Friday, June 29, 2012

Family Fun Day: June 15, 2012

Our goal as a family is to have at least one day out of the month that we do something fun together.  This month (June) I was in charge.  In June of 2010 we took our little Monkey to the temple to be sealed to our family.  It was a very special day.  My goal is to return to a temple at least yearly with our boy to remember that day and how special temples are to our family.  Last year we went to the Washington D.C. temple and the San Antonio, Texas temple.  This year we went back to our temple.  It was a gorgeous day.  We walked the grounds and tried to take a family picture.  After, we drove to a nearby park with a lake and the Monkey played in the water and on the playground.  From there we went out to eat (my favorite thing) to Claim Jumper's.  I am so glad we are starting this tradition of taking time out as a family now as I know life doesn't get less busy it's a matter of deciding what's important and how we want to use our time.  Family time is number one!

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Dinner Diary: Week 5

Whole Wheat German Pancakes with Peaches
I'm pretty proud of myself this week.  Sunday evening I planned out meals for the entire week.  On Monday (6/18/12) I made the whole wheat oven pancakes that I originally had planned for Sunday, but since it was Father's Day I made my hubby's choice for dinner.  I've always loved oven pancakes (also known as German pancakes), but the last time I made them my stomach didn't feel so good.  I didn't have a problem this time and I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose white flour.  The recipe I followed called for sliced pears, but I only had peaches.  I also used whole milk instead of reduced fat and honey instead of cane sugar.  It was delicious and I'm sure it would've been delicious with pears as well.  We downed them like they were nothing.  It was a good thing I made my green smoothies to go along with them.

Veggie Cilantro-Lime Quinoa Burritos
I was able to go shopping for the ingredients I would need for the rest of the week's meals Tuesday (6/19/12) morning and got a few other errands run at the same time.  Thank you monkey for being more calm during this shopping trip.  It was nice to go early and then have story time at the library right after.  Hmmm...this could become a tradition.  Thankfully the monkey took a long nap so I could prepare the health presentation I was doing for my sister-in-law's Relief Society activity (what a fun experience to share my "health revolution" with other ladies and they were so nice).  I also was able to make dinner before I had to leave.  We had veggie cilantro-lime quinoa burritos (my own creation).  All I did was fill a whole wheat tortilla with quinoa, black beans, tomato, shredded cabbage, green onion, and fresh cilantro.  Then I squeezed fresh lime juice all over, wrapped it up and enjoyed.  I ate another one after I came home from the health presentation.

It was a beautiful, warm, and sunny Wednesday (6/20/12) so the monkey and I filled up the little kiddie pool to play in.  Around noon I decided we needed to enjoy the nice weather at the beach by our house.  I actually got hot for the first time this year.  The monkey had a great time playing in the sand and I found a friend to chat with (thanks for the convo BB).  It was a little rushed in the evening before I had to leave for youth group so I was glad steak salad was on the menu, though I found the hubby took the rest of the leftover steak to work for lunch so it was just salad.  That's okay, I certainly didn't miss it.  I made a tasty lemon-lime dressing (recipe from Green Smoothie Girl's 12 Step program) to add to my spring mix, cucumber, cabbage, and tomato salad.  I got a few comments on my "healthy" ways since I brought the salad to youth group to eat.  There were cookies and treats available, and though it is a little tempting, I resisted.  

Curried Quinoa Salad
Thursday (6/21/12) turned out to be another nice day.  Sista G and Officer J's family met us at a nearby lake to go boating in the evening.  I brought along the curried quinoa salad (recipe from "Spilling the Beans") I made before heading out.  My hubby ate his portion in the car on the way to the lake and, more than once, he told me how good it was.  This means a lot coming from a guy who does not get as excited about food as myself.  I loved it too.  I also snacked on grapes and a couple peaches, as well as nuts and the wheat thins sista G brought, oh, and the Monkey's peanut butter and jelly sandwich that he didn't want.  I guess I was pretty hungry.  Sitting on a boat watching other's ski really builds an appetite.  

