Reading your way to better health

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When we decided at the end of last year to host a book club at my store, The Daily Apple, I had no idea it would be so eye-opening and so much fun! When we chose the book, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter I had not read the book and I had no idea how much I would love this book.

I always enjoy reading a good book about health but this one tops the list for importance of subject matter and proper research. Dr. Perlmutter clearly shows us how what we are eating is affecting not only our brains but our daily health. For those of you who want research and in-depth information on how the body works, this book is for you.

Early on in the book club, we were discussing changing how we eat. And one of my favorite comments from the group was when a woman said, “Well I figure whatever I have been doing is not working so why would I not try this approach.” This is such a powerful statement. So many times we go throughout our health journeys not feeling well. We try everything we can to improve our health and nothing works. We exercise more, we take pills to help us feel better, we try everything we possibly can but often fail to take a look at the food we are eating! We make hundreds of excuses why we cannot change what we eat.

Every week I was inspired and encouraged from the people in the group! It is so fun to learn alongside of people who are positive, difference makers. The people who attended the book club were determined to make changes and slowly work on improving health. These women were genuine, real, honest and positive! It was so refreshing to see a group of positive people come together and then notice how healthier eating improves the way we feel.

Dr. Perlmutter teaches us to look at what we have been taught about healthy eating and then ask ourselves if it has really been working. He dispels the myth that fat is bad. He makes a strong argument that our bodies (and especially our brains) need fat.

This book gives eye-opening, heart-wrenching stories of how healthy food can improve serious health conditions. Chapter 6 was one of my favorite because he talks about other health conditions that grain free diets can help with…things like Tourette’s, autism, anxiety, depression and more. I got really emotional when I turned the pages of this chapter. And my hope is this book will help open our eyes to how the foods we eat affect how our bodies behave.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and give it a read. And even if you don’t want all of the research and scientific explanations, you can skim through that part and still get the point of the book. I am excited to announce we are having another book club at Schafer’s Health & Gifts in Worthington, MN, on Tuesday, March 4. If you are in the area, I encourage you to attend. I am sure we will have a great group of people who want to take small steps to improve their health. And hey, even if you do not live around Worthington, you can participate in the book club through our Facebook event- where we will share ideas, recipes and more.

 

Fresh food delivered locally

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When I met Freya Thurmer last year summer at the Worthington Farmers Market, I could tell she had a real passion for fresh, local food! We instantly connected in talking about locally grown, whole food. When I met her husband Tim, a week or so later, it was obvious they both have a passion for growing quality food. They had some of the best salad greens and kale I have ever tasted and for the first time in my life I tried a lemon cucumber. It was so delicious and even better it was grown just down the road near Jackson, MN.

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Recently on a cold winter day, when Freya told me about their new endeavor 10 Acres Flat, I was ecstatic! Aww, the thought of fresh, local produce in the dead of winter is such a pleasant thought. I am so excited that we now have a farm share program in the local area. On the 10 Acres Flat website, the Thurmer’s describe their business as follows, “A farm share is also commonly known as community-supported or community-shared agriculture (CSA). When you buy a subscription from 10 Acres Flat it’s just like a subscription to the Sunday Times or Newsweek, but instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a box (share) of locally grown fruits, vegetables and other fresh farm goods (eggs, dairy products, meat, etc.).”

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We took time Tuesday, to enjoy a cup of coffee at the local coffeehouse (BenLee’s in Worthington) and talk about local food and the Thurmers “Midwest Farm Revival.” The time went way too fast.

Freya relocated all the way from the mountains of Idaho to the prairie of Jackson, MN, for love. She previously taught agriculture and FFA and managed the University of Idaho’s organic farm. The Thurmer’s currently live on Tim’s family Century farm in southwest Minnesota.

“I love growing food. Everybody wants to do something they love and I am lucky enough to be able to do it,” she said. “It is important for me and my family to get food grown locally because it’s more nutritious, it tastes better and it supports the local economy.”

Being a part of a CSA, gives people the opportunity to experience varieties of fresh produce they have never tried before (kind of like the lemon cucumbers I fell in love with at the farmers market last year). Freya talked of tomatoes as being a good example of a crop that offers a wide variety. There are many heirloom varieties and a small scale farm can produce more options.

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“What I like about a CSA is developing relationships with people. You get to know the people eating your food and you have a greater sense of ownership of what you are putting in to your body,” Freya explained.

“Personally I feel the issues we see in children like ADD/ADHD is attributed to diet. The amount of sugar and processed foods in our diets have led to attention disorders and food allergies. The way we process the food and what is in it is making us very unhealthy. Why would you choose a food item with artificial dyes and preservatives when you can get food without it?”

