Healthy and Heated

Many people find that their eating habits falter in the winter months. Some of it is caused by eating too much of specialty foods around the holidays. The rest, at least for most people is the natural desire for more heart and warm fares.

There is a simple solution to both. Eat the holiday treats, which given the time of year it is, you already have, at least most of them. Just try to do so in moderation. As for the other, there is a great solution. Soup. Vegetable soup more specifically, but any soup can be better than some of the caseroles and thicker higher fat content dishes.

Soups help you to feel full and can be flavored with many different herbs and spices to satisfy your daily desire. They are also a great food that can be prepared while you are busy around the house doing other things in a crock pot. So how do you make is hearty yet healthy.

First, skip the noodles and add extra vegetables instead. Be careful when using broth bases as some of them can have 3 times the recommended daily amount of sodium. Cabbages can add an extra boost of flavor and nutrition to any soup recipe not to mention a flare of color depending on the variety chosen. Try different spices combinations. If you are unsure, remove a couple of tablespoons into a separate bowl and add a small amount of the new spice and taste before continuing. Make sure that you record your recipes for future use!

If you do wish to use pasta, try a Quinoa pasta, it is much more nutritious and healthy for you then general pasta, including even whole grain. It might however pinch your pocket a bit.

Happy Cooking!


I know this topic is sensitive for some, and in later posts, will probably down right offend/PO others. Honestly, I don’t care, period. What I do care about is my children’s health and sharing the tools, tips, and creative ways we have found that work in teaching our children healthy life habits.

For people who have not met my children and I say, we have big kids, they sometimes will respond with comments like, “oh they will grow out of that,” or “the baby fat will come off when they get a little older.”  At first, I was like, uh, what? I am not sure if this would have been a normal response 50+ years ago.  Let me explain, we have TALL children whom I refered to as big. I do take the blame because I was not specific, and big is a subjective term. Yet, I still can’t help but wonder if those people were subject to their insinuation based on the childhood obesity trend in our country. One reason I really feel that this may be true, is because again, same group of people who do not know our children, have never commented that, “well both you and your husband are tall.”  Yet, that’s the response we get from most people who actually see  our kids.  So after our well baby visit, and the little tyke registering in the 99 and 98% for height and weight, he is still an infant, it got me thinking about our ‘big’ kids, what they eat, and what others must eat to cause them to be in the obesity range.

As I have said in other blogs, we believe in moderation. I am not the cookie nazi, and allow baked goods, even chips on occasion, but only on occasion. Two store bought cookies for dessert after lunch, plus chips and processed chicken product for dinner equals a very unhealthy day, at least by our standards. Yet, I will hear parents comment, well a cookie won’t hurt. They are right, A cookie won’t hurt, when there are other healthy choices that accompany it. Maybe that’s why it is called a ‘balanced’ diet. Ha ha, sorry I couldn’t help myself.

Even those that claim that it is okay to allow children to eat the junk, to not worry about their habits until they are older, or claim that they ate and had the same limited amounts of activities and they are ‘healthy’, you are only fooling yourself. You know that the lifestyle you are choosing for your children is not healthy and is harming them. So let’s work on making changes. Learning what you are specifically doing to your child’s health, esteem, future, and lifespan is a great start. So over the next few weeks, I will be posting weekly a new topic on how to combat childhood obesity in your home.

For some general information to get you started I have posted the link to the CDC below.


The only way to stop an epidemic is to talk about it, bring bright light to it, and then chisel it away one chunk at a time.


One of the biggest activities that we do to get exercise in our house is dance! Sometimes it is dance that is incorporated into our learning activities for the day. Other times, I just call everyone into the same room, turn on some music, and we dance. Still other times, we have music playing, or a movie will play a song, and we will all get up and do a spontaneous short dance.

Here is an example of how we incorporate dance into our learning activities. We will watch a video of an ethnic dance a few times, then we all get up and while the cultural music plays, we each do our interpretation of the dance. At times this is part of a more integrated lesson, for example when we are learning about another ethnicity’s foods, or art, we will learn their dance at the same time. We may also learn about a few different styles of dance from the geologic area that we are learning about on a map. It helps to make the idea of the globe more real and less abstract.

Most times when I turn on music and call the boys into dance, it is because I realize we have been a bit short on movement for the day. Maybe it was an extra cold day, or someone has the sniffles and I did not want them outside in the iffy weather for any lengthy time. I use it as an exercise, a fun filled one if I do say so myself. I hope that the way I feel after we get done dancing is the same way that the boys do. I am happier, and of course healthier, and it is even easy to do while I am cooking our dinner.

Then of course when a good song comes on whilst we are doing other things, none of us can help but put down our activity, and get up and shake our thang! The kids shakes theirs a lot these days, so I think that the dance activities are paying off. Our middle one loves to dance and just think past two weeks, he danced his way through the streets of Disney World because in the happiest place on earth there is always music. He loved it, we loved it, and it is something I will never forget.

My hope is that they are not only learning about cultures through dance, but that excessive can be fun, and that self expression is a great thing.

I just love walking into a room and seeing all three of them standing in a group dancing and showing each other their moves. Puts a smile on my face just writing about it, so you can only imagine how happy it makes me to see them having so much clean, simple, free fun. 

