Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Cook Easily Digestible Beans / Hummus Recipe

by Lois Breneman - 2012 - Heart to Heart
You will be amazed at what apple cider vinegar will do for all of your bean recipes! 
(The addition of apple cider vinegar for digestion and the omission of salt for tenderness)

Rinse a bag of dried beans in a colander, removing any stones.  My favorites are Great Northern Beans.

Cover with twice as much pure water as beans (4 cups beans to 8 cups water).

For every cup of beans, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Stir.  Allow to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.

Drain liquid, rinse well, and replace the water with fresh pure water in a two to one ratio.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. 

It's very important NOT to add any salt until the beans fully cooked.  Salt will prevent them from getting soft.

Cook until soft (about 45 - 60 minutes), checking the tenderness.

Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.

Serve some of the beans and freeze the remaining beans for later (a time-saving method of cooking).
Great Northern Beans may be substituted for chick peas when making hummus.
Use a few beans in tossed salads, in quesadillas, soups, casseroles, taco dip, and in beans and rice dishes.

All grains and seeds will be more digestible when soaked, using this soaking method.

Note from Lois: Follow the directions above, rather than using canned beans, for much better digestion.

Recipe from
  • 2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  1. Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Rachael Breneman, for this recipe!

Notes from Lois:
Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour can be used in place of the first three ingredients.
I found mini muffin pans work best in baking these muffins.  When using larger muffin tins and most definitely bread pans, the dough does not completely bake, although it is still good when toasted.

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (sub: your favorite milk substitute or regular milk)
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil (sub: olive oil or coconut oil)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. liquid stevia, depending on how sweet you want them
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar (sub: lemon juice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a second bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and water. Set aside for a minute, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir completely.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to wet and stir with a fork until completely mixed.
  5. Grease your muffin tins and fill almost to the top with batter. If you're using muffin tin liners, you might want to spray them too. I found some of the muffins stuck to the liners a bit. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

from "Home Joys," a newsletter by Gina Martin - - Used by permission

1 lb. ground beef                  1 tsp. salt

1 large onion, chopped       1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder         8 oz. lasagna noodles
29 oz. can tomato sauce     1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup water                             1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 oz. can tomato paste        12 oz. cottage or Ricotta cheese

Brown ground beef and onion until browned. Drain. Add garlic powder, tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, and oregano.  Mix well and set aside.  Mix the 3 cheeses in another bowl and set aside.  In an ungreased 5 qt. slowcooker spread  1/4 of the meat sauce. Arrange a third of the noodles over the sauce, breaking noodles as necessary. Spoon a third of the cheese mixture over the noodles.  Repeat layers twice.  Top with remaining meat sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender.

*I have never used regular lasagna noodles for this. I can pick up packages of no boil lasagna at the Bent & Dent Store and that is what I use.

*Another thing I like to do is make the meat sauce and cheese mixture on Saturday and then just throw it together Sunday morning for lunch.  Slow cookers are also great for leftovers or canned soup.  Sometimes if I know I’ll be gone during the morning or afternoon I like to drag out my trusty crockpot, fill it up and turn it on low. It’s awesome for Sunday lunch. - Barb

A Tip on Microwaving Food

by Lois Breneman - 2012 - Heart to Heart

With all the concern about microwaving food in plastic containers, this tip is a workable solution.  You don't need to go out and purchase lots of glass containers.  I've been doing this for a long time and find that quite a few dishes already in my cupboards have been working great for heating food in the microwave.  Corelle dishes are especially convenient because of their light weight.  Oneida salad bowls that I bought from Red Lobster in the 90's are a favorite in cooking frozen vegetables and other food items for just the two of us, with a cereal bowl serving as the lid.

