How To Cook Two Meals In Two Hours

Today, between 3 O’clock this afternoon and 5 p.m., I danced around to my favorite tunes.

While dancing, I took to the kitchen and cooked two meals.  One for my family (hubby, our 14-year-old son, and G’mom Dynamite) and one for me.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that cooking doesn’t have to boring, laborious, or time-consuming.  The hardest task is deciding what to cook and how much time you want to spend cooking.

Cooking is fun but I don’t like complicated recipes that require major prepping and using expensive and exotic ingredients that I probably won’t use on a regular basis.

So what’s the deal for dinner?   …something for them that included meat and a meatless dinner for me.

I decided on mozzarella chicken sausage for them.  I’m not crazy about buying the pre-cooked stuff so to balance the meal out, I decided to add an abundance of colorful and nutritious veggies to the dish.

 

 

I sautéed one red and one orange pepper, one jalapeno pepper and one large sweet onion in olive oil.  To be honest with you, I really wanted to hog the veggies for myself but I know I needed to add them to the meat.  The meat by itself…  was not an option.

In another pan, I sautéed the chopped chicken sausage, then added the veggie blend, chopped tomatoes, and finally the fresh baby-leaf spinach.

After adding the spinach, I stirred the ingredients together for about five minutes; then turned the heat off.  Oh my gosh!  Look how beautiful this dish is.

So, what else was cooking?  Since I wanted a meatless meal, I cooked brown rice with turmeric for me.  Earlier in the day, I tossed one onion, two jalapeno peppers, ginger, black-eyed peas, and vegetable broth in the crock pot.  I also seasoned the peas with garlic powder, Himalayan salt, and black pepper. I cooked the BEP on high for five hours.

My cousin stopped by and sampled the… I’ll call it…  Mozzarella chicken sausage and veggie dish.  Instead of eating the bow tie pasta that I made for my family, she tried a little of it over the rice and gave it two thumbs up.

This plate is G’mom Dynamite’s plate.  She enjoyed the kale (yay, more veggies) with the sausage over the bow-tie pasta.  She also sampled the black-eyed peas.  🙂

 

My son and hubby enjoyed the dish without the black-eyed peas.

 

Leftover black-eyed peas

 

Finally!  Here’s my meatless meal.  Home made black-eyed peas over brown rick with turmeric and a side of kale.

Dinner is served and everyone is happy!!  Except for the crock pot dish, everything was cooked in under two hours and… I also burned more calories while dancing and cooking.

For the readers who don’t like cooking, trust me, you can do this!

Thanks for stopping by and remember…. Keep it moving!

Smooches!

 

 


What Food Labels Really Say

Earlier today on my Instagram page, I shared a picture of a product label.


I tell everyone to read the label on everything you consume.

My mom enjoy’s grapes and she eats a lot of them. The purpose of this update isn’t to throw any particular company under a bus.  Instead, my intentions are to educate you (and me) on why we have to stay diligent in reading labels and doing research on any product we consume (internal or topical).

The more research I do, the more I realize how confusing the lingo and the process is. I am certain this is all by design.  So let’s try to dissect this mess!

Nature’s Partner, a self-proclaimed, family business who grows fruits and vegetables.

The label says: Grown & Packed By VIDEXPORT S.A. DE C.V. * Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico


VIDEXPORT is a produce marketing company and is a partner of Nature’s Partner.


The grapes are a “product of Mexico” and are distributed by Giumarra in Los Angelos, CA.

A closer look at Giumarra reveals that the Black Seedless Table Grapes are grown and exported from Mexico, so I think the mention of Los Angelos on the label is for consumers who think they are buying from the US (a marketing tactic).  At a glance, the label will trick you. Sidebar:  If you wear reading glasses, when you shop for food, start taking your specs with you.

Check out this out!  Some of Giumarra’s produce is USDA Certified Organic while others are not.  😦


Hot peppers, cucumbers, honeydew melons, and grapes are the only products that are NOT USDA Certified Organic.  This makes me nervous and should do the same for you.

Lastly and according to the label, the grapes are

“treated with Sulfur Dioxide for fungicide use”

I am not a science person but I researched Sulfur Dioxide or (SO2) and learned the following about Sulfur Dioxide:

  • It is a chemical compound that is a toxic gas found in the atmosphere.
  • The largest source of production in the air is from the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
  • Short-term health exposure and affect the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult.
  • Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2.
  • Environmentally it can harm trees and plants by damaging foliage and decreasing growth and contribute to acid rain which can harm sensitive ecosystems.

