Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review
I do it too often. That is, pick up a book without a true appreciate of what I am about to read. Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss definitely fits that bill. I picked it up because it was written by a wonderful Canadian music artist and because my mother is experiencing some memory issues right now.

Feeding My Mother turned out to be a series of diary or journal-style entries written over a period of a few years while Arden tried to continue working in the music industry and care for her ailing parents. What I expected was information about memory loss; what I did not expect was the diary style of writing or the recipes. I did expect and receive heartbreak, which is definitely on the menu when a loved one disappears in this manner. It is not really a book to turn to for information about Alzheimer's disease but rather one to read to understand one family's struggles to deal with their situation.

It is a nicely put together book with pictures; caring and sharing; family, pets and lots of love; tears but also much laughter; and with a few simple recipes, some of which I may return to. This book was crafted from (apparently) popular Facebook and Instagram posts that Arden wrote during her journey. I believe that she handled her parental situation as best as she could, something we can all aspire to do if and when we become caregivers for our parents. As Arden says, it is not easy becoming a mother to your mother.

Jann Arden


Arden is an accomplished Canadian singer songwriter who has won eight Juno awards and been nominated for a total of eighteen. She has also written three books. This one plus If I Knew, Don't You Think I'd Tell You and Falling Backwards: A Memoir. Another couple of books for our reading lists.

You can hear Arden discuss Feeding My Mother on CBC Radio by clicking right here. They call the book a cookbook, which I disagree with though it does have a few recipes. If you picked this book up thinking it was a cookbook, you would be disappointed. It is more correctly categorized as a biographical book about Alzheimer's disease and patient care.

Do I Recommend Feeding My Mother? 


Yes, I do recommend Feeding My Mother. It is definitely of interest to someone who is dealing with a family member with memory loss or who sees that coming in the future, as I do. However, I am uncertain if it is a book that my mother should read. I know she would appreciate the humour and the love that is found within the covers but not sure that she needs to really think and worry about all of the situations found in this book. What do you think? Should I give my mother this book to read or not?  Have you read Feeding My Mother? Have you been a caregiver for someone with memory loss?

You can get your hands on a copy of Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother by ordering it from Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Feeding My Mother from Amazon.










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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Best Way to Get Ready, Party Time is Here

In a couple of days Summertime will Officially be here! 

Along with Summertime comes Party Time! It's high season for Graduations, End of School Years, and let's not forget about the Fourth of July!  For Canadians that would be the First of July!

party time, dollar tree, review this, setting a beautiful table



Everyone is looking forward to being with friends and family especially when the weather is warm and sunny!  Let's Review some of the best ways to get ready for all of those wonderful outdoor BBQ's and Holiday celebrations. Summertime is a wonderful time for us to enjoy our company, friends and the great outdoors at the same time.

Party planning can be fun, but it can also be costly.  Dollar Tree is a great place to get all those party needs at a reasonable cost. Red, White and Blue party supplies can be had for the best 4th of July party ever!  Canadians can skip the blue and stick with red and white!  Everything from glasses, plates and cutlery for your table and all of it color coordinated, can be had right here!


Setting a table for an outdoor party is easy when you can get everything you need in one place.  From the decorations to balloons, napkins and snacks.  You can even get mixes and drinks for the kids without any problem at all.  Dollar Tree is a one stop shop for all things party related.


When I have been invited to a backyard party, I like to come with something in hand to add to the table.  I will buy a nice bowl or two and then fill one of  them with my special salad and another with a dessert!  The host and hostess are always happy to see my contribution to the party and they always go over really well.

My favorite salad is easy to make, looks really good and is a healthy alternative!  This comes from a friend of mine who is a Naturopathic Doctor! Take a look and see if you don't agree that it looks delicious.
dollar tree, backyard party time, summer festivities, BBQ's, Review This


Dr. Amy Tung's Baby Arugula, Seaweed & Kale Salad with Roasted Almonds and Fresh Herbs 🌿 .