Try combining some glass dishes you already have in similar combinations:

A salad bowl + a cereal bowl as a lid
A cereal bowl + a saucer as a lid
A salad bowl + a salad plate as a lid
A serving bowl + a cereal bowl as a lid
A larger serving bowl + a salad plate as a lid

I'm sure you get the picture, but if you're interested you can find photos posted near the bottom of the home page at

If you have Corningware casserole dishes, they work great as well.  They last forever!  I'm still using the ones we got as wedding gifts forty-three years ago.  If you don't have any, yard sales and thrift shops are good resources to find them.  Clean them up with a Magic Eraser and they will look like new.  By the way, sometimes I also use a plastic microwave cover (which does not touch the food) as a lid. I found it at Walmart about twelve years ago.  So as you see, there are practical ways of getting around the plastic/microwave issue.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Cup of Christmas Cocoa

Thanks to Patti Hamilton in North Carolina for sending this!

Tracie Miles

"They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145:7 (NIV)

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there's one thing that always calms my heart and quiets my thoughts - a cup of hot cocoa. Who doesn't feel warm and peaceful while sipping a cup of steaming cocoa with marshmallows piled on top?
But, there is another reason I love cocoa. Each letter of my favorite winter drink helps me focus my heart on Christ at Christmas:

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." Matthew 1:18 (NIV 1984)
We all know Christ is the reason for this season, yet it's easy to focus on shopping and planning instead of Jesus. This month, let's spend as much time seeking God's heart as we do searching for the perfect gifts.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV 1984)
We can easily spend more time decorating our house to look like the holiday edition of a magazine, than we do adorning our inner spirit with God's love and compassion. Let's ask God to make our hearts beautiful by giving us His patience and kindness. Then let's look for ways to bless those around us, especially those in need.

"A happy heart makes a face look cheerful. But a sad heart produces a broken spirit." Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)
As gift lists grow and calendars get full, our physical and emotional energy can be drained. Although Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, many of us struggle with depression and discouragement during this time of the year. Let's take time each day to focus on how much we are valued and loved as children of God. The holidays are merely a season, but God's love and compassion for us are permanent.

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV)
Do you ever feel overjoyed to kick off the holiday season but overwhelmed by the middle of the month? If we take time each day in December to thank Jesus for coming as our Savior, we could become overwhelmed by His kindness instead. When we focus our hearts on all God has done, we won't get as easily overwhelmed by all that still needs to be done.

"...I came that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10b (NIV)
Whenever I think of Christmas morning, from my childhood to the present, the word ABUNDANCE comes to mind. Abundance of presents, food and activities. But these things are temporary. What we need is the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Our hearts need His mercy, peace and love, not only on Christmas day, but every day throughout each year.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a cup of Christmas cocoa. Will you join me? Let's take time to ponder these Christmas truths and, as that chocolaty goodness warms us, let's allow the warmth of God's love to pour into our hearts and His abundant goodness to pour out into the lives of those around us.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving me the gift of Your Son. Please help me not get so caught up in the earthly celebrations of Christmas that I forget to celebrate all I have in Christ. Remind me of Your love each day and show me how to share it with others each day of this month. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Read Tracie's featured Christmas article in the December edition of our P31 Woman magazine! A P31 Woman subscription makes a great Christmas gift!
Visit Tracie's blog for a chance to win a special COCOA giveaway.

Application Steps:
Share today's devotion with friends and family.
Why not print the acronym for COCOA on a gift card and tie it to a pretty cup to give as a gift this Christmas?

Have I allowed the chaos of Christmas to overshadow my love for Christ?
How can I share God's goodness with others this season?

Power Verses:
Number 6:25-26, "The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (NIV)
© 2011 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Monday, December 5, 2011

Two Healthy Recipes for Very Busy Times

Thanks to Rachael Breneman, my daughter-in-law, for sending these quick and easy recipes!   With all the sugar and fat laden foods before us at this time of the year,  more than ever we need to eat healthy foods on a regular basis.  These two recipes for quinoa and smoothies are a good start!

Here is a yummy quinoa recipe.  I like it warmed up or cold and have even eaten it for breakfast.
Original Recipe 
Yield: 10 servings
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantr0
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
Note: Other beans may be substituted.

