Foodie in a Pickle

If your garden isn’t already ready for the harvest of those peppers, it soon will be. And pepper plants always give forth a plentiful yield. If you planted banana peppers and like the flavor of them pickled (or would like to try them that way), here’s a simple recipe for refrigerator pickles.

The number of jars you get depends on whether you use pint jars, quart jars, or those cute little jars you find that look like they should be gift jars. I believe this recipe could be multiplied easily too. I always like that about working in the kitchen; doing whatever works.

When I made these, I added the optional ingredients because 1. I like pepper and celery seed and 2. turmeric has healthy side benefits and adds color to the pickles. In addition to stirring the peppers to make sure they were covered with brine, I turn the jars over a few times while they  sit in the fridge. It keeps that flavor going. (Be sure you have those seals on tight if you’re going to do this.)

Refrigerator Banana Pickles

  • 2 lbs. banana peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ c water
  • 1 ½ c. white vinegar
  • 4 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. sugar
  • 1 t. black peppercorns (optional)
  • ½ t. turmeric (optional)
  • ½ t. celery seed (optional)

Wash the peppers, cut off the tops and remove as many of the seeds as you can. Cut the peppers into rings of whatever thickness you like. Put the pepper rings and garlic pieces into glass jar(s) that have air tight seals when closed.

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high head. Remove from heat and pour over the peppers and garlic.

Use a knife to move the peppers around, removing air bubbles and to get peppers and garlic submerged in the liquid. Seal the jars and set aside overnight. After 24 hours, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

The colors of the peppers will dull a bit after 24 hours; this is normal.

Be sure to use glass containers because this keeps the flavors true.

For an appetizer using your bounty of peppers, try these broiled stuffed banana peppers  wrapped in bacon with a zippy flavor.

Eat Hardy!

A Foodie Guide to Vs and Ps and Fs

My own diet aside, what other people put on their plate became of interest to me when I decided to have a young married couple over for dinner. They’d recently decided to switch to the vegan diet and I had no idea what that entailed.

It reminded me of the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Tula’s aunt meets Ian, the fiancée, and insists she’ll cook for him. When he tells her he doesn’t eat meat, she exclaims in disbelief, “You don’t eat no meat?” (Pause) “Oh, that’s okay,” she says, satisfied she can still come through. “I cook you lamb.”

I have challenges enough trying to figure out what to put on my own table since I have some health issues to be aware of. But when it comes to entertaining––and I do like to entertain––now I try to ask first, “Is there anything you cannot or prefer not to eat?”

Educating myself on just what a vegetarian would eat came fairly easily. I have some friends who serve at the local soup kitchen and I know what they put in their weekly main courses. The other “Vs”, not to mention the pescatarian and flexitarian, required a little digging.

Here’s some information to help you if you ever wondered how a friend might expect to be fed if they’re a guest in your home. Or…if you’re a guest in theirs, expect dishes prepared this way from them. Here’s a short lesson on some of the “arians” and “isms.”

  1. Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
  2. Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
  3. Lacto-ovo vegetarianism includes dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese.
  4. Veganism excludes all animal flesh and animal products, so it excludes milk, cheese and eggs. Vegan purists exclude honey because it is a by-product of bees.
  5. Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Some allow the cooking of vegetables only up to a certain low temperature. Raw foods purist cook nothing.

Semi-Vegetarian Diets Include:

  1. Pescatarianism, which includes fish and sometimes other seafood.
  2. Pollotarianism, which includes poultry.
  3. Pollo-pescatarian, which includes poultry and fish, or “white meat” only.
  4. Flexitarian, which is primarily vegetarian, but will eat meat if easier by social circumstance.

Often, the first question a carnivore will have for the vegan is, “How do you get protein into your diet?” It’s a valid question. But we meat-eaters needn’t worry about anyone who’s done their homework. There’s protein in every living thing because proteins are the building blocks of life. So it makes sense that proteins are in every food we eat. The difference is in the amount.

