Friday, February 11, 2011

Pass the Peas Please.

Here I go again. I'm daring to find ways to incorporate nutritious foods at Casa de Richards aka home. In this most recent attempt, I tackled peas. My husband likes peas, but I am not really a fan of them.

However, I did have some additional motivation. Green Pea Risotto. This dish has been mentioned on Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, and every other cooking reality TV show. Before we talk about risotto, let's talk about the peas.

Peas are extremely nutritious! World's Healthiest Foods says this about them, "Green peas are bursting with nutrients. They provide good to very good amounts of 8 vitamins, 7 minerals, dietary fiber and protein. Green peas' supercharged nutritional profile can supercharge your health." 

One cup of green peas has the following nutrients and benefits. 
  • Over 50% DV of Vitamin K (which helps calcium in strengthening bones and also helps control blood clotting)
  • 42% DV of Manganese (This mineral serves many functions in the body including calcium absorption, blood sugar retention, and thyroid function)
  • 37.9% DV of Vitamin C (supports immune system and can even help reduce the risk of cancer)
These are only the top 3 nutrients in green peas. Click on the World's Healthiest Foods link to get the full 411 on the health benefits of green peas. 

Now onto the risotto. This is all I know about it. It is an Italian rice dish that is traditionally made with Arborio rice and Parmesan cheese. It pairs well with green peas and scallops. Risotto is cooked in a less traditional way as the liquid is poured into risotto about half a cup at a time as the rice is being cooked to allow the rice to soak up the broth as much as possible. I also know that Tre got kicked off of the current season of Top Chef All Stars because of his sub-par version of risotto and the last season of Hell's Kitchen had risotto as an appetizer on it's menu. Yup....that pretty much sums up my knowledge of this wonder dish. 

If you are looking for a professional risotto recipe, here you go.

I made my risotto by first sauteeing a cup and a half of green peas in about a tablespoon of olive oil with minced garlic and some of my mother's seasoning.(She literally gets herbs and seasonings, blends them, and bottles them for her use. She brought us some a couple of weeks ago. Yea, she's that amazing!) The stove was on medium heat.

Then I poured in two cups of rice and stirred it around a bit. I poured a total of six cups of chicken broth half a cup at a time. My arm got quite a bit of a workout. I continued stirring until the rice was al-dente (not too hard and not too soft) and then I added about half a cup of 98% fat free cream of chicken sans the chicken pieces. 

I seasoned the rice using rosemary, celery salt, and some garlic parsley salt. Then came the cheese. I added about half a cup of grated Parmesan, and then it was ready to be served. In case you are counting, risotto has 6 ww PointsPlus per half cup serving. Half a cup may not look like much, but it is certainly filling.

As you can see, we ate our risotto with grilled tilapia. It was incredible! I enjoyed the green peas immensely. I never thought I would say those words. My husband enjoyed it too. He said, "It was good. I'm not as wordy as you are, but it was very good." Yay!

This was an extremely successful attempt. Peas have officially become part of my diet. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grape Explorations

Grapes are tiny fruits of perfection. I like grapes. 
a lot. 
Can you tell?

I like them so much that sometimes I forget that they have nutritional value. It can't be good for me if it tastes good to me, right? False. 

False. False. False. False. False.

Got it? Good. 

Well, here are the facts, brought to us by World's Healthiest Foods
A serving of grapes (1 cup) contains about 5% DV of Vitamin C, 5% DV of Vitamin B1, 5% DV of Potassium, 5% DV of Vitamin B6 at the low cost of 61 calories (and zero WW Points!). Who would have known?
The real bottom line of (the red variety of) grapes is that they are rich in Flavanoids. Flavanoids and it's partners in crime, Quercitin and Resveratrol help to keep your heart healthy reducing platelet clumping and harmful blood clots. They also protect LDL Cholesterol from the bad stuff that damage your arteries. Resveratrol also helps to improve blood flow in the brain by 30% which reduces the chance of strokes.

Sooo....want to guess what I snacked on today?

