Friday, January 29, 2010

My amazing Turkey Soup adventure!!! :)

I enjoyed and was challenged by Hippie's post this week. I don't have any hard and fast "food rules" in my house... yet. I think one really strong place to start is 1 Corinthians 10:31:

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Wow. Think with me for a moment. Let's say that the average American lives to be 78. And from the time we're 3, let's just say we eat roughly 3 meals a day (though we all know it is usually much more than that!). By my very rough calculations (and not counting our baby sustenance): 76 years * 365 days per year * 3 meals per day = roughly 85,410 opportunities to glorify God through eating. As His child, what great joy do I have than to seize each and every opportunity to bring Him glory!

But I digress. Sort of. The point is this: I pray that this will be a year when I really start praying, focusing, and bringing God glory through the countless meals I prepare and consume. What about you?

Sorry for the long post today, but I had a triumph in the kitchen today which I just had to share. A homemade turkey soup, very low in oxalates, and perfect for a snowy/sleety day here in Memphis. And a triumph for me mainly because I didn't use a recipe! So it's all my own. It makes me smile.

Smiling with my pot of soup, the snowy scene behind me!

Here is a rough idea of my what I did and why. Skip it if you want-- At the bottom I will post a more concise recipe.

I cooked 1.5 cups of white rice in a large pot using chicken broth and water, according to package directions. White rice is not optimal, so if you do not have to consider oxalates, use brown! In the future I will most likely opt for barley which is one of the only whole grains that is also low in oxalates.

Meanwhile I chopped whichever aromatic veggies I wanted to use/happened to have. I used parsnips, onions, and carrots. The onion I basically diced, the carrots were baby carrots I just cut in half lengthwise, and the parsnips I cut in in little rings. If you don't already know, Parsnips look like fat white carrots. I chose them for a few reasons: 1) I had them leftover from another recipe. 2) They resemble carrots in shape and texture but add a different flavor. 3) As celery is not permitted on a low-oxalate diet, parsnips added a nice different flavor that is lacking without the celery.

While the rice was still cooking, I melted some butter with olive oil in a pan and started the veggies just to soften them a bit and give them flavor. I added about 2 cloves of minced garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. When the rice was almost done cooking, I added the veggies and filled the pot with more chicken broth. I had to use store-bough broth this time but definitely intend to use homemade as much as possible in the future.

For seasoning I added: rosemary, 1 bay leaf, some pepper, and I think that was it! No salt was really necessary as the broth and other stuff was already salted.

Finally, I added the package of turkey that I had frozen from the Thanksgiving leftovers. It was still pretty frozen in a block, but I just turned up the soup and let it defrost in the broth. I let it simmer while we played outside in the snow (!!!) and it was ready when we came in from the cold!

AHHH! What joy this little child brings us! And Daddy was home for a snow day, per his boss's suggestion. We enjoyed the snow.

Okay, back to the recipe. Things I love about this recipe:
1. I made it up.
2. I didn't have to buy anything extra: this was literally all leftover stuff or pantry staples.
3. It was delicious and perfect for snowy weather.
4. It was perfectly low in oxalates.

Things I would alter about this recipe:
1. Homemade broth instead of store bought.
2. Barley instead of white rice.
3. Organic items as available/affordable.

I have to say that I felt very nourished after this meal, and very accomplished for throwing it all together. The nice thing is that it is so simple, not at all overwhelming, and so incredibly satisfying!

So here is a more concise recipe (what I can come up with from what I did):

1-2 lbs of leftover turkey or chicken
1.5 cups rice, barley, or other grain cooked with broth and chicken
Carrots, baby, cut in half lengthwise
Parsnips, chopped
1 Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Chicken or turkey broth, enough to fill your biggest pot
Rosemary to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Bay leaf

Cook the rice or grain according to package directions using broth and water. Use your soup pot to save dishes! Meanwhile, prepare veggies (wash and cut). Saute veggies in frying pan with butter and olive oil on medium-high for a couple of minutes while the rice finishes up. When rice is cooked, add all the veggies directly to your soup pot. Add your meat and enough broth to fill up the pot. Sprinkle some rosemary (about a teaspoon of dried?), add bay leaf, and pepper to taste. Cook on medium-high until veggies are soft, then turn on low to simmer until you are ready to eat it!

