Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And To All A Good Night

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

My initial goal when starting this blog was to take you on my journey to establishing a bed and breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi…but this dream has taken a sudden backseat as we now find ourselves raising our grandson…becoming a “new mother” at the age of fifty.

So this has been a journey, or “Now What,” series of posts on taking the “sleeping aspect” of my daily life and learning how to make it better…Lord knows that I need to this, being the 49 year old mother for a four year old.

 

Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. How well you sleep each night can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Lack of sleep can…

  • Affect performance on the job or at school
  • Cause countless headaches
  • Cause increased irritability of the person who has had trouble sleeping
  • Cause the immune system to function poorly
  • Cause us to become more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient during the day
  • Damage relationships
  • Decrease the quality of work performance
  • Diminish quality of life
  • Give you a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically.
  • Hinder our ability to stay focused for long periods of time
  • Make certain activities, especially driving, dangerous for both ourselves and people around us
  • Make getting started on even the easiest work or school assignments even harder than normal
  • Make you gain weight
  • Make you have less energy to tackle the day ahead
  • Sabotage our health
  • Sap our energy levels
  • Slow the ability of the nervous system to process information and translate visual cues into conscious thought.

I have personally found that having such a “nightly routine” of soothing transitional activity between my being awake and actually falling asleep helps your sleep quality and overall wellness….just like it probably did when my kids were little, and does for my “resident four year old.”

The following is a summary of the tips that I have learned lately to help create a relaxing ritual that I can do each and every night that will help me fall asleep faster and more consistently…healthy bedtime habits—such as meditation, soothing music, essential oils—that will help program your mind to get ready for bed.

Breathing Techniques

  • Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 Technique
  • Kapalbhati Breathing
  • Nadi Shodhana
  • Pranayamic Breathing Techniques
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Essential Oils for helping to cure insomnia..

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang ylang

Music

Supplements

  • 5-HTP
  • Flower essences
  • GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid)
  • Holy basil
  • L-theanine
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian Root
  • Vitamin Supplement

 

Snacks

 

  • Almonds and Almond Butter
  • Bananas
  • Cereal and Milk
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese
  • Cherries and Cherry Juice
  • Edamame
  • Granola
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Whole-Grain Crackers

Tea

  • Banana
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oat Straw
  • Passion Flower
  • Peppermint
  • St John’s Wort
  •  Valerian

Apps

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

Everyone seems to be studying and talking about the “Kon Mari” method of organizijng your home…and “Tidying U” has become one of the most watched things on Netflix…

But why does this matter for those who are not obsessive-comulsive…

Actually there are several reasons to take the time, thought, and effort to organize your house, mainly the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at how arranging things and keeping them into order can be beneficial, mainly in the kitchen.

Ability to Actually Get Stuff Done…Taking the time and effort to organize your kitchen will help you complete whatever needs to be done while you are in your kitchen more effectively and efficiently.

Knowing where things are will save you from having to rummage through your drawers to a certain utensil or gazing blankly in your cabinets for that one ingredient lost in the sea of glass jars and bottles.

You will be able to get dinner on the table in so much less time, and this might even make cooking dinner less of a chore and more of something that you actually look forward to. 

Finances…The other day when I was making out my grocery list, I found twelve canisters of breadcrumbs and five bottles on Blue Cheese Salad Dressing. Sad but true..,

By taking the time to organize my kitchen, I should be able to money by knowing what ingredients I already have on hand and not buying duplicates of the same thing,

Home Design/Decorating…How many times have you thought as you cook how much bigger you wish your kitchen were, when all the time your current kitchen would be just the right size if it were only decluttered and well arranged. Taking the time to declutter and rearrange will give you more space as you cook.

The kitchen is the “hub of the home” and the one room that is used most often by friends and family…Organizing this “hub” will be a great first move to creating a more attractive and inviting home altogether.

Also if you take the time to clean and organize your kitchen, other family members will know where things should go and be able to put them where they belong.

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Salad Dressing…Oh What a Blessing…

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Finally now that you’ve gotten the best salad greens and the best vegetables into your bowl, what do you have?

Just a bowl of salad greens and vegetables, right?

What makes a salad actually a salad is salad dressing.

And what makes countless other foods—such as wings, pizza, breadsticks, chicken nuggets, French fries, sandwiches, subs, and burgers.

There are countless salad dressings available, but most salad dressing fall into one of two categories—mayonnaise based salad dressing or vinaigrettes.

“Creamy” salad dressings usually use mayonnaise or some other “creamy” ingredie1nt—such as yogurt, crème fraiche or sour cream—as  the main ingredient.