So what’s the bottom line?  Do your best (as I do) to buy locally grown produce and freeze them for later usage. If you are more adventurous and like the idea of playing in some dirt, try growing some of your own produce.

Try to buy produce that is grown and distributed in the US.  Produce grown in other countries are difficult for our government agencies to regulate.  They can pretty much do and say anything they want.

Read food and beverage labels.  If you don’t like what you’re read about a product, write the company and/or stop buying the item.

Follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on twitter and facebook. The agency posts updates on their pages.  You will be surprised by what the information posted on their web page.  The facts are published but consumers rarely make time to read it.

Acquire knowledge, apply it to your life and share with everyone that you know.  Us consumers have to stick together.  When we stick together we have a voice that makes a difference.

Although I grew up helping my mother in our large garden, I haven’t gardened in years. I still have fond memories of picking fresh green beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and more from our garden.

Although, it’s been many years I am happy to share with you that this summer, I will start my first vertical garden as well as, a vegetable container garden. I think this a simpler approach to gardening that will work for me and my elderly mother will enjoy helping out. The enormous amount of chemicals used to grown fruits and vegetables have inspired me to return to my roots.

Additional Reading

Organic Standard

Sulfur Dioxide

When to plant


How Much Sugar Are in These Crackers?

After leaving the gym one morning, I stopped by Shoprite my local grocery store to pick up a few items.  

After paying for my groceries, I am about to walk out the door when an elderly man stopped me.  As he approached me, he held a box of crackers in his hand. Pointing his finger at the label he says…

  

Excuse me honey, can you tell me how much sugar are in these crackers?

I was not wearing my reading glasses, so to read the label and to see the sugar content, I had to focus really hard. 🤓

Sir, according to the label, the crackers contain only one gram of sugar per serving, but if you are watching your sugar intake, I don’t recommend you eat them?

Really?   Why is that?

I point to the first ingredient, Enriched Flour.  “Do you see this here?” 
I try to give him a quick synopsis and tell him that the white flour is a starch, which isn’t the best choice for him. I explain that the starches are going to eventually break down in his body into simple sugar.   

He is shocked and says he is not going to buy them.  I tell him to look for “whole grains.” 

Of course there is so much to it then eating whole grains but I did not have the time to say all that I wanted and needed to say. 

My time was limited but I desperately wanted to take his hand and walk him aisle by aisle through the store to show him healthier options.  

Food labels are tricky and deceptive. The labels are colorful and are strategically designed to get our attention to buy their products.  It  seems that every aspect of this country is about profit. 

Healthy living is sacrificed for greed and for profit. 

Just look at Martin Shkreli.  The jerk… I mean CEO of Turing Pharmaceuicals.  He jacked up the price of a prescription drug designed to help save the lives of HIV patients.  He tried to increase the price from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 per pill!  What the heck!!

GREED!!  

The intentional trickery and lies told by food manufacturers is disturbing.  Consumers must read food labels; however, the education does not stop with reading labels. The process of educating oneself is ongoing and there are many valuable sources available online and in print.  Below are a few sites to check out but there are many. 

I also enjoy reading the free magazines from The Vitamin Store.  Several  magazines are located at the register and they are full of resourceful information.   

As I said in the beginning, I wish I had the time to walk the man and others like him through the store to help them to find healthier alternatives.  Hmm…. Maybe that’s something I could do on the side.   

Just remember, don’t be so quick to believe the pretty little lies they tell you on the colorful packaging.  Dig deeper to find what’s really in the food.   Just because the words “natural,” “low calorie,” “organic,” or “sugar free” are printed on a package, doesn’t mean that is true. Sadly, food manufacturers and companies can make all kinds of outlandish and untrue statements about their products.  The practice should be unlawful but it is not.

Some of these companies are such blatant liars, I can’t stand it!  If you stand close enough to me in the grocery store, you can overhear me saying, “liar! Liar!”   Lol!  I’m laughing but it is true.   

My rule of thumb is if an item has too many ingredients listed, for the most part, I leave it alone.  If you don’t already know, there is a large amount of the first ingredient listed on a label.  So when you see sugar as one of the first, second, or third ingredients written in anyone of it’s 61 forms, toss it pack on the shelf. 

Yes!!  According to Sugar Science, there are “at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. I didn’t know that!  Some of the most common names are:

Sucrose

High-fructose corn syrup

Barley malt

Dextrose

Maltose

Rice syrup

Americans consume 66 pounds of added sugar each year, on average.

Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged food.

