The Happy Little Chickens… (that made happy little tummies)

Over the past few months I have been getting some free range/GMO free chickens from a local farm, I really can’t say enough wonderful things about it- I’m helping support a family that is doing something they love, the chicken tastes SO much better than what you get at the grocery (even if it is ‘free range/organic’),  I know that it is healthier for my family, the list goes on and on…

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is to get several meals out of one chicken in less than an hour (not including cooking time) ?!

FIRST OFF:

Slice up an onion (I used a sweet onion) and lay it on the bottom of your crockpot- Don’t bother adding any water or anything…

I used the seasonings I had in my cabinets and kind of threw them all together in a small container- this is what I used (kind of from most to least… maybe… just get it all in there it will be fine…promise!)
Paprika
Garlic powder
Oregano
Tony’s
Thyme
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper/Salt
Mix it all up and spread it on the skin- if you’re up to it get it up under the skin too, and for good measure, stuff some butter in there too…

Into the crock pot it goes… I don’t know if this is standard procedure or not, I always turn it on HIGH for the first hour, then turn it to LOW for the rest of the time. I determine done-ness  by the whole house smelling delicious, the chicken falling apart when you touch it with a fork, and if you still aren’t satisfied  a meat thermometer (this particular chicken was in for about 8 hours on low- you can’t see it but we lost a wing on the trip to the plate…).

NEXT STEP:

Once you have de-potted the chicken (is that a term?) let it cool down enough to handle, or just be tough and use forks to do it. Don’t throw out the juiciness left in the pot, you’ll need that to make chicken broth- that’s right,  I said you’ll make chicken broth… Play it cool, it really isn’t as bad as you may think.  SO. Onward. Pick all that yummy meat off the chicken and put it on a plate or in a container, it’s up to you, just get it off the bird and somewhere else (away from dogs, that’s probably a pretty smart thing to do with juicy freshly cooked chicken…).
Once you have just the carcass and the skin remaining put it back in the pot (I would think you could use cheesecloth or something to keep the bones tidy and easy to remove, but haven’t tried it yet). Chop up whatever stewing veggies you may have- I added garlic, carrots, celery, and a red onion.  Once you get all your veggies in, start adding water (filtered water would be ideal- for flavor and health aspects… but that’s a whole other story!)
I added enough water so there was only a small portion of the carcass showing, it kind of looked like the headless chicken was soaking in a tub.
Leave your crock pot on LOW for another 6-8 hours, then pour everything through a strainer and into a container for storage.
I personally didn’t save the veggies, they were overly mushy cooked, now that I’m thinking about it they probably would have been perfect not-so-baby food… Crap… Next time.

NEXT NEXT STEP:
Make you meals of choice! I made some green beans that we ate with the chicken right away (we’ve been avoiding potatoes or they would have been included!).

Later that night, I threw a can of rinsed black beans into a skillet with a little olive oil, more of the seasoning mix that was rubbed on the chicken(but added some chili powder and cumin), shredded up a big handful of chicken, mixed it in with the beans and add a little of  the broth to keep everything from sticking- and to give it that nice sauciness. Serve it with rice and cheese, you can add some corn if you like (I like), make burritos, put it on a salad, eat it with chips, the possibilities are endless- and it’s hard to mess it up (I follow a similar method to make red beans and rice, I think I use different seasonings every time, but it’s always good!)

This is such an easy, go to left over and has so much flavor thanks to that happy little chicken and it’s broth.

And I still have plenty of chicken left to make a few more meals out of, and I have broth that’s going to last a while- Despite the fact that Ethan climbed into the refrigerator and dumped half a container on himself… He and the dogs were elated when they realized it was food and not just something cold and goopy!

Want to know a little more about where I got my chickens at? Full of Graze is the name of the farm located in Xenia, Ohio. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check them out! They offer chicken, eggs, pork, and turkeys.  See their blog to learn more about them!

Out of the area and interested in finding a local farm to buy from? Check out Local Harvest, you can search for local farms, restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers markets that sell local produce and meats. You’d be surprised how many there are!

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Bureau of Motor Vehicles… Good Times!