Whole Wheat Tortilla Veggie Pizza
My hubby is supposed to have Friday's off, but when he's busy, which he is, he ends up having to go in to work, which he did today (6/22/12).  It was really rainy and though the monkey and I had fun playing for the first part of the morning I wondered what I was going to do the rest of the day.  So I jumped on my sweet sista L's offer to come over and hang out.  I got home later than intended so the plan to make pizza seemed like it wouldn't happen at first.  Then I remembered that pizza using tortilla's is quick and pretty tasty.  It doesn't beat home made dough, but it sure is a great alternative when time is short and tummy's are hungry now.  I already had pizza sauce (recipe based off of this one) made that I just needed to thaw.  On mine I had sliced tomatoes and peppers with mozzarella cheese and a little feta sprinkled on top.  The hubby always has olives and mushrooms.  

After coming home from a youth temple trip today (6/23/12) we hurried and got ready to go check out a sailboat (my hubby is on the hunt).  I made a salad I could eat on the way and packed some grapes, nuts, and fruit leather for the drive.  We looked at the sailboat for awhile (not the one:) then headed for home.  It was getting late in the evening after also having stopped at my bro C's house for stuff I left there (I got my camera back!).  Being late and being hungry we decided to stop at a burrito place my sista L told me about recently.  I chose the whole wheat tortilla and added black beans, lime rice (it was white so I added less, but I probably wouldn't get the rice next time unless they start offering brown), pico de gallo, cilantro, and squeezed fresh lime juice on top.  I noticed they had fajita vegetables as added price option (peppers and onions) after the fact, which sounded good.  Next time.

Whole Wheat Crepes
We made it through Sacrament meeting at church today (6/24/12)!  This is a big feat as there's a reason the Monkey is called the Monkey.  After church we had our dinner for lunch.  This seems to be a good way to do meals on Sunday.  I made whole wheat crepes and they turned out so good and it was so easy.  As a filling I fried some shredded potatoes for hash browns and sliced peppers and green onions that I coated in extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, and a little sea salt and pepper.  My hubby also filled his with thawed frozen strawberries with a little added touch of honey and sliced bananas.  After quiet time that was not quiet we played trains, walked around the nearby state beach park, video chatted with Grandma and Grandpa C, visited a family from church, then crashed (or at least I did) after putting the Monkey to bed.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cucumber Lemon Water

Water.  I know it's sooo good for me and my health.  I love it on a warm day or after a good work out, but there aren't many warm days around here and I'm a slacker on getting a good work out (help!).  Other times it can be a challenge for me to drink enough of that oh, so vital fluid.  A few things help me and maybe they can help you too. 

1)  I like to know how much I have to drink and how much I have already consumed.  To help with this I fill up a 32 ounce canning jar so I know that if I drink 2 jars a day I will have drunk a good amount.

2)  Drinks just taste better using a straw.  Try these.

3)  Add lemon.  It tastes good and you'll get some good for you vitamin C as a bonus.

4)  Add cucumber.  I learned about adding cucumber to my water while staying at hotels for a 6 month period.  I was surprised at how yummy and refreshing a slice of cucumber made the water.  Try it today!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Dinner Diary: Week 4

