Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

meal ideas ~ casseroles... love them

Next to the crock-pot stews and other goodies, I love casseroles because you can make them when have some time, and then reheat and eat. Often they taste even better when you make it a day ahead and it sits. Casseroles are one-dish wonders that are easy to make and can be full of nutritious food combinations.  Here are two on my to-make soon list.

Gnocchi Meatball Bake
Steve, my best friend and husband, loves gnocchi’s. I haven’t made this for him yet, but it will be one of the first on my list when I get back to CA. This potato gnocchi and meatball casserole is the ultimate when it comes to Italian comfort food. Each bite is even more comforting when you know a serving  is a healthy choice.

Nonstick cooking spray
 1 16 - ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
 1 1/2 cups light tomato-base pasta sauce
 12 ounces extra-lean ground beef
 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
 1 egg, lightly beaten
 2 tablespoons fine dry whole wheat bread crumbs
 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
 2 teaspoons olive oil
 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
 1 medium green sweet pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
 2 teaspoons olive oil
 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pasta sauce; set aside.

 Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, the chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls.

 In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, sweet pepper, and the sliced onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to bowl with gnocchi.

 In the same large skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to bowl with gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.

 Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

To Make-Ahead: Prepare Gnocchi and Meatball Bake as directed through Step 4. Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes; stir. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 217 cal., 6 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 31 mg chol., 577 mg sodium, 25 g carb. (2 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 15 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Lean Meat (d.e): 2; Starch (d.e): 1.5; Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0

Pork Stew with Amaranth Biscuit Topper
A fun take on a classic, this pork stew will be your go-to dinner recipe for deliciously guilt-free comfort. The hearty stew is topped with biscuits made from amaranth, a protein powerhouse that's packed with cholesterol-lowering vitamins and minerals.

1/2 cup whole grain amaranth
 Nonstick cooking spray
 1 1/2 pounds lean pork shoulder, trimmed, cut in 1"pieces
 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
 1 teaspoon olive oil
 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 2 cups cubed sweet potato
 1 tablespoon cornstarch
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1/2 cup light butter

 Place amaranth in a small bowl. Stir in 1 cup boiling water. Cover and let stand for at least 1 hour.

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. 

Sprinkle pork with sage and toss to coat. In a large nonstick skillet brown pork in hot oil over medium-high heat. Transfer pork to the prepared baking dish. 

 Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the same skillet. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in sweet potato cubes and 1 cup water. Bring to boiling. In a small bowl stir together 1/4 cup cold water, the cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; stir into mixture in skillet. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Pour into baking dish over pork. (Sweet potatoes will not be done yet.)

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.   Add biscuit topper.

 For biscuit topper, in a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, thyme, black pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in light butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add soaked amaranth and any liquid remaining in the bowl. Stir until combined.  Using a large spoon, drop biscuit topper into eight mounds (about 1/4 cup each) onto pork stew.
 Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a biscuit comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:  363 cal., 13 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 66 mg chol., 447 mg sodium, 40 g carb. (3 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 22 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Medium-Fat Meat (d.e): 2.5; Starch (d.e): 2.5

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

healthy living ~full moon energy

Sunday night’s Super-Moon Eclipse was not only awesome to watch, but I use the time to draw on the moon’s energy, to let its creative forces guide me in my challenge to photograph this beautiful phenomenon. I also could feel its healing energy.

This powerful lunar event shined a brilliant beam of visionary light into my heart, allowing me to open to extraordinary new understanding of my needs. To fully harness the healing potential of this full moon, I considered how I might take greater responsibility for my health and wellbeing.

The moon has always played an important part in ancient spiritual practices. Since the beginning of time, people have recognized lunar power, which is where the term, "lunacy" comes from. Even today there is much speculation as to the affects of the moon's phases, particularly the full moon, on our moods and behavior. The belief behind full moon rituals is to harness lunar power to the benefit of oneself and others.

