Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Recipe Blogs....

Ooooh, I just found another wonderful recipe website to pass on. It is called Blog Chef and can be viewed on my link to the right. I love it because it has so many great Chinese recipe's with great photo's. Can't wait to try them out!

Popcorn the old fashioned way....

My little Tate loves popcorn but almost all microwave popcorns are out because of the ingredients. Even the popcorn that doesn't have butter contains some tocopherols. Thanks to a fellow blogger, Terri Hirning, who blogged about this little contraption, Tate can have delicious popcorn with all the good taste and without the bad ingredients. I saw it at Target but never bought it. Then, I stopped by the Nie Benefit garage sale this weekend and picked up a brand new in box one for $2! What a deal. We tried it out and it is great! I love being able to choose what I want in it. We used pure coconut oil and cinnamon. After it was done, we sprinkled a little salt and a little sugar. Delicious! It was so easy and the kids thought it was so neat to see how it pops. I remember my dad making popcorn on the stove growing up before the microwave days. Tate saw me put in the kernels then later watched as I poured the fluffy popcorn out. He looked completely surprised. Mommy is magic! Oh what fun and little popcorn can be.
Thanks to all for your good ideas on your blogs! I love being enlightened by all. Thanks for your inspiring comments and pick me ups.I also want to shout out a Happy Birthday to my wonderful Husband! If you want to know why I love him so much, check out his comment on my last post! Love You!

Friday, September 26, 2008

For any still intaking Aspartame....

I believe one of the major contributors to all auto immune problems, including MS, autism and ADD is the chemicals in our food. As you all know, my main issues are with aspartame and all MSG ingredients which are in almost everything! Check my prior blog about what MSG is in. Anyways, here is another article about aspartame I just recieved in the Natural News website. Read up, oh, unless you are STILL drinking diet drinks and don't want to quit.

"NaturalNews) High intake of the artificial sweetener aspartame may lead to the degeneration of brain cells and various mental disorders, according to a research review conducted by South African scientists from the University of Pretoria and the University of Limpopo and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders, and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning," the researchers concluded.

The review of prior research found that aspartame, marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, Canderal and Tropicana Slim, leads to both direct and indirect changes in the brain when consumed in high quantities. Among these effects, the chemical can disrupt amino acid metabolism and structure, degrade nucleic acids, and interfere with the function of nerve cells and hormonal systems. It also appears to change the concentration of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

The researchers also noted that aspartame appears to cause excessive signaling of nerve cells, and nerve cell damage or even death. By disrupting the functioning of the cells' mitochondria, or energy source, aspartame leads to a cascade of effects on the whole system.

"The energy systems for certain required enzyme reactions become compromised, thus indirectly leading to the inability of enzymes to function optimally," the researchers wrote.

This directly contradicts a review published in 2007, which concluded that "aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption … no credible evidence was found that aspartame is carcinogenic, neurotoxic, or has any other adverse effect on health."

Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener, particularly in food and beverage products marketed as low calorie or "diet." It is used in more than 6,000 products around the world.

The chemical has been controversial since its introduction, with a number of studies linking it to cancer and neurological and behavioral disorders. People have reported experiencing headaches, insomnia and even seizures from aspartame consumption.

The FDA and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), however, continue to insist that the sweetener is safe.

Sources for this story include: foodqualitynews.com."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Azure Standard....

I love all the great tips and ideas I get from my fellow enlightened homemakers. Thanks for the emails. I have to pass this one on so you can all benefit. There is a company called "Azure Standard" that sells everything under the sun in the health line. You place your order once a month and it is delivered at any number of drop offs all over the U.S. They have anything from organic produce to ice cream to essential oils. They carry bulk grains (i.e. Spelt, for you Angela) and gluten free products. You can go to their website and request a free catalog here.Get it now because it takes you a good week just to get through it. I am in love. They have some great expeller pressed raw coconut oil for a great price in the sale booklet. Everything is cheaper than I can get at the health store. As you all know, the healthy food is much more expensive. This helps take that pinch off. The organic apples , for instance, run just under $1 per pound instead of $1.99 at the store. They even carry a coconut yogurt for the lactose intolerant. I can't wait to place my first order. Thanks, Linda Merrill for the tip!

Also, I am picking up my first organics basket from bountiful baskets. Anyone else there ordering their organic? Let me know what you think so far.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Good Oils....