Well, I had to get my new driver’s license before it expires on Sunday (my luck would be that I would end up having to retake the written & driving test ! -how horrible would that be?!)

Anyway- I always have a pleasant experience at the local BMV, always the same women working (at either of the two locations we go to) and they are always SO nice and helpful, I’ve never waited more than 20 minutes for anything, never dealt with staff getting irritable at people- It’s amazing compared to the images you always get of the BMV!

20 minutes and I had a new license (with new picture-not so exciting!), tags for both of my cars, vision test done, and a document notarized. I’d call that a WIN!  I think a lot of it how you see things, because I hardly ever have bad experiences lol

**absurd driving laws in Ohio**

-The Ohio driver’s education manual states that you must honk the horn whenever you pass another car. That could get old REALLY  fast! Sadly, I remember this from when I was in drivers ed and have done it before on a country road…

– [Fairview Park] It’s against the law to honk your horn “excessively”. Better watch how much passing you’re doing when you’re there!

– [Oxford] Horn honking is not permitted as it might scare horses.  Forget passing altogether better just drive in reverse- it isn’t passing then is it?

– [City of Canton] Power Wheels cars may not be driven down the street. umm, common sense?

SEE… I said I would keep up on posting! Even though I didn’t have time to really write about anything that interesting or worthwhile, I feel a lot better knowing that I got something on here 🙂 there may be more completely random posts in between the more put together ones.

By the way… I signed up to be a Foodie Penpal, and I’m really excited about it! Such a cool idea! Check it out here- http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/  While you’re there take some reading time too, there are some great posts!


					

Why of course I would like to save some money!

Well, before today I had never seriously considered buying organic baby formula. I honestly have no clue why, it just never crossed my mind!
My son has had Similac Advance since he has been on formula (from the time he was about 1 1/2 months old), we tried Gerber at one point and it didn’t seem to agree with his little tummy, so we went back to Similac Advance.

This morning I made our last bottle of what formula we had in the house and went on an adventure to the store. As I went to the baby aisle I found that Similac Organic was 1/2 price (?!), shocked, I asked one of the ladies working why it was discounted so heavily, turns out people around here don’t buy so much organic formula and they needed to get it off their shelves (!!??!!). Yay for me!

I did a quick google search on my phone to make sure there wasn’t anything crazy going on because I remembered hearing about arsenic in organic formulas recently (this was from brown rice syrup concentrate being used as a sweetener). Turns out, Similac Organic is made with evaporated cane juice, which has also caused some upset. I found several articles and community boards where people were expressing a concern that the use of cane sugar would lead to childhood obesity. It got me wondering,

1- how many of the current obese children were given formula sweetened with cane juice?

2- If this is a more naturally occurring sweetener than the other sweeteners used (usually lactose, corn syrup, rice starch,etc- depending on the brand) why is eating naturally sweet fruits not a concern for increasing risk of obesity?

3- Supposedly, over consumption of cane sugar can lead to type II diabetes and obesity… Crazy right? Not really, over consumption of any sugar can cause type II diabetes and obesity (COME ON PEOPLE!). In our society today we consume a ridiculous amount of sugar (confirmed by the USDA as seen in the table below). So if we are consuming roughly 40% more sugar now compared to 50 years ago, why are people singling out cane sugar in baby formula as causing a problem? Couldn’t it be our eating habits as a whole society and what we are teaching our children that is really the problem?

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I also saw some comments regarding the fact that infants and toddlers who are given formula sweetened with cane sugar, may start refusing to eat solids and refuse regular formulas. Don’t most kids love sweet stuff? I know my 7 year old would eat candy till his head exploded if I let him! Don’t we have the responsibility as parents to teach our kids to eat healthy and balanced diets? We can’t expect some research facility to decide what is best for our families, we need to take some time ourselves to learn about solutions to our problems, and make an educated decision based on that.

I wanted to add a little more about the differences between organic baby formula and non-organic.
Organic formula’s are made with organic ingredients (I know, a little obvious!), if it is labeled as USDA Certified Organic there are (supposedly) no pesticides, unnatural fertilizers, or GMO’s allowed into any part of the product.
Image Non-organic formula’s are allowed to have ingredients that have been treated with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and bio-engineered ingredients. Considering the possible health problems that have been associated with pesticides, synthetic pesticides, and GMO’s- I’m thinking it may be a good idea to just sacrifice the extra couple of dollars from now on to buy organic formula, why risk it with my little man right?

