July 18, 2011

Imparting Grace by Richella Parham

Visit Imparting Grace today to read about other writers' experiences with "grace".   Imparting Grace is written by a friend from college.  She is one of the top 25 blogs I enjoy reading.  (See the side column for the other 24!).  I have added my article entitled Grace Through A Kidney Transplant to her link party.  If you haven't read it, click over and read it then visit Imparting Grace's link party.  You will certainly enjoy some lovely reading.

Imparting Grace

Judy :)

July 17, 2011

10 Days Finished: Real Food Pledge

I lost 6 pounds!  I really wasn't expecting to lose that much weight in the past 10 days.  My husband kept asking me during these 10 days when I was going to weigh (he weighs himself EVERYDAY).  I told him not until the 10 days were up.  I thought I might loose 2-3 pounds, but nope...6 pounds came off.

Will I continue?  Mostly, yes.  I feel this is definitely a better way to eat.  The extra fiber has really helped me to not be hungry between meals -- less snacking!  Only using honey and maple syrup has absolutely reduced my sugar consumption because if I want something sweet, I have to cook it.  I will be using mayonnaise in salads, etc.  I just can't justify making my own mayonnaise with raw eggs.  I will probably not be so picky when I am eating away from home, though we did have a covered dish at church today and I tried to stick with vegetables and meat.  I did have a small piece of coconut cream pie and it tasted soooo good.  Don't know if that was because I hadn't had real sugar in several days or what. 

My husband's college roommate, who is a doctor, closed his Christmas card last year with the admonition to eat only the foods that look like they might have come from a farm.  I guess that is my new goal as far as diet.  The Real Food Pledge just helped me get started.  If you decide to try this, please let me know.  I'd love to follow your progress.

Judy :)

Note - Here are the websites I discovered over the past 10 days dealing with Real Food:

100 Days of Real Food

Nourished Kitchen

July 14, 2011

Day 9: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

One more day to go!  This has been a GREAT experience!

This evening, I am including another recipe.  I was glancing through some blogs at lunch and came up with this pasta meal as a combination of several recipes.  This was made up as I went and is a keeper.  It takes about 30 minutes to cook.

Chicken Pesto Pasta


Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil



Grape or Cherry Tomatoes


No amounts are given because I just made it up as I went.  You can make this for a large group or just for two, as I did.

Bake your chicken breasts in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I drizzle my chicken with olive oil and season with lemon pepper.

Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Remember you only have one chance to salt pasta and be sure to add enough.  I cooked brown rice pasta tonight for my husband's preference.  Whole wheat pasta  or regular pasta would be fine, too.

In a skillet, heat about 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and turning translucent.  Add grape or cherry tomatoes that have been cut in half.  I used a large handful for just the two of us.  Cover and allow the tomato skins to begin to burst.  Now add some pasta water (I began with about 1/2 cup) and pesto.  Stir and cook until the sauce begins to thicken.  Feel free to add more pasta water as needed to adjust thickness.

Remove chicken from the oven and slice on the diagonal.  Add sliced chicken to the pasta sauce and coat.  When the pasta is al dente, add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat the pasta.  Add pasta water if sauce seems too thick.  Serve with parmesan cheese.

We have a house guest this weekend.  Meet Coby!  He is a Shih Tzu puppy.  He belongs to a coworker and we have the privilege of spending the weekend with this ball of fuzz.  Our dachshund has adjusted to the house guest as well as can be expected.  At this very moment, my dachshund is in my lap and Coby is asleep at my feet.  How can a woman be any more loved than that?

Hope you enjoy the recipe and I'll post again on Saturday to close out this series with my thoughts on my diet, health, and real food.

Judy :)

July 13, 2011

Day 7 & 8: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

I didn't really have anything to report yesterday because I ate food prepared earlier in this challenge.  Today, being Wednesday, made our supper a "fix whatever you want evening".  I fixed my usual oatmeal around 8:00 pm this evening, but was "hankering" for some biscuits, too.  I have always made homemade biscuits with self-rising flour, shortening, and buttermilk.  Tonight I found a recipe for whole wheat biscuits and they ended up being a pretty good substitute.  This recipe came from Nourished Kitchen.  She explains whole wheat flour dough made with buttermilk and allowed to soak from 2 hours to overnight make a more tender biscuit.  I made my dough out of 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup cold butter, and 1/2 cup buttermilk after I came home from work and let it soak until about 8:00 (3 hours).  Then I kneaded in 1/2 tsp soda and 1/2 tsp salt (you can definitely use less salt), cut my biscuits and baked at 450 degrees until lightly browned on top.  These biscuit were much better than other whole wheat biscuits I have tried before.  Definitely a recipe to continue playing with.  I also used some Simply Fruit Jam with my biscuits.

