Dandelions, the Super Food

Dandelions!!!

It seems that many will do whatever it takes to rid their yard of those little yellow flowering weeds. For a matter-of-fact, we were once in that same camp. Then we moved over to the “I don’t care” camp and just mowed right over them when we cut the grass.  I have now moved into a new dandelion camp.

For years, I’ve heard of people making dandelion wine, but since I don’t drink wine,  I had no desire to give it a try. I had also heard of using dandelion greens in cooking, but again, I never had a desire to give them a try. Recently, I came across an article touting the benefits of dandelions and I was amazed!!!  This little weed that many try to kill has awesome health and healing benefits.  For example, it can prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice. It will act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify blood, cleanse the system, dissolve kidney stones, and improve gastrointestinal health. Having trouble with your weight? Eat dandelions for weight reduction. Dandelions can also be used to cleanse your skin and eliminate acne. Constipation or diarrhea? Dandelions can help both problems by improving bowel function. This little yellow flowering weed can improve blood pressure, prevent or cure anemia and has the ability to lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half. Eat some dandelion to reduce acid indigestion and/or the buildup of gas. This super weed can even prevent or cure various forms of cancer, diabetes and has no negative side effects.

All these years I’ve tried to kill dandelions when in fact, I should have been protecting them, picking them, and feeding them to my family.

With my new-found knowledge, the girls and I headed outside to pick dandelions.  We picked only the flowers to make Dandelion Blossom Bread.

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2 c flour

2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c dandelion blossoms, all green sepals and leaves removed

1/4 c oil

4 T honey

1 egg

1 1/2 c milk

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, including petals making sure to separate clumps of petals. In separate bowl mix together milk, honey, oil beaten egg. Add liquid to dry mix. Batter should be fairly wet and lumpy. Pour into buttered bread tin or muffin tin. Bake 400F. For muffins 20-25 min, bread for bread up to twice as long. Test for doneness

I did add a little glaze to the bread, for some added sweetness, but it really didn’t need the glaze.  The bread tastes of honey and my 4-yr-old loves it.  My 6-yr-old ate several bites, then decided she was done.  She isn’t a big fan of honey though and her little sister was more than happy to finish her piece 🙂  Hubby chose not to partake.  Next time I think I’ll cut back on the honey a bit, but overall, I thought it was a delightful bread.

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Without a doubt, I will be including dandelions as part of our diet.  With all the wonderful health benefits, how can I not.

Zumba

This week I headed to the gym for my first Zumba class. I walked in and found a place in the back row. After all, no one wanted to see my over-sized body trying to Zumba her way to better health. There were about 30 women in the room. Women of all shapes, sizes and color. I looked around to see if I was the most out-of-shape woman in the room and pretty quickly determined that I was. Just another good reasons for me to be in that class.

Then the music started. I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy this class. Fun tempos. Great beats. Awesome songs.

The instructor got everyone moving and I quickly discovered the problem with the back row. Even with the instructor up on a platform, I still couldn’t see all the footwork and moves that I needed to do. I also discovered that watching the people in front of me wasn’t necessarily going to help either. I don’t know if it was their first class or not, but they certainly weren’t helping me figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Despite my confusion at times, I still got a great workout and managed to figure out some of the moves. They may not have looked the best, but I was doing them none-the-less.

See the lady in the red-orange pants and white shirt? That was me a few times during classes this week. LOL!!!!

About 40 minutes into the class I began to look at the clock. Not because it wasn’t fun, but because I wanted to see how long I had made it without collapsing. Twenty minutes later I had completed my first Zumba class. I was breathing hard. My face was red (which happens when I work out) and dripping with sweat. Most of all, I actually felt good. After years of not walking into a gym, I had done it and I had fun.

Today I headed back to Zumba with a different instructor. She was from Peru and had a strong Spanish accent. I could tell immediately that she was going to be fun.

The group was about half the size of the other group and this time I found myself standing in the front row not caring what anyone else thought. I was there to workout. I was there to improve my health. I was there to get in shape. I was there to have fun.

I worked out to song after song of Latin music. I couldn’t figure out many of the steps, but I kept on moving. Before I knew it, we were done. Another hour-long workout completed and I was very proud of myself.

As I got my things and headed for the exit, the instructor stopped me and asked if I was new to Zumba and her class. Oh no!!!! I must have been worse than I thought. Although I was quite sure that a couple women in the back row were having an equally difficult time with the moves. But then the instructor thanked me for coming and told me “good job.”

I think I’ll stick with it and Zumba my way to a more fit and healthy me.

 

My goal is to be able to Zumba off the floor like this one day!!

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed

I realized that I hadn’t posted the results of my February challenge or my March challenge.

So let’s start with the February challenge.

It didn’t go so well.

That’s short, sweet and to the point.

So here is the March challenge.

I will make work-outs part of my weekly routine.

I will reduce my grocery bill keeping it under $75 per week.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure which challenge will be tougher.

But as I was thinking about my lack of success in February the quote, “If at first you don’t succeed . . . ” came to mind so I decided to find a fun picture quote to add to this post. Little did I know I would find several that I liked and a few that had me chuckling.

Winter Work-Out

Hubby and Lili are still sick, although both are beginning to show signs of improvement and because we were running low on several things, I really needed to make a trip to the grocery store.  I decided hubby and Lili could stay home while Naomi and I headed out into our winter wonderland, but unfortunately, the snow and ice we got a couple of days ago was still sitting in my driveway and I wasn’t going anywhere unless I shoveled it out of the way.  So I bundled up and headed out with shovel in hand.