The most common creamy dressing, obviously to most of us, is Ranch.

 

 

Vinaigrettes. on the other hand, are a mixture of oil, vinegar, and  other ingredients—such as hazelnut, fruit juice, mustard, spices, herbs, lemon juice, basil, parsley, and oregano.

The most common vinaigrettes include…

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dijon Vinaigrette
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Strawberry Poppyseed

But don’t limit yourself to these traditional dressings. Feel free to try other things also—such as traditional dips, guacamole, hummus, and salsas.

 

Things to Remember…

If you are making your own salad dressing, use the highest-quality ingredients that you can find.

Salad dressing can make your healthy salad just as fattening, if not even more fattening, than a Big Mac. Remember this when you are choosing your salad dressing as well as using your dressing on a salad. 

Serve the salad immediately after using the dressing. Otherwise your salad will wilt.

 

Toss your salad gently but thoroughly, making sure that you do not totally crush or ruin your leafy greens and other ingredients.,

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Here’s to a Super Bowl

Now that we’ve learned that there are way more salad greens to choose from than the ordinary iceberg lettuce, let’s talk about the good stuff that actually makes salad good.

One major difference that makes a salad that you actually enjoy eating better than the salad that you dread seating is using just as many vegetables as your do leafy greens.

Raw veggies and other add-ins will give your salad texture as well as more surface area for dressings and toppings.

Here are some of the most common choices as far as salad add-ins…

Note…I was going to be more detailed when I first started this, but decided that since one of my goals is to finish working my way through the Raw Foods yamid, thought that this would be rather redundant, and for making salads, this would be more useful instead…

Vegetables…

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Baby Carrots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Black Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Corn kernels
  • Cucumbers
  • Green bell pepper…
  • Green olive…
  • Heirloom Tomato…
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  •  Pickled beets
  • Portabello mushroom
  • Radishes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Fruits

  • Apple
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Strawberries

Legumes

  • Chickpeas.
  • Kidney beans

Carbs

  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
    peanuts

    pumpkin seeds,
    Sesame seeds,
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • xsummer squash, hot peppers, possibilities are endless!

  • minced garlic,
    garlic powder,
    cayenne pepper,
  • oregano,
  • cumin,
  • paprika,
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper 
  • black beans,
  • lentils,
  • pinto beans
  • Herbs
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano

Meats

  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Ham
  • Steak
  • Turkey
  • ————————————————-
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

You Mean There Actually Are Other Leafy Greens Besides Iceberg?

  • So we’ve decided to raise the bar on our salad bar…
  • And learned that as far as nutrition goes, iceberg lettuce is at the bottom of the totem pole…
  • But what leafy green is out there lurking at the local grocery store or farmer’s market?
  • Below is a list of several varieties that you could use instead…

Arugula

  • Also called…rocket, Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, rugola, rugula, roquette, rucola
  • Leaves…small, flat, frilly-edged leaves
  • Most Common Uses…salads, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, and Italian dishes like pesto
  • Nutrition…especially high in vitamin K
  • Originated…the Mediterranean
  • Taste…distinct peppery taste and aroma

Butterhead Lettuce

  • Also called…butter lettuce, Boston, bibb (limestone)
  • Leaves…soft and smooth like buttee

Cos Lettuce

  • Leaves…dark green, long, narrow
  • Taste…..sweet and tangy
  • Texture…crispy and crunchy texture

Cress

  • Leaves…tough, fibrous stem and small green leaves
  • Taste…peppery taste
  • Varieties…watercress, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress

Endive

  • Color…off-white center with loose, lacy, dark green outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Leaves..loose, lacy, dark green outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Uses…salads and soups

Dandelion Greens

  • Leaves…the green leaves from the so-thought-of “weeds” in your yard…stiff leaves with pointy, fine “teeth.”
  • Taste…sharp bitter flavor
  • Uses…a classic French bistro salad, salads with roasted beets

Endive

  • Leaves…unique oval shape
  • Texture…soft and satiny
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Uses…scooplike shape makes for serving small appetizers

Escarole

  • Color…various shades of green
  • Head…loose, elongated heads
  • Leaves…broad, wavy leaves with smooth edges
  • Other Names…Batavian endive, scarole, broad-leaved endive
  • Taste…darker green leaves are lightly bitter and spicy; but the paler interior leaves are milder
  • Uses…soups and beans…popular in Italian cuisine.