1 cup unsalted almonds
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cups kale
3 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup soaked and drained dried kelp
2 Tbsp each chopped fresh dill, parsley and cilantro 
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
.
Dressing: 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar 1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
.
Toss almonds with extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes, turn every 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool.
.
In large bowl combine kale, baby arugula and herbs. Cover with damp paper towels and reserve.
.
For dressing, combine lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt. Whisk in olive oil.
.
Just before serving toss greens with dressing. Serves 6 - 8 people

decorations, party time, dollar tree, setting a beautiful party

The other bowl is for fruits that I love to bring along to a backyard get together.  Summer is the season to enjoy all of the abundance around us! There is no better way to enjoy fresh and good for you food than to prepare a large bowl of summer ripe and summer sweet fruits.

My favorites are strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon cubed or balled, melons (honeydew and cantaloupes) cut into strips or cubed, apples and cherries.  Add a special Citrus Honey dressing (by that is just superb!  Just one warning,  do not place this dressing on the fruits until you are ready to serve.  Some of the fruits may become soggy if mixed too early.

Citrus-Honey Dressing Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 teaspoon orange zest
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
• 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
• ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice


May your summer be wonderful, may you have many friends and family to share it with you and may you make memories that will keep you smiling for many years to come!  



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Review of Creativity on Review This!

(c) Kimberly Austin Daly, Artist*
Creativity Lives in Everyone!

My daughter is an artist.  She studied art in college, graduating with a degree in Fine Arts. But her creativity in this field has been present since she was old enough to hold a crayon.  All her life she has been compelled to draw & paint.  I've always admired her artistic ability because I can't draw a straight line with a ruler! :-)

*Artwork is the property of Kimberly Daly, Artist/Illustrator.  Copyright: Do not copy.  Permission granted for display in this story.






My hubby was a fine musician, having studied the violin for 14 years, then played the guitar for many more years and even had his own 'trio' during the 'folk music' era of our college days.
Today my son plays guitar and several other instruments and has his own local band with a group of fellow musicians.  I can't play any instrument and have no musical ability.

My brother sings and plays guitar.  My mother and sister could sing up a storm. I can't carry a tune in a bucket!  

Coastal Crochet Crafts on Etsy

I used to say to my talented family that I had no 'talent' for anything, until they reminded me that my crochet and needlework crafting was MY creative ability.  






Creative Talent is in Everyone


You don't have to be able to sing or dance, play an instrument or draw to be talented.  Creativity in ANY area is a talent all its own.  It was a nice reminder that we all have some form of creative talent, whether its in the arts & crafts field, music or dance, or simply being a wonderful cook.  Being able to express ourselves in writing is also a creative endeavor.  


Highlighting a Few Reviews Written by Our Talented Contributors on Review This!


Our team of contributors who write for Review This! review many products and do music, book and movie reviews, in addition to a wide range of other topics.  They are also very creative, sharing a variety of crafts, tutorials of DIY projects, cooking and baking recipes, and photography and gardening tips.  The following are a few examples of this team's creative talents.


Crafts Reviews



(c) Dawn Rae
How to Make Easy Christmas Tree Ornaments by Dawn Rae.  Dawn gives us easy step-by-step instructions on how to create with your children these simple, yet lovely, ornaments for your holiday tree.







(c) Bev Owens

For crochet crafters, Bev Owens tells us about this easy pattern you can use to create your own handmade poncho in her review titled Reviewing A Crochet Poncho Pattern.






(c) Wednesday-Elf

Wednesday-Elf loves to crochet, particularly stuffed animals.  Handmade crafts are her favorite, as shown in this A Bird in the Hand-i-Craft article.  In addition to her own crochet crafting, she enjoys sharing the creative talents of many other fiber art creators on Etsy.










DIY Projects


(c) RenaisanceWoman2010)
Clever & creative Diana (RenaissanceWoman2010) gives us a tutorial for a DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder using a regular canning jar, a pretty plate or bowl, and a few other simple supplies (glue, wire, and a chick feeder base). Then just add bird seed and watch the local feathered friends in your area flock to your new bird feeder. 







