Lentil Soup

Saturday, January 6, 2018

What do you do on a snow day in the southeast?  You better do SOMETHING special because this rarely happens! And... you don't won't to be out on the roads because for Pete's Sake people don't know how to drive in snow and ice!!

Since I wasn't going out, I decided to make a nice hearty soup. I mean I love a good vegetable soup or tomato soup, but I wanted something with substance. Lentil soup was the perfect soup to make. You know you can use lentils as a meat substitute. Not steak or the like, but it can be substituted for ground beef. Use it in meatballs, sausage or a burger. That's another day, so on with the soup.

Lentils are very healthy and nutritious for you. In case you didn't know.....

Lentils contain:

Dietary Fiber
A single cup of cooked lentils contains 16 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber helps with digestive health.
Lean Protein
Cooked lentils provide 18 grams of protein per cup, with less than 1 gram of fat!
Each cup of cooked lentils has 358 micrograms of folate. This amount supplies nearly 100 percent of the daily requirement of folate for adults. Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, supports the nervous system.
A cup of lentils provides 87 percent of the iron men need daily and 38 percent of the amount a woman needs.
Selenium is a mineral found in lentils. It is not found in most other foods. Selenium prevents inflammation, decreases tumor growth rates, improves immune response to infection by stimulating the production of disease killing T-cells.

 You can use whatever variety of lentil you want. There are red, yellow, orange, brown, green and other varieties.  I used red lentils. You will want to rinse and pick through them to remove any skins that come off during rinsing.

 I use my Dutch oven when making soup. On medium heat, warm your olive oil. I also use a lot of flavored olive oils. I did use my herbal blend oil in this soup. Once the oil is heated add your garlic, onions and carrots. Cook until the onions are translucent.

 Add the spices and tomatoes and cook together a few minutes so the flavors infuse into the vegetables. Then add the stock and water. Bring it up to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and let cook 30 to 40 minutes. You want the lentils and the carrots to maintain a firm texture. We don't want a mushy soup here.

Add the lemon juice and check to see if you need additional salt, pepper or if you like a little more heat, add more red pepper flakes. I used my emmersion blender to blend the soup for about 30 seconds. It makes it have a more thick consistency. You can always blend a couple cups in a stand up blender is you desire.  Serve with some sour dough bread, and you have a nice hearty meal to keep you warm inside on a cold day outside.

Lentil Soup


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (diced)
2 large sized carrots (diced)
4 garlic cloves - minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatos (drained)
1 cup lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp pepper (to taste)
dash of red pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon


-Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.
-Add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic and cook about 5 minutes.
-Add the cumin, curry powder and thyme. Cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
-Add the drained diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.
-Add the lentils, broth and water. Add salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes.
-Bring the soup to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
-If you want your soup a little more thick, use an immersion blender to blend it up for about 30 seconds. If you only have a regular blender, carefully put about 2 cups of soup into the blender and blend then pour back into pot.
-Add the juice of half a lemon. Taste and season more with salt, pepper and red pepper if desired.

Canned Peaches

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fresh South Carolina Peaches

Peaches! Oh my gosh I love peaches. The velvety fuzzy skin and the sweet yet tangy juice. I probably eat half of what I cut up to can. Canning peaches is so easy, that's why I do it! And this cute little bugger loves peaches too! I use my frozen peaches for smoothies and peach popsicles or just eat them frozen as a nice treat.

Like I said, canning peaches in a hot water bath is very easy. I bought about a 1/2 bushel and canned 13 pints and froze the other half. Below are my simple instructions on how to can peaches!

 Blanch peaches for about 45 seconds in boiling water

Scoop out with a slotted spoon 

Immediately put in an ice water bath

Take out of ice water bath and peel. If you score them lightly it's very easy to pull the peel off.

 Cut peaches into desired size slices

Pack peaches into sterilized canning jars. Add packing juice. You can use anything from plain water to apple juice. I used water and a little raw honey. These peaches were very sweet to begin with.

Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes

and Voila' you have delicious canned peaches to eat this winter

For more specific step by step directions to can peaches, just google "how to can peaches".

Frozen peaches

To freeze peaches just follow the directions above except after slicing, lay peaches on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and freeze. When completely frozen put in freezer bags or vacuum seal.

I hope you try your hand at canning or freezing fresh peaches. It's so nice to pop open a jar knowing where they came from and how they were canned. No added preservatives or chemicals from aluminum cans. Feel good about what you feed your family!

Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Creamsicle

Thursday, July 20, 2017

 Strawberry Banana Creamsicle

Summer time and popsicles! I've been making these yummy treats all summer. With my one year old grandson staying with me this summer, I wanted him to have some healthy treats.  Most store bought popsicles are full of sugar and artificial coloring. It is so easy to make your own healthy version and feel good about eating 2 or 3!  
So simple to make, just three ingredients.

