May 23, 2012

Beat The Afternoon Slump

Instead of reaching for candy or a cappuccino when you're feeling sluggish, opt for pistachio nuts or a hard-boiled egg.



Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, do a better job of stimulating the brain cells that help keep us awake and alert than do any other nutrients, a study published in the journal Neuron notes.


Courtesy of Whole Living

The Way I See It: Perfect Plan

You (yes, you!) are precious & honored in God's sight. Isaiah 43:4

You are referred to as the apple of God's eye. Psalm 17:8

You are created in His image, and you are wonderfully made! Genesis 1:27 & Psalm 139:14


He designed you, your personality & your abilities... before you were even born. 
Psalm 139 & Jeremiah 1:5

Before time itself, God knew who you were

He designed you exactly the way He needs you to be.

You were born at the very moment in time when He needed you for His purposes! 


So... let Him start using you, eh? 

God's got a perfect plan for your life! Jer 29:11

He is just waiting for you to ask Him about it! 


Ask and it will be given to you; 
seek and you will find; 
knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

So, go ahead, knock on Heaven's door... 

For everyone who asks receives; 
the one who seeks finds; 
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:8


You will have no regrets when you ask God.
Jesus said He came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly!  John 10:10


Do not let it pass. 
God wants you to walk with Him, 
and He needs to use you for great things. 


Find out what He has destined you to be.





May 16, 2012

Cool Summertime Treats


Strawberry Grapefruit Smoothie
Makes three 1 3/4 cup servings. Hint: you can freeze in popsicle molds!


Ingredients
1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded & chopped
2 cups hulled fresh or frozen strawberries
1 sweet apple (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), cored & chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
1 cup water


Directions
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth 




Banana Ice Cream 
Makes 1 serving



Ingredients
1 banana
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, if desired


Directions
Freeze 1 peeled and chopped ripe banana. 
Puree in food processor. 
Top with sliced almonds, if desired





Recipes & images courtesy of Whole Living





The Way I See It: Hope

When we try to be in control, we eventually just mess it up. We end up...


frustrated
overwhelmed
stressed
angry
irritable



But - when we let God be in control and when we accept His love, we experience a joy, peace and comfort like no other




No matter what struggles you face in life, or what you've been through, or who (or what) has hurt you in the past... those things don't have to consume you. 


They do not have to define you. 




God has given you a hope in Christ, a promise for good, and He has a plan for your future.
God loves you - more than anyone can love you. 


He loves you through all of your faults, and all of your struggles, and in all of your pain. 




We you seem like a mess and your world is falling apart and when you feel like you are unworthy of anyone's love... God loves you! 


He loves you so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for you! 


He died for you because He loves you




He died to take away your pain and all of those things that you think define you. 


He died to wipe away your past, your mistakes and the regrets you live with. 




And, He was raised from the dead so you could have a firm assurance in knowing you having a real, living God who loves you every day, who cares for you, who provides for you and who gives you indescribable peace and joy, even through your hardest times


Only Jesus can provide a hope like that for you. 


I know; I was once that person... 



May 8, 2012

Lemony Pasta with Wilted Arugula



Ingredients
coarse salt and pepper
3/4 pound short tubular pasta
3 cups baby arugula
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (optional)


Directions
In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. 


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine arugula with lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. 


Drain pasta and immediately add to arugula along with olive oil and cheese. Toss and season with salt and pepper. 


Serve topped with more cheese, if desired. Serves 4.








Recipe adapted from Everyday Food. 
Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart. 

Homemade Baby Food

 Homemade baby food will last for 7 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 weeks in the freezer (freeze puree in ice cube trays for easy portions and quicker thawing time)


Pear, Blueberry & Raisin Blend
Babies of all ages love sweet pears and blueberries, but if you try this recipe for babies younger than 8 months, omit the raisins - they can pose a choking hazard.


Ingredients
2 large Bartlett pears (or Anjou or other green pear) 
1 tablespoon raisins
1/2 cup fresh blueberries


Directions 
Peel and core pears. Cut into 1-inch cubes. 
Steam pears and raisins together for 10-minutes, or until pears are soft. Reserve liquid from steamer. 
Combine pears, raisins and blueberries in a food processor. Puree until raisins are finely chopped. Add reserved liquid in 1/8-cup scant increments to achieve desired consistency (smooth for little ones and a bit chunkier once they're eating textured foods). 






Sweet Potato, Spinach & Tofu Blend
Plant proteins are easier to digest than meat, making them ideal for babies younger than 10 or 11 months. 


Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach (about half a bundle)
3/4 cup soft tofu


Directions
Peel and dice the sweet potato into 1-inch pieces. Steam for 20 minutes, or until soft. Reserve the liquid from the steamer. 
Add the sweet potato and 1 cup of the reserved liquid to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add additional liquid to achieve the desired consistency. 
Wash the spinach and remove the stems. Wilt the leaves in the steamer for 7 minutes. 
Add the spinach and tofu to the food processor. Puree until smooth, adding additional reserved liquid. 






Recipes courtesy of Organically Raised: Conscious Cooking for Babies & Toddlers



May 4, 2012

You were bought at a price!

