That’s Yucca!

Those of you who are on my Simply Enrich FB page might have seen my post last Tuesday suggesting a ‘Try something new Tuesday” dinner tradition (and if you aren’t on my FB page, please take a second and ‘Like‘ it now! 🙂 It could be a product item, like a new fruit, vegetable, or fresh herb, or maybe tofu, or simply try a new healthy recipe! Well, I realized that I needed to get to the store because I wasn’t up for a whole new recipe, so a produce item was going to be it that night.
Searching through the produce department refrigerated wall at Kroger, I realized that there are several items that I have not yet tried, and hadn’t a clue of how to prepare. Then I saw it — THE try-it Tuesday item! It was a big, brown, bumpy, ugly root. Kinda resembled a fossilized elephant turd or something.Yucca Root Yucca root? What kind of name is that? I’m sure if it were tasty they would call it “yumma root”, so I could only imagine what I was in for. My kids were less than excited, to say the least.

Now how to prepare this…thing?!  I saw an older Indian woman looking at the same area, so I asked her if she knew how to eat it. She did, and she told me to peel it, boil it, and then cut it and eat it. Said it tasted like tapioca pudding. Mmmmm!! It didn’t sound so ‘yucca’ at all!
The journey didn’t end there. The check out line was even more interesting. Like 15 minutes of interesting ;). Of course I didn’t think to grab a yucca root with a sku number sticker on it, I mean, every cashier has the sku number for yucca root memorized, right? Lol
So the sweet cashier kept looking for the item up on the cheat sheet, but it wasn’t there — the sheet stopped at ‘T’ (what about ‘watermelons’ & ‘yams’?!) I sent my 9 year old to find another yucca with a sticker. Meanwhile, I’m apologizing to the cashier and the man in line behind me. They were both very understanding and patient…maybe even a little, dare I say… intrigued.
I shared with them about the try-something-new-Tuesday challenge I had posted and the reason behind my somewhat odd purchase. It was quite the conversation piece. When the guy behind me said that I was a very unusual American for trying new things like this, I shared about the International Cooking group that I’m a part of and how I actually love to broaden my taste buds’ horizons and try new things. He asked me for my card to give his daughter who loves stuff like that. I happened to have a few cards hiding in my purse and I handed him one.   The cashier asked for one, too (maybe you guys are reading this right now since the web-link is on the card, and if so, thank you so much for your patience last week!)
My son returned with another yucca… without a sticker. Third yucca was the charm. We could finally check out and be on our way, and was asked to report back how the experiment turned out.
The Yucca experiment.

Even though the kind Indian lady gave me great directions, I was a bit intimidated by getting the rough, waxed peel off of the root.  I mean, seriously — how in the heck?!  I knew I needed backup. Gotta love Google. Here it is for you in case you want to learn more or try a recipe:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/cook-serve-yucca-root-8371.html
I admit, even with my sharp Cutco© knife, I didnt quite chop the root into small pieces like the recipe advised:, so I gave up on that:IMG_20140325_185935_691To keep this article short, since I didn’t intent for it to become a cooking post, I followed the directions from the website above and boiled the yucca root. IMG_20140325_193339_763

I got kinda impatient after awhile and eventually settled for nearly-yet-not-all-the-way-cooked.  Then I added some milk, roasted garlic, and squeezed lemon juice, and salt. Potato mashed it as much as possible.  It turned out fine. I wish I would’ve taken the time to cook a bit better, but even at this point, I got to taste the ‘yucca’, and it wasn’t “yucky” 😉

IMG_20140325_195208_704

Gotta love trying new things – variety is the spice of life.

For those interested, here are some good nutrition facts on yucca root:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/341685-yucca-root-nutrition/

I’d love to hear from anyone else that is taking me up on this challenge!  I’ll report back on the recent Try-something-new-Tuesday episode here soon 😉

 

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HIMsomnia

insomnia

If I’d never have had experienced it myself, I probably…no…I WOULD be someone that would scoff at people who voice their frustrations of having bouts of insomnia. I mean, seriously – you hear so many people who deal with the opposite, like fatigue and the inability to stay awake when they need to, and then these “insomniacs” can just stay awake all night?! How could that be so bad? Think of how much one could get done with no interruptions during the night hours!

