Saturday, February 22, 2014

Here we go again . . .

Hmmmm . . . Okay, so I admit it, I did not do the 21 Day Sugar Detox AGAIN! Ugh! I did wind up having to have surgery February 10 to have some additional tissue removed from the areas where I had some moles removed in January. The surgery went well, and the doctor says my healing is on target. However, I wasn't sure how that was going to go, so I just decided to postpone the healthy eating. In all truthfulness, I probably did that so I could continue to eat my feelings. I am sure I had a better excuse than that at the time I made my decision to put off my healthy eating. I wanted to get back to healthier eating this week, but I found out that I am going out of town for work next week. It is so hard to eat healthy while traveling so I am just going to go for the first Monday of March.

Brad and I have been eating out way too much lately, so I definitely want to get back to cooking more frequently, etc. Spring Break will soon be here so I am definitely going to have to plan really well in order to stay on track! It is a gorgeous day out today, but it is a little chilly to really be outside much. I think I am going to open the doors to let the sunlight and fresh air in, and get in the kitchen and do some kitchen cleaning and organizing. I need to see what I have, and what I may need to purchase. I will be in Tallahassee next week so I plan to stop by Trader Joe's,  Whole Foods, etc before heading back home. That way I can start March off right!

I'll keep you posted. Sorry I have been so lazy, but I think I am ready now! Surgery is behind me, and summer is ahead. No excuses! I am ready to feel and look better. I am hopeful that will be the motivation I need to keep me going in the right direction! Have a happy weekend!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

But, Moonlight's Not Really My Thing . . .

Hello! I have not been making good food choices lately! I truly did want to start out the new year with a newer, healthier me, but life just seemed to get in the way. However, I am starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox (again) on Monday, February 3. I am excited and looking forward to it. I honestly think I will stick to it this time! Unfortunately, there is a not so happy reason why. :-(

As you probably know, I have a very light complexion, and I am VERY mole-y. My dad has worked in the sun a good part of his life, and he tends to have sun spots, etc. He goes to the dermatologist quite frequently, and growing up my parents made sure I did as well. However, as I grew older and moved around and such, I found that I went to the dermatologist way less often. I have been saying I was going to go for a check up for YEARS, but I just haven't. It was nearly impossible to get an appointment with a dermatologist in Georgia. However, I was given a great recommendation for a guy to see in Panama City, and I was able to make an appointment with little issue at all. . . . yay . . . I guess. :-)

My appointment was set for a couple of Thursdays ago, and as expected he found some spots that he didn't like. (I don't think I have EVER been to the dermatologist without them finding something to remove . . .haha). What I didn't expect was for him to get out his knife and start cutting on me right then and there! It wasn't a big deal, but I did walk out with four band-aids that I didn't have when I got to the appointment. As is typical for a dermatologist I was warned of the dangers of being in the sun, and told to get all the moonlight I wanted. Anyway, this past Thursday I got a call, from the doctor's office. Everything was fine until I was asked to hold while they went and got the PA that I saw on my recent visit. I don't think anyone has ever gotten better news from the doctor than from the secretary so needless to say the next few minutes were not fun. As I sat on hold, I prayed and did my best to convince myself that everything was going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine, but I do have to go to a plastic surgeon to have more removed from three of the spots they removed in the office a couple of weeks ago. Lab reports suggested getting more of them out so the doctor's office went ahead and made an appointment for me to see the plastic surgeon this Tuesday for a consultation. I don't know what that entails, but the PA assured me that I will be fine. He just warned me again that under no circumstances do I need to be in the sun in a bathing suit. He said I should always be fully covered AND slathered in sunscreen. Boo! Me no likey.

This news is completely a bummer for me! I am not excited about such. I absolutely love the sun. My happy place is sitting in my beach chair, feeling the sun rays warm my skin, listening to the ocean waves while reading a book or hanging out with a friend. The beach is a place where I can feel God's presence and see His majesty. I can experience peace, joy, happiness, renewal and relaxation on the beach. Too many cloudy, rainy days and I get down. However, give me a warm, gorgeous, sunny day like today, and it just puts me in the best mood. I know it is not the end of the world. I know I will survive, but I will have to say this is not the best news I have ever gotten. I am believing that God is teaching me something through this, and I just hope that I have the ears to hear it and the heart/mind to understand it.

