7 Simple Meal Ideas for the Average Cook

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating

With the demands and stresses of corporate America, many people, particularly millennials, don’t have a lot of time to cook. Many millennials admit that their cooking skills are limited due to a parent not teaching them to cook. According to a survey conducted in January 2015, 45 percent of people ages 18 to 24 and 64 percent of those ages 25 to 34, considered themselves as good or decent cooks.

For the same survey, 53 percent of millennials admit to eating out at restaurants once per week. For those that live at home with their parents or have a spouse or roommate that cooks, it is not a big concern. However, for the single millennials that live alone, they rely on carry-out, processed foods, or anything that is a “quick fix”. However, eating out becomes expensive. Further, unless you ask, the food may be genetically modified. Processed foods may be high in sodium, sugar, and fat. If one has limited cooking skills, you can still prepare healthy, easy meals from scratch.

Simple Meal Ideas

1. Soup

This goes beyond Ramen noodles. Squash, vegetable, and tomato soups are easy to prepare and require few ingredients. Please visit the following link for other soup ideas.

2. Chicken cacciatore

You’ll need chicken (legs, thighs, or wings), tomatoes, and salsa. You may add additional spices to your liking. Bake in the oven between 2 and 2 1/2 hours. Serve with rice.

3. Steak

Add seasoning to your favorite cut of steak and broil in the oven. If you like onions with your steak, cut and sauté in butter on the stove top.

4. Tacos

Tacos are delicious and very easy to make. You’ll need ground beef, taco seasoning, taco shells, lettuce, tomato, (red) onion, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa. You can make taco salad as another option.

5. Salmon cakes

Season a fillet of wild salmon and bake until done. (Do not use canned salmon). When cooled, shred the salmon and add an egg, bread crumbs, seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder), and chopped onion. Shape into patties and fry in oil, cooking on both sides. Freeze the uncooked salmon cakes.

6. Pasta

Spaghetti and meatballs is simple to make. Try preparing ravioli and fettuccine dishes.

7. Salad

You can’t mess up a salad! For a garden salad, use both romaine lettuce and spring mix or other fresh greens. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, red, yellow, and orange peppers. (A colorful salad is appealing to the eye). For added flavor, include red onion, pomegranate seeds, blue or feta cheese. For salad dressing, you may simply use olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar. To make Caesar salad, use romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, and croutons.

You have one dish to try each day for one week. Feel free to mix and match and get creative. If it doesn’t turn out right the first time, it’s fine. Try again until you get it right. Cooking is trial and error.

10 Benefits of Dandelion: Is it a Weed or an Herb?

By cassandrwiley / On / In Alternative Therapies, Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Occult, Self-Improvement

Every spring, we see dandelions growing in our yards and in the fields.  Many of us treat our yards with weed killer to get rid of them. If you learned that dandelions have health benefits, would you see reconsider killing them?

I was shopping at my local Wegman’s, and I bought some dandelion greens.  I buy them by the bunch.  When I got to the checkout line, the cashier asked me what I used it for.  It’s not a popular item,  like kale or spinach.  After telling her that I use it when I juice, she understood.   She mentioned that customers use it to make smoothies or even for their pets. (Keep reading to find out how).

There are many benefits of dandelion; you can use the root, the flower, or the greens. As I mentioned, I juice the greens along with pineapple, green apple, and flax seed meal. You can also drink  dandelion tea, cold or hot.

  1. Weight loss.  Dandelion is a diuretic, which means that it rids the body of excess water which helps with weight loss.
  2. Inflammation. Dandelion greens treat muscle aches and joint pain.
  3. Relieves constipation and increases bowel movements. Because I use it as part of my juicing regimen, it keeps me “regular”.
  4. Diabetes. Dandelion fights both Type I and Type II diabetes by removing excess sugar from the body.
  5. Reduces high cholesterol. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes are typically diagnosed together.
  6. High blood pressure.  Since dandelion works as a diuretic, it can help lower blood pressure without the unwanted side effects of a prescription drug.
  7. Cancer fighter.  Boil the dried yellow flowers in water and drink the liquid.  Dandelion purifies the blood and detoxes the liver.   Many of those cancer drugs, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can be extremely toxic to the body. (Why do most cancer patients lose their hair?).   Dandelions are high in vitamin K.   It’s been proven to work for “drug- resistant forms of cancer”. 
  8. Kidney failure.  Dandelion root strengthens the kidneys.
  9. Eye and skin health.  Dandelion greens contain over 100 percent of vitamin A to improve vision and fight skin infections.
  10. Chronic indigestion and excess gas.  Dandelion works great for dogs that suffer from digestion issues.

