Category Archives: Health

Beef stew perfect for cold, winter day

It’s another cold, windy day here in Worthington, Minnesota, and the crazy weather outside has me thinking of beef stew. I wish I would have had this in the crock pot today. It would have been the perfect dinner.

I made this beef stew for our ladies Christmas party at church and it got such great reviews, I made it again for the Walljasper family Christmas. So finally, I am getting around to sharing the recipe on my blog. My friend Stephanie gave me the original beef stew seasoning mix recipe. The recipe below is what I did. I made just a few changes to the recipe. As I said in my homemade fajita post —it is so easy and inexpensive to make your own seasoning mixes. Not only, does it taste better, it is also much healthier because it does not have added ingredients, fillers and preservatives.

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Beef Stew Seasoning Mix

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 tsp. oregano

1 tbsp. basil

1.5 tsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tbsp. celery salt

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. onion powder

Measure all of the ingredients and mix well in a medium size mixing bowl.

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Pour into jar and cover. To use, add 2 to 3 tbsp. of seasoning per pound of meat.

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Crock Pot Beef Stew

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 onion

2 stalks of celery

3-5 potatoes

4 carrots

2-3 parsnips

1.5 cups of beef broth (can use more depending on consistency you prefer)

2-3 pounds stew meat (or a roast cubed)

1 can of petite diced tomatoes (about 1.5  cups if using fresh)

Toss the meat with the spice mix and let it set while preparing the vegetables. Put chopped vegetables in crock pot. Then add stew meat and last add the beef broth. Stir and cook on low for 8 hours or cook for 4 hours on high.

Feel free to add or change the recipe. I have made it with no tomatoes and no parsnips before. So get creative and make changes to whatever suits your taste buds.

I hope you enjoy this hearty beef stew that is perfect for a wintery day!

Amanda

New year: A time to make healthy changes

I love the month of January because getting healthier is one of the top things people are talking about. I am fortunate because in my business we see people every day who want to get healthier. But I love all of the excitement and interest people have in getting healthier come January 1. Now just so you know, I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because so many times people make resolutions and quickly get discouraged and do not keep with it…But this time of year gets us talking about healthy lifestyle changes. My hope is this interest and longing for a healthier life will last not just through the month of January but all year long.

There are many people who make commitments at the start of the year to get healthier and they do just that one little step at a time. They know the importance of making changes and they take that step and decide to start somewhere. So let 2014 be the year you decide to step it up a notch when it comes to taking care of your body.

So where do we start? Here are some recommendations that can be implemented into your daily life.

  1. First off, make sure you drink enough water. I know, I know we hear this all of the time but it is a simple way to be healthier. And when I say drink water here I mean straight water. If you need to flavor it use citrus fruits but do not add artificial flavorings or sweetener to the water.  And all of those “healthy” flavored waters do not count as a daily serving of water. The harmful additives are far worse than the benefits of the water. We all know water is important but the reality is most people are dehydrated. A good suggestion is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day! And if you drink soda, you should drink an extra glass of water for each soda you drink.
  2. Pick one unhealthy food or drink in your diet to cut back on or eliminate from your diet. For example if you are a soda drinker cut back on how much you drink and see if you can get to the point of not drinking any at all. If you love carbs make an effort to cut back on carbs. Do you eat too much processed food? Then cut back on your processed food intake. Remember, this is a process and as you start to change your eating habits you may feel some not so pleasant changes at first. Much of the food we eat today is highly addictive! So changing our eating habits has to be very intentional and it is hard work!
  3. The beginning of the year and at the change of each season is a great time to complete some sort of a detox. There are full body cleansing products you can purchase to help remove toxins from your body. Fourteen years ago this February, is when I completed my first whole body cleanse and started to get a handle on some of my bad habits including my 6 to 8 cans of diet soda a day and a pot of coffee. Just this simple change of not drinking pop and as much coffee helped me start to feel better almost immediately once the horrible side effects from cutting back on caffeine wore off. Even adding a greens drink to your daily regimen can help the body detoxify. Or you can complete a detox eating program like the 21 Day Sugar Detox or the Whole 30 Challenge. There are many options available. It is so important to give our digestive system a break and a cleanse of some sort can help.
  4. Start reading food labels. Be aware of what is in the food you are eating. If it has a lot of ingredients and words you cannot pronounce you probably should not be giving it to your body for fuel! Our bodies will only perform as well as the food we give it. We have the choice to fuel our bodies with whole, nutritious food or processed garbage. For me, reading labels gets me pretty fired up and discourages me from buying things I should not eat.

