WARNING: RANT ALERT

 Dear Rodanthe tourist,

Did I REALLY just hear you say that you wanted to feel the full brunt of Beryl (while acknowledging that locals probably felt differently)?! Are you REALLY uttering those words while vacationing in an area that was devastated by a storm less than a year ago?! Are you REALLY saying these things knowing they will be televised?! Yes, I realize that Beryl is not supposed to be a major storm, but to hope for such things in an area still trying to recover from a tropical system is callous. You rank right up there with the guy we shared a table with at the Japanese steak house while we were evacuated for Irene…yeah, the one who was disappointed by the lack of damage another hurricane had inflicted after he’d taken the time and spent the money to specifically be there to experience the devastation.

Sincerely,
A local shaking her head

{Borrowed from a friend’s Facebook status}

Beryl definitely had things shaking and blowing last night. It was not the most abrasive storm we’ve ever had by far. In fact, if you paid attention to the news last August you might recall Hurricane Irene and the major damage it caused.

What a scary experience a tropical storm can be. And yet, there are LOTS of people like that tourist dingleberry ^ up there who wants to “experience” a real storm. Nice. He’s obviously ignorant of the long-term damage these things can cause, as well as how hard life can be for those who are trying to recover from it.

When Irene hit last summer I evacuated with my boys. Hubby stayed behind to help, as he did every hurricane. Since I’d been through many hurricanes before I was tempted to stay. We had everything we needed and I wasn’t afraid. Hubby literally put me in the car and told me to leave. So I did.

Twelve days later we were allowed back on the island. That is a long time to be evacuated. Since the road had been washed out {see picture below} the NC Ferry Division had to set up an emergency ferry system. This was not the first time this has happened.

 This is highway 12. The ONLY road on or off the island. With the exception of some backroads, highway 12 is the main and only road up and down the entire island. This is where Irene cut right through it last August just north of Rodanthe. We had to use a ferry system to get on and off the island for several months. Needless to say, I didn’t go off the island.

We now have a “temporary” bridge in place. Red Cross, different churches and mission groups, and relief aid workers were here for months helping the people recover and rebuild their lives. I personally knew 3 families that lost their entire homes, and one of those families, long time natives, had to pack up and move to the mainland just to recover. Jobs are scarce enough in the winter, but after a hurricane, without the help of others, people would starve.

I was glad hubby made us leave, even though it was a LONG twelve days. But we are blessed in so many ways. While some were stuck in a hotel room for two weeks, forking over money they couldn’t afford, we were able to stay with family. It was similar to a vacation, just not one we were allowed to return from.

The first week that followed the hurricane left all the locals in the dark. Literally. No electricity, no water, no cell phones, nothing. Those of us on the outside knew more about what was going on than those who had stayed behind. When I finally got through to hubby (he called me from the store down the street) I told him what was going on with the road, the damage, etc. all things he had not been aware of. Each village was basically cut off from the other villages until the water receded enough to allow 4×4’s to travel around the island.

Here is the same stretch of road as the picture at the top of this post. This is 12 hours later. There is a saying here on the island, “Water comes up, water goes down.” As you can see, this is a private road, not part of the main highway. The body of water to the right is the sound side, which will always flood first.

This picture was taken in Nags Head yesterday evening. They definitely got it worse than we did, and this is the main road. The whole county went on a two-hour delay this morning for school. Makes EOG testing a bit hard but I won’t get on that soapbox.

So to wrap up this rant all I can say is {again} “Don’t be a touron.”

Pretty please.

Something every gal needs in a tropical storm:)

 

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Can you believe I’ve never done a slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwich recipe before? We love BBQ, but since we stopped eating pork about 9 years ago, we’ve pretty much gone without. Now, these are sweeter than the Southern pork sandwiches with vinegar base that we used to love, and eventually I will try to find a recipe just like that for chicken {I know there are plenty out there} but in the meantime this is really good!

Ok, so technically this isn’t pulled chicken. If you’re not sure what the difference is, it’ s my understanding that it’s meat from the butt of the chicken  (not any of the yucky parts- eew). I used pulled in the title because most people relate that word to the style of sandwich, be it pork or chicken; i.e. shredded BBQ.

