Monday, May 3, 2010

"These Are a Few of My Favorite Things Part II"

I posted in March about some of my favorite healthy foods.  And, as I promised, today I am sharing about some of my favorite things outside of the grocery store that are helpful to me in my quest to be healthy-er.  

Cooking at Home

We love Mexican food at our house and we eat it a lot because it's so easy to "healthy it up."  For example, we often have big taco salads with lettuce, green peppers, cucumbers, black beans, lean ground beef, a small amount of cheese, home made pico de gallo (fresh chunky salsa), and my homemade sour cream dressing. It rounds out to about 500 calories, which is a good dinner.
Here's how I make my pico.
-6 roma tomatoes-diced
-6 green onions sliced
4 rings of jalepeno peppers (I use the kind that
   come in a jar)-diced as small as
-Cilantro to taste- I use
   about 1/4 of a bunch.
   Bunches vary in size so I guess
   about 3-4 tblsp
   chopped very small.
-A little salt
-A little garlic powder.
This is so flavorful and yummy!  It makes any Mexican dish delicious so you can go easy on the cheese and greasy meat.  We put it on tacos, burritos, anything.  When I make taco salad, I dump a ton of this stuff on, like a cup and a half for a big salad!  Pair this with healthy tortillas, and you have some great dishes!  This is all veggies, so I don't bother to count the calories.

Want a thinner, more resturant style, chip dipping salsa?  Try this...
In a food processor or blender mix the following:
1 large can (28 oz) of tomatoes, well drained
1/2 of a medium white, or yellow onion,
4 rings of jalapeno peppers, the jarred kind
A small handful of cilantro
Salt and Garlic Powder to taste (sometimes I use fresh garlic here since it gets chopped and mixed well)
We typically eat this on quesadillas.

Sour Cream dressing,
There's no measuring in my kitchen, so I'll take my best guesses here. Wisk well, the following.
-1 cup of sour cream (I just get the regular because you don't save many calories in
  the low fat kind, and it
  tastes awful, in my opinion)
-Milk, (I use 1%) start with about 4 tblsp, add more if you need it thinner.
-2 tblsp (approximately) of lime juice.
-salt and garlic powder to taste
  This has about 25 calories per tablespoon, which is way lower than any salad
  dressing that tastes good, and it tastes great on a taco salad!

Are you more of an Italian food lover?  Try this low cal version of Chicken Parmesan, my family loves it.  Pound out some chicken breasts thin, spray them with Pam, the grilling kind if you have it, and season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Then cook them on your grill. 
Use a healthy spaghetti like Ronzoni, and a low cal spaghetti sauce. Look for one with 50-60 calories per 1/2 cup.   Here are a few to look for.  Just remember, you can't go by brand alone, you have to read the calories on the back of each type.

Then, just go easy on your portions, and on your cheese.  I use Parmesan cheese and skip the mozzarella to save calories.

There you go, some of my favorite healthy dishes to cook at home.  Do you have some favorites?  Please share!!

Stay tuned.  Next time, we're going out to eat!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Overwhelmed. . .

With everything we have going on in our day to day life, lately I have just been feeling like I can not keep up.  Dishes and laundry endlessly abound.  And, I feel like keeping the house clean (or at least picked up) is like playing a one man defense against a three man offense.  I never make it to the goal, and I struggle just to keep the melee on my side of the 50 yard line.  Two kids, 4 1/2 and 2.  Whining, crying, "Mommy look," Mommy watch,"  "Mommy, I want..." cry, cry , cry, whine, whine, whine.  It's impossible.  Thank you, coffee, for your unwavering support.  If anyone's on my team, it's you my friend!

Add to that the fact that I'm trying to work with Keaton daily to get him ready for kindergarten (because his preschool teachers say he isn't).  Then there is Karis, who I am supposed to be working with daily, teaching signs, modeling words, reading books, doing fine motor and gross motor exercises, and a whole host of other tasks.  Also, Karis was recently diagnosed with Asthma.  So now on top of everything, I have to give her 4 breathing treatments a day untill her lungs clear up, and then once day after that.  For how long you ask?  Until the cows come home I guess.  I can't get a straight answer from her doctors.

Did I forget anyone, oh yes, me!  Yes I have needs too!  It seems that sometimes my cup of coffee is the only one who cares about that.  I know that I have got to get this weight off, and if you know me personally, or at least follow me on facebook, then you know how hard I try, how much I work out, how carefully I count my calories, how diligent I am at cooking healthy meals for my family every day.  It's all so much work, and it seems to get me no where.  I have church responsibilities too, but they really don't require too much of me except that I be there, and I don't forget how to sing or play the guitar.  But, I need to be doing more with that ministry and others, can I borrow some of your time?  I know, I know, you don't have any either.

The thing that really overwhelms me is that I feel like I cannot slack on any of these things.  We have such a tiny house that just a little bit of clutter looks like a lot.  If I don't keep the house clean, and sometimes I don't, then the house tells me about it!  If I don't do the laundry, we attract flies as we walk down the street.  If don't work with Keaton, he'll be behind next year.  And if I don't work with Karis, I may not see a negative consequence today, or even next week.  But the repercussions will follow her the rest of her life.  And if I am going to live long enough to support her into adulthood, then I am going to have to get this weight off, and remain extremely healthy.  I am 30 years older than her after all.  It's important, just like all these things.   I can't let anything slack.  I'm sure you've had the same feeling, that you need to cut something out of your life, but there just isn't anything that can go.

