Thanksgiving is Almost Here!… It’s My FAVORITE Holiday and I’m Gonna Fight For It! :)

img_20151129_144806-1Most do not pick Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday. In fact, nowadays Thanksgiving is almost forgotten. Forgotten among the explosion of Christmas décor, marketing and sales blanketed all over every retail outlet and television on the planet IMMEDIATELY after Halloween….and some don’t even wait that long.

Every year without fail it saddens me. Every year our beautiful Holiday of Thanksgiving gets pushed further and further into oblivion. I feel as if it is treated as a hindrance to the Christmas season. Like people would rather it just disappear so they no longer have to bother with it when they want to shop and decorate. It just gets in the way. In fact.. Black Friday… really?? People now plan their Thanksgiving dinner AROUND Black Friday. Ooooo but wait! Black Friday has now bled into THURSDAY… now we go “Black Friday” shopping on Thursday.. on THANKSGIVING! Now it doesn’t even have it’s OWN day. Before we know it, Black Friday will turn into a week long event and instead of turkey and dressing on a beautiful plate we will be eating turkey subs at Subway on a pit stop between the sale at Walmart and the sale at Electronic Express.  img_20151126_185416*That’s what I’m talkin about!! Pumpkin pie baby!!!

Thanksgiving is such a beautiful thing and I am here to remind you all of this. It is the most simplest of Holidays. You sit, watch football, eat, sleep, eat, watch more football, eat, and talk about what you are thankful for. Yes, for the Thanksgiving cook, it’s not all THAT easy and relaxing… but most of us who host Thanksgiving dinner do it because we love it. We do it because we get pure joy out of this Holiday and get much satisfaction out of seeing others enjoy the fruits of our labor. I personally want to cry every year when the people I love are sitting around my beautiful table, eating my food and laughing and just enjoying the moment. There’s no pressure.. no buying or wrapping gifts..no costumes.. no singing carols out of tune.. no hoping you bought the right size or if you will please the receiver of your gift…usually no big snow storms.. just amazing food, love, thankfulness, togetherness, simplicity, and in my house laughter, brutal roasting and good stories. Oooo yeah, and lots of Chex Mix!!! img_20151127_085109-1*Mouth watering stuffing…making you a believer yet??

And Fall décor… are you kidding! It’s the BEST! The smells are intoxicating! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, the smell of pine and Christmas décor but there is just something about leaves starting to fall and cinnamon and pumpkin spice and that first Fall cool air…the smell of burning leaves and pumpkin patches. This year we ran across a huge pumpkin patch in Ohio that was ALL white pumpkins.. it was breathtaking. Then there is Fall clothes of course! When we get to layer our clothes, wear scarves and boots, and our makeup actually STAYS on. You only get these special things in Fall 🙂img_20161007_123325307_hdrimg_20161108_111845*If you burn these two scents together your house will smell like a pumpkin spice latte!

And as I regularly express my frustration over the unfair treatment of Thanksgiving I also have a huge problem with what has happened to the meaning of Christmas. It has become so commercial and so much about sales, gifts and shopping that we have lost the real love that is supposed to be in there. We forget who’s birthday it is and WHY it’s called Christmas. fb_img_1459092382034

So my little protest, and I don’t know if anyone cares lol, is that I REFUSE to put up ONE Christmas decoration, buy ONE Christmas gift, or shop ONE sale until AFTER Black Friday. I would rather give birth again than to go shopping Thanksgiving weekend. Why oh why do you all go thru that torture just to save a few bucks? Guess what? The sales will continue ALL the way until Christmas Eve. And better yet… you can sit at home and shop in your jammies and eat leftover Thanksgiving food while you do it!img_20151127_091949-1*Best pic of mashed potatoes EVER! Bet you can taste them! (These are MY Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and MY photography…thank you very much! LOL)

So as you begin to plan your Holiday festivities for 2016 please try to remember poor little Thanksgiving and give it it’s well deserved due. It is important TOO, and I think if you make it important again you will begin to remember just how special of a Holiday it has ALWAYS been and will continue to be. 🙂 img_20151201_093217-1*My Thanksgiving leftover casserole… always a hit!!!

 

 

“Sodium Epidemic”… How did we get here???

img_20161028_135833515_hdrFirst I want to say I am not a Dietician or a Nutritionist. I am just a normal gal with an opinion formed by life experience. A life experience I would rather not claim but one that opened my eyes to many things I never thought of or took seriously.