All this being said, I believe that a healthy lifestyle is key to a healthy life. I have been doing research, and it does seem that there are things that you can do to help prevent getting melanoma, etc. I definitely want to do what I can to help prevent any issues that I can! Of course, there is the usual warning to use sunscreen and stay out of the sun, but much of what I have read has to do with food choices. There are lots of foods that can help your body fight off cancer cells, reverse them and prevent them from forming. So, I plan to start this journey of prevention now!

Many of the recommended foods are not an issue for me, and they fit hand in hand with a Paleo lifestyle or the 21 Day Sugar Detox. It is recommended that you eat green leafy vegetables as well as yellow and orange vegetables. Peppers, broccoli, cauliflower are recommended and so are artichokes and foods with selenium. The list goes on, but the one little item that I am not excited about is seafood. I have read that you should eat at least one serving of seafood per week. I pretty much avoid anything that grows in the water, but I am going to start experimenting to see if I can come up with some form of seafood that I like well enough to eat once a week. If you have any great seafood recipes that a non seafood lover may like please do share!

I'll keep you posted so that you know how my appointment goes Tuesday, and how I am doing on this journey to eating for health and fuel! In the meantime, I am going to try and talk myself into loving moonlight as much as sunlight! :-)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Walking Taste of Athens Tour! Athens, Georgia that is . . .

Hello friends! This weekend was such fun! My sister and I decided to take our mama on a mother/daughter trip instead of buying her a birthday gift for her last birthday. Her birthday is in September, but we just got around to the trip. It was worth the wait! We couldn't decide where to go. Our preference would be to go somewhere none of us have been before, however, that was tough to find within driving distance for a weekend. My manager let me pick a gift certificate for a two night stay somewhere from her stash that was leftover from our Christmas party. There were some good options so it was hard to decide. We settled on Athens, Georgia. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Athens Downtown. What a perfect location! It was walking distance to tons of shops and restaurants. My niece Lauren lives close by so my sister suggested inviting her as well. She joined us on Saturday and stayed for the weekend. We enjoyed visiting with her, and since she went to college in Athens, she was the perfect tour guide.

We packed a lot into the long weekend, but it felt like all we did was walk and eat :-). On Saturday morning we browsed in the local shops. Lauren joined us in time for lunch. We went to Last Resort Grill. I definitely recommend this jewel of a restaurant. It has fabulous desserts, and the lunch is great, too! Prices were also good at lunchtime. Four of us ate and one of us got dessert (I won't tell which one), and it was still only around $50 with tip. That afternoon we went to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The gardens are free they just have a recommended donation of $2/person so that was an inexpensive way to spend a little time. Since it was winter, there wasn't a ton to see, but it would be a great place for a spring wedding I am sure. That evening Lauren's dad and fiance met us for dinner at DePalma's Italian Cafe downtown. This was another great dining choice. Food was wonderful, and prices were reasonable!

Sunday morning we slept in, and then walked to the Mayflower Restaurant for a late breakfast. From there we drove to Helen, Georgia, for the day just to walk around downtown. We stayed in Helen for a few hours, and headed back to Athens in time for supper ;-)! There were so many good food options in Athens it was difficult to decide where to go. However, we knew that we all wanted dessert tonight so we were on the hunt for a light dinner. We finally decided on Pauley's Original Crepe Bar. Definitely a great choice for lighter/lunch-y type fare. They had desserts that looked great, but I didn't want a crepe for dessert and dinner. We then proceeded to walk all over downtown Athens in search of the PERFECT dessert(s). Tammy mentioned getting tiramisu each day, but she never did. I thought for sure tonight was tiramisu night for her. However, she passed up tiramisu for frozen yogurt from Yoforia. Lauren settled on Yoforia as well, but I couldn't decide. When I couldn't find the perfect dessert, and had almost given up, we happened upon New Orleans 'N Athens. Their dessert special for the evening was bananas foster beignets with icecream. Sign me up! I LOVE bananas foster so this had to be a winning combination. We actually ordered two orders to take to the hotel room. It came with 2 beignets per order so it was the perfect amount to split evenly among the four of us. We each had an icecream and bananas foster topped beignet. OH.MY.YUMMINESS! What a perfect end to our last evening in Athens.