This seems to be the question of the month for me so I thought it was time to blog it. What kind of oils do I cook with? There are three main oils that I use. They are the pure oils, not genetically altered, not heat treated, not partially hydrogenated. They each have qualities that actually promote health (crazy concept for food) and that even taste good. Are you ready? Here you go: Olive Oil ; you all know this one. It is a great antioxidant and has been around forever. It grows naturally and doesn't have to be genetically grown. It is used great in Italian foods and stir frys. I don't use it to bake with unless in pizza dough or focaccia. The more "Virgin" quality the better and all oils that say "expeller pressed" are best. This means that they have not been heat processed so the healthy properties have not been cooked out. Grapeseed Oil; Also full of antioxidants. It has a very mild taste so you can use it in anything. It is great in salad dressings and baked goods. Costco now sells this in a big bottles for a good price. This is my all purpose oil. Coconut Oil; My personal favorite. You want to get the unrefined coconut oil. It will look like a solid on the shelf but will turn liquid with only very little temperature change. It may even be a liquid on your shelf if your cupboard is a little warmer. I use this for my sweet items; sweet muffins, breads, cookies, etc. I put it on my griddle for french toast and it was delicious! If you didn't read my post on the health benefits of coconut oil, go back. Look under the nutrition label below or go to May 1st entry. I use this solely as our lotion now. I was skeptical at first that I would break out like a 14 year old, but I am zit free. It feels great and sinks right in, leaving you without an oily appearance. I smell delicious and it is even great on my hair. I simply can't get enough of this oil. I love the fact that I am not putting chemicals on my skin as our skin is the biggest organ we have.

All of these oils are broken down in the body easily because they are not partially hydrogenated or altered. The body knows what to do with them. Sure, they are still calories but calories are not created equal. We need fat but we also need the right fats. Fats help to trigger the mind that you are full. If you have ever done the cabbage soup diet, you know that you can eat fruit all day and never get full. This is why. For those of you who use Canola oil as your staple, Canola oil is not the friendly type. I know, it was a few years ago, but that was because the Canadian government told us it was. This oil is from Canada grown on the rapeseed plant. It is not good for you and in fact can be quite harmful. It is genetically grown and heat treated and bleached. I do have this in my supply and if I am going to fry some fry bread or corn tortillas, I use this some time but, rarely. You can google Canola Oil and find all kinds of articles about it. This oil has not been around too long so the long term affects are just coming out. Coconut oil, Olive Oil and Grapeseed oil have been around since the beginning of time. The results are in and these oils are meant for us to use. Just as the Lord intended it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Need a good book?

I know, like me, many of you are suffering, suffering from the "Twilight" hangover....the limbo between no more books in the series and waiting for the movie to come out. If this is you, I have another book for you to tie you over. NO, there are no vampires or werewolves. However, this is one great read written as a historical fiction of a early pioneer woman. Not an LDS pioneer but a story of a girl, turned into one incredible woman on her journey to AZ. My SIL recommended it to me and once I finished, I just couldn't keep it out of my mind. There is a sequel but I didn't enjoy it quite as much. This is a real quick read and makes you realize that we have it pretty good. It is beautiful and romantic and adventurous. Enjoy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A note...

I have reread my last entry and thought it sounded a bit snobbish. I want to just restate a few things. First of all, I get pedicures, I go to the gym, I get caught up in all of it. My observations were a wake up call to me. A wake up call that even though all of those things aren't bad in and of themselves, we can become consumed and loose our focus. As in everything.... moderation. It was a self realization, not a ridicule of those who get pedicures or work out. I hope it wasn't taken that way. I didn't get any nasty emails but just in case......

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quote of the Month.....

On one particular day last month as I was trying to work the jiggles off my backside at the gym, I was eavesdropping on the twenty- something in front of me talking to her other twenty-something friend. No children, no boyfriends between them. Their conversations revolved around a shallow life of Botox and pedicures. Their was only a tone of displeasure and unhappiness as they voiced their complaints about what us girls would view as their perfect little bodies and too much time on their hands. I say too much time because I have never been there when they haven't been there. Maybe they have a room in the back. Who knows. Anyways, as I was treading, I thought about the two. I realized that I may have jiggles where they have never jiggled, but I have earned my jiggles. My jiggles come from 5 sweet babies, oh, and maybe a chocolate or two. My jiggles represent time spent outside the gym and cookies made for the kids, and shared. I stopped envying their tight buns and appreciated mine. I vowed right then and there that I would stop trying to have their buns and start using mine a little better. Exercise is very important, I know that, but... maybe I should take some of those mornings off and get my buns more often to the schools to help and to a friends to help. This sounded like a great action plan and I did put it to work. I love it. I am happy to be serving more and especially to be with my children in their classes. I do have to say that my buns are suffering a bit and that I need to find a good balance but I am trying to be better. That is our goal, right? Always a quest for self improvement. It is so easy to get consumed about things that shouldn't matter as much. Time is so precious and using it wisely is the most important thing we can do. I took a little too much time off at the gym and now need to get back a little more. Hmmmm.... how to balance. I will figure it out , but, I love this quote Miss. Molly sent me. It is what I want to be when I show up at the pearly gates.

