Recent Random Thoughts

Hi, how is your week going? Mine is good….and almost over, yeh!!! Just a few more hours to go.

With no great workouts to share with you all since I am mostly just walking area trails and riding my bike giving my body time to heal, I thought I would share some random things today. My brain is often like a never ending trail to nowhere and sharing it sometimes helps relieve some of the “pressure” shall we say.

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I’ve been up to a lot but at the same time not so much….is that possible? Makes no sense I know but that is how I feel lately. Summer has not been what I thought it would be and now we are into August and we all know what that means….it’s almost over! It’s weird to think my mind still runs on the school calendar when my son has not been in grade school for years already. How do us moms break out of this and just take every day as it is….I haven’t figured that out quite yet but I am working on it? Which is why, as of the end of August, I consider summer over. However, I know in my mind we have plenty of nice days left in September and even some in October but ultimately it comes to an end so quickly.

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Speaking of September and October, I do believe I have over booked all our weekends once again for these two months. Fall is the best time in my opinion to hike, camp, explore the area and enjoy harvest time. Bugs are dying down some, colors start to appear, veggies are plenty, and it’s cooler so camping and hiking are much more pleasurable. Now I just have to find a way to tell my husband I only left him two weekends for hunting in the fall months….he may not like this very much!

Anyhow, let me tell about some treasures I have found lately. First, I must give a big shout out to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market here in our area. We have fell in love with their meat department and if you know me, that is saying A LOT! I am not a meat lover but my husband is. I have a hard time buying it, preparing it and eating it but my attitude has changed a bit since this store has opened. We are loving their meats.

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I have also found an essential oil room freshener that I love and does not cost an arm and a leg. (I paid $7) I hate chemical fresheners and don’t want the overwhelming smell of a plug in oil freshener since I don’t want the aroma all the time. Which makes this spray perfect and I can use it when I wish and not gag when I spray it in my home like the chemical fresheners cause me to do. I know it says it can be used as a body mist also but I have not gone this route…I strictly use it for our home and vehicles.

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Once again I am attempting to grow my green thumb and I am going to try and grow a prickly pear plant or two. We fell in love with this fruit in Arizona and I recently kept the seeds from one we purchased here in WI. I would bet it’s not going to grow and if it does it may not survive but I have to give it a try. Here’s hoping for a touch of the southwest in good old Green Bay. On the flip side, if I do not succeed at growing one myself I can always plan another trip for fresh fruit. I know none of my family would object to returning to this area.

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Speaking of vacations, we are inching our way closer to our next one and I cannot wait to step foot on the A.T.( Appalachian Trail) once again. Back in January 2017 I made this dream come true and finally got to log some miles on the A.T. with my husband and son. Our next trip will bring us back to the A.T. only in a different state and I plan to log even more miles and hopefully make more wonderful memories. However, this time it will be just the two of us since our son recently started his new job and is not bale to join us for this adventure.

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That shall be it for today. Enjoy your weekend…..that’s my plan.

 

 

 

It Has Been Open Less Than A Week And….

It’s finally open and I have been there twice in less than a week…..Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Ashwaubenon,WI had it’s grand opening last Wednesday and I was there!!!!

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A friend of mine joined me for the first visit here and to say it was packed with people would be putting it mildly. Our area (Ashwaubenon is minutes from our home and is where the store is located) has no organic healthy grocery at all. So for those of us that have always wished and hoped for a Whole Foods or a Trader’s Joe’s, this may be as good as it gets and in my opinion it’s pretty nice.

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I have never once braved the crowds and went to any grand opening of anything but this one was different. Upon arriving I knew it would be busy but wow, our area clearly needed a grocery store like this. I did not get to enjoy looking around as much as I would have liked but what I did see made me very happy. I found a few new items that my husband can enjoy since going to an artificial sweetener free diet.

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And I also found a kombucha flavor he has been searching for…win for him.

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I’ve already made another visit since this grand opening night and crowds are much more manageable. I love the meat/seafood, bakery, and fresh veggies/fruits selection. I have also found some other amazing items that we have all fell in love with. In my opinion, it’s a great addition to the Green Bay area.