Lastly, ENJOY!!!! And may it all be for the Lord's Great Glory!

Warm blessings,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If there were ten

So, I was thinking about what to write this week. It's been tough. I love to write---probably too much---and decided I needed to work on being more concise. I was inspired by this somewhat humorous post on a website for Hawaiian locals (that, ok ok ok, has nothing at all to do with healthy living), and thought...if I had ten commandments for healthy living, what would they be?

So, here are ten commandments for living healthily that I believe in, in no particular order. What ten things do you think your lifestyle and health could benefit from? Write it here, let us know!

1. Your body is a gift from God. Treat it as such. Do not take it for granted.
2. Your are expected to present your body to others in a holy and righteous manner. This means being as healthy as you are able to be; it is not limited to modest and attractive dress.
3. Exercise is essential to our health.
4. The media is a false messenger; do not believe its lies about your body.
5. What God has given us to nourish our bodies cannot be held inferior to the inventions of man.
6. A healthy lifestyle is contagious, share it with others.
7. The greatest satisfaction is never a result of the easiest method.
8. Eat and live in moderation.
9. Respect where your food came from, from Whom it was given, and the journey it underwent before making it to your plate.
10. Relish the satisfaction that comes from doing what is right for the body you were given.

Sarah, are you developing any new rules in your home? If so, what are they, and how is your food journey progressing?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sharing some great recipes from elsewhere!

The only problem I'm finding is that my low oxalate diet doesn't necessarily mean super-healthy. For instance, many processed foods and most sugar are all fine on my diet. But are they really fine for me? Ultimately, there are many low-oxalate foods that I know I really should steer clear from.

On this Food Journey Friday, I wanted to share some exciting recipes I've found from another site that love: The Nourishing Gourmet. Since low oxalate often coincides with gluten free cooking, I am having some success with gluten free recipes.

These are just a few that caught my eye:

Spiced Apple Muffins and these Cupcakes really interest me because I MISS BAKED GOODS. :) I will probably order some Coconut Flour in early February and give these a shot. (On a side note, I was also overjoyed to find this recipe for coconut flour pizza crust-- you know how much I would love a pizza right now??). Who's with me? It would be so fun to try it out with someone and have stories to compare! I'm going to order February 1. Let me know who is interested!

Additionally, these butternut fries and this grilled vegetable salad look delicious! These carrots looked yummy too. I am sometimes hard-pressed to find really healthy options that are still delicious, and kid-and-picky-hubby-friendly. :) Okay, hubby is actually really good about eating and enjoying whatever I fix. But still, I always want to make him happy when he comes home!

Now, if you're feeling REALLY adventurous, how about trying this recipe? It honestly looks disgusting, but she says her kids even love it. It can't be that bad, and it's super cheap. Worth a try maybe?

So what do you say, Hippie and friends? Anyone wanna try out these recipes with me? Like I said, I'll be ordering or buying (if I can find at Whole Foods) the coconut flour on February 1st. And the others I intend to try at least by the end of February (hopefully MUCH sooner!). Anyone interested in these recipes or others on the Nourishing Gourmet site? Share any that spark your interest!

Great eating to you and yours,
The beginner

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

These are a few...

In line with this weeks theme, I'd like to share two of my favorite things. Most of my very favorite foods tend to be healthy, though I do have my weaknesses, as you will see.

