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Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus says.....Drink your milk.

Our baby who is 3 preaches some great sermons. Our big kids did similarly spectacular and hilarious things which I swore I'd never forget - but, I have.  We have a few stories that we recollect on occasion but I know it's not even close to the delightful stories they actually gave us.  I'm determined to remember more, especially since my memory is worse now than....well, before.  So I wrote this whole exchange down the last week......

I was cleaning the kitchen while my youngest was coloring at the kitchen table.  She found this wonderful coloring book that belonged to her sister years ago.

She was re-doing her sister's past efforts and exploring her discovery and began asking me questions.....Guess who comes to your life Momma?  (after a few attempts to follow and answer we got on the same page).  She then launches into this little sermon.

"Jesus comes to your life momma because he loves you soooooo much.  He likes to ride on a donkey and tell everyone about his family.  He tells us to not to be afraid, to use your power, and drink your milk."

Seriously, could this be any better?  I love this because it is so very much her own words, which means it comes from her own heart - she's beginning to understand and remember stories about Jesus.  And He is pretty irresistible once you start knowing His stories and the undeniable fact that He does love you sooooo much.  I've been mulling it around all weekend and I just wonder what would happen if we followed her advice?

If I really let go of fear;
"But when I am afraid,I will put my trust in you." Psalm 56:3

If I really relied on the power He has given me;
"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life." 2 Peter 1:3

If I really took care of myself.
"Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" 1 Corinthians 6:19

Yep, that's a great sermon.

Sure do love that girl.  Her life has already taught me so much - can't wait to see what else He has in store.

Hope she encouraged you today,

Here she is practicing what she preached, "Jesus says eat cake?"
Oh, never mind.

Here's a reward for reading to the end.  Lest you think we have it all together here in the Fisher home.....the next day we started a new conversation with "Momma, guess who comes to your life?"  Answer......Curious George - the coloring book of the day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicken and Rice

I want to share a favorite Comfort Food recipe.  One of my children prefers rice to potatoes with the exception of French Fries - sad sigh.  It truly hurts my feelings a little bit to scrape mashed potatoes into the trash.  So I'm always looking for good "ricey" things to eat.  I LOVE creamy chicken and rice casseroles, but honestly I get a culinary bee in my bonnet reading recipes where you have to cook EVERYTHING first and then put it all together and bake it again!  This is a similar rant to crock pot recipes that require pre-cooking. 

So I decided to make a chicken and rice that started with everything raw.  This is quite astounding because I am a recipe rule following kind of girl.  If I ever make something up, it's a big deal.....and I feel quite proud (see my bowtie beauties post).   This is what I ended up with and it really is a favorite. 

Everyone is my family enjoys this dish and even without a potato in sight it's pretty yum.   I cut up the chicken into little pieces, one package of chicken breasts or tenders works.  Then I mix everything together (except crackers, cheese, and butter) raw in a large mixing bowl.  It will be runny and you will want to panic, but don't - it's supposed to be that way.  The key is to bake covered for half an hour and uncovered for half an hour and then let it sit for a few minutes to "firm" up before serving. The spices in the recipe are things I had on hand so don't shop especially for them.  I've included some subsititutions in the recipe below.  When I make this for a regular weeknight dinner I use light versions of everything and go easy on the toppings on one corner (mine) to make it more calorie friendly.  But if you get sick or have a baby and I bring this to you it's full on calories and flavor!

Chicken and Rice Casserole
3 chicken breasts
1 box Uncle Ben’s Chicken and Wild Rice
½ cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
½ cup water
1 teaspoon rotisserie chicken seasoning mix (can sub salt or seasoned salt)
½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 Tablespoon minced onion (or grated fresh onion or onion powder)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
¼ cup melted butter

Cut raw chicken into little bite-sized pieces.  Mix chicken with rice and seasoning packet, sour cream, soup, broth, water and seasonings in a large bowl.  Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking pan sprayed with Pam.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with cheese, crushed crackers and melted butter.  Bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

Hope you enjoy and share this keeper.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Prayer for the Kiddos

I've been convicted about praying more for my kids - this is the closest thing I have to a New Year's Resolution.  Maybe like me you believe in praying for your kids but would like to move past "Please  Lord, let her go to sleep"  or "Guide my child to remember to hang up his jacket before I explode mom guts all over him" or "God, if you will help us to make it out of the grocery store without needing a mop or an ambulance I promise I'll volunteer in the church nursery Sunday."   Now don't get me wrong, God hears mom-crisis prayers in all varying degrees of lucidity.  I'm convinced that the little pleas for "help" I send throughout the day keep me connected to Him and often provide just the deep breath I need.  But there has to be more. 

I want to see the miraculous reality of my kids' lives reflecting the content of my prayers over them....  the deliberate and Scripture-filled prayer that echoes God's own plans and desires.

