Category Archives: Reviews

White Bean Soup (Flavorful!)

This white bean soup is packed with flavor, is easy and inexpensive. You can make it on the stove top or in the crockpot. I serve it at home with a slice or two of toast. 

One of my favorite recipe websites has been budgetbytes.com. The recipes are not only quite good usually, but I love that each recipe is broken down by cost. Actually, that’s how I found the website – I was trying to find inexpensive delicious recipes that listed meal costs. I’d love to do the same thing – but at this point I just don’t have it together like she does!!

Anyhow, I saw this recipe on Budgetbytes and adapted it to the stovetop. Also, I used Great Northern beans rather than navy beans, because that’s what I had on hand.

Important note: Do not substitue cannelini beans in this recipe – cannelini beans, if not cooked properly, have a gastrointestinal toxin in them.

Here is the recipe: Slow Cooker White Bean Soup – Budget Bytes

 
   
    
   

  

Recipes – Whole Foods, Plant-Strong Diet

The first step of my plant strong diet is learning how to cook plant-strong food that are yummy and satisfying. I am starting by cooking recipes I find online. I’ll be reviewing them and recommending recipes we love.

Mexican Lentil Soup – http://foodbabe.com/2015/01/12/mexican-lentil-tortilla-soup/ This soup was SO yummy! It was extremely flavorful. This is definitely one of my absolute favorites!!

Pasta with “Alfredo” sauce – http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/20/cauli-power-fettuccine-alfredo-vegan/ I made this recipe for dinner the other night. I added frozen peas (these will cook when you heat the sauce) and sauteed chopped red bell peppers. We really like it. I will definitely be making this again. To make this plant-strong/Engine 2 diet friendly omit the oil when sauteing the garlic.

Tagged , , , ,

Going Plant Strong

I never thought I’d be writing this…I have been the epitome of the carnivore. I love beef – especially steak, chicken, cheese, especially, especially cheese!! In fact, I have been staunchly in favor of eating a balanced diet low on sugar and processed foods and this diet most certainly included meat, dairy, etc. But, now I’m heading off in a new direction – a plant based direction.

What!!!??? How did that happen? 

On accident really. My boyfriend’s parents (Annette & Peter) were over a few weeks ago, I came home to find my refrigerator full of meat, eggs, etc. that I had not purchased. Annette was over and they told me that they were doing a special diet – cutting out meat, etc. Now, I could tell she wasn’t that excited to tell me…and I’ll tell you why…a few years ago they tried to do a similar diet, but I was pretty unsupportive – I just plain didn’t get it and I made my opinion clear – to be frank I thought it was stupid. This time when Annette told me about their plan I decided to try to understand their reasoning and find out what was compelling them to make this change. They love their meat, eggs, dairy and all the rest just like me – so just maybe I ought to look at their side and minimally be supportive. It’s not as if eating lots of veges will harm you!

Here’s why they did it: both Peter and Annette have high blood pressure – Peter especially. Peter is in his late 50’s and without medication his blood pressure is in heart attack range, with medication it’s still high – scary. Annette has been pre-diabetic for years. Annette’s dad has had triple bypass heart surgery.  They knew that if they didn’t do something about their health now, there might not have a chance to later. So the search for a change began.

Fast forward and they had stumbled upon Dr. Caldwell Esselyton’s book – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and they decided to give it a shot. Now, I am the kind of person that needs to understand how and why. I am actually not big on extremes, but in an attempt to be supportive I started to read the book.

For me, this book was perfect. I love Dr. Esselyton’s approach – the first thing he does is make sure his patients understand why the diet is the way it is. I LOVE that! In reading the material (I spent a lot of time in the dictionary learning the medical terminology used.) I found out that Dr. Esselyton has statistics – he has successfully used this diet to help people at death’s door and they have gotten better. Now, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I am not 100% that the diet is perfect – but the diet is workable and has gotten the product of people who are now well.