Photography Tips



(c) mbgphoto
Several of the Review This contributors are photographers, but Mary Beth Granger (mbgphoto) goes one step further with sharing her fabulous photography tips for all of us to learn to take even better photographs. She shares the tips she's learned from taking photography classes and doing LOTS of practice. I would imagine Mary Beth seldom goes anywhere without a camera. Her favorite subjects are lighthouses! Check out her Review of Photography Tips for some helpful advice for your own photographs. 





Recipe Reviews



(c) Sylvestermouse

Sylvestermouse is our creative baker here on Review This! She loves to put together fancy cakes and cupcakes.  A quick look at one of her favorite cookbooks for baking (the Cupcake Cakes Cookbook) will give you an idea of some of the fun and clever ideas she often incorporates into her baking.








Gardening Tips



Olivia Morris is one of our resident gardeners.  In her How to Grow Your Way to Happiness and a Great Garden, she shares some tips for your spring planting. 




Articles on Creativity


For more articles on these creative reviews, click on each subject below:






What do you consider your 'creative' talent?  







(c) Review of Creativity by Wednesday Elf


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Monday, May 21, 2018

Tips for Better Hummus at Home

Smooth and creamy hummus.
I like hummus. I like hummus a lot. A lifetime ago, a friend who was vegan introduced me to hummus. But I could never make my own and have it turn out right. Frankly, I had given up trying. Then while living in Baltimore, my roommate brought home a tip about hummus. Cook the chick peas. Since then, I use that tip to make the kind of smooth and flavorful hummus that I like to eat.

Hummus is a spread made of chick peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Tahini is a "Middle Eastern paste or sauce made from ground sesame seeds" (online dictionary). Think peanut butter made from sesame seeds. 


Tips for Making Better Hummus at Home


Cook the Chick Peas.  A few years ago, my roommate came home with exciting news. A person had shared their delicious hummus with him. When he asked what the secret was, the person told him that it was boiling the chick peas and mashing them when they are still warm. I use two cans of chick peas. I dump them into a sauce pan and simmer them until the juice has simmer away. Be careful not to burn the beans (that stinks up the kitchen and is hard to remove from the pan). I then strain the remaining juice off before mashing the chick peas.

Use Fresh Tahini. Tahini comes in a can and is much like peanut butter but with oil floating on top. I only just now learned that oils can go rancid, and this includes the oils in Tahini. Which explains why I once made hummus - using a can of Tahini I found in the back of the cupboard - and it tasted terrible. I thought it was just because I'm not good in the kitchen and the odds of me messing up even the most simple recipe are high.  But in this case, it was the old Tahini. Make sure you have Tahini that was recently purchased. Stir the layers of paste and oil together before scooping out the amount you want.

Use a Food Processor or Nutri-Bullet. If you like extremely smooth Hummus, use a food processor. I use my Nutri-Bullet.  I first use a potato masher to mash the chick peas and Tahini together. I add the additional ingredients and give it all a spin in my Nutri-bullet. The Hummus turns out very creamy and easy to spread or dip. 

There are days that I want more coarse Hummus and on those days, I just mash with a potato masher and stop there.


I don't do recipes. 
For a recipe that is the same as how I make my hummus 
check out this Easy Hummus Recipe by inspired taste. 


Basically, I simmer the chick peas (two 15 oz. cans). Strain the remaining water off. Add around a 1/2 cup of tahini, a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of garlic salt, and a squirt of olive oil. Tonight I added a can of black olives. I mashed the mix with a potato masher. Then I added the mixture to my Nutri-Bullet with about a 1/4 cup of water. Blend briefly. Tonight I served with a few drops of sriracha and baby carrots. 

Customize Your Hummus


Add the ingredients that you like. I really like to add a can of black olives to mine. I also use a splash of water and use less oil.

Other Hummus flavor ideas are:

  • sriracha
  • cumin
  • roasted red peppers
  • mushroom
  • spinach


Additional Links About Hummus


I like the taste of Hummus. I think it is a great light meal or snack. I eat it on bagels, tortillas, chips, carrots, or pita bread. I don't eat it because I think it is a super food. Some people believe that Hummus is a food that is high in protein, helps with digestion, and is an anti-inflammatory. Others say that claims of high protein are inflated and that Hummus is only high in carbs and fats. If you are looking at Hummus for it's health benefits, please consider both sides of the debate.  Dr. Axe writes on the side of hummus being a very healthy food with many different health benefits, including being a good source of protein. While Jessica Cording writes for Shape Magazine that hummus not only is not high in protein, but IS high in fat and carbs. 