Also I've been enjoying smoothies lately - a great way to get raw greens!  Really hits the spot when I'm craving something sweet.  No specific recipe but here are the ingredients I use:

Frozen blueberries and or strawberries
water and or unsweetened almond milk
sometimes ice cubes
vanilla (no corn syrup added)
flax seed meal
a couple handfuls of baby spinach or kale
(sometimes wheat grass or spirulina powder)
You could also add some nuts or nut butter.
Smoothies are quick and easy to eat. I like them because I don't have to sit down at the table to eat it like I would a salad but I'm getting just as many greens.  You can really experiment to your liking.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Healthy Gluten Free Recipes

Here are two recipes from Mindy Yachter in Florida. Used by permission.  She said no credit was necessary, but I thought she still deserves to be mentioned by name.  I will be including more of her wonderful recipes in Heart to Heart later.  Thanks also to Debbie Klinect in FLorida for referring Mindy's wealth of healthy recipes to me!
Mindy: For those of you who like eggs, this is a simple protein-packed breakfast.  You can change the veggies to anything you wish.  I used what I happened to have in my fridge.  Because of the high protein and veggie content, this meal doesn’t have to be limited to breakfast.  My husband had a couple for lunch with a side of steamed broccoli.  Others might prefer fruit.  Anytime of day you decide to eat these mini delights, they are great for you. 
 Ingredients: (this recipe made 5 mini frittatas)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or veggie broth (I didn’t have any unsweetened almond milk on hand, so I used broth)
  • 1 handful fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • *optional* raw cheese, shredded
  1. Set the oven to 375* & generously grease a muffin pan (I used coconut oil & only greased 5 muffin cups)
  2. Saute the veggies (except spinach)  in oil or butter on low heat until tender.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk/broth, & cheese if using.
  4. Add all veggies and salt to egg mixture and stir together.
  5. Pour mixture into muffin cup until 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Mindy says: Pancakes are one of my favorite comfort breakfast foods and what two flavors represent the holiday season better than maple and cinnamon (and pumpkin, of course)?  This recipe is high in protein and kept me full for hours.  When you have a little extra time one morning (ha ha), treat yourself and your family to this healthful version of a classic breakfast.  Next time I make them, I might add a bit of pumpkin and see what happens.  I’m sure that they would be delish!  If you have a pumpkin pancake recipe, please share it with me.  I would love to try it out. 
 Ingredients: (makes 6-8 pancakes)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (or brown rice flour)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or coconut milk)
  • 3/4 TBS cinnamon
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 TBS pure maple syrup (or maple flavored agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash sea salt
  1. Mix together all dry ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Mix together all wet ingredients in separate bowl.
  3. Whisk wet into dry ingredients until well combined.
  4. Heat coconut oil (or raw butter) on skillet over medium-high heat. 
  5. Pour batter into desired pancake sizes and cook for approximately 3 minutes or until it bubbles.
  6. Flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Turkey Favors 
Thanks to Barbara Price for sending this cute idea! 
Although I prefer to share only healthy recipes without sugar, this is made only once a year, so here it is for those who would like it!
  • Double Stuff Oreos (2 per turkey)
  • Small Reeses' peanut butter  Cups (1)
  • Whoppers (1)
  • Candy Corn
  • White Frosting
  • Black Frosting
  1. First place your peanut butter cups in the fridge. They will cut cleaner cold. Then take an Oreo and carefully separate one of the cookies  from the frosting. Gently press the pointed tips of 6 candy corns around one half of the Oreo. Take some white frosting and cover the frosting and re-attach the cookie.
  2. Now, take the second Oreo and lay it flat on the table. Pick up your Oreo with the candy corn  and put some icing on the bottom of the Oreo opposite from the candy corn and attach the Oreo onto the flat oreo so that it is on the back half. Prop the stuck together Oreos against a book or a wall to hold it up while the icing dries. If it does not stand up well, add some more icing.
  3. Now take a cold peanut butter cup and cut a small section off of it so that it will have a flat side. Place some frosting on the flat section and the top of the peanut butter cup and attach it to the Oreo with the candy corn so that it becomes the body of the turkey.
  4. Take the Whopper and put icing on the back side of it. Attach it so that it is right on top of the peanut butter cup and iced to the Oreo and Whopper. Add two drops of white icing for the eyes and a smaller drop of the black for the pupil.
  5. For the wings, I cut the very tip of a candy corn and glued a wing on both sides of the peanut butter cup. For the feet, you can use the same tip you cut off when making your wings. Let dry for about 20 minutes before handling.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Artichoke Florentine Chicken

