Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homemade Bread & Jam

Diet. I loathe that word. It doesn't have a good connotation, like ever. Even if it's meant in the best way, people still think it means, "I'm tryin to get skinny, so lay off." In this case, let's just suppose for a moment that I actually do have a new diet, but it's not to lose weight. Sure, that may be a side effect, but I call it a lifestyle choice. It's not easy, but this is life, and I'm going with it, like forever. 

So Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, and what fights it off is taking anti-inflammatory drugs, which cost about 55K a year. Whew! Who knew right? But, did you know that there are anti-inflammatory foods, and you can make them right in your kitchen, and they do the EXACT SAME THING? Oh yes, they're called vegetables! The more plant based foods I consume, the better! So of course I don't have to eat this way, and I could have chocolate cake every day of my life, but I choose to eat this way, because I'd rather play it safe and help my body out a little. When I do this, I'm trading in cheeseburgers for the ability to walk someday. I'm giving up milkshakes for the ability to talk. It's a no-brainer really. :) It's just a choice, and for me, it's an easy one. There are also pro-flammatory foods (which, in my specific case, are the bad guys). They disguise themselves as animal fats like milk fat, beef, butter, certain oils, pastries, etc. You get the picture, right? In the end, I decided I'd like to live on the safe side and continually pump good food into my body. So, you can expect every recipe to be pretty darn healthy from here on out. Just a fair warning.

Can I give you an update? It was hard eating this way at first, because I couldn't figure out what I could even have. But after one month, it has become a way of life that's really not a big deal. Hopefully I'll post some really great healthy foods in the days to come that you'll love and that your whole family will enjoy too. Believe it or not, healthy food is tasty! 

Enough talking, let's cook!

Easy Whole Wheat Bread

Here is a healthy bread recipe for almost anyone! It doesn't have any extras (like butter) in it, but still tastes amazing! Our family makes this recipe every other weekend, since there are just three of us, and it lasts quite a while. You'll get two regular sized loaf pans of bread in the end, and they keep for a little over a week. Happy baking!

5 c whole wheat flour
3 T yeast
2 1/4 c milk (it's ok to use sour milk here)
1/2 c molasses
  1. Mix yeast, milk, and molasses in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for 1.5 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (I use a Kitchen Aid mixer) add 2 cups of flour.
  3. Stir warmed wet mixture and add to the 2 cups of flour, mixing continuously.
  4. Slowly add remaining 3 cups of flour until your bread starts to work itself together as it kneads, and looks like this... see how it's all stuck together in a ball? That's good!
  5. Leave this ball of dough in the bowl you mixed it in and cover with a kitchen towel for 1 hour. If you don't know already, the towel helps the yeast rise, trust me. :)
  6. After an hour, punch down the dough a few times (don't overdo it) and shape into loaf appropriate sizes and put the dough inside of two regular loaf pans, spraying them beforehand with cooking spray so the bread doesn't stick. Cover again and let rise 30 minutes-1 hour. Patience, patience, patience my friend. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees in the meantime. 
  7. Put in the oven for 30 minutes! 
Eat that bread hot of the oven with a little jam or honey I tell ya! It's the very best thing in the world! Oh say, you'd like to make some  homemade jam too? Why sure, you've come to the right place.

Blueberry Apple Jam

This is easy. easy. easy. If you want to make jam and have never done it before, you're going to love me forever, because this is new person friendly. What I like about this, and what motivated me to make it is the fact that there is NO sugar added, because basically I don't eat straight sugar anymore, and fruit is about the closest I come. For this I use blueberries and applesauce, but I have had fantastic jam made out of strawberries (instead of blueberries) and 100% grape juice (instead of applesauce). I really wanted to try the strawberry when we tried out this delicious blueberry, but we started baking the bread by the time the urge to make jam came over me with hurricane force...well, you see my problem. :) Hot bread cannot wait for jam ya know.

4 cups blueberries (can use frozen, but just thaw beforehand)
1 cup no sugar added applesauce
2 T fruit pectin (no sugar needed kind)
  1. Put 4 cups of blueberries in a large metal pot or sauce pan, and start to smash those boogers down to nothing! Don't turn the heat on just yet.
  2. This is what it looked like when I finished smash, smash, smashing.
  3. Mix the fruit pectin into the applesauce well and then pour into the smashed up blueberries.
  4. Turn on the heat to medium and stir continuously until the mixture begins to boil.
  5. Once it starts boiling, stir for 15 minutes straight or until the mixture starts to set up like jam does. Do NOT stop stirring, or that yummy pot of berries will burn, baby. 
  6. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let your jam cool.
  7. Store in a clean glass container, or sterilized canning jar. Done!
And...if you're like me, you can enjoy warm bread with warm jam.  I recommend making these together, obviously. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stop Doubting

What happens when you don't have faith? Nothing.
What happens when you do have faith? Everything. 

So tell me, what in the world do you have to lose by believing? I had a conversation with someone not too long ago and it went like this:

Me: I have every faith in the world that God is going to heal me, because he's going to. It's just not the right time yet. I do believe, and I know it deep in my heart, so I simply do not worry. I just don' ever. Sure, I learn and read up on stuff, but that doesn't mean I don't trust him. I just know that I know that I know that the Lord has a bigger plan.

Them: You don't think that he might not heal you, Michelle? I'm not saying he can't, because I believe that he can, but I believe he can use you in spite of healing you. Maybe he has a plan for you, while you are sick, because of your outlook or something else.

Me: Yes, you're right, but I believe he's going to heal me, as in completely and miraculously. You just wait and see. I do believe God can use every circumstance for good, though, of course.

Them: That's such a great attitude to have, but I just want you to know that it's ok to be angry at God sometimes, and if he never heals you, it's ok to have those feelings and be upset. That's normal to feel.

I felt God's spirit gently whisper to me, "Maybe you're not normal." God took my mind back to 2007, where I knelt at an altar and the Lord clearly revealed to me that I would be a missionary someday. I've never forgotten that moment, because it was a true calling. I still don't know exactly what it means, but I also don't have to know. I feel that I already am a missionary in my everyday life, at work, and in so many other relationships. I trust the Lord and he really does light my path each day. Today is all I need to know. Just today.

This whole conversation left me thinking that I guess I don't understand. Why should I doubt God? Why should I not believe, and believe fully that he is the only option for my healing? I don't really want to live life giving God outs. He doesn't need them, because he is everything. He is the healer and author of my life. He doesn't need my excuses and backup plans, and I have nothing to lose by believing in God! Nothing.

Trust, I beg of you. Trust God with your life and stop doubting! I get really passionate about this...because I believe doubting will suck the joy out of your life and steal the Lord's blessings that he intended for good!

Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God."
Mark 10:27

Did you catch that? Everything.

Vegan Chili

Wow. I've tried a lot of different chili recipes, but this one takes the cake! This chili is recommended to be served over sweet potatoes, but that's really up to you. I altered this recipe until I really liked it! It serves about 4-6 people as a soup. Enjoy!

Ingredients // Making It

  • 2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Put the EVOO in the bottom of a large pot on medium heat.
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (or you could use a whole green pepper)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Once the EVOO heats up a bit, add the onion, jalapeño and garlic and let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the onions turn clear. Add the ingredients below to the pot and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. 
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 T agave nectar (or you can use brown sugar, sugar, molasses, honey, etc.)
  • 3 cans of beans (I used 2 cans of red kidney beans and 1 can of black beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen corn, thawed (or you can use less if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 T lemon juice (or lime)
Wah-la! Recommended over sweet potatoes for a serious meal. Let me know what you think!
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