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quite the productive day I must say.  Monday's seem to be my cleaning day.  I cleaned my  bathrooms, did laundry, and I even was able to mow our law.  It sure is nice now that Zac is a little older and I can do that kind of stuff with him.  My hubby is on the hunt for a sailboat and found one for us to look at in the evening.  I picked him up from work and then headed out.  We got home a little later since we also stopped at Costco on the way home.  I made some corn tortilla quesadillas fried in coconut oi and a nice big green salad.  Seriously, don't avocados make everything taste amazing?  A side of grapes added a nice touch, and they were so juicy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The hubby stayed home sick today.  I told him he better just stay in our room if he wanted to get any rest.  He was able to see first hand why I am just done, emotionally, by the time he gets home from work.  I cooked some mahi mahi in a clove of fresh garlic, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice.  I shredded and cut some cabbage, carrots, green onion, and peppers and cooked up some brown rice with avocado and a lemon slice on the side.  I really enjoyed it, but the hubby, who eats pretty much anything, was not a fan of the vegetables since I might have put just a little too much apple cider vinegar on them.  I didn't mind it, but I drink the stuff regularly as a tonic of sorts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I was not feeling great today and it didn't help that the Monkey woke up at 5:15am!  I took him to the talent show of his cousin that he adores.  Great job playing the piano Miss N.  I was so tired by the time we got home that I allowed the Monkey to watch, 'the Monkey' (Curious George) so I could rest.  I also needed to prepare to present a spiel on healthy drinks for the young women's activity in the evening.  Needless to say dinner was non-existent and the boys had to fend for themselves.  I got home hungry and with the help of my hubby I had a salad with cucumber, mixed nuts and seeds, avocado, feta, and an oil-based dressing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I was so glad to spend the day with my good Friend M.  We gardened (she has an amazing garden and yard).  The Monkey had a great time playing in the pile of dirt.  Friend M brought in some kale fresh from her garden and made super yummy kale chips that the Monkey chowed down.  I prepared early today so I could eat before I heading out to track practice.  I put rinsed and drained canned black beans and brown rice in whole wheat tortillas that I warmed in the oven.  Then I topped them with tomato, avocado, shredded cabbage, and I squeezed fresh lime juice all over.  I really like lime juice on southwestern types of food.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Today was our family fun day that I'll talk about in a separate post.  As part of it we went out to eat as a family.  We decided on Claim Jumper's.  I ordered a tomato basil pizza.  It was good and better than a meat lover's, but I wouldn't call it healthy.  The dough was out of white flour and the hubby said it was like scone dough.  The tomato and basil were really good though.  I had a salad to start, but was pretty disappointed as it was mostly iceberg lettuce.  Oh well, it was fun to eat out as a family and not be the one to prepare it.  I really do love eating out.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sista E and Bro C invited all the family over to celebrate Father's Day early.  We were to bring out own tin foil dinners to cook over an open fire.  Thankfully the rain held up enough for us to do that.  For our family we decided to cook our home made pizza over the fire.  I had taken out dough to thaw on Thursday thinking we'd use it Friday, but we ate out instead.  I put tomatoes, spinach, and zucchini on my side.  Besides the crust getting slightly charred it tasted really good.  I always am trying to get my crust crispier and this seems to be a great way to do it.  Thanks for a fun evening with family.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Being Father's Day, my hubby got to pick the meal.  He chose rib-eye steak, garlic-mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, and corn.  I didn't have milk so I used a little coconut milk in the mashed potatoes with butter and salt.  I drizzled olive oil and white wine vinegar over sliced peppers, red onion, and carrots and added a little salt and pepper.  The steak was seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Everything turned out really good.  We both found that we still like having steak, but we don't have the same desire to eat as much.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Movies I Recommend

Below is a list of movies that I consider to be clean and appropriate.  Check back often as this list will be continually updated.  You will find this post located in the "Reviews and Recommendations" tab at the top of my home page.

Deconstructing Supper
Facing the Giants
Forever Strong
Gifted Hands
Letters to God
Matchmaker Mary
Miss Potter
My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Seven Days in Utopia
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The Lost and Found Family
What If...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blueberries vs. Chocolate

I am only going to mention this fact once in this post...I have a two year old.  Now that that's out of the way.  What do you turn to when you encounter high stress and high frustration moments in your life?  Many of us turn to food, and many women turn to chocolate.  I can't say I'm a chocoholic, but there have been times I have grabbed a handful, or 2, or 3, of chocolate chips to get me through (I actually learned this trick from my dear friend D:).  But there are other things, like chips, BBQ chips, greasy, salt BBQ chips, that have been my friends in the past when I'm having a hard time coping.  I have rid my kitchen of most, not great for me things, for which I am quite pleased.  But I still have those times when I just "need" something, something to help me calm down, to take my mind off what seems to be a terribly hard moment.  

The other day I picked up some yummy blueberries to enjoy in my granola and yogurt for breakfast.  I've also been snacking on them throughout the day too.  I was very grateful for this purchase recently.  They became my friend during that moment of stress.  To choose blueberries over chocolate chips (since I don't have any BBQ chips) is what I consider a triumph.  So I am patting myself on the back today.  I hope you recognize the little triumphs in your life too and pat yourself on the back.  Tell a friend and let them high five you.  We all need encouragement and congrats to give us confidence and help us feel good about the improvements we are making.  

