Monday, January 31, 2011

Food Monday: Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt is all over the clean eating blog world, but I thought I'd sing its praises.
Greek yogurt is awesome.
But, it's...different.
It's not your usual yogurt.

It's thick. Real thick.
And it's tangy. Almost like sour cream.
No "fruit on the bottom" here! is full of nutrition!
For 6 oz. it contains 90 cal., 7 g. of carbs and 15 grams of protein!
And no fat!

And it is VERY versatile!

Not only can you eat it plain (or with local honey... like I do!)
It is great in recipes!

I showed you how I used it in my Clean Pancake recipe
I've also used it in substitution for Ricotta in a Clean lasagna recipe I used.
It was great!
Super creamy!

I also used it in a no-pudge brownie mix!

It can be pricey, but 33 oz. at Costco is $5.89.
Much cheaper than anywhere else.

Does anyone else love Greek yogurt as much as I do?
What's your favorite way to eat it?

I'm back.

Sorry for the unexpected leave-of-absence.
Our church challenged us to fast this past week.
Being a diabetic, I obviously cannot fast from food.
As of late, I had been feeling convicted about the internet being a huge time-waster for me, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a little break.

I did see how much time I had been spending on the internet each day.
Between facebook, blogging, reading the news, and reading other blogs, I could waste a whole day away.

This was a good chance to take a step back, focus on Mr. Free and I and our home.

I did notice that when you take away social networking, the whole comparing-yourself-to-others really does decrease. Everyone's lives aren't right in your face (book) anymore. : )

So, a few lessons learned.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Comparing Myself.

I'm Jenny Free.
I have a problem.
I compare myself to others all.the.time.

I've already shared my struggle with contentment.
Comparing myself to others is another one of my major struggles
(oh yes...there is quite the list!)

This hit me like a ton of bricks today as I was stacking up myself against another one of my facebook friends.
Then it hit me just how often I do it!
And how it really promotes my negative 'self talk'.

Here's a sneak into my brain:
"Wow, she looks really pretty!"
I wish I looked like that, I look so bad, I need to lose weight, get new clothes, tame this frizzy hair...ugh....I'm sooo ugly.

"Her house is so amazing and organized"
I wish I had those natural skills. My house looks like a pit. I'm such an awful wife. I need to do better...

"She knows so much about the Bible!"
Why can't I know that much?! Maybe because I don't make the time. Gosh, I'm an awful Christian...I need to be more like her....

"Wow! My friend is really losing weight!"
I need to lose weight, Im so fat. Ughh.... I can't believe my husband can even LOOK at me!

Yada, yada, yada....
The list can go on forever.

This is not healthy!
God does not want us stacking ourselves up, then beating ourselves down for our failures!

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.
Galatians 6:4

This verse speaks volumes!
We are each assigned to our own mission in this world.
We need to put our everything into that mission.
If we are doing our best in that, we can't compare ourselves to others!
They don't have the same unique assignment!

God created each of us in His own unique way for His own unique purpose.
I was created with red, frizzy hair for a reason. I need to embrace it.
God has given me a 'laid back attitude' with my home to create a relaxed atmosphere.
God has given trials (weight problems, health problems, losses, etc.) to help minister to others.
I can look at all these things as flaws, or know that they are part of what makes me who I am.
Other woman were created uniquely, and while the outside may seem perfect, it isn't. No one has a perfect life.
If we compare ourselves to 'perfection' we will ALWAYS be disappointed in ourselves.

I know, for today I am going to focus on Galatians 6:4 and work hard to be the best I can be in MY assignment of life.
There are many amazing women in this world that inspire me, and I thank God for them.
But God does not want us to think less of ourselves because of them.

I hope this relates to someone out there....or maybe I'm the only one who struggles with this....
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day.

I think I jinxed things with putting out my 'winter' flag this year.
I *think* I've taught a total of like 6 days this month....
Pretty crazy.

Mr. Free and I had the realization today that we will have snow days...for life.
Not too bad of a gig. : )

But part of our Snow Day tradition, is some pancakes to start the day.
With my new efforts to eat clean, I've come up with a great recipe for 'clean pancakes'.
They are very thin, nearly crepe like. And they are not the typical heavy 'whole wheat' pancakes.
They are sooo light.

Here's how I make 'em:
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbs. almond meal, 1 tbs. flax seed, 1 tbs. wheat germ (this can be omitted if you don't have them)
1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tbs. honey
1 c. Greek yogurt
(you could sub sour cream or reg. yogurt, but Greek yogurt is your cleanest, must nutritious option)
Here's what I buy.
It's $5.89 for 32 oz. at Costco. By far the cheapest deal for Greek yogurt.
I am using this a lot in my cooking. It is a great sub for sour cream!

2 eggs, 2 tbs. milk (I used organic half and half...needed to use it up!)
Whisk together til *just*mixed.
Make sure you have a hot griddle or skillet! I used non-stick cooking spray. You could use butter too.
Laddle in some batter.
Yes, my pancakes are shaped weird.
Mmmmm.....all done!
See how thin they are? They are so light and FULL of protein from the egg, milk and greek yogurt!
For toppings we use
If you're in KC, run to HyVee and get some.
You won't be sorry.
And our homemade mulberry syrup.
MMmmmmm......SO GOOD!!!
This recipe yielded 8 pancakes.

Please tell me if you try them!
They are my new favorite recipe, clean or not!

Happy Snow Day!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm going retro in the kitchen.

I got a bread box!