This is a recipe I put together over the weekend, as I have been eliminating foods that cause inflammation from my diet.  I didn't figure the amounts for this recipe, but I know you can all figure it out just fine!  This freezes very well and is delicious!
chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
brown rice, cooked
artichokes, marinated, canned
garlic, minced
fresh spinach leaves, stacked and sliced into thin strips (add at the very end)

Cooking Marathon

(from our family to yours)
by Joyce in Virginia, September 11, 2011, Written for Heart to Heart by request

Note from Lois: I believe these tips and tricks will help make food preparation easier and more fun, providing more valuable family time for you.

Short Version: Prepare/grill/cook/freeze/vacuum seal ("food save")

Day One: Food preparation (thawing/marinating/sorting/washing/soaking/readying)

Day Two: Have food ready to go from frig or freezer to grill. I do the inside and my husband, Mike, does the grilling--team effort. The end result is a wonderful array of seafood and poultry, legumes or whatever fits your budget.

Mike is outside grilling while I am inside cooking (beans; marinated chicken breasts and breaded chicken breasts in coconut oil; whole chicken in a crockpot; lasagna). I coat the chicken breasts and the fresh whole chicken with organic mustard and Tone's Restaurant Black Pepper (ground slightly coarser eliminating dust). The cooked food has a bit of a kick but when cut up the outside enhances the inside. I do not put water in the crockpot with the whole chicken. The broth when cooled can be frozen in ice trays and later used in our Thanksgiving dressing recipes or as a base for soups.

I do most of the cooking downstairs in our basement where I have created a "makeshift" kitchen. I set up my electric fry pan there; and the big laundry tub is great for heavy-duty cleanup, which we keep to a minimum by all the quirky tricks we have learned. 

Upstairs I have a large crock pot of beans (northern/pintos/navy--sort/wash/soak  overnight/rinse/cover with water/season with curry/sage/Tone's pepper). Cook on High for two hours and on Low the rest of the day. A couple of hours before turning them off, add lentils/split peas/whatever is on hand (lentils and split peas do not require soaking so just sort/rinse and add to the crock pot of beans (these give the beans more texture and thicken the soup and the pepper is coarse enough to be seen and tasted..yummmm). I serve the beans inside whole wheat Pitas and sprinkle dried cranberries on top  (they always taste better if they run down your arm when eating them!!) Of course, they can also be served in a bowl with the cranberries. The flavors of the simple seasonings and the beans are enhanced by the flavors in the cranberries.  Carrots/onions can also be added. Let cool in the crockpot (at least an hour or more) spoon into large jars using a large canning funnel or spoon into bowls. I like the restaurant-size jars so I can just screw on the tops and keep the smells inside. The beans keep well for up to four days in frig.

I would love to have freezer container ideas for beans. I have tried several ways to avoid plastic; however, this works. Reusable plastic containers the circumference of a salad plate (the reason for this is that I want to go thin and not thick when freezing so it will take less time to thaw) or smaller is what I am using now, but they take up freezer space and only the bottom of the container is filled. Spoon the beans from the frig into each container in one serving-size portions. Don't worry that this leaves the rest of the container space empty because after they freeze, I can just set them out for a few minutes; turn them upside down; and the "circular serving" of beans just pops right out onto to a tray for food saving. The beans last in the freezer for months and months; can be thawed in the frig/microwave/heated/served. "Mike grew up on pinto beans and chow-chow over cornbread and that is still his favorite meal!! Could that be Mike's incentive to 'participate in our cooking marathon?!'"

Upstairs in our kitchen oven I have lasagna baking (thaw in the frig for at least a day so it will cook in less time with less energy). It can be freshly made; or Stouffers; or any large pan lasagna baked using the package directions. One tip is to remove the lid and clean all the sauce and cheese off and take a damp paper towel and clean all around the rim so when you "tent" the lid, all the sauce and cheese cook inside the pan and do not spill out into your oven. I bake ours on an Air Bake cookie sheet to prevent spills into the oven. Cook/cool/cut into serving-size squares/place on wax paper-lined trays; and freeze (one last wax paper between food and foil).