Now, not only am I supportive of Annette and Peter’s choice – we are going to be embracing it in our household – with some modifications. We are actually doing something closer to the Engine 2 diet – which is the diet put together by Dr. Esselyton’s son Rip. This is a diet that includes avocado, coconut and nuts – with the Esselyton diet does not include. And we will probably eat the occasional fish and some meat – though I can already tell my body just isn’t into meat anymore. I plan on cataloging the journey and share the tips I learn along the way.

RESULTS: Annette and Peter have been on the diet for 3 weeks so far. Peter has lost 7 lbs and his blood pressure dropped 20 points. Annette has lost 10 points, her blood pressure has dropped – not sure on the exact amount, less than 20 points.

Our Starting Point

Aiden

Blood Pressure: 108/67

Pulse 93

Weight: 119 lbs

Boyfriend

Blood Pressure 119/64

Pulse 67

Weight 193

Our Goal

We are both in pretty good shape health wise. The main thing we want to do is stay in good health and maybe shed a few pounds. Since we are both predisposed to heart disease through genetics (though his family is much worse) we want to make sure we don’t follow the same path that our forebears have followed.

The Struggles

One of the biggest struggles so far is simply eating enough and staying full. Our bodies are used to high density, high calorie meals and so far the meals we’ve been eating just haven’t been filling us up. I’ll feel full, but then be starving just a few hours later.

We had a yummy vegetable lasagna and salad for dinner last night. That was the first really filling meal I have had. Beans have been pretty filling too. So, I’ll be experimenting!

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Beauty in Jupiter (FL)

Last week I visited the beautiful city of Jupiter, FL. It is a little beach town of Florida’s Eastern coast.

Enjoy the pics!

CAM00624CAM00625

 

Tagged , , , ,

Goodebox

I have been getting Birchbox for some time now and I LOVE it. The only thing is that I prefer natural products. If you are like me then you may want to check out this alternative. Go to http://goodebox.com/join-goodebox/. You can read all about it and sign up.

It is $16 per month, which is a bit more than Birchbox, but good natural products are always more expensive. One thing I really like is that they also have a bi-monthly option.

I haven’t tried this box yet, but I would love to hear from those that have. I heard about it and thought that I should share.

Tagged , , , ,

Birchbox

For those of you who haven’t heard of it already Birchbox is great!

Basically, for $10 per month Birchbox sends you a box each month full of sample-sized high end beauty products. I’m always excited when I get mine!

It’s great fun to try the various products out, and I have discovered some products that I really love. They will also send you an additional surprise type product. One time I got chocolate macaroons (which I didn’t care for), another time a cute nail file, and some great hair clips most recently.

The only con is that it is not as customizable as I’d like. When you sign up they do ask you what you like, what type of products you prefer, etc. But, you cannot opt out of a particular type of product. For example, I don’t like perfume and I never wear it. Also, they will send shades of lip gloss that I would never wear. When I get those, I just set them aside unopened. I pass these products on as gifts to friends who do like those colors, scents, etc.  One thing that is nice though about this system is that at times it pushes me beyond my comfort zone and I try things that I never would have pulled off the shelf. Sometimes this leads to a new love for a specific type of product.

If you want to try it you can check it out here: http://www.birchbox.com/.

Tagged ,

Greatest Idea Ever – Crockpot Freezer Meals!

My boyfriend used to constantly bring up the idea of batch cooking. His idea, we hire a chef for the day and this chef will cook up huge batches of different foods. We will freeze most and keep some in the fridge, then throughout the month, we can pull food out of the freezer as we need it.

While I loved the idea of hiring a chef (or even someone who can cook well for the day), I wasn’t so crazy about having everything pre-made and just grabbing it from the freezer.

I am the kind of person who REALLY appreciates a hot fresh meal (and I don’t mean one that just came from the microwave). Then I came up with a brilliant idea. Crockpot freezer meals…I’ll explain more below.

I was already in love with the crockpot by this time. Crockpots are amazing because you throw the food in and walk away. Hours later your food is ready. You get a delicious hot meal, with a minimum of effort.

So what was my great idea?

Crockpot Freezer Meals: You prepare all the ingredients for various recipes and then put them in a large ziploc bag in the freezer. Then the day you want to use that recipe, you simply pull out the bag and dump the contents in the crockpot. Let it cook and viola, you have a fabulous hot meal and leftovers.