 That's it. Grapes. FROZEN grapes. I took the grapes that my honey bought for us and I placed them in the freezer last night. Today I enjoyed the fruit of my non-labor. This is my favorite way of eating grapes. They taste like tiny Popsicles that just melt in your mouth.

Yum! Yum! I may just go grab some more. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Balancing the Scale

It's not new news that I have decided to do something about my unhealthy weight, and yes my weight is dropping as I seek to "do the right things consistently". (Woohoo!)
However in more recent news, I have become wildly obsessed with weighing myself. 
It really is a strange phenomenon. Months ago I avoided the scale like the plague because it made me uncomfortable to see that I was gaining weight so quickly. 
However, somewhere between 228 and 207 the scale became to me what a drug dealer is to an addict. The scale supplied me with the highest of the highs as the number on it became lower and lower.Weighing myself once a week seemed foolish after awhile. Who wouldn't want to receive such euphoria daily or multiple times a day? 
Then, the scale turned on me. 
"210! What!?!? I was just 208 this morning!!". Yup, that was me. 
My patient husband would say something like, "Didn't you just eat lunch? I wouldn't worry about it if I were you."
Somewhat relieved, I would agree. However, the real relief was when I weighed myself again.
Scary isn't it?
The scale was offering me more than a number. It was offering me validation. Every time the number dropped, I knew that my work was paying off....that I was being something (other than the many ways that my husband praises me). 
The more my weight dropped; the more my self esteem rose. 
God is working on me though. He really is. One of the cool things about about having a relationship with Jesus is that He deals with every part of us. We, Christ followers, do not always yield, trust, or obey, but who He is never changes. He never stops seeking us out.
I say all of that to say this. Jesus cares about my scale obsession because He cares about me. He cares about you too. He wants us to find our meaning and purpose in Him. Jesus validates us. Being His is supreme. Who am I in Christ? 
I am God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), chosen (John 15:16), dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), more than a conquerer (Romans 8:37), and saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8).

So, yea...who I am in Christ is immeasurable. I am not a number on a scale. Please get this though. I am not at all trying to say the that weighing yourself is sinful or evil....really I am not. I am not telling you to stop getting on the scale everyday either. Weigh yourself as much as you would like. The scale is an excellent tool to help us stay accountable. I know I need a checkpoint, and the scale is just that. It is an effective reflection of recent habits, though it's not perfect. The problem was not the scale, but that I was seeking something from it that could only be found in Christ. 
The scale fluctuates (heck, I can be pretty shifty too), but His purpose remains. 
Therefore, iDare to seek Christ daily, and weigh myself weekly. 

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Accidentally Fabulous (My take on the Proverbs31 woman)

Now that I have the blessing and responsibility of being the wife to my (handsome, easygoing, intelligent, patient, and amazing) husband, I have been taking a closer look at Proverbs 31:10-31. Therein lies the infamous description of the virtuous woman aka the wife of noble character aka super woman. This woman is the real deal! She is a money saving, early rising, good humored, seamstress business woman who does her husband good all the days of her life. That's not even all of it. iDare you to read it for yourself.  Click here to do just that.

For a long time, this is what I envisioned this woman looking like. 

So that's what I thought I was supposed to become. If she did it so could I, right? Only one problem. I only have 2 arms. In the midst of my re-strategizing, something happened in my heart. 
Jesus spoke to it. 
He drew my eyes closer to the end of the passage. It was verse 30 in particular. It reads, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." 

I think it's important that I share the following before I continue. First of all, this passage was written as an acrostic poem. How cool is that?
Writing poetry is one of the things that I like to do from time to time. When writing poetry, there was always a special significance to the ending of the piece. You see the end of the piece is what usually tied everything together. It was that "Aha!" moment that gets responses in performance. 
Verse 30 was it, and my heart was exploding with response. I have heard this taught before, but there was revelation like never before this time around. Here's the earth shattering truth. Everything that I read about this woman was made possible and significant through her life of living in fear (reverence) of The Lord Jesus Christ. 
The beginning part of Psalm 111:10 says this, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...."
Read it in the Amplified Version for a bit more detail. Right here.