With fresh strawberries and ripe bananas there is no need for any added sweeteners. If you are using frozen strawberries you could add a tablespoon or two of pure maple syrup or honey to add a little sweetness.

Add all three ingredients to your high speed blender and blend for about 1 minute. Pour into desired molds.

This batch made 10 creamsicles.

Once filled you can add some pieces of fruit in the mold. Looks cool! haha.... it is cool!

Strawberry Banana Creamsicle

2 cups sliced strawberries
2 medium sized bananas
1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk (full fat or reduced fat)

Add all ingredients to high speed blender.
Blend for about 1 minute.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
Freeze until solid.
Run popsicle mold under warm water to release creamsicle easily.

Grandson approved!

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Being a whole foods advocate, I'd like to bring to your attention a condition that I believe many people eating the Standard American Diet suffer from.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Do you suffer from any of the following?

Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating       Nutritional deficiencies     Weight gain
Constant sinus infections, colds         Headaches, brain fog, memory loss      Excessive fatigue        Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea     Cravings for sugar or carbs       Arthritis or joint pain           Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD         Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn's     Food sensitivities      Thyroid conditions      Joint pain       Headaches     Digestive problems

Leaky gut syndrome or "hyperpermeable intestines" is a condition where the lining of the small intestines has become damaged and more porous. When this happens undigested food particles and other stuff like toxins, bacteria and yeast can leak through the intestinal walls and flow into your bloodstream. This obviously is a bad thing.

Once in your bloodstream, your body recognizes these molecules as foreign substances and the liver starts to do its job of filtering them out. In most cases, the liver has no chance of keeping up with the overwhelming flow of waste into your blood and all the toxins, undigested food molecules, and other pathogens start to accumulate in your body.

With the liver working overtime, it is time for more help. Your immune system begins to kick in. The immune system fights hard to remove these toxins from the body. When the immune system gets overwhelmed too, the toxins and foreign bodies begin to absorb into the tissues throughout the body causing inflammation.

Inflammation is an immune response and causes even more stress on your systems. Now your body is focused on fighting the large war, and the little battles are starting to be ignored, like filtering out the blood, calming inflamed areas of the body, fighting bacteria, regulating the gut, etc. This process then can lead to your body fighting itself and developing an array of autoimmune diseases such as Chronic Fatigue, MS, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Fibromyalgia.

graphic: leakycutculture.com

What causes leaky gut syndrome?
The majority of the time, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Yep, hate to tell you that! 

When you eat a lot of refined sugar and flour, processed foods, preservatives, flavorings, sodas (especially diet with aspartame), artificial sweeteners and food coloring (just to name a few), you are consuming a lot of chemicals that the body sees as being toxic. The body is an amazing thing, but it can only do so much when you are filling it full of toxins. Too many toxins and the body systems can not keep up and you end up with chronic inflammation which leads to a weakened immune system. This then leaves you very susceptible to sickness and disease.

Other things that contribute to leaky gut syndrome are chronic stress, prescription medications like antibiotics and over the counter medications. All of the above can irritate the gut lining leading to inflammation of the lining which leads to the increased permeability of the lining.

How to heal a leaky gut
Obviously you want to remove as much of the toxic load on your body as you can. Remove the refined products and processed foods. A good detoxing of the body would do much for healing. You may want to give your gut a break from gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol also. There are supplements available that are good for healing the gut and some foods are good for healing the gut. 

Before you reach for medications to aid in relief of the symptoms at the top of the page, consider what you are putting into your body. Feed your body clean whole foods and give it a chance to heal itself.



Read the Ingredients

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Image result for ingredient label of processed foods
If you absolutely must have processed food in your life, which would be mostly for convenience I'm sure, then please...read the ingredients and choose the better option. A good option would not include the above...Reeses Pieces candy. Eating clean and whole foods IS the best diet you can have, but I do have to say that it is not convenient. It takes planning and time to prepare. My daughter and her husband usually spend their Sunday afternoons meal prepping for the upcoming week. I'll cover that in an upcoming post. But for now, back to the ingredients in processed food.

I went to the grocery store in search of decent processed food. Yes, if you must use processed food, there are decent choices out there. First, let me show you another really bad choice.
Shake 'n Bake Ingredients: Enriched wheat flour, salt, canola oil, sugar, monosodium glutamate, dextrose, cornmeal, paprika, hydrolyzed corn protein, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, spice, dried onions, dried garlic, corn maltodextrin, caramel color, citric acid, extractives of paprika

Look at the ingredients that you can pronounce, and by-golly, yes, you can make that yourself at home in a jiffy without all the other toxic crap that's added.

A processed food that most households use a lot is cake mix. Below are two cakes mixes. The one on the left has minimal ingredients, the one on the right....has a lot of ingredients. To name a few: artificial coloring, red, yellow and blue, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and many other ingredients I can't pronounce.
Pillsbury Purely Simple cake mix vs Duncan Hines cake mix

Another common processed food most households use is pancake mix. This actually is very simple to make from scratch with the best ingredients you have. Then you know exactly what you are eating. But if you must buy it boxed, there are better choices.

