Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bright and Beautiful Veggies!

I had some wonderful vegetables in my fridge this week. Below are some examples of what I did with them.

Veggie Pizza: Homemade Sourdough Wheat Crust drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic and basil, and topped with fresh spinach, sliced red peppers, sliced green tomatoes, onions and blue cheese. Mmm!

Veggies that Wanted to Be Eaten! Hmm...what to do with them...

Stuffed Peppers! Slice off top (and just enough of the bottom so they sit flat). Chop excess peppers, green onions, and green tomato. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper, dill weed, and cumin. Mix and stuff peppers.

One for dinner and one for tomorrow's lunch! Crunchy, sweet, and savory all at the same time!

What to do with over ripe avocados? Make pudding, of course! 2 small avocados, 3 Tbsp. agave nectar and 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Blend till smooth. You may need to add 1/4 c. to 1 c. of water to get desired smoothness.

Creamy chocolate pudding serves 4.

Get Back Up

This is a song that keeps coming up on the radio as I drive to and from work. I love the words and it’s a great beat to run to as well! Enjoy! And if you’re down, get back up!

Songwriters: Barlowe, Cary; Mckeehan, Toby; Moore, Jamie; Rice, Aaron

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~Phil. 4:13

You turned away when I looked you in the eye
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright
Seems like you’re fightin’ for your life
But why, oh, why

Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare
You saw it comin’ but it hit you out of nowhere
And there’s always scars when you fall that far

We lose our way, we get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again
And one day you gonna’ shine again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever

We lose our way, we get back up again
So get up, get up, you gonna’ shine again
It’s never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~Phil. 3:14

You roll out of the dawning of the day
Heart racin’ as you made your little get away

It feels like you been runnin’ all your life
But why, oh, why

So you pull away from the love that would’ve been there
And start believin’ that your situation’s unfair
But there’s always scars when you fall that far

This is love callin,’ love callin,’
Out to the broken this is love callin’
This is love callin,’ love callin,’
I am so broken
This is love callin,’ love callin’…

Health: A Biblical Perspective

The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines “health” as “soundness, especially of body or mind; freedom from disease or abnormality.” Etymologically speaking, “health” means “wholeness, a being whole, sound or well.”

There’s a big push in our country for health & wellness. Health no longer encompasses the physical sphere alone. It also includes mental and emotional health. Millions of dollars are spent every year in this country on medicine, supplements, fitness memberships and equipment, doctor visits, and the list goes on. As a Christian, I believe God is in complete control of all realms of life. And everything that He allows in our lives is for a reason, usually to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him.

Bad things happen. People get diseases, cancers, have mental breakdowns. We lose things or people we love and our lives have the potential of falling into a state of emotional turmoil and despair. This is part of life. And how we cope with these things says a lot about us. Some (note: not all) of these problems are a result of sin. Sin is anything that goes against the character of God – whether it’s a sin of commission (doing something we shouldn’t do) or a sin of omission (not doing something we should do). As a result of sin, mankind’s relationship with God was broken.

Fortunately, God sacrificed His only Son Jesus as the perfect payment for the sin of the world so that through faith our relationship with Him can be restored. Confessing and repenting of sin is necessary for a restored relationship with God. However, it does not guarantee a life of ease and health. Bad things still happen. But when we know Christ, we know that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). See Life is Like a Box of Chocolate Chip Cookies post here.

Still, we have no guarantee of health. Just because I’m healthy today doesn’t guarantee I’ll be healthy tomorrow, and it certainly does not guarantee good health for the rest of my life. Just because I have a high IQ does not mean that I will never suffer a mental breakdown. Also, though physical and mental exercise is valuable, it is not a 100% guarantee of health either. As we age, we wear down physically as well as mentally. Even young people contract horrible diseases, including cancers. None of this means that God has somehow lost control or overlooked something. He knows our frame, that we are dust. He cares for us and loves us, to the point of dying a horrible death in payment of our sins.

While we are stewards of our bodies and impact our health by our choices, we are not ultimately in control of our own health. We do our best to stay healthy, but ultimately, God is in control and often uses health or the lack thereof to draw us to himself. To read more on Christians Living a Healthy Life, I’d recommend this site.

So, why do I workout?! 

  1. My body is the temple of the living God and I should take care of it. My body is not my own; it belongs to God.
  2. I am a steward of the body God gave me on this earth and want to be physically ready to do whatever I can for His service.
  3. I enjoy it! Exercise is a great way to clear and correct my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes, I just need to run, and afterwards I feel better because it’s given me a chance to preach the truth to myself and get some good endorphins flowing!
  4. Exercise is a way to be all things to all people. I get to meet new people and build relationships I otherwise wouldn’t have, as well as be involved in more discussions and forums, and hopefully be able to share my relationship with Christ as a result of my taking care of my body.
  5. I want to understand Scripture better. There are so many good runner illustrations in Scripture. The physical life often mirrors the spiritual life of faith. We are to run the race with patience; though it is sometimes difficult, we must keep on keeping on.