So today I fished out this little copy of verses to pray for your kids out of my Supermom binder of good ideas and intentions and picked out a few to help me remember to make this privilege a priority.  I believe that my kids are held in the hand of God, but even as I trust Him with these precious ones I want to be cooperating with His goals for them.

Here are some verses I love, with some comments because I can't help myself.  I like to read and especially pray verses in different translations to keep them new and thought-provoking in my heart and mind. 

Proverbs 4:23 (New Living Translation)
"Guard your heart above all else,
      for it determines the course of your life."

What a great verse for kids as they face battles for their attachments every day.

Psalm 33:20-22 (English Standard Version)
"20Our soul waits for the LORD;
   he is our help and our shield.
21For our heart is glad in him,
   because we trust in his holy name.
22Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you."

This is a great family passage full of pleas for protection and statements of trust.

Proverbs 1:10 (American Standard Version)
"My son, if sinners entice thee, Consent thou not."
This one kinda cracks me up and I love this translation....this one definitely "prays" well.  It lectures well too! Personally I might add an "est" to the end of "consent" for added flair.  This is just too true and rolls off the tongue so easily.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (Contemporary English Version)
"Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you."
A favorite of our youth minister....and a great truth to pray over kids especially on those panic days when it seems my influence is fading compared to that of friends!

Isaiah 54:13 (Amplified Bible)
"And all your children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children."
Ah, great peace and undisturbed composure in the lives of my kids?  Yes please, and some for me too.  What great specific requests!

Colossians 1:9-12 (Contemporary English Version)
"9We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.
   10Then you will live a life that honors the Lord, and you will always please him by doing good deeds. You will come to know God even better.
   11His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy.
   12I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light."
An all-time favorite and my life-long goal and prayer for my kids.  This is a unique list of qualities to pray over children.  With all my heart I pray that this can be a eulogy for each of them at the end of lives well-lived.

So maybe you will join me in praying for the kids around you - your children or grandchildren, kids you see in your neighborhood or that give you a hug on Sunday mornings - what a privilege to talk about them to the Father.  Truly the best kind of tattling.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Un-Bossy" Favorites

As a follow up to my last post - here are my favorite discoveries. Ta-Da! They fit great into my "food you're not the boss of me" life - and some were a real lifesaver!

Some favs in my cabinet right now
Favorite Apps and Websites:
  • Lose It! (app and website)
  • Fast Food Calorie Counter - app store
  • Comfort Food Diet Cookbook, find it here, or at Amazon, here.
  • The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great cookbookThe author of this book, Pam Anderson is one of my favorite cookbook authors.  She tells her story of losing 50 pounds and has some great cooking tips and recipes.
  • Hungry Girl websiteI haven't made a lot of her recipes, but this website is great for tips and products.  I signed up for her e-newsletter and get all kinds of updates on restaurants and snacks.
  • Hungry Girl Shopping List.
  • Calorie King website, I used this website to calculate calories for food I eat at home as well as some restaurant research.
  • Recipe Calculator at  You can enter recipes and calculate calories here.

Favorite Snacks:
  • Almonds, Emerald Cocoa or Dry Roast (100 cal pouch)
  • Bagel-fuls – 200 calories (in freezer waffle section)
  • Baked lays or Tostitos
  • Butterfinger De-Light bars (come 2 bars to package, 1=105 calories)
  • 3 Musketeer Truffle Crisp (come 2 bars to package, 1=85 calories)
  • Cheerios Snack Mix
  • Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges (35 calories)
  • 100 Cal packs of Cheezits or cookies
  • Special K Crackers (17 crackers=90 calories)
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Luna Minis (80 calories)
  • Special K fruit crisp breakfast bars (100 calories per package)
  • Braums, Frozen Yogurt; Banana Pecan or Blackberry Cream with Almond
  • Athenos Hummus (2 T=50 calories)
  • Breyers Smooth and Creamy Ice Cream Sandwiches (160) or Bars (120)
  • Skinny Cow Ice Cream anything, fewer calories but the Breyer’s are better
  • Jello Mousse (60 calories)
  • Smartfood popcorn 100 calorie white cheddar bags (chips aisle)
  • Musselman’s Blueberry Pomegranate Applesauce (70 calories)
  • Mini bags of 100 cal popcorn
  • Pringles Stix (90 calories)
  • Jello Sugar Free Pudding (in fridge section)
  • Rice Krispy Treats, (90 calories)
  • 100 Cal Strawberry Cupcakes
  • Yogos - for my candy fix  (80 calories)
  • General Foods International Instant Coffee (around 60-80 calories)
  • Smart Ones brand frozen pasta dinners for lunches at home.

