NATIONAL PUMPKIN DAY

tl-10-26-national-pumpkin-day-2

The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for “large melon”.  Within recent years, white pumpkins have become more popular in the United States.

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being-a-christianpumpkin-scripturethank-godHow about a recipe?

PUMPKIN SOUP (Makes 8 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausage

1/2 c. chopped onion

3 c. chopped pumpkin (or butternut squash)

4 c. chopped kale

4 c. chicken broth

4 c. water

Parmesan cheese for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook sausage in a medium saucepan.  Add onions & saute’ until translucent.  Pour the broth and water into the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Add kale and pumpkin.  Simmer until pumpkin is soft – about 20 minutes.  Serve hot, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.

my-favorite-basketthe-orange-armypumpkins-and-patchesautumn-pumpkinspumpkins-just-their-sizeIt’s a great day to go out to the pumpkin patch!  Enjoy the moments while you can!  🙂

 

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NATIONAL NUT DAY

tl-10-22-national-nut-daya-circle-of-nutsfriendsI think we can agree that some friends are a bit on the nutty side…  and they do come in all shapes and sizes.  I think we also agree that it’s perfectly okay!  😉

The nuts we want to focus on are the edible kind…  of course.  Nuts are low or no carbohydrates, so are very healthy for diabetics.  They are chock full of nutrients and healthy fats.  My favorite nuts are cashews, and I eat a few handfuls every day.  Our little nuthouse here in Wichita, The Nifty Nuthouse, has such delicious cashews, but at $9.00 a pound, I have to pace myself for sure.

Once in a while I get a craving for Chinese food, and my favorite recipe is for, you guessed it…  Cashew Chicken.  Here’s my simple recipe:

CASHEW CHICKEN (Makes 5 servings – 10 carbs each)

INGREDIENTS:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Teriyaki Sauce
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1/4 cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sesame seeds
3/4 cup cashew pieces
salt and pepper
INSTRUCTIONS:
Heat a large pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil.
Season your cubed chicken with a little salt and pepper…don’t over do it on the salt because the soy has enough salt in it.
Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain some of the grease off.
In the same pan, add the sesame oil and saute the garlic clove and ginger for 1 minute.
Stir in the Teriyaki, Oyster, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar and red pepper flakes.
Once the sauce has come to a boil, add the chicken and stir to combine. Cook about another 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the chicken to a serving bowl and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
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So today, give that nutty friend in your circle a phone call or send a note…  and celebrate the edible kind with this wonderful recipe.  🙂

SPINACH LOVERS MONTH

tl-october-is-spinach-lovers-monthpopeye-37117_1280Who remembers this fella???  Yep, it’s Popeye!!!  Remember what his super-food was???  Absolutely…  it was SPINACH!

Spinach is part of a healthy diet.  I’m finding new and different ways to use spinach, but my favorite recipe is creamed spinach.  I was tickled to find a copycat recipe for Boston Market’s creamed spinach.  It’s low-carb and delicious!

Low-Carb Creamed Spinach

Makes 8 servings

4g. carbs per serving

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. butter

1/2 c. chopped shallots

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1 1/2 c. half & half

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

8 oz. Havarti cheese

16 oz. fresh spinach

Instructions:

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic.  Cook until tender.  Pour half & half in and reduce to low heat.  Stir in salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg.  Add in Havarti cheese and cook on low heat until it’s melted and combined throughout.  Once melted, add in the spinach and toss together until coated with cheese.

Serve warm.

This is a great side dish for steak or fish.  Some days I don’t want a great big meal and just fix this.  Spinach is packed with nutrients that keep us strong – just like Popeye!popeyeolive_bizarropanel-248x300spinach-dd-02enjoyspinach

Here are some other ways to enjoy spinach:

  • Spinach Smoothie.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  There’s not much flavor to spinach so you can add in the nutrition boost without changing the taste.  Add a handful of spinach next time and see for yourself.  Making smoothies and juicing is not the best way to consume any fruit or vegetable for diabetics because when you make the food liquid, it increases the sugar content and decreases the amount of fiber you get.  Diabetics need less sugar and more fiber, so keep that in mind.
  • Spinach Wrap.  Place grilled chicken in a spinach leaf and dip it into ranch dressing.  It’s pretty good!
  • Omelets.  Add spinach, mushrooms, onion, and cheese to make a nutritious and delicious filling for omelets.  Sometimes I add some applewood smoked bacon…  it’s delish!
  • Spinach Salad.  Toss in some strawberries or mandarin oranges.  A few apple chunks would even work.
  • Stir-Fry Dishes.  Spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and broccoli stir-fried in a little olive oil makes a good lunch or dinner.images-205Keep in mind that spinach is:
  • Low in calories
  • High in Vitamin A
  • High in magnesium
  • High in fiber
  • Good source of calcium
  • Good source of antioxidants
  • Helps with cancer prevention
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Is high in folate
  • Increases brain function
  • Is an anti-inflammatory
  • Promotes healthy vision
  • Increases circulation
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Helps fight infection
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Is high in flavonoids
  • Good source in vitamin E
  • Good source of beta carotene
  • Good source of zinc
  • Increases bone density