One lie that I often battle is that the BMI (Body Mass Index) is the standard of what is healthy. Though the BMI is a good starting point if someone is underweight or obese, it definitely leaves room for error. Someone who appears skinny may fall into the “healthy” or “normal” category, but he/she may not be healthy. On the other hand, someone who works out on a regular basis and has a low body fat % and solid, lean muscle may have a higher BMI; many athletes are deemed “overweight” by the BMI chart just because they have dense bones or more muscle (lean body muscle) than the average person. Personally, I prefer measuring body fat percentage to using the BMI.

Here are some other questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re healthy:

  • Are you taking care of your body by eating healthful meals and snacks? (see the Food Pyramid or the Mediterranean diet)
  • Are you getting enough rest? (Doctors recommend at least 7 hours each night for adults, more for children. Sleep deprivation can cause serious damage to our bodies and even affect our mental capacities.)
  • Are you drinking plenty of water? (Dietitians recommend 9 cups per day for women and 11 cups per day for men!)
  • Are you physically active? (Doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day; if you’re trying to lose weight, you may need to increase to 1.5 hours per day.)
  • Are you avoiding habits that could harm your body? (Alcohol and tobacco products, drugs – even the over-the-counter variety – can have negative impacts. Other negative habits include worry, excess stress, poor sleep habits, negative relationships, etc.)
  • Are you spending time in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ every day? (Even secular studies show that spiritual meditation positively affects our health, and emotions like worry and anger can negatively affect our physical beings.)

Always remember, “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” by our Great Savior Jesus Christ! We are stewards of our bodies and minds. Eat right, exercise, get your rest, and, ultimately, trust God.

Here’s a picture I thought was helpful. Consider drawing a “health map” that’s personalized for you. For me, I would add lean meats, beans and nuts, and dairy to the diet category, Bible reading and prayer to Relaxation category, and pastor, spiritual counselor, and good friends and reading to the Help category.

Last Week in Review

I’m currently working on some rather large posts that I’m excited to share. More about that later. Last week was a trying week for us. Bryan was given some very difficult deadlines at work and had to work some incredibly late hours to try to meet them. Let’s put it this way, when we went to bed last Sunday night, his comment was, “Well, see you Saturday.” I’m not sure either of us made it to bed before midnight any night last week.

Meanwhile, I worked my day job and still tried to fit in some reading and workouts. I met with my personal trainer clients on Monday and Thursday night (these are bright spots in my week; I love helping people make healthful choices). Tuesday was an intense struggle with the lawn mower (and my attitude). Wednesday and Friday were gym nights. And Saturday and Sunday were rest days! Realistically, they were more like crash days. I did very little and slept a TON, catching up from the week, which is exactly what I needed.

Personally, I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I need to lose more weight. I’m healthier than I’ve been in years…maybe healthier than I’ve been ever. And yet I still weigh the same as I did a year ago. I have lost some inches and definitely toned up, and I’m pretty sure my body fat % has dropped as well. But the weight is the same. I’m about ready to throw my scale away, to be honest! I’m coming to grips with the fact that my healthy weight is slightly above the “normal” BMI and that doesn’t mean that I’m “overweight” regardless of the BMI chart. This has been a hard mental struggle. I’ve talked to several friends and my husband, of course, who have encouraged me to look at health and beauty from a biblical perspective. So I’ve been studying those topics in the Word and through various online references. It’s been an encouraging study. I started a post on the Biblical Perspective of Health & Beauty last Friday and quickly discovered that it would take at least two separate posts if not a whole series. So, if you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’m here. I’m just doing more thinking than blogging currently. It will pick up again. I promise.

Have a great night! And enjoy the journey!

Healthy Living Blogs: A New Community of Bloggers!

I recently became a member of the newly founded “Healthy Living Blogs!” It’s a site that launched earlier this month and is growing in leaps and bounds every day! You can search for blogs by name (A-Z) or by location (city, state)! It’s a great way to get to know fellow bloggers in your area and participate in forums on health topics. Current trending topic: What does health mean to you?