Day Three: I set up our "food saving" counter (can be at a kitchen island in front of the TV or downstairs on top of the chest freezer. If we time it just right we can do this at kickoff when the Virginia Tech Hokies are playing one of the ACC teams--another incentive for "Hokie Dad" Mike!! It takes two of us working together; one inserting the food into the "Food Saver" bags (make ahead of time if you use the rolls which is more economical) sealing/store/freeze. This can be done in stages, but "We train for this marathon so we go ahead and finish the race."

Supplies: Trays suitable for freezing (the best season to find plastic reusable trays is in the spring when the patio and picnic items are in stock at Target, Walmart, even the dollar stores). Line the tray with paper towels/wax paper/layer of food/wax paper (in that order) then wrap all your layers in tin foil for freezing--you will always have a protective layer between the food and the plastic trays. The paper towels soak up the condensation that forms when you remove the food from the freezer, but food will stick to paper towels. Parchment paper would be even better and provide easier cleanup, but is much more costly. Tin foil trays are okay but not as sturdy. Food rarely sticks to the wax paper as long as the food is cool. Layering reduces the number of trays.

Tip: Since condensation forms inside the foil and wax paper, before taking trays of food upstairs to food save, I strip off the foil and lay it out to dry/blot with paper towels/store and reuse.

Large jars (described previously): As the beans remain in the frig for a day, they thicken and are easier to spoon into containers. You may even add a bit of water when heating. The large pickle jars work great!

Food Supply: We buy natural organic foods from the Co-Op as much as possible; Walmart for Tone's Restaurant Black Pepper; Omaha Steaks (great quality/prices/sales/deals; see end of article for links and comments); also Sam's Club.
Recipes and Creativity: (the sky's the limit!) We love the simplicity of the mustard/pepper marinade and use it on salmon, chicken, even breaded chicken which tastes good on whole wheat bread with mayo and sliced pickles. I rarely eat red meat, but the Omaha Steaks grilled hamburgers/steaks/pork for Mike, when food saved, taste just like they came off the grill. We even grilled our first lobster tails that were in one of our seafood orders (those never made it to the freezer!!) Instead, we "refueled" to finish the race!!
Storing/Filing/Timesaving Our "marathon foods" would get lost in our freezer so we have learned to store "like foods" after sealing ("food saving") in labeled Hefty Jumbo zip lock bags in alphabetical order flat in our freezer. That way, we do not have to sort through all the Hefty's each time we want to find an entree (this must be the OCD in me!! pray for Mike!!).
Your Finish Line: You listened to your coaches/believed/trained/prepared/persevered/did a little grillin, "did a little freezin,' did a little food savin," and finished the race and you made it to the finish line!!

Congratulations!! Now, what's for dinner?!!

Rewards and Benefits: Prepared ready-to eat entrees without all the sodium and preservatives (add a veggie and salad) and "Dinner's on the table." Pop the food into a cooler when visiting kids and grandkids out of town or going to the beach. Save time/money/exposure to food borne illnesses. Healthy meals/less planning/more quality time with family. Fewer trips to the store saves on gas. Neighbor/friend/loved one in need? Just fill a small cooler and share a meal for later; or prepare and deliver the meal on a tray with a card and a rose bud and a loaf of bread from Fresh Market tied with raffia; and you will receive the blessing of giving!!

Links and Product Information for things that help us run our race:
Walmart: Tone's Restaurant Black Pepper ("ground slightly coarser eliminating dust.")

Omaha Steaks has good prices/sales/deals/clearance sales and frozen food is delivered right to your door. They have meats/seafood/vegetables/casseroles/desserts and so far everything we have ordered has been delicious. Watch for "Jill's Deals" on the Today Show during holidays, where I discovered Omaha Steaks. The food is shipped with dry ice in large recyclable coolers ready for the freezer. During our most recent "marathon," two of the packages of salmon had rips in the plastic packaging (uncharacteristic of their quality). I called Omaha Steaks customer service and within a few days a gift card to use on my next order arrived in the mail. Excellent customer service; might try negotiating for free shipping.