What are things you do to cope with stress in a healthy way, be it food or otherwise?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Quality Peanut Butter

Recently we purchased an ice cream maker for Father's Day and we absolutely love it.  Yes, I know Father's Day is not until this Sunday, but how could I let an ice cream maker sit unused for that long?  The ice cream maker comes with a bunch of recipes to try.  While looking over the various types of ice cream I saw one for peanut butter ice cream.  I really like peanut butter shakes so this sounded quite tasty.  Looking over the ingredients I was take aback when I read what kind of peanut butter they called for.  I quote, "good quality peanut butter (not natural)."  Am I the only one that finds this statement contradictory?  Maybe I'm just becoming too much of a natural foodster, but that really made me laugh.  I grew up on the kind of peanut butter you had to get a big wooden spoon to stir in the oil on top.  For some reason, I started buying the "other" kind that has lots more added to it than just peanuts and salt.  I'm back to the peanuts and salt variety now.  Anyway, my point is, wouldn't "good quality" and "natural" mean the same thing to you?  

When I started going more whole and in the raw with my food choices I ended up giving away and taking the peanut butter that is more than peanuts and salt to the local food bank.  Go take a look at the ingredients in the peanut butter in your cupboard.  Maybe consider if those extra ingredients are necessary and good for your health and that of your family.  As you transition to a whole foods lifestyle it may be helpful to take baby steps.  This could be one of those baby steps.  Good luck in living more whole and in the raw.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Genetically Modified Foods

My husband just sent me this article to read and said I should write something about it.  I told him I'm not sure what I would write except that I support labeling genetically modified foods.  In my mind it just makes sense to know what ingredients are in the foods I purchase.  I don't have any scientific data and I don't know the ins and outs of genetically modified foods, but I do believe that nature does it best.  Food is going to be better for us in it's most whole and raw state.  I do believe there is a strong correlation between the rise in processed foods (including GMO's) and the rise in food sensitivities, allergies, disease, etc...The sooner we get back to whole and raw foods, the better for us and for our children, and our children's children, and on and on.  What we do today does affect tomorrow.  

I certainly hope California voter's make labeling GMO's law.  And I hope my state follows suite soon.  Here's another article to read too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stainless Steel Straws

I like to drink smoothies pretty regularly.  For some reason they taste better when I use a straw.  It's just more fun that way too.  But I don't like wasting all those straws.  I started out reusing the plastic straws a few times.  Then I found some heavier duty plastic reusable straws at the store.  Those worked just fine, but I also am trying to use less plastic.  Plus, even heavy duty plastic does wear out after awhile.  I love Amazon.  It's kind of addictive.  Anyway, I did a search for reusable straws and found these.  

I was so excited when they arrived on my doorstep.  Our UPS lady driver is becoming a familiar face around here.  The Monkey gets excited when he sees we have a new package.  I was a little worried when I took them out of the package that they would be too short to use in the quart jars I use for smoothies and my drinking water, but they are perfect.  I like that they have the curved feature too.  

The Monkey took to them just fine also.  If that face can't sell these things, I don't know what can.  My only warning is to be careful not to bite down on the straw.  The things are stainless steel, remember?  Also, make sure you rinse them right after using them in any drink other than water.  For a good cleaning just buy some cheap pipe cleaners.  Enjoy not wasting your money on throw away straws and not throwing away waste that is not healthy for our beautiful earth.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Dinner Diary: Week 3

Monday, June 4, 2012
I was on top of dinner today.  I shredded carrots, red and green cabbage in my Bosch slicer shredder (so fast & easy, I love it!) and cooked it in olive oil with Bragg's Liquid Amino, along with sea salt and pepper.  I also had some yellow squash and chicken leftover from Memorial Day so I sliced and cooked those up too.  I served the veggies over brown basmati rice.  

cabbage stir fry (with a little chicken)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
This evening I coached the long jump for a local track and field club.  I've really enjoyed getting out on the track again after many years.  Practice is held right during dinner so, not being hungry before practice I end up eating afterward.  I toasted up my homemade whole wheat bread and spread some homemade cream cheese on top.  Then I sliced cucumber, tomato, and avocado and layered them on top. I ate this sandwich open face style.  Doesn't it look pretty?  And it's really good and good for you too.