I had been eyeing her since last year at Target.
I've been wanting to incorporate more turquoise and yellow to the kitchen and thought she would be perfect!
But I waited to long....she was gone...
But this year, she came back at $14.99.
And I never pay full price.
So I waited, and she was on sale for $10 this weekend.
Not the greatest, but she was the last one left.
Using Christmas gift cards I snatched her up!
I love how bright and cheery she is!

Did I mention she's practical too?
With making all of our own bread, I didn't have a great place to store it.
I would usually wrap it in saran wrap, then place it in a bowl on the counter.
It looked cluttery.
Now, I have a great place to put it!
I think she looks super cute next to my gunmetal Kitchenaid and our cheery yellow towels!
It gives hint to the upcoming Spring!

So friends, how do you store your bread?
Do you have a bread box?
Keep it on the counter?
In a drawer?
In the fridge?
Do share!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recipe: Date Cocoa Balls

These are soooo yummy.
100% clean.
All natural.
Full of energy.

Here are the ingredients:

1/2 almonds (raw or toasted)
3/4 c. pitted dates
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tbsp. water

Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and grind until a fine, crumbly texture. About halfway through add the water.
It should look something like this.
It may look dry, but it has enough moisture to be able to form balls.
Scoop out handfuls and form into balls.
That's it!
Just chill and they will last up to a week!

These are very addicting....they taste like candy!
Please try them if you can!

P.S. I in no way invented these bad boys...they are all over the clean eating blog world, but I wanted to pass the recipe along and tweak it for a small food processor. My new one broke. : (
So I just have a little guy for now.

Meal Plan

If you don't do this already, I highly encourage a weekly meal plan.
I don't always do this, and when I don't, I noticed we tend to eat out way more than we should.
So here we go....

M- gyros
lamb, homemade yogurt sauce, homemade whole grain pitas
T- crockpot chicken, roasted sweet potatoes
W- Chicken pot pie
R- Chicken quesadillas
leftover chicken, cheese, homemade salsa, homemade whole grain tortillas
F- Leftovers
S- Birthday party

I will try to be better and update my recipes section.
I often find recipes on the Internet and tweak them to our taste and what we have on hand.
I need to be better about sharing my tweaked recipes.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a blessed week ahead!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wanting to be two more steps down the road...

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

This has always been my struggle.
For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with contentment in being exactly where I am right now.
When I was single, I wanted a boyfriend.
When I had a boyfriend, I wanted to be engaged.
When I was engaged, I wanted to be married.
Now that I'm married, I want to be a mom.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be in college.
When I was in college, I wanted to be in my career.
Now that I'm in my career, I want to be retired (I kid...I kid....kinda.)

It's miserable living this way!
I can assure you that!

I read through my diary in high school and college the other day and it was just sad! Every entry was about how much I wanted to be married to Mr. Free. About how jealous I was of those around me getting married. It consumed me.
I didn't let God show me the blessings of living in that moment in time.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Lately, I have really been struggling with motherhood. Seeing those around me with children or pregnant felt like being stabbed right in the heart.
I was bitterly jealous.
I had many conversations with God asking, "Why do they get such a blessing and not me?!"
I cried myself to sleep because I felt so empty.

Those stings of jealousy are still there, but I am placing our family's future in God's hands.
Though I truly do not understand this path He has created for us, I know it is for His glory.
If this is the best He has for me, why would I want to be anywhere else?

As I strive to live in the moment and not two more steps down the road, I am learning to stop, look around and see the blessings of right now.

Right now, I am married to my best friend.
Right now, we are both in the careers we love.
Right now, we have a roof over our head.
Right now, we are financially stable.
Right now, we have the cutest pets on the planet.
Right now, we have the blessing of so many godly brothers and sisters supporting us.
Right now, we have our families.

So, for right now, I am making goals for the me right now. Not the 'hopefully soon pregnant me' or the 'me with a newborn'. No, the me right now.

So Mr. Free and I are taking a step back to really enjoy the two of us.
We are trying to get our bodies as healthy as possible.
We are enjoying our time together.
We are planning our trip to Europe. Which we know wouldn't be feasible if we had kids.
Enjoying the blessings of the two of us.

Those of you who are reading and have a longing in your heart, understand that longings are good!
God is placing in your heart desires for your life!
But obsessing and dwelling on those things that aren't yet to be is not the best He has for you.
You are right where you are for a reason.
And I need that reminder every day.

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

If you are struggling in this same area, I highly recommend reading through the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. They have been my source of wisdom as I struggle through this area in my life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Frugal Tip: Whole Foods Bulk Bins

In my attempt to eat whole, nutritious, preferably organic food, I have found the Whole Foods bulk bins to be a lifesaver!

Though our closest Whole Foods is nearly 30 minutes away, I manage to venture out there once or twice a month to stock up on our necessities.

For the most part, the prices are wonderful. Especially since most of the products are organic.
You do need to check your prices though.
What do I buy?
Organic brown rice ($.99/lb.)
Organic steel cut oats ($1.35/lb.)
Organic whole wheat flour (regular and pastry flour)($.99/lb.)
Organic popcorn ($1.99/lb.)
Sea Salt ($.55/lb.)
Organic cane juice ($.99/lb.)

They also offer fresh ground peanut butter and local honey on tap, which I purchase both.

I then bring them home and place them in glass jars in our pantry.
This method is much cheaper than pre-packaged goods.
I will say though, in a few months when our Trader Joe's comes in, this could be a complete change.
I do know that almond meal is a fraction of the price at Trader Joe's versus Whole Foods bulk bins.
Luckily I have a huge stash in the basement pantry from Trader Joe's. (I put almond meal in everything!)

So, do you utilize Whole Foods bulk bins?