I mentioned in my previous post that eating out is a reality for me, so I had to figure out how to do it without blowing my calorie budget.  I also had to figure out how to do eat out without assuming my only choices were grilled chicken on a salad or in a bun (gag).  Here are some suggestions that worked for me at my family's favorite places....may not for you, I know some of these choices are way up there in the fat category.  But I decided to focus on one thing I could control - calories and portions.  Just a little disclaimer.
Eating Out Favorites:
  • Taco Bueno – Beef Potato Burrito (358)
  • Taco Bell – Beef Chalupa Supreme (360)
  • Burger King – Whopper Jr with mustard (220), small fries (240)
  • Chick-fil-a – 8 piece nuggets (260), fruit cup (70), whatever waffle fries are in the bottom of the sack from my kids' orders were also mine and didn't count toward my calorie total.
  • Chili’s – Guiltless Grill sirloin (340), ¼ order of chips/salsa (118), green chili soup is lo-cal.
  • Cracker Barrel – 1 biscuit, 4 grilled chicken tenderloin dinner with hash brown casserole and carrots (506)
  • Sonic – grilled cheese (282) or corndog (210)
  • McAlister’s – Chicken tortilla soup with bread bowl (334) By the way, I just ate at McAlister's and they have a whole new "under 500"!
  • McDonalds, Fruit/yogurt parfait (130), cheeseburger happy meal
  • Cheese Pizza thin crust (2 slices-384), I know this calorie total fluctuates, this one is from calorie king.  Wherever we are for pizza, I always get cheese and thin crust and don't worry about specifics! 
  • Wendy’s – Jr bac chzburger (310), small fries (330)

So, those are my favorites.....I would love to hear from you! 
What are your favorite snacks, tips and strategies?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hey Food! You're not the boss of me, but we can still be friends.

‘Tis the season for diets and such.  And so I am working up the courage to share my weight loss story.

Warning – this gets long and should probably be 2 or 3 posts, seriously I’m looking at 1600 words here!

 This summer I lost 30 pounds.  The “before” me thought  “counting calories” should only be used as a line in a funny song or a punch line for a joke.  My favorite foods were (and still are) gravy and ice cream.  I would read ridiculous stories about astounding weight loss and just watch for the crazy thing they did that would allow me to let myself off the hook.  Something like, “ate 3 grapefruits for breakfast, cabbage soup for every meal for 10 weeks, rice cakes and water, green tea pills, howl at the moon”….blah…blah..blah.  But January is the time of year when I would annually scour the internet for healthy recipes and shop on amazon for light cookbooks wishing for something different in my life. 

This is me right before I started my weight loss journey.

These pictures are from September 09 and September 2010, same shirt - different jeans!

In March of last year I had just been to the doctor and saw that I was pushing 165 pounds, the most I’d ever weighed.  My doctor assured me I was just fine – and I shook off my alarm calling it vanity.  Then my family headed into a season where hubby was really busy and gone and I was stressed out and allowed myself into a yucky funk.  My biggest wake up call came one evening as I was walking down the hallway from my kitchen to my bedroom at about 4:50 on a day my husband wasn’t home.  I was trying to figure out how I was going to manage to the end of the day – feeling exhausted and selfish and unhappy.  I began to plan and comfort myself with the things I would eat that night after the kids were in bed…..and it worked, I felt better (insert red flag).

I believe in comfort food, I love food, I love to cook and share food.  I love to celebrate with food.  You will not ever find anything on this blog that is anti-food.  So don’t hear me saying that you shouldn’t ever comfort yourself with food, because I don’t believe that’s true.  When someone I love experiences a major life transition happy or sad – I take them food.  I know my husband and my kids’ favorite things and I make them for them, happily.  I have a friend who loves my Monster Cookies, and so once when her days were difficult making cookies is all I could think to do to help her…..and it did.  So what made me decide to change the way I was eating?

“When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God.” 
1 Corinthians 10:31 CEV

Simply said, I wasn’t honoring God with the way I was eating and drinking.  Part of the original meaning of the word for honor here is to recognize someone or something for what it really is.  So the question for me was this: When you eat are you recognizing God for who He really is?  When I eat or drink or speak or rest or work or laugh or watch or read or think……I say “God You are (fill in the blank).  These activities are powerful little mirrors about what I really believe about God.  It’s not about the food, hear me here, because a chocolate chip cookie dough milkshake eaten at Braum’s with my precious daughter while we celebrate her getting her back handspring at gymnastics can absolutely be honoring to God.  The same ice cream eaten while I’m sitting alone on top of my bed watching some mindless sitcom can be dishonoring to God if I’m trusting my experience with my food to fill sadness or loneliness in my life.  The way I was eating was saying, “Food you are the boss of me” while also saying, “God you are not enough”.  That’s what wasn’t OK in my life.