Frisee

  • Color…pale green
  • Leaves…feathery leaves tinged with yellow and green
  • Other Names…curly endive, chicory, chicory endive, curly chicory
  • Taste…bitter

Iceberg

  • Leaves…tightly packed leaves on dense, heavy heads
  • Water Content…contains more water than most other leafy greens

Kale

  • Nutritional Value…high in fiber
  • Taste…earthy, slightly grassy taste
  • Uses…salads, soups, pasta, and smoothies
  • Varieties…include curly, baby, and lacinato

Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dino Kale)

  • Other Names…Tuscan kale or black kale
  • Leaves…very dark blue-green or black-green leaves
  • Taste…earthy and  nutty flavor

Leaf Lettuce 

  • Color…can be either green or red
  • Leaves…large, frilly-edged
  • Taste…mildly sweet and delicate taste
  • Uses…sandwiches, burgers, popular lining for hors d’oeuvres platters

Mâche

  • Other Names…Field salad, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, fetticus
  • Taste…mild and slightly sweet flavor
  • Leaves…very small
  • Notes…expensive, very delicate, will bruise easily

Mizuna

  • Leaves…petite elongated leaves with spiky edges similar to miniature oak leaves
  • Origin…Japan
  • Other Names…Japanese greens, spider mustard, xue cai, kyona, potherb mustard, and California Peppergrass
  • Taste…peppery

Oak Leaf Lettuce

  • Color…reddish-purple
  • Leaves…very similar to leaf lettuce, but with more of an oak leaf shape
  • Taste…super-mellow, sweet

Radicchio

  • Color…burgundy-red leaves with white ribs
  • Other Names…Chioggia, red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory
  • Taste…mildly bitter with a subtle spicy undertone
  • Texture…quite firm but still tender
  • Uses…in salads, as a cooked vegetable, and grilled or roasted and mixed with other grilled vegetables

Romaine

  • Nutritional Value…particularly rich in folic acid and vitamin K
  • Taste..light, almost grassy taste
  • Texture…a satisfying crunch
  • Uses..Caesar salads, wraps

Spinach

  • Color…dark green leaves
  • Leaves…smooth, sturdy, deep green
  • Taste…mild, lightly herbal
  • Uses…salads, wraps, and smoothies

Sweet Potato Greens

  • Taste…lovely, almost sweet flavor with no discernible bitterness
  • Uses…soups or stews

Tatsoi

  • Leaves…small and rounded much like little spoons, hence its other name, spoon cabbage
  • Other Names…Tat soi, spoon cabbage, rosette bok choy
  • Taste…mildly peppery and sweet, with only the faintest hint of cabbage flavor.
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Raising the Bar at the Salad Bar

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit because you’re on a diet or a diabetic or health nut…you will very quickly get sick and tired of the average bagged salad that sits in your fridge drawer quickly forgotten until it starts smelling bad or you stumble on it when looking for something else behind the mayo and mustard.

If you’re gonna eat lettuce and carrots like a rabbit, you must learn to raise the bar on your home salad bar…otherwise eating salad will become just another health food to log into your food diary.

But before we talk about all of the different leafy greens that are available, let’s learn a few basic rules that you should remember…

Nutrition…As far as nutrition goes, all leafy greens are good for you—being great sources of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and calcium…but not all leafy greens are as healthy as the rest of the family.

As a general rule, the darker the green, the healthier the green.

Kale and spinach are always better choices than iceberg lettuce or endive.

Lettuce is about 95 percent water…and gives you half as much of the recommended daily value of vitamin K and vitamin A.

Selecting Leafy Greens...Make sure that the leafy greens are buying to make your salad are fresh and crisp… not wilted, limp, and withered.

Avoid any leafy greens that have brown or yellow edges, or dark or slimy spots.

If you are buying bagged greens, always check the use-by-date.

Storing Leafy Greens..Always rinse your leafy greens before using because the folds in leafy green vegetables easily accumulate dirt.

The best way to store your leafy greens is to wash and dry them, layer the leaves in wet paper towels or a kitchen towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate in the crisper drawer.

Never store greens near fruits, such as apples or bananas, Fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and will cause the greens to develop brown spots and decay rapidly.

Drying Greens…Always make sure that the greens are bone-dry before using them in your salad. Otherwise the dressing will not cling to the leaves and you’re more likely to have a soggy salad.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Let Us Talk About Lettuce

  • Whether you are a diabetic or on a diet or a vegetarian or raw foods advocate, it might seem like you are eating salad night after night after night…not to mention for lunch also.

  • But the same old salad made the same old lettuce can get extremely boring…extremely…
  • So why not add some variety to your mandatory salad by adding more leafy greens to your instacart order?
  • There is a wide range of leafy green vegetables to choose from other than lettuce…
  • But these can seem to overwhelming, and you’ve only been eating lettuce for how long…
  • So let’s now take a look at the various leafy greens vegetables that are available—starting with the basics of selecting, storing, and using them in salads. ..as well as the nutritional value of different varieties…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sing A Ballad to the Salad

So now that we all know how to make the perfect soup…

Now what?

