Tag Archives: fitness

Another Favorite Day

Dear Diane just reminded me today is another of my favorite days of the year.

February 15: Valentine chocolates go on sale!

I’m kidding. Sort of. I began an intense diet the first week of December 2018. I’m not impressed with the weight loss so far, but I feel remarkably better (despite life’s bumps and bruises). So, it’s not another epic fail.

I get lots of practice failing. Okay, maybe not exactly failing, but I’m well experienced in unexpected outcomes. Too bad that doesn’t sound as impressive on a resume.

Today let’s stick with diet and exercise. I’ve tried lots of ways to lose excess weight – not all were healthy and some made me feel awful. But with help from good friends like David at Chape Fitness I’ve condensed them all to a simple plan.

Ready?

Here goes:

Burn what you eat.

Okay, we can’t blame that on David (mea culpa, Bro). My weight has raised and lowered my whole life, so empirically, it’s not quite that simple. Last year I again found more extra pounds than I want to admit. Despite running myself ragged all summer and feasting mostly upon the super-sized vegetable garden, as the holidays approached I hadn’t shed the smallest fraction.

I had however, let slip the practice of doing nothing else but eat during meals. I’d also stopped paying attention to the combinations of what I ate as well as the times I ate. What’s more, I lost sight of why my diet is important to me – loving myself slid way down the priority ladder as well. These small details, left unchecked can combine to become a big problem.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I can fumble likewise in my relationship with God. I’ll put off my devotion time for any number of logical reasons, like:

  • to take advantage of the sunlight hours,
  • to get a head start on tasks, or
  • do my shopping while sane people sleep in,

Seems smart. Right? Yeah, but before I know it, days passed and my soul and spirit were dry. I never got around to what’s actually most important. The evidence was unmistakable. Instead of contentment I soon found myself:

  • Jumping to conclusions,
  • Flying off the handle, and
  • Definitely pushing my luck.

These are far from the best workouts. Fortunately my brakes still work well.

I’m still learning to simply slow down a bit, strategize my meals and activities, pray more and stress less.  As I do I not only feel better, but once I shed this extra weight I’ll be able to enjoy some of the little things in life more without blowing up my long-term goals.

Chocolate freezes. Right?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Romans 12:1 (NLT)

 

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Pretense

In memory of the recently recycled HealthriderPro let’s revisit a not-too-distant ruckus:

For weeks we’d been juggling some items between the main house and my cottage. We replaced my long craft/dining/kitchen table with a far more accommodating 41” round table. It’s not the drop leaf kitchen island I envision for the area – yet – but this certainly frees up more floor space.

And then Cole announced he must find a place for his treadmill.


After a quick flashback of the previous year’s exceptional weather I told him, “I’ll figure something out.”

With all the bells and whistles of a gym-quality machine, his Healthrider Soft Strider Pro is wide and sturdy, so it’s heavy. With the handy space-saving fold-up track it’s awkward to haul – especially over the gravel driveway.

After ten days of the treadmill and its electronic controls waiting under a moving pad – in the heat, the voices in my head got loud:

She canna take any more, Captain.  She’s gonna blow!”

Not willing to ignore Scotty, I devised a plan to move the obstacle that strong, fit Brother left by the porch steps (I’ve learned not to ask silly things like, “why,”).

With some boards over the gravel and an appliance hand truck I slowly, carefully rolled the treadmill through the car door into the cottage. Don’t be impressed – it’s all about leverage. Fine. Leverage, balance and the Luck of the Irish.

Once inside I needed to position that mammoth monolith for use with the least amount of effort. This was tricky. I needed it where I could view my 32” television/computer monitor, but not obstruct the flow. Feng Shui, people.

So, this is the part where I realize one of the wheels that would ordinarily move the thing easily over the concrete floor are jammed, immovable.

“Where’s the damn antimatter inducer, Chekov?”

That’s when I remembered a technique a friend described years earlier after her family had purchased a somewhat dilapidated farm house. After repeatedly asking her husband to fix stuff, and allowing a reasonable waiting period, she went all strategic.

Like FarmGirl described, I pulled out my tool box and every power tool I could get my hands on and tactically placed them around the treadmill, slightly obstructing the doorway. And then I waited.

As FarmGirl said,

“Nothing motivates men faster than the sight of  a woman with power tools.”