Of course, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which were shredded once cooked using two forks.

BBQ Chicken

4 to 6 chicken breasts

1 (12 oz) bottle of BBQ sauce

1/2 cup of Italian dressing

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire

In crock pot, place chicken breasts. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and then pour over the chicken. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 6 to 8 hours on low. Shred chicken once cooked through and return to crock pot. Serve on lightly toasted whole wheat sandwich rolls.

It doesn’t get any easier than that! Enjoy :)

Why No Swine?

It’s true, we don’t eat any pork AT ALL. I don’t judge others for what they eat, in fact I have lots of friends {okay ALL my friends and family} who LOVE bacon. There is this weird bacon craze going on. Have you seen it? Bacon-wrapped chocolate? Bacon Martinis?? For realz.

Don’t get me wrong, I remember what bacon tastes like. Yeah, it’s yummy, I concur, but over the years many a curious person has asked me why I don’t “eat swine”. The first question always asked is, “Are you Jewish?”

No, I’m not Jewish. But yes, there are biblical reasons why I don’t eat pork. It is “unclean”. But that’s not what I tell them. First I ask if they really want to know. It’s kind of like finding out what’s in McDonald’s food and it was your favorite until…

And then you weren’t so glad that you were told, right? Or what’s in that processed “pink” chicken in your kids’ school lunches? Or how many worms most canning companies (and the FDA) allow into each can?

So, if you really, really love pork and don’t want to know, stop here. Or maybe you won’t care. That’s okay, too. So, here are the facts:

The pig is unfit for human consumption. It’s not my opinion, it’s a fact. Pigs are scavenger feeders (bottom feeders), as well as lobsters (I call them Cockroaches Of The Sea because they are anthropods) and crab (all shell fish actually). They help clean the environment but they really weren’t meant to be eaten.

A German professor by the name of Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, M.D. published an article titled “The Adverse Influence of Pork Consumption on Health” and concluded very simply, “Pork should be regarded as an important homotoxin (human poison).”

The key problem with pork (and high-fat processed luncheon meat, hot dogs, etc) is that these foods digest too quickly in the human digestive system. They are literally too “hot” for the body to handle. They slow down the body’s ability to fight off diseases, including cancer, by impairing the immune system.

Think of it this way, you know how when you grill a hotdog and it gets all crispy and burnt? Most people love to eat hotdogs this way. Do you know what that crispy burnt stuff is? It’s the carcinogens from the nitrates. Imagine that happpening inside of your digestive system. This is very hard on your metabolism. The quick digestion of pork causes a rapid rise in blood urea, and when this occurs, the blood system becomes overloaded, creating excessive stress on the heart and other organs.

Did you know that pepperoni is pork? Just a thought…..

You may love bacon but it is loaded with sodium nitrites- a double whammy. Sodium nitrites form nitrosamines in the stomach- one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known to man.

The biochemical problems of pork consumption is enough for me, but if you still aren’t sure, think about this: cancer-causing chemicals are used to process pork products.

You’ve all heard that commercial for “Pork. The other white meat.” Right? Just because it isn’t processed like sandwich meat or bacon doesn’t mean a pork chop is a healthy meal. In fact, as bottom feeders, pigs have parasites in their bodies. Lots of parasites. And not always little ones, either. Yes, you can cook your pork at high temperatures and kill the parasites, but not always, and even if you do, who wants to eat cooked parasite anyway?

So, that’s it in a nutshell. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Dr. Ted Broer at his website Health Masters. I have several of his books and they have guided me in living healthy and losing lots of fat weight over the years.

Mud Pie

Finally, a dessert post! My kids have been very generous with me during my “strict meal plan” time. It’s hard to get in the kitchen and create when you’re not allowed to eat any of it. There’s just no motivation.

This dessert is so simple that technically it’s a cheat for a post, but I really wanted to make something for my kids since their dessert nights have mostly consisted of ice cream and leftover Eclair Dessert (they didn’t mind!).

