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Friday, June 22, 2012

Nutrition Spotlight: Nutritional Yeast

One of my all-time favorite snacks to enjoy in the evenings has always been popcorn.  We used to make it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, but when we began to get educated about the health concerns of artificial ingredients and chemical additives, things really began to change about the way we make our popcorn.  One of the main ingredients that we have come to LOVE on our popcorn is something called "Nutritional Yeast".  It is delicious!  If you have never heard of it before, don't even worry about it.  I had never heard about it either.  We got wind of it when I began learning more about vegan eating, and what I found just astounded me, which is why I wanted to share it with you!

First of all, as you may or may not know, most vegans tend to supplement their food choices in order to ensure adequate intake of certain nutrients that they will likely not take in without meat, eggs, and dairy.  One of the biggest potential areas of concern rests with the B-vitamins.  B vitamins are typically found in your meat, egg, and dairy products and are essential for cell metabolism, which in turn helps to provide a stable mental and emotional well-being.  Since vegans tend to be deficient in their B vitamins, I made it my job to find out more about what other options I had, since I did not want to take a ton of supplements.  This is when I learned about nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is a powerhouse for B vitamins.  It boasts of multiple hundreds of percent for several of the B vitamins, including a significant source of several other nutrients, both macro and micro.  Also, it only takes a little to get a lot with this wonder powder, which is incredible.  For only 1 tablespoon of the yeast, you get 8g of protein and 4g fiber, which alone is insane!  Check out the rest of this nutritional profile though (taken from Red Star Nutritional yeast's label; other brands may vary slightly):

Nutrients                           Per 1 heaping tablespoon
Calories                               60
Total Fat                              1 gram
Carbohydrate                       7 grams
Fiber                                    4 grams
Protein                                 8 grams
Sodium                                5 milligrams
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)            640% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)         560% DV
Vitamin B3 (niacin)              280% DV
Vitamin B6                          480% DV
Folic Acid                             60% DV
Vitamin B12                         130% DV
Selenium                               30% DV
Zinc                                      20% DV

The best part about this product, though, is that it tastes great!  It has a cheesy edge to it that is absolutely delicious on popcorn, but we also enjoy it on top of savory dishes as much as we can.  We put it on spaghetti, lasagna, chili, casseroles, in dishes as a pseudo-mac & cheese, etc.  There are a ton of different ways to use this awesome condiment!  If you are looking for a new product to help clean out the bad for you stuff, but keep the delicious taste and value, try some Nutritional Yeast, and definitely share your thoughts and experiences =0)

Question of the Day:  What have you found to be a staple that you like to add to foods for flavor enhancement?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homemade Pizza Deluxe

Tonight we had the awesome treat of homemade pizza. Since it was Father's Day, I let the hubs choose dinner, which of course was his favorite! He specified, though, that it had to be monstrous with loaded veggies, so I was happy to oblige. Here's the finished product!

Two towering and loaded pizzas of veggie goodness with some white meat chicken added too. I case you too get a craving for super yummy, healthy pizza, here's the top-notch recipe for the enjoyment of your taste buds:

Whole wheat pizza dough (makes 2 pizzas)

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp oil (I used Grapeseed oil, but whatever you have that is liquid will be fine)
  • 5 cups flour (freshly ground is best!)