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schnek's lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a Little dirt under my fingernails from helping weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."

However.... is it possible to at least be in a cute mini cooper instead of the station wagon? Can we meet half way? I never did like station wagons.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beyond Little Ceasars.....

I have to admit that we do on occasion visit the local Little Caesars but it is merely a way to fill the belly, not feed the taste buds. I am a pizza connoisseur and am always on a quest to find a new topping or new sauce. The pizza dough itself is simply a caveat for an artistic food masterpiece. There is so much you can do with the pizza itself that reaches far beyond the red sauce, cheese and pepperoni ,yet so many of us get stuck in that mentality. As a young couple we visited Pizzaria Bianco in downtown Phoenix and I had my first experience with a gourmet pizza. It was a brick oven, hand stretched little gem with roasted pistachios , grilled onions and who knows what else but it woke up my taste buds! I had no idea you could do that with a pizza. We have visited many other gourmet pizza restaurants since then and the combinations I have discovered have been delicious! I then discovered grilling pizza at home and have tried some great combinations with much success and family approval. It is quite easy, quick and fun for all. Pay attention and I will give you my little secrets.
First: The dough. Check out my recipe for Pizza dough under my recipe blog from my brother Kevin who is the pro. He has his own brick oven in his back yard and is the bomb when it comes to firing those puppies up. His recipe is my favorite. Plan ahead because you need to let it rise for a good 4 hours. I have skimped and used it after 2 but it is better the full 4.
Second: The grilling. Get your grill good and hot then turn it down to medium low. You need some parchment paper. Roll the dough out thin on the parchment, about 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle to top of the dough with olive oil and brush all over. You then want to flip the pizza, oil side down on the grill and peel off the parchment to be reused again.If the dough sticks to the parchment, spray a light dusting of pam next go round. Brush the top side with oil. When the bottom is a light golden brown, remove from the grill and flip over so that the undone side is down on a plate or pan.
Third: The toppings. Go nuts. You don't need a red sauce all the time or even any sauce at all. You can do anything with a pizza. Pick your ingredients and put them on the grilled side. The pizza is then placed back on the grill with the undone side down. Close the lid and let it finish up. Check to make sure that your grill is not too hot. You may want to put it on low or even move the pizza to the top rack if the bottom is done but the cheese needs to melt. Once you get the temp just right, the other pizzas go quite fast. Just have all ingredients ready so you can have an assembly line going.
I tried a delicious combination the other night that I stole from Sauce in Gilbert. I brushed the dough with olive oil, sprinkled some garlic powder, Layed some thin Prosciutto from Fresh and Easy with no Nitrites, sliced some fresh mozzarella and grilled it. When it was done, I shaved some thin slices of cantaloupe with my potato peeler and topped it on the pizza in ribbon like curls. Sounds weird but it was delicious! I have done peanut Thai pizzas, Salad pizzas, fruit pizzas, enchilada pizzas, etc. I could eat them nightly. Try them out! Use all different kinds of cheese or no cheese at all. Any sauce works, BBQ, pesto, salsa, chutneys, etc. Any meats, any veggies. It all works. Just anything that you would eat together can go on a crust. I am hungry now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Farmer's Markets.....

With the coming of fall also comes the opening of the farmers markets around the valley. There are certain stands that stay open year round, but many of the weekly markets only open around this time. Why should you care when you can just pop into your local grocery store and pick the perfectly polished fruit? There are a few reasons and I know I talked about this a bit before but it is reminder time. First of all, did you know that produce from the local farmers markets are general delivered to the stand within 24 hours of harvest versus 14 days or more at the grocery store? This also means that they are generally ripened on the vine or bush or whatever. What that means to you is that the longer they ripen to maturity, the more vitamins they have. Also, local produce usually contains little or no pesticides. Another bonus; usually cheaper prices. You will not usually get the best looking produce but the taste makes up for that. I love the Guadalupe farmers market close to me on Power just east of Elliot. They are getting so much more organic foods at such a great price. There will be a new one opening soon on Gilbert road in old town Gilbert at the Liberty Market that will have produce grown here at Joe's farm. There are some cute stands all over the valley that are fun to take the kids to to get that old town feel. Check this link here to find where to go and I am sure there are more. Post if you have a favorite or if you are an out-or-towner, google your local sites. Your body will thank you. Hey, if we are going to eat our veggies, lets make sure they are full of the most vitamins we can get!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Journaling on the go.....