If you write a healthy living blog (HLB), you can become a member by simply sending an email with the following information to

  • Email subject line: MEMBERS
  • Your name (use the name you prefer to go by: first name, first and last, or internet handle)
  • Your blog name and URL
  • Your twitter username, if you have it (hlb’s is @bloghealthy)
  • Your location (optional; you can still be included in the a-z listing)
  • Any specific labels (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, weight loss, running, etc.)

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Chili

Coworker and friend Lisa Alexander made Buffalo Chicken Chili for a Chili Cook-Off at the office today. Did I mention she won?! Wanted to share this great recipe! And it’s pretty healthy too! I’ll add my changes in italics.

Lisa’s Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of ground chicken (I used 20 oz. lean ground turkey)
  • 1 red pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and the white and light green portions of one leek, finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 carrots diced, optional (I used 8 baby carrots finely diced)
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 5 Tbsp. Chili Powder (I used 3 Tbsp.)
  • 2 cans of undrained Chili beans (I used 2 15-oz. cans of red beans)
  • 1 can of red chilis (I used one 4-oz. can of green chilis)
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce (I used 1 28-oz. can of tomato puree)
  • ½ cup of Frank’s red hot sauce, more if you want it hot (I used about 3 oz.)
  • 1 drained can of black beans (I didn’t drain mine, 15-oz. can)
  • salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. of pepper and a pinch of sugar)

Ready to go for lunch tomorrow! Yum!!

Lisa’s Instructions:

Take the chicken and cook it in olive oil for 10 minutes until pink is gone. Then mix your pepper, garlic and carrots in your chicken for 5-10 more minutes or until the veggies are tender. (I cooked my turkey in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in one pan and sauteed my garlic, leek, and pepper in another Tbsp. of olive oil in my 8 qt. stockpan.)

Add all the other ingredients in a large crock pot with your chicken and cook for 1 hour. If you want the sauce to be a white sauce just add blue cheese dressing to the mixture (be careful some people like ranch with their wings). (Once the turkey was fully cooked, I added it and the rest of the ingredients to the stockpan, brought to a boil, then turned it down to simmer till I was ready to eat. I recommend serving blue cheese crumbles and fat free Ranch dressing on the side.)

Garnish with (reduced fat) Blue Cheese crumbles, (fat free) sour cream and chives. (Celery sticks and baby carrots make a great accompaniment to this dish, since it reminded me of eating chicken wings. Cubed or shredded chicken would also be good in this dish. For vegetarian, eliminate the meat, double the veggies and add one extra can of black beans.)

~Thanks, Lisa, for this incredible recipe!!

I Want This Bathtub…

Call me crazy, but this is a dream tub! No more clutter in the bathroom! I’m sold! Supposedly, it’s coming available next month. Made by GW International.

A Girl Can Dream

Upstate Foodie Fest Updates!

I recently posted some suggestions on eating healthy at the Upstate Foodie Fest. (See post here.) I sent an email to each of the restaurants that offered to substitute healthy desserts (like a cup of sorbet or fresh fruit) to thank them and let them know about the blog. Here are some of the responses I got back:

From The Lazy Goat (part of Table 301 restaurant group):

“Hi there – …We always offer a bowl of fresh mixed berries as a dessert option and will substitute that on the foodie fest menu too. …Thank you.” ~Aimee Maher, General Manager, The Lazy Goat (Aimee is making sure her staff knows this, as when I first called, the lady I spoke with had said no substitutions were allowed. So, go to Lazy Goat and enjoy some fresh berries as part of the 3 for $30 Foodie Fest menu!)

From Table 301:

“Good morning Melissa, My name is Rodney Freidank.  I am the corporate chef for all Table 301 Restaurants.  I wanted to take moment to thank you for sharing your blog post with us this morning.  We really appreciate the time you took to let folks know of our willingness to accommodate their dietary needs during Foodie Fest.  In fact, at ALL Table 301 restaurants, we strive to give ALL of our customers a dining experience that exceeds their expectations in every way. …Please feel free to contact me at any time for information regarding the menu or food in any of our restaurants.  Of course, you should always feel free to contact the restaurants directly as well.  Another great resource for you is Gina Boulware…who is our director of Marketing. She is wonderful at getting the message out regarding what our restaurant group is about, etc. Again, thank you for including the Table 301 restaurants and I am sorry for
the inconvenience of having to change your blog post! Have a wonderful day.” ~Chef Rodney Freidank, Corporate Chef, Table 301, Greenville, SC,

From City Range:

“Melissa, Thanks for your interest and I enjoyed your blog. In lieu of having detailed nutritional info on our entire menu, which is our goal to have soon one day, our chef’s and staff will be over accommodating to any guest request or substitution. It is truly about hospitality here. Also, cooking methods can be changed and most items are made ala minute so ingredients can be altered to appease the guest’s wishes. We are also proud of our children’s menu with healthier choices on it like salmon, salad, vegetable and cucumber side options. Keep up the good work on your blog. Thank you.” ~Cory Wilk, Co-ownwer City Range Steak House

Who Says Mowing the Lawn Isn’t A Valid Workout?!