Yeah, well, experience taught me the lesson of humility and empathy.  My first bout with insomnia was when I was a young teenager when a medication gave me the wonderful gift of insomnia as a side-effect. Those long, daunting nights were like cruel and unusual punishment after extended days of going to school, doing homework, and then AGAIN being unable to get the much needed rest that my body (and mind) craved! Needless to say, after a week of that, I refused to put another one of those pills in my mouth!

As an adult, I have had spells where I wake up in night, unable to sleep for a period of time before finally falling back to sleep.  Funny how some of those times I would actually wake up at an exact time, on the dot, every night consecutively. Bizarre.

In addition to being very annoying,  it feels like night will never end – like your mind and body are playing tricks on you. I hate to feel like I lack control — especially that I can’t FORCE myself to go to sleep, even though by all normal standards, I should be tired (and there was never a medical reason).  Oh, and no matter what anyone says, you can count as many sheep as you want, but they don’t put you to sleep 😉

There came a point during one of these bouts that, after much prayer for this to STOP, God gave me a very clear picture of why I was having the insomnia: HE was causing it!

Apparently,  I was so busy and focused on my life, everyday filling my schedule and my thoughts to the brim, that this was the ONLY way He could grab and hold my undivided attention.  Sure, I loved Jesus and tried to follow Him the best I could, prayed and whatever else, but He wanted a closer RELATIONSHIP with me. He wanted me to use that insomnia time to just be still with Him…He wanted me to experience His peace and refreshment that comes from being quiet and listening.  If I wasn’t going to make time during the day, He was going to teach me how to do it…even if at night.

Psalm 63:6  says “I lie awake thinking of You (God), meditating on You through the night.”

The Psalmist could have laid there awake thinking of his troubles, his girlfriend, or even plan his schedule for the next day. But he didn’t – he meditated on God.

I came to realize that I didn’t always have control over going to sleep, but I did have the CHOICE to use my insomnia for Him, instead of loathing and ‘wasting’ it. I actually began enjoying this personal time along with Him, and seeing it as a gift. In fact, I coined a new phrase: “HIMsomnia” (well, at least with myself, haha!) I didn’t focus on the lack of sleep or the annoyance factor anymore…I focused on Him and listened to Him. Talk about a way to grow and get to know Him!  There have been times when He has had brought a specific person or situation to mind and I’ve been able to spend time in prayer for those. It was pretty neat, and I now count it as a gift that my Creator and the Maker of the universe wants to spend time with ME. While I usually do take time during the day to spend with Him now-a-days, there’s still something different about the dark, void of distraction, wide-awake quiet time with Him that I miss a bit…though don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing for a chronic problem of HIMsomnia 😉

Disclaimer: There are many reasons for insomnia, some of them medical/emotional/physical and I in no way am trying to diagnose, treat, cure, or downplay insomnia in any way. I’m only sharing with you my personal experience, and perhaps offering a way to simply enrich your life, if you should ever go through something like this.

 

How to relate with God

Can you think back on a day in your childhood when you were really sick? Maybe you remember being stuck in bed, coughing and sneezing (or barfing) all over the place, and how vulnerable that felt? Do you recall what you longed for more than anything in the world…maybe even MORE than getting well…?

Oftentimes it’s the comfort of a parent that a child craves during a sick spell.  Maybe your Mom, Dad, Grandparent, or whoever raised you would hold you tight, stroke your hair, take your temperature, make you chicken noodle soup (whoever made that into a ‘healthy’ comfort food I’d like to know!) and stay with you until you drifted asleep.  You needed that presence of comfort and safety. To know that you were cared for, and that everything would be “all right”.

Quite a few years have passed for me since I’ve experienced that kind of longing for my Mom to cuddle me as I lie there sick and debilitated.  I’m grateful to God that I rarely do get sick, and thankful that He uses the Reliv products in my life to help keep my immune system strong, but this past week was an exception to the norm. I was REALLY sick: high fever, chills, cough, head throbbing, pain pulsating through my body; you get the idea.  It caught me by surprise that I was taken back to that feeling of being a child again, longing for my mom, or someone, to hold me. To take care of me. To assure me that ‘everything is going to be OK.’

As a grown woman with two kiddos and a husband to refrain from transferring this awful virus to, I had to forgo the hugs and cuddles that sounded like sweet medicine to my soul.

And I survived.

