Christina’s Bullet Point List of Why You Should Eat Chocolate

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*picture credit: chocolate.wikia.com

When *I* say “Dark Chocolate” I mean 80% cacao and does NOT contain milk or non-organic soy lecithin 😉

  • lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
  • raises HDL (“good” cholesterol)
  • lowers blood pressure
  • low glycemic index (23)
  • improves blood flow (including blood flow to the brain)
  • improves insulin sensitivity (this is a good thing, especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic)
  • increases serotonin levels (the feel good hormone)
  • contains very little polyunsaturated fats
  • contains oleic acid (like olive oil)

Like all things, exercise moderation, but now you may enjoy your dark chocolate without any guilt!  Please do take note that dark chocolate contains stimulating substances (not just caffeine), so exercise caution with the amount you eat before bed ;-).

For a more extensive post on the benefits of dark chocolate – this is a good place to start.

Hummus, YUMMMMM

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I started making hummus because, well, it’s amazing 🙂 and buying the quantity of hummus we wanted to eat made buying it impractical.  Enter homemade hummus!  I also wanted to be able to use less oil as well because most store purchased hummus contains a large amount of olive oil which my researched has shown me, typically we don’t need that as much oil and fat in our diets as we think we do and it’s better to get it from whole food (think eating an olive instead of eating just the oil).  There are of course exceptions to this, so if you need more fat in your life, sub oil for the water.  This will also result in a creamier hummus.

8 cups cooked chickpeas (the equivalent to 4 large cans if you buy canned)
Juice from 4 large lemons (approximately 1 cup juice)
1 cup vinegar (rice vinegar is good)
8 cloves of garlic (I have subbed garlic powder in a pinch – 1.5 Tbsp)
1.5 tbsp cumin
1.5 tbsp salt
1 cup sesame seeds (or 1/2 cup tahini, OR sun butter, OR sunflower seeds)
1 cup water (more if needed, when blending)

I usually put the seasonings, garlic, water, vinegar, and sesame seeds in the vitamix and blend for about 45 seconds. Then I mix that with the chickpeas, and scoop that mixture into my food processor in batches and process until it’s as smooth as I like – that is also when I add a smidge of water if I want it a little smoother.  That’s it!

Considering taking some “Vitamin C”? You might not want to.

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I’ve been researching ascorbic acid, often called “Vitamin C” on most health supplements and news articles. Important things to note:

  • Most “vitamin C” is made from CORN SYRUP. Yep. GMO corn syrup. unless it’s organic.
  • Most “vitamin C” being sold is actually just ascorbic acid – ascorbic acid is an ISOLATED component of what is Vitamin C in nature, so it’s not really vitamin C at all. Hence my use of “quotes” above.
  • High dose of Ascorbic Acid have antimicrobial activity – eg. will act much like an antibiotic in your gut, thus contributing to digestive problems and the overall antibiotic resistance issue we face as the human race. This is why “digestive upset” is listed as a possible side effect of taking high doses of ascorbic acid.
  • High doses of vitamin C do not occur in nature. The fact is you don’t need a lot of *real* vitamin C for it to be beneficial.

In SUMMARY:

If you want to add some vitamin C to your diet this fall and winter, go with more fresh fruit *or* you can add something like an acerola cherry powder to your supplement regimen (in your smoothie!).

Just some fun to know good sources of vitamin C:

  • Cabbage (particularly in raw sauerkraut – which makes it more bioavailable & even in small amounts, improves digestion)
  • Rose Hips (I love to enjoy rose hips in my tea – also available as a powder)
  • Alfalfa (can be enjoyed as a tea, powdered in capsules or added to smoothies)

All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C – so you could just eat more fruits and veggies 😉

You can find the above mentioned herbs (rose hips, acerola powder, and alfalfa) at Mountain Rose Herbs.  I am a loyal customer myself and have never been disappointed with the quality I have always received.  If you order by clicking on the banner below (or any banner on our site) we will receive a small “kick back”, so please consider supporting our family in this simple way. 🙂

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

A Long Overdue Update

All spring and summer long we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our garden.  We’ve had greens, lots and lots of tomatoes, some bell peppers, beans, a few cucumbers, several hot peppers, a lonely tiny pumpkin, and a little ol’ watermelon.  We’re also growing in other ways…

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That’s right, our sweet bouncing baby BOY is due to arrive some time in January and we can’t wait to meet him!  This makes 6 boys and 3 girls for our family, making 4 boys in a row 🙂 that is a LOT of little boys!

