Tuesday, April 7, 2020

How I Cut Processed Sugar Out of My Diet



sugar-free truffles

I've always been a label reader.
With a history of vegetarianism and whole foods,
I've continued to tweak my diet as I've gotten older.
It seems that your dietary needs change as you age,
(what doesn't?),
and so a bit of honing every once in a while can be advantageous.

Through everyday observation,
it occurred to me that most folks don't read labels,
and just trust that whatever they are eating is healthy enough,
with the exception of desserts.
I think my sweet momma helped me along
by always feeding us scratch-cooked meals
(Lord, that woman could cook!),
and very infrequent desserts.

Unfortunately, unless you are vigilant about those labels,
you will find processed sugar in everything from bread to soup to salad dressings.
With a long-standing bent on nutrition,
label reading is second nature to me.
With the discovery of our son C's multiple food sensitivities,
it's just a downright necessity.
I have taught him to look for as few ingredients as possible
when choosing snack or prepared foods.
He is also becoming better at spotting the ingredients
that are out-and-out no-nos for him.
 
banana walnut muffins

The thing is, we have total control over what we buy.
When our money is spent on products that agree with our beliefs,
eventually, the companies will get a clue and create better quality.
There have been occasions when I have written to food corporations,
to let them know how pleased I was with something.
We are especially grateful to those companies
that provide allergy-friendly options with clean ingredients.
I've always gotten a reply stating how appreciative they are
to hear positive feedback from a customer.


raw brownies
This drastic change in my processed sugar intake
was prompted by an elimination diet
that my naturopath suggested.
The goal for me was to determine what was causing
all of these strange, new-to-me symptoms
and figure out a path toward better health.
For six weeks, there was a long list of taboo foods,
some of which made up my favorites (like coffee).
I stuck it out and got some answers,
and then slowly reintroduced each offensive food.
I feel like I'm in a good place right now with my diet,
and know a lot more than when I began.

sugar-free peanut butter cookies

 I never really started out thinking I would cut sugar
completely out of my diet.
I mean, that seems so drastic!
I didn't see myself as one of those people!
But the longer I followed this regime,
the easier it got.
With the access to the internet,
it's been such an easy process.
There are so many brilliant resources
from folks who made the journey ahead of me
and were generous enough to share their discoveries.
One of my favorite websites/You Tube channels is
Dana has a boatload of sugar-free recipes,
(or ones that can be adapted),
that are tantalizing and healthy.
Another great resource is Downshiftology
Lisa has a good variety of menu items,
with a proclivity toward gluten-free and sugar-free.
And Lori, over at My Quiet Kitchen,
has a dynamite collection of yumminess to try.  

My new love, Lily's bars!

For the most part, I use dates, honey or maple syrup
for sweetening the things I make myself.
Often the amount of sweetener is reduced because
I just don't need as much.
My sweet tooth is fully intact, thank you very much,
but I feel much better about the ingredients I'm using.
These Lily's bars, for instance, are quite pricey,
but I am getting what I pay for.

chia pudding


You don't need to wait until you're having symptoms
or do a challenging elimination diet to change your eating.
All that's required is the desire to improve your diet, 
your health, your life for the better.
It does take a bit more planning, research and work.

But aren't you worth it?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Garden Friday



Welcome back to Garden Friday,
where things are starting to get into gear.
It's been a busy week, 
which is just the way I like things.
Being home lends itself to getting tasks crossed off
our to-do list.


With a bit of disappointment,
we had to put our irrigation project on hold.
We were about halfway through it
when we discovered that the tubing that we purchased
was leaking like a sieve.
It seems that the connectors (elbows, t pieces) aren't
compatible with the particular type of poly we have.
We ordered some new components, which should arrive today.
Hopefully, this weekend we will be successful
in setting up the system with no complications.
Fingers crossed!


The first batch of Yukon Gold potatoes got dug up
by something, most likely chipmunks or squirrels.


So a new batch was dried and planted in the same bed.
This time, I covered the bed with welded wire panels.
Whatever I need to do to deter those varmints!


Since I didn't have as many seed potatoes for the second planting,
I added a mess of onions to one side of the 3X8 bed.
Can't wait to see how they do!


The larger of these tubs was used for planting our strawberries.
The smaller one will most likely be filled with flower seeds.
It's been dry for a while, with no rain expected until Tuesday,
so supplemental watering has been needed.


A friend and I rescued two beautiful black snakes.
They were in her well house,
and had gotten entangled in some netting that was kept there.
As these are the best mouse catchers, we wanted to help them if we could.
As I held the critters, (a male and a female), she painstakingly
cut each part of the netting off of the two poor souls.
We set them free in the wooded area just behind me.
Hoping they are well enough to return and do some rodent patrol!