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Talking about my husband being artificial sweetener free…..he is doing wonderful. He is feeling great and has surprisingly lost his big sweet tooth. He still enjoys candy here and there but before this he loved candy and could not live without it. He has also since lost his taste for coffee….go figure. How odd is that? Cooking is getting easier and I have been working on getting creative so everything he eats does not have to be so basic. Like one evening we had Korean BBQ pork sandwiches, zucchini, and corn on the cob.

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And another evening we had homemade BBQ chicken pizza. The only difficult thing about this meal was finding a store crust without artificial sweetener. Our normal grocery store had only one out of at least 10 different brands so we tried it. He loved it….win for me!

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This weeks menu has two new meals on it for us to try. Slowly but surely I am finding meals he enjoys and that are easy to prepare now that we have revamped our pantry. I am just so happy to see him happy again and not always so miserable with stomach aches.

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Roasting Poblano Peppers On A Gas Stove Top

I have received a few questions on how I roast poblano peppers. Honesty, the first time I did it I swore I would never to do it again. However, then I tried a different way and this time it was a breeze.

First, clean your peppers under water.

On a gas stove, light the flame and lay the peppers right over the open flame on the grates.

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Turn them every few minutes until the entire pepper is blackened….about 10-15 minutes.

Next, take a large plastic bag and seal the hot peppers in here for about 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes or so, fill a large bowl with some cold water and taking one pepper at a time gently rub the blackened skin off in the water. Slit one side and carefully pull the stem off and dip the pepper in the water until all the seeds are out.

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Lay each pepper on paper towel to dry.

****Now if you have a garbage disposal you can do the cleaning step right under the faucet. I do not have a garbage disposal so I clean mine in a large bowl of water and then drain the water to discard the skins and seeds.

After cleaning your peppers you can stuff them, chop them, or slice them to enjoy however you wish.

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A Crazy, Busy Weekend Of Fun

I had quite a crazy, busy weekend here. Summer is often loaded with busy weekends but sometimes there is just so much to choose from that its hard to decided who does what and with whom it all includes.

My weekend started Saturday morning with plans to attend Green Bay’s Fit Fest with a friend of mine. This was our first ever Fit Fest and I can honestly say it will probably be our last. We did not know exactly what we would be walking into but quickly became disappointed in the lack of…..well, lack of everything offered. Green Bay is really trying to get people outside and active but I think they have a ways to go yet.

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After walking through the Fit Fest booths, which maybe took us a half hour at best, we made our way over to a new brewery/coffee bar in downtown Green Bay called Copper Rock Coffee Company/Brewery. Since we had never been here we walked inside to place our order and were immediately impressed with the atmosphere and surroundings. The service was friendly and the outdoor seating was exceptional. We can’t wait to return and try the luncheon menu and maybe something a little more potent than coffee.

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After having some time to chat and catch up we drove to our lunch destination which has been a restaurant on our “girls list” for quite some time. Melts With You in DePere is where we had lunch…again on their outside patio area.

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The menu offered a nice variety of sandwiches, soups, and sides. Prices were reasonable and the service was good. It’s a small place and offers a fast meal. Would I return? Maybe. Typically, when I go out for a meal I want it to be unique and something I cannot make at home. I could have easily made the sandwich at home that I ordered along with what my friend also ordered. So ultimately the restaurant was not good, not bad, just your average sandwich shop.

After this is was time to return home for chores, laundry, prepare braised cauliflower/kale stew for the week, and a hike with my husband.

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Originally, he was going to go fishing but since he did a bit of that in the morning while I was gone he decided a hike would be nice. We once again made our way to our favorite hiking destination as of right now…UWGB (info on the trails page). And as usual we saw so much wildlife and a completely new mixture of wildflowers since the last time we were here two weeks ago.

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We really enjoyed the 3.3 mile hike along with the trail snacks we found along the way.

