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!

 

 

 

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NATIONAL MEDITERRANEAN DIET MONTH

TL MAY IS NATIONAL MEDITERRANEAN DIET MONTH

Isn’t it interesting that the words MEDICINE and MEDITERRANEAN both begin with the letters MED?  What exactly is a Mediterranean Diet?  Most of us have been exposed to some aspects of it, but few of us have embraced it completely.  One of our favorite restaurants serves an appetizer called hummus.  It’s made with chick peas, of all things!  Even five years ago we had not heard of it – but today, hummus is a popular snack here in America.

There are many Mediterranean dishes that are becoming more popular in America as time passes.  Most recipes feature olives, olive oil and bright, vibrant vegetables.  They not only look healthy – they are healthy!

This month you are invited to join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MedDietMonth.  Follow @OldwaysPT on Twitter to join the party on May 19th at 1 pm ET.

Here’s one of my favorite facebook pages, it’s filled with great snack ideas that won’t wreck your diet plan.

https://www.facebook.com/mediterranean.snacks/?fref=ts

I love food posts because that means I get to share a wonderful recipe with you!  If you have never cooked anything Mediterranean before, this is a perfect starting point.  It’s not only pretty, but tastes great too!

CONFETTI COUSCOUS (makes 4 servings – 3 1/2 WW points per serving)

Ingredients:

2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth

1 c. whole wheat couscous

2 Tbs. golden raisins

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. slivered almonds

1/4 c. fine chopped red bell pepper

2 Tbs. dried cranberries

1/4 c. sliced scallions

1/4 c. chopped dried apricots

3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Bring broth to a boil in saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in couscous, raisins, cumin and salt.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes or until couscous is soft.  Uncover and fluff with fork and let cool 10 minutes.

Cook almonds in skillet over medium heat, 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Stir almonds, bell pepper, cranberries, scallions, apricots, mint, oil, lemon juice, ginger and garlic into couscous.

This is a wonderful side dish with baked chicken or fish.  It really does look like confetti in a bowl – almost too pretty to eat.  I did say…  almost.  😉

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY #55

TL 4-2 BIRTHDAY #55

4-2 PERKS & PITFALLS

Last night I got such a sweet present from Lucinda Berry Hill.  Thank you, my friend!  You’ve made turning the ol’ double nickel so much better!  🙂  I love that basket heart too – don’t you???

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God has blessed me with another year of life!  Today I am the ol’ double nickel…  old enough to receive a senior citizen discount at most restaurants and I could join AARP (but that will never happen because I am not a fan…).  I am a fan of good health, happiness, faith and joy.  I’m thankful for every day God gives me to begin again and do better with His help.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,  compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and,  if one has a complaint against another,  forgiving each other;  as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  – Colossians 3:12-13

Of all the things I could pray for, today I ask God to give me more compassion for everyone and everything around me.  I want to be more relatable than ever because it’s what God wants for me.  He wants all of us to be more gentle and kind with one another.  I KNOW I need to have more patience and compassion for those young drivers…  Lord help me with road rage!

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.  –  Albert Schweitzer

You are not going to believe this, but shortly after I wrote this post, Lucinda sent me a poem to design.  As I read it – the little blurb about compassion just reached out and slapped me!  I have to share it today.  I love how God guides both of us to write – but it’s especially cool when we’re both directed to write so similarly!  I just got chills when I read this.12571279_1738613263049803_574237969_n

Yes – I will make an effort to bring calmness where I walk, to show kindness and compassion, and pointing all to God.  SEE why I got chills up my spine???  WE LOVE HOW GOD WORKS

Love you, my sister in Christ!  ❤

My husband gave me a a 3.5 qt. Dutch oven.  Of course I’ll be trying it out today.  So, let me share the recipe with you.  Just one more thing…  if you are not a vinegar fan, you may want to add a couple of packets of Splenda or Truvia to this.  It’s got a pretty strong vinegar flavor.  😉

Vinegar-Braised Chicken & Onions (serves 6)

Ingredients:

2 lbs. pearl onions

Kosher salt

3 Tbs. olive oil

8 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), cut into 1/4″ pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed

5 lbs. chicken pieces (I use thighs & legs)

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 c. balsamic vinegar

3/4 c. red wine vinegar

2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. golden raisins

2 bay leaves

Directions:

  • Cook onions in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends; peel.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add pancetta to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pancetta is brown, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a large bowl.
  • Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl with pancetta.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot skin side down and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 10-15 minutes per batch; transfer to bowl with onions.
  • Carefully drain fat from pot and return to medium-high heat. Add both vinegars to pot and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, raisins, bay leaves, and reserved chicken, pancetta, onions, and garlic to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fork-tender, 35-40 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and onions to a large platter. Skim fat from cooking liquid and discard. Remove bay leaves, and season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and onions.