Here is a comparison of Similac Advance Organic to Similac Advance… Just in case anyone is interested 🙂 There is really no nutritional difference as far as what nutrients your baby will be getting from it!

Juicy Realization

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Thursday night we started a juice fast. After watching ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’ we thought we would give it a try and see what benefits came from it for us. Luckily my mom had a great juicer in storage since she has her VitaMix now. We loaded up on fruits and veggies at the store, cleaned them all, and started making juicy concoctions. Most of them were actually pretty good! Friday we had a version of V8 with lots of tomato juice in it, I have always had a skin reaction to raw tomatoes (an itchy rash wherever they touched me), but I have never had any problem eating them as long as they didn’t touch my lips, and it was in small quantity. Well seeing as I was working a night shift on Friday I took a nap after drinking lunch, I guess I have a little more of a problem with raw tomatoes than I thought because I woke up feeling like my chest, shoulders, and face were badly sunburned (definitely not the case considering it is winter here in Ohio). I was red, hot, and itchy- not how I wanted to start my evening! After a couple of hours, some orange/mango/grapefruit juice, and lots of water it finally went away. Hurdle number one of juicing tackled. What did I learn? No more raw tomatoes for this momma.
I went into work feeling pretty good and drinking some more mixed fruit juice, minus my grogginess from a lack of coffee in my system, this was remedied quickly by the Rejuveniix (all natural energy supplement) that I have mentioned in a previous post. When it comes time for ‘dinner’ I got out my kale/carrot/spinach juice and diluted it, pretty tasty if you pretend you are eating a salad and not drinking it! Around 2:00 am I started getting a headache and body aches, my stomach started growling, so I got another large glass of my green juice, it helped a little. Out of no where everything went bad, my head was pounding, my body hurt like I had been going non-stop for days, I felt horrible. I know that this is all part of detoxing, I know that it would have gotten better, but I broke. I had to eat something so I grabbed my bag of frozen green beans that I left in the freezer weeks before and let my pain get the best of me, of course after eating I felt sick to my stomach so I ate two soda crackers to try and settle it a little, then lots and lots of water again. Around 5:00 am I was starting to feel a little better, but all the toxins in my body were still causing me pain.
I made it until 9:00 am on Saturday when I got home before I officially decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore (Eric had already decided this for himself while I was at work). At least not just juice for a while.
I definitely notice a difference, even from the short time I was doing it. I don’t feel as bloated, I’m craving more water instead of randomly eating, and my skin isn’t nearly as dry as it was before.
I think a juice fast is a great idea still, but I need to get used to it a little first.
So what did I take from my day and a half of juicing? Don’t jump straight into it, and make sure you have some down time for those first couple of days while you’re getting used to it.
I do plan to eventually do a 7-10 day juice fast, but not right now.
I am going to try a new product next month for detoxing and weight loss, it’s all natural of course. I’ll share more when I have all the details!

Have you tried a juice fast or detox before? What was your experience? What would you recommend? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