Eat healthy!

Judy :)

July 11, 2011

Day 6: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

Today's real food was wonderful.  Look below for a couple of recipes!

I left a crock pot of dried black beans to be cooked while I was at work.  My husband was nice enough to turn them on for me a couple of hours before I got home.  This could have been a great night to have a vegetarian meal, but I have a teenage son who thinks all meals need meat so I decided to add a little bit of meat to the beans.  I shredded a chicken breast after I got home and added it to the beans with a little bit of seasoned salt.  I served the black beans with brown rice, yellow squash (fresh from the garden), corn bread, and guacamole.  The brown rice was quick cooking brown rice out of my pantry.  I need to do some research on quick cooking brown rice to see if it has the same nutritional value as regular brown rice.  The quick cooking brown rice is more tender.  I used 100% Stone Ground White Cornmeal in the corn bread without adding any additional flour.  I really can't tell a difference in the texture or taste compared to adding a little flour to stone ground cornmeal or using a corn meal mix.  The bread rises normally.  I had some avocados that needed to be used so I thought some guacamole would be nice with the beans...and it was!  Wal-Mart's Great Value brand of salsa is all natural -- no unknown ingredients or you can easily make your own.

Here are the recipes for the Corn Bread and Guacamole:

Corn Bread (Southern)

2 Cups 100% Stone Ground Cornmeal (I use Hodgson Mill)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Cups buttermilk
2 eggs, unbeaten
1/3 cup oil

Pour oil into your cast iron skillet (medium to large size) and place in oven.  Turn oven to bake at 425 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Add buttermilk and eggs.  Stir to combine.  Once your oven is warm to 425 degrees remove your skillet and pour the hot oil in your batter.  Stir and pour batter into your iron skillet--enjoy the sizzle!  Place in oven and bake for 25 - 35 minutes until lightly brown on top.

This recipe is easily cut in half and then baked in a 6-8 inch cast iron skillet.  Perfect for two!


1 avocado
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp salsa
1 Tbsp sour cream

Mash avocado with garlic.  Add lime juice, salsa, and sour cream.  Best if prepared at least an hour before serving.  The sour cream adds a nice creaminess to the guacamole.  Cover with saran wrap touching the surface of guacamole to store.

Judy :)

July 10, 2011

Day 5: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

Today is our anniversary.  My husband and I have been married for 24 years!  He has been a wonderful, kind, caring, compassionate man and if I could choose again, I would definitely choose him.  All that aside...we always celebrate our anniversary by eating out at a restaurant.  We got to talking about where we wanted to eat and I told him we needed to eat somewhere with "Real Food".

We knew Italian and Mexican was out of the question because of the pasta and tortillas.  We talked about Cracker Barrel and Red Lobster.  I love Cracker Barrel -- especially their biscuits, but nope they are made with white flour.  I thought about eating their vegetables, but I am sure they are loaded with bacon grease or lard.  We discussed Red Lobster.  I love Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits (again white flour) but they do have baked seafood, steamed vegetables, and baked potatoes.  We decided to eat at Red Lobster.  As soon as the waiter came to the table and got our drink order (water), he said he would be right out with some biscuits.  My husband, the sweetheart that he is, said, "No, we don't want any biscuits tonight."  The waiter kind of raised his eyebrow and looked at me and after cringing inwardly I told him, "No, we'd better not..."  That was tough.  I think the toughest thing so far to turn down.  I had their oven broiled flounder with a baked potato (sour cream & butter on the side) and salad (with oil and vinegar).  I was pleasantly filled when we left -- not overly stuffed as I usually am when I leave a restaurant.  I remember reading somewhere that the Japanese eat to 80% full and then stop.  I would say I was 80% full.  And that was good!

I'll leave you tonight with a picture of Charlie & me taken 2009.