My favorite Fast-n-Easy Breakfast: Parfait of a Domestic Goddess

I love this breakfast so much that, with the exception of a weekly special brunch I try to do in my household, I eat it every day. It's just that good. Here's what goes into it:

-A few (or several, depending on you, the eater) tablespoons of honey*-flavored Greek yogurt. Yes, it has to be Greek.
-A few tablespoons (or several) of BRM Meusli**
-Diced fruit, or fresh berries (optional)

Why Greek yogurt? Because Greek yogurt has a deeply satisfying, creamy texture and amazing flavor. It's higher in protein per serving than regular yogurt, too. It takes fewer tablespoons of Greek yogurt to make me feel full. Its consistency is closer to sour cream or creme fraiche. This is because Greek yogurt has much of the extra liquid drained out of it, unlike regular American yogurt which can become runny after just a few days in the fridge. Look for Greek yogurts that are probiotic and contain live cultures.

**Meusli could be substituted for granola if you want something with more crunch to it. If you'd like a gluten-free option, try nuts, sunflower seeds, and/or flax seeds.

*Fig-flavored Greek yogurt is also delicious, but sometimes harder to find. If you don't like sweet yogurt at all, plain may be more your style.

Best perk: It takes about 20 seconds to throw this breakfast together and about 20 seconds to clean it up when I'm done!

My favorite brownies, a few notches healthier: a few pointers!

The key to brownies that make every woman in the neighborhood jealous of your baking prowess is, hands-down, using a from-scratch recipe. You can find oodles of them at, or just google them. You'll know which one is right for you.

First, be sure that the recipe requires unsweetened baking chocolate. Real chocolate makes it worth it (unbeatable flavor, and antioxidants!). It should also call for real eggs, butter, flour, and sugar.

How I upgrade it so it's not quite as unhealthy:

1. I go for unsalted butter. Yes, all that extra fat is still there, but if it's all natural sweet-cream butter with non-processed fats, it's not quite as bad for you as the boxed stuff. You can add a pinch of salt if needed.

2. Use less sugar. In the stages where you're mixing the butter, eggs and sugar, start with half of what the recipe calls for, and just add a little at a time from there. Do a lick-the-spoon test until you're pleased.

3. Use whole-wheat pastry flour instead of your run-of-the-mill (ooh, pun!) bleached and enriched white flour that you usually would. Gluten-free and oxalate-adversaries may be able to find a good GF alternative at

4. There is a trick to baking with whole wheat flour! It has a much heartier texture, and absorbs moisture more efficiently. Because of this, you will need to use much less than the recipe calls for. Probably about 3/4 of what the recipe calls for. Again, start with half of what is called for, and go from there. The batter should be spreadable, and still moist.

5. Bake at a temperature about 10-15 degrees cooler than called for, as whole wheat browns faster.

6. Try to find an unrefined cane sugar if you can. If not, no worries, just don't eat these brownies all the time (tempted though you may be to do so!)

I know you may be hesitant, but trust me: These brownies are amazing. I made them once for my neighbors and I had all the men in the neighborhood begging me to make them several times a week. No lie.

A tip for our reader, Sara, who commented last week that one of her favorite things is fried chicken!

-Try to use pasture-fed or free-range chicken. Chickens that get to graze have healthier meat than grain-fed, rich in Omega-3's
-Why not try coating your chicken in 1/2 melted (but not browned) butter, 1/2 olive oil. You'll cut down on the amount of fat you're used to when frying without compromising taste.
-Experiment with peppers or flavors in breading.
-Try non-fried cooking alternatives. My favorite for bready chicken is baking it on a pizza stone. Perfect crispiness for my taste.
-Dry the outside of the meat with paper towels before doing anything else. Sounds weird, but it'll keep the juiciness inside the chicken while it bakes.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. Until next week!

Peace, love and produce---Hippie

Friday, January 15, 2010

FJF My happy meals

It's a lovely day outside, somewhere around 58 degrees. It's the kind of day that makes you really want to eat healthfully, I think.

