Feb 17, 2018

Weekend Links & Updates

Playing Miss Hannigan in Annie.
In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 


On practising (i.e. "repeated exercise in or performance of an activity") sin:

"No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him...the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil...By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God nor the one who does not love his brother."

1 John 3:4 - 10
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* I've been rather absent, not only on the blog, but also on Facebook and Instagram. I'm sorry! I haven't forgotten you, I've just been a bit overwhelmed. As I mentioned a while ago, I've been rehearsing for a local production of Annie, plus doing all my usual homeschooling, working from home, and homesteading. As if that weren't bad enough, I've been SO sick! In fact, the whole cast of the show is quite ill; I've never seen anything like it. I blame it on having lots of little kids running around, plus tiny, crowded dressing rooms with no ventilation. All my usual herbal preventatives and cures haven't worked, and I ended up with a bad sinus infection (that's has me partially deaf...fully deaf in one ear for a couple of days) and had to get on a course of antibiotics. Oh, and when I saw the doc he freaked out because my iron levels were so low, and the iron supplements he has me taking make me vomit. Fun times! Well, actually, yes. Despite illness, I'm having a fantastic time pretending to be mean to little girls :)  (P.S. People are very quick to blame my diet for any health issue I may encounter, but I've been anemic since before going keto. The root cause is excessive menstruation.)
Our (pet) buns.
* On Super Bowl Sunday, my daughter let her pet Polish rabbits mate. If you're never seen rabbits mating, get thee to YouTube right now. It's hilarious. The male often gets at the wrong end, and when he's done, he faints. We suspect the bunny mating "took" because our doe, Pickles, is acting aggressively toward our buck, Buddy. We're talking punching, growling, and attempted biting. This is normal pregnant doe behavior. (Some does will even castrate bucks that dare to come near.) Let's hope Pickles other maternal instincts are strong, too!

An excellent novel!
* At least being sick gave me a chance to sink into a new book (A Refuge Assured) by one of my favorite novelist, Joceyln Green. She writes so well - and not only did I learn about an aspect of history I was unfamiliar with (French refugees coming to the U.S. during the French Revolution), but Joceyln gives me a lot to ponder about liberty and whether it can be abused. I highly recommend her books!

* Have you ever tried baking with a wood stove?

* How to plant trees in spring.

* This looks like such a great, easy gift idea. How to make personalized candles.

* 5 Regrets You Don't Want to Have if Your Kids Walk Away from Faith. Some excellent reminders here.

Oldies But Goodies:

* Gardening hacks you should ignore.
* How to grow epic tomatoes!



Jan 31, 2018

Cauliflower Rice "Mac & Cheese" - Keto, LCHF, Low Carb Recipe

Cheesy Cauli-Rice
I've now gone down 5 clothing sizes - a wonderful side effect of reversing my diabetes by eating a keto (ketogenic) diet. Happy dance! An awful lot of people are interested in how I've taken control of my health through diet, but most of them, upon hearing how I eat, say, "Oh, I could never give up potatoes" or "I couldn't live without pasta." I find this sad, largely because the keto diet is pretty effortless. It's incredibly freeing to no longer crave carby foods, nor feel constantly hungry because of them. Keto is so satisfying, you honestly don't miss all those old comfort foods.

And you can create new comfort foods that are  FANTASTIC, yet so much healthier! Enter my cauliflower rice "mac & cheese." Creamy, cheesy goodness, people! And all from a low carb veggie.

https://sites.google.com/site/proverbs31womanprintables/home/cauliflower-rice-mac-cheese-recipeCauliflower Rice "Mac & Cheese" Recipe

Cauli-rice from 1 medium cauliflower head (learn to make your own here, or buy about 24 oz. in the frozen vegetable section. Just be sure prepared cauli-rice has no added ingredients)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your choice)
Butter
Salt
Pepper

1. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet placed over medium heat.

2. Add the cauli-rice and cook until soft and translucent, adding more butter if necessary to keep the "rice" from sticking to the pan.

3. When the "rice" is tender, add the cream and grated cheese. Cook, stirring occassionally, until the cheese melts and the mixture is bubbly. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.