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However, the visitor waiting for us at our vehicle when we returned was not in the least bit happy we chased him away from what he was eating. Sorry fella!

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Sunday brought a nice surprise when our son announced he had the day off. I immediately suggested a hike/bike ride for all of us. I have been wanting to take him to Terrell’s Island (info on the trails page) trail for quite sometime but its a hour from us and time is often limited. We left him sleep until 9a.m. since he worked until 1:30a.m. and we headed out on our adventure.

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He rode his bike around the trail twice while we walked the 3.7 miles once and met back at the vehicle. We all got in some exercise and had a great time doing so.

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The rest of the evening was time to relax….and indulge in some ice cream. How perfect is that for a weekend of go, go, go.

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Fast And Easy Summertime Meals

Isn’t it too bad that we still need to eat in the summer months? Who really wants to spend time in the kitchen when the sun is shining? Maybe some of you but for me, cooking in the summer months is a waste of good summer time sunshine. And the way I fix this is making simple, fast, and affordable meals that I can easily throw together in half and hour or less.

For me, soup would always be the answer but since neither my son or husband will eat soup in the summer months I find I need to get a bit more creative. So what do I do, I make salads or stuff veggies with almost anything. And depending on what I have in the house at the time it usually is never the same salad twice. Very much like soup…you can throw anything into a bowl, top it with some type of dressing, and call it a salad.

Today I thought I would share with you some of our favorite summer time meals as of lately. These are not recipes by any means, just some ideas to inspire you to get creative and maybe step out of that box and take a risk. Your may find your family will enjoy it as much as you enjoy not slaving over a hot stove or oven on a beautiful sunny summer day.

In a half hour or less I have prepared:

quinoa and kale salad with a homemade dressing, kalamata olives, and feta cheese

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stuffed poblano peppers

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tuna pasta salad with fresh dill

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BLT salad

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smoked salmon salad with orzo, dill vinaigrette, feta, olives, and asparagus

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seven layer salad paired with shrimp po boy sandwiches

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black bean burger salad

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chicken salad for topping salads or making sandwiches

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stuffed zucchinis

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Looks good doesn’t it? I can assure you they are all very easy and fast or I would not have made them. As I said, it’s pretty much what I had in the house at the time, so of course, I did not write down any recipes and we may never see any of these again for that simple reason. However, if you see something you like go ahead and ask, I may be able to recall what I did and share it with you.

 

 

Leek, Mushroom, and Chicken Stir Fry Over Rice With Homemade Dressing Drizzle

Since becoming artificial sweetener free in our home cooking has changed drastically. I always felt we ate fairly healthy but now I know without a doubt we eat very healthy and consume copious amounts of veggies.

Here is a recipe I tested on myself before passing it by my husband and thankfully he enjoyed it as much as I did. It uses fresh veggies, pineapple for a bit of sweetness, and can be served over any choice of things…from rice, farro, barley, couscous…really whatever you prefer. My husband is a rice guy…so rice it was for us. And don’t get scared that it calls for making your own dressing to drizzle over the top….it is super easy and most items can be found in any home pantry already. It mixes up in seconds and can be used on a number of things throughout the week.

First, for the dressing you will need:

1 garlic clove-finely minced

1 tsp honey

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

In a glass jar, add these ingredients and give it a good shake to mix well. Store this in the refrigerator for up to a week and use it on this meal along with many others.

Next, for the stir fry you will need:

either chicken breast, thighs, or tenders diced to bite size pieces(enough to feed 4 people)

3 TBSP olive oil-divided

2 leeks-cleaned and diced (read below how to clean a leek)

1/2 vidalia onion-diced

1-8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms

1 garlic clove-finely minced

cooked white/brown rice, farro, couscous….whatever your family prefers to put stir fry over will work

10 oz.can drained pineapple tidbits or fresh pineapple if you have it on hand

salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

In one pan toss the chicken with 2 TBSP olive oil and cook until no longer pink in the middle.

In another pan saute your leek, onions, and mushrooms with 1 TBSP of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. When they are just about done add the garlic and pineapple and saute another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, have your rice cooking nearby.