Since I was eight years old, I have been a diligent journal writer, well.... up until I had kids that is. I have journal after journal professing my love for the various jr. high boys of the week and sob stories of the ones that didn't quite work out. I make sure that I write about the important events like the birth of the children and other momentous occasions but have the guilt of not being consistent. What is missing is the daily events; the thoughts that run through my head on a regular basis of what it is like to be a mother, what makes me smile, what makes me cry, what inspires me. I want those that come after me to find out who the real Shari Goodman was. I want them to know that I had a gratitude for life and everything that came with it, the good and the bad. I want them to learn through my experiences and know that life is what you make of it. With that being said, I decided to get back on the bandwagon this year and do a better job of writing. I can't seem to do it at home because , well, you know, the time issue and the lack of alone time. So, I decided to keep a journal in my car. I am always in the car and very often waiting for someone to come out of volleyball, baseball, dance or preschool. I usually have 10 minutes here or there to capture thoughts. I have loved this because not only is it handy to jot down those cute things kids say, but it is there when I need to write down the things that I am thankful for that day. Especially on days where I need to feel thankful; those days when nothing is going quite right. I love to read over these in the car and my kids love to hear them also. I wish I had started this a long time ago. My "on the go" journal is a great tool for me to remember what I love about life ,and somehow knowing that I need to fill the pages makes me look around me for good things to fill it with.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ham and Pear Pannini

The good news today was that I cleaned out my refrigerator. The bad news... it was because it broke down last night. Thank goodness I needed to grocery shop and didn't have a whole lot in the fridge that was worth keeping. $155 bucks and repairman AL saved the day. What did they ever do without a fridge? Anyways, it was 6:02 and I had no idea what to make for dinner. Going out to eat sounded like the best option until I saw 3 sweaty and very dirty little boys that would take much to long to make presentable. HMMMMM, what to make with the very little ingredients before me. Luckily, I always stash some Naan bread for pannini's from Fresh and Easy. They even have whole wheat now. I had a package of Black Forest ham , two pears and 1/3 brick of Monterey jack. Throw in a fresh cantaloupe and some baby spinach and we had a dinner. It was delicious. I am sold on the pannini's using good ole George (foreman). You can put anything between two slices of Naan, or other good bread and make a meal. The picture doesn't look like anything great but it was very tasty. Here you go for a quick dinner. Try it out.

Ham and Pear Pannini
Black Forest ham or Honey ham
Mild Cheese like Monterey Jack or Brie
Ripe pears
Dijon Mustard
Naan Bread or other firm bread
Baby Spinach
Soft butter or olive oil
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Spread one side with mustard. Layer ham, peeled and sliced pears, spinach and cheese. Grind fresh cracked pepper over cheese. Lay second slice of bread and spread a little butter or olive oil on one side. Flip buttered side down on foreman or pannini grill and butter top side. Close lid and melt.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Making Sense of It All.......

Like me, many of you are consumed with the "Stephanie and Christian" story. We think about it constantly, we talk about it in our circles, we put ourselves in their shoes wondering what we would do. (see c jane link at right for details.) I had the pleasure of meeting her in person and spending an afternoon just talking about being a mother and our testimonies. I have learned from her and am continuing to learn from her.I know that our trials in life are not merely tests to see if we can simply "pass", they are put there to make us stronger, to see what our potential in life can be. Stephanie and Christian are amazing people along with their family members and we are all amazed by their strength and love for each other. But, if we just talk about them, think about them and wonder about them, their sacrifice doesn't make sense. What are WE doing with this? This is the question I have been asking myself. I am here, I have the ability to take care of my children, to serve others. My hands are available and able to serve. What are WE doing with them. What are WE doing to appreciate the simple fact that we can get up every morning and live life. Does it take a tragedy in our lives to appreciate that fact? I know the thing we all admire so much about Stephanie and why we loved her blog was the fact that she loved life before the tragedy. She lived it to the fullest in all the smallest ways. I want to be like her. I want my family and all around me to know that I loved everything about my life and would do anything to help another person. This takes work and because of Stephanie and Christian I am going to do better. I want to make sense of this tragedy by learning from them and how they lived life. Their sacrifice has to mean something. It can't just be a story to follow. I am going to do better. I am going to try to be thankful everyday for everything. The fact that I had fresh blackberry compote today made by my daughter with berries picked at the cabin, the fact that my husband is at the skatepark with my boys dropping into the "big bowl" with them in the attempt to bond with them on their level ,and the fact that Tate has not bitten me on my butt yet this morning. The little things. Thank you Stephanie for continuing to teach me beyond our afternoon together.