Mud Pie

1 premade chocolate crust (or 22 Oreos, finely crushed and mixed with 3 Tbsp. melted butter, then pressed into a pie pan)

1 qt. coffee flavored ice cream, softened

1 cup hot fudge topping

SPREAD ice cream into pie crust; top with hot fudge; spread or marble on top.

FREEZE at least 6 hours or until firm.

Sometimes my pictures just aren’t up to par, but this will have to do. It tastes fabulous never-the-less, or so I’m told ;)

Stupid diet.

Chicken in Cream

I might have mentioned before that I am part Ukrainian, and thanks to my grandmother I grew up eating some wonderful food. This dish was as popular in the Ukraine as fried chicken is here in the US. There is a slower, more authentic version, but I normally make it more simplified. My recipe is as follows:

Chicken in Cream

1 whole chicken, cut up, with or without skin (now you know me- boneless, skinless breasts only. I usually cook 1 breast per person)

2 or 3 celery tops with leaves

1 onion cut into rings

Dill weed (fresh sprigs if you have)

Parsley

Salt & Pepper

1 pint Half & Half

Put washed chicken in a casserole dish and top with veggies. Sprinkle on dill liberally and then the parsley, salt & pepper to your liking. Pour the half & half over it all and bake at 350* for 1 and a half hours.  (If using a whole chicken cook for 2 hours).

Once cooked, remove the vegetables and discard. If you left the skin on it will be icky and should be discarded as well.

*We don’t eat a lot of potatoes around here but this dish demands a good serving of mashed potatoes for all that awesome, buttery, curdled sauce that you will end up with. Also perfect for dipping bread into!

Make this soon! It’s easy and your whole family will LOVE it!

Tilapia Fabuloso

Remember the post Super Low Cal, Very Tasty where I shared an awesome homemade salsa recipe with you? Well, this is one of the things I use it with and let me just say that if you’re in to eating healthy and low fat and low cal, you are really going to like this.

This dish is so easy it’s silly. There isn’t even a recipe.

I’ve been on a pretty strict diet for the past few weeks, eating no carbs or sugar or fat. Sounds delish, right?……No? Well, it does leave a person with some serious cravings for pizza {ahem} but still can be very satisfying and rewarding. Case in point, when I need a quick, healthy meal, this is perfect!

1 Tilapia fillet, or one fillet per person

1 tsp. EVOO (per fillet)

salt & pepper or seasonings of your choice (I use a Lime Pepper mix)

Heat skillet on high for just a minute. Tilapia falls apart easily when cooked. A hot pan will help sear it so that you can easily flip it and serve it all in one piece. Put some EVOO in the pan and turn it a few times.

Place your fish in the hot pan. It will immediately start to sizzle and pop. Sprinkle your seasoning of choice on the exposed side, then flip the fillet over and sprinkle the other side. Allow to cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Tilapia cooks very quickly. Turn it over and finish cooking the original side.

That’s it! And you can serve it with anything. I generally scoop a generous portion of the salsa onto the plate and eat it with the fish, along with a bare salad or some oven-roasted veggies.

Enjoy!

Amazing Health Tips

Did you know that green tea boosts your metabolism?

It also curbs appetite :)

I am so intrigued by health and nutrition.  I don’t claim to be a know-it-all by any means, but I’ve been studying some pretty smart people in the field and have been awed by the knowledge I’ve been able to glean.

In this day and age of over-procesed foods, it’s hard to know how to get back to the basics. Honestly, I think I’d love to go back in time to even the 50’s where food was simpler and healthier. Before the age of the convenience food.

I grew up in the 70’s. I actually watched as processed and convenience foods became more and more available. Looking back now, I can’t recall how this boom occurred. It’ s as if the grocery store isles have exploded with products that are full of chemicals and preservatives, with ingredient lists as long as my arm and with words I can’t pronounce. When did this happen, for sure? Probably while I was in my teens and early 20’s, definitely a time when I was too busy with “me” to notice the health destruction going on around me.

I am as much to blame for falling into the convenience trap. Health wasn’t an issue in those early days, although I was not healthy by any means, and neither was weight. At a skinny size six I could eat whatever I wanted. It wasn’t until my child-rearing days that my body said, “Time to move some things to the front!” And boy, did it ever! It took me several more years to realize that weight and health go hand in hand, among other things.

