Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Thursday, February 28, 2013

No Sugar Day 16

Well, my oldest and I are one third of the way through our refined sugar fast, so I thought I would post an update as to how we are doing!

Things are going fairly well.  I'm still flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to meal planning, but for the moment, that seems to be working.  For now.  Over the weekend we stocked up the kitchen with lots of fruits, veggies, and healthy foods to make our meals easy to plan and prepare.  I have been perusing Pinterest to mix things up a bit and keep our meals and snacks from being boring.  I'm making more from scratch, as it's either hard, or just plain too expensive to find even some basic ingredients that are made without refined sugar or a substitute.  We are using a lot of agave and stevia when appropriate.  The other day, I made homemade ketchup and a homemade version of our favorite store-bought dressing.  The dressing was a little tricky, because I also had to make a homemade version of condensed tomato soup, replacing the tomato juice with pureed canned tomatoes, and of course replacing the sugar with agave in the dressing itself.  But let me tell you, this extra bit of work is so worth it!  The homemade versions taste way better than the store-bought, and obviously, they're healthier!

I've replaced my soda consumption by making a lot more use of our Soda Stream.  Hubby has found a combination that I really like.  Carbonated water, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice, and a little liquid stevia.  We also have a few different bottles of liquid stevia that are flavored, that we can use with the Soda Stream.

Another thing that I've mourned the loss of is yogurt and ice cream.  Unless you buy plain yogurt, there is going to be some form of sugar or sugar substitute in there.  And ice cream?  Well, that's obvious.  :-)  I've satisfied my longing for both of those with one simple dessert.  Greek yogurt, fruit on top (my favorite combo is sliced strawberries and bananas), then drizzled with agave or honey.  What's ice cream again?  Oh, yes.  Well, I don't miss it at all.  And then, there's this little number I can whip up if I start get a hankering for chocolate.  :-)

Finding different ways to make our favorite foods without the refined sugar has turned from being a pain, into being a challenge that is often fun!  I've always enjoyed cooking and baking, but this takes cooking-from-scratch to an even deeper level, when you have to get creative or find ways to make even some basic ingredients without the refined sugar.

What is going without refined sugars doing for my oldest and myself?  Well, I've noticed our attitudes are a lot more mellow.  I've noticed we're both thinking a little more before flying off the handle about silly things.  We're getting along a lot better with each other, as well as with the rest of the family.  We've always been a loving and LOUD family, but he, as the oldest, and I tend to butt heads more than anyone else.  It hasn't exactly gone away, but it's...changed.  In a good way!  :-)  Physically, things are changing, too.  I don't notice a massive energy boost or anything.  However, I did get a cold just before the weekend, and it was done with by Tuesday.  That's one of the shortest colds I've had that I can remember!  There are some foods I momentarily wish I could have, but cravings for eating when I'm not hungry have completely gone away.  My tastes are changing already, and in some cases, healthy food that was perhaps tolerable to me before has become downright yummy!   Also skin blemishes and a few other irritations I've had have almost completely disappeared.  I've also noticed that with my son.  For a couple of weeks before we started our fast, he had been getting a pretty bad outbreak of acne, especially on his forehead.  Almost-twelve-year-old hormones at work, I'm sure.  :-)  When I noticed my own acne had gone away, I called him over so that I could get a close look at his face.  Sure enough, his, too, was almost completely cleared up! So, yes, we are definitely reaping some benefits of staying away from sugar! Oh, and the fact that I'm dropping some pounds isn't bad, either.  ;-)

Realistically, I can't say that we will stay completely sugar-free when our fast is up, but there are a few things I definitely want to establish.  I definitely want to stay away from both corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame.  I definitely want to make sure that if we do consume refined sugar, it's a TREAT, and not a regular occurrence.  And, I definitely want to stick with making certain things from scratch, not only because it's cheaper, but it's just plain better-tasting AND healthier than the store-bought version.  This has been a learning experience for sure, and has shown me that, yes, it IS possible to stay away from refined sugar and still enjoy eating!

To God goes ALL the glory!  I know that without Him, and if it weren't for the fact that we are doing it for Him, there is no way we would have been able to get even this far without at least a little cheat.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

First, I have to apologize for a lack of photos lately.  Our camera is temporarily out of order, and for some reason, when I try to send an email with a photo from my iPhone, it won't go through.  Hopefully, our regular camera will be operational again soon!

Second, I've been wanting to make stuffed peppers for the last two weeks.  I've looked around online (and, yes, even on Pinterest!) for recipes, and I didn't quite have the ingredients for what I found.  So, I decided to improvise and make my own!  These have been tried by the family and devoured, so it's even kid approved.  ;-)  With twelve pepper halves, this is a pretty big recipe, so adjust as needed.  All three of my boys LOVE bell peppers, so this amount will not have a problem sticking around too long.

