Indulge me for a moment, will you? Today’s column is more about food for the soul, then for the tummy.
Years ago, I was watching TV and I saw a commercial for diapers. I don’t remember the entire context of it, but they showed a little baby in the crib, then later, he’s a toddler learning to use his pull up diapers and go potty like a big boy.
I almost got teary over that commercial! I don’t know what it was about that ad that landed so hard in my heart. After sleeping on it all night, I realized exactly what it was.
I spent a good portion of my children’s childhoods wishing it away. Instead of cherishing the moments, I would say to myself, “This is so hard. It will be so much easier when they’re older.”
My children are there now at 24 and 26 years old. They’re close in age, 21 months apart. When they were little, I had double everything: stroller, car seats, diapers, you name it. Their babyhoods were a blur–I was nursing one and trying to keep another happy. I was tired, stressed out and wanted motherhood to be easy and perfect—like it is in magazines. The reality was quite the opposite–I was overwhelmed and spent an inordinate amount of time looking ahead instead of loving their sweet heads. “When they are older, THEN I will (fill in the blank).”
Why am I telling you this? Because I have guilt and regret and can’t move forward? No, because I finally realized that even if I did wish away too much time when they were babies, now that they have gone away to school, I thoroughly cherish each moment that I have with them. Oh sure, there are times that they’re rotten and need straightening out, but I am not trying to tell you that life becomes perfect when you’re looking wistfully back on their childhoods. The root of all discontent however, is expecting perfect out of anyone (child or adult) or any situation; I am thankful I learned that while they were still home.
Here’s a way to put this important lesson into practice; instead of constantly trying to correct and PERFECT your children’s table manners, consciously try to have a dinner table that welcomes the stories about your son’s day, your daughter’s dreams and laugh together! My heart’s memory book is filled with memories from those kind of interactions and (thankfully) not the guilt of nagging at them constantly.
My children grew quickly and were gone before I knew it. One thing that really helped me enjoy them and love them each day was breaking bread each night together at the table. Having dinner together not only blesses those at the table, but it blesses the hands that make it.
Wherever you are in your journey as a mother, you can begin to cherish your babies now—no matter what age, even if they have children of their own! You are still a mother and you still have moments (God willing) left to cherish. The past is one thing we can do nothing about, but we have today!
Take a moment today and look at your children’s faces and understand that they are there in your care by Divine appointment. It is no accident that God gave you that child or those children. They were hand selected to belong to your family—no one else’s. What a gift!
So tonight, when you are gathered ‘round your family dinner table, thank God for giving you each child even if you can see their tonsils with mouths full of spaghetti. Treasure your sweet children and love them like there is no tomorrow. They are gifts to be cherished at each meal, with each moment.
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
I’m expecting another bumper crop of tomatoes this year, and I know exactly what I’m going to do with my harvest. How about you? Do you know what to do with all of those excess tomatoes? If not, here are some ideas for what you can do when you find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes. By the way, I have not included canning as an option here because I think there are less time-intensive ways to preserve tomatoes.
Make a giant batch of tomato sauce and freeze it in portions (you can obviously can it if you want, but freezer bags, doubled up, work just fine). While you’re at it, you can even divide the sauce and turn some right into pizza sauce (I like to add a bit of balsamic vinegar and tomato paste to my pizza sauce).
Toss those whole tomatoes in a freezer bag, and pop them in the freezer. Take them out as you need them to make pizza sauce, pasta sauce, or chili.
Tomatoes plus peppers plus onions plus lime juice plus salt plus cilantro equals delicious salsa. You may have to chop until you drop, but the fresh flavor will be worth it, I promise! Taste test until you get it just right. Once you have the basic formula down, have fun with it! Separate your salsa into separate little batches where you can add all kinds of things. Add in some avocado, mango, strawberries, pineapple, black beans . . . you’re limited only by your imagination!
All tomato paste is, really, is tomatoes that have been reduced down and down and down some more. To make tomato paste, peel and seed your tomatoes, and then dice them into little pieces. Put tomatoes in a single layer in a medium-large sauce pan. Toss some salt over the tomatoes and cook at medium heat, uncovered, stirring once in a while, until you have tomato paste! Be patient because it can take a couple of hours for this to happen. Keep the heat low enough that the tomatoes aren’t boiling, but high enough that there’s steam coming from them. If you have too many tomatoes to stick to a single layer in a sauce pan, put your oven to work. Cook the toma-toes, with a good couple of shakes of salt, at 300 degrees. Cook uncovered in a roasting pan or dutch oven, stirring every 30 minutes until you’re left with tomato paste.