Makes about 5 servings. Estimated nutrition, according to SuperTracker: 248 calories; 11 g. protein; 7 g. carbs; 2 g. fiber; 21 g. fat.


Jan 25, 2018

Avoiding Food Waste by Understanding Food Expiration Labels

What Food Expiration Dates Really Mean
Americans waste a lot of food. According to Forbes, enough to fill the Rose Bowl every day - a total of 30 - 40% of all our food. Even worse, much of that food is perfectly edible. And one of the biggest reasons we waste food is our great fear of food poisioning.

While it's obviously smart for consumers to use caution when eating food that could make them ill, we can prevent a lot of food waste simply by understanding the types of "expiration labels" found on food products. For example, the following labels tell consumers nothing about a food's safety:

"Sell by" 
"Best if Used By" 
"Best By"  
"Guaranteed Fresh By"

Instead, each of these labels indicates that after the printed date, the product may not be as fresh - still safe to eat, mind you, but not of as high in quality.

Canned foods often have a “Pack” date; this is designed for the manufacturer's use and has nothing to do with either safety or quality.

Only foods withExpires On” or “Expires By” dates are helpful in indicating safety. If something is eaten after the indicated date, it could potentially cause food poisoning. However, if the product is frozen before the expiration date, it may be consumed much later than the date indicated.

General Guidelines

Cook or freeze meat and seafood within 2 days of purchase. 

The USDA says eggs are safe for up to 5 weeks after their expiration date, if kept in their original box in a cool refrigerator. However, there is a simple test to determine whether eggs are safe to eat: Place them in a cup of water and see if they float. (See complete instructions here.)

If kept unopened, butter can last for months. But if you're not going to use it right away, it's a great idea to freeze it.

Milk is usually safe up to one week after the “sell by” date. If milk is reaching its expiration date and you won't be able to use it before it goes bad, freeze it.






If kept unopened, hard cheeses last for at least 4 weeks. Over time, they may taste more sharp. If cheese develops mold, cut off all the affected part and eat the rest. Grated cheese may be stored in the freezer and used for cooking. (Freezing changes the texture of cheese, so you wouldn't want to eat previously frozen cheese in, say, a sandwich.)

If you have vegetables that tend to go bad before you use them, consider whether they freeze well. For example, I used to have trouble with bell peppers and onions going bad. Now, I chop them up the day of grocery shopping (or the day after) and pop them into the freeze. Added bonus: This makes cooking meals faster! Not sure how to freeze veggies? Visit AllRecipes for tips.

Another option for vegetables or fruits that are about to go bad is to dehydrate them. Dehydration is easy and cost effective; learn how here.

Experts say baking powder should be replaced around every 6 months, but I find mine lasts much longer. To test if it needs replacing, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with ½ cup of hot water. It should bubble instantly. The same thing goes for baking soda; test it by dropping ¼ teaspoon into 2 teaspoons of vinegar. It should bubble right away.

Commercially canned foods often last up to 5 years, and home canned foods last virtually forever, as long as they remain sealed. The nutrients in the food will very gradually diminish. However, if canned goods are kept at a high or low temperatures, they will spoil rapidly. Keep them at 50 - 70 degrees F. Rust on cans or lids may indicate air can get to the food, which in turn means the food could be spoiled. Commercially canned high acid foods, like tomatoes or citrus, are more likely to spoil than low acid foods like canned pears. Toss any cans or jars that are bulging. Watch the video below for more tips on discerning whether home canned food is still safe to eat.



Still not sure about a food's expiration date? Check out EatByDate.com.


DISCLAIMER: This article is designed to offer friendly advice. I am not a doctor or scientist, nor an expert on foodborne illness. Please use common sense before eating anything and always err on the side of caution. I cannot be held liable if you eat a food mentioned in this article and become ill. Isn't it sad that I have to post a disclaimer?

A version of this post originally appeared in October of 2009.

Jan 17, 2018

Why and How to Prune Blueberries

Pruning Blueberry Bushes
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

John 15:2

When we purchased our mountaintop homestead about a year and a half ago, we were blessed to discover four blueberry bushes. Not all of them are large, but they are an excellent addition to the potted blueberry plants we brought with us from suburbia. (Because if there's one thing I've learned about blueberries, it's this: I can't ever seem to grow enough of them for my family!) Last year, for the first time ever, I even had enough blueberries to preserve a few for winter...Happy dance!