6 bell peppers, any or all colors!
Olive oil
20 ounces ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, or to taste (I used between 2-3 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 generous handful of Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Heat oven to 375F degrees.

Cut bell peppers length-wise in half and take out the seeds.  Thoroughly wash the peppers and lay them, cut side up, in two 13 x 9 glass pans.

Heat a swirl of oil in a large skillet, then add the turkey and onion and cook until browned.  Turn off heat.  Add taco seasoning and blend well.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

Scoop ground turkey mixture into each bell pepper half to fill it. (I did have some leftover filling that we will use for burritos for lunch tomorrow.)  Top pans with foil and bake in 375F oven for 40 minutes.

We topped ours with salsa and plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream).  This is a meal in itself, but of course, you can always serve with a salad or whatever tickles your fancy.  The younger boys wanted bread and butter with theirs, so that's what they had!  :-)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Lunch

Once you have your sweet potato baked, this lunch is simple and fast to throw together!  It is very yummy, and very filling.

1 baked sweet potato
Brown rice
Black beans, drained and rinsed
Plain Greek yogurt

No measuring here, just load it how you want!  Split open your sweet potato and mash it up a bit.  Stuff with brown rice and black beans.  Top with salsa and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  I like to eat this with a small side salad, fruit, and a small glass of milk.  As long as I ate a good breakfast, this lunch holds me over until dinner time, with maybe a small, healthy snack in between.

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast

Here is one of my current favorite breakfasts!  It is simple, delicious, and filling.  Makes one serving, but feel free to increase the recipe as needed.

Cream of Wheat-Original
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 banana, cut lengthwise into quarters, then sliced

Prepare one serving of Cream of Wheat according to directions on box.  Stir in the peanut butter until well blended, then fold in the bananas.  Eat, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

No Sugar Days 3-5

Perhaps I should have written this post last night...the last couple of days have been a blur.  My brain fog must have been worse than I thought!  ;-)

Friday removed a layer of fatigue.  No headache and no body aches.  I was just tired and spacey.  I was able to make dinner and do laundry, but that seemed to wipe me out.  I tried to take a nap, but I don't think I really fell into a deep sleep, as I had on Days 1 and 2.

I was so happy on Saturday to notice the fatigue was pretty much gone!  However, in it's place, came irritability.  Over the last year, I had really taught myself to get used to, and learn to enjoy instead of being annoyed by, my boys rambunctious and sometimes loud behavior.  Yesterday, however, certain noises really irritated me and almost seemed to cause physical pain via creepy-crawly feelings.  I should mention here, also, that I am also inadvertently going through caffeine withdrawl.  It's not part of the fast, but I'm not one of those people who drinks coffee every day (pop had been the major source of my caffeine), and since Day 1, it has just happened that I haven't made any coffee.  Confession?  I'm pretty sure I was too tired and out of it to get a pot going!

Today, things seem to be evening out.  I'm still slightly irritable, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  Of course, that could be because when I stepped on the scale this morning, I had quite the surprise.  I am down 4.5 pounds in just four full days of being off of all refined sugars!  That is awesome, and I am truly thanking and praising God this morning for this motivation and inspiration to keep on keeping on.  All the glory goes to Him!

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Sugar Days 1 & 2

Yesterday was the first day of my journey with no refined sugars.  It started out pretty well, as I expected. The first day of something is always exciting, right?  Although, between my "saying good-bye" to some foods on Tuesday, and only 5 hours of sleep on Tuesday night, it was a tired start.  Mentally, though, I stayed with it and was excited to get going.  After lunch and during the kids' quiet time, I was really dragging and decided to take a nap.  I woke up still very tired and with a bad headache.  I could tell it was my MS acting up, as it started in the back of my head and had an "electrical" quality.  I took some Aleve, but the ache only proceeded to get worse.  Brain fog set in, and for some reason I had 5 bouts of hiccups between the time I got up from my nap until the time I went to bed.  There's obviously no science to back this up, but my theory is that my body was trying to manipulate me into eating a spoonful of sugar to get rid of those hiccups.  ;-)  I was really surprised that I was feeling crummy on the very first day.  I figured it would take a few days before my body realized what was going on.  I think it just goes to show how addicted I am.  A Day 1 highlight?  My oldest decided that he was going to join me and give up sugar, too.  So I'm feeling pretty good about the positive impact my own fast is already having on others in my family.

