Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Green Tea?

Green tea has become part of my daily routine. As I've written before, I am making a real effort to change my eating habits, and incorporate some new, good habits. In addition to the Omega 3 food addition to our weekly meal plan, I have begun drinking green tea every day. Today I thought I would share some of its benefits.

One fact I was surprised to discover is that although teas may be created equal, but they don't come to our table equal. Although they come from the same botanical source, they are processed differently. Most teas are allowed to oxidize...but green tea leaves are steamed. Black tea and oolong tea (served in chinese restaurants) are made from fermented leaves, which results in the valuable EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) being converted into other compounds. It is this EGCG, as well as other catechin polyphenols (definitions found here) that is so powerful in their antioxidant properties.

Besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, EGCG kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. That's more important than it first sounds when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. There are many more benefits to drinking green tea. It is also known to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, infection, and impaired immune function. It has even been shown to help burn more calories, hence its presence in many diet aids.

For these reasons and more, green tea has become my first hot drink of the morning instead of coffee. I try to have at least two cups per day, with an eye on that is recommended in order to receive all its benefits.
Although making a cup of tea may seem elementary, producing the perfect cup of green tea is a tricky process. If not handled properly, those same polyphenols that provide health benefits can ruin the flavor, making the tea taste "gassy." It's particularly important not to overbrew. While it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions for each variety of green tea, here are some general instructions:

Use one tea bag, or 2 - 4 grams of tea,* per cup.
Fill a kettle with cold water and bring to a boil.
After unplugging the kettle, allow it to stand for up to 3 minutes.
Pour the heated water over the tea bag or tea, and allow it to steep for up to 3 minutes.
If using a tea bag, remove the bag.
Allow the tea to cool for three more minutes.

*One to two teaspoons, depending on the variety of green tea you are brewing.

Of course, just heating the water to boiling and pouring it over my tea bag works too! ;)

Hope some of this info is helpful to you, and perhaps will encourage you to replace a couple of cups of coffee with some good green tea.

Today I am thankful for:

1. having rediscovered the goodness of juicing
2. the beautiful flowering shrubs and trees that are everywhere this time of year (and it is just beginning! :)
3. a great weekend with three nephews
4. beating my husband in Scrabble (finally)!
5. the hope that is always ours in Jesus Christ

Friday, March 28, 2008

Creamed Turkey (or Memories from Childhood)

2 c. milk
2/3 c. turkey or chicken stock
4 T. butter or Smart Balance 50/50
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper (or black)
4 T. flour
4 c. cooked, diced leftover turkey (include dark adds good flavor)
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
toasted bread, cut and halved into triangles

In a 3 qt. pot or large no-stick skillet, heat the milk, butter, and stock over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper, whisking constantly, eliminating all lumps. As it comes to a boil, it will thicken...mix in turkey and peas. If it gets too thick, stir in a little more milk. Serve over toast triangles or bisquits. Deeelish!

Leftover Turkey Stock

You can feel really good about not wasting anything the next time you make a turkey. Making stock is not hard or complicated. You'll be rewarded with delicious soup, and an amazing aroma will fill your home as you make the stock. And you don't even have to make soup right away -- just freeze the stock. I freeze it in 1 and 2 cup portions in freezer bags...label them and lay them flat in the freezer...takes up very little space. Found this recipe by Lennie at

4½ hours 20 min prep 8 cups

1 turkey carcass

16 cups cold water
2 large celery ribs, sliced
2 large carrots, scraped and sliced
2 onions, quartered (do NOT peel)
10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley (or more, if you wish)
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried thyme

First, you need a turkey carcass, stripped of all its meat. You'll also likely discover that you'll be able to rescue a lot of meat off the carcass; this is a bonus, since you now have the meat for the soup as well.

Try to make the stock the day after the turkey was cooked, but if you have to wait another day or so, that's okay; it'll taste best, though, if you can get to it soon.

Let's get started; first, get out a large pot.

Next, start to strip off any meat clinging to the carcass; put this in a container and set aside; note that this is a hands-on job and you will get a little messy; that's okay, both your hands and your counter wash up easily.