 

 

Well, since my goal is to work my way through the Raw Foods pyramid in an effort to learn how to cook more healthy for the sake of my newly-diagnosed diabetic husband,

and the base of the Raw Foods yramid is leafy greens…

 

It only goes to reason that eventually we’d talk about salad, right?

 

…but salad can get so very boring…especially when you are constantly eating  bagged salad night after night after night.

 

So let’s see what’s required to make a salad actually worth eating, and then sing ordinary baggad salad a farewell ballad.

In the next few posts, we’ll be taking a look at…

  • Leafy green
  • Vegetables
  • Add-ins
  • Dressing your salads
  •  

So let’s get ready to all raise the bar on our at-home salad bar, ready?

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Finish the Dish

But what?

But what if you go to all this trouble and simply find your soup one great big inedible or at least tasteless mess…

Then what?

There are still some things that will help rescue your failed soup and to also make your soup one that you would even be happier to feed your family.

Such as what?

1.If you like crumbly cheese, add some crumbly cheese such as…

  • feta
  • goat cheese
  • ricotta salata

2If you like grated cheese, add grated cheeses such as…

  • Asiago
  • Parmesan
  • pecorino

3. If you want to add some creaminess, add… 

  • crème fraiche
  • sour cream
  • yogurt

4. If you want to add some crunch, add…

  • croutons
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • toasted sesame seeds

5. If you would like to give you soup more of a kick, add one of the following, depending on which tye of sou you are making…

  • apple cider vinegar
  • beer
  • white wine

6. If you want a brighter flavor, add a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of vinegar.

7. If you want a savory flavor, add one of the following…

  • anchovy paste
  • fish sauce
  • miso
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire

8. If your soup is too salty, add one of the following and then boil for about twenty minutes more…

  • raw otato
  • finely shredded cabbage
  • cooked beans
  • rice
  • pasta

9. If your soup is too watery or simly boring, add… 

  • canned or frozen mixed vegetables
  • cooked kidney or white beans
  • corn
  • drained canned tomatoes
  • finely shredded cabbage

10. If you want to add even more flavor, add some fresh herbs, such as…

  • basil
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • parsley

11. If the bottom of the dish has scorched…Leaving the heat on too high or not keeping an eye on the sou as it cooking often means that your sou will burn at the bottom. If this haens, salvage whatever liquid you can from the to without scraing the bottom cra into the sou, but do not scrape the burned meat and veggies into the rest of the remaining good sou, or you’ve just wasted your time and your ingredients for nothing.

12. If you would like to reduce the fat content in your soup, make the soup a day or two before and refrigerate. When you get ready to serve it, simply scrape off the fat that will rise to the top and reheat.

13. If you want your soup to taste even better, cooking and refrigerating like this makes them also taste better.

And if your soup is too hot, take a walk around the block…

Who knows…you might even find Goldilocks at your house when you get back?…Just hope that you don’t see a bear…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mastering Ministrone

So now that we’ve bought the perfect pot, found the perfect recie, bought the best veggies, sliced and diced, and so forth…

Now what?

1.Constantly keep an eye on your soup while it is cooking. This will allow you to  adjust the spices and cooking temperature as needed.

2. Cook on low heat. Don’t think that cooking your soup at a higher temperature will ensure that everything will actually get cooked instead of being raw or hard when you are ready to serve the soup.

Doing this will instead turn your meat into tough, hard-to-chew pieces…not to mention possibly ruining the bottom of that expensive soup pot that we all went out and bought after reading a previous article, right?

Instead bring your soup slowly to a boil and then allow the soup to simmer for the rest of the cooking time.

This will allow the ingredients to maintain their structure and integrity, while at the same time combining all of the ingredients into a flavorful soup.

3. Cover or not?…Depending on the finished product that you want,  leaving the soup uncovered or covering the soup with the lid is a matter of personal  reference. Leaving the lid off will make the soup base evaporate faster, creating a thicker and more flavorful soup.

4, Dig in Deep…There are many soup recipes out there that  require taking some of the soup as it is cooking and blending it and then adding it back into the soup in order to thicken the soup. Using an immersion blender will reduce the risk of your getting burned and make this job easier and neater.

Here is a list from Good Housekeeping of some of the most highly recommended immersion blenders available…

5. Use your brain when using grains…Pasta and grains that are called for as ingredients will often overcook. Avoid this by cooking them separately and then adding them into the soup just before serving.