Ceremonies performed at this phase of the moon are meant for empowerment, as well to manifest positive changes. The full moon appears once every 29.53 days, therefore rituals can be performed almost every month, sometimes even twice a month. And, you need not be outside or even see the full moon to reap its powerful benefits.

There are many full moon rituals, some more complex than others, involving magical tools and enhancements. Yet, many are quite simple, including a moon bask which is just that, basking in the full moonlight and meditating. You can do the ritual standing, sitting, or laying on the ground, or even indoors if it's more practical. Just stand by a large window, open if possible, and meditate on that which would enhance your life.

One well-known ceremony is "Drawing Down the Moon," to connect with the power and wisdom of the full moon..

Whether you perform simple or elaborate full moon rituals, or just enjoy the beauty of the full moon, you're participating in a long tradition of showing appreciation for a powerful source of illumination.

It’s not too late to call upon the power of this Autumn Harvest Full Moon, the energy is still there to connect.

all photographs were taken by me- please only use with permission, thank you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

which is harder?- make or break a habit

Which is harder… making something a habit or breaking a habit?

I asked myself that  recently when I noticed that I had restarted a couple of bad habits and left behind a couple that were good.  "Oh-oh" --my mind said—"gotta nip these in the bud now."

Do you have something you want to change in your life? Yes, it takes time and focus but you can begin a new habit or break an old annoying one. No one really knows how long it takes to make or break a habit.  Some say two weeks and some say 21 days, some say three months. It is quite variable since it depends on the person, their determination, their focus, and the habit in question.

Here is a biological fact about learning. When you learn something new, the brain creates new synapses or neural pathways. I call them a crevice.  It is as if a new road has been laid to reach a physical destination. Once that road is established, it can be used numerous times. Over time, the more it is traveled, the easier it gets to follow, much like a well-worn habit, thus the crevice is made.

On the other hand, breaking a habit resembles tearing up that roadway so you will not reach that destination anymore or filling in the crevice. However, in the brain, that roadway is not completely demolished but now in its place there is a roadblock sign.  But in a moment of desperation or a stressful situation, you can roll right over that sign and use the road again….
….Therefore, I believe breaking a habit is harder than forming one, but not impossible.

Here are a few steps that I follow that for me help make or break a habit. There is no way to know if it will take you two weeks or three to accomplish your goal, but over time you can affect a change if you keep at it.

  • Identify the habit –Know what you are working towards clearly, before you get started. It will increase your chances of success.
  • Do the research – Know what you are up against. How hard is it to let’s say to start exercising or stop smoking? What are the resources available to assist you? If you want to be more assertive, learn the traits of an assertive person.
  • Create a positive replacement habit for bad ones -Positive replacement habits might be something such as exercise or meditation to stop overeating or biting your fingernails.
  • Prepare – Think ahead of time how you are going to consciously insert your new plan into your schedule. What are you going to do to start you on a different pattern?
  • Keep at it – If you forget one day, be sure to do it again the next day. Foster building that new pathway. The more you do something, the more it will become second nature and create a new crevice for yourself. As for breaking a habit, practice using daily affirmations where you tell yourself you can quit whatever habit you wish to conquer or keep whatever you wish to start. Say things out loud like I love to experiment and have so much fun doing it.  List the reasons why you can do it to boost your confidence too.
  • Start simple- if you have more than one, like me, that you want to start/stop then start with the simplest and easiest- one that guarantees success, it will start you on a "roll" to accomplish the next slightly harder task.
  • lastly--Get help – if you need! -this can be a friend, a couch, behavior therapist, or hire a Life Coach who can hold you accountable for what you are about to do. Therapy can also help with breaking habits as it can teach you to create an alternate way of thinking to avoid returning to old habits instead of just focusing on not doing something.

 There are a ton of people on the internet with all sorts of suggestions of how to develop and break habits…but the best suggestion I have… is just do it. If you’re trying to make a change in your life, try the steps above. Soon, you will be moving on the right track. And if you slip back…grab the seat of your britches, pull yourself forward, and go at it again. 