If you’re a diabetic with neuropathy like me, spinach can help your neuropathy because it increases circulation.  I eat a lot of spinach and have not gone beyond the needles and pins sensation in my feet.  Good nutrition really does matter.  🙂popeye-spinach-shirt

 

NATIONAL KALE DAY

tl-10-5-national-kale-dayKale is the perfect companion for bacon and cheese as part of a healthy low-carb salad.  Anytime a vegetable is cooked, it takes some of the nutrients out of it, but I prefer kale a little wilted so I fry it up with my bacon to make it taste better.images-46Kale chips are pretty good.  They do provide that crunch that chips used to.  Are there really health benefits to eating kale?  Does it really give you a boost of energy like people claim?  My research tells me the answer to both questions is YES.

Since a low-carb diet allows many foods that have low or no fiber content, kale helps with a need for fiber, much like other types of lettuce and spinach.  It also contains an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, which lowers glucose levels, increases insulin sensitivity and prevents oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes!  My ears perked up when I read that!  It also decreases peripheral neuropathy and/or autonomic neuropathy in diabetics!  This is good news for diabetics!!!

My theory is, if you can put enough stuff that actually tastes good (bacon, cheese, salad dressing) with the kale in your salad – it really sort of masks it enough that you can eat it without choking it down.  I’m being honest.  Have you tried to eat a piece of raw kale with nothing on it?  I rest my case.

I don’t juice because juicing is not the best choice for diabetics.  We need to keep the fiber intact rather than squeezing the juice from the fruit or vegetable.  The sugar content is found in the juice – and why would I want to ditch the fiber and keep the sugar?  That doesn’t make sense in my brain.kale

Kale is a super veggie, with more vitamins and minerals than spinach.  If you are lacking energy and seem to be dragging along, maybe you should try a salad with kale.  Use plenty of dressing – not a sweet dressing, but a blue cheese or ranch type dressing.  Read the labels before using – I prefer blue cheese but once in a while I use ranch.

Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach are the most nutrient-dense of all foods.  – Joel Fuhrman

My kale salad is not as “fancy” as most recipes you’ll find because I don’t eat dried cranberries or pour sweet vinaigrettes over it, but for what it is, I think it’s good.

Kale Salad

INGREDIENTS:

6-7 cups chopped fresh kale leaves

1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6-8 slices cooked bacon, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

Basically, just mix this all together, tossing with your hands.

Add your blue cheese dressing and you’re good to go!

 

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (30)Good people do live in my midst!  We’re getting ready for a garage sale later this month and spent a day preparing the garage for the tables, racks, etc.  The worst thing that can happen at a garage sale is when someone wants to buy something that you are not selling.  The solution is to cover everything that you want to keep with a tarp.

We were working in the garage when along comes our neighbor.  He’s a very pleasant man, friendly and hard-working.  He owns a farm just outside Wichita as well as a home in our little community.  He asked if our riding lawn mower was for sale.  My husband told him it was.  They worked out the details and our big -ticket item was sold.

Seems cut and dried, doesn’t it?  We get money and he gets the rider to use out on his farm.

The story’s not finished.  Here’s the cool part.

Yesterday was the open air market at our extension office.  Most of the vendors have stopped coming because summer is over.  We stopped to look around a bit, not expecting to find much.  There was our neighbor with the last of his vegetable crop – and it looked delicious, I must say.

Without saying a word, he bagged up most of what he had left and handed it to us.

He has absolutely NO idea what he did.  We have vegetables to put in our freezer for winter.  Our freezer was empty – now it’s full.  I think I know what the squirrels must feel like – collecting and filling their little homes with food for the winter months.

He told us it was a bonus payment on the mower.  We laughed.  I wanted to cry tears of joy.