My thinking about the health benefits of hummus are somewhere in the middle. I do know that I love the taste when I make my own and it has to be far healthier than that entire bag of M&Ms I'd eat as a snack if I didn't have hummus. 

Intro Photo: Hummus courtesy of Pixabay under CC0 license




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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Reviewing Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Smoothie Bowl Recipes
Taken by Louanne Cox
Here at Review This it seems that a few of us enjoy our smoothies.  I have been having a smoothie nearly every morning since I first did a 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond plan*.

I do like to take my smoothie up a notch some days though (especially on the weekend) with a smoothie bowl.   My very first smoothie bowl was essentially just a chocolate one topped with hazelnuts and it was like having a delicious chocolate treat ... that was healthy - how much better does life get?

What is a Smoothie Bowl?


Essentially a smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie served in a bowl with different toppings and it is delicious.  You can have a myriad of different flavors and there's really no rules as to what you can pop on top - I have seen some amazing looking ones on instagram.

Smoothie Bowl Recipes


The smoothie bowl that I have the most for breakfast is a chocolate cherry one.

200 ml water
2 scoops vegan chocolate protein powder (I use the Arbonne one as it's the only one I really like the taste of)
1 scoop greens balance (this powder contains fruit and veg goodness and gives me energy during the day)
1 scoop daily fibre
1 tsp cacao powder
8 frozen cherries
1/2 avocado

Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
I blend all of this together and the combination of the avocado and 50ml less water than I use for my 'normal smoothie' makes this into a lovely thickness.

I serve it into a bowl and then add toppings.  Sometimes I add fresh raspberries and chopped nuts, sometimes I sprinkle coconut on it as I love cherries with coconut.

We couldn't get frozen cherries for a couple of weeks so I would use frozen strawberries, frozen blackberries or a combination of the two and this was also delicious.

I sometimes don't feel like chocolate, but I've never been sure what avocado would taste like in a vanilla smoothie.  As I was looking through my instagram feed I came across a recipe that used zucchini in a smoothie so I reached out to the person and asked about it.

This next smoothie bowl was delicious ..

200 ml water
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (the Arbonne one of course!)
1 tsp acai powder
6 x frozen strawberries
6 x frozen blackberries
1/2 zucchini

Berry Smoothie Bowl
I blended this up and it made a vibrant delicious looking smoothie (that tasted delicious too by the way).  I topped it with chopped mixed nuts and some fresh raspberries.

Now the zucchini added a thickness and creaminess to the smoothie, but you couldn't really taste it which was good.  I wanted it a little thicker the second time I made it so I added a whole zucchini - big mistake!   Zucchini has a high water content so if you want it thicker than this one reduce the water to 150 ml do not increase the amount of zucchini!

On Mother's Day my daughter took me out to breakfast where I had a smoothie bowl that was out of this world.

Decorated with not just fruit, seeds and coconut, but flowers too!

I don't have their recipe, but I really need to up my game as you can see here -

vegan healthy smoothie bowl recipes
The Ultimate Smoothie Bowl!


Check out some of our other smoothie reviews -


Tropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe ReviewedTropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe Reviewed
The tropical fruit smoothies taste really good and they are very easy to make. Simply gather your favorite tropical fruits and the blender and you have a quick and healthy snack for breakfast, lunch or after dinner!

Reviewing Chocolate SmoothiesReviewing Chocolate Smoothies
Enjoying your chocolate is easy when you make it into a smoothie. Yes, I have gotten into smoothies lately. And since I can't not have chocolate as part of my day, a chocolate smoothie sounded great.

Healthy and Delicious SmoothiesHealthy and Delicious Smoothies
Some time ago I began trying to eat healthier foods and cut things from my diet such as soda. One of the things I've enjoyed are green smoothies.