I have some friends that are true super women.  Full time jobs, kids, graduate degrees, fitness plans, homeschooling, spotless houses, responsibilities at church and other civic organizations, you name it, they can do it, and do it well.  It seems that more you throw at them, the more energized they become.  You know the old saying, "If you need something done, ask a busy person to do it."  There's some truth there.  I, however, am not one of those people.  When my plate is overly full, I shut down, and it seems like I can't do anything.  Stress paralyzes me.  Then, at some point, I snap out of it, and then I'm in a mad rush to keep up the bare minimum.  This makes me grouchy, my poor family!  I had one of these weeks this week.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband stepped in and helped me take care of some things.

So one night, I sat in my bed looking at my Bible, with no idea what to read and where to look.  I needed some inspiration, some word that I hadn't seen before about parenting a special needs child, or holding it all together when it feels like I'm falling apart.  I didn't find anything.  Frustrated, I slapped my Bible open, resigning to read whatever was on the page, and it opened to Proverbs 31 (for real, this happened).   "Oh good grief!  Not the superwoman chapter!  Thanks a lot God!  I need help, and I'm led to read about a woman who has it all together!" Sigh, so I read.

10. A wife of noble character who can find?
       She is worth far more than rubies.
 11 Her husband has full confidence in her
       and lacks nothing of value.
 12 She brings him good, not harm,
       all the days of her life.
 13 She selects wool and flax
       and works with eager hands.
 14 She is like the merchant ships,
       bringing her food from afar.
 15 She gets up while it is still dark;
       she provides food for her family
       and portions for her servant girls.
 16 She considers a field and buys it;
       out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 17 She sets about her work vigorously;
       her arms are strong for her tasks.
 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
       and her lamp does not go out at night.
 19 In her hand she holds the distaff
       and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 20 She opens her arms to the poor
       and extends her hands to the needy.
 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
       for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
 22 She makes coverings for her bed;
       she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
       where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
       and supplies the merchants with sashes.
 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
       she can laugh at the days to come.
 26 She speaks with wisdom,
       and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 27 She watches over the affairs of her household
       and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
       her husband also, and he praises her:
 29 "Many women do noble things,
       but you surpass them all."
 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
       but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
 31 Give her the reward she has earned,
       and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Now that seems a little, well, ancient.  Because it is.  Most people don't work at the spindle these days.  So, God led, I drafted a version of my own, a modern day paraphrase if you will, and it goes like this.

A good wife and mom is rare and valuable.
She takes good care of her husband, and he trusts her completely.
She's good to him, always, and never does anything to hurt him, or put him down.
She works hard at keeping her family well dressed on a budget.
She keeps her cabinets and fridge well stocked.
She gets up early and makes sure her family and staff have a breakfast before they start their day.
She makes wise business decisions, and grows some of her own food to save money.
She works hard, and has the strength to handle all that's on her plate.
She makes good money, and she's good at handling money.  Her bills are paid on time.
She's talented and hardworking, especially when it comes to sewing.
She generous, and cares about others' needs, including the poor and needy.
When winter comes, she's not worried because she already bought nice coats for the family.
She's a good decorator, and a snappy dresser!
Her husband is a well respected leader in the community.
She is profitable in the wholesale business.  Everyone wants her brand!
She's strong, smart, and confident.  She has no worries for the future.
She's wise and gives sound advice.
She takes care of her house, and doesn't waste time on facebook.
Her husband and kids adore her, and appreciate her.
Lots of women have it together, but you are Super Mom!
A smooth talker will only fool people for a while, and good looks will eventually fade.  But a woman who whole heartedly lives for God is really to be admired.
Appreciate her, reward her, and let all she has accomplished be an example to everyone.

Oh boy, I am so far from being this woman, so far.  But, though I didn't expect it, I was comforted by this passage.  There's an underlying theme here,  that a supermom takes care of what's important, and God supplies her the strength she needs.

I need, we all need, to really rely on God for the strength to get through the day, and through our to-do list.  I hate to just say "rely on God" because it seems like such a sunday school answer that really means nothing.  It's an abstract thought, and I like concrete ideas.  So let me say it this way, as concretely as I can.  When you're going through your day, feeling overwhelmed, and wanting nothing more than to just crawl into a ball on the couch, just keep going.  Do what you have to do.  Do as much as you can and trust God, that he's going to pick up the slack and take care of what you leave behind.  Trust that He's ultimately in control, and that as long as you keep your focus on Him, He's not going to let things spiral down the drain.  He's not a "you made your bed, now lie in it" kind of God.

* A special note to parents of special needs kids.*
God gave us these kids, they weren't a mistake, and they weren't delivered to the wrong house.  They are ours because He has a purpose for them, and you, seperately and together, and He will see that purpose through.  And, although it is important for us to do everything we can do help our children's health and developement be the best it can be, let us not think for a moment that we are in control of all that.  God is, and because of that, we don't have to worry about what will happen if we take our eye off the ball for a minute.  Trust Him.

Psalm 121

 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.
 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

Sorry such a long post tonight!
Love to you all...