This week I will just jump into Hippie's mission and share a few of my ideas and tips.

I do have some healthy favorites which unfortunately are no longer an option for me (because of low-oxalate eating). I still want to share one of them for any of you who might find it useful: a very healthy take on PIZZA. This stuff is the best pizza I've ever eaten, and it is also the most filling. The lovely whole wheat fills you up with just a piece or two (whereas I can put down half a pizza of white flour dough and still not be full). I use this recipe at passionate homemaking, one of my favorite blogs. Please try it. It's worth the work! Your tummy will thank you.

Some of my current go-to "happy meals" (who needs McDonalds?):

Garlic rosemary chicken
  • How-to: put olive oil (I used garlic flavored), a little butter, and garlic in a skillet. Cut chicken into strips or however you like it. Turn on stove to medium-high, place chicken into skillet, and sprinkle rosemary, salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you might like onto chicken. Turn chicken once when you can see that it is almost cooked.
  • Serve with: steamed veggies of choice, sweet potato, white or wild rice (I would choose brown to make it healthier, but I can't have it).
  • Why I like it: SO tasty! Affordable. Quick. And good for you- I like to go heavy on the garlic which has many health benefits.
Garlic (noticing a theme here?) Tilapia
  • How-to: I first browned the tilapia a little bit in a pan with butter, olive oil, and garlic. Sprinkled a little basil and parsley over it. I carefully transferred it to a greased baking dish and poured the oil and butter over the top. Cook in 375 degree oven until it is white and flakes easily.
  • Serve with: rice, veggies, whatever you fancy!
  • Why I like it: Pretty affordable. Adding that very beneficial fish into the diet for NON-FISH eaters! Tilapia just tastes like whatever you season it with, so use whatever you like!
Grilled chicken a la Paul

  • How-To: My dad grills the most delicious chicken breasts. I asked him how and it was so simple. Roll in olive oil to make the seasoning stick. Season with salt, pepper, basil, and maybe some seasoned salt. Grill as you normally would.
  • Serve with: He stir fries some veggies: red pepper, carrot, red onion, squash in simple olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Why I like it: This makes a delicious and speedy and healthy meal!
Those are just the first few that came to mind. I hope someone finds them helpful and healthy!

One last tip:

Check the produce section of the grocery for "manager's specials". I found Arugula today for $.99 when it is normally about $3.50! I also found Romaine lettuce for about half or more off the normal price! Usually the produce is still definitely good and usable. I was happy to save the money and still get fresh produce.

That's about it for now. Can't wait to hear about all of your "happy meals"!

Blessings and healthy eating,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hurrah! Table Tuesday just got Tuesday-ier!

I am still confused about when exactly to post on this blog. I'm 5 hours behind East-coasters, so I know that if I wait until this time on Tuesday it wouldn't be punctual. But I'm planning on being really exhausted tonight so it won't be up by East-coast morning, either.

I got a job working with an organic farm! YES! It's true. I start tomorrow. I'll be wearing a lot of hats. Mostly, I will be marketing for the farm to get the word out and meet the farm family's goal: to make healthy, fresh food as desirable and available to the public as McDonald's.

The idea, to the woman who started this, is that fresh, organic produce is expensive these days, and unnecessarily. She said that she priced the total cost of items to make a decent healthy salad at the supermarket and it was $44. She has managed to work out a very affordable way to shop for fresh stuff.

Her rate, if you sign up for a weekly delivery, is either one full bag (grocery bag sized) full of fruit for $18, the same bag full of veggies for $18, or both for only $25. And she still makes a profit.

So I get the delightful duty of making sure everyone on the island, including tourists, knows this and purposely skips that next turn into McD's to get fresh goodies, instead.

Mission this week for ALL readers, including Sarah: tell me what your favorite (food) things are, especially the ones you consider healthy. If your very favorite things are not healthy, let us know anyway and perhaps we could suggest a healthier alternative for you! (My big weakness is brownies. Imagine how long it took to figure out how to make that "less" unhealthy!). Next week I'll be setting my Table Tuesday with a few favorites.