Before my husband had his 2 heart attacks and discovered he was diabetic I thought I was pretty health conscious and was the typical wife yelling at the Husband to take better care of himself. I always tried to stay educated on the latest health information, I exercised regularly, and I always tried to eat well…or so I thought.

Then after his health crisis we had to lead a completely whole new way of life. I was totally fine with it because I believe in good health and good eating. But, what I learned along the way was shocking and I have wanted to tell everyone I see since.

My Husband is now on a very restricted diet that is cardiac and diabetic friendly. Takes some real thought to carry it out everyday. They told us he had to stay under 2000 mg of sodium a day. I’m like, “Ok..no biggie.. we will just put the salt shaker away.” Ha ha ha…little did I know.

We had to start researching everything we ate. I had to have nutritional info on EVERYTHING. So as I was reading about packaged foods and foods we eat in restaurants I was FLOORED!!!! The amounts of sodium in what we eat everyday should be illegal.  How we got to this point in the food industry I will never understand. My opinion is that it’s cheap and tastes good. And for that reason, as a society, we are so addicted to salt and sugar and it’s now normal, and all we know and what we crave.

I strongly invite you to Google your favorite restaurants nutritional info. There were a few of our favorite appetizers that had 2500-4000 mg of sodium EACH!!! Pair that with your entrée and dessert and your sodium is at a level in the stratosphere!! And that’s for ONE meal! Remember.. my husband is to only have around 2000 mg a DAY. Do the math.

So most of us have been taught our whole lives to watch the calories..watch the fat.. watch the carbs..but little is spoken about sodium unless you have high blood pressure or heart disease.

My belief is that we are now in this high sodium society because of fast paced lives, convenience and cost . When you go to a high end restaurant where the Chef prepares foods from scratch with fresh ingredients, the sodium counts are significantly lower. So you ask.. but I see them add salt??? Yes they do.. BUT..it’s DURING the cooking PROCESS as a binder to the other spices and ingredients. It adds a balance of flavor. You don’t JUST taste salt. Most restaurants now try to provide less expensive dishes at a fever pace. They want those tables rotating and most of us don’t have time to linger anyway. So how they accomplish this is by preparing meals with pre-prepared ingredients already loaded with sodium for flavor and as a preservative. This is how we are ending up with such high sodium contents in our restaurant food.

Back when I was growing up or even when our parents were children we didn’t eat out like we do now. We prepared most meals at home and usually packed our lunches. Our food supply was also not loaded with as many preservatives, additives or chemicals. We had more backyard gardens and we ate smaller portions. Without cell phones and technology we were generally more active and kids STAYED outside. Things sure are different these days. We have to fight our kids to get off those phones and to get moving. With our crazy busy lifestyles we just don’t take the time to meal plan, cook, or garden. Kids have so much homework they don’t have time to get outside. I was just as guilty for many years of the convenience foods. Instant this, quick that, and really didn’t read those labels. I would say over the last 10 years though I have really tried to educate myself. And, as I have gained knowledge I have become very conscious of what we eat and what is in it. I started to wonder why every time we ate out I would come home feeling bloated, tired and just terrible…even when I thought I was making healthy choices off the menu. Now I come to find out it was mainly the high levels of sodium. The other hidden no-no’s didn’t help either… fat being one of them.

I will happily say that since we have cut all the extra sodium out of our diet, ( you need some everyday) I feel completely different. I have noticed such a change in myself. I don’t retain water, I rarely feel bloated, and I just FEEL better. And I know how healthy it is on my heart and my blood pressure. And it honestly is a pretty easy change you can make. Just takes some knowledge and some practice and smart shopping. Nutritional labels are your friends!!!

Here’s one of the best examples I discovered…

One of my favorite canned tomato brands I used for years in all my sauces and recipes turned out to have more sodium than I would have ever dreamed! It’s tomatoes! How much sodium could they possibly have? I don’t think I ever looked at the label. Tomatoes naturally have sodium but not very much. They are a super healthy food… until they put them in a can with a bucket of salt! Here is what I discovered about my favorite canned tomato sauce when I started REALLY reading labels….img_20161019_072844733

The first label is the regular canned sauce.. the second is the NO SALT ADDED. Which is what you want to look for. Most “lower sodium or less salt” products are still pretty high in sodium. So please take the serving size of both cans and multiply it by how many mg of sodium PER SERVING… It’s SHOCKING the difference. You are talking 5330 mg of sodium a can as compared to 130 mg a can for the no salt added. That is just so crazy to me and sadly most people don’t realize it. I didn’t either until I was forced to figure it out. img_20161019_105329081

Thing is, it is so easy to add flavor and your own salt to the no salt added products. The healthiest thing to do is to start your cooking with no, to low sodium ingredients and add everything yourself so that you have total control of what is in your food.