Remember, you are an unlimited person, your mind serves you well! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

fun friday photo ~ revolt at the ranch kitty, kitty, kitty

Samantha was recently appointed as the "Commissioner of Rodent Activity” at the ranch....
 her first call to duty is to quell an uprising by non-accepting constituents
Aspen Willow Ranch Commissioner of Rodent Activity

Thursday, September 24, 2015

thursday's garden ~ "autumn is here"

yesterday was the Autumn Equinox. 
here is a beautiful photograph that I love
 and says to me- autumn is here. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

meals ideas ~ cupcakes for Melissa

received a text message from a friend who needed a cupcake recipe that's diabetic friendly for a “Coffee House” theme party she is attending. They needed to be diabetic friendly due to many of the guests attending are on strict diabetic diets. Okay, Melissa, as promised here are two choices I think you will find to be right for your needs. Although I do not cook with sugar substitute much, I am promised these will taste great. You can use regular sugar, but remember they will not be as healthy for your friends. (they can always limit the amount they eat...) These should be tasty, moist, and the perfect cupcakes for you.

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes
Bake up some fun with these coffeehouse-inspired treats that boast a nice java flavor with a moist vanilla cake. Use a sugar substitute in the cake recipe to cut carbs to 22 grams per serving.

3 egg whites
3 tablespoons butter
1 2/3 cups cake flour or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 60% to 70% tub-style vegetable oil spread, chilled
3/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute blend**
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1 recipe Vanilla Latte Frosting

 Allow egg whites and butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line sixteen 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat vegetable oil spread and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.

Gradually add sugar, about 2 tablespoons at time, beating on medium speed until well mixed, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes more. Gradually add egg whites, beating well. Beat in vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

 Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in cups on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from cups; cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with Vanilla Latte Frosting. 

Makes 16 cupcakes. 

Vanilla Latte Frosting
2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder or instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon warm water
1/4 cup tub-style vegetable oil spread, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I do not recommend substitute here) 
 Fat-free milk

In a custard cup combine coffee powder with warm water; stir until dissolved. In a medium bowl beat vegetable oil spread and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in dissolved espresso powder. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until very smooth. If needed, add enough fat-free milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 198 cal., 7 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 6 mg chol., 146 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (21 g sugars), 2 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1

Java Cupcakes
Get your coffee fix in one delicious cupcake. Sprinkle with cocoa powder or powdered sugar for a simple but sweet

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour or 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder or    instant coffee crystals
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar or sugar substitute blend**
1/2 cup canola oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon powdered sugar and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line twenty-one 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups or coat with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 In another large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Beat mixture with a wire whisk just until combined.

 Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake about 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in cups on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from cups.

Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder.

Makes 21 cupcakes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Servings 169 cal., 6 g total fat 1 mg chol., 102 mg sodium, 27 g carb. (13 g sugars), 3 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1diabetic dessert.

**Sugar Substitutes: I suggest Splenda® Sugar Blend for Baking. Follow package directions to use product amount to equivalent sugar amount. I do not recommend to use a substitute for powdered sugar- it just never, tastes right to me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

healthy living ~ whiten teeth naturally

I have been drinking a lot of tea and coffee lately and noticed my teeth are getting a bit colored. I was using one of my natural techniques, which worked beautifully and thought, gee, I haven't posted this information for a long time. So, my friends here is some information on oral hygiene... the homeopathic way. 

Make Eco-Friendly Tooth Whitener with Lemon and Salt

Did you know that a DIY rinse of lemon juice and salt solution can work wonders for whitening your teeth at home? With this simple, homemade tooth whitener recipe, you can avoid the potential problems from chemical exposure to commercial whitening kits, strips, gels, and systems. Studies show that the surface-bleaching agents in commercial whiteners may be detrimental to teeth's nanomechanical properties.

To whiten with lemon and salt, just stir up a solution of 75 percent lemon juice and 25 percent salt, and swish.

Be careful not to swallow the solution, especially if you are on a low sodium or low acid diet.
If you have sensitive teeth, this rinse may be too strong for you. Pay attention and use your own best judgment.