Our driveway is longer than most driveways in town. The majority go straight from the street to the garage which is somewhere between 20-25 ft on average. Our house is “L” shaped so our driveway is set off to the side and after about 20 ft it curves toward the garage and runs another 20 ft.   About double the size of most and we shovel by hand.  No snow blower.  No truck with a snow plow.

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The entrance to our driveway was especially difficult to dig thru since the snow plow had made several trips in front of our house, burying us under several more inches of snow.  Of course there was ice on top of those additional inches, so I had to use a metal spade to break thru all the ice and snow before I could scoop it out.  Then I shoveled the entire length of our driveway and about 7 feet across and now we can easily enter and exit.  And because I did all that work, I’m counting snow shoveling as part of my workout today. It’s activity I typically don’t do (although it feels like I’ve done a lot of it this winter). Shoveling snow burns a significant amount of calories. It’s gets the heart pumping and is a great form of resistance training. When you add a layer of ice on top of snow, it’s an even more strenuous work-out.

Thanks to the snow and ice, I got in a good work-out.  I also did 20 minutes of yoga first thing this morning.   A great winter work-out and a nice start to my February challenge!!!

February Monthly Challenge

I made it thru the January challenge and would have to call it a success.  We saved  money, we ate healthy and found some great new recipes that I will most certainly be using again.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the challenge was how much less I actually had to cook.  A pot of soup gave us a lot of meals, so I did more heating up meals than I did actually cooking meals for the month.  Winner!!!

For the month we ate Black Bean & Lentil Soup, Baked Potato Soup, Pork Chili Verde, Ham & 13 Bean Soup, Vegetable Beef Soup, Chicken & Dumpling Soup, Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup, White Chicken Chili, Bean and Bacon Soup, and Chili Tortellini.

Ten different recipes for 30 days.

Now we enter a new month and it’s time for a new challenge.  So I’m doing a double challenge this month.

Challenge #1 is to continued a variation of the January challenge by creating one-dish meals for the month of February.  Healthy meals that can be prepared in a big pot on the stove, the slow cooker or in a casserole dish and baked in the oven.  Enough for 2-4 meals with plenty for hubby can take for his lunches (that’s the biggest savings for us).

Challenge #2 is to become more active by committing to at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 6 days a week.  I can break it down into 10 minute increments 3 times per day if necessary, but at least 30 minutes.  Either getting out and walking, playing Kinect Sports or Kinect Adventures on the Xbox with the girls, going to the gym and swimming, taking a  Zumba or some other aerobic class.  I have a couple new Yoga DVD’s that I need to use or I could do some resistance training 1-2 days per week.  Lots of choices and a commitment to physical activity.  One month!  A great way to begin building a new healthy habit in my life.

January Monthly Challenge

In an effort to eat healthier and save money, hubby and I are challenging ourselves to a month of soups and stews in January.

Breakfast will consist of something other than soup or stew and hubby wants me to throw in some variety at dinner once or twice a week, but our lunches and the majority of our dinners will consist of soup or stew, with sides of veggies when needed.

Granted, some soups and stews aren’t necessarily healthy, but I’m focusing on those with meats, dried beans and/or veggies and avoiding ones with pasta and a heavy cream base. Healthy, warm, satisfying meals perfect for cold winter days and nights here in Central IL.

Meals of soups and stews should also save us money. I have some meat and veggies in the freezer, veggies from our garden in the freezer as well as our garden tomatoes canned and ready for use. The addition of a few more meats, veggies and dried beans from the grocery store during the month won’t cost a lot and we’ll have many good meals on the table. Hubby is also committed to taking soup/stew to work for lunch each day. No going to lunch with co-workers or grabbing take-out somewhere for the entire month. That alone will save us a tremendous amount of money for the month.

Another benefit is trying out some new recipes and becoming more disciplined about preparing and eating more meals at home.

Our goal is to have more money in our bank account and lower numbers on the scale at the end of January.

Less dependency and more self-sufficiency.

I’ll report back on January 31st to let you know how we did.

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher. ~Thomas Henry Huxley

 

Benefit of Yoga

First of all, why does yoga look like so easy? It’s NOT!!!

I went to my first yoga class Wednesday evening and I took the easy class, which goes to prove that I’m severely out-of-shape.

As I get older, I have begun to experience more aches and pains, especially in my neck, back, and knees. While I know age is a factor, the bigger factor for me is stress. I needed to find something that would be easy on the knees while allowing me to get my back and neck muscles in better shape and yoga seemed like the perfect fit.

My first class went pretty well. I didn’t experience discomfort in my neck, back and knees. For a matter-of-fact, some of the stretches felt really good and alleviated much of the pain I’ve been experiencing for months and months and months.

Two days later and I am definitely feeling some benefits of yoga. I’m feeling less pain and stiffness in my back and neck. The headaches, which had become a daily occurrence, have been gone since class. While I’m feeling less of the pains I’ve been experiencing for months and months and months, I can also tell that yoga gave me a little bit of a workout. My arms and stomach muscles are feeling the effects and that’s a good thing.

Overall, I would have to say that yoga is right for me. Not only does it appear to be providing me the physical benefits I need, I’m sure it will provide me additional benefits of emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness as I give myself a break to focus on just me a little bit during the week.