Not only does Freya plan to supply people with quality, local food, she also plans to give people helpful information about the food they are eating. She will provide recipes for specific foods that are being delivered and she will also give instructions on how to preserve foods to store throughout the year. In the future she also plans to offer canning and food preservation classes at the Thurmer farm.

The Thurmers have committed to delivering farm shares to customers from Fairmont to Worthington. People interested in purchasing a farm share can check out 10 Acres Flat website or Facebook page. It is easy to get signed up and be sure not to miss the out on this great opportunity to get a variety of locally produced goods delivered for about 20 weeks May through October. Now remember, if you are interested contact them while there are still shares available. They need to know who wants to buy a share (or a half share) so they can plant the right amount of produce. So let them know soon because planting season is just around the corner!

Wellspring Devotion Feb. 18, 2014

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18-Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Let’s be honest here friends, this is a hard verse to live out daily. It sounds so simple as it is written but let’s be real—life and our own emotions get in the way and make it difficult to heed the advice in this verse. This winter has been cold and long, and it is wearing on people’s emotions. I know many people, including myself, who have been experiencing some really dark times including depression, anxiety, negative self-talk and more. To be honest for the last three weeks, I have tried to sit down and write devotions and no words come. I have been feeling distant from God and not prepared to put words on paper. Satan is on the prowl and he is attacking each day and we must be aware. Later in 1 Thessalonians in verse 22, it says, “Abstain from every form of evil.” God knows we are tempted and we are sinful beings. Paul reminds us in this verse to stay away from evil because that is what God commands.

So in the dark times, we must continue on. We must be faithful in prayer and find joy in the difficulties we are going through. God is faithful and will answer our prayers in his way in his own time. Keep pressing on. You never know when you will find peace in a song you hear, a note from a friend, a sermon at church, or a specific Bible verse that speaks to you.

At church Sunday, we sang the song Counting on God by Phillips, Craig and Dean. It exuded so much positive energy. It was great to see the joy that filled the sanctuary. It was a wonderful reminder that God is faithful and only He can get us through the dark times. The words of this song are powerful. When dark times surround you, may you find comfort in these words.

Joy unspeakable that won’t go away
And just enough strength
To live for today
So I never have to worry
What tomorrow will bring
‘Cause my faith is on solid rock
I am counting on God

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Please be with everyone who is going through a dark time right now. There is so much hurt and heartache in this world and we ask you to lead us through these difficult situations and allow us find joy in all that is going on around us. Use these situations to draw us closer to you. Let our hearts and minds not be filled with negative thoughts but with joy because we have hope in you. In your precious name we pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

What is one thing that you do during hard times to help get through it?

What helps you feel better when you are down in the dumps?

Wellspring Devotion Feb. 4, 2014

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Psalm 34:8-“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

What power in the Psalmists words, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” These words tell us to take action and see the many wonders of our Lord around us. This verse is telling us to taste….this takes effort on our part. We must actively engage ourselves in growing our faith and feeding our hunger to learn more and live more like Christ. The Bible is one of the best places to get started in feeding our hunger. When we take time to get into God’s word we can learn the truths of the Bible and live them out in our daily life. The more we get into the word, the more we will crave it and want to continue on in our daily readings.

It is early in the New Year, and a great time to commit to reading the Bible regularly. There are many ways to go about reading the Bible. You can read one book at a time. You can read topical daily devotions that focus on verses on a specific topic. You can read the Bible chronologically in one year. There are many ways to go about reading the Bible. Find the way that works for you and dive in.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Can we make the commitment to live like David has written in this verse? It is a worthy goal. As we challenge ourselves to do this, we must remember we are imperfect beings and we will mess up many times. It is only with God’s gracious help that we can find solace in him and praise his name at all times.

As we read the Bible, we get a clear picture of what God wants from us. We have to be intentional in all we do and train ourselves to like what God likes. Staying engaged in reading the Bible helps us to flee from partaking in the sins of the world. Instead of tasting what the world has to offer, we choose to savor in the goodness of the Lord. He gives us everything we need. And as Psalm 34:8 says, “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Help us to taste and see that you are good. You are the only one we need. When we are faced with struggles in our daily life or when we think we are too busy to read the Bible, give us the sense to stay the course and do your will! Thank you for all of your wonderful blessings. Please guide me in this New Year to continue to grow closer to you. In your precious name I pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

What is one thing you plan to do this year to continue to grow closer to God?