Sadly enough, as I type this sitting at the foot of my youngest’s bed, she is sleeping soundly due to a high fever. She  was awake in the night with a headache and stayed home from school (I’m PRAYING she doesn’t experience all that I had to!)
She’s also rarely ill and so I haven’t experienced the role of being ‘nurse mom’ to a sick child all that often, but it was a special revelation for me today.

She wanted breakfast in bed…she got it 🙂  To see her face light up to the simple raw-honey-smothered whole grain toast and her chocolate Reliv NOW for Kids shake (complete with a pink straw, I might add), it made me feel good inside. Furthermore, she hasn’t asked much of me at all, but she desires my presence. She looks up at me with those sweet eyes and pale sad face and says, “Mommy, please don’t leave.”

And I haven’t.

I’ve folded laundry in here, done some work, and now here I sit, typing away.  Sure I’m uncomfortable as I occupy the only small empty space on her bed  as her long body sprawls out all over the place, and yes, my days plans are severely disrupted, but I WANT to care for her and provide all she needs to be healthy and happy!

It has really made me think….isn’t this what God has given to us as a  small example of how He wants to care for us?

Jesus picks up a child and tells us in tells us in Matthew 18:2-5 that, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”  He also tells us to come to Him when we are weary and carry heavy burdens and He will give us rest…that He is humble and gentle at heart and we will find rest for our souls in Him (Matthew 11:28,29.)

Well…Many other reminders come to mind of how Jesus wants to be the one we long for and run to in all circumstances (not just when we are sick or feeling on death’s door,) BUT…….my daughter has awakened and is asking for an orange.

I’m far from God the Father – I’m just a human mom – but I’m very thankful for the reminder of how to better relate with my God.  He is The Father and we can choose to become His children. And that loving parent/child relationship is a way that we can begin to relate with Him.

OK, I  must go now! 🙂

(Maybe I’ll post more in the comments later, and I invite you to do so, too!)

A Lesson from “Green Goodness”

If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE avocados! But who couldn’t fall in love with this tasty, wholesome fruit? There are SO many ways to eat the green-goodness:

– Smoothies

– Salads

– Replacement for butter

– Freshly Chopped up in Tomato-Based Dishes (or ANY leftovers!)

– Guacamole!

And the health benefits? Let’s just name a few:

– Half an avocado provides 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and NO cholesterol

– Great source of Fiber, Potassium, Vitamins C,K, Folate and B6

– Helps to absorb antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene

– Makes taste buds happy 🙂

Ok, I’ll stop advocating for avocados for a minute and tell you the real reason that this fruit taught me a lesson this week.

While I like to have avocados around almost always, they have a short window of ripeness time before they go bad. When they get all wrinkly, dark, and ugly, you can pretty much bet that you’ll find them rotting from the inside out when you cut them open.

"Bad" Avocado?

“Bad” Avocado?

The outside of one of mine looked just like that. In fact, it appeared to be so far gone that I was walking towards the trash to pitch it when for some odd reason, I decided last  minute to cut it open and see if anything was salvageable inside.

Wow…was I surprised! The inside wasn’t pitted, rotting, black or smelly, but a perfectly ripe “green-goodness” that was completely edible!

While I was enjoying half of it chopped up in my lunch of veggie-spaghetti leftovers, it hit me that I had judged this avocado by it’s outward appearance. I almost threw it away, and missed the opportunity for it to simply enrich my meal.

"good" on the inside

“good” on the inside

May sound juvenile, but it really struck me: What was on the outside wasn’t very attractive and LOOKED like it was going to be rotten, but it was actually sweet and desirable on the inside.  I hate to think that I might judge people on the outside like this sometimes, and throw away opportunities that could’ve simply enriched my life, or the life of another.

Do we ever see someone that looks undesirable to us – perhaps ‘dirty’ or ‘rotten’ on the outside – and choose not to take a moment to learn what’s actually on their inside? It’s humbling, but I know I’ve been guilty of this.

How about you? Are there any people that you avoid getting to know because from the outside they appear to be “mean” or “stuck up” or “scummy” or “trampy”?  God has actually brought one potentially missed-opportunity to mind, and I plan to remedy this the next time I have the chance. I’m challenging you to do the same.

Please leave your comments and feedback below, and let me know if you follow through with the challenge! I’m going to go eat the other half of my avocado now 😉

Do You Have a Running Buddy?

women runningI have to admit, I wasn’t in the mood to go to the gym yesterday. After a mere 4-5 hours of sleep, my body was raging war with me and my mind was thinking about all that I needed to be doing.  However, I had a standing appointment to workout with my friend at the gym, and I’m not one to back out for no good reason.