Still, the blueberry bushes that came with our property hadn't been pruned in years, so last weekend, I gave them a good trimming. Why prune blueberry bushes? Well, pruning will eventually make your harvest bigger - and the individual berries will grow bigger, too. Pruning also helps keep the plant healthy, warding off disease. Plus, a well pruned plant is also considerably easier to harvest from.
My blueberry bushes were a tangled mess. Pruning was in order!

When to Prune Blueberry Bushes

The best time to prune is when the bushes begin forming buds. For me, that's right now. If your winters aren't as mild as ours, you probably won't see buds until early spring.

How to Prune Blueberry Bushes, Step by Step

1. Begin by removing all dead branches. This encourages new growth and keeps the plant productive and healthy.

2. Now remove any branches that cross each other, especially if they are touching. If you let crossing branches stay on the plant, it becomes harder to find fruit and may prevent (and will always slow) ripening of the berries.






3. Next, remove branches that point toward the center of the bush. Such branches reduce air circulation, which can cause disease. In addition, a more open bush gives more light to the fruit, which helps berries ripen.

The large buds are future blueberries. The small stubs are future leaves.
4. Finally, remove any branches that don't have new growth. They may not be dead, but if there are no buds on them, they are sucking energy from the plant without giving you the benefit of food.

What to Do with Blueberry Prunings

You may wish to burn or chip your blueberry prunings. Wood ash is a great addition to organic gardening soil, and chips are a wonderful mulch. But you might also want to keep at least some blueberry branches for homestead rabbits or pets like hamsters or guinea pigs. These creatures have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lifetime; chewing branches is absolutely necessary for them to keep in tip-top shape - and blueberry branches are safe chewing material.
I'm saving these prunings for our rabbits.

Fertilizing Blueberry Plants

After you're done pruning, take a few minutes to fertilize the plants. Blueberries love acidic soil, and very few of us have enough acid in our gardens to make them productive and happy. (Not sure what the acidity is in your soil? Use a simple home test kit; I use this one. For blueberries, the soil pH should be at least 5.5.) Coffee and tea grounds can help add acid to the soil. Even better is an inch or two of Sphagnum peat. You may also use commercial fertilizer that's made especially for blueberries and rhododendrons. I use Down to Earth's all natural acid fertilizer. Just sprinkle whatever fertilizer you're using around the base of the plant, then water it in well. (Don't dig it into the soil, or you risk damaging the plant's root system.) Having trouble getting your soil acidic enough? Plant blueberry bushes in very large pots, instead. We did this successfully for many years.

Related Posts
* How to Grow Honeyberries
* Mini Blueberry Pies



Jan 9, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions about the Keto Diet

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

I regularly recieve messages from readers asking me about the keto diet (through which I've lost 45 lbs., reversed my diabetes, and just generally got a whole lot healthier). A few questions come up again and again, so I think it's time to answer them right here on the blog.
 

Q: Can you recommend a place to learn how to do the keto diet?

A: I do the original keto diet, also known as theraputic ketogenic. It's perfect for diabetics and others who need to control medical problems. I eat 20 grams total carbs per day. Some people who claim to eat keto count net carbs (carbohydrates minus any fiber in the food). Diabetics should not do this because all carbs affect blood sugar. Some people claiming to eat keto eat up to 30 or maybe even 40 carbs per day and still lose weight - but if that kind of keto diet isn't working for you (you're not losing weight or you have mad cravings for carbs), do yourself a favor and stick to 20 grams or less per day, total. It's do-able - and not even very hard.

For more details on what the keto diet is and what to eat while on it, click here.

Q: How can I tell if I'm in ketosis?

A: Ketosis is a medical term that means your body is burning fat, and therefore making ketones (a chemical all of us have in our liver). The keto diet is named for this process, which is integral to its health and weight loss benefits.