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Working On Working Out…

Anyone who knows me will understand this- I love to get exercise and have adventures, but the act of getting to that point, that is a whole other story!
You know how it is-  getting over the fact that it’s too hot or cold outside, deciding that being active is better than relaxing on the big comfy couch, finding the other shoe that the dogs deliberately hid from me… Before I got pregnant last year I was well on my way to being at the fitness level I had my eye on, then I got to the point where I couldn’t even eat crackers or drink water without getting ‘morning’ sickness all the time and I stopped working out like I had been. Now that I’ve been not pregnant for 4 months I’m ready to lose the rest of this baby weight and get back into some of those skinnier jeans in my closet!
Everyone keeps telling me to join a gym, or take some classes… Well, I don’t want to hear that anymore because I am not allowed to get any type of gym membership for a while. ‘But Caitlin, you’re an adult, you work, why are you not  allowed to join a gym?’ I’ll tell you why… Several years ago I managed to sign up for a 3 year gym membership for approximately $20 a month… I went 3 times… 2 of those times was to go tanning… Needless to say, Hubby isn’t so happy about that. I agree also, that until I am more committed to working out and can truly have the dedication to do it, I don’t need a gym membership- because I am the type of person to find excuses to not go ( right now for example, I would say, ‘but I have nothing to wear to the gym’ … Like it actually matters)
I am feeling healthier because of my eating, but I really feel that by not working out I am not maximizing my opportunity to feel amazing… This has to be remedied… I need a plan…
I just have to decide what to do.
I’ve always like the idea of running, but I can’t seem to get beyond 3/4 of a mile before I feel like my lungs are on fire and I’m going to die… Even when I have been in shape in the past I could never run, I could swim a 400 meter individual medley though, and muck 50 horse stalls in about 3-4 hours… I miss  swimming and riding horses – both are such a great total body workout – to bad one requires breathing in irritating chlorine during the winter, and the other is such a financial commitment.

I think I will start with my yoga DVDs, nice and low impact, and obviously carrying the 18 pound baby around will help with my strength training 🙂 I guess I’ll set a goal for myself, I am going to try to do yoga 3-4 times a week for the next 3 weeks… When the three weeks are up, I’ll let everyone know how I did, I better be in some of those skinnier jeans by then!

One Thing I Cannot Live Without…

This is my weakness… No matter how many things I decide to take out of our pantry, Velveeta & Shells is one thing that will always be there (maybe). I know that I am disturbed by the fact that I don’t know of any cheese that comes in foil package naturally- but OMG, it just tastes so wonderful! No off brand or alternative can even compare in my opinion… Although I have had some homemade versions that are great in their own way.
Before posting this I decided I’d do a little research on this dinner staple that I keep in my home. What I found isn’t exactly helping me to justify buying it anymore!
Did you know that processed cheese foods (yes, Velveeta included) contain refined/hydrogenated oils? Eh, if you’ve looked at any packaging before you’ve probably noticed most things seem to anyway. What I  Didn’t know before was that these oils are known to cause diabetes- and are also linked to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), cancers, and auto immune diseases (EEK!). Before 1914 most cooking oils still contained animal fats, before companies transitioned to using complete vegetable oils, this means that people were still receiving at least some of their essential fatty acids (EFA’s are something that we as humans must obtain through diet, our body does not naturally create them) through the oils foods were being cooked in. In the years since 1914 the removal of EFA’s has become standard in order to extend the shelf life of products (Lovely, how they think things through huh?). EFA deficiency is quite common in the United States today, mainly Omega 3- but also Omega 6, these deficiencies are linked to pretty much every serious health problem that we see in people we know & love everyday, and so many people have never even heard of it!  To read into it a little more, this is where I got a lot of it, double checked of course 🙂 – or there is always Google.  I feel a lot better now about my hubby and I taking an Omega supplement. Knowing that the one we take is from high quality sources, from a company that promises to keep everything 100% safe/non-toxic, and GMO free, makes me feel even better. I’m really hoping that between the change in diet, exercise, and supplementation that Hubby can get off his blood pressure medicine and live a little better than we used to!
Maybe we will be finding an alternative to my favorite orangey-yellow box after all.

Practice Makes Perfect

It seems for the past 24 hours I’ve been feeling defeated for some reason. I keep telling myself nothing will ever change if I don’t actively do something about it. So I’m going to share a couple if stories that gave me a little hope 🙂

First off is anyone really a born natural at anything?? I mean, it may seem like it, but look closer. My son is great with problem solving and excels at reading… He hasn’t always been like that though, he had to learn how to work through problems effectively. He had to learn to recognize and sound out difficult words, he couldn’t just do it. Some of the other kids he plays sports with seem to do them so naturally, but then you find out they have been playing for years… My point is, none of these skills are just born into us.

prac·tice
– noun
1. habitual or customary way of doing something
2. the action of doing something
3. repeated performance to acquire skill
-verb (used without object)-ticed-ticing
to do something repeatedly to acquire skill