I’m not sure if I would actually have tried to fix the wheel myself, with or without the circular saw or grinder, or not. But I am now convinced that

sometimes a good pretense makes the best offense.

That evening, after a pitcher of iced tea Cole had the treadmill rolling easily. I can now jog to my heart’s content while catching up on my favorite audio books, programs and movies.

 

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25, 26 (NLT)

 

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Supplements

I take nutrition seriously. In grade school I noticed the whole world ran better and life made more sense when I ate breakfast.  Now that my body has experienced the force of gravity for longer than I want to admit, nutrition is even more important to me.

Being “smarter than the average bear,” you’d think I would have had nutrition down by my mid-thirties. Instead, prolonged periods without sufficient rest, too little quiet time and an inadequate diet led me to heart failure. I’d been boosting my performance with hours of overtime, rigorous strength training, and substances  additional supplements, but my soul was starving. I thank God daily for giving me the chances to change and for leading me in the right directions.

Three decades later, with a declining metabolism and well-abused joints, finding the right balance between fuel and burning calories remain a top priority. To ensure I’m running at peak performance – okay – and to avoid ever experiencing a black-out again I’m careful to 1) hydrate 2) eat 3) exercise daily and 4) take supplements.

Even with careful attention to my diet, I discovered that my thyroid still functions quite well, but a vitamin D deficiency left me sluggish and tired. A supplement righted that within days. It seems odd that with all our scientific advancements our food alone doesn’t always provide us all our necessary nutrients, so I appreciate medicine that quickly identifies most deficiencies.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. As a dear friend recently told me, “All the notes I take while studying and all I hear in church don’t amount to much until I put it all into practice.”

Determination, the strictest routine, worship services, motivational speakers and affirming audios help us achieve overall good health, but they simply aren’t enough. We all need exercise and a good diet (that includes attention to what to avoid).  Supplementing our natural bodies by caring for others and maintaining a strong spiritual connection with our maker is also important.

I usually provide a good example of what not to do. Doing as I do will mostly get you into trouble. God’s grace is seriously my only hope. This world is so full of shiny and sparkly stuff, I often forget He is always with me. But almost as often I quickly remember He is always near – usually soon enough to avoid hurt or harm.

 

The best supplement ever, a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being besties with God is essential to a peaceful, satisfying and harmonious life.

“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 2 pet 1:5-9 NLT

 

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Pretention

Part of last month’s activities included juggling items between the main house and my cottage. We replaced my long craft table with a far more accommodating 41” round table. It’s not the drop leaf kitchen island cabinet I envision – yet – but this certainly frees up more floor space.

And then Brother announced he must find a place for his treadmill.


After a quick flashback of the previous year’s exceptional weather I told him, “I’ll figure something out.”

With all the bells and whistles of a gym-quality machine, his Healthrider Soft Strider Pro is wide and sturdy, so it’s heavy. And with the handy space-saving fold-up track it’s awkward to haul – especially over the gravel driveway.

After ten days of the treadmill and its electronic controls waiting under a moving pad – in the heat, the voices in my head got loud, “She canna take any more, Captain.  She’s gonna blow!”

Not willing to ignore Scotty, I concocted a plan to move the obstacle my strong, fit brother left by the porch steps (I’ve learned not to ask silly things like, “why,”).

With some boards over the gravel, an appliance hand truck nose-plate positioned between the wheels (conveniently located under the heaviest part of the machine 😉 ), I slowly, carefully rolled the treadmill through the car door into the cottage. Don’t be impressed – it’s all about leverage. Fine. Leverage, balance and the Luck of the Irish.

Once inside I needed to position that mammoth monolith for use with the least amount of effort. This was tricky. I need it where I can view my 32” television/computer monitor, but not obstruct the flow. Feng Shui, people.

So, this is the part where I realize one of the wheels that would ordinarily move the thing easily over the concrete floor are jammed, immovable.

“Where’s the damn antimatter inducer, Chekov?”

That’s when I remembered a technique a friend described years earlier after her family had purchased a somewhat dilapidated farm house. After repeatedly asking her husband to fix stuff, and a reasonable waiting period, she’d craftily take matters into her own hands.

Like FarmGirl described, I pulled out my tool box and every power tool I could get my hands on, strategically placed them around the treadmill, slightly obstructing the doorway. And then I waited.

As FarmGirl said,

“Nothing motivates men faster than the sight of  a woman with power tools.”

