!

And it goes without saying I never order the dessert!  That’s when I pull out my cookies!

Cheat days

If you do your research online, you can find tons of recipes that could substitute lots of your old favorite foods.  Then you won’t need to ‘cheat’!  With low carb, you never ever go hungry, you can always have satisfying foods, so you really shouldn’t need to cheat.

Cheat days should only be 2 or 3 times A YEAR!!!  You can sabotage your weight loss very quickly with these cheat days.  There are always “special occasions” popping up!  And when you eat a bunch of carbs, you will get cravings afterward, for more carbs!  So you are setting up yourself for failure if you are ‘cheating’ every time you turn around!

Tip – You need to act like you have an imaginary ‘coach’ and see if she would accept that excuse to ‘cheat’.  Would Jillian Michaels believe that reasoning?

Once you are doing low carb for awhile, your tastebuds actually will change!  I would never believe it if it didn’t really didn’t happen to me!  I can’t stand how sweet some of my old favorites are now!  And carby things like mashed potatoes just don’t taste as fabulous as I remember.  I think is this going to be worth it?  And surprisingly it’s not for me anymore.

Here is my new and improved Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!  Instead of chopped peanuts, I’m using almond flour.  It’s a lot faster and we like the texture better!

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Donna’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – to get the carb count, add up all carbs (minus the fiber) and divide by how number of cookies)

1 teaspoon baking soda                                            1 cup coconut four (sifted)
1 teaspoon salt                                                           1 cup special dark chocolate chips
1 stick of butter                                                          ¾ cup Stevia
¾ cup packed Stevia brown sugar                        1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs                                                                           1 cup almond flour (or meal)
3 ¼ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Set out a stick of butter to get to room temperature.  Sift together coconut flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl add the butter, Stevia, Stevia brown sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil.  Once completely mixed, add eggs.
Gradually add coconut flour mixture, bit by bit.  Mix in almond flour.  Once completely mixed, mix in chocolate chips.
Bake on a baking stone or cookie sheet.  With your hands, roll into teaspoon size balls and slightly flatten.  They will stay the same shape when baked, so you can place them close together.  Make sure they stick together, or they will fall apart when finished.
Bake at 325 F for as long as it takes for them to slightly brown.  Do not transfer until completely cool!  Store in the refrigerator.

I hope these tips will help you in your low carb lifestyle!  Send me your questions and comments! I need to know if anyone is reading this!!

It’s not a diet its a lifestyle!!!
Until we meet again ~ Donna

 

Things I wish I knew a long time ago!

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 Avoid Ponytail Breakage!

When you exercise most women (and some men) need to put their hair up in a ponytail.  But what about the hair breakage?!  You know, you see it on people that wear ponytails a lot.  They end up having all these chunks of hair that won’t stay in the elastic, because they’re too short, no matter how ‘long’ their hair is.  Well. . .

My hairdresser explained why your hair breaks at the elastic, and how to avoid it.
When you exercise your hair gets sweaty and wet.  When your hair gets wet, it stretches to accommodate the elastic pulling it back.  BUT when it starts to dry, it shrinks and then breaks.  To avoid the breakage, I ALWAYS put my hair in clips as soon as I finish exercising. I bring them with me and leave them in the car.   The clips allow the hair to move and not break, but you’re still comfortable as you are cooling down.  I have no ponytail hair breakage and I run three days a week!

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Don’t use Rain
As an Excuse!

I make a “rain jacket” for my GPS watch when I’m afraid it’s going to rain.  I’m not sure it has any waterproofing.  But with a little plastic wrap and tape, I don’t have to worry about it.  It doesn’t have

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              be fancy, just make sure that you can see the front of the watch. And tape the ends so water can’t drip inside.  You might have to trim some of the plastic as you shape it to the watch face.

You’ll need to take it off to download your run, but it’ll be protected in the rain.  And then I can’t use the excuse “my Garmin will get ruined” to skip a run!  Be VERY CAREFUL when you cut the plastic wrap and tape off, don’t cut your watch strap!!!!

Don’t Choke Yourself with Your Earbuds!

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 As you can see I use an iPod when I run.  But any device with ear buds will have the same problem – the cord is too long and flopping all over the  place while you are trying to concentrate on your workout!  Here’s my simple fix.

  1. Take a small rubber band and loop the cord around and to make it smaller.  Put your earbuds in and measure it, so that you can turn your head right and left when it’s attached.
  2. Slip a bobbie pin (tan in this picture) to the rubber band.  Don’t make it too tight. Just enough to hold the cord in place.
  3. Slip the bobbie pin with the earbud cord to your sports bra, or edge of your shirt, or the waistband of your shorts.
  4. Attach your device right next to the cord.  And put your ear buds in!

I like to have my iPod where I can reach it to change the song, or pause it.  But it’s great not having that cord tickling my belly while I run!

 

Remember WHEN
You Bought Your Devices!

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When you are required to name your GPS watch, iPod, or other devices name it the month and year that you bought it.  It will remind you how old your device is.  You’ll know when it’s getting old, and you can start looking for a sale on a new one.  I had to run once without music and it was torture for me!  This helps you plan ahead.

And this concludes my tips for today.  I hope these have been helpful to you.  Let me know what you think!

Keep putting one foot in front of the other!  It’s all up to you to take charge of your health!!

~ Donna