Peace, Love and Produce---Hippie

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food Journey Friday returns!

What a slacker I have been! What with the holidays and traveling, I haven't just fallen off the wagon... the wagon is nowhere in sight!

But alas, a new year brings a new start. So if you, too, have fallen off the wagon (or have lost sight of it), join me as we continue on this journey towards better care for our bodies.

Hippie has been blowing me away with her posts lately. I am so inspired by her love for God's creations in the realm of food. I can tell that I have muuuch to learn, but I am confident that this year will mark a great improvement in my food world.


Now, I think Hippie is right that we need to have a Scriptural foundation for our journey. Otherwise, when it gets difficult or inconvenient to eat healthfully, we will have no reason to keep with it. When I think about the Bible's stand on healthy living, this verse always springs to mind:

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" 1 Corinthians 6:19

This verse easily applies to any aspect of caring for our bodies. It is specifically addressing immorality, but surely it is helpful for our food journey. I must embrace the truth of the Holy Spirit living in me, and I must act accordingly!

Another passage I came accross when looking into healthy eating was the beginning of the book of Daniel. Take a look if you are interested! Basically, Daniel and his friends prove that the Hebrew diet ("God's way") is more beneficial and more strengthening than the diet offered by the Babylonian king.

Another verse that came to mind: "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Come to me and eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance." Isaiah 55:2

And this will likely be sufficient for today's food for thought. This brings much conviction to both physical and spiritual matters. How often do I seek satisfaction in things that simply WILL NOT SATISFY? Junk food holds no true nourishment, nor does it ultimately satisfy. Hence why when I start eating it, I can't ever stop. Sin is the same way. I often seek such fulfillment in sin, stupidly believing it will bring joy that God can not supply. Foolishness.

God's way is best in all matters. I say I believe this. But am I willing to submit to his ways in the world of food?


I return home next week after my long and wonderful winter vacation. I return to my daily activities: to cooking, cleaning, and being a keeper-at-home. I am excited about the food journey that stands before me. Intimidated? Definitely. But I believe that God's way is best, and I'm determined to submit to His way and see what happens. I believe 2010 is going to be a great year for change. A great year to put God's ways to the test and watch eagerly for what He'll do. Yes, even in the realm of healthy eating!

Rich and fulfilling blessings of Christ be yours,

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lovely Food and Beautiful Budgets

This Tuesday, let's set our tables affordably. I believe that being a good steward of one's money is a very important part of following the footsteps of Christ. I don't believe he would have spent money just because he may have had it. He would have saved. (Pun intended). And how can you save if your grocery bill eats up all of your extra cash?

So, this week, I went to a farmer's market at the local community college. I've been on a constant hunt for the best-priced healthy foods on the island. It hasn't been easy.

I got a Costco membership; it has actually been helping a lot and I've been able to pick up food items that are very wholesome. I can't buy everything there, though.

The Farmer's market was wonderful. I got all this for under $20.00! (Minus the oils, knife block, and season pots, of course).

That produce should get me through the week, or at least most of it. Check out the size of the local avocados (which I got for 50 cents each!):

I hope this encourages any of you who have ever been hesitant to try your local farmer's market when it operates in your area. You'll not only have fun perusing the different fruit, veggie, and homemade-item stands the way people used to in the old days, you'll make your dollar go very far. Don't forget, small farms like the ones who sell at farmer's markets typically grow their foods organically, even if they don't go through the process of getting the USDA organic sticker.

I don't want to add much more to the list of Sarah's missions for Food Journey Fridays, since we're just winding down after the holidays, but wanted to share my thoughts this week about farmer's markets. I'm excited to hear how the no HFCS challenge went in the Smith household!

Peace, love and produce---Hippie