 [Christ] has set you free from spiritual powers of the world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world...
Colossians 2:20




As followers of Christ, we are not of this world and we are to be set free (or set apart) from the 'ways of the world' (See John 17:16, 1 John 2:15, Romans 12:2) 


If we are to be set apart from the 'ways of the world', 
wouldn't it make sense that we are to follow the ways of God's Word instead? 



Before Jesus, the only way a person could be forgiven of their sins and 'made right' in God's eyes was through a sin offering. This sin offering was the sacrifice of an animal - performed in the temple by a priest - on your behalf. 




During the sin offering process, the priest would 'purify' a person before the Lord, making them right with God and thus being forgiven for the sins they had committed. See Leviticus 6


The temple was a Holy Place - it was the place where God was; His house; His dwelling. 


Priests had to be clean, make sacrifices themselves & be purified before they could come to God on another person's behalf. Special care was taken every time a priest entered the temple to make sure that the temple was kept clean & pristine. The priest went to great lengths to make sure he didn't get the temple dirty or ruin it because this was the place where God lived, and He deserves great respect and honor. 


By His grace & mercy, God sent Jesus! and His blood shed washed away the need for rituals and sacrifices... Jesus Himself, His body, was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We don't need to go to the temple and have a priest sacrifice animals for us and our sins. 


Jesus was the sacrificial lamb for our sins, and believers of Christ are now God's temple!

Don't you realize that you together are the temple of God
and the Spirit of God lives in you
1 Corinthians 3:16


Followers of Christ are the temple: we are that most pristine and holy place where God lives every moment of every day. God also tells us that He made our bodies and He cares about them... He cares about our bodies because they are His Holy Temple; His house; His dwelling place! 


You are members of God's family. We are His house. The cornerstone of His house is Jesus. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a Holy temple for the Lord. Through Christ, you are made part of this dwelling where God lives by His spirt. 
Ephesians 2:19-22



They [our bodies] were made for the Lord and the Lord cares about our bodies. 
1 Corinthians 6:13c NLT 


Read the verse above one more time. 


Our bodies were made for the Lord and He cares about them...


Our bodies were not made for ourselves! They were not made so we can do with them whatever we please, or live however we want. Our bodies were not made so we could abuse them, or put bad things into them, or do bad things to them, or to mistreat them, or to make them sick and unhealthy. 




Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 


You body is not just a temple, it is God's temple! and it belongs to Him. God bought you. When Jesus died on the cross and paid for your sins, He also paid for you


You can no longer say, "Well, these are my lungs and I'll smoke it I want to." 
They are not your lungs. 
You can no longer say, "This is my stomach, I'll eat whatever I want to, whenever." 
It is not your stomach. 
You can no longer say, "These are my eyes and I'll look at what I want to." 
They are not your eyes. 
You can no longer say, "This is my mouth and I'll say what I please." 
It is not your mouth. 


We have been bought with a price. We are no longer our own. 




God has the claim of redemption over followers of Christ because He has bought us with the blood of His own son. When we begin to see our bodies as a temple where God lives, it changes our entire perspective... on everything!


We know that the Spirit of God lives in us, our bodies were made for the Lord and they were bought at a price. And, we also know that the priests took special care to make sure the temple was kept clean and pristine. 




Wouldn't it make sense that we also should also take special care to make sure God's temple (our body) is kept clean & pristine? 

Many of us are unhealthy and we don't keep God's temple clean & pristine. We eat & drink whatever we want, we overeat or don't eat enough, we smoke or use drugs, we don't get enough rest, we don't drink enough water, we don't stay in shape... we are all guilty of this.


When we don't take care of ourselves, we start to feel the ill-effects of that neglect: we feel run-down, tired, stressed, irritable, achy, physical pain, and more. Those things cause us to become pre-occupied with our bodies and how we feel [whether physically or emotionally]. And, when we are pre-occupied with ourselves and how we feel, it becomes hard for us to glorify God. We end up focusing on ourselves more than God.


God has this wonderfully good plan for each & every one of us, and we need to give Him the glory, honor and respect of caring for ourselves & taking care to keep our temple's in pristine condition. 


Our bodies were made for the Lord!
We belong to Him!
We are His temple!


everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory
whom I formed and made.
Isaiah 43:7


God wants us to glorify Him in everything we do, including taking care of ourselves - not just spiritually, but physically & emotionally as well - so that He can use us to our fullest potential! 


So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT





Special thanks to http://www.faithandfitness.net/node/319




May 3, 2012

Agave Fresh Fruit Salsa



Ingredients
1-pound strawberries
4 fresh apricots or 2 large peaches
1 1/2 cups fresh, chopped pineapple
1 1/2 cups fresh bluberries
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup agave nectar
1-3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint


Directions
Dice strawberries, apricots and pineapple into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine all fruit and set aside. 


In a small bowl, combine lime juice and agave nectar. Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder (increase by teaspoonfuls to reach desired flavor); mix well. 


Add agave mixture, cilantro and mint to the fruit, tossing until combined. 


Serve immediately with tortilla chips.






Courtesy of floridacrystals.com

Pet-Toxic Plants



Hundreds of common garden plants are potentially harmful to animals. 