Remember, as we approach Spring, please pick the dandelions in your yard or wherever you can find them.  Our Power put herbs on the earth to heal us (Jubilees 10:12).  Shalom!

My Fitness Journey, Part 2

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

You may recall that I have been on a fitness journey for about 2 years now.  My starting weight in December 2015 was 146 lbs. I had some weight loss by early 2016.  It was 6 pounds that I recall.  My family and I moved in June 2016, and for some reason, we started eating out more frequently; I gained that weight back.  Later that year, I found out that I was pre-diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure at age 25.  I started working with a personal trainer  and began working to change my diet. My husband and I decided to go vegan for one month and take herbal supplements to improve our health.  Early last year, I had my annual physical exam.  My weight was stable at 143 lbs., but my blood work results were the best ever in a long time.  I didn’t have pre-diabetes or high cholesterol anymore!  The combination of diet and herbal supplements improved my health!

In October of last year, we decided to go back to eating vegan for one month.  We noticed a big difference in our health and overall well being.  After that month, we decided that we would only eat meat twice weekly. Usually, it’s fish, but also chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef.  We rarely eat dairy.

In the past month, we learned about “wheat belly” .  Today, the majority of the  wheat  is genetically modified.  Since the body does not know how to digest this genetically modified wheat, it’s stored as fat in our brains and in our stomachs.  Gluten is also something that we try to avoid.  I don’t eat wheat unless it is organic.  Since I eat dairy and organic wheat products rarely, my stomach does not look like a “muffin top”.   I can wear a dress without being paranoid that I look pregnant.  I get on the scale this morning, and I weigh 133 lbs!  I haven’t been working out in the last few months. It’s all from diet!  Working out will only enhance.  This is a weight that I am happy to stay at.  If you want to lose weight, you must change your lifestyle.

A Funny Story About Popcorn

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating

On Friday, I was preparing to make popcorn for my family.  We were going to watch Jumaji, the 1995 version with Kirsten Dunst and Robin Williams.  Three years ago, we invested in an air popper.  I added 2 small scoops of popcorn kernels and turned it on.  After 30 seconds, the air popper cuts off and I see smoke!  I unplugged it immediately.

My husband smells smoke as he walks into the kitchen.  Realizing that the air popper is dead, he tries another method.  He pours some pure vegetable oil in a wok pan.  I add the popcorn kernels.  He heats the kernels over a flame, moving the wok pan around.  After 5 minutes, we have freshly popped corn.  I added the usual olive oil and sea salt.  It was delicious!

How many ways can you make fresh popcorn?  The real question is how can you make it healthy? Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t buy microwave  or processed popcorn.  Microwave popcorn and even brands like Jiffy Pop contains hydrogenated oil and other unhealthy ingredients.  Don’t sacrifice healthy for quick and easy.
  2. Invest in an air popper.  The price ranges from $20.00 to $35.00.  You can order from Amazon or purchase from any department store.  Add your favorite ingredients to your freshly popped corn.
  3. Make your own.  As I mentioned, we made delicious popcorn on the stove top with olive oil and sea salt.  Baked Bree and Food Babe also have great recipes.

Whatever your popcorn preference, it’s best to make your own.  With GMOs and other artificial additives that exist, you want to play it safe.  With more of winter on it’s way, snuggle up with your loved ones with a bucket and your favorite flicks.

 

Ketchup, Ketchup, Where’s the Ketchup?!

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

Whether it’s ketchup or catsup, it’s a favorite condiment of many Americans.  However, it can contain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and natural flavoring.  Natural flavoring sounds innocent enough, but at the same time, it’s very deceptive.  When people see natural, they automatically think that it’s healthy, not artificial.  The best option is if you see “natural flavoring” listed as an ingredient, call the company to find out the specific ingredients.