cucumber, tomato, and avocado open face

Below is what I had for lunch.  I just took the leftovers from dinner on Monday and threw it in a whole wheat tortilla that I crisped on the stove.  I added just a little shredded cheese melted on top.  Not a bad use of leftovers.
leftover burrito stir-fry
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
We have a lot of frozen fish from Costco that I need to use.  I cut the tilapia up and cooked it in a frying pan with garlic, white whine vinegar, lime juice, and green onions.  The salad is the Spring Mix from Costco.  I added shredded carrots, tomato, and avocado. I just used regular Ranch dressing.  The hubby said it was tasty and I enjoyed it too.

tilapia green salad

Thursday, June 7, 2012
I picked up the hubby from work today.  He tries to ride his bike home, but he had a bit of a crash in the morning on his bike.  He survived, but the bike wasn't so lucky.  Poor hubby's eye got the brunt of the fall.  I was a bit tired and not feeling super great so...Papa John's it was.  I always get veggie style pizza now with green peppers, tomato, and pineapple.  I wish Papa John's had a few more veggie options, but it works.  As long as I have pineapple on my pizza I'm good.

Friday, June 8, 2012
We spent the evening and night with my parents.  My mom made a recipe I shared with them awhile back called, Yellow Vegetable Curry (I will eventually post this recipe with my adaptations).  They loved it and it tasted delicious this time too.  Instead of meat, the recipe uses potatoes.  My dad still wouldn't mind some chicken or some other meat with it, but he really likes it as is, as well. I just really enjoyed not having to worry about dinner and the Monkey had new surroundings and grandma and grandpa to keep him entertained.

Saturday, June 9, 2012
I actually accomplished a lot today (made yogurt and bread), but petered out by dinner.  I got the pleasure of chaperoning a youth dance in the evening so I just grabbed some of my homemade granola and homemade yogurt to eat while I was there.  A few of the girls tried the yogurt even after warning them that it was PLAIN yogurt.  They weren't too impressed, but at least they tried.  It's funny because the Monkey loves plain yogurt.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012
Sunday is supposed to be our 'breakfast for dinner' night.  I had some zucchini and squash I needed to use so I decided to use them in hash browns.  I shredded the potatoes and fried them in coconut oil.  Then I shredded the zucchini and squash along with a white onion and a red and green pepper and cooked them briefly.  Then I mixed the veggies and potatoes together.  I really liked the combination and it was a great way to use vegetables for a "breakfast" dinner.  I asked my hubby what we should call it and he came up with hash brown surprise.  I couldn't think of anything better so that's what my creation is called.  Hey, your vegetable hating kids may not even notice the zucchini and squash as it blends pretty well with the potatoes. 

hash brown surprise

And this tasty frozen treat pictured below will be getting it's own post soon.  Yummy and so healthy too!
creamy cashew ice cream

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thoughts for the Sabbath: Prayer

The Monkey's New Hair Cut June 2012
The Monkey is two.  That statement could say it all, but I’ll explain a little more.  Recently he has had some major episodes in the tantrum department.  Specifically, he has had (really all his life, but worse now) a really hard time waking up from his afternoon nap.  This has caused me to do a little research and say some prayers for help.  I have been inspired to adjust my disciplining and my reactions to unpleasant behavior.  One  prompting I received was to pray over my child.  So when the Monkey is upset and can’t seem to calm himself I have him sit on my lap and ask him if he wants to say a prayer.  He says yes and I offer a prayer and ask Heavenly Father to help the Monkey to feel better and calm down and I even ask that I will know how to help.  After the prayer the Monkey is much calmer and able to either move on or communicate better what he needs.  Prayer works! (Written February 1, 2012)