Homemade Fruit Teeth Cleaners
1. Rub a lemon rind on your teeth to remove brown stains. Rinse your mouth thoroughly afterward.
2. Clean your teeth with a fresh strawberry. Rub it over and between your teeth.

Coconut Toothpaste
this recipe really whitens the teeth, and gives you the health benefits of coconut oil, which are numerous- I love this recipe due to my dislike of the sugary taste of commercial toothpastes.

2 tablespoons of coconut oil - it should be warm
6 tablespoon baking soda
10 drops of mint oil (optional) can use any flavor or none.
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl, until you obtain a creamy paste. Then place the paste into any appropriate container.

Homemade Mouthwashes
Mouthwash is a neat little invention. It’s an easy way to feel like your mouth is totally clean and fresh smelling in a matter of seconds…and you can achieve all of this without a toothbrush on hand. It’s no wonder that mouthwash is so popular.

My only question is this:
 Why should we accept pouring chemicals into our mouths, supporting the production and manufacturing of products that cause pollution, and spending money we don’t have to spend? 

There are natural ways to make mouthwash from items you very well may have around the house. Here are a couple recipes. These  are some of the best homemade mouthwash recipes that will help you to eliminate bad breath, promote overall mouth, and gum health.  Enjoy!

Homemade Rosemary-Mint Mouthwash
2 1/2 cups distilled or mineral water
1 tsp fresh mint leaves
1tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp anise seeds
Boil the water, add herbs and seeds, infuse for 20 minutes. Cool, strain and use as a gargle/mouthwash. If you wish to make up a larger quantity, double or triple the recipe then add 1 tsp of tincture of myrrh as a natural preservative.

Homemade Spearmint Mouthwash
6 ounces water
2 ounces vodka
4 teaspoons liquid glycerine
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
10-15 drops Spearmint essential oil
Boil water and vodka, add glycerine and aloe vera gel. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly. Add spearmint oil, shake well. Pour into bottle, cap tightly.

A very simple homemade mouthwash
Wash your mouth with half a glass of warm water containing a teaspoon of table salt.

Baking Soda Mouthwash
Mix 2 ounces of Water, 1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda or Sea Salt, 1 drop of Pure Peppermint Oil, and 1 drop of Tea Tree oil. This Homemade mouthwash recipe leaves a great refreshing minty taste in your mouth and helps prevent bad breathe.
Also some Breath Freshners
Chew fresh parsley to sweeten the breath.
Chew fennel seeds to freshen the breath.
Chew anise seeds to freshen the breath.
Chew a few peppermint or spearmint leaves or drink a cup of peppermint tea.
Add 1 drop of myrrh oil to 1 cup of cooled, boiled water. Use as gargle/mouthwash.

Monday, September 21, 2015

our squirrel guides

Perhaps the critter I have had the most fun watching, interfacing with, and learning from here at the ranch in Colorado, is our little friends the squirrel. Yes, I have them in California, but haven’t really, not really, watched and thought about the lessons these little guys can give us. As you know, I highly regard all wisdom that nature places in front of me, and the lessons of the squirrel are no different.

Native Americans considered all living beings as brothers and sisters that had much to teach including squirrels. These small creatures taught them to work in harmony with the cycles of nature by conserving for the winter months during times when food was plentiful. In our modern world, squirrels remind us to set aside a portion of our most precious resources as an investment in the future. Though food and money certainly fall into this category, they are only some of the ways our energy is manifested. We can conserve this most valuable asset by being aware of the choices we make and choosing only those that nurture and sustain us. This extends to the natural resources of our planet as well, using what we need wisely with the future in mind.

Saving and conservation are not acts of fear but rather affirmations of abundance yet to come. Squirrels accept life's cycles, allowing them to face winters with the faith that spring will come again. Knowing that change is part of life, we can create a safe space, both spiritually and physically, that will support us in the present and sustain us in the future. This means not filling our space with things, or thoughts, that don't serve us. Without hoarding more than we need, we keep ourselves in the cyclical flow of life when we donate our unwanted items to someone who can use them best. This allows for more abundance to enter our lives, because even squirrels know a life of abundance involves more than just survival.