*By the way if you're interested in finding out more about my 30 days to healthy living and beyond plan please message me via my facebook business page or instagram. Personally I have lots more energy, my hormones are balanced, the inflammation from my rheumatoid arthritis is non existent and I've lost 13.4kg over the past 6 months.

Back to smoothie bowls - have you ever made your own smoothie bowl and what was your favorite flavor combination?


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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pinto Beans Latin Style Reviewed

A Little Spice Is Nice

pinto beans
Pinto Beans image from public domain
A discovery at the grocery store of pinto beans Latin style is what I would like to review with you today. I had asked my husband to pick up a brand of pinto beans that I had seen on a television commercial. He called to tell me that they did not have that brand in stock but they had Bush's Cocina Latina and they looked pretty good. I told him to go ahead and get some and we would try them. Oh my goodness! These beans are really good!

As I mentioned a while back in an article about soft foods, I really like to eat pinto beans. They are a wonderful source of fiber and protein and a good substitute for meat. They are low in saturated fats and offer a source of manganese and folate along with being helpful in lowering HDL and LDL cholesterol. Besides the health benefits, they just taste good!

So, my husband brings home his little discovery and I decide that they might be good as a topping for a loaded potato. I baked a couple of potatoes, heated up the can of pinto beans and voila we had a meal!


We sprinkled just a little bit of cheese on top and the results were absolutely delicious! The pinto beans are in a tomato sauce with onion, garlic, serrano peppers and just a touch of bacon. The flavor on top of the potato was really awesome!

I have decided that a can or two of these beans will now be a staple on my pantry shelves. There are so many ways that they can be served. Alone as a side dish is an obvious choice. I plan to add a can the next time I make chili because I think they will add a little kick to the dish. I also, think they might be really good if I make them into refried beans.

You might worry that the serrano pepper will make these pinto beans pretty hot. It is true that the serrano is hotter than the jalapeno but to be honest I didn't think these beans were too hot. I like spicy foods but I don't like the heat level to be much more than medium. Honestly, these beans had just the right amount of heat for my palate. They were a little hot but not so much that I had to grab water or wipe tears from my eyes. I wouldn't like that.

So, if you are looking for something new to add to your menu I suggest you give these pinto beans with a Latin style of flavoring a try. We liked them so much that we plan to try the other flavors that the company offers in this line called Cocina Latina.


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Monday, April 2, 2018

Reviewing McCormick Smokehouse Maple

Smokehouse Maple by McCormick
McCormick's Smokehouse Maple has become one of my favorite spices. Living in the Baltimore area, I take it for granted that everyone is familiar with McCormick spices. Realizing that not everyone may be aware of this sweet, smokey blend I thought I should stop keeping this little secret to myself. 


Smokehouse Maple by McCormick


Smokehouse maple is an excellent spice that is recommended for pork and chicken. Some people use it on fish and I regularly use it on burgers. Just a small amount of this seasoning (dry rub) goes a long way in adding a sweet, smokey flavor to your meal.

Ingredients list: 
salt, cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses (refinery syrup, cane molasses, caramel color), garlic, onion, spices (including paprika, chili pepper), orange peel, red bell pepper, maple syrup & natural flavor (including smoke)

If you are looking for recipes, McCormick provides a selection of recipes and meal ideas that use Smokehouse Maple specifically. I hadn't thought of using it on grilled corn on the cob! What a great idea.


 Why I prefer the Smokehouse Maple


When I am camping at The Shack, all of my hot meals are prepared on the grill, in the smoker, or in hobo packs in the wood stove. My land is on what had previously been an apple orchard. So my wood stove and my smoker are fueled with apple wood from my yard and hard wood from my woods. 

I prefer grilled foods and smoked foods. That smoked flavor is my preference. When I return to the apartment, I do not have an access to a grill and am not able to smoke my foods.

I typically fry or bake a pork chop with a light sprinkle of this seasoning. Or I add a bit to my burgers. McCormick's Smokehouse Maple takes care of my grill cravings when I am unable to grill. 