For dessert we will probably have some fresh sliced strawberries with whipped topping.  Sounds like a great birthday dinner to me!  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (24)

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Some folks go on diets to get a summer-ready body for the beach.  Others want to lose weight to get into a dress for a special occasion.  My reasons for dieting?  I either have to lose weight or spend hundreds of dollars every month on insulin.

I was sitting in my recliner watching TV and saw Marie Osmond talking about Nutrisystem.  No, I’m not going to do that – although that’s where my train of thought started.  I said to myself, half jokingly – “Well, I suppose I could pay those hundreds of dollars to Nutrisystem instead of the pharmacy – and eventually not have to take insulin anymore – when I get to my goal weight.”

The seed was planted in my brain – and something just snapped inside.  From that moment, I felt a determination to get healthy like I’ve never felt before.  I don’t want to have to take those shots anymore – I really don’t.

When I was in high school – in the late 1970’s – I kept my weight in check with the Weight Watcher’s points.  Nobody wants to be the big girl in high school, and thanks to this program, I was able to stay at 125-130 pounds.  I counted and wrote down every morsel of food I put in my mouth.  I never ate more than 20 points a day.

I was much more active back then, obviously.  Today I ride my recumbent bike for 30 minutes every day.  According to the chart online, it will take 35 weeks to get to my goal weight of 125 pounds.  I’m ready and very excited to embark on this adventure.  I’m ready to get more healthy and be a controlled type 2 diabetic, but controlled with diet & exercise instead of pills and shots.

What’s your favorite Weight Watchers recipe?  Please leave it in the comments section.  I’m very interested in collecting them but I’m too cheap to buy a cookbook.  Here’s one we made last night for supper – and it was pretty good!

Weight Watchers Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 10 ounces lean boneless beef loin, cut into 1/2″ strips
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups small whole white mushrooms, woody ends removed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon reduced-calorie tub margarine
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, to garnish

Directions

In large pot of boiling water, cook noodles 5-6 minutes, until tender; drain, discarding liquid. Set aside; keep warm.

In medium nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 3 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove beef from skillet. Wipe skillet clean; set beef aside.

Spray same skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat. Add onions; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 7 minutes, until golden brown. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, 6 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove vegetables from skillet. Wipe skillet clean; set vegetables aside.

In same skillet, melt margarine; sprinkle with flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling. Continuing to stir, gradually add broth, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Stir in sour cream.

Return cooked beef, onions and mushrooms to skillet; stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is heated through.

Divide warm noodles evenly among 4 plates; top each portion of noodles with one-fourth of the beef mixture. Serve garnished with parsley.

I’d appreciate your good vibes and prayers as I begin week #2 of this journey!  If you’d like to talk more about healthy eating (and sometimes eat some virtual chocolate) – come on over and join my group on facebook – A Second Helping of Wellness… with a dash of humor & a pinch of faith.

See ya there!  🙂

NATIONAL FIG WEEK

TL NOVEMBER 1-7 IS NATIONAL FIG WEEK

Have you tried any of our fig recipes yet?  Let us know in the comments section below!  The fiber-rich fig is probably the most forgotten fruit in the grocery store!  This week we want to revive interest in figs.  There’s more to the fig than what you find in Fig Newtons – trust me!

The recipe I’m sharing today is one of my favorites.  I know I tell you they are all my favorites, but…  this time I really mean it!  😉

VEAL ROAST WITH FRESH FIGS

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 1/2 lb. veal roast

1 lb. fresh figs, trimmed and cut in half

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3/4 C. dry white wine (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 bay leaves

Fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the veal on all sides.  Remove veal and add the figs.  Cook until they are golden but not too soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove figs and reserve.  Add onions to the Dutch oven.  Cook, covered, until onions are tender and golden, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick, about 10 minutes.

Return veal roast to the Dutch oven with the onions.  Season it with salt and pepper.  Pour wine over all.  Tuck the bay leaves around the veal, pushing them under the wine, cover, and roast in the oven until the veal is nearly cooked through, about an hour.  Turn halfway through cooking.