  • Sauce of choice (I just used some bottled organic marinara...organic is best for tomatoes because they absorb pesticides through the skin)
  • Various vegetables of choice (I used sautéed onions, red pepper slices, zucchini and basil from the garden, and organic kale)
  • Canned chicken, opened and drained, if desired
  • Cheese (we not keep Daiya vegan cheese on hand, which is contradictory to the whole canned chicken thing, lol...we still loved it!)
  1. If using freshly ground flour, grind wheat grains in mill. In large bowl, pour water, add yeast and sugars, and stir until mixed. Let sit a few minutes for yeast to activate and become frothy.
  2. Add other ingredients into mix, including flour, and then mix. You can get down and dirty with your hands first, use a whisk first until thickens and then get your hands dirty, or you can pour this all in a mixer and avoid hand messiness completely (I don't have a mixer and I love getting my hands on dough). Knead for at least 5 minutes to activate all the gluten and create a fluffy rise.
  3. Sit in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until doubled. I like to heat my oven until preheated and then turn it off, while sitting my bowl of dough on the stove to feel the heat, but not be baked. Once dough is double and fluffy, it is ready.
  4. Pour dough onto surface, cut in half, and roll into two pizzas (shape up to you and your pans) or you can wrap and freeze one dough for later use.
  5. Slick your fingers with some olive oil and rub it lightly onto the perimeter (crust) to create a crunchy crust (otherwise, avoid this step of you like a soft crust).
  6. Begin adding toppings. When using greens on my pizza, I like to put them on first before the sauce because they then get more moisture and soften, rather than get crispy in the oven. Make sure to spread the weight of the toppings all over so that the middle of your pizza isn't too wet and sinks.
  7. Preheat oven to 400F.
  8. Bake pizzas for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Do you have a Mom Book?

The small women's group I have been part of throughout the course of this year is finally wrapping up, and I am sad to see it go.  But, successfully getting through an entire year's crash course on Home Management has been such a gratifying, all be it shocking adventure.  I do not think I realized just how many areas I was already handling in the home!  Seriously, women rock!  I'm proud to be one!  =0)

If you missed the older post, the book we have been going through and gleaning from this year has been Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family.  I have learned so much, both inspiration for things I need to do more, and realization of how many more things I could really be doing.  The time of learning has been awesome, and I am proud to say that I am in the processing of stepping into another level of experience by applying some of the lessons of the book.  One of the topics brought up in the book is the idea of the "Mom Book".  The "Mom Book" is a catch-all binder of the very important information, topics, lists, organization, ideas, etc. that are part of the normal homeschooling, homemaker's life.  It is a place for all the random thoughts to land in an organized manner, as well as a one-stop-shop location to plan out and organize any other areas of life that may come.  May I introduce my "Mom Book"...

I drew the picture for my Mom Book when I was still pregnant with Taliya, so I clearly need to update the lovely picture, but I have to say I am excited about getting a bit more organized with my days.

As you can see, my "Mom Book" is a smaller binder, because I wanted a portable one versus the huge binder option.  The tabs that I have in the binder are Immediate To-Do, Home Management Tasks, Homeschooling, Meal Planning, To Buy, Projects To Do, Blogging, Finances, Couple Time, Skills- Info, Miscellaneous.  Each of these tabs represent some of the areas that I cover in the course of an average week.  To-Do includes all the tasks that are needed to be done asap.  Home Management tasks includes plans for all the chores and training that needs to happen in order to keep the home clean and sanitary.  Homeschooling is where I plan for curriculum options, prices for books, topics to study in the upcoming year, etc.  Meal Planning is pretty cut and dry, but if I get additional recipe ideas, or meal plan ideas, I will write them down here, too.  The To Buy category includes purchases needed around the home (like more shelving), kitchen appliance desires, clothing needs, and other randoms things.  It also includes a list of the best prices for specific foods we often purchase.  Projects To Do includes fixer-upper projects around the home, school projects to do with the kids, Homemaking projects to do with the kids, etc.  Blogging will contain my blog ideas, notes, etc.  Finances will contain what we have upcoming for bills, debt, etc...until the debt is paid off!  Couple Time is where I will write down any books or studies I would like to do together, topics that need to be further discussed and ironed out, and anything else pertaining to our marriage that needs tracking or remembering.  Skills is where I will be jotting down the various crafts or skills I want to learn and any pertinent information about them, such as sewing, more gardening, etc.  And, of course, Miscellaneous...because you just never know when something will come up that does not quite fit in a nice little box (i.e. category).

I recommend custom making your own "Mom" book rather than buying a pre-made organizer because this is so easily changeable without too much overhead cost.  If I decide a category is not working for me, I simply need to switch the label and throw away the unneeded pages inside.  If I messed up a pre-made organizer, I would need to throw away the entire thing in order to get another one that is a better fit.  