Monday morning we decided to have an early lunch at Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia. It was a little out of the way for us, but we wanted to give it a try as we'd heard good things. It was definitely worth the drive! A friend recommended the lemon meringue pie. I was scared I would be too full for dessert so I ate dessert first! Lemon meringue is not usually my favorite dessert, but it did not disappoint! It lived up to her compliments. Blue Willow reminded me very much of the restaurant at the Tarrer Inn in Colquitt, Georgia. Both are equally delicious. After lunch everyone headed back home after what was a very nice weekend. I was excited to make a pit stop in Cordele, Georgia, to see an amazing family! I wasn't sure if I would get to see them or not, but it turned out that I got to see the entire family. This was the icing on the cake for my weekend.

What a wonderful, fun, food-filled weekend. However, I am now home, and it is time to get back on track. No more bananas foster beignets for me for quite a while!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Veggie Day = Clean out the Fridge Day!

Yay! Wednesday is veggie day! I get yummy organic fruits and veggies from Annie's Buying Club, and I love the variety of things that show up in my box each time. However, in order to make room for an entire box of fresh produce, I must first clean out the fridge! Wow, it's amazing what I find in there on veggie day :-)!

Wednesday was a SUPER long day, but I am proud of myself because I was really productive. I got to work around 8:00 AM, and I was busy from the time I got there until I left around 5:30. I got home and walked sweet puppy girl, and then I started on project clean fridge! I haven't gotten a box from Annie's in awhile which also means I haven't cleaned the fridge in awhile! I found some items that were still good, but needed to be used or frozen ASAP so that is what I did! I had a bag of onions that was still good, but I thought it would be nice to have some already chopped and in the freezer ready for use at a moments notice. I also had some green bell peppers that were heading south quickly if not put to good use soon! In addition, I had a pound of grass fed beef that needed to be cooked or frozen. I am sure there may have been some other items, but that is what I can think of off hand. So, I diced some of the bell peppers and onions as well as some celery. I lightly sauteed each in a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I then put them in individual baggies so I will have them in the freezer when needed. I then took some of the onions and bell peppers and cut them into to strips which would be good for fajitas. I sauteed those the same way along with a couple of fresh jalapenos and they are in the freezer ready for fajitas. In my Annie's box this week we got red bell peppers and shishito peppers so I am definitely feeling some fajitas on the menu very soon! I cooked the ground beef with onions and garlic, and put it in the fridge for a quick meal later in the week. There was some turkey broth I made in the fridge, so I put it in baggies in the freezer. I also de-boned a ham. We at leftover ham for supper and the bone is in the freezer for some yummy soup or something soon. I cleaned the kitchen when I was done, and I was ready for Brad to bring the goodies. It was so nice to know there was already room for them in the fridge when they arrived! 

Did I mention that for some strange reason I love veggie day? It is fun to open up that box and see what goodies are inside. Yes, I get a list, but I forget. And, sometimes, I don't know what that stuff is even though I have a list. This week's box came with three new to me items: celery root, sunchokes and parsnips. I was aware of celery root and parsnips, but I have never cooked with them. I had no idea what sunchokes even were! I had to google them! They look strange . . . a little like ginger root. You can do substitutions with Annie's, but I don't. I like to try new stuff. However, I rarely get around to actually trying the new stuff so it is usually a waste. I am proud to report that I did put a parsnip and some celery root in my slow cooker roast that I made Thursday. I told Brad ahead of time that they were not potatoes, however, I am not sure we would have been able to tell a difference if we didn't know that they were not potatoes. Yay! I have plans to make celery root/parsnip mashed "potatoes" sometime this week to see how that turns out. I hope it turns out better than my cauliflower mash! I have no idea what to do with the sunchokes, but I will figure something out and let you know.

In addition to all the things I had going on in the kitchen, I also did a little cleaning in other parts of the house while I had stuff cooking, etc. I started working on an embroidery project although I didn't get far. I am okay with that. At least I got something accomplished. 

Whew! Wednesday wore me out! I was ready for bed early. I was so tired, that I woke up Thursday thinking it was Saturday so I went back to sleep instead of getting ready for work at my usual time. Oops. . . I was only a little late ;-)! Thankfully I have a wonderful and understanding boss.