If all goes well with the irrigation project,
I'm hoping to be a plantin' fool this weekend.
It's the perfect time to sow chard, kale, lettuce, peas, spinach,
and so much more.
Flower seeds need to be purchased, as I don't have as many
nasturtium and marigold seeds that I like to place 
in the raised beds.
They encourage pollinators while discouraging pests.
They add even more beauty to the garden to boot!

Hope your spring garden is coming right along!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chia Seed Pudding



I've been watching a few You Tube cooking channels
to get new ideas for expanding my diet.
I eat mostly gluten-free and vegetarian,
but nothing could keep me from enjoying a beautiful loaf
of homemade bread.
I've also recently given up processed sugar,
instead subbing coconut sugar (which is not processed),
and incorporating dates or honey as a sweetener in baked goods.
My once a month ice cream date with sister
is the only processed sugar in my diet.
 
This recipe hails from the vlog Downshiftology
and you can watch Lisa prep her chia seed puddings here.
This simple dish comes together in literally minutes.


All that's needed is your milk of choice 
(I used unsweetened almond)
and chia seeds.
Two ingredients?
What could be easier!


For each serving of pudding,
add 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
to 1/2 cup of your choice of milk.


Stir the chia seeds in the milk and then let it sit for 15 minutes.
Once they start to thicken, stir again.
Your sweetener of choice can then be added.
I used maple syrup, but honey or coconut sugar would work well.
(This batch was also dusted with cocoa powder.)
It's amazing to see how quickly the pudding thickens
into a tasty, textured treat.


Choose your topping,
whether you prefer fruit, ginger, nuts, seeds, or spices.
Making individual servings is a great way 
for everyone to customize their dessert.
This pudding can even be kept in the freezer,
so several can be made ahead and savored later.

I'm so grateful to these YouTubers who share
delightful, health-supporting dishes
using simple ingredients and 
 zero 
               junk.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Home Work


 

We are a family of homebodies,
so the statewide order to stay home
doesn't change our routine much.
While I am still working,
Big K is home full-time for a while
and C couldn't be happier about that.

Not everyone feels the same way about being home.
Some folks feel the need to be out and about,
and this stretch of time will be a challenge.
There are so many things we can do to pass the time,
and I thought I would share some posts on the subject.
Feel free to browse through them
and click on anything that might hold your interest.


1.   Growing sprouts and microgreens-
With just a jar, a few seeds and some water,
you can start growing salad or sandwich fixins'.

 2.  Growing food in containers-
Pretty much anything counts here,
produce bins, 5-gallon buckets, coffee cans.
They can all be used to grow crops that feed your family.

3.  Making homemade bread-
With a few basic ingredients that are most likely
already in the cupboard,
a savory loaf of bread can fill the house 
with the most intoxicating aroma.


4.  Making laundry soap and foaming soap-
These two staples are so easy to put together,
using things that are probably already in your home.

 5.  Hanging laundry-
The simple pleasure of allowing the sun and the wind
to dry your clothes is like a gift from Mother Nature.

 

6.  Become a bird watcher-
Most folks have access to bird guides online,
so try keeping a record of all the birds that visit your area.
 

7.  Relish nature's bounty-
Springtime is so full of life and awakenings,
there's no end to the things that can be discovered
just by combing your own property or neighborhood.

 

8.  Find a new favorite family activity-
whether you like to play board games, cards
or bake together, having ample free time is such a blessing. 

Here are a few other homesteading posts
I thought you might enjoy.

Why You Should Homestead Now 
Eight Ways to Homestead-No Matter Where You Live 
Being a Homesteader

Friday, March 27, 2020

Garden Friday



Welcome to Garden Friday!
We hope you and your family are well
and making the most of this transitional time.
Being home more lends itself well to 
completing some garden tasks, taking on new projects
and spending quality time with family.


Although I had a mess of lovely pictures to share with you,
I had technical difficulties,
so these few will have to do.

A check on the blueberries and raspberries found
that there is life after winter!
It was so encouraging to find leaves on both.

We also got our asparagus plants in this week,
and I look forward to all there is to learn
 about growing this new-to-me crop.
The area that was chosen does not have ideal drainage,
but we'll see how it does this year.
I'm already planning ahead to create a designated bed
just for this perennial, in case it doesn't do well this year.

An idea is brewing in my head
to create a strawberry bed
with the new plants we got from Extension.

Lots to do!



Big K helped me on the installation of the drip system.
We're about halfway done,
and I will post more about the process at a later date.
This is my big garden project for this year.
It will make tending crops so much easier
for years to come.


Some wire screens are being constructed
to protect my seedlings from squirrels, chipmunks
and whatever other greedy lil' buggers that try to visit the beds.

So many projects, so much time!
With Big K not working outside the home,
(the part-timers were temporarily suspended),
I have an extra pair of hands to help me.
And that brain of his is a marvel!
He always comes up with great solutions
that I would never have thought of!

It takes a village, people,
but we'll get there!