We just got back from our extra long vacation this morning, and the house was pretty void of fresh foods. We did a quick PB&J for lunch, but needed something more substantial for dinner. What to make? Since I typically have all of our meals planned out a head of time, it has been a while since I have had to plan something in what I considered the last minute.

I looked through the empty fridge, maybe hoping that something was going to magically appear, but alas, nothing.  Checked the freezer and right away saw a package of ground venison, and next some frozen peas. I grabbed both and went to the pasta cupboard and chose some penne and we had a meal.

Cook your chosen pasta according to the package instructions. Then, I simply defrosted the venison which was about a one pound package, in the microwave and sautéed it with a little water and a natural beef bullion. Once it cooked down, I added some flour water to thicken the broth that resulted, plus I then added my dried rosemary, just a pinch, and also a pinch of white pepper. That simmered for about 2 min and then I added the peas, about three cups worth. I turned the heat down, covered it and let them cook until firm but tender. Dished it up and we all dug in, well first we all sat there staring at our plates waiting for it to cool off so we could dig in.

Venison has a wonderful flavor all of its own so not a lot of seasoning is needed. If I was to use beef instead in this recipe I would have at least added two cloves of fresh garlic and twice as much pepper, and left the rosemary out. Turkey, or other ground white meat, I would have made much the same as I did the venison, but may have added some fresh chives, if I had them to give it just a little more oomph.

Great filling, and reasonably healthy meal, that is warm and full-bodied, so it is the perfect cold weather option.

Would love to hear how your version of this recipe turns out, so comment away.


Eating Out

Last year we visited a restaurant in Downtown Lakeland, FL, by the name of Crispers, and it very quickly became a favorite haunt. Well, if a place of that type can be considered a haunt. We love the downtown area to begin with because of all of the great resale shops, and specialty businesses. I could spend a fortune and weeks just on one street!

The first time we frequented it was just the hubby, myself and our youngest little man. We LOVED not only the flavorful food, but the healthful choices as well as the price. I am willing to pay pretty handsomely for great food, but this was great food at a very reasonable and almost, “What my total is only that?” Price. I tried to keep my excitement to myself while standing in the order line.

One of the choices on their children’s menu is chicken strips, that come get this GRILLED, not breaded and fried. Yes I know maybe not from a free range chicken, to be honest I didn’t ask, however in comparison to 99.999% of all other restaurants, that is a major improvement. This chain is at least making an effort at supplying healthy food while still making money and not running the consumer broke in the process.

I am sure you will see a few more posts about this chain as our vacation ends and we get back into our more normal routine of things. After all we frequented there three times on that trip and have been there four times so far this vacation…hmm…that makes me wonder…what’s for dinner?

So after a bit of a break and a re-gathering of ideas and goals of what I want to get our of and share with the world, I have decided to renew my blog. Look for continuous posts again starting next week.

Now onto today’s post, which is actually a bit of a teaser. Looking back at last year and the good foods and not so good foods we have eaten I have begun to compile a list of never purchase/make again and to make/buy more often in place of.

To start out we were able to fill our freezers with a good amount of venison and fish this year, and that will help in an enormous way for cost savings! So whoo hoo for that.  So beef purchases will be few and far between but what to fill in the gaps with. We eat chicken, and are planning on replenishing our flock here in the next month and that will provide some protein in the form of eggs and 7 birds. We will also have been looking into raising rabbits for meat and furs. (I will be sure to keep you updated on that as well.) So I am going to be purchasing more ground turkey. There are endless possibilities with ground turkey.

Also I have made the decision that all of our plants this year that I am able to find an heirloom variety for, will be just that. I will be able to not only save my own seeds for the next years crops, but I will be able to share those seeds with others. Maybe even have enough to donate for a seed share, oh the possibilities. Besides seed saving, they produce a higher level of nutrient content that most hybrid versions, and contrary to popular belief, most grow more vital plants, when the correct variety for the climate is selected.

So stay tuned for all of the updates that are to come.  New recipes, plants, animals, health, everything that goes into Growing Strong Kids.

Everything in moderation and in balance.  Sunshine is good for you, but it can also burn.(Yes I know sunscreen, but that’s not the point). Sleep is rejuvenating, but too much sleep can throw off your internal schedule for sleep and wake, and other things, but that is a whole different blog topic. There are many things that we do in our daily routine that are good for us in moderation, but the excess of it can be poor for our health and sometimes pocket books.

This same principle applies to what we eat and how we get activity. Sugar filled snacks and deserts are okay when they are eaten occasionally instead of throughout the day or after every meal. They become a special food that is a privileged and something that is eaten on special occasions, cake and ice cream for birthday parties. It allows us to savor the food more, to enjoy the way it touches our palate and raise our senses.

Raw carrots are good for you, they are high in fiber and vitamin A, as well as others, but in excess they are poor because they are high in natural sugars.  So great to eat but in moderation and balance with other healthy foods, but not the best stand alone food for extended eating.

This blog will show how we as a family try and balance our dietary needs with moderation as well as burn off the calories with exercise and downright FUN!.