Thinking back I can’t remember what made the difference in this year and every year before when I hit this same wall in my life.  I will share here what I learned and the boundaries I set – I hope it’s encouraging to you.   Here are the two “rules” I set for myself as I secretly began changing the way I ate.
1.       No dieting, I had to make changes I could make and keep forever.  This immediately disqualified anything sugar or carb-free or hard to cook.  Whew…….
2.       No food-hating.  I refused to make food my enemy.  I wanted to regain control over how I ate, but still eat and cook things I love.  This immediately disqualified anything requiring me to eat a frozen diet dinner while my family ate something yummy or any kind of diet with gross food as the main ingredient.  I am astounded by people who make food their enemy.  To me, that is the same wrong I am doing over-eating, just in a different direction.  Hello – I’d just rather be fluffy than be completely consumed with not eating.  I wanted freedom from food, not just a new addiction that wasn’t nearly as fun. 

Here’s where I would put in a Part 2 if I were a really good blogger, keep going if you dare!

So here’s what I did.  I happened on a cookbook by Taste of Home called The Comfort Food Diet Cookbook.  I bought it and read the opening section with all the weight loss stories (because usually this is where I let myself off the hook).  Even after rolling my eyes at the story of one lady who said she would go to the gym at night after her kids were in bed (nevah!) and stay on the treadmill until it said she’d burned 1000 calories (as if), I found the plan simple and at first glance not all that different from how I was already cooking and eating (a first).  This plan is based on calorie consumption and broke down daily eating into 3 meals and 2 snacks (yes please).  I had no idea how many calories were in anything, so this gave me a good starting place.  About this time I rediscovered an app on my iPhone called Lose It! and started playing with it.  When I entered all my info it set me at about 1350 calories a day.  I never really thought I could do a food diary and I still don’t think I could do one on paper, but something about this app turned calorie counting into a game – and it worked.  This tool allows you to enter all the food you eat (calories in) and exercise you do (calories out) and record your weight loss.  This app has come a long way in the almost year since I started using it (better food and exercise databases), in fact you can now use all the same tools on their website if you don’t have an iPod or iPhone and the creators have a brand new book out based on the success of the app.  I love this app, it made the biggest difference for me.  I didn’t tell anyone I was watching calories because I had no confidence that I would stick with it…..but then I started losing weight and celebrated a little, that was great motivation.

About the same time I downloaded an app where I could look up calories in food at restaurants.  This goes along with Rule number 2, I am not a food-hater and my family realistically is going to be eating fast food – no way I’m not eating with them.  I found lots of solutions using this app as well as just planning ahead a bit.  I spent an afternoon on my computer looking up nutrition facts from our favorite restaurants’ websites.  I made a note in my phone for each one so that when we ended up in those places I could order something besides a grilled chicken salad (which, by the way and much to my delight is not always the best choice anyway). I found a website where I could look up ingredients to food I cooked at home and made notes in my family cookbook.  Yes, all this is a bit time-consuming at first but you only have to do it once.  For everything you eat a second time, you already have the calorie info saved and can just re-select it – have I mentioned I love the LoseIt app?  And let me just mention this, it was good for me to throw myself into this project.  I was changing my life and the investment of time and energy was worth it.  Now that I’m on the other side I just want to say the work invested is very brief compared to the changes in your life which are for the rest of your life.   

Then I just did it, and I lost over 30 pounds in about 4-5 months.  I continue to monitor my weight once a week and record it on LoseIt.  While losing I only weighed twice a week – not at home.  (Trust me, this is important)

This is what I learned.

1.       I can eat in a way that affirms my health, my commitment to God and His Word, and still love food.
2.       I was wasting lots of calories on things I didn’t really want to eat.  I still cannot believe how much I just snacked with no awareness of it!  A handful of this, a bite of that – just to get rid of it……it added up to about 500 or more wasted calories a day.
3.       It feels good to actually get hungry and then eat something I really like and I can love smaller amounts.
4.       There is no cheating, I just ate but paid attention.  On days I really messed up, I just started again the next day – no guilt. 

 I am working on a list of my favorite “Not Bossy” foods, websites, and books with links that I’ll post soon.  I hope this helps, I would love to hear your story and share encouragement.

So, that’s how I made food no longer the boss of me, but we are definitely still friends.

Enjoy your food and your precious LIFE friends!

UPDATE:  Since I wrote this I get a couple of questions I thought I'd address.  One is how many calories did I eat daily?  I set up my weight loss goals on the Lose It! app and it set me at about 1350 a day, as I changed the way I was eating I ended up eating about 1200-1300 per day.  Once I hit my goal, the program changed the number of calories, but I still stay about between 1500 - 1600 now for maintenance.  The other question was about why I recommend not having a scale at home.  I think (and have read) that daily weigh ins can end up being really discouraging....but that's just my two cents!  I used the scale away from home to keep myself from weighing too often.