I’m not sure if I would actually have tried to fix the wheel myself, with or without the circular saw or grinder, or not. But I am now convinced that

sometimes a good pretense makes the best offense.

That evening, after a pitcher of iced tea Brother had the treadmill rolling easily. I can now jog to my heart’s content while catching up on my favorite audio books, programs and movies.

 

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25, 26 (NLT)

 

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Neck Up Check Up

I’ll just say it; I crack me up.

This morning began even earlier than usual for me. It’s hot, so I didn’t sleep as well as I typically do. I rolled out of bed thanking God for another day with Him. But soon I grumbled and complained about the dead bugs here and there from the summer’s quarterly spraying. Disgusted, I tied a frozen bandanna around my neck and stepped outside.

Instead of heading for the pastures first as I usually do, I walked toward the front yard and the gardens. It didn’t occur to me that the cattle and the mare would notice me in the pre-dawn light. They did. Loudly. Their calls to me actually warm my heart most days, but it was very early. Silly me, I worried the premature noise might disturb the neighbors – the nearest one being too far to hear. After I walked the other way, out of sight they quieted back down quickly.

I adore growing my own food. Over the weekend we’d placed Sevin baits to help reduce the earwig overpopulation. Still finding the live, slithering masses under everything I touched (checking for squash bugs or eggs) annoyed me. So did the screen door banging against the planter – someone left it open after using the grill the night before. As the first sun beams streaked across the tree trunks I felt taken for granted noticing the empty bird feeders. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Clearly I desperately needed coffee.

Once the coffee began pumping I felt revived and happier with the world. I followed the cattle to the pasture to see how the new controller program I’d set the day before went. That was a long process in itself: find a manual on line, find the information I needed rather than read every jot and tittle about the device, hand write the step-by-step instructions (of course the printer cartridge emptied at that particular moment, and forget a WiFi signal in the metal barn), walk back to the cottage for a flashlight since the new lights in the barn aren’t connected yet… I already had half my daily steps in.

Then I noticed two swamp spots in the first sprinkler zone – yep, the cow’s knocked off two more sprinkler heads so the water pooled around a two-yard radius instead of the 20 yard circles they should have soaked. Stupid cow.

I shot a text off to Brother reminding him to bring more replacement heads home with him and headed back to my desk. I pulled fresh weeds to feed the chickens – killing two birds with one stone (the young hens will just have to get over that expression – or start laying soon).

Within minutes at my desk, my brand new wireless keyboard had me wanting to punch something. Does anyone actually use F keys instead of hot keys? How is learning to stretch the fingers higher better than CTL+S, CTL+A, CTL+C, CTL+V, etc? I literally walked away after the fifth or sixth time a Save As dialogue box popped up rather than the cursor back spacing over yet another key error. Grrr… And I saved to buy this device for months!

The sound of Old Dog sniffing around my open door was all it took to push me over my threshold. Time for a walk.

Before we’d walked fifty yards I noticed Senior Neighbor Lady waving her arms and calling me. Walking past our three dogs noisily engaging in their daily fence fight I finally heard her tell me, “Honey, I don’t have my hearing aids in and couldn’t hear what you were yelling to me.”  Hmmm… I only waved hello as I do every morning – usually two hours later.

I easily find patience with seniors – sowing what I hope to reap, so I hugged her and wished her a nice day.

As Dog and I rounded the first bend in the road, I heard what sounded like angry voices nearby. Dog paused, his aging ears pointed toward the source of the sound. It appeared one half of a young couple was loading a pick-up truck bed and the other half was getting her wounded, parting words out. He wordlessly pulled items out of the pile she’d created next to the garbage can before the collection truck arrived.

Been there, done that. I prayed.

I continued to pray as we continued our walk. Dog doesn’t mind – he can’t hear my lower register anyway. God does.

As we headed back up our driveway I noticed the fruits of my labors in the pretty, colorful, well-trimmed yards, and the unmistakably peaceful atmosphere of the place. Yeah, the lots between the main house and the pastures seem chaotic, but that’s what Brother’s business going in good a direction looks like.

I realized how silly I’d been earlier. Though I never expected to be unmarried, my life now is what I’ve always hoped and wished for. Despite the daily annoyances that are certain to arise as I learn about ranch life, with such a benefactor as Brother, my life has become a story I want to write. Most important, I realized how quickly I suffer for discounting my relationship with God.

Today I’m humbled recalling one of Daddy’s iconic expressions, “How soon we forget.”