As you are stripping off the meat (don't fret, you won't get it ALL, some stubbornly clings to the bones and that's okay, it too flavours the stock), continue to break up the bones and put them in the pot; also put in the pot any turkey skin and all the other assorted"bits" that aren't edible meat.
When you have the pot full of bones, pour the cold water over and turn heat to high; bring to a boil.

Now wash up and prepare the veggies and parsley; make sure to leave the onion skin ON as it gives your stock a lovely rich colour. (I also add my freezer bag of veggie peels, ends, etc.)

When the stock comes to a boil, add all remaining ingredients and turn heat down to a lightly bubbling simmer, the type where the bubbles barely break the surface.

Now let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every once in a while.
I much prefer letting it reduce down to where I'll only get 7 or 8 cups of stock; I find the flavour much better and stronger, even if I have to add water when making the soup.

If you only let it simmer till you have about 12 cups of stock, it will be ready sooner but the flavour is much weaker.

Once you feel your stock is ready, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl; if your sieve is not fine, line it first with cheesecloth; discard the bones and veggies you used to make the stock, all their goodness is now in your stock.

Refrigerate stock, covered, for several hours or preferably overnight; then you can either make soup the next day, or freeze the stock; but make sure you first skim off the solidified fat. By the way, it's normal for the cold stock to "gel"...this happens because of the gelatin in the bones.

Five Things I Am Thankful For Today

1. The success He has given my son in business...thank you Lord!
2. The Champion Juicer that has been in the pantry too long...I remember praying for one for the longest time and finally using a tax return to buy it 9 years ago. What a blessing to be able to make a fresh glass of healthful juice!
3. The magnificence of our physical bodies...what a wonderful Creator!
4. Turkey's so great to be able to make Turkey Stock, Creamed Turkey, Turkey Potpie and more! (I'll post the recipes)
5. My rich and free!

Friday, March 21, 2008

God is Faithful and Can Be Trusted

Thank you Lord...

1. For test results that reveal no present cancer
2. For the knowledge that He hears our prayers...and answers!
3. For family and friends who are faithful in their prayer support
4. For the beauty of the mountains all around us in this incredible Pacific Northwest
5. For the abundance of fruits and vegetables all around us

Monday, March 17, 2008

Whate'r My God Ordains is Right

It is good to remind ourselves of the truth of these words....

Whate'r my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er He doth,
and follow where He guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate'r my God ordains is right: He never will deceive me:
He leads me by the proper path; I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent; His hand can turn my griefs away,
and patiently I wait His day.

Whate'r my God ordains is right: though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart, I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate'r my God ordains is right: here shall my stand be taken; though sorrow, need, or death be mine, yet am I not forsaken. My Father's care is round me there; He holds me that I shall not fall: and so to Him I leave it all.

I say it again..."My Father's care is round me here; He holds me that I shall not fall: and so to Him I leave it all. Amen."

Thank you Lord....

Today's gifts:

1. That now-familiar sound of a picture message coming over my cell phone... of my delightful grandson... instantly brightens my day!
2. Finally, a new DVD player to watch good movies on

3. Leftovers, for a take-it-easy kind of day
4. The timely message of an old rich for the soul
5. My considerate husband, who is always so willing to lend a hand with the dishes...I am blessed.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Just a List?

Having decided to list 5 things I have to be thankful for each day, I wonder sometimes if it will become just a "list." As I sit and record each item, there are times I really have to think. Does that mean I'm just conjuring something up in order to have 5 items? Is it becoming something I "have" to do?

No, in fact that is the very reason I am doing it. I am making a conscious effort to turn my focus and thinking to the good, the eternal, the positive. The very exercise of "having to think about it" is so valuable. I am training a new habit in myself.

We all have so much to be thankful for. Here are the gifts in my life today:
  1. The simple happiness in making my husband a cup of tea when he is sick
  2. The fulfillment of praying together
  3. The riches of having an abundance of books in the house, and having had the education to be able to read and understand them
  4. The incredible amount of help and information that is available through the worldwide web
  5. For the comfort and instruction of God's Word in our moments of need

Natural (and good-tasting!) Cold Remedy

Having just gotten over a cold myself, I find that I have passed it on to my husband! It's no fun to watch the people we love suffer with illness anytime, but when I've been the carrier....well, it makes me feel even worse!