Turns out my friend was having a similar ‘blah’ day and she wouldn’t have made it without our set appointment, either. (Note: confirmed appointment = actually doing something!)

We started off with a 1-mile warmup around the track.

Funny how running that same mile by myself feels like A LOT of work (and sometimes pointless, like a hamster running around a wheel going nowhere), but when running with my running buddy, we both run faster times than when on our own, and rarely get that “I don’t think I want to go another lap!” feeling.  Somehow we manage to chat back and forth which keeps our focus on something other than what our body and mind are trying to tell us.

After we had finished the rest of our workout, consisting of weights, cardio and other muscle-straining activities, we declared our workout to be accomplished.

Then I don’t know why, but the words came out of my mouth, “Hey, let’s do one more mile.”

When she realized I was serious, she paused a bit but said, “OK.”  And off we went.

I know my marathon and triathlete friends are laughing right about now, but seriously, sometimes the thought of just 1 more mile to us “common folk” is pretty intimidating! There’s NO way I would’ve even had the thought to do another mile after all we had done if she weren’t there to run alongside me.

As we were running, we talked about the differences of running with a buddy verses running alone. I  mentioned that I should invent a “shadow running buddy” that projects a lighted image to make you feel like someone is running beside you — you know, like you push a button and it makes you think that your ‘shadow friend’ is speeding up, so you have to go faster to keep up, and another button that records what you’re saying as you talk to your friend and tell them all of your ideas that you’ll later use for blog posts….ok…I’m telling you WAY too much — no one steal my idea before I have a chance to patent it, OK? 🙂

But seriously, this isn’t just about running around a track, is it?  We all would like to have a ‘shadow buddy’ to run life with, wouldn’t we? I know that some of you reading this are struggling because you’ve lost your spouse, or you long for someone worthwhile to fill that daily void. Some of you have friends that have moved and you’re feeling  like you’re alone on this journey day to day. Others of you have ideas and dreams that you know you should conquer, but you’re afraid to take the necessary steps because no one else is going that direction, and you fear going it alone.

Believe me, you’re not alone! I think it’s cool  how God actually knows our every thought and even converses with us. I was working on my Bible study later that evening and in it was exactly what He wanted to tell me in response to my earlier thoughts:

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) “This is My command – Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO!”

He wanted to remind me yesterday that I’m NOT a lone runner in this journey of life! He IS that shadow runner, that running buddy, that we often need in order to keep us going, and to encourage us along the way!

If we invited Him to go alongside us every day, wherever we go in life, how much more could we accomplish? How much further could we go? And faster? Not only that…how much more would we ENJOY the workout?

Curious…is anyone going to go make that appointment? 😉 Feel free to leave your comments below!

16 Helpful Weight Loss Hints (part 1)

16 Helpful Weight Loss Hints, Part 1
by Mandy Manley, Reliv Marketing Communications Specialist
Sticking to a weight loss goal is never easy, and keeping the weight off once you’ve lost it can be an even bigger challenge. Studies have shown that our metabolism slows when we lose weight, and we can experience hormonal changes that make us hungry. It can seem like an unfair uphill battle, but there are things you can do to give yourself an edge when your biology seems to be against you.

In 2011, I got back to a healthy weight and have been able to maintain through healthy eating, exercise and diligence. Admittedly, I made many mistakes and side-steps during my progress and learned quite a few valuable lessons about what works. In this two-part series, I’ll share my favorite insider tips and tricks for losing the weight and keeping it off for the long term. In part one we’ll talk about how to get started!

Share your own tips on the blog.

Set tangible goals. Saying that you’re going to lose 70 pounds in a month isn’t just impossible, it’s downright dangerous. Aim to lose about 2 pounds per week. Slow but consistent weight loss lasts much longer than short and drastic drops. Much like with the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will win the race!

Something to talk about. Tell someone about your goal. Unless you have someone to cheer you on or be accountable to, it might get very tempting to abandon the thought of trying altogether. Think of your most encouraging friend or workmate and let them know that you’d like them to check in with you every so often. Victory is twice as sweet when you have someone to celebrate with!