My family loves Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup.  It tastes like fresh tomatoes.  It contains organic  tomato purée, organic sugar, organic white vinegar, salt, organic onion powder, and organic spices.  Very simple.  All ingredients that you can pronounce.  If you cannot pronounce it, don’t buy it.

If you wanted to take a different route, you can always make your own ketchup. You can make it to your preferred taste with organic, non-GMO ingredients.  Wellness Mama has many great recipes from ketchup to homemade hand soap.

I enjoy making a variety of items from scratch like hand soap and even almond milk.  My homemade almond milk tasted richer than the organic milk from the supermarket.  It was very easy to make. (Add almond butter to warm water in a blender).  If you’re not already doing it, I encourage you to start making some of your own food, household items, and home remedies. The food today is tainted with GMOs, pesticides, and other poisons.  There doesn’t have to be a food shortage in order for there to be a famine (Matt. 24:7)

Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee and Wine

By cassandrwiley / On / In Alternative Therapies, Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating

I have been dealing with thyroid nodules for the last 8 years.  Two Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists advised me that I did not need surgery; one recommended that I needed it.  Until last year, they did not irritate me.  I almost opted to have surgery last year; however, a few weeks before I was scheduled to have surgery, I was told that my insurance would not cover all expenses.  Was that a coincidence?  No, not at all!

Doctors make surgery sound so simple. They would  remove my entire thyroid, and I would have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life. I wasn’t comfortable with that.  I was introduced to an herbalist that instructed me on my thyroid nodules. Basically, nodules form because the blood needs to be detoxed.  You detox the blood and the liver with a healthy diet and herbal supplements.  I took the recommended herbal supplements and ate a vegan diet for a month.  (By vegan, I didn’t eat any meat, dairy, pasta, bread, or sweets).  My nodules began to reduce in size.

I didn’t continue the vegan lifestyle, but I continued taking the supplements. I’ve always been a coffee lover, whether it’s plain coffee, cappuccino, or  iced coffee.  I wasn’t an alcohol drinker, but in the last few months, I begin indulging in red wine, about 2-3 glasses per week.  I noticed that my nodules were beginning to grow and become irritating again.  After discussing with my herbalist, he said that coffee and wine increases thyroid nodules.

I stopped drinking both immediately.  Alcohol, coffee, and black tea are highly acidic.  You hear conflicting reports about coffee; some articles say that it can have positive effects on your health and some say to avoid it.  Wine is good for the heart, but you need to drink a good-quality wine to get the benefits.

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that I do not eat pork, shrimp, crab, and lobster for religious reasons.  Although beef, chicken, turkey, and certain fish (not shark or catfish) are acceptable to eat, I will most likely return to the vegan lifestyle. Meat is very acidic, and it is very important to keep your body alkaline.  I would prefer being a vegan over having surgery and taking medication for life.

How I Overcame Pre-diabetes and High Cholesterol Without a Prescription

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

When I had my annual physical this past January, my doctor was very impressed with my blood work results.  My thyroid functions were normal along with my cholesterol and blood sugar levels.   My issues with pre-diabetes and high cholesterol were no longer a concern for me.

In October 2016, I started taking herbal supplements. My family and I were introduced to an herbalist from Washington state. He gave us advice about our current medical conditions and herbal remedies.

Over  that next month, I didn’t eat any meat. I had stopped eating pork one month before. (See my post 5 Reasons That I Stopped Eating Pork).  Shellfish was no longer a part of my diet, either.  This includes shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, clams, squid, and scallops. Having lived in Maryland for the past 11 years, crabs were always available, expensive sometimes, but available. With the exception of fish with fins and scales, everything else that lives in the water is unclean ( Leviticus 11:9-11).   Many of us believe that it’s a delicacy because it tastes delicious.  However, we don’t associate it with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.  Shellfish are typically bottom-dwellers that eat and carry bacteria. Think about that the next time you have shrimp cocktail or a crab cake.