How wonderfully poetic to put this foundational truth towards the end of the passage! 
Let's think about this some more. Let's put a face on this woman. If the fear (reverential fear and worship) of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom (and skill), then is it possible that this woman didn't even know how great she was? Is it possible that she did not have schooling on every single thing that she excelled in? Is it possible that she had some mistakes along the way? Is it possible that she was accidently fabulous?

I think so.We all have the need for God's mercy every single moment of every day. I think she simply knew one  thing, and she knew it well. Her secret was that she sought God. She lived in the fear of Him, and that was only the beginning. It was God that led her, prepared her, and made her this great woman that we compare ourselves to and lose. I'm beginning to think that she looks something like this.

I believe she looks more like us. She feels, thinks, and struggles like we do. I think she wakes up early in the morning to spend time alone with Jesus. She asks Him for direction and trusts Him enough to follow. God delights in her ways and brings her to places that she she never thought she would go. When given her turn to speak, I think she would carefully choose words greater than her own. I think she would put it this way.

"Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." (Matthew 6:33 The Message translation)

iDare. Do you?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spoonful of Sugar

Simply stated, I like chocolate and flavored coffees. A lot.
For this post, I dared myself to come up with an unexpected way to enjoy a healthier portion of flavor to coffee that was still satisfactory to my taste buds. 
First, I did some research. Check this out.

This absolute delight is a product of The Chocolate Company that began in Germany. They have over 75 flavors of these hotchocspoons. As you have probably already guessed, these spoons are to be dipped into hot milk to make a delicious gourmet cup of hot chocolate. Read more here.

Then there was this.....

This gave me hope that I could do something with this. This came from a blog: Sprinkle Bakes.
After coming across recipe after recipe, I shut down my lap top and decided to get to work. I've worked with chocolate before so I knew what to expect. My goal was just have fun with it and make a spoon that could be dipped into my coffee that contained a satisfactory but not overly indulgent amount of chocolate. However, I wanted it to look and feel like that messy chocolate spoon of icing that kids love sneaking out of the kitchen. With no recipe to follow, I went to a delicious chocolate shoppe in downtown Melbourne to pick up the goods. 

I picked up some milk chocolate and some dark chocolate, and some wax paper from Target. 
Here's what I did. (I apologize for the lack of  pics.)

I melted 1 square of dark chocolate with 2 squares of milk chocolate in the microwave. There's a trick to it though. For this amount of chocolate, heat it up for about 30 seconds at a time. Heat for 30 seconds and stir, then repeat the process. If the chocolate looks anything less than creamy, then add a small amount of butter. This is when fat works for us. The butter helps the chocolate to regain it's smooth texture. 

After that I grabbed my spoon and dipped it straight into a jar of Nutella. Oh yea, I was going to get the most out of my spoonful of sugar! I didn't go too crazy with it though. I didn't scoop the Nutella. I just dipped it straight down and pulled it straight back up....twice. I swirled the spoon into my melted chocolate and sat it on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, and voila! 

I could not wait to brew a cup of coffee to give this a try, and it was good! There was no cream or sugar in my coffee, and this didn't add sweetness as much as it did flavor. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but the best was yet to come. 

Today, I tried one all by it's lonesome. No coffee or milk. It was so much better that way! The chocolate on the outside was a very nice solid texture, and when that broke to reveal the creamy Nutella....I was in heaven! 

Next time, I plan to take a smaller amount of Nutella and mix it with little bits and pieces of this amazing crisp flat bread before I swirl it in chocolate. 

Talk about a tasty surprise! It's not a good idea to have a whole lot of these, but it makes a great rare treat. Who needs chocolate bars when you have spoons? It's chocolate indulgence without the excess.

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the virtual 10k. You can walk it, jog it, bike it, or run it. There will be prizes and you don't have to be the fastest to win! See more information in my previous post.