This morning, Day 2, I did not want to get out of bed.  Hubby let me sleep in a little later than usual, but he woke me up before he left for work, because the kids needed to get up half an hour later.  So, I've basically been in zombie mode all morning.  This fatigue competes fiercely with the MS fatigue I get at times.  It's almost lunch time as I type this, so I will be able to get a nap in soon.  ;-)  I've had absolutely no cravings for the food itself so far, although when I am so tired, I do miss the convenience of not having to think something out, checking the ingredients for sugar, finding sugar, and having to come up with something else before I'm finally able to eat.  So planning is ESSENTIAL in this.  At least now, with my oldest joining me, it will be easier to push myself to do it.  He's relying on me to make sure we're BOTH eating what we're supposed to!

My intention in recording this is not for you all to feel sorry for me, but so that I will have a real, honest record of this journey.  It doesn't look very fun now (and trust me when I say, it's not FEELING very fun!), but I am looking ahead to when I will feel fantastic, and I can't wait to record those days as well!  I do appreciate any prayers you can offer, both for me and my son to get through these first days and weeks.  My number one hope in this, even above getting healthier, is that we will learn to just fully lean on and rely on Him, Who provides all things and all comfort, and that He will be glorified.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Not a Menu, But a Plan

I don't have my menus quite planned out yet for this week.  Lent starts this Wednesday, and I've really been thinking about a fast this year.  Hubby and I have fasted from various things in the past during Lent, things that perhaps have become an idol in our lives, bad habits,  or things we just needed to force ourselves to take a break from.  I think it's been at least a couple of years since I have seriously thought about something to fast from during Lent.  The start of this year has been a struggle trying to finally get myself healthy.  I started in between illnesses running through the family, and a strong start it has not been.

With that in mind, I began to really think about what the number one thing is right now that is causing me to be unhealthy, and I finally came to the conclusion that it is sugar, hands down.  I have studied the various forms of sugar, their impact on insulin, and insulin's impact on overall health.  Even when I'm counting calories, it seems there is still some form of sugar in anything that is even remotely processed.  Not to mention (it's confession time here, people) I am an absolute soda freak.  And let that be regular soda.  I cannot stand the taste of diet (not to mention, caloric difference aside, aspartame is just as bad for your health as sugar).  And the taste of regular soda has tainted me against the taste of healthier sodas that are made with stevia.

Tomorrow will be both my planning day, as well as my own version of Shrove Tuesday.  No, I will NOT be gorging myself, but there are a couple of things I feel the need to say good-bye to.  :-)  I have been looking at a few cookbooks and websites that provide the type of recipes I'm looking for in going sugar free (not going with the artificial substitutes, either).  From this I will be forming my menu plan.  So, this week I will skip blogging my menu plan, and will hopefully have one to post next Monday.

I also hope to blog my journey.  I know it will not be easy.  I don't think I've ever completely refrained from all refined sugar (I will still be eating natural sugar, such as fruit) from any significant period of time.  I have heard the stories of people who have, however, and I know the first week or two will not be very fun.  I do know, however, that as long as I keep my focus on God, and keep my purpose to be always honoring to Him, I know He will give me strength for this journey.  I am also so very blessed to have a great support system in my family.  I almost feel more sorry for them than for myself the next couple of weeks...hopefully, I won't be too much of a pain to put up with.  :/

Monday, February 4, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Menu planning is another one of those things I have slipped in lately.  It's a little tougher as we get acclimated to calorie-counting around here again (but obviously necessary for that very reason!).  ;-)

Monday: Coconut and Pineapple Chicken Curry over Rice Noodles
Tuesday: Mandarin Orange Chicken served with brown rice and veggies
Wednesday: Subway for hubby and I (Awana night)
Thursday: Stuffed Cabbage Strata
Friday: Transylvanian Stockpot
Saturday:BLT Burgers served with salad

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back to the Basics

For the last few months, I have felt like I'm floundering, wandering aimlessly through life surrounded by chaos.  Between an MS flare-up, the drama-filled election, illness, Christmas (with illness), birthdays, and yes, more illness, the last few months have felt like a complete fog.  My daily time with the Lord has not been consistent, my parenting has not been consistent, and don't even get me started on homeschool and housework!  I've tried to start counting calories again and working out in an attempt to get back on track with my weight-loss, but that's slipped with the last go-round of sickness in the house.


Tomorrow morning I wake up with a clean slate.  I am going to wake up early and have some coffee.  Then, it will be time to start building again.  Back to the basics I go.  I have an idea of all the things I would like to do, but I'm not going to start off my clean slate by mucking it up with a long to-do list.  Nothing will get done, or at least get done right, unless I start my day off the Word.  So my mission tomorrow is to do whatever I need to do to get up early and stay awake to spend some time with Him.  I have a yearly bible reading schedule that I'm currently "behind" on, but I'm not concerning myself with "catching up," but merely just getting started again.  Then, I have an online bible study my husband and I are doing together.  That's it.  Those are my absolute must-do's tomorrow.  Everything else will fall in place as long as I get those done.  My Anchor.