And as I have walked along this road of nutritional discovery, I have come across many products from companies who are really trying to make the change. I see more and  more no salt added products and it is about time. I still use the same brand of canned tomatoes I always did, but I only use their no salt added products and I really think I like them better. I swear they have more flavor, because you just taste the wonderfulness of the tomato and not all the salt.

So, if you are health conscious or have a loved one who has health challenges, I hope you will take a look at a lower sodium lifestyle. Talk to your doctor to see what your recommended amount of sodium would be and start to really take a look at those labels. Your heart, mind, and body will thank you…and you will feel great!!img_20161028_135833515_hdr

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

 

 

 

Recommended Product of the Day… Pepper is your friend :)

img_20161013_080005122My new favorite saying… “Pepper is your friend!” In a day and age where hidden sodium is NOT your friend and contributing to a host of health problems, pepper is not only your best bud, but it has more health benefits than most people realize.

Black pepper can help prevent some cancers and is twice as potent paired with Turmeric…another one of my favorites. It stimulates digestion. can relieve colds and cough (paired with honey), increases metabolism and activates your brain. That’s just some of it’s benefits. Mmmmmmmm…. I don’t think salt can say that.

So, needless to say, pepper is everywhere in my kitchen and on everything we eat. We are now on very restricted diets and salt just isn’t an option. Even though we have always been big fans of pepper and it’s flavor, we now have an even bigger appreciation for it and all it’s benefits.

My absolute FAVORITE pepper is Olde Thompson Pepper Supreme blend. It is literally the best out there. And please, oh please, ALWAYS freshly grind your pepper. It tastes better and when the peppercorn is broken and ground and all those health benefits come out fresh, and are much more beneficial than the ground pepper sitting in a can for 6 months.

Pepper grinders are very affordable and just look pretty in your kitchen. The peppercorns last a good while as well. So.. what have you got to lose… pepper is your friend… have him over for dinner 🙂 img_20160907_184651My Tomato & Pepper Cashew Brown Rice

Recommended product of the day..

This is my favorite concoction!! If you have ever tried apple cider vinegar you know how awful it smells and tastes..but it has such wonderful health benefits. So thru my many trials I have discovered that if you mix it with some type of pineapple juice it COMPLETELY masks the flavor and smell! I happen to love this orange\pineapple\apple blend by Welch’s. Then I add organic honey to battle those allergies and I’m good to go for the day! This is just my opinion and it works for me. 🙂  IMG_20160803_112242514

Recommended Product of the Day

As you all know my family’s lifestyle has recently changed drastically and not by choice. I always strived to be as healthy as our crazy life would allow but now it is a necessity. My husband, who now has to follow a cardiac AND diabetic diet.. and also has to limit his intake of vitamin K due to blood thinners (that means no greens among other things 😦 ), is the reason. I am very thankful for my knowledge of food and food preparation because even for me this has been my biggest challenge.. ever. I will be highlighting certain products I believe are a must for those who live a diet restricted life and will hopefully save you lots of time of experimentation in the process.

Of course I can no longer use salt for cooking or seasoning. I have really been on a mission to create delicious food without it. I have succeeded with many of my old recipes and some newly created ones. All who have tasted my new creations are shocked by the flavor.. yes folks..life exists without salt!!! This line of organic herbs and spices are AMAZING and my kitchen will never be without them. They are sodium free ( except for the garlic salt)  and pack a punch of flavor and just plain goodness!! I recommend keeping the entire line in your pantry! #simplyorganic

I am also working on all my new recipes to post for y’all to try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised 🙂 LOL ignore the salt shaker in the background… its just for decoration and guests!! 🙂IMG_20160711_155131484_HDR

Recommended Product of the Day

I can’t say enough about these tomatoes. Even before my husband had to live on a restricted diet I used these all the time not realizing just how healthy they are. I used them because they were THE BEST and now I also use them because they are low in sodium and are JUST tomatoes. And do they ever pack flavor!! I can’t recommend them enough. In my opinion.. a staple for your pantry and a staple for a healthy diet and healthy recipes!

IMG_20160213_173939246