But here’s the thing…  my dad had a garden every year and grew all the vegetables our neighbor does.  We’ve been buying vegetables at the market – but let’s face it, they just are not homegrown.  They don’t taste the same.

I’m sitting here now eating fried okra, crying tears of happiness.  It’s like a taste of home, to be honest.  This small gesture touched my heart and took me back home for just a little while.

This journey called life is filled with a little pain and a little sorrow, but once in a while, a neighbor does something that renews your faith in humans.  I could never thank him enough for that – not without crying, anyway.  It’s more than okra – it’s closing my eyes and going back to a late summer / early fall meal with my parents.  How do you thank someone for that?it-is-more-than-just-okra

I know it’s just a simple little story, but isn’t our life here on the planet about paying it forward?  It’s about sharing your bounty with those who are not farmers or gardeners.  Our neighbor would certainly have not had to do that.

I thank him not only for the food, but also for the wonderful memories that food sparked in me.  And as always, I’m so very grateful to God for making it all happen!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (30)LC KEY LIME PIEThis has been such a fun journey with my friends!  Thanks to Deanna Stalnaker for sharing this recipe on facebook!  Even though we have shared great main dish and side dish recipes, what is life without a little dessert?  I was so tickled to see this because believe it or not, Key Lime Pie is my favorite – yeah, it really is!

Deanna said that even though the recipe calls for a 0.6 oz. package of sugar-free Jell-O, she uses the 0.3 oz. package.  So make a note of that.  😉

All people with healthy physical appetites have a sweet tooth somewhere in their heads.  – Macmillan’s Magazine, 1887

How about a low-carb strawberry cheesecake???  Yeah!  I’m on a roll.

I’m starting to like those pies with the ground pecan shells, aren’t you?

I’ve never before eaten a dessert, then tested and had my blood glucose be HAPPY!  I’m so excited about this…  I really am!

Pie…it fills the cracks of the heart. Go away, pain.  – Kevin James, Mall Cop

Did you see the movie, Mall Cop???  Kevin James cracks me up – and that’s a great movie!

So far I haven’t gone completely Atkins, but I think legal donuts sound really good!  I like “fair food” – and truth be told, that’s the real reason I go to our state fair every year.  :-/

So on those days when you don’t think you can live on low-carb and low-fat, know that you don’t have to.  There are alternatives to traditional high carbohydrate foods.  Aren’t we thankful for “the way of escape” recipes that keep blood glucose numbers happy?  I know I am!

Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.  – English proverb

What’s your favorite low-carb recipe?  Let me know in the comments below.  I believe we’re all here to help each other on this journey toward healthier blood glucose!  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (18)Would you think that most Asian food would be “legal” on a low carb diet?  Well, some of course is – the obvious choices are broccoli and beef or broccoli and chicken.  Pass on the rice, opting for more broccoli instead.  Once in a while it would be nice to indulge in some sweet and sour, wouldn’t it?  Oh – but that would give you a blood glucose spike like no other!  We’ve been so good so far – and we don’t want to blow it now.

Take heart – thanks to substitutions and some smart people who know how to create healthy alternative recipes, here is a recipe that will let you enjoy sweet and sour once again.sweet-and-sour-pork-1264563_1920

LOW CARB SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN OR PORK

Makes 4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Meat:

5-6 small boneless chicken breasts or equivalent amount of boneless pork loin, cut into bite-size pieces

2 large eggs, beaten

1 C. crushed pork rinds

1/2 C. almond flour

1/3 C. parmesan cheese

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. coconut oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

1/2 C. Erythritol (I usually use Splenda – but it doesn’t work well in this recipe)

1/2 C. rice vinegar

4 Tbs. reduced sugar ketchup

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put pork rinds, parmesan cheese ad almond flour in food processor.  Grind until it’s a meal like consistency.  Dip chicken or pork in egg then coat in the pork rind mixture.  Set on a plate.

Heat the oils in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add meat in small batches and cook.

Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan.  Whisk while it boils down.  If you want to add extra veggies like bell pepper, green beans, celery or a bit of pineapple, now’s the time to let it marinate with the sauce.

Once the meat is cooked, remove from skillet and continue cooking the rest of the batches.

Mix meat with sauce to coat.

I’m big on adding vegetables – so I add a bit of sliced red and green bell pepper and a few fresh green beans.  I’m not opposed to putting a chunk or two of pineapple with the sweet and sour pork.  I’m already living without the rice, I don’t want to do without just a bit of pineapple too.  😉

Enjoy!