If you still have more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, your local food bank might wish to take the extras off your hands. Or perhaps your local day care or high school would love to practice making sauce?
Look for a produce exchange in your neighborhood. In many areas, you can find things like this, where excess produce is swapped. If you have too many tomatoes, maybe someone with too many zucchini would love to trade.
Hopefully, you now have no shortage of ideas for those extra tomatoes. Really, we’re lucky to have such first world problems, aren’t we? 🙂
PS–Time is running out to join me for the 10-Day Paleo Blitz! The Blitz features 20 delicious smoothie recipes, and 10 new dinner recipes, including Orange Mahi with Tomato Cucumber Salad! You get the entire plan and access to the private Facebook group 100% FREE with your purchase of Perfect Paleo Protein! Get yours today, so you can start with me on August 16th!
By: Leanne Ely
Today, in the video above, I teach you how to make homemade salad dressing! If there’s one thing that irritates me, it’s salad dressing from the store! Salad dressing at the store is overpriced, in tiny little containers and typically made with poor quality oils. And I’m sorry, for a dressing to be good, you need to be using a really excellent oil.
Why should you use good oil in your salad dressing? Because you want to be eating high-quality fats. A great oil to use is extra virgin olive oil. Go out there. Look at the salad dressing department or even the gourmet section of your grocery store and see exactly what kind of oil is in there. Oftentimes, you’ll see is it has olive oil in it but it will just say olive oil, it won’t say extra virgin olive oil. We need 100% virgin olive oil.
Making your own dressing not only is fast and easy but it is delicious, much, much better for you and much better for your wallet.
Watch the video above to see how to make my favorite homemade dressing.
- Gourmet Garden Garlic
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Extra Virgin or Cold Pressed Olive Oil
Extra Add On Ingredients:
- Anchovy Paste
- Dijon Mustard
So there you go. Salad dressing, homemade, done three ways with good quality ingredients that would cost you $15 in a bottle at the store and you’ve done it at home for pennies. So enjoy and make your own dressing for heaven’s sakes. You’ve gone to all that trouble to make a gorgeous salad. Put your own dressing on it!
PS–We are only days away from the very first 21 Day Knockout! I’d love to have you join me! Click here to get access to the program
By: Leanne Ely
Very few of us manage to get in all of the vegetables we need everyday for optimal health—at least 5-13 servings (about 6 cups) each day, a variety from each color group: dark greens (lettuce, kale, spinach), red and orange (sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes), and “other” vegetables (cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions).
In most cases, for cooked and fresh vegetables, one cup is what you’d put in a measuring cup, but for raw leafy greens and lettuce, you need to measure out two cups to equal one.
For dried veggies and fruits, you only need to measure out a fraction to equal one cup.
Clear as mud? 🙂
The broader the variety of vegetables you’re eating, the more nutrients you’re going to be taking in. And that’s what we want!
I know it can be difficult to get all of those vegetables in, not only because of the work it takes to shop for, prep, cook and eat them all, but also because produce is not cheap, especially the essential dark green vegetables.
There are some dark greens that are less expensive than others: collards, broccoli, mustard greens, and parsley. Try adding more of these foods to your grocery order if you’re watching your budget.
Frozen vegetables are more affordable, so look for frozen broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach. I tend to use all of my freshest produce within the first few days of taking it home, and I rely on frozen veggies when I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel.
Look for inexpensive veggies that can go a long way. For instance, cabbage is a very budget-friendly vegetable, packed with nutrition, and it’s oh-so-versatile. You can serve it raw shredded in salads, sauteed, fried, roasted, or added to soups.
Another way to save money on vegetables is to stop leaving them to rot in your crisper drawer! When you have a piece of produce thats not going to be used up before it goes bad, use it in a soup, a smoothie, or juice it. Or do what I do and keep a zipper bag or container in the freezer for these veggie scraps, and use them in a batch of bone broth.
Speaking of crisper drawers, I wrote an article awhile back about how to use those drawers properly. You can find that information here: https://savingdinner.wpengine.com/refrigerator/
Another way to boost your intake of veggies is to get yourself an order of Just Juiced Greens. I am proud of this product. All it is, is juiced organic greens that have been dried and preserved so all you need to do is add water! Check it out here!