I’m not buying it! If it’s not in your house, you won’t eat it. Resist the temptation to purchase unhealthy snacks when you’re grocery shopping. Go with a list and don’t divert (bargain hunters should ignore the snacks that are on sale).

Take small steps. You might have a long way to go or a goal that seems too big to tackle. Don’t focus on the overall goal at first. Break it down into increments and reward yourself along the way. It’s amazing the impact that losing just 10% of your body weight can have on your overall health: reduction in cholesterol and blood pressure and better numbers across the board. Have your blood work done when you start your effort and check it again once you’ve lost 10%. You’ll be excited to share your results with your doctor!

Good sense snacking. If you can’t resist a snack every now and again, proportion them the minute you get home. Purchase a food scale and some snack-sized bags and reach for those when you need a treat. You’ll know exactly how much a proper portion is and won’t be tempted to finish off the whole box or bag. Better yet, stock up on fresh fruit and produce for snacking and leave the processed stuff on the shelf!

Get moving! To lose weight, it’s as simple as using more calories than you take in. Not able to run? Start with a 10-minute walk every day. Try something new and keep your routine varied in activity but consistent in practice. If you’re inclined to only lift weights, find ways to introduce stretching and cardio into your workout. If you’re a fan of group exercise, find a new class to take and make some new friends (and do some networking while you’re at it!). Don’t be afraid to try water aerobics, racquetball or even swing dancing. Variety will keep you from getting bored and a workout buddy will keep you accountable!

Reinforce yourself. If you’re the sort of person who responds well to positive reinforcement, place a photo of yourself from when you looked your best in a prominent place as a reminder of your goal. If you’re more encouraged by negative reinforcement, use a photo that reminds you of how far you’ve come or how far you have yet to go. I keep a photo of myself at my heaviest on my refrigerator door to remind myself of what can happen if I lose control. Know yourself and how you respond to motivation.

Do your homework. Before you go out to eat, check to see if the restaurant has a nutritional guide online. Many restaurants offer up the ingredients and nutritional content of their food. Check to see which dishes are the healthiest and which ones are deceptively rich. I was surprised to find that club sandwiches, a seemingly healthy choice, are actually sometimes the highest calorie sandwich on the menu! If your friends are kicking around ideas for where to eat, don’t be afraid to offer up a healthy suggestion up front. You’ll be less likely to get stuck eating someplace without many good options.

Stay tuned, because the next edition of HLT on March 20 will feature the final 8 tips for weight loss! While you’re implementing these changes, incorporate some Reliv Slimplicity meal replacement to help keep you feeling full and make sure you’re getting the proper nutrition. The recent addition of LunaRich soy powder will give you all the added health benefits of lunasin!

Article written by and compliments of Reliv International.

Ready to order? Contact your Independent Reliv Distributor, Renee Vidor, to obtain your customer number:

I am a Model

While tempted to skip the gym today because I really wanted to work on my study that I’m behind on, I decided that I needed to stick to my routine and just go. As a compromise, I decided to use the recumbent bike (not my favorite machine) so that I could multitask and work on my study at the same time. I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed a water bottle and my bag full of my books and headed to the gym.  The only bike available was next to a gentleman about twice my age who was pedaling away, minding his own business.

After about 30 minutes of biking and working on my study, I was ready to move on to another exercise. As I grabbed my bag and started to walk away, the older gentleman called out, “Excuse me Miss…”

“Yes?” I answered, expecting that maybe I dropped something.

“Are you a model?” He asked.

What an interesting question to ask a stranger. Usually something like that would catch me off-guard, but without even a pause I replied, “Only for my children.”

He went on to say, “Well you really should be. You’re beautiful.”

I thanked him and went on my way…to the OTHER side of the gym 😉

But I began to think about that conversation – especially my answer to his question.  I may not be paid by Victoria Secret or J. Crew to show off their clothing to prospective buyers; however, one definition of ‘model’ is “One serving as an example to be imitated or compared,” and I fit that definition.

The truth of the matter is, I AM a model!  As a parent, I am a role model every day. There are people who look up to me as an example in many other aspects of life as well. You never really know who is watching you, and who is using you as an example of which to imitate or compare themselves to.

How does that make you feel or think of yourself? Exciting? Humbling? Scary? A mixture of many emotions? Are you a good model? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom!

Some wisdom on this topic: 1 Timothy 4:11-12, Philippians 3:17