For the sake of argument, even scientific studies are limited by the test groups and the conditions applied. If you’re considering a change, it’s best to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Healthy eating is also more than what we put into our mouths. We all know that many times it’s the community in our midst while we’re eating so let’s not be Foodie Snobs.

Some would say, “Think outside the box and try something new.”

I say, “Throw the box in the dumpster. And eat hardy.”

 

Thirsty Foodie: 6 Reasons to Drink More Water

Water. I tend to take it for granted even though I use it all the time. I drink it, wash in it, launder clothes in it, clean the dishes in it, fill the fishbowl with it, and feed it to my rabbit.

That can add up to gallons and gallons of water.

When it comes to feeding myself with water, I take it for granted sometimes then too. I really do need to drink more water. How about you? Maybe you’re confused about just how much you’re supposed to drink. There’s a lot of advice out there. And maybe you, like me, don’t drink bottled water. Is that okay? I don’t know about all that.kids-at-fountain

We’re not going to delve into that sort of thing today. I want to talk about why we should be drinking water. It’s not that hard to add water to whatever you’re already eating and the benefits can be seen right away. (It’s not like dieting where you must wait and wait and wait and wait…)

Replenish What’s Already There Our bodies are naturally 60% water. We need to stay hydrated to maintain a level which is healthy to our bodies since water is always flowing out. Science Nerds appreciate this reason because they get to discuss every aspect of the human physiology associated with water-in-water-out. But this is a good old common sense reason too, so relax and drink your water.

Energize Your Muscles Muscles become tired when they don’t have an adequate number of electrolytes flowing through their tissue. If you’re experiencing muscle fatigue, you probably need a few swallows of water. Don’t let the term “electrolytes” fool you into thinking you need special beverages. Water, in this case, can do a fine job of giving your body what it’s thirsty for. A Science Nerd knows how that all works, but I’m not a science nerd, just a foodie who drinks plenty of water every day.

Your Skin Looks Better Drinking plenty of water doesn’t get rid of wrinkles or fine lines if you already have them. But when you’re dehydrated just a tad, your skin appears more dry and wrinkled. Drink water to fill the tissues. Then use a moisturizer of some kind to create a physical barrier to lock in the moisture you just got from a glass of water. It just might be the secret to more ‘glowy’ skin.

Flush Your Kidneys Not to get all scientific on you, but maybe a little science doesn’t hurt. A chemical called ‘blood urea nitrogen’ is the main toxin your body needs relief from. It’s water soluble so if you drink adequate amounts of water, your kidneys are better able to flush the toxins. Ever heard of a kidney stone? Those painful little (or large) nuisances can form for many reasons. But a lack of fluid to flush your system is a common one.

Prevent Pain That may sound like I’m talking ‘cure-all’ for pain. Believe me, I’m not. However, what many people suffer from as far as pain which can be helped with more water consumption is pain in joints and muscles. Think “fluid motion” with the key word being “fluid.” Joint pain and muscle cramps can be minimized when we drink more fluids.elderly-woman-w-water

Control Your Appetite Maybe when you have that feeling in your gut (literally) that you’re hungry, you really aren’t. Maybe you’re thirsty and your body will respond with a simple 8 ounces of water. See there? Your tummy isn’t growling anymore.

If you’d like to start giving your body what’s it’s thirsty for, here are a few tips.

Have a beverage with each meal or snack.

Choose beverages that meet your needs. You may need to limit sugar or sodium in bottled drinks.

Keep a bottle of water with you always. It’s easy to keep something in the car when you’re commuting, shopping, or running errands.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Really. Their water content is high. We get about 20% of our fluid intake from fruits and vegetables. As a side note, it’s healthier to eat the fruit than to drink the juice from a bottle or from frozen concentrate. In addition to getting the fluid, you get the fiber; both in natural form.

Staying aware of both health needs and common sense, choose drinks you enjoy. You’re likely to drink more. If you’ve always thought plain water was boring, start slowly with it. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime and see how refreshing it can be.

Finally, if you have a chronic health condition, consult your doctor before changing the amount of or types of fluid you drink.