Kimi Harris, a dear young lady who has a couple of very good blogs, Womanly Pursuits and The Nourishing Gourmet, has posted a natural remedy that I tried and was pleasantly surprised to find tasted very good! Getting Terry to try my natural or herbal remedies is always a challenge, so if it doesn't taste good, forget it!

Don't be put off by all the garlic...I used 8 good sized cloves and it turned out great. Also, add honey a little at a don't need fact, I think this tea is so good with just the garlic and lemon that I could drink it without any sweetening. But go ahead and add some's good for you.

Honey, Garlic and Lemon Tea
8 cloves of crushed garlic, simmered in two cups of water for 20 minutes.
Strain. Add into the strained water...
The juice from one fresh lemon and honey to taste.
Sip slowly throughout the day, or drink a half cup every hour

This works best at the onset of a cold, before the symptoms are full-blown. Really, though, it is beneficial anytime...before a cold or when exposed to someone with a cold, it would be a great immune-booster...and in the middle of a cold when the illness is at its worst, it will help build your good health. Try'll like it!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Today I am thankful for:
1. For our postal service...although we have children and grandchildren 2,000 miles away, we are able to share our hearts and bless them with Easter baskets
2. For my son and his wife finding a new home in the area and price range they hoped for
3. For the sweet, gentle heart of my husband
4. For my brother and his new wife...God has blessed our family with Tracy, and has given me encouragement through her
5. For an abundance of great online recipes readily available

When I am Afraid....

In my ongoing struggle to fix my thoughts on God, His promises and His faithfulness, He speaks words of peace and comfort to me. He shows me what to do in difficult times, in the midst of trouble.

1 I will confess and praise You [O God] with my whole heart; before the gods will I sing praises to You.
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!
3 In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me with strength (might and inflexibility) in my inner self.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. PSALM 138

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Grace of Strength

Ever think about doing strength training for our spiritual health? Read on!

"Every trouble is an opportunity to win the grace of strength. Whatever else trouble is in the world for, it is here for this good purpose: to develop strength. For a trouble is a moral and spiritual task. It is something which is hard to do. And it is in the spiritual world as in the physical, strength is increased by encounter with the difficult. A world without any trouble in it would be, to people of our kind, a place of spiritual enervation and moral laziness. Fortunately, every day is crowded with care. Every day to every one of us brings its questions, its worries, and its tasks, brings its sufficiency of trouble. Thus we get our daily spiritual exercise. Every day we are blessed with new opportunities for the development of strength of soul." REV. GEORGE HODGES b.1856

God is so Good

Today I thank God for:
  1. 1. Giving my Dad another 10 years with us when we thought we'd lost him after his two strokes
  2. 2. Our wonderful pets...Journey, my gentle black lab/greyhound mix who has brought me joy for over 11 years ~ Zeke, who, although brings some challenges is a very loving and affectionate golden who gets better everyday ~ and Elizabeth, our "diva cat" who actually answers to her name and is beautiful and loving.
  3. The blessing of a home computer to accomplish many things that would be much more complex if we had to do it manually
  4. A home that allows me to gaze at the gorgeous Cascade Mountain Range through my huge front window as often as I desire
  5. Teaching me how to be my husband's helpmate

Thursday, March 13, 2008

His Word to Me Today

12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].
13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age: they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].
15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. PSALM 92:12-15 Amplified

On this particular day, having had a biopsy done and being diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer, I receive this wonderful word from the Lord with renewed hope, peace and faith. Knowing that He is sovereign, and can be trusted, I rest in Him and rejoice in His Word. He is my Rock.

Are we getting our Omega 3's?

After going to the doctor and getting a less-than-favorable report on my cholesterol levels, I have made a fresh commitment to learning how to prepare more healthy foods. I am spending time online studying health and nutrition (although doing this is not new to me...I have battled weight issues for what seems like my entire life). Some of it is fresh learning, much of it is review, but all of it is newly motivating.