Judy :)

July 9, 2011

Day 4: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

Vacation Bible School is not for someone taking a Real Food Pledge.  The menu was hotdogs (more ingredients than I want to read or pronounce), white buns (not whole wheat), cookies & brownies (sugar), potato chips (fried) and soft drinks (sugar).  I drank bottled water and waited until I got home to have a couple of pieces of cold pizza left over from last night.  Now, let me make this clear -- after this 10 days of Real Food, I do not plan to turn my nose up at food put before me when I am out in public.  I think it is always good manners to enjoy the food and fellowship when you are with others.  I do HOPE that after these initial 10 days I will be more conscientious of what I eat and purchase for my family.  I am enjoying the low sugar aspect of this plan.  When you can only eat honey or maple syrup, it really cuts out what sweets you eat.  You either have to make it from scratch or do without.  The same with some bread products.  We'll see how the rest of my 6 days go.

My husband chose his spelt pizza for supper tonight so I fixed myself breakfast...my favorite food!  I had grits with scrambled eggs on top and a little shredded white cheddar cheese.  Breakfast bowls are so good and so much more nutritious if you make them yourself.

I'll leave you tonight with a shot of our cat, CC, hiding under the okra plants in our garden.  Looking forward to the okra!

Judy :)

July 8, 2011

Day 3: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

For breakfast I tried out that whole wheat banana bread I made last night.  It was a bit dry, but I toasted it with some butter (real butter) and it was pretty good.  I'll be working on that recipe.  I enjoyed my coffee sweetened with real maple syrup and half & half creamer this morning.  I am actually enjoying it a little less sweet than I have in the past.  Maybe no sugar is changing my taste buds.  Lunch was vegetables leftover from last night.  Supper was that wonderful pizza above.

I made one crust with spelt flour and one with whole wheat flour.  The spelt crust actually turned out the better of the two.  The spelt crust is shown in the picture above.  The spelt flour rose nicely and looked better once the pizza was done.  I had done some research on spelt and learned a tip.  When working with spelt, you don't want to work the bread too much.  Spelt has quite a bit of protein and will get tough if it is kneaded.  I only stirred the dough until it was together and then put it in the refrigerator to rise.  I took the dough out and made my crust without any kneading.  The whole wheat crust was much stiffer than what I thought it should be.  I have made whole wheat pizza crust before and it has turned out well.  Maybe I measured something wrong...I just don't know.  I'll try my recipe the next time.

The toppings I used tonight were pesto, artichoke hearts, yellow squash (uncooked), sweet onion, tomato, goat cheese, baked chicken thinly sliced (from last night), and white cheddar cheese.  It really turned out nice.  You can view the pizza recipe I used here.  We had enough of both pizzas left to cover several lunches or suppers in the next couple of days.

Tomorrow we have a one day vacation bible school at church.  It may be challenging to find something under the "real food" category for lunch.  I'll let you know!

Judy :)

July 7, 2011

Day 2: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

I would really love some french vanilla coffee creamer about right now!  I believe I may be going through a sugar withdrawal, but that would probably be a good thing.  I have done well the past couple of days with my diet.  I have eaten a lot of vegetables and whole grains.  The whole wheat bread from Whole Foods has been wonderful.  The only problem is we don't have a Whole Foods Market close to us.  I purchased the bread at the market in Nashville.  I will be trying to make some whole wheat bread in my bread machine this weekend.  My brother makes his own bread and I plan on trying his recipe.

One of my learning experiences so far has been with the 5 ingredient rule.  Twice I have found products with 5 ingredients, no unknown ingredients, low in sodium (one of the things I watch for)...seems like something I could eat.  Once I begin eating and thinking how wonderful it is that I have found something with real ingredients, I realize it has sugar in it instead of honey or maple syrup or it is made with rice flour and is obviously white rice flour-not brown rice flour.  This happened with a Kashi granola bar which I had for a snack today and some rice crackers with my supper last night.  I ate them anyway and decided I would do better tomorrow :).

This experience has taught me that in order to know what is in your foods, you need to make them yourself.  I did make some whole wheat banana bread this evening for something a little sweet as a snack.  It is made with whole wheat flour and honey.  I also made some spelt and whole wheat pizza dough for supper tomorrow night.  It is in the refrigerator as I type and hopefully rising for a good pizza crust tomorrow night.  We had some friends give us some homemade pesto and I baked extra chicken tonight to go on top of the pizza.  Looking forward to that!  My husband has been cutting gluten out of his diet so I am experimenting with spelt for him.

"Tomorrow is another day!"