Eat, oops, Drink Hearty!

She’s Discovering a New Sooz

For a fellow blogger, Discovering Sooz ,  who writes an eclectic assortment of posts.

I think I might get brave like Sooz and post Before & After photos of myself one day. When I’ve reached goal weight.

Thanks for your honesty and for your fun and thought-provoking posts. This one’s for you.

losing-weight-graphic-crop

I Have Here in My Hand

I don’t really have a list in my hand. I don’t have a band to give me a drum roll. But –– ta-da! –– here’s a list of the Top Ten posts from 2016. Here in my corner of the world, I enjoyed taking stock and reviewing the past twelve months.

Writing The Fruitful Life is its own reward so I don’t get into looking at hit counters and other stats too much. I don’t have crowds of followers. Frankly, I’d rather write and convince people to follow Jesus.

However, it’s nice at the end of the year to see which posts were favorites of the readers.

The list of the Top Ten Posts from 2016 (in order) might give you an idea of the tastes of the readership. When I do take time to look at stats, it’s also fun to see that readers come from all over the world. In November, when The Upper Room published a devotion I wrote, people flocked to the blog through the link UR supplied. That was kind of fun.

In addition to this list, people cruised the “About” pages and the Archives. I’m not savvy enough to know how it all works. But like I said, writing about my faith and hobbies in which I’m involved is the best reward. Most of these posts are faith-based.

Anyway, here’s the list. Click on the links if you’d like to read them. If you’ve been reading for a while, did you have one you particularly liked that didn’t make the top ten list?

  1. Mom’s “Notes to Self”
  2. Follow Your Heart?
  3. A Visit to Zootopia
  4. Goin’ Fishing
  5. Calm
  6. Storefront Churches
  7. Foodie, Zucchini and Grace
  8. Live Christmas All Year Long
  9. Five Ways to Tell if Someone Loves Jesus
  10. A Three-Word Prayer for Serenity

Foodie Snacks For 100 Or Less

I can always make a long story longer, but the short of it is I don’t eat the way I used to.

What I mean by that is I read food product labels; I don’t eat as much processed food; I cook from scratch even more than I used to; I log my food with an online app; and I eat ‘normal’ portion sizes.

Today’s post is about snacking. I still snack because I need to. Snacking is “doctor’s orders” and a strong suggestion from a dietician I see regularly.

You all know how much I like to cook, how much I like to try new flavors, and how much I enjoy experimenting with new recipes. This list is a sampling of my favorite snacks that are 100 calories or fewer.

It’s Almost Apple Pie Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on 1 cup unsweetened applesauce.

Miniature Tostada On a small corn tortilla, spread 1/4 cup nonfat refried beans. Top it with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and a sprinkle of shredded low fat cheese.

Mediterranean Tomato Dice a medium tomato and top it with 2 tablespoons feta cheese.

Cottage Cheese With Melon For a twist on cottage cheese with fruit, combine 3/4 cup diced cantaloupe with 1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese. If you’re craving sweetness, drizzle a little raw honey over it.cottage-cheese-cantaloupe

Carrots With Hummus This is the old veggie dip idea but with protein instead of fat. Crunch on nine or ten 2-inch carrot sticks dipped in hummus. Bonus points if you make your own hummus. Hey, it’s easy to make and tastes better than store-bought.

Santa Fe Black Beans Combine 1/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt. It’s a hearty snack with protein that won’t quit.

Greek Watermelon Can you tell I enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean? This one combines watermelon (1 cup) and 2 tablespoons feta cheese. Those seemingly incompatible flavors do work. (And I really like feta cheese.)

Oh-So-Sweet-Potato This is not a sugary sweet potato; it’s sweet because of the lack of sugar. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get used to not eating sugar on food. Just bake a small sweet potato and sprinkle salt or cinnamon on it. If you want to, microwave it in a potato bag. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, here’s an easy pattern for making your own bag. The potatoes come out great this way and it’s so quick.