My recent marriage has brought a renewed sense of importance to my menu-planning and cooking. Although Terry does not have any known medical issues, at the age of 46, it is important for him to eat right as well. It is wonderful to read so many blogs from young women who have a strong sense of responsibility in this area for their family...the health of their husbands and children will bring their reward for years to come.

I, however, have stumbled through this part of my life's journey for many years. When my son was small, and showed signs of hyperactivity, I read and researched and fed him appropriately...and saw amazing results. I continued to struggle personally with my eating habits and was never quite able to make it stick for a lifetime.

While I won't waste time lamenting this, it is important to remember that it is never too late to make healthy changes. My body carries some health consequences from bad choices, but God has given us such an incredibly amazing physical body...and I know that that there is great potential for improvement and even reversal. At some point I will delve into that whole subject, but for now will leave it there.

The health habit I want to share today is the importance of getting the right healthy fats into our diets. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least twice per week. Note: It is advised that pregnant women and mothers, nursing mothers, young children, and women who might become pregnant not eat several types of fish, including swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. These individuals should also limit consumption of other fish, including albacore tuna, salmon, and herring. They can take omega-3 fatty acids in quality dietary supplements that are certified mercury-free by a reputable third-party lab.

I happen to really love fish....certain kinds of fish, that is. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of fish that will provide me with the valuable omega-3 fatty acids that we all need. I found that the fish that are important to eat twice a week are: mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon. Hmmmmm.....the only one on this list I like is tuna!

However, I am committed. I've decided to do whatever it takes to get it into our diets twice a week and find ways to prepare it that are good and healthful. I have learned that the secret to enjoying fish is in the freshness and the recipe. I am in the process of learning how to get the freshest fish (without a high amount of mercury....another topic for another day ;) for a reasonable price. I am also in learning mode for recipes and preparation.

So, albacore tuna will be on our menu each week, and right now, I am focusing on salmon, trout and mackerel for the other meal.

In my quest to find healthy, tasty recipes that both me and my husband will enjoy, I found a salmon dish that was easy to prepare, not too high in calories, and there was none left! The only thing I did different was to add the rice to the fish for the last 15 minutes of its baking time (instead of at the beginning) to avoid the rice becoming over-crispy, since it was already cooked. I read some reviews where you can also use pineapple tidbits in place of the mango, using the juice as part of your rice cooking liquid. I may try that next time...yes, there will be a next time. It really was delicious considering that neither one of us are salmon fans...yet!!

I would love some feedback on other good recipes for those of us who are cultivating our taste buds in this way!!

For more good information on Omega 3's, click here and here

Grace for the Day

Cultivating a thankful heart is one of the best things I've begun doing. Although a strong walk with God takes more than that, it is a principle that is shown throughout scripture...praising God in the midst of difficult circumstances, worshiping Him while flooded with fear, rejoicing even in the face of immediate danger -- it is a powerful spiritual weapon. In my life right now though, it is transforming my heart and mind. In spite of trials, difficulties and fears, I am able to look up and see the many blessings God has poured into my life...and to find joy in everything. In this way, I am finding much grace for the day.

Today I’m thankful for:

  1. For God-given doctors and medical research...I am grateful for treatment that is available for life-threatening illnesses
  2. For the wisdom and support of my husband in the care of my elderly father
  3. The wonderful grandson God has given me
  4. For a car that gets good gas mileage in these days of $3.30+ per gallon gas
  5. For God’s provision even while unemployed

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

One of my greatest weaknesses is discontentment and negative thinking. My prayer is that I will have a grateful heart, aware of all God's blessings in my life...and to be more focused on those things. It can be a real stronghold to dwell on what we lack, or what has hurt us, or what is hard about our lives...or even on our own weaknesses (not to mention the weaknesses of others).

I have begun listing five things I can be thankful for each day (most days at least! ;) In this way, I have purposed to look at the good, at the eternal, at the good gifts God has given. This is where I will list them.
Today I’m thankful for:
  1. A steaming cup of delicious herbal tea
  2. For a man who brought my heart to life after 20 years
  3. For 7 nephews who bring joy and delight to my heart
  4. For another day, another chance to honor God with my thoughts, body, and behaviors
  5. For my little kitchen with dishes that need to be washed because of the food that is available for us to enjoy each day