Well, I searched online, and it turns out I wasn’t the first one to have this idea. In fact, I found two other women blogging about of it (and many, many more as I continued looking). One of them even made their own cookbook based on the idea. I promptly bought that and used it for my first experiment. http://www.mamaandbabylove.com/2011/04/05/freezer-cooking-with-slow-cooker-recipes/ Note: If you buy her cookbook make sure you read the intro, she explains how things are organized (example, most recipes make 2 batches, not 1).

I froze three recipes from the book (2 batches of each). I have tried two of the recipes and they were both good.

Image

 

Here are some other websites I found that use this same idea. (Note: I have never used these websites):

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/02/10-slow-cooker-freezer-meals-in-less.html

http://thekrazycouponlady.com/family/crock-pot-freezer-meals-im-sharing-my-recipes/

http://www.slenderkitchen.com/crockpot-freezer-meal-for-summer/#

http://ashleynoelbarnes.blogspot.com/2013/05/10-freezer-to-crockpot-meals.html

http://www.repeatcrafterme.com/2013/03/crock-pot-freezer-meals-for-summer.html

http://www.stacymakescents.com/crock-pot-freezer-cooking-tutorial-6-meals-1-hour

I am excited about this new way of cooking and managing meals. I will detail the actual process I followed in later posts.

Happy Cooking!

Aiden

Tagged , , ,

Money – Retiring Young

My boyfriend loves making money, saving money, running businesses, etc. I, on the other hand, work at the job I love – because I love it. I pay my own way, but I am certainly not “killing it.”

Recently, my boyfriend came across a blog www.mrmoneymustache.com. He started reading me blog posts. I would often find myself laughing through these short articles and inevitably taking something positive away from what Mr. Money Mustache said.

I have found myself addicted to Mr. Money Mustache or MMM. Part of my morning routing includes whipping out my phone, Nook or computer and reading a post or two (or three or four).  He has changed the way I look at certain things money-wise. Though I am not living the lifestyle Mr. Money Mustache teaches, I do find his words inspiring and I take much from what he says.

Here is the standard starter post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/.

WARNING: If you find profanity of any type offensive, Mr Money Mustahce is not for you, he is down to earth, funny and includes a heaping dose of swear words as he deems appropriate.

Here are some of my favorite articles:

ABSOLUTE FAVORITE! http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/04/get-rich-with-the-chaching-instinct/

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/15/mustache-on-the-move-the-evil-mister-money/

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

Tagged , , ,

History’s Mysteries: Secret Societies

History's Mysteries

History’s Mysteries: Secret Societies is a documentary done by the History Channel.

I have heard of various secret societies throughout my life and have found it vaguely interesting. I think the books and movies for the DaVinci Code have brought more attention to the existence of secret societies. When I saw this documentary, I decided to watch it out of curiosity.

I wasn’t very impressed by this documentary. Usually, I think that the History Channel does a great job. However, I didn’t feel like this documentary uncovered any mysteries – except now I know that the Bilderberg & Skull & Bones group exists. When the documentary ended, I thought “Really? That’s all.”

One thing that was interesting was the fact that secret societies have been in existence for a very very long time. Also, the documentary showed just how many influential people in the world and in the US are part of these societies – which is a sort of interesting and, in my opinion, scary fact. If you have never heard of any secret societies this would be a good documentary to watch as an introduction.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Craigslist Joe – Documentary

CraigslistJoe

Craigslist Joe is a documentary about one man’s quest to see if technology can be used to bring a sense of community. Basically, he sheds all money, connections, etc. He gets a new phone number and e-mail address. The rules, he has to survive over the next 31 days off of contacts and kindness from people on Craigslist. “Joe” challenges the idea that all strangers are dangerous and proves that there are people out there with kindness and caring in their hearts and who can in fact be trusted.

While the premise of the documentary is interesting, it sort of drags on and on. I would have loved to watch a 10 to 20 minute video. However, I am glad I watched it because it is an out of the box, daring concept.