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Monday, March 12, 2018

Reviewing Skinny One-Pan Recipes

Skinny One-Pan Recipes.
I like food. A lot. Unfortunately, I'm not very talented in the kitchen. I need easy, fool-proof recipes. Cleaning up in the kitchen after making a big meal is not my favorite thing to do. While some one-pan or few-ingredient recipes are bland, the recipes contained in this year's issue of Skinny One-Pan Recipes by Better Homes & Gardens look both easy and delicious!


Skinny One-Pan Recipes on Newsstands Now


The 2018 issue of Skinny One-Pan Recipes is 96 colorful pages of one-pan recipes - all 400 calories or less. The editors of the magazine summarize this issue of skinny one-pan as:


"Each dish was created with busy families in mind- using only one pan for easy prep and cleanup."

"Plus, each fresh-tasting recipe is slimmed down to help keep you fit and feeling good. This means cutting calories, fat, and sodium."

This year's special interest publication is at newsstands now and will be displayed until May 14. During my last "quick" trip to the grocery the two check out lanes that were open were both stalled. The blinking "help" lights were monotonously blinking over each cashier. Yay.  But the silver lining to that extended wait in line was that I impulse bought a Skinny One-Pan Recipes (after having had time to flip through and preview each recipe).



The recipes sounded so easy and delicious that I nearly turned around to add a few ingredients to my cart. But I wasn't willing to risk another long wait in line. 

Better Homes & Gardens is a respected name in the cookbook world. Their first cookbook was published in 1930. We know we can trust their recipes. That was another reason I felt fine with this impulse purchase.



With the ease of the internet, why would I bother to buy a recipe book?  I find it hard to follow an online recipe.  I tend to end up writing it down. Having it on a printed page eliminates that step. Also, even though there are 11 categories of recipes, they all have the common thread of being one-pan and healthier than high calorie recipes.


The categories are:
  • Power-up Breakfasts
  • Savory Bakes
  • Cast-Iron Cakes & Breads
  • Roast and Boast
  • 4-Ingredient Sides
  • One-Pan Vegetarian
  • Stove-Top Sautes
  • Stir-Fry Suppers
  • Simmer and Steam
  • Big-Batch White Bean Chili
  • Snack Central

Here is a little look inside at one of the recipes that caught my eye. I use cast-iron and have a favorite skillet. I've never tried making Focaccia bread but I have become better at successfully making breads in general.  Doesn't this No-Knead Focaccia look delicious?!

No-Knead Focaccia
Don't worry if you can't find a copy at newsstands near you. Or if you are reading this after the "display until" date has passed. Simply click the link to have a copy delivered to your home via Amazon. 



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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why Drink Kefir? If You're Not Including this in Your Diet, You May Want to Rethink That...

Are You Familiar With Kefir?

If you haven't read up on Kefir, you're going to be surprised by all it's benefits.

In case you aren't familiar with Kefir, Kefir is fermented milk. Hey, I heard that gag.

I remember when I first told my mom about Kefir, and used the words 'fermented milk' to describe it, she about up-chucked on the spot.

However, stop right there, it's not sour milk .... it's more like drinkable yogurt.

Kefir comes from the Turkish word 'Keif' which means, "good". So that settles it, it's good.

So Why Drink Kefir?

I tripped upon Kefir's benefits about two years ago while researching inflammation remedies for a very unexpected health matter. Since then, it's been a daily (or almost daily) inclusion in my diet.