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to never step out the door before prayer time – or without my latte.

Now I’m off to get the rest of my steps in before it’s too hot!

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy MemeGenerator.net.

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Housebound

Being still and quiet is not my strong suit – never has been. I’m a do-er. Unable to use my arms, this healing season has been my greatest challenge to date, often plunging me into bouts of apathy followed by arbitrary sadness.

The rain and wind have arrived. The lots muddy, pastures soggy, the cottage floors took the worst of it while using a broom or mop is so difficult. Initially I engaged all my creativity cleaning up the mess, but gradually succumbed to going outdoors only when necessary.

Soon I felt the walls beginning to close in on me and my moods swung dark.

Despite physical therapy I see my muscles beginning to shrivel; bicep, triceps, flexor and brachia rubber bands. This concerns me. I don’t spring back as fast as I used to. Still, I flex till it hurts and then stop.

Today the dark dams looming in every corner of the cottage seemed to break open. I could no longer simply sit. I sat on a piece of non-slip drawer liner, arms folded across my middle. Pressing my feet against the sofa I pushed it. Stuttering, and groaning it moved!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

We must re-stain the concrete anyway, so I’ll live with the scrape marks until the weather is more cooperative.

Repeating this with the love seat and recliner I cleared a circular path through the three rooms.

Then I did the math:

One circle through the rooms is 40-42 steps. Times 13 trips every hour 8 times a day, I not only see little things I actually can clean but I’m also burning calories while pumping the creative juices. Since I work an average of 8 to 10 hours a day – that’s about two miles of steps. Sure, I feel like I’m growing hamster hair, but spring’s coming.

I reset the alarms on my laptop and dutifully respond every hour. Shoes laced and dressed in layers I can peel off and put back on, every hour I stayed on task, returning to work with my brain freshly revived.

This is better. Now I’m brain storming how I can buff out the scrape marks standing on buffing pads from the paint shop… I’ll dance. Mashed Potato everyone!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:18 (NLT)

 

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Avalanch

20170202-south-view1

I’ve been home here in the northwest, without cable and reliable internet for a few months now. It’s taken some adjusting, forcing me out of habits and especially my comfort zones. With the local library, a $10 antenna, new cell device, changing my cell service carrier and careful timing, it’s working – at least until the landscape melts. I’m not gonna lie, I miss spending hours a week interacting with my family, friends and fellow bloggers on line.

And with the exceptionally hard winter I’ve taken some hits. Falls, colds, joint aches, some tendinitis, bursitis on top of my new, stylish gait from fracturing my coccyx (Hey! I got to say it again). At one point I considered what being trapped in an avalanche felt like. The next morning I realized I was complaining, aloud, actually whining at my mirror, “Really? Aren’t we done with this crazy cold yet?”

Was it me I recall saying, “I adore the four equal seasons here. Just about the time we wonder if the heat or the cold will ever let up, Bam! it does?” Yeah. I said it. Often. Coming home to the old, familiar climate that suits me best was what I looked forward to most. Not. This. Winter.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing,”*

Convicted, I was more determined to 1) stop whining, and then look for new ways to get through challenges. As I groaned zipping my jeans I thought about eating better. I’m kinda big on eating well, so this would take more than merely adjusting my diet.

I began by turning off the TV, radio, Kindle, CDs, setting aside books, newspapers and all other distractions at mealtime and while dining. Immediately I not only spared myself the smells and waste from scorching or burning my food while multitasking, but I honestly became more fully aware of my many blessings. I enjoy the challenges of “saving” a recipe, but not needing to is way better.

After a few days I noticed I ate less and enjoy food more. Soon, my jeans fit more comfortably again; remarkable after weeks without power walks and workouts while I heal. Okay, that’s mostly to avoid treacherous snowbanks, snow and ice avalanching from the rooftops.

20161210_badger-cyn

We’re not actually snowbound – now. Despite dark, overcast skies for days on end, the sun teases now and then lighting up the sparkling, pastoral scenery surrounding me. Life is indeed beautiful. After months of frozen white everywhere I’m determined to enjoy the beautiful quiet. And be very ready for spring.

