Category Archives: Weight Loss Journey

Sugar-Sweet Steamed Pears

All of Michael’s kids seem to have inherited the family sweet-tooth, so there were lots of requests to make desserts while I was visiting. If you’re looking for an easy and pretty nutritious dessert to make with your children or grandchildren, this one is perfect for the fall, when all the pears are sweet and juicy! Their Uncle Joel had sent along as a gift The Redwall Cookbook, in honor of Eowyn finishing the twenty-two book fantasy series, and they were very eager to try the recipe for sugared pears found within! Although we made them together, I didn’t write down the recipe, so this will be “inspired by” but not a 100% replication (which might be against copyright law at any rate)!                                             Sugar-sweet Steamed Pears

Prepare your pears. Choose one firm and ripe (but not mushy) pear per two people. Wash the pears, slice lengthwise, and core (but do not peel) them.Melt over medium heat in a frying pan (one with a lid you can use to cover it):
1 tablespoon butter per pear
1/4 cup granulated (or brown) sugar per person; we used white, but I’d use brown next time
Dash of cinnamon per pear (about 1/2 teaspoon for four pears)  Stir until the mixture is bubbly and completely melted. Turn the heat to low, and  add the pears, flesh side down. “Fry” for one minute, or just long enough for the flesh to begin cooking and absorb with sugar and butter. Gently turn the pears over and repeat on the skin side. Remove pears to a plate just long enough to add to the frying pan 2 tablespoons of water per pear. Stir until you have a light syrup in the pan.  Return the pears, flesh side down, into the pan and cover with a lid. Allow the pears to steam for about 10 minutes on very low heat, or until fork tender. (This could take 6-12 minutes, depending on how ripe the pears and high the heat!) Check the pears every few minutes to make sure they aren’t burning and there’s still liquid in the pan. If there isn’t much syrup left, add a little water as needed.  When the pears are steamed, gently remove them from the pan and place them in a dish, spooning out all the syrup from the bottom of the pan. Keep warm in a covered dish until you’re ready to serve them, hopefully after you’ve had a delicious and nutritious dinner! Although they can be served with whipped cream, ice cream, nuts, or caramel syrup on top, they are excellent just the way they are: warm & sweet! Speaking of God’s wisdom, the Bible reminds us: “My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver” (Proverbs 8:19).

Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

When you were little, did you have a favorite soup? How about now? When I was little, my favorite lunch was tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, and this is still the favorite lunch of my youngest son’s lifelong buddy (who’s now an adult). Also, on our recent cruise of the North Sea, we were served tomato soup several times and discovered that it’s popular not only aboard ships but on land as well…from Iceland to India. Therefore, I believe it’s an international, inter-generational classic!Alan and I have enjoyed many iterations of tomato soup, such as this unusual bowl of tomato soup with spinach and pasta. Tomato basil soup has become quite popular with hipsters and in upscale restaurants. My “Little Sister, Liz” made some from scratch last time I visited her in Washington D.C. , and it was outstanding!However, I think possibly the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted was served at Friðheimar, a restaurant near Selfoss, Iceland, while Alan and I were on the  “Golden Circle Tour.” It was basically super fresh and creamy, with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkling of parsley on top. Of course, I don’t know exactly what ingredients go into fabulous dishes, but I can usually come pretty close, so I want to share what I dreamed up, inspired by mulling over the delectable tastes and smells of that wonderful meal and dedicated to the memory of Iceland. If you’re the chef at Friðheimar and find this recipe, please feel free to share “the real” recipe with us. I looked online trying to find your recipe, but all I found were reviews that said things like, “the best fresh tomato soup I’ve ever tasted,” “we just instantly fell in love with the sweet’n’fresh tomato soup,” “simple but so tasty,” “amazing soup,” “gorgeous soup,” etc. That’s just the way we felt too! So, I tried, but mine is not as amazing as my memory of Friðheimar’s. Maybe I’ll write and ask him if he’ll share his recipe. Meanwhile, here’s a bright, healthy soup to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.

Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

In a large stock pot, combine:
2 tablespoons butter (turn on heat and melt), then add
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I only used half of the one above)
1 garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon pressed garlic; I just used 1 clove of this bulb)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon (your favorite; mine is Lawry’s) seasoning salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the onions start to brown. Then add:
2 tablespoons flour; stir until absorbed into the juices before adding:4 large tomatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon crushed basil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes=2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder) Simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat.  Let it rest 15 minutes, then run it through a food mill or use a blender or immersion blender to puree. At this point, I believe Friðheimar must have run the puree through a strainer to remove skins and seeds, but I tend to think all sources of healthy fiber are good for  you, so I didn’t. Suit yourself on this one.Next, taste it, and possibly add more salt and pepper per your personal taste.
Just before serving, reheat to make it piping hot, and serve with some swirls of yogurt and sprinkles of parsley (fresh or crushed).

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith
” (Proverbs 15:17).

P.S.—In the picture above, I had stirred extra yogurt into the soup (trying to match the color I remembered and add protein), but it wasn’t as yummy with the yogurt as without, so I left it out of the recipe above. Tomato soup is very light, however, so it’s good to combine it with something like fruit and fresh bread with cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich so you don’t end up hungry in an hour! 🙂  )

 

 

Savory Sides: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is low in calories and high in health benefits. When we had our German feast, Gerlinde’s sous chef (Jonathan) actually made the red cabbage, so she didn’t give me the recipe for that. However, I’ve been making red cabbage as a side for the past 40+ years, and it doesn’t really have to be part of an ethnic dinner, so I decided to tell you what I do (which is probably close to what Jonathan did anyway).

Sweet and Sour German(ish) Cabbage
(serves 6-8)

1. Chop 6 0z.bacon into small chunks and saute in a frying pan for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown. (This is purely optional, but I like it.)2. Add and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until starting to caramelize:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large apple (peeled, cored, and finely shredded or chopped)2. Add 1 red cabbage (with core removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
Fry on medium heat another 5 minutes, until cabbage is starting to look done. Make sure to use a spatula to keep scraping the bottom of the pan so nothing  burns.  3. Add:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or wine vinegar; whichever you have on hand)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or can go 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter; taste-test it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt (test near the end; you may want even a little more)
Pepper to taste (a few sprinkles)

4. Simmer in a covered pan for 10-15 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Turn the heat off and keep covered, but turn the heat back on for just a minute or two right before serving so that it’s hot. Red cabbage actually improves with age and can last a week in the refrigerator if you have leftovers. It also freezes well. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Fabulous Salmon Salads Fit for a Caesar

In honor of summer just beginning, this Saturday I want to inspire you with ideas for how to create incredible salmon dishes for hot (or cool) summer days. This first photo was taken at the Boat House in Disney Springs, Florida. It had field greens, butternut squash, Honeycrisp apples, feta cheese, chopped bacon, toasted pumpkin seeds and a maple vinaigrette dressing…and was possibly the best salmon salad I’ve ever eaten! Epcot’s Rose & Crown Restaurant also serves an excellent salmon dish, although perhaps geared more for a cool evening. Their pan-roasted Scottish salmon dinner was outstanding! It included Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, new potatoes, baked apples, and a lime-saffron infused Aioli sauce. I’ve already written up a recipe for Aioli sauce (https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/lenten-special-ahi-tuna-with-super-simple-aioli-sauce/) but I want to point out that you can add many different touches to make it even more memorable. I’ve also since learned that the English have a trick:  Adding a little garlic to mayonnaise makes a simple dressing that can actually compete in my affection with ketchup for dipping french fries. (But, never call them “french fries” in England! They’re “chips!”) Another fantastic salmon salad I had was in Hawaii. This one was honey-glazed, grilled, and put to rest on a bed of spinach with red onions, bacon bits, slivered almonds, and mandarin oranges with a tangy orange-basil vinaigrette. Obviously, nobody wants to give away their signature recipes, but I’ve learned from experimenting that you can use equal parts of your favorite vinegar and oil (or even your favorite Italian), add whatever you like to give it an extra spark (be it maple syrup, basil and bits of grated orange peel, or anything else that suits your fancy and seems like it might complement your dish), plus some salt and pepper…maybe a little onion or garlic powder…and voilà! You’ve created your own unique take on salad dressing!Here is one of my own creations, just a garden salad with peppers, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, black olives, and Parmesan cheese.  Really, salmon (or any meaty fish) is very versatile. When our kids were little, we couldn’t afford to eat fish very often, but Alan says that having fish once a week is a healthy practice, so I’ve been trying to serve it more.This time I loaded it heavily with fresh garlic and Italian dressing before grilling it, then served a mango/onion/avocado salsa and asparagus as sides. I’ve also tried grilling the asparagus (basted with a little oil and salt) along with the salmon, then added potato salad and cold slaw. This special occasion included “salmon mignon.” (Mignon may be defined as “small and delicate” but I really think it means “round, fat, and especially juicy!”) If you’re looking for a perfect summer lunch party idea, this salmon served on a bun with veggies and a side salad might meet your needs. After walking around Mackinac Island a few weeks ago, this flavorful meal from the Village Bell totally refilled my tank! (Ranch dressing added to the sandwich was a good touch.) Even a chunk of grilled salmon atop a simple Caesar salad made of Romaine leaves, croutons, and grated Parmesan cheese tossed with creamy Caesar dressing can totally satisfy most people on a warm day. Hot or cold, summer or winter, salmon is always considered a royal treat… fit for a Caesar, or for your favorite people. Happy Summering! Hopefully, I’ve given you a few ideas that will add fuel to the fire of your creative culinary imagination!And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:9-13).