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5. Eat more fruits and vegetables! These wonderful, colorful foods are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and they help us feel full.

6. Find time to prepare your own meals. (And preparing a meal does not include throwing a frozen pizza in the oven to bake). We are all very busy but we cannot use being busy as an excuse to not eat well! So throw that excuse out the window and find a little time each week to cook.  Remember it is what we give our body that makes it work well. The better we eat, the better we feel and the better we can handle our busy lives. We all have different schedules so you have to find what works best for you. For me, Sundays are a good day to do food prep for the week. I like to make recipes in big batches and then freeze items to use through the week and beyond. Also, when we are preparing meals on the weeknights we make plenty so we have leftovers for lunch the next day.

7. If you are committed to becoming healthier, clean out your cupboards. Gradually use up the unhealthy foods you have hanging around your kitchen. It is much easier to eat healthy and feed your family better when there is not junky food in the house. If you have a lot of groceries stocked up this might take awhile but it is worth it. And for some of you—you might just decide to throw unhealthy items away to get rid of them quicker. Shortly after Christmas I did this. I threw away a few gluten free sugar cookies that were left from my family celebration. By this point, I was so sugared out I knew I could not keep them around.  And remember if getting your kitchen loaded with healthy foods is your goal, you have to quit buying the junk each time you go to the store.

Small, consistent changes lead to big, life-long results! You can do this!

Amanda

A taste of summer during the cold of winter

 

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Cilantro! Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a partial bunch of cilantro sitting in my refrigerator. Why is deciding what to have for supper always such a hard decision? Tonight my husband had a meeting so I knew I wanted to make supper (and tonight is the only night this week I will be home for supper) so all morning I was trying to come up with an idea. Finally, it came to me…Cilantro Lime Chicken Breasts with Mango-Avocado Salsa.

So, I just finished eating supper now and it was delicious! My husband agreed! We had to stop ourselves from eating all of the mango salsa so we could have some for leftovers! And what I love most about this meal, is it reminded me of summer…or even better being on a tropical vacation somewhere! I am definitely putting this recipe in my summer collection so we can grill the chicken breasts. That would have added even more flavor to this tasty dish! The Mango-Avocado Salsa would taste great with fish also!

Here is the recipe…

Cilantro Lime Chicken Breasts

2-4 chicken breasts

2 tbsp. avocado or olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. garlic salt

Combine ingredients and spread over chicken breasts. Marinate in a covered bowl in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Then you can bake the chicken breasts at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, fry on the stove top or grill.

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Mango-Avocado Salsa

1 mango diced

1 avocado diced

½ purple onion diced

1 red pepper diced

1 jalapeno pepper diced

½ bunch cilantro chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. garlic salt

Combine ingredients and stir gently. Do not over stir. Spoon over chicken breasts and serve!

 

 

It’s time for a giveaway…

Here it is—Be Real has its first giveaway under way and it continues through 12 a.m. January 19. It is easy to be entered to win. All you have to do is like our Facebook page and if you want an extra chance to win comment on any one of the Be Real blog posts! If you have enjoyed what you have read so far at Be Real, we hope you will share it with your friends so they can follow us too!

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A special thanks to Schafer’s Health & Gifts for sponsoring our first giveaway here at Be Real. So why I am I giving away a Camelbak water bottle, coconut oil and tea? As we start off the new year and want to make healthy lifestyle changes these are a few products that can help!

The Camelbak will help you drink more water on a daily basis. We all know how important water is and it is one of the easiest things we can do to be healthier! The leakproof Camelbak bottles are great for a day at work (you don’t have to worry about spilling water on your computer) and they are great for traveling. Pretty much anytime of day you can pick up your bottle for some much needed water.