Excuse me a minute while I check the furnace wood stove.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

*Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

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Bliends – Workout

I’m not your average fitness buff. I doubt I’m average anything, but I do all I can to maintain optimum health for as long as I suck air.

fitness-dream-pixabay

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roo-glasses

My friend David at Chape Personal Trainer is not only highly qualified, certified, but is a true professional. For over a year his blog has inspired me to raise the bar steadily, gradually despite a couple of rough spots. With videos, groan-by-groan detailed directions and great quotes to encourage and inspire, Dave pushes me. You too can easily load events from his blog right to your calendar and connect with a good group of like minded people.

fitness-pixabay1

I can’t imagine this gentle giant being anything but strong, but he’ll tell you he was a frail child. Today this entirely charming, insightful and conscientious man takes personal training to the next level – in more than one language. Personally I appreciate his patience with my broken language skills and who doesn’t appreciate a manly guy that adores animals?

jumprope-pixabay

 

 

 

Need a nudge to get you back into your best shape? Check out Chape.

 

 

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11

Images (except the top of Roo’s head) are courtesy of Pixabay.

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Image

In this new phase of my life I often hear weekday television talk shows from my room. One conversation recently caught my interest so I joined Erin in front of the television for a while.

The co-hosts were talking about Refinery 29, the Take Back the Beach initiative and overall body positivity. I could go on all day on this, but I’ll try to stick to the program:

Logans runThe co-hosts talked about how people seem to be more obsessive than ever with morphing themselves into their ideal self-images. Is it just me or do images of Logan’s Run come to anyone else’s mind?

 

As a co-host I would have pointed out renown art through the ages. We consider even those now in pieces beautifully inspiring. Take Venus Di Milo and Michelangelo’s David for instance.

venus di milo 'David'_by_Michelangelo

Art inspires us, and while the inspiration remains in moderation it’s great. Yet it seems to me much of our global society has taken cosmetic procedures to a whole new level – too close to obsession for my thinking.

While not new on the scene, figureheads like Veruschka von Lehndorff, Dianne Carroll and Christi Brinkley continue to stand out in my mind among the haunting new images of Pia Trivedi, Aneta Pajak and Alisa Ahmann.
All. Painfully. Thin.

More than ever we seem to be morphing humans. Back to the the show again, they also talked about the increase in men having cosmetic procedures including hair implants to be more attractive to a prospective mate.

One host commented that with all this cosmetic manipulating (my paraphrase), When they start having children, they don’t really know what they’re getting; all they know is there’s a new baby. But the baby’s features will be a real surprise! Like, where did that come from?!

Personally speaking, when I was young I did not consider myself comely. I could not see beyond how people treated me; the people who loved me, provided for me, and cared for me. I saw myself as unattractive and fat mostly because that’s mostly what I heard. What’s more I had that hideous red hair people talked about. UGH!

Ultimately I came to understand that my family and loved ones regarded me the same way they saw themselves (not necessarily as they actually are/were). Naturally, they passed on to me what they had – distorted and sad as much of that was. Thanks to God, I am fortunate to have extended family and good friends, so I survived and went on to learn about a better, happier perception of life.

I understand the attitude toward body image and self-esteem. A poor self-perception, over-indulgences and genetics aren’t such a mystery anymore. Personally I experienced how for a season, my self-perception made me somewhat insensitive to others’ feelings and opinions. It happens.

What’s more, like many younger people today, I once took my appearance very seriously – making myself attractive to the opposite sex for sex’s sake. And consistently, the inevitable disappointment, emptiness and loneliness consistently signaled the end to nearly every intimate relationship. I eventually learned I couldn’t hide behind pop culture, fashion, make up and others’ opinions of me . I had to get to know, accept myself and then love ME.

We do well to focus upon

what the Bible says about our image:

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”*

“This is the written account of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.””**

This says nothing about fashion or outward appearance. It’s about a process – knowing The Great I Am, so we know who He says we all are.

Scan_20160517

In photos of much younger me I look fit, stylish and for the most part attractive – until I spoke. It’s funny how a few decades can change things.

 

2016jan30copyToday I don’t think long about clothes (aside from not embarrassing my companions in public) or makeup – since I rarely wear much. The person in the mirror today resembles that younger girl mostly, only with many more wrinkles and utter resignation to gravity. This not only proves the adage, we don’t know what we have until we lose it, but that nothing lasts forever.

 

Now I daily recite the fact that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “And how well I know it.”# In that truth I tend to focus more upon self-respect, self-perception and health consciousness – the inner me.