In other news, I’ve been taking an herbalist class with Vintage Remedies, which has been enlightening among other things.  I knew I was taking the right course when the last paragraph of the first unit summed up what I’ve pretty much more or less been saying to myself for years – health is about the WHOLE person and needs to include a view of our WHOLE world.  A big reason I’m taking this is to educate myself, but to also share that information with others.  I don’t want to just give someone something that will help them, but teach them why it helps, and then show them how they can make it or do it themselves if they have the inclination to do so.

So that’s it for now 🙂 I’ll hopefully be posting more often in the near future.

Tomato Notes

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This is the biggest one from last year, probably 10 ft long. Letting it “sprawl” like this was kinda fun, but since it wasn’t mulched under the plant itself, we lost a lot of tomatoes at the end of the season to slugs (yuck!).

 

Growing tomatoes last year was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done and I’m very much looking forward to giving it a good try again this year.  Last year I did not have success starting my own seeds (for a variety of reasons), but my mom saved the day and donated some healthy tomato plants seedlings to our family and we were able to grow 6 prolific indeterminate tomato plants that we let more or less take over the garden 😛 (I let the plants down from their stakes to install larger stakes, but didn’t get back to them in time and the tomato plants rooted themselves to the ground!).  I feel tremendously blessed that all the seedings I’ve started are doing very well so far.  Here are the varieties we are growing at the moment.

  1. Riesentraube Tomatoes – They are said to be prolific producers with clusters of 20-40, 1 inch round tomatoes that have an average height of only 5ft, which is a perfect height for managing them.  The advantage I see to this variety is high production without having the massive height to deal with.
  2. Amish Paste Tomatoes – They ripen into 6-12 ounce sized fruit with an average height of 5-7 feet which is still a very doable size.  These are said to be good for making tomato paste (duh, lol), and I hope we can try our hand at making ketchup this year!  The kids really wanted to last year, but we never had quite enough to eat them fresh and make fun things.
  3. Pink Brandywine Tomatoes – I’m growing these because I absolutely love to eat them, but can’t find room in my budget on a regular basis for a tomato that sells for $4+ a lb (and brandywines usually weight about a pound, they’re huge!).  These do get VERY tall, but as I’m growing them for big fat tomatoes to enjoy fresh (and not for storage or cooking), I plan to keep them well pruned and topped so we aren’t overtaken by a monster tomato plant.  As a side note, the leaf shape is different than your typical tomato plant.  It’s described as a “potato leaf”.
  4. A Grappoli D’Inverno – also known as “Winter Grapes” in Italy.  These are said to store for 4+ weeks after being pulled up from the ground.  Traditionally they are pulled (plant and all) and hung in a cellar, and can be eaten long after the growing season is over!  They are also said to be very tasty when dried, and I’d like to try my hand at it.  These grow to an average height of 4ft (yay!), and the fruit are about 2 inches round.

So there you have it 🙂 What tomato varieties to you plan to grow this year?

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'” Genesis 1:29

 

School Happenings

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Cute as a button! 🙂

Since I last posted on schooling we’ve made a shift that has made a huge difference for us.  We’ve switched most of our subjects over to Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) and it has been a tremendous help.  We are still using Christian Light Education (CLE) for our learning to read students and beginning math grades because it’s great and I know how to use it already 🙂 no sense in changing that.  So why did we change to ACE?

  • self paced learning
  • self lead learning
  • guided parental supervision
  • the bible and character lessons are in EVERY subject
  • yes the cartoon drawings are out of date, but the content is not 🙂
  • free’s up my mind space for the rest of life!  No prep work or lesson planning needed

What have you been doing to make school easier, but still effective for your goals in your family this year?