Trays: approximately 13" x 20"  The best season to find plastic reusable trays is in the spring when the patio and picnic items are in stock at Target, Walmart, even the dollar stores.
Air Bake: I used these when we needed a new stove and everything burned on the bottom. They are wonderful!! and they come in so many different sizes: go the the air bake site first and find all the choices and then look at Walmart/Target/Bed Bath & Beyond locally or order from Amazon:; Walmart: 11740709

About the Author: Joyce and her husband, Mike, are very involved in their church.  They have a grown daughter as well as a married son and daughter-in-law who have blessed them greatly with their first grandchild.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

Thanks to Hope Helmuth in Virginia for this recipe!
Hope's husband hates sweet potatoes, but he likes these! - Used by permission

4 large sweet potatoes, cut into fries
Place in a gallon-size plastic bag.
Add 2 Tbsp. of Canola oil.
Flip and flip bag until fries are coated.

Mix together:
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (scant if you don't like things hot)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. seasoned salt

Shake seasonings into bag and flip over and over until fries are evenly coated.
Place onto a tray, making sure fries aren't overlapping.
Bake at 435 for 35 minutes, flipping half way through.
Ovens may vary, so just bake until they are soft inside and crispy on the outside.
Dip in
southwest sauce or ketchup.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

High Protein Breakfasts

by Lois Breneman - 2011 - Heart to Heart

A friend asked me for ideas on high protein breakfasts, so I thought I'd share this in Heart to Heart, in case others might be looking for ideas.  Keep some of these in mind for your children during the summer months as well as after they start school. Protein builds and repairs muscles.  Some of these ideas are quick and easy, and we're all looking for those!

I think one of the best high protein breakfasts would be two eggs with whole wheat toast.  That's my favorite standby.  Often I spray a non-stick pan with oil, and cook two eggs on one side until they are set, flip over each one using two rubber spatulas, and add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan to cook them a little more, without a "crust" forming on the bottom.  They are almost poached when cooking them in this way, depending on how long you cook them.

Having eggs and spreading the toast with almond butter would add even more protein, or almond butter toast could be a complete breakfast in itself.

Sometimes I have two slices of whole wheat toast with almond butter and All Fruit jelly (no sugar is added to the fruit). 

Millet is the highest protein grain, which you can buy it at a health food store or natural foods co-op.  It takes at least 20-30 minutes to cook, but it makes a delicious breakfast when adding butter, stevia (or honey), and milk.  Cinnamon too.  You could cook a double batch one day and have the rest a second day, but it tends to get a little lumpy after being in the fridge.  It still works, especially if you stir it up real well using a whisk after microwaving.

Baking a breakfast casserole in a casserole dish (with eggs and hash browns, etc) and putting it in the refrigerator will provide ready-to-heat-and-eat breakfasts for several days.  Just heat in the microwave, and have whole wheat toast with it.  Sliced tomatoes on the top are good and add color.

Make an omelet and add herbs, grated carrots, minced peppers, thin slices of tomatoes and a little cheese.  You could grate and mince the carrots and peppers ahead of time to keep in the fridge and use for several days to make breakfast preparation go more quickly.

Hard cook a dozen or so eggs for a "Grab and Go" breakfast.  You could also mash two eggs with a fork and add a little mayonnaise and salt for an open faced egg salad sandwich.  Toasted bread would be even better.

A high protein powder could be added to the blender with frozen bananas for thickening, an egg (if you don't mind it being raw), and fresh or frozen fruit.  Just be sure not to use soy, which can feed cancer cells, according to research.

In doing an online search for "High Protein Breakfasts," of course, not all of the ideas are desirable or healthy.  You have to be the judge.  It would be to our advantage to stay away from sugar, nitrates in ham, bacon, and sausage, as well as too much fat.   

If you stick mostly to whole foods like eggs, lean meat, vegetables, some fruits, and nuts, that would be best.  Almond butter is a good choice.  If you live near a Trader Joe's or get near one once in a while, you might want to stock up on almond butter there.  Costco members have a good opportunity to purchase larger jars (3 cups) for an excellent price.  Both stores offer almond butter with no sugar.  The only ingredient is almonds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Banana Nut Choco Pops

Photo shown on this blog.