To serve, add rice to your dish, top it with the leek mixture adding some chicken pieces to the top. Drizzle some of the dressing over all this and enjoy.

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This is such an easy dish and the dressing truly makes the whole thing come together. Easy, cheap, and fast is how I cook in the summer months and this is a perfect way to achieve all this and enjoy a meal.

****How To Clean A Leek: Cut the majority of the green part off the leek. Peel away any hard or woody parts of the outside leaves. Take your knife and from the root side cut slits the long way leaving the root intact to hold the leek together. Now take the leek and run it under cold water separating the leek leaves with your fingers. This will keep the leek all held together but enable you to also run it under water removing any dirt or sand left from the growing process. When your leek is clean dice it up to the size you prefer.

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It Has Not Been Easy To Remove Artificial Sweeteners From Our Diet

This Is A Readers Request Update:

It’s been almost two full months since my husband has removed all artificial sweeteners from his diet in hope to find relief from his apparent IBS symptoms. To see the initial start of this process read here. Today I would like to discuss the progress and how much our life has changed. As with any big change it is often easier to do as a couple than just one person. For the most part this is what we have done….completely removed artificial sweetener from our diets.

The biggest thing we needed to do was go through the items we already had in the house that contained something besides real sugar. Gosh, this was not easy and I feel we are pretty healthy eaters. However, my husband did find he was consuming much more than he thought in the form of artificial sweeteners. From something as straight forward(or though we thought) as cottage cheese to his love for candy…they all contained something besides sugar.

We needed to address his love for candy pronto. He loves his candy…..mints, chocolate, sour or sweet candy…he loves it all. And every single candy he loved was tainted with something on the no no list….and believe me the list is long….very long. So we searched hard, did some fast researching, and actually drove two hours to a store to purchase some candy made with real sugar. Yes, crazy maybe….but everyone deserves a treat here and there. We did find some great alternatives and actually now he prefers these over the old.

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Next, I needed to examine our sauces and spices. Oh my goodness, sauces are almost all artificial sweetener and it literally made me ill to know over half of what we used for condiments was tainted with this stuff. So we tossed, dumped, and went back to some of my own mixtures as a permanent fix in our diets now. From BBQ sauce to sloppy joe sauce, everything we commonly used needed to be homemade.

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Salad dressings are all made from scratch now.

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We have been experimenting with spice mixes both store bought and homemade and have found a few favorites.

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Eating out is simply a challenge. Without being able to read every ingredient in every menu item it is often not worth the risk.

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Pizza is now made all homemade with crust that is free of artificial sweetener and we have been very careful about choices at restaurants when we need to eat out. Like the week he traveled for work for instance. Only one evening did he feel bloated and sick which is actually great considering I imagined worse.

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When we are out and about I do my best to pack a picnic type lunch so we do not have to chance a mistake at a restaurant and struggle to make healthy choices on the road.

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Dessert bought from a store is completely out of the question. And since I do not enjoy baking, much less have the time to bake on a regular basis, this will be a very special treat to see dessert at our house. However, once in a great while it rains which means we can’t go outside and I get the urge to create a sweet treat for my family like this strawberry rhubarb crisp I recently made.

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He is learning to read every label on every item he consumes. I am learning to find new favorite products at the grocery store and thankfully shopping is getting a bit faster than it first was when this all began.

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He is also eating much more fresh, clean food items than ever before and is feeling better than ever. Fresh is best. And believe me, just because the product says all natural or organic does not mean it is artificial sweetener free….this was shocking to us both!!!!

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As a result he is feeling better than he has in two years. His bloating only occurs when he eats something he shouldn’t and does not catch the sweetener used. He is again enjoying vegetables and as a bonus we have both lost weight from this big change in our diets. If you find yourself bloated, miserable, and just plain tired of dealing with abdominal pain and discomfort and have found no relief, try removing artificial sweeteners from your diet. The improvement was almost immediate(48 hours) and you may be surprised to feel the same results.