Refreshing Virgin Pina Colada Smoothies

Those of you who know me well know that I don’t drink anything alcoholic. In fact, I’ve never had an alcoholic drink in my life and don’t intend ever to have one unless Jesus  himself offers me one when I get to heaven (which I’m doubting will happen). However, I love fruit flavors, variety, and pretty stemware, so I love experimenting with various non-alcoholic drinks, and here’s one that’s perfect for a warm day when you feel like celebrating!

Refreshing Pina Colada Smoothies
(makes four 8-0z. servings, although only three are pictured here)

In a juicer or blender that can handle ice, add:
2 cups ice
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup cooled coconut syrup (recipe here if you need it:  https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/pineapple-pancakes-and-coconut-syrup/ )

I was serving it for dinner so didn’t add yogurt, but if you want a healthy breakfast drink with some protein, add 1 cup of plain Greek (or regular) yogurt. With yogurt added, it will serve 5. If you add another cup of ice, you can serve six, and it still tastes plenty strong and sweet.

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7, ESV. May we be a source of refreshment and joy to those who visit our homes this summer!)

Rise Up, My Love (284): “Beautiful in His Eyes”

Song of Solomon 8:10 “. . .then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.” Well, so much for personal struggles (as a prototypical female). What’s the bottom line on this verse? Was Solomon’s bride being realistic? Did she have a pride problem? Or, was the bride simply expressing how beautiful her husband made her feel? I’d like to believe the last option, although for those of us mortals who live in this physical, fallen world, I suspect the Shulamite was truly a stunningly beautiful woman, Solomon had been attracted to her for that reason, and she knew it.

This is the most reasonable, literal interpretation of the verse, and the fact that Solomon gathered a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines who became idols in his life and led him astray from God strongly supports this view. (1 Kings 11:3: “And he [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”) This is one place in the book where—on the physical level—Solomon departs from our precious Savior, who looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7. Thank you, Jesus!).We’ll discuss spiritual beauty next, but on the physical level, what lessons can we learn today? First, a word to all of us, but especially guys (who are often extremely visual in their orientation). Of course you’re attracted to a woman’s beauty, so be sure you marry someone who is physically appealing to you. Never try to be “super spiritual” and refuse to acknowledge your basic feelings about how physically attractive a potential girlfriend seems. However, your physical attraction should only be the first step in identifying the right girl.

If you want to be content in this life…if you want a happy marriage…then learn to be like Christ. Look for an attractive mate who is intently developing spiritual beauty…and make sure you’re intently developing godly character yourself! It is our flesh that draws us to physical beauty, and if we don’t train our hearts to focus on and love that which is spiritual, we will forever suffer lustful attractions to members of the opposite sex based strictly on physical appearance. Why do you think the draw to pornography is so incredibly powerful? Modern men may not have Solomon’s wealth and power to acquire a physical harem, but for the price of his soul a man can develop a Satanic harem through visual images that will lead to his destruction just as surely as Solomon’s lust turned him away from his God.