My son loves to play with my wallet.  He spends quite some time taking out all the cards and putting them back.  I let him because I love to see how focused he becomes.  This morning he was playing with my wallet again.  I decided to read my favorite book (The Book of Mormon), while he was occupied.  Before heading out for a walk with my husband and boy I went to put my wallet back together.  I noticed my temple recommend was missing.  This recommend is for members of my church who have taken certain steps that qualify them to enter in and participate in work inside the temple.  It is important to me and it would take some effort to replace the recommend as I am far from home.  I was somewhat frustrated as I searched our tiny place.  I was fairly certain it had to be somewhere in our room, but there was a chance it had been lost since the Monkey had been playing with my wallet the day before on the metro.  Though I hear stories often about people saying a prayer to find something it is always humbling when it happens to you.  I said a little prayer asking for help to find my recommend, but if it was lost, to help me stay in good spirits.  I went out to the kitchen and looked in the trash to find my temple recommend along with a couple other items that had made there way in.  I am thankful I lost recommend because it allowed me to humble myself and ask for the help of my Heavenly Father.
(Written around September 2011)

Read this beautifully written article about a religious man who is gay and happily married to his wife of 10 years:

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Clean "the Ring" (a.k.a. "toilet bowl ring")

I feel like I must be the last person on the planet to know the trick for cleaning the nasty toilet bowl ring.  Am I? I was cleaning a house with a lady from church a few weeks ago and she was kind enough to share this missing piece of information with me.  The secret is...

the pumice stone

...a pumice stone.  "What is that?"  Sista G asked when I told her this new found information. Yes, it's that stone people use to rub callouses off of feet and what not. After learning about the pumice stone I went to the store and in the pharmacy section I found what I was looking for, for about $2.  Only two dollars and no nasty chemicals needed that don't work anyway.  I admit I hadn't tried real hard to rid my toilets of "the ring," besides regular toilet bowl cleaner.  Maybe there's some awful chemical out there that does it, but I prefer this safe, cheap, and easy method of a $2 stone and gloves.  Yes, I recommend gloves of some sort as you put your arm into the toilet and scrub around the bowl and water will get on your arms.  If this really grosses you out, clean your toilet first and then scrub.  And that's all you need to scrub that ring right away.  I scrubbed and flushed a few times, but my minimally hard work paid off.  I now have a ring-free toilet. And you can too!
"the Ring" before the pumice stone

no ring after the pumice stone

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Corn Tortilla Tacos

I eat these tacos A LOT!  I love the crunch of the corn tortillas, the cheese (I need to limit this), and the flavors of the other ingredients combined.  It's easy and cheap.  I get my corn tortillas in a big pack from Costco, freezing one of the packages and keeping the other package in the fridge.  They last forever, it seems.  I'm sure you can figure out how to make these by just looking at the picture, but here we go...  Oh, this recipe is for one taco, but seriously, I eat at least 3 at a time.  

Corn Tortilla Tacos

corn tortilla
extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
cheese, shredded
tomato, chopped
hot sauce (I use Frank's Original)

Other ingredients:
black beans

Put a small amount of oil in a frying pan.  Place the corn tortilla in the pan and add shredded cheese.  Fry, until cheese melts and desired crispiness is obtained.  If you are using black beans, add those with the cheese for them to warm.  Place the corn tortilla on a plate and add chopped tomato and hot sauce.  Try adding cilantro and avocado too.

Corn Tortilla Tacos

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New-School Tuna Melt

New-School Tuna Melt
As mentioned in my Dinner Diary: Week 2 post, I received the recipe book, Spilling the Beans, for my birthday from my mom this year. It's all about legumes and how to use them in all types of foods, from breakfasts to desserts. I really like the content so far and the pictures are really pretty too. I tried out the New-School Tuna melt and thought it was quite tasty. 

1 cup rinsed and drained white beans
1 garlic clove, crushed (I used minced garlic)
2-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (2 Tbsp was enough for me)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
6 oz can tuna, drained (my can was 5 oz)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley (I used parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

4 slices toasted thick, grainy bread (I used my homemade whole wheat bread)
1 cup shredded old cheddar, Gouida, or other (or use slices)

1 tomato, sliced

In a medium-sized bowl mix beans, garlic olive oil, and lemon juice with a fork, smashing the beans as much as desired. Next, add the tuna, celery, olives, basil or parsley, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if using, and mix together. Place toasted bread on a baking sheet and spread each slice with the tuna mixture. Add the shredded or sliced cheese on top and broil in the oven until cheese is melted. When done top with tomato slices and enjoy.