Squirrels use their quick, nervous energy to enjoy life's adventure. They are great communicators, and by helping each other watch for danger, they do not allow worry to drain them. Instead, they allow their curious nature to lead the way, staying alert to opportunities and learning as they play. Following the example set by our squirrel friends, we are reminded to enjoy the journey of life's cycles as we plan and prepare for a wonderful future, taking time to learn and play along the way.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

thursday's gardens ~ creating a fairy garden

It's fun to believe in fairies, even if it's just "make believe" that you believe. Creating a fairy garden makes "make believe" yet more fun and may even invite some magic into your life.

You can start by doing some research into fairy lore to learn about different types of fairies and what attracts them. Different fairies like different plants and flowers, usually the same ones that appeal to their friends, the butterflies and bees. Designate a corner or patch of your garden for fairies. If you're fortunate enough to have a pond in your garden, you have the perfect spot for water nymphs. Fairies like hiding places like fern groves or an opening by the base of an old tree. You can also plant container gardens, making it even easier to miniaturize everything to fairy size. Troughs and barrels make wonderful miniature gardens or bring the magic inside by creating a tabletop garden.

You can create a wonderfully whimsical look by converting a small dresser drawer into a mini garden. Line the drawer with heavy plastic and fill it with potting soil. Baby tear and moss give the garden a magical look. Or plant herbs that both you and the fairies can eat. Add some small stones and pebbles, perhaps designing a little path and then add tiny accessories for the fairies to use. You can decorate with dollhouse furniture, or use your imagination to create benches, fencing, and trellises out of sticks, twigs, and miniature ivy.

It doesn't have to be a large garden, many are created in miniature settings.

Once you plant a garden for fairies, your imagination will start to bloom. You'll see acorn caps as fairy cups and walnut shells as fairy bowls. Christmas ornaments make wonderful gazing balls since fairies love to admire their reflections. A small champagne glass serves as a birdbath and a clay pot turned on its side and half-buried in the soil can be a fairy house. You may find that you start collecting miniature urns and statues, even tiny topiaries. And, you'll discover plants and flowers that enhance your garden such a miniature daisy, pink fairy rose, and fairy lunaria, which looks like small snapdragon. 

You can hang out a "fairy garden" sign, which is of course more for humans, since the fairies will already know it's their garden. After all, "if you build it, they will come."

here are a few gardens actually made by the fairies at the ranch, 
these are very special places.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

meal ideas ~ slow cooker time :)

It's getting to feel a lot like "crock pot" weather. Slow cookers are the ultimate convenience, simmering foods to perfection for hours at a slow and steady rate. I love this time of  year, as I have said many times- winter and autumn is a time for soups, stews, and other tasty tummy warming foods. Crock Pots are a favorite for me because of the convenience of cooking ahead and coming home to a hot meal. I was fortunate enough to find a "real" 2qt Crock Pot for me here at the ranch, makes just enough for two servings. (most that small are only for heating fondues and such) I will need to cut any recipes in half for my little pot, but that’s easy enough.

Italian Pork Zuppa
Olive Garden features this soup as one of their favorites, and mine too. However, theirs has way too much sodium for my health so we had to stop going; but, with this recipe I can control that. This creamy zuppa, soup in Italian, features savory pork, chunks of potatoes, and nutrient-rich kale. Seasoned with garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper, this diabetes-friendly slow cooker meal is a good source of protein, calcium, and iron.

1 pound ground pork
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces tiny red new potatoes, each cut into 8 pieces
1 12 - ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups chopped fresh kale
Crushed red pepper (optional)

 In a large skillet cook pork, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is browned and onion is tender; drain off fat. Return meat mixture to skillet; add oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add broth and potatoes.