I guess I better get to work. I just realized that I needed to have something ready to cook in the slow cooker for lunch tomorrow. Thankfully, a friend sent me this awesome link earlier this week. I have all the ingredients for this Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll recipe so I am heading to the kitchen to get everything prepared. That way I just have to pull it out of the fridge and let the Crock-Pot work its magic while we are at church tomorrow. I hope it is yummy! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Still no "meal plan", but I have made some tasty meals!

Hello! I do apologize that I haven't done an actual meal plan. I have however, made some pretty tasty meals this week, and I wanted to share them.

Sunday night I made the chicken over warm kale asparagus salad from the Publix Apron's Simple Meals program. It was very good. I didn't add the sugar, but I pretty much followed the recipe spot on otherwise. Oh, I also was unsure as to what seasoning they were referring to, so I just used garlic and italian seasoning. It was really good!

Last night we wanted some yummy, hearty, warming soup. I have some ground beef so I thought about making chili. However, I had a lot more chicken so I decided on a version of this Chicken Chili from Paleo Prize. I didn't decide to make it ahead of time so I didn't use the slow cooker. Instead, I boiled some chicken. I used the broth from boiling the chicken as the base of my soup. I was scared Brad wouldn't be a fan of the coconut milk so I didn't add that, but I otherwise made it pretty much as suggested in the blog. I topped mine with avocado, lime juice and cilantro. I thought it was perfect. Brad thought it was bland. Maybe the slow cooker is the way to go with this soup. It may give the foods a better chance to meld together.

Tonight's meal was probably the winner of the week so far! YUM! YUM! I made this pan-seared chicken with balsamic cream recipe from Peace, Love and Low Carb. You should make it ASAP! Wow, it was delicious. It was rich and flavorful. Brad really enjoyed it, too. He told me it was good before he even sat down with his plate to actually begin eating. I served it over rice and with a side of sauteed zucchini and onions. We had a tad bit of rice and sauce from the chicken left, but that was it! I am already excited about chowing down on those leftovers at lunch tomorrow. This will make it into the dinner rotation I am pretty sure!

Tomorrow night the plan is to have leftovers or either unstuffed cabbage rolls. I haven't decided that one yet. Thursday I plan to do a roast with carrots in the Crock Pot. Brad and I are often late getting home on Thursday nights due to praise band practice so it is the perfect night for a slow cooker meal.

All of these meals are level one of the 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly or they can be easily converted to be detox friendly. I hope this helps to give you some ideas for your own meal planning! What have you cooked lately? Feel free to share you recipes! If you try any of these recipes let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hello! I hope your 2014 is getting off to a great start. I am on the right track, but maybe not as successful as I have wanted to be thus far. I had a difficult time deciding exactly what I wanted to do this year to help make positive changes in my life. There were some general ideas I wanted to work on, but I have had a difficult time getting the specifics together. Typically I tend to have too many goals at the start of the year, and like the rest of the world I don't typically keep them up for very long at all.

This year is no exception, I have a lot of areas in my life that I want to work on. However, I have attempted to make my goals a little more flexible than normal. I hope this helps me stay on track. So far, I have been faithful in reading my Bible daily, and I have spent time working on sewing / embroidery projects. I haven't spent an entire 30 minutes on a project, however my crafting nook needed some cleaning/organization before I could get too involved in a project. I did complete an embroidery project last night that I have been working on since before Christmas. It should have been a simple project, but it was not. This thing did NOT want to cooperate, as I had to try on two different towels and went through three needles, but it is finally done! Yippee!

The most difficult decision I have tried to make is what exactly I wanted to do to get back on track with my eating. Brad can't seem to decide if he wants to get on board with a Paleo lifestyle, and so I just couldn't decide what to do. Part of me wanted to start a Whole 30 on January 1. However, I also had some black eyed peas I really wanted to eat on New Year's Day, which are not Paleo friendly. We also had a bit of leftovers from various meals that I didn't want to go to waste. After doing some research, I decided to give the 21 Day Sugar Detox a try. Balanced Bites does a group 21 Day Sugar Detox on the first Monday of the month. I decided this was a good option. We could eat through the "unclean" leftovers that we had on hand from the holidays and not have to worry about wasting food, etc. For those of you unfamiliar with the 21 Day Sugar Detox there are three levels. The third level is more Paleo oriented and is the strictest level. I originally decided to go with that option, however, since Brad is still on the fence I think I am going to go with level 1. It is the least strict of the three plans and so maybe it will be a better choice for us as a family. I am still not sure that Brad is going to follow this detox with me, but I will be buying and preparing foods that are detox friendly. He will not have as many "unclean" options in the house so he will probably eat healthier simply because that is what we have around.