Cut bananas in half and push a popsicle stick into each one.  Melt chocolate in double boiler (I used a large Hershey dark chocolate bar - about 6 oz. which was enough to coat 12 banana halves).  Drizzle chocolate over each banana and coat with finely chopped almonds or walnuts, using a spoon to cover the chocolate.  Place on a plate, lined with wax paper, so the chocolate and nuts don't stick to the plate. Freeze and enjoy these mostly healthy popsicles!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spinach Quiche

This recipe is from my sister-in-law, Linda Walker, and my aunt, Sherlyn Kohr, both in Pennsylvania.

1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or broccoli)
2 shallots or 1 Tbsp. onion

2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (or Half and Half)
1/4 - 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Prepare all the ingredients and pour into a pie crust.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

Note: You may want to use half a pkg. of spinach per pie, as I prefer.  Or make two pies at once and freeze one.  Quiche freezes very well either baked or unbaked.
  It's as easy as pie!

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

6-8 servings

1 (2#) pkg. frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shredded Swiss cheese
1 (6 oz.) can ham (or equivalent), optional
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1 Tbsp. minced red peppers

Blot thawed potatoes with paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Press potatoes into a greased 10" quiche dish to form crust.  Spread butter over the top.  Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.  Fill crust with layers of cheeses and ham.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Beat well and pour over the cheese and ham.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Notes: This casserole can be prepared the night before and baked in the morning.  It's great for taking along (frozen) on vacations or for baking on Christmas morning!

When I make this recipe, I use a 9 x 13" baking pan and increase two ingredients, using 4 eggs and 1/2 tsp. of seasoned salt.  It also takes a little longer to bake this way.  Just be sure not to overbake it.

If you have leftovers, you can microwave just one serving on a plate for a quick high protein breakfast in the morning.

Sweet and Sour Salad Dressing

Thanks to my sister-in-law, Linda Walker, in Pennsylvania, for this wonderful-tasting salad dressing!

2 cup olive oil
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar (I use stevia to taste instead of sugar)
2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. salt

This dressing is delicious with only the above ingredients, but if you want even more flavor, you can also add:

2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger 

     (comes in a jar in the produce department of grocery store)
1/4 cup additional vinegar

Mix well and store at room temperature.
Shake before using.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Variations of Mac 'N' Cheese

Submitted by Tammy Lackey in Virginia - Used by permission
My friend Hannah posted something about macaroni and cheese as her Facebook status. An interesting discussion ensued there during which a fellow named Jeremy (NC) said he “mixes it with two cans of Bush's baked beans and add one pound of hamburger his special's the poor man's delight," which prompted me to post this status:

“How do my Facebook friends like to doctor up a box of mac ‘n’ cheese?” I got the ball rolling with the first two ideas:

Make mac ‘n’ cheese according to directions, then . . .
  • Stir in one can of condensed cream of celery soup and 2 cans of tuna drained. We call it “Stove Top Tuna Casserole.”
  • Stir in one can of Italian diced tomatoes and one pound of lean ground beef already browned. We call it “Cheesy Beefy Slop."
Here were the responses:
  • Add spaghetti sauce until your heart’s content. We call it “Glop." – Shanna, VA
  • Add cut up hard boiled eggs, peas, a little bit of onion, a tablespoon of relish (or chopped up dill pickle), mayo, and a dash of paprika, salt and pepper, and have a yummy macaroni salad. The cheesy part makes it extra good and creamy. Shelby, VA
  • Add taco meat and salsa. Top with a few tortilla chips. Talitha, AZ
  • Mix in sliced pepperoni and shredded cheese, dump in a well-greased baking dish and bake. Jessica, VA
  • When the kids were little and money was tight I made a box of mac and cheese, added a can or box (frozen) of mixed vegetables, 1 lb. browned ground beef, garlic powder and they loved it. Went a long way in those days.. Kathy,  VA
A couple others added mac ‘n’ cheese ideas that didn’t start with a box!
  • I made mine from scratch. I put in milk, light butter, 3 cheeses, fresh basil, garlic, ham, black pepper and ancho chili. YUM!!! Hannah, VA
  • Cook up high fiber whole wheat pasta and dump a can of Campbells condensed Nacho Cheese soup mixed with half a can of milk over it. Add a can of peas, cut up turkey kielbasa, a cup of fat free shredded cheddar and bake. Judy,  VA
  • When our children were young I made Mac and Cheese with a jar of Ragu Pizza sauce, ground beef, mixed this together, put in a casserole dish and put shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Put in 350 degree oven and bake until cheese melts. Yummy! - Sharon, VA