Judy :)

July 6, 2011

Day 1: 10 Days of Real Food Pledge

Today I begin the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge.  You can read about one family's 100 days of real food on their blog here.  After 100 days, they made this part of their everyday life.  I intend to blog daily during these 10 days and share my discoveries with you.  I am already thinking I will be real thankful that it is summertime and the garden is beginning to give us some produce!

I began to think about additives and preservatives in our food a couple months ago.  I noticed a loaf of bread in our pantry that had been there for at least a month.  When I checked it to see if it was still good, I was surprised that it was!  There was no mold or bad smell to the bread and it was still soft.  Is that natural?  How can bread last for a month without some sort of spoilage?  Homemade bread doesn't last even a week...how can manufactured bread last longer.  What preservatives had been added to the bread?  Can that be healthy?  I started questioning the list of 20+ ingredients on the bread wrapper.  A couple of weeks ago, I ran across the 100 Days website and verified several of my fears.

I decided after July 4th (I had to enjoy my celebration, didn't I?) I would take the 10 day pledge.  Basically, the 10 day pledge consists of these items:

      What you can eat:
  • Whole foods straight from nature
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, unsweetened yogurt and eggs
  • 100% whole wheat and whole grains
  • Seafood - wild caught
  • Locally raised meats (good thing our family raises our own!)
  • Beverages:  water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea
  • Dried fruit, nuts, seeds, popcorn
  • Sweeteners:  Honey, Maple Syrup, and fruit juice concentrates
      What you cannot eat:
  • No refined grains - white flour (must contain Whole Wheat)
  • No refined sweeteners - sugar, corn syrup, cane sugar, or artificial sweeteners
  • Nothing out of a bag or box with more than 5 recognizable ingredients
  • No deep fried foods
  • No fast foods
The hardest habit for me to break is my flavored french vanilla coffee creamer.  I already knew that it added mega calories to my coffee, but it is definitely not on the list - more than 5 ingredients and many unrecognizable.  The serving listed on the label is only 1 tablespoon.  One tablespoon is definitely not enough!  I use at least a 1/4 of a cup which is three tablespoons -- the fat and calories really add up.  AND I usually have more than one cup!  I am learning to tolerate my coffee with maple syrup and half & half...a little healthier option.

I read this challenge a couple of weeks ago and have been more aware of reading labels.  Did you realize that there are very few items with just 5 or less ingredients that you can actually recognize?  I will definitely be making more homemade items in the next 10 days instead of purchasing prepackaged groceries.

I began this morning with oatmeal sweetened with maple syrup and chai tea sweetened with honey.  I added some organic whole milk to the tea -- a habit I picked up visiting my brother in Scotland.  For lunch today, I have a slice of whole wheat bread from Whole Foods, white cheddar cheese (no colorings or preservatives), and 1/2 of a chicken breast thinly sliced that I baked last night.  Tonight (Wednesday night) we have church at 6:00 pm, so supper at our house is usually anything you can put together for yourself from the pantry and refrigerator.  I'll have to think on that one.  So far so good.

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Judy :)

July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011: Repost - Sour Cream Potato Salad

Happy 4th of July!  Potato Salad goes hand in hand with 4th of July celebrations.  We are meeting with some friends from church for our annual 4th of July celebration and I am taking my Sour Cream Potato Salad.  I thought I would repost this recipe for you.  I posted this for the first time just a year ago and it has been my second most viewed blog post.  This recipe is probably one my most requested recipes from friends and family, too.  Enjoy the recipe (again) and I wish for you an exciting but relaxing holiday!

Sour Cream Potato Salad

Unpeeled or peeled red potatoes, cut in bite size pieces and boiled, about 8 - 9 medium potatoes

6 slices of bacon, diced, and fried crisp

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill or dill weed, to taste

1 Tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3-4 green onions

Cook the potatoes and fry the bacon crisp.  Combine dill or dill weed, vinegar, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth and creamy.  Add dressing and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to cooled potatoes.  Slice green onions and their stems.  Sprinkle extra 1/2 cup on cheddar cheese on top of potato mixture, then sprinkle green onion and crisp bacon pieces.

I am not a huge raw onion fan.  I love the taste that an onion leaves behind, but just don't like the bite.  Leaving the onions on top of the salad allows the onion lovers to get as much as onion as they want and allows folks like me to dig deeper to leave the onions behind.

Judy :)