The Proverbs remind us: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:31). If you want to be still singing your spouse’s praises when you’re seventy, look for someone who loves the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength. The spirits of such people grow more attractive year by year.Second, another word to all of us, but especially to us as women (who due to child birth and hormone shifts have an extremely difficult time retaining our youthful figures). Let’s try to be as beautiful as possible for our spouses! A fact of human nature that we would be wise to understand and accommodate is that human beings are attracted to physical beauty. (No offense on the lizard; I was thinking of myself!)

Let’s assess ourselves realistically. Are we firm and straight like a wall, or are we sagging and bulging under the weight of indulgence? Are we being self- disciplined enough to eat and exercise properly? Do we have good posture? Standing up straight will go a long way toward looking as attractive as possible. Our breasts may not exactly seem like “towers” to us, but if we’re not overweight, we’re standing up straight, and we’re wearing undergarments that are appropriately supportive, most women will have a pleasant frame that can be totally satisfying to her husband. (If he keeps his eyes off strange women; a man with wandering eyes will never be satisfied, no matter how beautiful his wife is.)Believe it or not, being as shapely as possible is something that God desires for us as part of living “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). It is part of good stewardship. He gave us our body as a gift to maintain, and he wants us to be beautiful for him. We are his abiding place, and just as he is preparing a place for us, so we can express love to him by keeping our earthly tabernacle as beautiful as possible for him. Although our motive in everything should be first and foremost God’s pleasure, a beautiful body will also be a pleasure and attraction to our husbands.

We probably do not think we could compete in a Miss Universe contest, but let’s work on being able to go at least this far towards feeling like the bride. Let’s work on being able to say: “God gave me just the body he wanted me to have, and I am beautiful to Him. I want to be a good steward of the body that God has given me, and my husband appreciates me for that.”(Hopefully!! 🙂  )

Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

Even If You Can’t Dance, You Can Zumba!

By the time I was five, I was trying to imitate my swingin’ teenaged brothers as they danced to hot new songs like “The Terror of Highway 101.” By six, I was learning to “Rock Around the Clock,” and by seven, I was practicing Elvis the Pelvis’s swinging hips from songs like “I ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” By twelve, I was practicing the Peppermint Twist with my girlfriends at slumber parties. And then, I surrendered my life to Jesus, and the dancing stopped. It wasn’t just that I started attending a very conservative church where they considered dancing the “vertical expression of horizontal thoughts,” I was beginning to think there might be something even more exciting in the world of guys than being nicknamed “Buckwheat” and allowed to play first base on their ball team!

Long story short, I decided that dancing was way too provocative and romantic to be a part of my life if I wanted to make it to adulthood keeping my name in tact. (Kathryn means “pure.”) Marriage didn’t exactly stop all attractions to the opposite sex either, and so it seemed wise to continue a hands-off, no-dance policy indefinitely.  However, 45 years into marriage and finding myself pretty stable emotionally, Alan and I both noticed that we were becoming the least bit unstable physically. One bit of advice we’ve heard repeatedly about aging well is to participate in new physical activities that stress grace and balance, such as dancing. So, we decided that it’s time to start dancing again…together…in our basement…with our video Zumba instructor, Beto Perez, the Colombian dancer and choreographer who developed a fitness program called Zumba in the 1990’s. Zumba combines dance steps with various martial arts moves and is the perfect combination of fun and aerobic exercise. It really took off in 2006, and today there are more than 14 million people who participate in some 160,000 classes in 185 countries…and counting! At 14, Beto was working 3 jobs to support his single mother and their family in Columbia. Today?! Talk about the American Dream come true!! The wife of one of our psychiatrists sponsors a Zumba class on Tuesday afternoons where Alan works, but we are a little too old (or self-conscious) to join that group. However, for $7.99 we got Zumba 101: Can’t Dance? from Amazon, and we’ve been working out ever since! At first, we could hardly make it through the first two songs without needing a rest, but now we can dance through the entire hour session and are ready for something more. The funny thing is, it’s just as appealing to our grandchildren, and when they come to visit, the kids beg to work out with us! It’s just SO. MUCH. FUN!

So, if you’re looking for a way of exercising that doesn’t bore you to tears and makes you feel happy, consider giving Zumba a try…maybe even in the privacy of your own basement! Alan is still struggling to swing his hips, but…I’m back to my roots! 🙂

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die. . .a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; this is our time to dance~).