Turkey White Bean Chili

We are in the midst of another “Polar Vortex” here in Michigan and it looks like much of the country is experiencing some abnormally chilly temps, so I thought it would be nice to share one of our family’s favorite healthy recipe for chili. This Turkey White Bean Chile is guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out!   I clipped this recipe from a magazine a long time ago (not sure which one, so unfortunately, I can’t give credit to the source).  I have adapted it slightly adding a bit more water and whole organic tomatoes instead of canned.  I also use a little less onion than is called for in the original recipe, it depends on your preference for onions.   I usually double the recipe and save for leftovers or freeze for another meal.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!  So gather the family around the table and enjoy a hearty, healthy bowl of chili!

~Blessings,

Jen

Turkey chili

Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 main dish servings

Ingredients:

1 tbs. olive oil

1 lb ground turkey (93% lean)

1 med. onion chopped

4 tsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes in juice chopped (or about 4 whole organic tomatoes chopped)

1 can (15 to 19 oz.) white kidney beans (cannelloni), rinsed and drained

1.The recipe calls for cooking the chili in a 12 inch skillet, but I use a large stockpot so I can double the recipe.  Heat oil on medium-high until hot.  Add turkey and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until turkey loses pink color throughout, stirring to break it up with side of spoon  Add onion and cook 4 minutes.  Stir in chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes, with their juice, beans and 1/2 cup water (I usually add 1 cup or 2 cups of water if doubling.)  Heat to boiling on high.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Ladle chili into serving bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt or low fat sour cream.

Each serving: About 380 calories, 33 g of protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 13 g total fat (3 g saturated), 10 g fiber, 81 mg cholesterol, 875 mg sodium (I imagine sodium would be less if you used free tomatoes)

 

Take Time to Get Lost in Your Thoughts!

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Sometimes I am amazed at how much technology we have available to us.  The possibilities are endless with social media, on-line news, shopping, games, e-books, Pinterest,  and blogs. We have many ways to communicate via the internet through modes such as e-mail, FaceTime or instant messaging.  Not to mention texting, tweeting and Instagram.  This list hits only the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure  more is coming our way.  If we let it, technology could literally consume our lives.

I do love many aspects of technology.  I have been able to re-connect with old friends and can share in the lives of family members that live across the country.  I love seeing the pictures of my friends and family and their children.  I also love being able to FaceTime with my niece and nephews who live far away.

At the risk of sounding like a “fuddy dud”, lately, I have found myself wondering when is it all too much?  I think that it is a personal decision for each individual, but I have been considering my own use of technology and wondering if I need to make a change.

I think some of my technology use has just become a habit. For instance, when I have a couple minutes to wait in a doctor’s office and I pull out my phone and mindlessly flip through social media or if I’m waiting for my daughter and I pull out my phone to check e-mail.  I am an avid reader, but have found technology slowly creeping in on my reading time.  I only have so many minutes before bed that I can actually stay awake and I find reading is being edged out.

Now if surfing social media and other sites is relaxing for you, I say go for it, but lately I have been finding myself feeling scattered and edgy.  Jules talked about being on “overload” in her last post and I’m wondering if technology overuse is contributing to my own feelings of being overwhelmed.  I don’t get the same feeling of peace from surfing the web as I do from reading a good book, crafting or spending time with my girls playing a game or just hanging out together.

The other thing that I find technology is robbing me of, is time to think.  Those moments I used to spend waiting in the car or in a doctor’s office used to allow me time to think and reflect.  In order to feel a sense of peace and calm, I need downtime to just think and reflect, anticipate and dream.  It is in those quiet moments that I may even hear the still small voice of God.

1 Kings 19:11-13 (KJV)

“11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

So lately, when I find myself with a few minutes of downtime, instead of reaching for my phone, I have been trying to spend that time just sitting quietly with my thoughts, looking around me, maybe even doing a little “people watching” (which is sometimes way more interesting than anything you would see on the internet!). After a few weeks of doing this, I have felt more in balance and have experienced a greater sense of peace in my daily life.  I want to be a good example to my girls, maybe if they see me stepping away from technology more often and taking some time to “think”, they will be inspired to do the same. We will be taking a family vacation this summer that will involve very little wifi/internet access.  I’m excited for this “forced” break from technology and have great hopes that we will all draw closer in our personal relationships and expand our thoughts and activities in tech -free ways. (I know, I know-I may be wishing for that technology after lots of tech free days together!)  I have high hopes!

What do you think?  Have we lost the art of being alone with our thoughts, taking time to just be still?

Okay, I’m signing off to go do some thinking!

~Blessings,
Jen

 

Trying Something New

I may be a little behind the times here, but when Oldest asked me to buy a pomegranate  when I went to the grocery store, I realized maybe it was time to branch out a little in our fruit and vegetable selection.  A friend had shared some pomegranate seeds with her at school and she really liked them.