You could also make this cold sandwich style and add lettuce. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Dinner Diary: Week 2

Monday, May 28, 2012
Today, being Memorial Day, we invited family to our home to remember those who served and died to protect our precious freedoms. In my mind it makes sense to gather together with those you love on a day like today as it is because of those who have served our country that it's possible for such gatherings.  I am grateful.

Normally, we would throw on hamburgers and hot dogs for the main course and have bags of chips, potato salad, and what not.  This time we upped the healthy notch and enjoyed
shish kabobs with lots of veggies and tasty sides.  We are not completely meatless around here, though we eat much, much less, plus my family members are for sure not meatless.  So we marinated steak and chicken breasts (thank you sista G) and sliced up yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, red onion, and fresh pineapple, oh and fresh garlic for our shish kabobs.  Thanks to Officer J and my hubby, the shish kabobs were grilled to perfection.  Sista L brought a lovely veggie tray, Sista G and Officer J made a fruit salad, and I made a cabbage salad (another recipe from Robyn's 12 Step Manual). Everyone was very happy with the food choices and I don't think anyone missed the hot dogs and greasy chips. We had the leftovers of our homemade strawberry and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  There was not a whole lot left for as many people as we had so we probably each had 1/4 cup or so.  

Cabbage Salad
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Another late night dinner.  Am I ever going to get on top of actually preparing dinner and having it ready at a decent hour.  Today's excuse was weird.  I started having a pain in my lower back that was not normal.  I thought I'd look online to make sure it wasn't the appendix or something.  Well, as I started reading about the symptoms for appendicitis all of a sudden I started getting really light-headed and even nauseous.  I really thought I was going to pass out which worried me since the Monkey was outside playing.  I got on the phone and called a good friend.  She was ready to come over, but I had her just talk to me until my husband got home instead.  I never passed out, but the rest of the night I was pretty woozy.  So...the hubby threw together a burrito for me made out of a whole wheat tortilla, canned black beans, spring mix greens, chopped tomato, shredded cheese, and salsa.  As you can see this is a very common meal.  I like it, it's easy, healthy, and I usually have the ingredients on hand.

Whole Wheat Veggie and Black Bean Burrito
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
On a day I actually had a meal planned and prepared at a normal dinner time, the hubby had to work really late.  Oh well, I enjoyed it.  I made a recipe called, New-School Tuna Melt, from a book I got from my mom for my birthday called, "Spilling the Beans."Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday
The only difference was I added some red pepper flakes for a little kick and sliced tomato on top. I rid my cupboards of mayonnaise awhile back and didn't know how I could have a tuna fish sandwich without it.  Now I can.  A little olive oil and some flavorful ingredients and mayonnaise becomes a thing of the past.
New-School Tuna Melt
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I'm on a roll now.  Today I made some of my whole wheat pizza dough for our traditional veggie pizzas for dinner.  I made a salad with shredded carrots, celery, feta, cucumber, and black pepper.  Since I still have some ranch dressing in my fridge to get rid of and wasn't up to making my own at the time, that's what we used. I also opened a can of peaches  (no high-fructose corn syrup in these) and sprinkled some chopped nuts on top.  My hubby was quite pleased to have a meal ready when he got home and homemade pizza at that.

Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza
Friday, June 1, 2012
Happy Birthday Sista G!  Good thing I took a picture of what I made today (I'm writing this a few days later and I completely forgot).  We had breakfast for dinner.  In my Bosch slicer/shredder I shredded a bunch of potatoes for hash browns, fried them in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned them with a little sea salt and black pepper.  I sauteed green onions and sweet peppers and mixed them in with scrambled eggs and a little sea salt. I love potatoes and ate too many, but, hey, I didn't drench them in ketchup like I usually would have.  That's improvement for me.  This meal could have use some more veggies, but it's what worked after a busy day of helping friends move (sad).  

Hash browns and Scrambled Veggie Omelette
Saturday, June 2, 2012
We didn't really have dinner today.  We joined family members at a family track meet held in the evening.  I actually ran a 400 meter dash and made it all the way around the track without falling over.  Yes, my next goal is to figure out how to make time for exercise.  So, the monkey had snacks during the meet and I downed a few corn tortilla tacos after getting home pretty late.  There are just going to be nights like these so the goal is to have healthy foods I can take to go.  Any suggestions?