But truly, don't worry about ketosis. Don't waste your money on ketone test strips, either. They aren't all that accurate, with results varying according to hormones, how hydrated you are, or even how long you've been eating keto. If you're eating 20 total carbs a day or less, YOU ARE IN KETOSIS, or very soon will be.

Q: Can you recommend some sites that show the science behind the keto diet?

A: Start with 23 Studies on Low Carb, Low Fat diets, for an understanding of how wrong those diets are. Then go here to read a little about scientific studies supporting keto eating.

If you are diabetic (type 1 or type 2), I also highly recommend the educational files over at the Reversing Diabetes Facebook group.






Q: Where can I find keto recipes?

A: There are some right here on this blog! (And I'm sure I'll be adding more.) I also keep several keto recipe boards on Pinterest. (Currently, I have over 600 keto recipes pinned).

A lot of people want me to recommend a keto cookbook, but honestly, most of them are awful, containing recipes with way too many carbs.

I do think Kristie Sullivan (of YouTube's Cooking Keto with Kristie) has some brilliant, very loww carb baked goods recipes - but they should be eaten only occassionally. I have Kristie's Journey to Health cookbook, and while I like the baked goods (and the pork rind pancakes - sounds awful, but trust me, they are great), I really haven't liked any of her savory dishes. They are much, much too rich and dairy-dependant for my family.

About a week ago I ordered The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen, and I can truly recommend it. Check out the author's blog All Day I Dream About Food to sample her recipes. I love them!

Related Posts:
http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/08/myths-about-keto-diet.html#.WlE61nlG0dg

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/04/how-i-reversed-my-diabetes.html#.WlE6knlG0dg


http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/02/11-ways-we-should-have-known-i-had.html#.WlE6jHlG0dg



Jan 6, 2018

Weekend Links

Join me on Instagram!
In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 


"We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good."

2 Thes. 3:11-14

_______________________________

* I'll admit, I'm struggling with my schedule these days. I am homeschooling, homesteading (though it's a "quieter" season), home keeping, working part time as a freelance writer, and rehearsing for the role of Miss Hannigan in a community theatre production of Annie. This blog is a labor of love and I promise, I haven't forgotten it - or you!

* In other news, I've been eating keto for about a year now. 45 lbs. gone, blood sugar in the normal range, normal cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and feeling better and healthier than ever!

* Everything You Know About Cholesterol is Probably Wrong. "The best way to thwart those LDL particles, Krauss says, is not by avoiding saturated fats, as we’ve long assumed. Saturated fats don’t affect the LDL particles, but sugar and carbohydrates do. 'Taking away eggs and milk has virtually no effect on the bad guys,' says Krauss. 'But you can make a really big improvement if you cut the sugar out.'" 

* My kids got sick right before Christmas. As soon as they did, I started taking my vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper anti-cold and flu remedy. Worked like a charm!

* Did you get a veggie spiralizer for Christmas? (I got this one, and love it!) Here are some tips on meal prepping with one. (Hint: You can also dehydrate spiralized veggies in "nests" if you want longer term storage.)




* Stuffed Mega Meatballs recipe. My family loves this! You could really use any meatball recipe you like, but do be sure to stuff it with cheese. (Keto/Low carb hint: You don't need flour, pork rinds, oatmeal, eggs, or any other filler to make fantastic meatballs! Just leave those ingredients out.)


* Did you know you can start seeds RIGHT NOW and end up with heartier, more productive plants? 

* 7 Ways to Improve Soil Quality for your best garden yet!


Oldies But Goodies: 




Dec 28, 2017

Top 5 Most Popular Posts for 2017 - Plus Top Posts of All Time!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

2017 is nearly at an end, which means it's time for reflection and maybe some new goals. This year has certainly been a life-changing one for me: Reversing my diabetes (and most of my other health complaints) through a keto diet; hubby no longer commuting 92 miles one direction in order to get to work; and my need to do more to help support my family financially. And one of the things I always do around this time of year is access this blog.

So let me ask: What are my readers (you!) needing from me? Please, let me know in the comments below!

Another way I learn what readers want is to look at this blog's most popular posts from the previous year, and for the entire life of the blog. (Did you know I've been writing this blog since 2009?! Holy smokes!)