I will, though, still be coupling my "Mom" Book with my new Well Planned Day Planner, which is super exciting to me!  I bought the Homeschool Teacher one, which has lots of the unique needs for homeschooling, such as lesson plans, daily scheduling, and calendars, etc.  Although I am sure I could figure out a way to do this in my "Mom" Book, I thought I would leave it to the professionals, at least this time =0)  In all seriousness, though, I think the two will harmonize well together and really help keep our lives situated.  I'm excited!

There you have it...the makings of my "Mom" Book.  I hope this inspires you to begin putting together your own method of organization that is perfectly suited to meet your unique needs =0)  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

We live in a time that is filled with flippant pressure to consume, earn more, achieve more, gain more, grow more, etc.  This concept, of course, is without restraint unless it comes into contact with the Word of God, which is when reluctance, the "less is more" approach, and limitation come into play.  As a parent, it is my duty to teach my children the way they should go.  God makes a clear command in Deuteronomy 6: 6-9, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."  Everything in life presents a learning opportunity, and a chance to teach biblical wisdom and lessons.

Through this time of great difficulty, we have a wonderful opportunity to dig into a lesson that I often impart to my children throughout tough days: bear an attitude of gratitude.  The enemy of our souls wants us to be distracted and disgruntled in hopelessness, covetousness, self-pity, pride, etc. and the best way to win that battle is through turning the tides of the mind and replacing lies with Truth, capital T!  The Bible tells us, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3).  

We are not to be people of fear and trepidation, but of joy and enthusiasm!  Because of our hope in the Lord, we can look to Him for guidance and answers to prayer, knowing that He is Sovereign and good beyond understanding.  It is only when we step outside of these basic Christian beliefs that we enter into a mentality that brings with it destruction.  Focusing on things that are not going our way, repeatedly playing videos of the mind of negative events, and wishing or yearning for things completely outside of our control are just some of the ways to obtain a negative attitude.  Just like all sins, we naturally and quite easily slide into these behaviors like they are a pair of loved and well-worn socks.  

But, to step out of our natural sin behaviors and into God's Ways breaks us free from this self-destructive cycle.  No matter what our earthly situations bring to us, they are not so devastating that we cannot stand up under them.  The bible repeatedly tells us to be thankful, show joy, have thanksgiving, and wait on the Lord.  He is our Rock and our Redeemer in times of need.  So, we must take our thoughts captive, which describes a very intentional and purposeful event, not something that just happens passively.  When walking my kids through this exercise, I always ask them to voice their concerns and if they need to talk and then I ask them some things that they just really like.  This turns their mind to the things in their life for which they are thankful: my sister, playing with dolls, running, etc.  Remembering all the good things that God has provided in this life helps to correct any negative perspectives that want to invade and take over our minds.  This is taking thoughts captive.

Practicing this discipline is a big step in keeping our minds on giving praise and glory to God, even in our most difficult times.  We must never forget how much God loves us, or let our circumstances dictate how we are led.  We are not to be led by our emotions, but to bring our concerns and suffering to the Lord's feet in worshipful prayer.  Philippians 4:6 says this: "Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, take your requests to God."  The next passage, though, is KEY!  "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ," Philippians 4:7.  When I say worshipful I mean having a humble and respectful heart towards a Most High God, always keeping in proper perspective on who He is and who we are.  If this heart attitude toward God remains in proper order, the response and results of such prayer will be this promise.  God is faithful and does not leave us in the miry pit, but helps us to walk through it to the mountaintop, where we are able to see His bigger view on things.  Focusing on how great God is, correcting negative thoughts through intentional action, and praising the Lord regardless of circumstances provides the greatest gift of joy in the times of trouble.  Amen for that!

Monday, June 4, 2012

When Times Get Tough...

This has been a little while coming, but things have been so crazy here that I have not mentally been together enough to sit and write out what has been generally going on.  I wanted to make sure I put out some information since I have a minute now.  Thank you every one for your prayers and offers of help.