Corn Tortilla Tacos
Sunday, June 3, 2012
I hope you had a nice Sabbath day.  We spent the evening with my side of the family to celebrate Sista G's and Sista L's birthdays.  My mom prepared breaded fish and shrimp (store bought), red potatoes, corn on the cob, and a fruit tray.  I brought a green salad with homemade dressing.  I ended up passing on the breaded fish and shrimp (I don't ever eat shrimp anyway) and had lots of salad, some red potatoes, and 2 cobs of corn (so good I didn't even need butter).  I took a small bite of a beautiful dessert my mom made and did eat a few pieces of chocolate my mom brought home from a recent trip to Sweden.

Keep creating!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Prayer for Balance

I have been thinking much about and trying hard to implement a balanced lifestyle.  Often, it feels as though home responsibilities take precedence over other, possibly more important, acts of service and kindness.  I was thinking that at the end of my life as I looked back and contemplated if it was balanced I would much rather see that I erred on the side of putting too much weight on being kind, loving, and giving help and service to others, including my child, husband, and extended family members.  This takes faith and even courage to let other responsibilities that are good and important sometimes take a backseat when someone to be loved sits in the front for a time.  My prayer is that I can develop this faith, this courage, and this love that I might one day stand guiltless and at peace in front of my Savior and see even a slight resemblance of my reflection in Him. Written Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 6:50am

I am showing this video as part of the lesson I will be teaching the young women in church today and goes along with my thoughts on erring on the side of service.

Have I Done any Good in the World Today?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Heaven Is Here

Check out the digital Preview of my book

Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy
by Stephanie Nielson

I learned about Stephanie Nielson a couple years back after being told to watch this short video about her story.

I followed her blog periodically and enjoyed her straight from the heart approach to writing and sharing about her life.  When I saw that her book came out I quickly hopped onto Amazon and ordered it.  After it arrived I skipped the nap I would normally take while The Monkey was down and couldn't stop reading.  I stayed up late a couple nights and just plowed through it.  I like to read, but I don't read a lot because it usually just makes me fall asleep.  Not the case with this read.  I was hooked from the first page.  I had a cheesy smile on my face through the first part of her story as it felt like a sweet romance novel (not the trashy kind, of course).  I shed tears as she shared her horrific experience crashing, waking up, and enduring all that comes with having 80% of your body burned.  My faith and hope in God, people, and the miracle of the human body was strengthened as I finished the last page and pondered on all that I just read.  

I am grateful to those who share their challenges, sorrows, and heartaches so that I can be humbled, strengthened, and lifted above my own life's so-called problems.  Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story.  And thanks to all of you who endure life's challenges with faith, hope, and encourage.  People look to you more than you realize.

Check it out from the library, borrow it from a friend, or buy "Heaven is Here," here

Friday, June 1, 2012

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk

How could I be upset with such a cute little boy.  Okay, I do get upset, but not over spilled milk.  My boy loves his milk, or gonk as he used to call it...and yes, I know there may be some of you reading this that think milk is not for humans, I for one, am on the fence, not promoting it, but not banning it that that's out of the way.  On this lovely morning I stepped away while the almost empty jug of milk was sitting on the table and a cup was out.  My boy is beginning the 'doing it himself' phase and took it upon himself to pour the milk in the cup all on his own.  I was watching and he did a great job making it in the cup until the cup was full and the milk kept coming.  Now he just needs to learn to turn the jug of milk upright when the cup is full and he'll be good to go.  I couldn't resist taking a picture of his attempt to pour milk and seriously, how cute is he!  My friend just passed on the pajamas he is wearing and absolutely loves them because he absolutely loves the monkey, aka, Curious George.  Hey, I just thought of a good pseudonym for my boy...he is now, The Monkey.  

I do recognize that there are times it is not easy to keep your cool when "spilled milk" episodes occur.  I know I have not reacted as I should at times.  Check out this simple, but inspiring video that helps remind me to not cry over spilled milk.  By the way, this is one of The Monkey's favorites. 

  Moments that Matter Most

And this is his absolute favorite.

I Am a Child of God