Have you chosen a Bible verse for 2014? Pick a verse that has special meaning to you right now in this season of your life. Memorize it. Print it out and keep it around so you can be reminded of it daily.

First try at homemade taco seasoning is a keeper!

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Well, for the first time in my life on Sunday, I made homemade taco seasoning. Again, I ask myself why have I not been doing this all along. It is less expensive and free of unhealthy ingredients like MSG, autolyzed yeast and all of the other preservatives that are in the pre-packaged mixes. This was a fun kitchen experience and I actually had to pay close attention and write down what I was doing.

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You see, I have never been one to follow recipes and oftentimes in the kitchen I do not use a recipe, I just put things together. Usually I have pretty good results but sometimes I fail miserably. Like last week, when I added too much stevia to my homemade chocolate. The whole batch tasted terrible. But now that I am writing this blog, I have to pay attention to the details…like how much of each spice I used…I have to be honest I was nervous to make the seasoning because my husband is pretty picky and I am not sure he is sold on my whole idea to not buy packaged seasonings anymore. But when we were at the grocery store Sunday he agreed to not buy a seasoning packet and he said I could try making it.

Oh no pressure at all. First off, I opened my spice cupboard and grabbed all of the spices I thought would be good in taco seasoning. I sat all of the bottles out on the counter and grabbed a measuring spoon and then the fun began. Below is the recipe and I can tell you it was well received. In fact, Doug (knowing how I cook) said I sure hope you wrote that down so we can make it again.  Whew! What a relief. Even though I wrote down the recipe I am pretty sure I will not make it exactly the same next time. Would be good to try a bit more oregano and more cayenne for heat. If you decide to make homemade taco seasoning (or maybe you already have an awesome recipe) let me know how you adjust the recipe. I would love to hear from you!

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Homemade taco seasoning

1 tbsp. chili powder

1.5 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne

Mix together well. Use at least 2 tbsp. per 1 pound of meat. Add seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water to meat when it is fully cooked. Let simmer 15 minutes or so.

 

 

No noodle chicken soup

When the weather forecast was predicting a blizzard for today it put me in the mood for a healthy, warm soup. I decided this morning to make chicken soup without noodles. I was in the mood for something really healthy without the extra carbs. And I thought this would be a great way to use some of the homemade chicken broth I made recently.

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This soup was easy to put together and the flavor was really good. I enjoyed the taste of the herbs in the chicken broth. I like the richer flavor in the homemade broth and I feel good eating it knowing it is loaded with nutrients. I had a bowl for supper, put a couple bowls in the refrigerator for lunches this week and I had a couple bowls left to freeze for future meals.

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No noodle chicken soup

2 chicken breasts, cubed

6 cups of homemade chicken broth (click on this link for recipe)

1 tbsp. oil (I used avocado)

1 tsp. garlic salt

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

3 or 4 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/2 onion, diced

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Cook chicken on medium heat in a pan with oil. Pour about a half cup of chicken broth into soup pot and add all vegetables and garlic salt. Saute for about 5 to 7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the rest of the chicken broth and cooked chicken to soup pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat.

 

Homemade chicken broth: Easy to make & healthier

I was so excited a few weeks ago when I made homemade chicken broth for the first time! It was SO EASY to make and it tastes delicious. It makes me so happy to have 16 cups of broth in the freezer for use in future recipes. No more store bought cans or containers of chicken broth at the Tate house. It really is so easy to make and very inexpensive and remember you will not have MSG, yeast extract or any other icky fillers in your final product. It will be loaded with flavor and all real ingredients. This is a recipe I really just threw together. I used whatever I thought would be good. But, I did write down what I was doing so I could share it here. It tasted really good. You could seriously just throw some chicken and vegetables in this broth and it would be a delicious soup.

So finally, here is the recipe for those of you who have been asking. Let me know if you give it a try. Or who has been doing this for a long time? With how easy it is to make, I hope more of us can get back to making our own, real food. It feels so good to put the leftover chicken bones to use instead of just discarding them and bone broths are loaded with lots of great nutrients. For more information on the benefits of bone broth check out this article by Dr. Amy Meyers. She also has her own variation of a recipe in the article. There really is no science to making bone broth you can create your own anyway you choose. And also, you can make beef broth the same way. So let’s start putting bones to good use and make a healthy broth!

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Homemade Chicken Broth

Bones of 1 chicken

16 cups of water

2 tbsp. Real Salt

2 tbsp. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Cloves of one garlic

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. celery salt

2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. thyme

Put all ingredients in crock pot for at least 9 hours and up to 24 hours on low. Let cool. Can be used right away or put in the freezer for future recipes.

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!