In addition to not eating meat for one month, I did not eat dairy or bread.  My weight has not changed, but I have lost body fat.  When I saw my personal trainer 2 weeks ago, my body fat was 30 percent. Last year, it was 32 percent, so I have made progress. Under 30 percent body fat is ideal.

In conclusion, you can treat many common illnesses with a proper diet and herbs.  The body can basically heal itself if it’s properly cared for.  Many herbs have healing properties (Jubilees 10:12), so don’t need to go see the pharmacist.  Once you start taking prescription medications, you may have to take them for the rest of your life. It is better to treat the illness now with what the earth has to offer.

10 Things I’ve Learned From 21 Days of Fasting

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

As I reached the final day of fasting this past Sunday, I can reflect on the many things that I’ve learned.

  1. Getting closer to God.  This is the main reason for fasting.  It is always nice to get better acquainted with my Lord and Savior through His Word and through prayer.
  2. I don’t need caffeine.  Sure, I like the taste and smell of a cup of coffee, but I didn’t have withdrawal symptoms from not having it for 21 days.  That tells me that it’s not a necessity. Caffeine can affect you in negative ways, like rapid heartbeat or being jittery.
  3. I will cut back on steak and other meats.  My husband and I ate steak almost every week before the fast. I’m not going to totally go vegan since God said that all food is good (I Timothy 4:3-4). However, I have felt amazing these past few weeks. I want to continue to feel energetic.
  4. Diet made more of a difference for my weight loss. I didn’t fast for the purpose of losing weight…it’s just a side effect.
  5. Trivial things don’t matter.  My cell phone was lost, and I didn’t have one for 2 days. At the end of the day, it’s just a material possession.
  6. I need to cut back on social media. I use social media to promote my blog, but other than that, I’m not the type of person that lives on Facebook and always taking selfies.  You ever notice that everywhere you go, whether it’s work or the doctor’s office, people rarely talk to each other anymore? They’re either texting or on social media.  Some people text while they’re walking.  Even driving, although you can get a ticket for that!
  7. I didn’t miss eating bread.  When you’re a pre-diabetic, it is better to resist it.
  8. It felt good to teach someone a spiritual lesson.  I’m always open to talking about spiritual matters with those that will listen.  When I can write about it, it is even better.
  9. Your body needs a detox.  Every now and again, your mind and body need a detox.  See my post on Why Regular and Natural Detox is so Important For Your Body
  10. Television is used as a tool for mind control.  We didn’t watch regular television during the fast, not even the local news.  We watched documentaries and nature shows. It is a mindless distraction.

 

 

What Your Food Packaging Says about Your Eating Habits

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating

 

When it comes to shopping, there are a number of things we take into consideration for the foods that we buy, because we know what we like from our food. The more you know about a person,the more that you can tell about what sort of foods they like. What about the other way around? Have you ever considered that your choice of products off the shelves says something about the sort of person you or your eating habits are?

Well, it isn’t an exact science, but then again, social sciences never are. Though it certainly can make for an amusing topic of conversation.

There are a number of ways you could categorize eating habits, taking into account the sort of person, diet, lifestyle and budget that go into selecting the products.

The Student Diet

At some point or another, we’ve all experienced this particular selection of eating habits. You head towards the bigger, bulkier packaging with the simpler, cheaper designs. You don’t have a huge amount of money, and you’ve been saving it for Friday night drinking.  However, you’re hungry a lot more than you used to be when you didn’t have to attend lectures all afternoon. A lot of your food packaging shares similar characteristics.

  • Clear cooking instructions.  You checked before you bought it. We all did. There is no point in buying something you don’t know how to cook. And if it tells you that all you have to do is add boiling water or stick it in the microwave for a few minutes, then you throw five of them into the basket.
  • Resealable. It probably isn’t going to last long no matter what it is; the next time you have to pull an all-nighter to get through your big assignment, you’ll be digging just about anything out of the cupboards to keep you going. But you’ll be finding things that you forgot you had ever bought, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that they had resealable packaging, or you’d probably have rats! My guess is it’s that little bit of our parents we have in us that reaches for the resealable packaging after we’ve flown the nest.
  • Container-based packaging.  Your mum maybe used to buy noodles in a bag. Little, plastic, and useless once opened. That’s not what you as a student look for; when you buy noodles, you buy them in a pot. Yeah, it takes up more space in the cupboard, but you don’t need a plate, because you can eat them right out of the pot. Pie? In a pot or tin. Curry? In a little plastic tray. Fruit? In a tin. Beans? In a tin; you can eat them cold right out of that. Being a student means that you used up all your dishes weeks ago and haven’t gotten around to washing them yet, and you don’t need to because your food packaging is the same as a bowl.