I have been to the grocery store, and I have purchased enough food that we should be set for most of the week. I haven't made an actual meal plan yet, but I do have some meals in mind such as a slow cooker pot roast with carrots, chicken over warm kale and asparagus salad (this is a Publix Aprons meal that I am going to modify to fit the detox), and pan seared chicken with with cream sauce from the Peace + Love & Low Carb blog (which may also need some modifications to be detox compliant).

I will continue to flesh out my meal plan, and I will share it when I have it ready. Let me know if you have any EASY, healthy go to lunch and dinner options. They do not have to be detox compliant, as I don't mind tweaking them if needed.

Embroidered dish towel that DID not want to cooperate ;-)! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

How NOT to cook a turkey!

Oh my! Since Christmas was in the middle of the week this year, and I only get one day off for the holiday, Brad and I decided not to go home for Christmas until the weekend after Christmas this year. We didn't decide this until the day or two before Christmas Eve. I scrambled to the store, and I bought a turkey as soon as we decided this so that I could cook a traditional Christmas dinner. According to the turkey packaging, this should have been enough time to thaw the small turkey that I purchased for Christmas lunch. However, when Christmas Eve rolled around, I still had a pretty frozen turkey. I was scared that we were going to have to have day after Christmas turkey, but it thawed out just in the nick of time! Christmas morning I got up to prepare the turkey. I found the turkey neck . . . no problem! I had already located the gravy packet as I accidentally cut it open when trying to remove the wrapper from the turkey. I searched and searched and searched the inside of that turkey to find the giblets . . .no luck! After rinsing, and seasoning, and buttering the bird I still found no sign of the giblet packet. I even called my mom to see if it was possible to get a turkey sans giblets. She said yes, they could have left the packet out, or it could have been in the gravy packet. I went with that thought, and proceeded to put the turkey in the oven. Turkey was done at just the right time, and Christmas lunch went smoothly. We enjoyed the turkey, and we had some leftovers for later.

On my way home from work today, I decided that turkey noodle soup would be the perfect easy meal for this chilly evening. We had just enough turkey left, and I had the broth that I saved when I pulled the turkey out of the oven. I got home, pulled the turkey out of the fridge, and I uncovered it. I went to pull the first chunk of meat off the bird to add to my simmering broth and SURPRISE! I found the giblet packet! It was not in the turkey, but instead, it was opposite the open side of the open turkey cavity. It was lodged in an indention in the back of the bird. I have no idea how I didn't see this earlier! It was completely in tact! Oh my goodness! Well, my general manager cooked the giblet packet in her Thanksgiving turkey so I immediately sent her a text, and we had quite a laugh! Oh geez! I served a turkey at Christmas with a giblet packet stuck in its butt! How embarrassing! We did have a family from church over, and I really hope no one noticed.

Once I got it together and quit laughing enough, I continued making my turkey noodle soup. I figured if the turkey hadn't killed us yet, it wasn't going to. The soup was quite easy and very good, so I will share the recipe with you. However, just make sure you remove the giblet packet next time you cook a turkey! If you can't find it inside the turkey . . . keep looking until you do find it!

Turkey Noodle Soup

Sautee veggies of your choice in a little butter or olive oil. I used 2 rainbow carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1/4 onion and 1/2 zucchini finely diced because that is what I had on hand. Add in diced turkey meat to your liking . . . some people like it meatier than others. Then add 1 package of egg noodles. Cover with turkey broth/drippings if you have it. I used about 1/3 turkey broth, 1/3 water, and 1/3 chicken broth until noodles were covered well. If you don't have homemade turkey broth you can use whatever you have such as chicken broth and/or water. After adding my broth, I added a handful of chopped parsley leaves. I did not have to season my soup at all as the broth was very flavorful. However, if you use water or bought broth you may have to season the soup to taste. I brought the soup to a rolling boil. Once boiling, I lowered the temperature and simmered for about 15 minutes. Ummm, Ummm, GOOD! Enjoy!