Okay, my sugar rant is over. I could go on and on, but I will end with a friendly reminder to read the food labels and educate yourself.   Don’t cheat yourself by putting bad stuff in your body.  The body is like an automobile, the better you care for it, the better your body will perform for you. 

For the most part, the better you care for yourself, the better you will look and feel.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by and remember to keep it moving!  


He Went In Hard

Late December 2014, I received a random and unexpected text from a friend.  My friend was taking on a self-imposed 30 day challenge. His decision inspired a few others in our circle of friends to do the same.

The challenge was to merely live healthier for 30 days.  The goal was to avoid alcohol for the whole month of January and to eat healthier foods.

I don’t know what sparked his interest, but I was pumped and excited for my friend.  When someone makes a mindful choice to aim at living healthier (for whatever reason), I become overwhelmed with happiness. Why?  Because I know the benefits that await them. 🙂

Although working out was not part of the equation, I knew that if he remained committed for the entire month, he would certainly feel better, but also lose weight and inches.

My friend does not work out, but is active and rarely stays home.  He is active year around with sports and loves to travel. We also share an appreciation for good food.

He wanted to make better food choices, but he did not know how to do so, and that’s where I came into the picture.

I figure a big part of the obesity and unhealthy lifestyle culture in this country, is that people are unaware of the long-term effects that food has on the body and overall health.

Education should be ongoing and is vital to living in good health.

“When you  know better, you do better.”

At least that’s the premise from Dr. Maya Angelo and Oprah Winfrey.  I agree.

Year after year, I learn new facts about the food I consume, which I previously thought were good for me, and am forced to cut them from my diet.  And really, this is what the process is all about. Continue to educate yourself so that you can take a proactive approach to making smarter choices for you and your family.

While considering what kind of advice I would give him, I knew that I had to be realistic.  I needed to give him suggestions that he could manage and incorporate as part of his daily nutrition plan. The last thing he needed was to be overwhelmed by a long and complicated list of foods to eat and to avoid.

Lifestyle adjustments begin with small and subtle changes.  Studies show that taking on too much too soon can lead to failure, and failure was the last thing I wanted for him.

In addition to eliminating alcohol, my advice to him was to:

  1. replace soda and juice with lots water
  2. Avoid anything white (bread, flour sugar potatoes, sugar, etc…)
  3. reduce his sugar intake, i.e. sugar in coffee
  4. don’t skip meals
  5. eat breakfast (oats)
  6. plan meals
  7. When dining out, substitute cream sauces with tomato based sauces & replace fatty sides with extra vegetables.

He was open to trying new foods, which is half the battle of learning to eat better.  With the help of his girlfriend, he was delightfully overwhelmed with all kinds of new foods.   Here’s a list of some of the new food he incorporated into his diet.  It’s freaking amazing!

  1. Brown rice
  2. turkey burgers
  3. asparagus
  4. turmeric milk tea
  5. smoothies with kale, avocado, and almond milk
  6. zucchini spaghetti
  7. 1-2 gallons of water daily (he’s BIG guy)

He went in HARD and I love it!

Superbowl Sunday, the first of February was the official weigh in but, as soon as he took his coat off, I could see results. He lost inches in his midsection and his pants were unintentionally sagging.  Wow!

Without even incorporating an exercise program, he lost 14 pounds in January and 9 pounds the first week of February!

Most important to me is that my friend noticed his energy levels improved and ongoing joint issues improved.  He was flabbergasted by how changes in his diet improved how he felt.

Honestly, it’s no surprise to me but I am ecstatic that he has made the important connection between diet, nutrition, and overall wellness.  I’m doing cartwheels!  His attitude toward food is evolving…

from eating to feel full…

to eating to nourish the body…

Throughout the month, our group randomly checked in, via texts, to encourage, post meal pictures, and for daily and weekly progress reports.

Several friends in our group added exercise to the mix and experienced weight and/or inches loss.  Their journey to starting better lifestyle habits have begun. Yay!! I am so proud of all of them!  🙂

Developing new habits take time and “is not an all or nothing process.”

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. [1]

Contrary to popular brief, it takes more than 21 days to form a habit.  The 21 day habit myth evolved from  study done by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Anyways, my friend is on his way to adopting new habits of improving his lifestyle. How do I know this?

Well, he decided to extended the practice of making better food choices in to February AND…. drum roll……  he is considering….

A gym membership!!!  I’m screaming this!!!!!!  

 It’s never too late…

You’re never too old…

You’re never too fat…

You’re never too far gone…

To take control and responsibility for your health. Start small, don’t quit, and go big!

You have what it takes!  🙂

Make it a great day!