Turkey Tartine It’s a fancy name for a foodie snack that’s a simple open faced sandwich. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on a slice of toasted whole grain bread and lay on 2 thin slices of deli turkey.

Carrot ‘Salad’ Mix two grated carrots with 1 tablespoon raisins, 1 teaspoon raw sunflower seeds, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar.

Black Bean Salad This one’s not only lean, it has protein and fiber. Mix 1/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans, 1 small chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper, and a pinch of chili powder.

Spiced Cottage Cheese Mix 3/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese with a pinch of chili powder and a pinch of curry powder. A garnish of chopped scallions is nice.

strawberryspinachsaladStrawberry and Spinach Salad Mixing savory and sweet reminds me of those cooking shows on the food networks. So be a pro and mix 1 cup baby spinach with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

My tastes run to the spicy and savory so this baker’s dozen snack sampling reflects that. You probably have some favorite healthy low-cal snacks as well. Share them in the comments. I’ll give you bonus points for that too!

In the meantime, you know what I always say: get creative in the kitchen. Life’s too short to eat boring food.

Eat hardy!

8 No-Cost Gifts That Are Priceless

The gift of listening
But you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

The gift of affection
Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

The gift of laughter
Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”note-writing

The gift of a written note
It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full letter. A handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime. It may even change a life.

The gift of a compliment
A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a good job” or “That was a tasty meal” can make someone’s day.

The gift of a favor
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind. And keep it to yourself.

The gift of solitude
There are times when we want nothing better than to spend a little time alone. Be aware of how you can give some ‘alone time’ to someone else.

The gift of a cheerful disposition
One of the easiest ways to feel good is to extend cheerfulfulness. It’s not hard to say “Hello” or “Thank you.” And we all look better when we smile.

Tactfully Speaking

tact-make-a-point

We may know in our heads that how we say something is as important as what we say. Yet we still get into situations in which it’s difficult to express our ideas and opinions so others feel engaged and appreciated. We sometimes forget that conversation is two-way.

When we speak, what specifically do we want the other person to hear and know? Are we expressing it clearly and with a sense of conviction? If we are, do we express ourselves and extend grace to the other party so they can, as best as possible in that moment,  understand us without feeling attacked?

I ask these questions of myself before I pose them to anyone else. I still get into those situations in which I have a hard time expressing myself. But what a blessing for me that people model healthy communication skills so that I can build bridges instead of bonfires.

Where Are YOU From?

Several years ago, I took on a writing challenge to create a poem from a template with the resulting work informing readers about myself and my family history. This is the result, a poem I had the privilege of reading at my father’s funeral. I regret he never had the opportunity to read it before he passed away. But then, Dad also knew where he was from.

Where are you from?

 

Heritage

I am from buttered bread

sometimes with Welch’s jam.

I am from the hand pump on the back porch

that spewed out ice-cold water

and you weren’t really thirsty

but you had to take

your Saturday night bath.

I am from the lily of the valley

growing under the lilac bushes,

the scent sucked in just before

you gave them to Mama

who loved them more than you.

I am from Sunday morning nip and tuck.

Dawdling ‘round from Uncle Bud,

cousin Toad and his counterpart, the Frog.

I am from the way we tease and laugh out loud.

From “Stop that squirming”

and “Bow your head.”

I am from a Bible Mama plum wore out.

From Daddy’s faithful Christmas and Easter Sabbaths.

I’m from the middle of a little bitty place

and a rich Christian heritage

across the Rhine River in Germany.

From fried chicken. And apple pie

in a bowl with milk poured on.

From the toddler who drank fuel oil

putting scare into us all;

a vision of stomach pumps not quite real.

From the backyard wedding of my sister

and a reception in the woods where we

ate picnic style licking barbecue from our fingers.

I am from the tattered black pages of an album

Dad pulls out on his little whims.

Repeating names I’ve heard a thousand times

but won’t remember, he tells me I am from

these folks of buttered bread, hand pumps,

laugh out loud, and worn out Bibles.

 

copyright by Paula Geister 2005