According to Healthline there are a number of Benefits to Kefir - Here's a summary of a few of Kefir's good stuff:
  1. Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics
  2. There are approximately 30 strains of good bacteria that help protect against bad bacteria overgrowth, tumors, leaky-gut syndrome and more.
  3. It helps to boost immunity. One of the ingredients that's unique to Kefir is Lactobacillus Kefiri which aids in the protection of other harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli.
  4. Another ingredient in Kefir is Insoluble Polysaccharide, also known as "Kefiran" and Kefiran is said to be an antimicrobial that guards against Candida. (Candida is a type of Yeast Infection that's mostly found in the mouth, vagina, intestinal tract, mucus membranes and skin). By the way Candida can give you a lot of symptoms - A white coating on your tongue, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, gas, bloating, chronic sinus issues and more.
  5. Kefir is made from Whole Fat Dairy and has high levels of Calcium. Due to it's make-up it also helps you better absorb the calcium. All of this is good for your bones, especially if you're battling Osteoarthritis.
  6. It's anti-carcinogenic benefits make it a good cancer prevention addition to your diet.
  7. All of the above components give it the traits that aid the fight of Allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as improving your skin.
  8. This one benefit may be hard to believe considering it's made with milk, however, it is said to help those who are lactose intolerant. Like yogurt does, Kefir does this more effectively: It's live microorganisms help your immune system suppress allergic responses.
So How Does It Taste?
Lifeway Probiotic Low Fat Plain Kefir, 32 Ounce -- 6 per case.Lifeway Probiotic Low Fat Plain Kefir, 32 Ounce -- 6 per case.
There's plain Kefir and flavored Kefir. I've had both, and tried many flavors. As mentioned above, it tastes like drinkable yogurt, but has a slight tang to it. However, it's not tangy, it just has that hint of difference from other typical drinkable yogurts.

Drink it or Make Smoothies With It

If you can't stomach drinking Kefir (and once you start drinking it, you'll oddly begin to crave it) - then make smoothies with it.

I like to keep a flavored Kefir in my fridge when I'm not in the mood to make a smoothie, and I keep a bottle of plain Kefir for smoothies. I find plain Kefir too hard to drink, but added to smoothies it's ideal.

My Favorite Kefir Smoothie Recipe:

In my Vitamix:
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Pitted Cherries (buy them in the frozen fruit section of your local grocer). The frozen cherries replace 'Ice' - If you use fresh cherries, you'll have to add ice - (too much work)
  • 1/2 Cup of Kefir (honestly I don't measure, I just kinda pour it in)
  • I'll add one single cherry flavored yogurt cup (any flavor is fine - buy regular fat yogurt, don't use any of that '0 percent stuff'- it's all fake sugar!)
  • About 1/4 cup of lemon water (we always keep lemon water in the fridge - just water with two whole lemons cut up in it) - use plain water if you must
  • Optional: a handful of spinach
  • Adjust the thickness you want by adding more or less of any of the above ingredients - just play with it. If you want a richer cherry flavor, add more cherries.
By the way, I'm not a doctor or health professional! Because of my own health issues I had to become informed on the right foods to include in my diet, and Kefir hit my radar.

Here's to your health *clinking kefir glasses*



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Monday, January 22, 2018

Reviewing Easy No-Bake Bliss Balls

No-Bake Bliss Balls
Bliss balls are extremely easy-to-make and no-bake delicious snacks. They require few ingredients, can be made to suit your cravings, and are typically considered to be healthy snacks. In fact, some sources attribute Bliss Ball recipes to Keto or Paleo diets. I do not know the origination of these snacks, nor do I care. I do know that I made some and had to spread the word.


My Coconut Peanut Butter Bliss Balls


I had a craving for no-bake cookies today. After perusing the internet for a good bit of time, I had found Paleo and Keto recipes for Bliss Balls. Many of the recipes called for ingredients like protein powder or chia seeds - none of which I have on hand. However, many Bliss Ball recipes call for items that I have in my kitchen.

For an actual recipe, you'll need to follow one of the links below. But clearly, Bliss Balls do not require a recipe.  I made mine using shredded coconut, peanut butter, oats, vanilla, and cinnamon.

I used approximately:

1/2 cup coconut
1/3 cup honey peanut butter
1/4 cup oats
1 tsp. vanilla
a couple of shakes of cinnamon

I did not use a food processor (or my Nutri-Bullet) which might have made the consistency of this snack a little different. But combining it with a fork worked well.

I formed the "dough" into balls - approximately tablespoon sized. Then refrigerated.  