Uh-oh! Fido & Fluffy have been enjoying the garden and suddenly they're showing signs of distress. Did they eat something dangerous outside? 


Hundreds of garden plants are toxic to one degree or another, including peonies, honeysuckle, black-eyed Susans, clematis, and hydrangea. Moreover, many common weeds, such as crabgrass and clover, are hazardous, too. Harmful effects from eating these plants include digestive upsets, skin rashes, organ damage and death. With toxic plants surrounding us in nature and in gardens, how do animals manage to survive at all? Most animals, especially those finicky felines, instinctively avoid these plants. Theoretically, dogs and cats eat plants only when they're bored. 


Sometimes the danger is specific to particular animals. Yew, for example, is so deadly to cats and dogs that a dog need only eat one-tenth of 1 percent of its body weight to die! However, deer feast on yew and birds scarf up the berries with no apparent harm. Fireweed and lilies are toxic to cats. Simply ingesting two flower petals or minute bits of stems and leaves can result in renal failure and death. 


The ASPCA has a list of plants that are toxic to cats, dogs and horses on its website at:

If you suspect your pet has ingested a harmful substance, call your veterinarian. But if the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, or having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and take the animal immediately to your veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinarian clinic. 


The ASPCA's Poison Control Center and Pet Poison Hotline are both staffed around the clock to assist with emergencies: 


ASPCA Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435
Pet Poison Hotline: 1-800-213-6680






Common Plants Toxic to Dogs


Azalea: Ingestion of just a few leaves can cause digestive upset, drooling, loss of appetite, weakness, leg paralysis, or even death. 


Apple: Seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides (cyanide). Ingesting enough seeds can provide a fatal dose. 


Grape: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, increased drinking, abdominal pain, and kidney failure. Even if consumed in low quantities over a period of time, the results can be fatal. 


Cherry, plum, peach: Leaves and seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, shock and death. 







Common Plants Toxic to Cats


Ivy: Leaves and berries can cause stomach irritation, diarrhea, coma or death. 


Tulip: These bulbs can damage a cat's mouth and esophagus and cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, and abnormal heart rhythms. Hyacinths and daffodils are also harmful. 


Castor Bean: All parts, but mostly seeds, if chewed, will cause nausea, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst, muscle twitching, convulsions and death. 


Larkspur: Plants and seeds can cause digestive upset, nervous excitement, or depression. Potentially fatal. 





Courtesy of Organic Gardening Vol. 59:4 / Images courtesy of petside.com. sierracanine.com, mycathealth.com

May 2, 2012

Homemade Tomato Soup



Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper


Directions
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.


Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. 


Working in batches, in a blender, puree the mixture until smooth. 


Serves 4.




Photo courtesy of 101cookbooks.org

Health Benefits of Mint




Cancer. Current researches show that certain enzymes present in mint may help cure cancer. Mint acts as a powerful anti-oxidant, protecting the body against the formation of cancerous cells.


Cleanse. Mint is a very good Cleanser for the Blood.


Cold & Flu. Relieves the symptoms of colds and flu. The strong aroma of mint is very effective in opening up congestion of nose, throat, bronchi and lungs. As it cools and soothes throat, nose and other respiratory channels, it gives relief in cough too. Many balms are based on this property of mint. Unlike other inhalers which are based on aerosols, those based on mint are more effective and eco-friendly too. Mint can help with Nasal Allergies.


Asthma. Regular use of mint is very beneficial for asthma patients, as it is a good relaxant and gives relief in congestion. But, over dosage may irritate as well. Mint eases and unblocks the breathing and respiratory passages and airways.


Digestion. Mint is a good appetizer and promotes digestion, due to its typical aroma. It also soothes stomach in cases of indigestion, inflammation, etc. This aroma of mint activates the saliva glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion, thus, it is extensively used in culinary. Relieves symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing the muscles in and around the intestine.


Headache & Pain. Balms based on mint, or simply mint oil, when rubbed on forehead and nose, gives quick relief in headache. Mint relieves minor aches and pains such as muscle cramps and sprains.


Oral Care. This is a well known property of mint. Being a germicidal and breathe freshener, it takes care of oral health by inhibiting harmful bacterial growth inside mouth and by cleaning tongue and teeth. Combats bad breath.


Skin Care. Mint tea can help clear up skin disorders such as acne. It provides a cooling sensation to the skin and can help to treat minor burns, itching and skin irritations. While mint oil is a good Anti-Septic and Anti-Pruritic, mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes skin, cures infections, itching etc., and is also good for pimples. Its anti pruritic properties can be used for treating bites of insects like mosquitoes, honey-bees, hornets, wasps, gnats etc.


Courtesy of: Growing Organic, Eating Organic












Did you know that Mint is a fantastic perennial herb? 

Although it can be invasive in gardens, it also does well in potted  in containers. Mint needs humid soil and only moderate sunshine. It will grow in, out and around all garden plants; this herb is tenacious and dedicated to spreading through the garden. The trick is to keeping it "controlled" is to continuously cut it back and restrict growth. Otherwise this herb can spread like wild fire through your garden in the form of strong willed runners.