 

The Single People Diet

You’ve grown out of the student diet. Your metabolism no longer quite handles all of the rubbish food you used to eat. You’ve started washing your dishes and you’re more aware of your spending; not because you don’t have money, but because you know that you worked hard for hours on end to get that money, and you’re saving it for something important. Regardless of specific circumstances, there are often shared characteristics.

  • Freezer friendly packaging. Most foods that are cost-effective are provided in family sized-portions. You’re just one person; you can’t eat all of it. The freezer is one of the most essential items in your home. Everything has to go in there because you are not going to finish eating it in one sitting. You look out for that ‘cook from frozen’ symbol, because let’s face it, we know we’ll never remember to get it out to defrost before we leave for work.
  • Tins.  You end up cooking too much food quite often, and you’ll also  end up only eating half of something as well, because you’re only one person. With leftovers, half a loaf of bread, opened boxes of freezer food, half consumed packs of meat, and ice cream for movie night all tucked up in the freezer, not many of us have room for much more.  Tinned foods, which can be stacked and stored easily for long periods of time, become particularly popular among single people. Jars are less popular, mostly because they can be difficult to open; you become wary of buying more. As a single woman, I can attest to this.  I have jars that are sitting in the cupboard almost two months after being purchased, waiting until I remember to ask someone stronger than myself to help me loosen the lid.
  • Simple.  Ever noticed that the supermarket brand stuff is incredibly simple? They didn’t even create extra cost by hiring a designer, and they don’t waste money marketing their products. It’s as cheap and simple as it gets, and for some single people it offers the most effective solution. Save money, but eat well. I don’t know if you’ve tried any of this,  but when I lived in my first flat, I practically lived on it; I couldn’t tell any real difference, other than the packaging, which is basically a ‘does the job’ method of packaging.

 

The Family Diet

Families vary a lot. Different ages, sizes, and incomes. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration. But their shopping tends to share a number of the characteristics of the single people and the students.

  • Big or Bulk Packaging.  If you’re a family, you have at least two mouths to feed, but generally 3-5. This means a lot of food, and often of incredibly varied types. Bulk packaging and bigger packaging options are popular for families, often labelled ‘family size’ to draw the attention of economical parents.
  • Colorful Packaging. Kids are drawn to colourful things and cuddly animals. Anyone who develops food products aimed towards children knows this.  So if you have kids, you’re going to find yourself drawn to, if not dragged toward, the most colorful, child-orientated  packaging on the shelves.
  • Nothing Artificial. In your younger years, you might have scoffed at packaging that displayed boldly and proudly that it had no added sugars, colors , or preservatives. Now that you’re a parent, you’ll be grasping at them with desperation. Kids are small and energetic, but the few months of being a parent taught you that they have sensitive stomachs.  Once they started moving and eating solid foods, it taught you just how big of an effect added sugars can have. Most parents start looking to limit additives by the time their first child is three.

 

The Health Conscious Diet

Maybe you’re a sporty sort of person; maybe you just like to take care of yourself. It is important that you have the right standard of health from your food and you take your time to select foods that are suitable for your health needs.

  • Fresh packaging.  Packaging that promotes or improves freshness tends to be a more popular selection among those who are particularly conscious of their health.  Of course, many fresh fruits and vegetables do not include packaging, but those that do usually provide ventilated plastic packaging. Simple packaging is important for fresh foods.
  • Nutritional Information. Those who are health conscious will of course be concerned about what is in the foods they are buying, which makes the nutritional information strip seen on most food packaging a particularly useful feature. However, rather than scrutinizing everything strictly and finding the best possible product from the options available to them, most health conscious types will select from those where the nutritional information is most clearly displayed.

 

Written by E. Clark