I don’t wish my history or my excess baggage upon any other human, and yet I am not that unique. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel better about the world around us. By understanding and accepting that we are formed in God’s image the burden of responsibility for ourselves is as much on God as it is on each individual. To date, I’m very okay with that.

As I age I understand better that we are all accountable for what we do with our image. Now I understand better that God sees past our perceived flaws, through all our faults and some slightly embarrassing secrets, right to our need. As we practice relationship with God, we begin to see ourselves as He sees us – lovely and perfect in His design for our lives. I’m thankful for that.

Our relationships with Him makes us all we can be.

That’s as much as I stick with talk shows  😀

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14 (King James Version)

* Genesis 1:26, 27 (NLT)
** Genesis 5:1,2 (NLT)
# Psalm 139:14 (NLT)

Logan’s Run image courtesy IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3529873408/tt0074812?ref_=ttmd_md_nxt#

Venus Di Milo image courtesy Wikimedia.org: By Unknown – Jastrow (2007), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1999049

Michelangelo’s David image courtesy By Jörg Bittner Unna – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38304758

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Delicious No-Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce and Oats

It’s the season we crave stick-to-your-ribs, soul satisfying food. Because of the inclement weather it’s also harder to force ourselves outdoors so we naturally tend to put on Winter weight.

Don’t take it laying down (or curled up in the easy chair all winter). Start by reducing the processed sugars from your diet. Below are two recipes to help make that simple and I included groats (whole oat grain) to cook ahead and reheat.

No Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce

12 oz bag cranberries, rinsed
12 oz frozen apple juice concentrate thawed
6 – 8 oz flat blackberries or blueberries
dash salt
Grated peel of 1 small or med orange (tangerine, tangelo, 1/2 grapefruit peel are also good) or (1/4 t. lemon or lime juice)
1 1/2 -2″ piece finely minced crystallized ginger

Assemble in a saucepan, stir gently, bring to boil and then reduce heat immediately. Stir and continue to simmer until cranberries stop popping, about 10 – 15 minutes depending upon your altitude and range top.

Stir and let cool. Taste. Before adding any other sweetener, consider whether you are simply used to a sweeter (sugary) sauce. If desired you can add a tablespoon of agave syrup or honey. This will thin your sauce slightly and add more calories.

Use your imagination using this sauce. Aside from making fowl, ham and most any smoked meat even tastier, another delightful way to use it is in oats.

 

Cranberry-berry Oats

Serves 2

For Microwave combine in deep bowl:

1/2 cup cranberry-berry sauce
1/2 cup 4 oz. (snack cup) unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup apple juice or water
1/2 cup old fashioned (rolled) oats
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Microwave: stir gently, microwave at high heat 3 1/2 mins, stir microwave another 2 1/2 mins
Range top: Combine ingredients in a deep, medium sauce pan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes depending upon altitude.

Top with 1/4 cup diced walnuts,
1 teaspoon golden flax seed,
1 teaspoon chia seeds

Be creative with your favorite toppings, but watch out for saturated fats (butter, cream) and refined sugars. For example: vanilla powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, grated unsweetened coconut, a splash of almond milk, cashew milk (and soy creamer is delightful). No added sugar is actually needed!

Frozen, chopped strawberries or blueberries are great during the winter months. I get a bag of frozen mango, pineapple strawberry mix from Aldi, soften in the microwave, chop and add to oatmeal and yogurt for a great energy boost that sticks with you all morning.

 

Groats (whole grain oats, hulls removed)

The healthiest form of oats is simple to cook, but it takes more time. The best advantage to groats is they reheat beautifully in the microwave or on the stove top. I make them ahead and freeze half the batch.

Simply put:

Use 1 part groat grains,
3 parts water,
1 small, grated apple (peels and all, omit seeds), and a
dash of salt.

That’s it!

In a large pan (grain will expand to 3 times it’s bulk), bring grain, water, salt and grated apple to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let soak overnight (all day, whatever works for you). After 8 hours cook on low heat another 20 mins, add a dash of cinnamon if desired. Serve or store in serving sized bowls for convenience. Top as you like (cranberry-berry sauce and walnuts is especially good). Excellent re-heated for a delicious, satisfying breakfast in minutes.

For lots more information about the benefits of groats, click the links to these fine sites:

From the Culinate Kitchen collection by Carrie Floyd

Slow Cooker Groats by Martha Matheny

Spend less time cooking so you’ll have a little more time to exercise – “I like to move it!”

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