Two Green Smoothie Recipes

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, January 30, 2012 - 21:36

Green smoothies have been a quick and easy way for me to get in lots of spinach and other greens in my diet. As promised, here are two simple smoothie recipes. The first includes ingredients that you probably have on hand; the second has ingredients that may not be in your pantry right now but are definitely worth keeping stocked.

Blueberry-Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

Add to Blendtec, Vitamix, or powerful blender in this order:

  • 8 oz. filtered water
  • 2-4 oz. organic juice (if your sweet tooth begs for it; I skip the juice)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground Flax
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 pound spinach
  • small squirt of vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. agave (if you're not adding juice)
  • 1 cup ice
Blend until smoothie consistency, and ENJOY!

Green Vanilla Smoothie (with a hint of Chocolate)

Green Smoothie

Add to Blendtec, Vitamix, or powerful blender in this order:

Add to mixer and blend until smooth.

Green Smoothie

These are really delicious smoothies, and I like both. Since I've been avoiding dairy lately, the first one is my smoothie of choice, but my husband has his own "Blue Smoothie" recipe. He adds approximately 1.5 cups of blueberries (no spinach yet), 8 oz. almond milk, 4 oz. water, 2 Tbsp. ground flax, 2 scoops protein powder and ice. He's been drinking this every day for the last couple weeks!

TIPS:
  • If you are just starting out, decrease the amount of spinach you're using until you get used to the taste.
  • You could add more fruit to your smoothies if you want more sweetness. I try to keep the fruits to a minimum since they are higher in sugars (even though the sugars are natural) because Anti-Cancer diets typically call for minimal fruit consumption. 
  • When you're traveling and using #2 with a few different dry ingredients, then make up little baggies of pre-measured dry ingredients to simplify the packing. 
Once you start making these, you'll be amazed at how simple and delicious it is to get so many greens in your diet! 

Our Second Week of {almost} Vegetarian Eating

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, January 30, 2012 - 23:17

Still in the Storm

Week #2 in this adventure of almost-vegetarian eating has been a continued learning experience. We started off the week watching another inspiring documentary on healthy eating, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” (also available on Netflix). It was inspiring, to say the least.

Since we are bombarded with the Standard American Diet (SAD) nearly everywhere we turn, then watching these documentaries can be rather motivating.

green juiceI was challenged to incorporate green juicing back into my routine. I juiced quite a lot before and during chemo, but have been doing mainly green smoothies the last number of months. I love my green smoothies and gave the recipe for my favorite one here; but, let me tell you, when that glass of green goodness in the form of juice touched my lips Monday morning, my taste buds were delighted.

That may be hard for you to believe, but when these veggies are juiced, the taste really is amazing!

Green juice

We juiced the carrots and apple first, and Matthew was thrilled to get his own glass of carrot juice. Seriously, I did not have to force it down him!

child drinking carrot juice

I’m eating food too, and here are a few of the recipes I tried:

  • Quinoa Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Feta
    • I really enjoyed this mixture of tastes. However, I was the only one who enjoyed it. Don’t let that discourage you from trying it though. My kids and husband aren’t really fond of quinoa (yet!) or feta.
    • The only alteration I made was that I used yellow onion since I didn’t have any green on hand.

Quinoa Salad

  • Spinach, Tomato and Lentil Soup
    • I was so afraid Dan wasn’t going to enjoy this, so I held my breath and said, “Please don’t tell me if you don’t like it!” But to my relief, he said, “It’s pretty good” and downed a bowl. The kids enjoyed it too--even though when Joanna saw it she asked for the Black Bean soup. Once she tried it, she was sold and completely cleaned out the bowl with no prompting at all.
    • The only alteration I made was accidental. I forgot to throw in the spinach at the end of the cooking time. OOPS.
    • All in all, this is a keeper, and I’ll be making it again.
  • Indian flavored rice and yummy mashed Black Beans. Two separate recipes from this great book.
  • Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie. Matthew favored this more than Joanna, but I’m pretty sure I loved it most of all. What a treat!
    • I used my Blendtec and thought this recipe called for too much banana. Here’s my adjusted recipe
      • 1 frozen banana
      • 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter or nut butter (no added fats or sugar)
      • 1 Tbsp raw cacoa powder (or cocoa if you have it)
      • ¼ cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
    • Blend it until it’s smooth, and enjoy pure chocolate/peanut butter goodness without the refined sugar!

If you’re looking for my report on the Falafel burgers, it’s not here yet for two reasons 1)I want to try a different recipe without dairy ingredients (though the sauce has yogurt) and 2)I didn’t have some of the needed ingredients on hand. Since I’ve heard great things about falafel, I can’t wait to tell you about this.

Thank you for all the great emails and notes I received in response to my posts about healthy eating. We made it through the second week without meat, and I'm enjoying the challenge of preparing vegetarian meals.

It's not that we don't plan to eat meat ever again, but for now, this seems to be the best route for our family, mainly for health reasons. 

If you haven't yet watched "Forks over Knives" or examined The China Study, I encourage you to at least check them out. And do your best to incorporate one positive change in your family's diet this week.

Bright Skies

Submitted by Melissa on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 23:22

Still in the Storm

Above: Fun visit to Brookfield Zoo Jan. 31, 2012

It was a strange feeling today, walking down the halls of the fourth floor at the Prentiss Women’s Hospital on the Northwestern University Hospital campus. Just a routine check-up for me, but the smells, the surroundings, the sounds, the sights brought back a flood of memories.