So, not wanting to discourage the consumption of fruit, I picked one up the next time I went to the store.  One of the things that intimidated me about this fruit was how in the world you cut it open and get the seed out! It looked complicated, so I turned to the place that I always go when I want to learn something new-YouTube.  This video was pretty clearcut, I followed her directions and had great results.

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I found the seeds to be tart, yet sweet and they tasted great mixed in with yogurt.

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Both girls loved the new fruit.  I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food, but it felt good to try something new.

Pomegranates have been called super fruits and are full of good for you vitamins and antioxidants.  So if you haven’t ever eaten one, I would recommend you give it a try!  Do you haven any exotic fruits that you have tried?  If so, I would love to hear your feedback.

~Blessings,

Jen

A Tip To Ease Low Back Pain

I incurred a back injury last year and had to go through many weeks of physical therapy to try to correct the problem. While going through therapy, I realized it was the combination of many small tips they gave me that yielded the best results throughout my recovery.

One tip that was so simple and easy, but has made such a difference in my pain relief was to use something for low back support when I was sitting in my office chair at work and home.  If you research on-line you will see many expensive options for special chairs and cushions for lower back support. My physical therapist suggested an inexpensive, small exercise ball for support.  You can find them at any sporting good or discount store.  I am a fan of on-line shopping and I found mine here .  This is what is looks like:

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To use for low back support you partially inflate the ball and then place between your lower back and the chair.  It helps you maintain good posture when sitting and it makes your back feel supported.  It immediately relieved the pain I had when sitting in a chair.  Here is what it looks like partially inflated:

IMG_0151I know it looks kind of weird, but it really worked for me!  I hope you do not deal with lower back pain, but if you do, this a very inexpensive piece of equipment to try.  How about you?  Does anyone have any tips for low back pain relief they would like to share?  We would love to hear from you!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

The Scale – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

the scaleAnybody else feel this way when they step on the scale? I have been a member of Weight Watchers for a little over 3 years now. Trust me, that scale has been a huge part of my life for a long time, actually way way longer than just 3 years. Some days it makes me happy, some days it makes me sad, some days it makes me angry, and some days, well frankly, some days I just pretend it isn’t there!! I use the scale for accountability. Apparently I need this electronic object to tell me how I’m doing or what I should change. It can evoke joy, hope and failure.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. While the scale can be a useful tool, does it really say anything about who I am? Does it register when I’ve been a good wife, mother, grandmother, employee or friend? Does it tell me when I’ve been kind and helpful? Can it see into my heart and see a love for Jesus, my family, friends and my dogs??

You see, my friends. The scale is giving us a number, it says nothing about our character or who we really are, so why are we buying into it so much. I think we would much better serve ourselves if we focused on feeding our bodies the best quality and healthiest food we can. Because we want to care for ourselves, we want to give ourselves good food. And exercise…should it be torture? Or should it be a good brisk walk in the sunshine and fresh air, maybe with a friend or your dog. Or how about hiking, kayaking, swimming, playing sports, just having fun moving the bodies God gave us. Why must we make it all seem so hard. I think if we really start to value ourselves as wonderful human beings and practice good self care, maybe that number on the scale will just take care of itself. I for one don’t want it to have such an affect on me. I want to make changes because I like feeling better, healthier, stronger and more energetic. Don’t get me wrong, I also love the smaller clothes, the complements and the sense of accomplishment! I’ve made some great friends at Weight Watchers and I will never stop attending meetings. That’s just who I am. I need their feedback, their pep talks and the encouragement of friends. I like sharing their successes and them sharing mine. But the scales…I’m ready to stop letting them stress me out and start practicing what I preach….self care, being nice to ourselves and doing things we love. Now that will bring success!! Good luck on whatever path you take!

Peace,

Julie

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

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I usually try to wash my hands with plain old soap and water to get rid of icky germs and try to avoid illness, but it is not always possible.  In an effort to try to avoid harsh chemicals, I decided to give this recipe for homemade hand sanitizer a go!  I’m not sure what magazine I clipped it out of, but the article references Kate Snow, a green-living expert and author.  It contains 4 simple ingredients, the aloe vera and witch hazel I found at a discount store and the essential oils at I picked up at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.  It was a super easy project and took me less than 10 minutes to whip up a batch.

1/2 cup pure aloe vera gel

1 1/2 tsp witch hazel

15 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender essential oil

I mixed it up in a glass bowl and then used a small funnel to fill one three ounce container.  It took a little tapping on the counter but it went in pretty easily.  I have to be honest, I wasn’t  in love with the smell at first.  I think the tea tree oil has a strong scent, but the lavender balances it out.  However, I’m willing to put up with the smell in order to avoid harsh chemicals.  The smell of the oils did seem to dissipate after a few minutes.  When I tested it out, it felt a little sticky at first, but I kept rubbing for a few seconds and it evaporated on my hands.

How about you?  Do you have any natural recipes you love?   I’m always looking for more natural chemical-free ideas.  We would love to hear from you!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

~Blessings,

Jen