At the hospital I work at respiratory therapists intubate (intubating is when we put a breathing tube into someone’s trachea to protect their airway or help them breathe when they can’t), intubation is something that doesn’t always get covered in depth for us RT’s in school, and it’s not something that every hospital expects us to do. Alright, on with the story- one of my dearest friends is going through her operating room rotation to get ‘checked off’ on intubating. She got really shook up one day about missing a couple of attempts to get the tube into a patient (don’t worry, there was an anesthesiologist there with her!), she kept saying how she should ‘be able to do it’ and ‘what if she just can’t do it’… Another RT had some very eye opening words for her, hopefully I can do it justice on here- “You know how the Super Bowl is this Sunday? Those are two of the best teams in the country (supposedly). Do you know what they are doing this week before the game? They’re practicing… They are supposed to be the best of the best, yet they are still practicing… What happens with baseball? They have their multiple games a week, but they are always practicing.”

So I guess what I have gotten from these thoughts and stories is that anyone who is a true professional at something will always be practicing, no matter how great they are at what they do.

But it was Friday!!!

So the first night at work since the healthy change was good!
The Respiratory Department at our hospital is always full of goodies – breakfast cakes, cookies, random homemade treats that someone brings in to share… I not only ignored the store bought cookies with the mile long list of ingredients, but I stayed away from the vending machine when I so desperately wanted a Reese’s cup. I’m glad I did though because after some leftovers, fruit with cheese, and a glass of lemon mint tea I felt completely refreshed!
I am in desperate need of some healthy sweet recipes to keep around the house, I can’t satisfy my sweet tooth with just fruit, although it does help.
Even more amazing than my extraordinary will power was that I didn’t really get my sluggish 3:00 AM crash like I normally do (part of this I’m contributing to the Rejuveniix that I’m taking, it’s a natural energy supplement, but my energy was even more noticeable). If I ever needed proof that what you eat really makes a difference, that was it for me.

After my 12 hour shift and my hour drive home, I got some much needed sleep, thanks to my awesome hubby taking care of the baby.
I got to wake up to a business call with a prospective partner which only added to my already good mood!
After my oldest son got home from school we went and visited Great Grandma, who just got home from getting a blood transfusion, and she is doing well. It was nice to see her and some of my other family that I don’t see often.

Then, on the drive home, there was a moment of weakness… Being tired and hungry we decided to stop and get food on our way home -pause for suspense- we got Taco Bell (with beans instead of meat). So I guess it wasn’t a complete loss in our week of healthy eating, but I am still a little upset that I didn’t just make something at home. I had a feeling that dinner the day after night shift would be our downfall. I have decided that I am going to make a extra meals to keep in our freezer for these situations. I’m not going to let tired get in the way of healthy anymore.

A Serious Decision

Several weeks ago my husband and I decided that we were going to cancel our satellite tv service, mostly so we could save a little extra money each month. A secondary reason was so that we could spend more time together as a family with our two boys, who just seem to be growing up so fast!

After some thinking, I decided that there was no better time to make some other changes to our lifestyle since we would no longer be slugs in front of the tv!

A big motivation for me in getting healthy is my husband’s family history. He lost his dad to heart disease when he was a teenager. He wasn’t at my husbands high school graduation, I never got to meet him, he wasn’t at our wedding, and he will never know his grandchildren. I don’t want this to be repeated, and the way we were living was just setting the stage for things to get bad…

So Monday this week marked the start of our one week without meat (except a couple servings of fish). Our grocery trip was an eye opening one, with a lot of label reading, and I cannot believe how hard it is to find food without all types of chemicals added in. This for color, that for sweetening, this for that… And a ton of other things I couldn’t pronounce, for who knows what.

I’m glad to say that we have all enjoyed our healthy meals and snacks so far. Even my picky 7 year old ate sweet potato, mushroom, onion, and quinoa with his only complaint being it was a little spicy (guess I was a little heavy handed with the cayenne pepper!). I am shocked at how easy it has been to eat healthy meals like this and feel completely satisfied!

We will be adding meat back into our diet next week, but in moderation. I am also going to be on the hunt to find a place to buy local grass fed beef and free range chicken. I’ll make sure to post about that too 🙂

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