Most Popular Posts from 2017


# 5. Catnip for Human Medicine 
This popular post was inspired by the catnip patch that came with our homestead - and which our cat (who also came with our homestead) adores. I was surprised to learn catnip is so beneficial for humans, especially for helping us relax. It also repels mosquitos better than DEET. Find out what else catnip is good for by clicking here.

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/07/catnip-for-human-medicine.html#.WkVtLnlG0dh

# 4. How to Get Out from Under the Laundry Pile
A lot of you struggle to keep up with your family's laundry, and in this post, I give you my best tips for how I make laundry easy and stress-free. 

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/11/how-to-get-out-from-under-laundry-pile.html#.WkVtZHlG0di

#3. Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?
The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (buy it here) hit the world by storm in 2017, and my third most popular post definitely reflects that. In it, I dispell myths about using pressure cookers as pressure canners. Be sure to read it before you can!

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/06/can-i-use-my-instant-pot-pressure.html#.WkVtnnlG0dh

#2. Cauliflower Chowder Recipe
Combine the Instant Pot and a keto recipe and you get my second most popular post from 2017. This is actually a revised version of a non-keto, non-Instant Pot recipe I posted in 2015. It's been a family favorite, so when I went keto, I was thrilled it was easy to make low carb. It's also easy to make in the Instant Pot (or slow cooker/crock pot, or the stove top). 


http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/03/cauliflower-chowder-recipe-low-carb.html#.WkVtx3lG0dh

 #1. 50 Low Carb and Keto Thanksgiving Recipes
When I started eating keto in December of 2016, I never dreamed that keto recipes would turn into the most popular posts on my blog! It's really a testament to this healthy diet, which truly works for treating type I and type II diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, metabolic disorder, sleep disorders, pain, infertility (especially PCOS), multiple sclerosis, and other diseases - not to mention for losing weight, especially when the pyramid diet fails. (I've lost 45 lbs., my husband has lost 60 lbs.) Keto works, my friends!

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/09/50-low-carb-and-keto-thanksgiving.html#.WkVt9XlG0dh






Most Popular Posts of All Time


#5.  Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets
Here's a little secret: I hate pickled beets. But my family loves them - and, apparently, so do you! This post from 2014 continues to be among my most read. 

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/08/easy-refrigerator-pickled-beets.html#.WkVuJ3lG0dg

#4. The Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net
I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves a good apron - or two, or three, or...Since 2011, this post has pointed ya'll to some pretty awesome, free patterns for my favorite kitchen accessory.

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2011/05/the-best-free-apron-patterns-on-net.html#.WkVuX3lG0dh


#3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible
I'm so happy at least one God-centered post is popular on this blog! ;)

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2011/06/6-ways-to-teach-kids-books-of-bible.html#.WkVuiHlG0dh


#2. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings & Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen!
It turns out, greasy kitchens are my specialty. I also specialize in finding "lazy girl" ways to clean. This post from 2014 combines both these "talents."

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-easily-clean-ceilings-walls-even.html#.WkVurHlG0dh

#1. How to Train Chickens
This has been my most read post since 2012, which cracks me up! I'd have never thunk it. But I guess hubby and I are pretty good at getting our hens to cooperate and do the things we want them to.
http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-to-train-chickens-and-get-them-to.html#.WkVu1nlG0dh






Dec 6, 2017

Best Ever Cranberry Bread Recipe

There are some things I hear a lot: "Do I have any clean underwear?", "When's dinner ready?", and "Mom, mom, MOM!" are in the top three. But around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I also frequently hear "This is the best cranberry bread ever!"

In fact, this simple quick bread has become a family tradition. I like to bake up a couple loaves for our family, plus more to give as gifts to neighbors, friends, and family. The flavors are heavenly - not just sweetened cranberries, but also cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of orange.

https://sites.google.com/site/proverbs31womanprintables/best-ever-cranberry-bread Best Ever Cranberry Bread Recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup halved fresh cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in the cranberries. Strain the raisins and fold into the flour mixture. Stir in the orange peel.






3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then stir in the milk, butter, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

4. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Store at room temperature.


This post originally appeared in December of 2012.