Coconut oil is one of my favorite products because it can be used for almost everything! I love it so much I actually have a jar in my bathroom and in my kitchen. I use it on my skin and face and I recently learned from who else other than my Mom that it works for deodorant too! I am happy to report I have been using it for about a month and it works great! Coconut oil is pure and it has moisturizing properties and it is a one-ingredient product. It is not loaded with icky chemicals and fillers. It is the real deal. And in the kitchen, coconut oil can be used as a cooking oil. You can fry eggs in it, put it on popcorn, put a spoonful of it in your coffee or tea to get healthy fats right away in the morning, use it in baking and if you are really brave you can just eat it by the spoonful.

For more coconut oil uses check out this list from Wellness Mama. The list truly goes on and on.

Now on to the tea, that we are giving away. I am not going to tell you I love tea like I love to drink water and use coconut oil. In fact, my goal this year is to drink more tea! I do like tea but I just don’t drink it as often as I should. So this year when I am in that afternoon lull and need a pick me up or when I need to relax and unwind I want to grab for a nice cup of tea. There are so many great health benefits from drinking antioxidant rich teas! This year, I will drink more tea. And hopefully you my followers will hold me to that.

Don’t delay, click here to get entered in our first giveaway at Be Real!

Here’s wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

Amanda

 

For the love of cranberries…

Ok, I can’t believe I am admitting this at age 37, but I bought fresh cranberries for the first time in my life just over a month ago! Yes, I was walking through the grocery store shortly after Thanksgiving and the beautiful bags of bright, red berries just jumped out at me. I decided I must buy some. Truly, I had no idea what I was going to do with them but I know they are healthy and they sure look pretty! In my health food stores, we sell a lot pure cranberry concentrate and cranberry capsules because of their antioxidant properties. But hey, we have to eat so why not add some fresh cranberries to your diet also!

When I got home I looked through some cranberry recipes and did not like the ingredients I found in most of them. So what did I do? Make up my own cranberry recipe. Most recipes call for canned cranberries….UGH….we have to get away from the canned goods and back to REAL food!

Now fresh cranberries are tart-yes very tart. So when making recipes with them it is easy to load on the sugar and quickly make the recipe unhealthy. So be aware and use sweetener with caution. And while you are eating them be sure to remember they are high in antioxidants and high in vitamin C. Cranberries are super healthy! I am not sure why we don’t hear more about cranberry recipes.

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Cranberry Dessert
1 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries (wash well)
1/2 cup local honey
Juice of one fresh orange
1 tbsp. juice from fresh lemon
1/4 tsp. Redmond’s Real Salt

Simmer honey, orange and lemon juice for three minutes in a saucepan. Then add cranberries. Simmer for 5 minutes while stirring. Add salt and simmer another 6 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate in a glass bowl for serving later. Top with pecans or other nut of your choice, if you want.

One cranberry recipe was not enough so when I was at the grocery store again a week later I decided I needed to buy another bag of cranberrries. This time I was going to make Cranberry-Lemon Muffins (I modified another recipe I have for muffins to find a way to use cranberries.)

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Cranberry-Lemon Muffins

6 eggs

1 tbsp. juice from fresh lemon

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

6 tbsp. local honey

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup cranberries, washed well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another bowl. Once each are mixed well, combine the two and stir well. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan (I greased my pan with coconut oil) or into lined muffin cups.  You can top the muffins with fresh cranberry slices or pecans if you want. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

These muffins were delicious and I actually liked the taste and texture of them even better a couple days later. I shared some with friends but because I do not eat a lot of carbs on a daily basis I had some to freeze. I love having a homemade muffin like this in the freezer so mornings when I have to drive or run to an early morning meeting I can grab breakfast on the go. And when I grab these muffins loaded with cranberries I feel good about what I am putting in my body!

After making the Cranberry-Lemon Muffins, I had some cranberries left that I just could not let go to waste so I made a quick breakfast meal.

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Quick, healthy breakfast in a bowl

 1½  cups of almond milk

¼ cup chia seeds

 1½  tsp. pure vanilla

¼ cup of fresh cranberries

In this recipe I used one packet of Stevia sweetener. You could also use honey or pure maple syrup.

Mix together in glass bowl with lid and refrigerate. You can make this easy recipe with any fruit of your choice. Feel free to get creative and add cinnamon and other spices.

I would love to hear some of your favorite fresh cranberry recipes with real food ingredients!

~ Amanda