Salmon Burgers

2 small cloves garlic
sea salt

1 1/2 cups Duke's mayonnaise - has
great flavor and it contains no sugar as most other brands do
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
or garlic chives
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill

1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp. cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper

5 whole wheat hamburger buns
(reserving half of one bun for in salmon burger mixture)
1 lb.(approx. 2 cups)  skinless salmon fillets, boneless, preferably wild
rather than farm raised
4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup/ half of a stick)) unsalted butter

Chop and mash the garlic to a paste. In a small bowl combine garlic paste with salt, mayonnaise, chives, dill, mustard, lemon juice.

Using a food processor, pulsate half of one bun into breadcrumbs. Set aside the other half for a snack later. Pulse the salmon until coarsely chopped ( about 5 pulses), then put the salmon into a medium bowl and stir in 3/4 cup of paste, the reserved breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Shape into four patties, about one inch thick.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and hot, add the patties and fry until firm, crisp and golden brown - about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Brush the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter (melted) on the inside of the four split buns.  Insert an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Put the buns on a baking sheet, butter side up, and toast under the broiler until light golden brown - 1 to 2 minutes - watching carefully.  Serve the burgers on the buns, spread with the remaining paste.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Key Lime Pie in a Cup / Key Lime Pie


Thanks to Michelle Haines in Virginia for this recipe!

(Note from Lois: Those who prefer more sweetness could simply add more organic sugar or honey.  Be sure never to give honey to babies under one year of age, because it may cause botulism, which can be deadly.)

24 oz. Plain Yogurt
Juice of 2 small limes
Zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. organic sugar or honey

Oh my goodness is it good! If you want it thicker, use strained or Greek yogurt. Tossing in a little chopped mint is good too. Putting this mixture into an ice cream maker, and topping with berries, even better!

(Additional Note from Lois: Since receiving this recipe from Michelle, I made a variation of this recipe for my husband's birthday this week.  He loved it and so did I!  It was sugar free except for the sugar in the graham crackers.)

Crust and Topping:
1 box graham crackers, crushed in food processor
1 stick real butter
1/2 tsp. powdered stevia

Mix these three ingredients together with a pastry blender.  Press half of a little over half into the bottom of a pan.  I used the shallow round French White Corning dish.


Mix all together in food processor and pour over graham cracker bottom.
24 oz. plain Greek yogurt
Juice from 2 limes
Zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. powdered stevia
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese 

Sprinkle the remaining graham cracker mixture over top of the filling.  Just before ready to serve, top with freshly sliced strawberries and a few sprigs of peppermint leaves.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Homemade Orange Creamsicles

Creamy, icy, satisfying and rich!
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • up to 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups fresh cream
  • 2 cups fresh whole milk
  • 4 to 6 drops organic sweet orange essential oil or 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Homemade Creamsicles: Method

  1. Stir 1/3 cup honey into 2 cups orange juice.
  2. Pour the mixture of juice and honey into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and heat it over a medium flame until reduced by half.
  3. Once the mixture of honey and orange juice has been reduced by half to a viscous syrup, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk four egg yolks, two cups fresh cream and two cups fresh whole milk with organic sweet orange essential oil or orange extract and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue whisking until all the ingredients are very well combined.
  5. Whisk the mixture of honey and orange juice into the mixture of eggs, cream and milk.
  6. Pour the creamsicle mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze until solid, at least twelve hours.

NOTE: If you do not have popsicle molds, try using Dixie cups and popsicle sticks. Pour the mixture into dixie cups, place in the freezer and after four to six hours place popsicle sticks into the center of each cup and continue to freeze for at least an additional six hours.