As you begin to transform your life from eating the standard american diet to a more clean diet, you CAN choose BETTER processed food. Our goal would be to eliminate the majority of all processed foods, but making BETTER choices is an excellent place to start.

So remember to READ THE INGREDIENTS. Less is better and if you can pronounce the ingredients and you know what they are then you have made a better choice.

Time to eat Whole Foods

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

So you have decided that you are ready for a lifestyle change. That's awesome! Your diet is a great place to start. You may be tired of jumping from fad diet to fad diet and never seeing lasting results in your energy levels and weight loss. You're tired of sugar and carb cravings. You're tired of having achy joints and headaches. You're tired of not having energy, and getting sick a little too often. You are tired of being constipated. You are literally tired of being sick and tired!

Yes, these are the things you can experience when you eat mostly the standard american diet. You may even feel you are not up to your game physically and mentally. A poor diet, mostly processed food, can be a contributor to many ailments such as, depression, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, ADD, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol; just to name a few.

Congratulations for taking the first step to take control of your life! You are ready to nourish your body, and with that you actually nourish your mind and spirit. There needs to be a balance in our lives. Our mind and body are interconnected and they impact each other tremendously.

Where Do I Start?

Start adding more whole foods to your diet and eliminating processed foods.

Why should you start your healthy lifestyle change with eliminating processed foods and eating whole foods? 

#1     The majority of processed food is not REAL food. Read the ingredients, it's "food" made in a lab with lots of chemicals. Processed food is full of artificial ingredients, flavors, colors and preservatives. Most of the added "nutritional" aspects of processed food are synthetic.

#2     Processed food has little fiber and lots of sugar.  This has a huge impact on our gastrointestinal system. You need fiber to keep things moving. Sugar is the main culprit of inflammation in our bodies. Too much sugar can also contribute to liver insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. 

#3.    Processed food is addicting. Yes....food manufacturers do that on purpose. They spend enormous amounts of money to make their foods addictive They add ingredients that stimulate the pleasure response in your brain. Sugar, salt, fat and MSG trigger these brain responses. The fact is, processed foods are so incredibly rewarding to our brains that they affect our thoughts and behavior, making us eat more and more until eventually we become sick. Sugary foods stimulate the same addictive area of the brain as hard drugs, such as cocaine.

I just gave you a few very good reasons to start eliminating processed foods. I dare you to take a look in your kitchen cabinets and your pantry and see how much processed food you have. See how much processed food you eat daily. On any given day, can you eat your three basic meals WITHOUT processed food being on the menu? I leave you with that challenge and I'll leave you today with one simple rule....

It's Time for a Lifestyle Change

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Maybe I should write a book on the perfect diet....since I couldn't find it at the library

The start of a new year is a great time to revamp or even start your journey to a more healthy life. If loosing weight or becoming more healthy overall is your goal, then I advise to NOT visit the library! Just kidding...well maybe not. I went to the library to check out a particular book about clean eating and thought it was ridiculous how many books there are on dieting, getting fit, and getting healthy. Crazy stuff out there! Have you heard of the tapeworm diet? Oh my gosh....I'd rather eat dirt! hahaha. Anyway,  I'm pretty sure every celebrity has their endorsement or picture or even co-authored a diet book. I mean, Randy Jackson can co-author a book on health? Really Dawg? You better just stick to your music.

Which diet should I follow?

That's actually a loaded question. I don't like the word "diet". People tend to associate the word diet with things like "going without", "hunger", "temporary", "never works", "giving up all good food". If you are truly ready to lose weight, get stronger, become more healthy overall and have a balanced life, then you probably need a "lifestyle change". 

So many people diet and starve, get quick results and then go back to the way they were. Then when the weight comes back...you know the drill....diet, starve yourself again. When you decide to make a lifestyle change, you work hard, sacrifice and when you reach your goal, you have made a new kind of lifestyle for yourself that is the result of your discipline and hard work. You know the saying...Nothing Good Comes Easy. A huge part of living a healthy lifestyle is food. Food can kill you and food can heal you. Not to totally diss the library, there are actually very good books out there about living a more vibrant healthy life. While I don't follow any particular specific eating lifestyle, like paleo, vegan or vegetarian, I do try to have a "clean" and "whole foods" diet (diet as in what I eat, not diet as in 'food that one restricts themself from'). 

Eat Clean, Whole Foods

                                Image result for clean whole foods images

A lifestyle change may just be the way for you to go this year. It does not happen over night. What things in your life do you need to change and make better regarding your health? Quit a bad habit? Become more active physically? Remove harmful foods from your diet? Find your Zen? Those things plaque many of us and tend to be the factors that hold us back in many ways. I encourage you to take an inventory of your life and decide that this will be the year you make that change.....for good!