Number Two is soon to be eleven. Just after he was born I started getting horrible migraines and proceeded to use prescription medication for four years. I was also at my heaviest, 198 pounds. Add that to my horrible L5 back problems and I was a mess. Let’s just say I got sick and tired of it all! It took me a long time to realize that foods were the major causing factor to my migraines, specifically partially hydrogenated oils and MSG’s. I was lucky that my body told me in such a definite way that eating this stuff is BAD. It’s bad for you, too, even if you don’t feel it. It’s still doing harm to your health.

So here are just a few tips and bits of information I’ve learned over the years. As you can see, I can go on and on, so there will be more posts on the subject to come. This post is based on an article I got from organicgardening.com and it explains the best food combinations and why. I’ll let you check out the link for yourself, but here is the list in a nutshell.

1. Tomatoes and Avocado (cancer fighting properties, etc.)

2. Oatmeal and Orange juice

3. Broccoli and Tomatoes (prevents prostate cancer, as well as shrinks other types of tumors)

4. Blueberries and Grapes

5. Apples (specifically Red Delicious) and Chocolate YES!

6. Lemon and Kale (increases muscle strength and immunity. I’m all over this one!)

7. Soy and Salmon (edamamne and tofu, not soy dairy or soy sauce)

8. Peanuts {peanut butter} and Whole Wheat (the two together provide a complete chain of amino acids that you would not get in one meal otherwise)

9. Red Meat and Rosemary (the rosemary combats the cancer-causing heterocyclic amines {HCA’s} in carcinogens from grilling meat)

10. Tumeric and Black Pepper

11. Garlic and Fish

12. Eggs and Cantaloupe

13. Almonds and Yogurt (many essential vitamins are activated and absorbed when eaten with fat. The same goes with salads, so you can skip that fat-free vinegar and oil and have a little ranch. It’ll actually help your body absorb the nutrients from the fresh vegetables better)

*Speaking of the 50’s….did you know that the original Betty Crocker cookbook is still the best-selling cookbook? Do you know why it’s still the best cookbook? Because it was written in a time when a person used fresh ingredients. Never thought about it? If you’re looking for a great cookbook with all the basics, start there and make sure you’re using as natural ingredients as possible.

That’s the way Betty did it :)

Chicken & Rice Pilaf

Don’t let the boring recipe title fool you- this was an incredibly easy and healthy weeknight supper. Not to mention what a great beginning for so many other ideas – meaning, herbs, spices, seasonings, veggies…you name it. The sky is the limit with this one. All you need is a  well-stocked pantry and you could have what looks just as gourmet as this.

 

Chicken & Brown Rice Pilaf

4 slices turkey bacon

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I had tenders on hand)

1 small onion

1/2 cup chopped red peppers

1/2 lb. sugar snap peas

1 Tbsp. water

2 cups hot cooked brown rice, or rice blend

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

fresh or dried parsley for garnish

Looks good, right? well not only is this a low fat dinner, but it’s also very low in calories….like under 400 :)  Here’s how I made this:

First I picked an awesome rice blend and made it according to package directions. Any brown rice will do, but this stuff was so good.

While the rice is cooking, fry up 4 pieces of turkey bacon, drain and chop them. Chop up 1 small onion and 1 red bell pepper (or use mini sweet peppers like I did: 2 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow.) Then string and cut the sugar snap peas in half. Put all this aside while you cook the chicken.

Place the chicken into the skillet and cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer chicken to a plate; cover to keep warm. Add onions and peppers to skillet; cook and stir 3 minutes. Stir in peas and water; cover. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Stir in rice. Transfer to serving plate and add chicken, top with bacon, parmesan cheese, and fresh or dried parsley.

There’s so many things you can add to this dish to make it even yummier!

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Super Low Cal, Very Tasty

In the past there are several “cleansing diets’ I’ve used to rid my body of toxins and extra fat weight. When followed correctly, a healthier eating style is borne that is easier to maintain than you’d think. Of course, motivation plays a huge role :) but this does work if you are determined enough.