Upon arriving, there were the familiar, friendly faces of nursing staff, doctors, workers, volunteers. And there were the patients. Some were passing the time by looking at magazines and giving the appearance of waiting calmly; but, no doubt, many minds were filled with questions, anxious to hear what news might be awaiting them.  This is the oncology department, isn’t it? Who are we kidding?

On the other side of the waiting room sit the ones patiently waiting for their chemotherapy infusions. Many faces filled with exhaustion, weariness, fear. Ah, one bright face amidst them. Her eyes sparkled. She was full of hope. Not afraid to go without a wig or hat despite no hair in sight, her confidence shone through; and the look in her eyes told me she was determined to fight this battle.

Dark faces, bright faces, sad eyes, questioning eyes. All these--reminders that cancer is an ugly disease.

I’m so thankful to know the One who holds me in the palm of His hand. He controls my circumstances. He knows my future. And amidst dismal surroundings, the powerful words of this song become very personal.

In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here:
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim:
He knows the way He taketh, and I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure: my path to life is free;
My Saviour has my treasure, and He will walk with me.

("In Heavenly Love Abiding" text by Anna Waring, 1850)

Healthy Chai

Submitted by Melissa on Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 01:28

Still in the Storm

Since we’ve been eliminating sugar and dairy from our diets, I was wondering how my husband would make it through the winter without his Chai (our favorite brand has been Oregon Chai).

This week, my sister-in-law Anna told me how much she’s been enjoying Bengal Spice Herbal Tea by Celestial Seasonings, so I picked some up.

After brewing it today, I mixed it with some almond milk and a touch of honey. Then without giving away my secret, I presented the mug to Dan. To my delight, he drank every drop! He was shocked that it was an herbal tea and naturally caffeine free. His taste buds wanted it a bit stronger, so next time I’ll either add an extra tea bag or steep a few minutes longer.

Looks like we don’t have to go without our Chai this winter!

Reset your Gaze

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:49

Love these words from a song I heard yesterday. They've been running through my mind the past 16 hours.

Though in the race of faith you seek relief,
Reset your gaze on Him who knows your grief. 
Rejected by the ones He came to save, 
Without complaint, His sacred life He gave.

Consider Him who chose a lonely cross,
Consider Him, and marvel at His loss.
Despising shame, Christ suffered in your place. 
Consider Him, sufficient is His grace.

"Consider Him" words by Andy Gleiser

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 14:46

If you knew this were the very last month of your life, how would you live it? What would your regrets be?

I was fascinated by the article I just read here. Bronnie Ware, a lady who cared for patients at the end of their lives, wrote a book and a blog about her experiences. 

Here are the regrets that surfaced over and over in the lives of the dying:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
- Every male patient had this regret.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

If you're thinking these are secular, well, you may have a point. But stop and look at these regrets from a practical perspective. No doubt many Christians would have these same regrets.

Many Christians live their lives fearing what people think (#1 & 3) instead of making sure the heart is in tune with God.

Working so hard (#2) that time with family is neglected? I've seen that more times than I'd like to count.

Keeping in touch with friends (#4) seems to be easier in the day and age of internet, facebook, cell phones, and email, but far too often, corresponding with those we love goes neglected as we are consumed with our "to do lists."

Happiness (#5)...some Christians are so filled with complaints that the joy that is supposed to constantly fill their faces is only seen on rare occasions.

No matter how long we have left on this earth, we can make our life count. A huge part of making our lives count is investing in the lives of those we love--spending time with them, having fun, talking, praying together, listening, giving, writing notes of encouragement, taking a few minutes to make a phone call... (I'm not mentioning "work" here because since work is a major part of our existence, we don't seem to struggle working together!)

If you are in full-time ministry, you are not exempt. Please don't let your vocation get you sidetracked from the ministry to your family. Your acts of love towards your children and relatives will have an eternal impact on their lives and will speak volumes to your congregation about what love really looks like.

May our lives be filled with joy and love, overflowing with Christ-likeness. Then we will truly have no regrets when that last day comes.

Week Five of Eating Vegetarian

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 22:34

lentil soup
Above: Lentil Soup (my quick snack one afternoon last week)

I am happy to report I have completed over four weeks of eating vegetarian. Notice I say "happy," and I'm not joking. My taste buds are definitely adjusting, and my food cravings are completely different. They say that once you start eating very healthfully, you start craving healthy foods.

Hard for you to believe? Well, you could try and see! Smile

Some people look at me with sympathy, thinking I'm missing out on so much yummy food. But I can assure you, we've been able to find great food and even delicious treats along the way. 

One of the keys for us to stick with our plan is to have good food readily available. Some of our options on hand include:

  • Fruit basket on the table, usually stocked with bananas, apples, pears, tangerines
  • Celery sticks, cut up and ready to be dipped in peanut butter
  • Mini cucumbers 
  • Clif Bars (for when you're on the go and need something more substantial)
  • Trail mix
  • Nuts
  • Berries (good for treats for the kiddos)
  • Hummus for crackers or veggies
  • A batch of individually wrapped homemade treats (see below).

At least once each week, I've made a large pot of soup. This makes a great dinner, lunch, or even snack. The addition of lentils along with all the veggies makes the nutritional value sky rocket. (I have to confess: I had never used lentils before!) So I usually add lentils or beans to the soups, and everyone loves them.

Another weekly "must" is having some individually wrapped treats on hand. Here are some of our favorites:

Many of you have sent me emails or talked to me about steps you're taking to make your diet more healthy. Thank you! Your notes, calls, texts, and conversations inspire me! I'm in this for the long haul, and I want to be here for you when you're taking whatever steps you choose to improve your health.

What new things have you been incorporating lately into your eating plan? I'd LOVE to hear about them!