What truly impressed me about Joe was his ability to admire others, not matter how strange or unusual their practices, attitudes or ideas were. He never belittles or made less of anyone and he always went out of his way to help others. He seems like a good person.

Tagged , , , ,

Fresh – The Documentary

fresh_the_movie_640_s640x427

I have watched various different documentaries about the problems of industrialized farming and the problem has become more and more real to me. After watching Hungry for Change (I blogged about that one too.) I started adding more vegetables in my diet.

Fresh, approached the problem of the food in America from a different angle. Fresh shows the successful actions of the sustainable and organic farmers. It shows what they do and how it maximizes the use of their land. Something that was very interesting to me, was the fact that growing different types of crops and raising different types of animals greatly reduces disease etc. The intelligence and creativity of the farmers, or at least those who originally designed the system floored me.

This film was more inspiring than upsetting. Food, INC for example is more scary and upsetting than uplifting. Food, INC gives you the hard truth, Fresh shows that too. Mainly, though, it shows SOMETHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT and that there are people who are doing something about it! That, I LOVE!!

I found this documentary inspiring, so instead of grabbing the ice cream on the way home (even though I was really hungry and wanted it) I came home and ate part of a grapefruit and put some sweet potatoes in the oven….a much more nourishing way of going about it FOR SURE!!

My boyfriend and I are building a house. When we move in, I am DEFINITELY putting in a garden!

Tagged , , , , ,

Hungry for Change

hungry-for-change

I started watching this documentary on my phone while making brownies – a little bit of irony for you there…

This is a documentary about food and its effect on a human body. It is an interesting documentary that addresses a daunting problem in today’s urban societies – the use of sugar and chemicals in foods and the resulting disease and lack of health. This film didn’t advertise one specific diet plan or ideology. Rather, it touches upon several different ways of approaching the same problem.

I think that the American society at large has not examined the obesity epidemic and faced its true root. The majority of overweight Americans do a couple of different things (this is based on my personal observations and not any sort of scientific study) 1. They do nothing. 2. They continue to eat the same foods and simply take pills to curb the symptoms. These two methods of handling the problem aren’t workable. This film presents a workable way of handling the weight. The great thing about it is, is that the people are giving the information are people who have lived through it themselves and have gotten results.

Rather than making people feel guilty about what they are eating, this film is inspirational. It presents a mindset that isn’t about dieting and isn’t about depriving yourself or forcing yourself not to eat certain things. Rather, it is about adding things to your normal eating habits that promote health, it’s about loving yourself.

I think this film is worth the time it took to watch and I have personally resolved to eat healthier this coming year.

Tagged , , , , ,

Brave – The Movie

My family sat down and watched Brave after a busy Thanksgiving day.

It was a funny, entertaining movie about a young princess who wants to break tradition and choose who she wants to marry. In desperation, she turns to a witch who casts a spell on her mother. Of course, the spell causes an unanticipated consequence, and the girl fights to get the spell reversed. In the journey, mother and daughter renew their bond.

The main thing I appreciated about this movie was the comedy. There were many times when I found myself laughing very hard.

I’d say the movie was a crowd pleaser – a good choice for the whole family. It’s kid appropriate and the adults will enjoy it too!

Tagged , , , ,

Arranged – Friendship has no religion

As you may have figured out, I like cultural movies.

This is a movie about a young Orthodox Jewish girl, and a Muslim girl.  They are both teachers at the same school in New York. They strike up an unlikely friendship.

While this movie, is not always perfectly accurate as far as religious customs, etc. (For example, the Jewish girl’s father does not wear a beard – something that all truly religious men would wear.) However, these small faults aside,  the movie does give a good deal of insight into these two religions. Including parallels in both religions, most notable is the similarity in the dating/marriage process – a major focus of the movie.

While the acting in this movie was quite good, the plot was not always the most exciting. Overall, I think it was a good movie.

To get more information about the truth of these  religions you can check out these websites:

www.jewinthecity.com

www.jewcy.com

www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs.htm

www.islamreligion.com

Tagged , , , , , ,