 

The first few weeks are always the hardest, but if you’re like me, seeing even half a pound difference in the morning will keep you going. I’ve been known to shift a pound a night, safely and effectively, and you can, too. These days I’m only shifting about 1/2 a pound. It’s not ideal but it’s at least a better guarantee that it’ll stay off. The truth is, the slower the weight comes off {not too slow!} the longer it’ll stay off.

If you want to shift a half-pound to a pound a day, here’s what you do:

1. Exercise every day. Pilates worked best for me. I’m a low-impact kind of girl. A 20-30 minute workout first thing in the morning leaves me free for the rest of the day. Later in the evening a walk is good, too.

2. Eat 5 -6 small meals a day. This is easier than you think. Each meal should be approx. 300 calories, depending on your starting weight. If you have more than 50 pounds to lose then you may want to start on 400 – 500 calories per meal and gradually decrease. You should not ever feel as if you’re starving. Make wise choices. It’s easy to get 300 or 400 calories from a fast food burger, but you’ll stay fuller longer if you get those calories from lots of vegetables and some lean meat.

3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. If you weigh 200 pounds, then you should be drinking 100 ounces of pure, distilled water every day. You won’t have time to consume those diet sodas.

4. Never mix nitrates with saccharine. In fact, don’t eat either at all. If you’re accustomed to diet sodas and sugar substitutes, change your ways now. They are toxic and poison to your body. It’s better to eat raw, organic sugar than ANY sugar substitute. Seriously. Even regular soda is better than diet. If you have to have a soda, once or twice a week. That’s it. You’ll find that you don’t even crave them after a while.

5. Stick to these food guides for at least a month and see how your taste buds change and your eating habits improve:

a. Only eat 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat at a meal. Do not eat any processed meats, not even burger patties or poultry injected with seasonings.

b. Fill up on fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, but skip the dressings. Use lemon juice instead. Avoid sugar-high veggies like carrots for now.

c. No carbs, but Melba toast is a good bread-like substitute that will help satisfy that bread craving.

d. Don’t slip. You can make it 4 weeks. Your will is stronger than you think. Before putting something in your mouth just to taste it for 30 seconds, think about this: are these calories really worth it? Don’t obsess over food.

e. Plan out your meals and have serving sizes and snacks ready to go. You are more likely to make great food choices if it’s planned out ahead of time. Don’t wait until you’re starving to figure out what to eat, or you’ll end up eating pure carbs and sugar.

f. Hit your goal weight and then maintain. Don’t stop eating right or exercising just because you’ve lost the weight. Maintaining is key or you will gain the weight back. Remember, this is about changing your eating habits. It’s a life-style change. As in permanent.

Here are just a few recipes that are amazingly good and super healthy.

Fresh Garden Salsa

4 or 5 ripe tomatoes (or substitute 2 cans of diced tomatoes for two fresh)

1 Tbsp. red pepper

6 green onions, diced

1/2 white onion, diced

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup cilantro, diced

1 tsp. salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small can green chiles

Combine all ingredients and keep in the refrigerator. Salsa can be blended smoother if you don’t like it chunky.

This salsa is really good, especially with all that fresh cilantro! It’s excellent on fish and chicken, and makes a great “dressing” for salad.

*This recipe makes a large amount. One serving counts as 1 vegetable serving.

No Bean Chili

2 lbs. ground meat, cooked and drained of all fat {rinse with water if needed}

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 onion, diced

1 cup water

salt & pepper to taste (sparingly)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans diced tomatoes

4 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and simmer for 20 -30 minutes, or until onion is tender. Portion into 8 servings. Perfect for a quick meal. 1 serving equals 1 protein and 1 vegetable.

Chicken Tomato Soup

4 oz. cooked, shredded chicken breast

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1-2 tsp. fresh celery tops, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

*Can add a dash of cumin and 1 Tbsp. of fresh cilantro. Yum!

Tomorrow or the next day I’ll give you some more great fat-loss tips and recipes. Summer is almost here, let’s get ready for bathing suit weather! :)