A few random items:

  • As one recipe writer noted, do not try to roll this into balls. Rather, just squeeze them into ball shapes (They are slightly too crumbly to roll into balls)
  • The longer they are refrigerated, the better they taste! The consistency changes a bit - a little more "cakey"
  • Despite having a good bit of peanut butter, these were not sticky or mushy
With these Bliss Balls, I have taken care of my craving for sweets. I like the taste so much that I haven't touched (or been tempted) by the bag of candy bars I have nearby.  And, unlike the candy bars, just one small Bliss Ball satisfies me for quite awhile. With candy bars, once I start I have trouble stopping until I've finished the entire bag. There is something about the Bliss Balls that feel more filling.

Related Links: 

Quite frankly, at the beginning of my recipe search, I was looking for Susan's No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies. It turned out that I didn't have a stick of butter... so I continued my search and found the Bliss Balls. Susan Deppner, you may be gone from this earth but you are not forgotten.

After talking to some of the gals at work about their Keto diets and remembering how much better I feel with little to no carbs and sugars, I have been trying new recipes with a focus on lower carbs/sugars. This recent discussion is why the Paleo Bliss Ball recipes caught my eye. Paleo Grubs gathered a list of  21 Paleo Bliss Ball recipes. The recipes all sounded delicious and the photos made my mouth water. Unfortunately, I haven't been to the store and was missing the key ingredients for each recipe.

I continued to search and found 8 No-Bake Energy Balls on Bless This Mess. Chunky, delicious, every-day ingredients is what Melissa uses in her Bliss Balls (you have to go take a peek at the photo of her varieties). And it is from her that I decided on my coconut, peanut butter, oats, vanilla, and cinnamon mixture. And I'm so glad I did!



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Monday, January 15, 2018

Reviewing Barbacoa Sauce by Frontera

Barbacoa Sauce by Frontera
I have just returned from a camping trip. During that camping trip I used the Red Chili Barbacoa Slow Cook sauce with roasted tomato and chipotle by Frontera. These little packets of sauce are my favorite. I use it in roasts, soups, tacos, quesadillas, and tamales. If you like Mexican foods and Mexican inspired recipes, I think you would like this barbacoa sauce.


Beef Barbacoa Red Chili Slow Cook Sauce


I learned about these sauce packets from my son, who typically likes food that is spicier than what I can tolerate. However, he thought I'd like the flavor of the soups he makes with this sauce, and he was right. It is spicy but not too spicy - the label lists it as "mild". In my opinion (and I am not a chef) it has a smokey, spicy, rich flavor.

He calls them soups, but to me they are thicker and richer, more like a beef stew. We both make these soups with a variety of ingredients; beef, carrots, hominy, potatoes, yams, onions, peppers, and so much more. Basically, you start with a base of beef and the barbacoa sauce, then add what you have on hand.

While camping, I only brought along the packet of barbacoa, and roast, and some potatoes. I slow cooked it in an enameled pan on top of the wood stove. What a wonderfully easy and delicious meal.


Delicious barbacoa roast with potatoes



Frontera Foods


Frontera Foods may or may not sound familiar to you. But the
click for more information
name Chef Rick Bayless may sound more familiar. He appears on a public television cooking show called Mexico - One Plate at a Time
Also, Chef Bayless has written several cookbooks. 

I enjoy watching his shows, I like his recipes, and am very thankful for this sauce that helps me easily create meals with an authentic Mexican flavor. In fact, thanks to a lesson from my son and this wonderful barbacoa sauce, I recently made tamales in my own kitchen. 


Where to Buy Frontera Beef Barbacoa Sauce


I have trouble finding the sauce in the stores local to me. I am fortunate that my son always stocks up on packets and saves them for me. He easily finds them at his local Target store. They are available on Amazon and the Frontera Foods website has a list of participating groceries. My local groceries, that are not on the list, carry the Frontera products in a hit and miss fashion.

Side Notes: 

For more information about The Shack (my current camping trips and my future retirement/homestead plans) take a peek at my blog Treasures, Travel, and Tales. Also, the pan in the photo may look familiar. I purchased it for The Shack and wrote a review about it in February 2016. I still believe that Enameled Cast Iron - Pricey but Worth It. Unfortunately, it looks like these little pans by Martha Stewart are a little more difficult to get. Good thing there are many other brands still easily available.


A few of the cookbooks by Rick Bayless on his Amazon author page



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