 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. In a small bowl combine evaporated milk and cornstarch until smooth; stir into cooker. Stir in kale. Cover and cook for 30 to 60 minutes more or until bubbly around edge of cooker. If desired, sprinkle with additional crushed red pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 303 cal., 12 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 53 mg chol., 542 mg sodium, 19 g carb. (2 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 20 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Vegetables (d.e): 1; Medium-Fat Meat (d.e): 2; Fat (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1

Turkey Tortellini Slow Cooker Soup
In the mood for Italian but don’t have time to spare? Combine the ingredients for this slow cooker turkey tortellini soup in the morning, and by dinnertime you’ll enjoy a delicious meal that’s low in carbs and fat.

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
4 cups coarsely chopped roasted turkey breast (1 pound)
1 14 1/2 - ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 9 - ounce package refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 cups fresh baby spinach
6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

 In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker combine broth, the water, chopped turkey, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.

 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in tortellini. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more or until tortellini is tender. Stir in spinach. If desired, sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 240 cal., 3 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 63 mg chol., 656 mg sodium, 25 g carb. (3 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 28 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Starch (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 1; Vegetables (d.e): 1;

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

healthy living ~ beating a heat wave

Here in Colorado it's cooling down, the leaves are turning their fall colors... however, I hear in California there's a heat wave in town! 

And I hate, literally hate, the heat. Yes, Mr Bill, I am a penguin...or a polar bear, depends of what day it is...ha! And... I am so glad I am not there, sorry friends, but it is true. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions to help with this unusual autumn heat wave.

While hot weather can be uncomfortable and annoying (boob sweat!), extreme heat can also be dangerous. Here are some handy healthy tips on how to stay cool -- and safe –

1. Plan ahead. If you have to do chores or plan to exercise outdoors, try to avoid the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day.

2. Dress smart. Good thing white is a hot summer trend! Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored colored clothing will help heat dissipate from your body. What better excuse to treat yourself to some new “cool” threads?

3. Drink up! What's the best beverage to combat dehydration? "Water, water, water."  Also, it may be tempting to look up a recipe for margarita popsicles, but steering clear of alcohol and caffeine is your best bet, since both can be dehydrating. Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day. "If you wait until you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated." Plus, it may sound funny, but keeping an eye on your pee can tell you if you're hydrated enough -- it should be clear like water!

4. Water sounds boring? Make it yummier! add cucumber and raspberry to your water, or you can try fresh mint, lemon and lime.

5. Feeling overheated? Get out of the heat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's really important to go someplace cool if you're feeling too hot. Some of my favorite cool places: the movies, a bookstore.

6. Eat watermelon. eating fruits that are high in water content can help you stay hydrated and cool. Watermelon is PACKED with water (not to mention vitamins A and C and phytonutrients!).  Tossing watermelon cubes with fresh coconut, then drizzling them with hot sauce -- it's a traditional (and delicious) flavor combination in Mexico. Or blend watermelon with a couple sprigs of mint for a cooling summer beverage!

7. Going for a swim? but keep in mind that sunlight reflected off the water can give you a severe sunburn. Reapply sunscreen often, wear a hat, take breaks in the shade and don't forget -- just because you're in and surrounded by water doesn't mean you don't need to DRINK lots of water!

8. Check your medications. Some antihistamines and certain antidepressants can put you at a higher risk for heat exhaustion, because they can keep you from sweating effectively, and certain antibiotics can increase your sensitivity to sunburn. So it's a good idea to check labels and consult with your doctor.

9. Spritz yourself! sweat is your body's mechanism for cooling itself down. So anything that helps sweat dissipate, like a spray of water that dries and evaporates, can help cool you off. A spray bottle or even one of those fans with water will do the trick nicely.

10. Get chilly. Ice compresses cool you down quickly, especially when applied under your arms and to your groin, because those areas have lots of blood vessels. 

And hey -- if you have a friend in Japan, have her send you an ice bra. 
Yep -- that's a real thing, and will sure cool you down fast.