RoboMow! Wishing I had one of these tonight!

Before Bryan and I got married, we had several sessions of pre-marital counseling. It was great! I highly recommend it for every couple seeking marriage! One of our sessions, we discussed roles for each partner. We came to the conclusion that I would take care of the inside of the house and Bryan would take care of the outside of the house. And for the most part, that works really well for us!

However, there are times (like when I was in school) that one partner takes on extra responsibilities for a season. This week happens to be one of those seasons! Bryan has been giving some extremely demanding deadlines at work and has been working till midnight (or later) most nights this week and last. In the meantime, I’ve had the “privilege” of tackling the yard. I’ve mowed the lawn before, but this summer has been a unique challenge for us: 1. I was in school for most of the summer, and 2. every time we planned on mowing, we’d get an afternoon rain shower. This makes things difficult when both of us work 8-5 jobs (on a normal week).

I worked on the front lawn last Friday night but it got dark before I could get to the back. We were in Charleston over the weekend and I had my personal trainer clients’ session last night, so tonight was my first chance to get to it. It hasn’t been THAT long since I mowed, but the grass was ridiculously tall! On top of that, I started up the mower and after about 5 seconds, large puffs of white smoke began billowing from the motor! I don’t know much about lawnmowers, but I know that’s probably not good. So, since Bryan wasn’t home, I called my folks. They said a little oil probably spilled over and just needed burning off. Dad asked how long it had been since we changed the oil and I had no idea (as this is normally Bryan’s role). But I added some more to try to dilute the darker oil. It seemed to work.

Someday I want a secret garden that requires no mowing...just flowers and paths!

It was okay to begin with, but then it started choking out every time I’d get to the middle of a row. I mean EVERY time! I finally tipped the mower on its side and used a spade to clean around the blade. This smelled horrible! …probably from the last time I mowed (since the ground was somewhat wet) and I just didn’t realize this needed done…like every time you mow! That worked for a little while, then it choked out numerous times again, so I added more gas. Finally, I used a technique where every time it sounded like it was going to start choking out, I’d push down so the front would lift and the motor would get the courage to keep going. I had to do this about every 5 ft., so I’m kind of glad it started getting dark because I’m sure I looked ridiculous!

By the end, I was sweating profusely. I thought about going to the gym tonight, but after this ordeal, I got in a complete workout! I finished mowing more by sound and feel than by sight, so we’ll see what it looks like in the morning. But I did finish the backyard! So, my stick-to-it-ness won out over my frustration (and maybe a little anger). There were times I wanted to just put the mower by the side of the road and call a landscape business to come finish it in the morning. But I didn’t quit, and I calmed down, and it’s done! And I will be super glad when Bryan’s workload calms down so we can return to normal roles. I definitely am thankful for him and what a hard worker he is! And having to do some of his roles (which I don’t mind occasionally) make me appreciate him all the more.

What To Do with Wonton Wrappers – 3 Ideas!

Use a food processor to shred cabbage and carrots. Combine with 1 tsp. Chinese five spice.

All Natural Wonton Wrappers (20 per pack)

Add 2 Tbsp. of cabbage filling in the center of each wrapper.

Fold 2 corners into center and brush with egg or egg white.

Fold up like an envelope, brush with egg again, then roll up

Egg rolls (aka cabbage dumplings)

Bring pot of water to soft boil and gently place egg rolls into water.

Cook till egg rolls are transluscent, then drain and pat dry.

Pan fry in 1 tsp. of garlic wok oil and 1 Tbsp. rice wine (mine didn't stay together the greatest, so I'll keep working on this, but they tasted great!)

Cabbage Dumplings (I did 12 of these and 4 each of the next two options)

Option 2: fill wonton wrappers with 1 Tbsp. fat free ricotta and 1 tsp. fig jam. Option 3: 1 Tbsp. of favorite jelly or jam. For both: brush with egg and twist top to close. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

Fig Jam Wontons and Ricotta Fig Wontons

Served with Pork Medallions (prepared in 1 tsp. garlic wok oil, 1 Tbsp. rice wine, and sprinkled with salt and pepper)

Side of Fresh Fruit and Hot Tea Service

Jordan said his mommy taught him to cross his eyes during the song "If You're Happy and You Know It..."

Micah making silly faces

My Twin Sis and Her Hubby - Shel & Alan