Remove veal from Dutch oven.  Add the figs to the veal, pushing them gently down under the cooking juices.  Cover and return to the oven and bake until the veal is cooked through and figs are tender and melting, and additional 15 minutes.

Remove the veal from the oven and transfer the veal to a warmed platter.  Place the pan with the cooking juices over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Boil gently just until the sauce has thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, 4-5 minutes, making sure that the cooking juices don’t evaporate too much and that the figs and onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

To serve, remove the strings from the veal roast and slice it.  Spoon the figs and onions and the cooking juices over it, garnish the platter with parsley and serve immediately.

It’s a little labor intensive – but so worth it!  Enjoy!!!  🙂

NATIONAL FIG WEEK

TL NOVEMBER 1-7 IS NATIONAL FIG WEEK

This week we are celebrating the FANTASTIC FIG!

Here’s an interesting FIG FACT…  Many believe it was figs that were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, not apples.  That makes sense in my mind – after all, it wasn’t apple tree leaves they used to…  um…  “cover” themselves – was it???

Plain bran muffins can be a bit dry, but these are moist and delicious because there are figs in them!

FIG BRAN MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 C. All-Bran original cereal

1 1/4 C. whole wheat flour

2 Tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2/3 C. packed Splenda brown sugar

3 Tbs. MILD molasses

1 Tsp. vanilla extract

6 Tbs. unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled

1 3/4 C. plain whole-milk yogurt

1 C. dried figs, stemmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray standard-sized muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Process half of bran cereal in food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute. Whisk flours, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to combine; set aside. Whisk egg and yolk together in medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar, molasses, and vanilla; whisk until mixture is thick, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and whisk to combine; add yogurt and whisk to combine. Stir in processed cereal and unprocessed cereal; let mixture sit until cereal is evenly moistened (there will still be some small lumps), about 5 minutes.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix with rubber spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened. Do not over mix. Gently fold figs into batter. Using 1/3-cup measure or ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin cups, dropping batter to form mounds. Do not level or flatten surfaces 
of mounds.

Bake until muffins are dark golden and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out with a few crumbs attached, 16 to 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Grab a cup of coffee and a hot muffin for breakfast.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  🙂

NATIONAL FIG WEEK

TL NOVEMBER 1-7 IS NATIONAL FIG WEEK

Do you have a favorite fig recipe?  Please feel free to share it in the comments below.  We can never have too many, you know!

Before I share this amazing fig recipe, I want you to read this wonderful poem by Allison Elrod called First Fig. 

 

First Fig

by Allison Elrod

The fig tree has spread its generous
canopy across my late summer side yard.
Its branches are heavy with fruit.

Every day now, the figs grow softer
and fuller; they are taking the rain
and the warmth of a hundred summer days
and making them over into pleasure;
taut green skin and soft pink flesh.

Wearing only my nightgown
and my work boots, I have come
outside at dawn like some
post-modern Eve, yearning
for a taste of the fruit of the tree. I reach up
into the branches, reach up for the fruit
that hangs just beyond my reach,
the fig whose skin is just beginning
to bear the flush of readiness.

Maybe I am Eve. After all,
isn’t the light in my garden still
what came of “Let there be light?”
And isn’t everything to come
in human history beginning
on this very day, this very morning,
when this very fig—the one I am holding
in my hand—is finally ripe?

Or maybe, I am
a middle-aged woman outside
in my nightgown at six a.m.—
filled with happiness so pure it feels
like innocence—savoring the sweetness
of summer’s first ripe fig
before the light shifts,
before history resumes,
before I come inside to wake you,
temptation on my mind.

It’s day number two of NATIONAL FIG WEEK!!!  Here’s another recipe from my treasure trove of nutritious and delicious autumn dishes…  featuring the fabulous fig!

FIGGY FOCACCIA

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion

3 Tbs. olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Plain cornmeal

1 lb. bakery pizza dough

8 fresh figs, halved

1 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat grill to 350 -400 degrees.

Cut onion into 1-inch slices.  Brush with 1 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill onion slices without grill lid, 3-4 minutes on each side or until tender.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly dust work surface with cornmeal.  Stretch dough into a 10-12-inch oval onto work surface.  Place dough, cornmeal side down, on a greased baking sheet.  Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil.  Rub oil into dough.  Arrange fig halves and grilled on dough, pressing lightly.  Sprinkle with rosemary.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 425 degrees on lowest oven rack for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Voila!  Enjoy!!!  🙂