All in all, our family is doing well, but we are in the midst of the biggest trial we have yet to face as a family.  About 2 months ago, our fourth child, first and only son thus far, who just turned 2 the end of May, began to show noticeable signs that something was not quite right in his body.  I noticed his hands would shake when he would hold out his arms to be picked up.  When I first noticed it I thought it strange, but then just kind of blew it off and did not think much of it.  Then I noticed he would shake when in the shopping cart, like he was cold or something.  I would ask if he was cold but he was not.  Then he began to shake while sitting in his high chair, and then when standing.   
I noticed he began to have issues walking and even when standing would continue to shake about slightly, but enough that he would reach out to hold onto something to steady himself.  The fay after I noticed this instability while standing, he almost fell right down the stairs when he ran over to the gate while goofing off but missed the rail.  Thank God I was standing right there and caught him.  That evening when hubby got home from work I told him that I was concerned about Zack, and when Zack woke up from his nap he saw that he had deteriorated even further since church the day before, so we headed to the ER (this is about 7-10 days after I first noticed the symptoms).  We were admitted in the hospital through Friday, during which time they did a series of tests, ruling out brain tumors, and one test for Lyme's disease.  During the stay in the hospital, his symptoms progressed even further, going from having a very staggered walk to not being able to walk at all, and then started a new symptom with his eyes being unable to focus very well and shifting all over the place.  By the end of the week (about 2 weeks from the time when his symptoms began) he was diagnosed as having post-infectious cerebellitis, which is a self-limiting illness that typically begins to get better from 1-4 weeks.  This diagnosis was actually very benign, so we left the hospital hopeful that any day we would begin to see an improvement in our son, but that is not what has happened. 
We've been discharged for about 7 weeks now, and Zack is no better, so we are seeking a second opinion.  We will be re-entering the medical community to seek out an MRI for his head and thoracic cavity, because we believe that he is suffering from something called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (find more information here).  His information is right in line with this (less than 2 years old, presents quickly, follows flu-like symptoms...he had a cough for over a month, but never any fever or really much else) so we are seeking out testing to rule out or confirm a neuroblastoma (which is highly common in such a situation), or any other tumors in his body.  If this is ruled out, we will move onto Lyme's disease and the strains of bacteria and their mutations that can cause it.  We desire prayers for being guided to the right doctors to help us properly diagnose what is going on, protection from any negative butting of heads between us and the conventional medicine community, and respect from the medical staff for our parental rights to make medical decisions for treatment of our son, whether it be to seek out alternative care or pursue conventional treatments.  Then there is also the financial burden, as we have had to pay out of pocket for some of this, but especially his homeopathic treatment.  Any other care we pursue that it outside of insurance provision will also be out of pocket.

We know this is going to be a journey for our family and we are prepared for a season of testing.  In all of this we know that we are being refined.  The scripture I have been given over and over is James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  I have been finding relation to Job from the Bible throughout this time, and am determined to continue to give praise and glory to our good Father in Heaven, who loves unabashedly and mourns with us when we suffer trials in this life.  But, we rest secure in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11-13, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Well, we are seeking our Lord =0)  There are beautiful things that have already begun to emerge out of this miry pit.  Hubby's grandma has come to stay with us for some time to help out.  The girls are really stepping into their roles as helpers and servants of the Lord in this family.  I have absolutely relaxed on expectations in the household and on myself, and we have been repeatedly blessed by the help offered to us by others.  Asking for help is just one area where I previously was not comfortable, but am truly seeing the blessing of reaching out in such times of distress and need.   
In addition, enjoying the simple pleasures and joys of life comes easily for me now.  Things that previously would have likely been overlooked amongst the million other things on my plate are now being enjoyed and cherished (a laugh here, a smile or tickle there, a cuddle and hug, etc.)  There is nothing as refreshing as a renewed perspective on the significant blessings that God has allowed into our lives.  I am beyond thankful for everything we have.  Even seeing where my son is right now, I can rejoice in God's love because I am still so blessed.  I still have my son, I still get to hear him laugh, I still get to see his smile.  Life could be so much worse.  We have a potentially long road ahead of us, but God is Sovereign and continues to make Himself manifest.  Your prayers are more than desired and any practical way you feel you could help, we would absolutely appreciate it.  I will be posting on this, and the loads of other things God has been teaching me since before this latest season, so I hope you will stay connected on here.  The more readers I can get on here, the better my chances of turning it into something of a financial blessing for our family too.  Thanks again and as always, please feel free to share comments, thoughts, and encouragements below!  God bless!