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Book Review: “The Healthy Mind Cookbook” by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

9781607742975

The Healthy Mind Cookbook has an intriguing premise that is spelled out in its’ subtitle: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity. This was very interesting to me since I have been trying to take more notice of the foods I eat in a quest to become healthier. I have noticed that my body responds very differently to healthy and unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, I have also noticed that sometime healthy food isn’t always tasty. This cookbook aims to correct that problem.

Each recipe has detailed instructions, nutritional information, storage directions and commentary from the author. Many recipes are accompanied by a color photograph. It is a hardcover book with 245 pages. Many great tips are provided on preparation and maintaining a good pantry of staples. However, my favorite part of the cookbook is how it teaches you to use a flavor combination called FASS (fats, acid, salt, and sweet) to balance flavors in cooking to make healthy foods taste good. It even has a chart that shows how to fix problems with taste in a recipe. I also enjoyed learning about the copious listing of foods that help with various cognitive issues. The recipes themselves look very appetizing and many are ones that my children would try as well. I look forward to using this cookbook to eat better and as the author says feed my mind.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. 

Menu Planning

Several months ago, I noticed that several of the blogs I followed were posting a menu plan on a weekly or monthly basis. In the past, I had never put a lot of effort into planning out meals. Unfortunately, this led to lots of potluck meals or worse, meals at a restaurant (mostly fast food). So, I decided to start planning my meals. I chose to plan them out for the month because it was more efficient to get it over with for the month instead of starting anew each week. When I make the plan, I also make a weekly grocery list so that it is easily accessible each week when I am ready to go to the grocery store. I’ll admit, I don’t always follow my game plan, but it definitely helps with the organization surrounding those crazy hours after school, but before dinner. I found an awesome editable calendar that I use at No Ordinary Moments.

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This plan is placed on the front of my refrigerator so that I can see what needs to be thawed or prepped and so that everyone is aware of what will be for dinner. Of course, things invariably come up such as getting invited over to eat with another family or spirit nights at the kids’ school, and we just have to be flexible those days. The idea isn’t for us to strickly follow the plan, but having the decisions made for us makes it more likely that we’ll eat something home-cooked and more nutritious than fast food. I hope our waistlines and wallets will thank me for the few extra minutes it takes to prepare the menus.

We also print out a monthly menu from their school for breakfast and lunch. Each child takes a highlighter (pink and blue) and highlights the meals that they would like to buy from the school. I also indicate which days they will have P.E. so that they know which shoes to be wearing each day. These also get placed on the front of the refrigerator.

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It’s a simple system, but it works well for us. What are your favorite menu planning tools?

Fun Earth Day Project

Sparkly Princess came home from school last week with an assignment for an Earth Day project. I helped her look through Pinterest for some good ideas. She settled on three parts of several pins to make a recycled stationery set. Although it took a while to complete, she was truly proud of her project.

The first part was a small container made from strips of recycled magazines. The instructions we used were found at Guidecentral. Additionally, we glued the final fold on the strips to make it easier for her to weave the strips. We also changed the edges as well. It was surprisingly sturdy when we finished. Although our household has been recycling for years, I think it made a big impression on the kids that it was possible to reuse “trash” to make useful things since they were the ones remaking things instead of sending it off for someone else to do.

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We also made little notebooks from cereal boxes using an idea from One Good Thing by Jillee. The ones that we made were not as fancy because we ran out of time to affix the button and scrapbook paper I had planned. Sparkly Princess was happy enough to pick out some stickers to decorate them and added a rubber band to keep them closed.

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The final piece was recycled crayons. I have been keeping broken and low-quality crayons for quite some time planning to do this type of project. We used the instructions from Princess Pinky Girl. We ended up using a metal mini-muffin pan. I was thankful that it didn’t really stink up the kitchen and that I finally got the pan clean. Most of the “new” crayons just popped out, but a few got stuck. Next time, I plan to use a silicone pan to help with that. The blended colors are gorgeous, and the kids loved them!

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I hope your children can enjoy making these even if it’s not Earth Day.

Book Review: “The Diabetes Solution” by Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD and Susan Wyler, RDN

I was excited to be able to review this book. I have insulin resistance, so I am constantly trying to stay current on the best ways to eat in order to control this condition so that it doesn’t become full-fledged diabetes. The author does a wonderful job of explaining diabetes in terms that are easily understandable to people without a medical background. His explanation of how the body’s energy system (and insulin’s part in that system) is used in the body in terms of a subway station on pages 19 and 20 made more sense to me than discussions with my medical doctor and dietician. In fact, I feel like I have more of an understanding of this disease than I’ve ever had because of this book.

The first part of the book covers everything from basics of diabetes to how to screen for it to complications resulting from it. The second part of the book covers how you should be eating and includes recipes to get you started. The book suggests using an eating plan that is called the Blood Sugar Budget. In it, a certain amount of points are awarded each day with specific foods “costing” a prescribed point value. One interesting part of the plan is the use of penalty points that get assessed for not eating properly. For example, one would have to add 8 points for not eating the suggested 5 servings of leafy greens and nonstarchy vegetables in a day. While the budget point values seem a little confusing to me at the beginning, I’m sure that with practice and time, it would be easier. The overall recommendation is not unlike a lot of healthy eating suggestions where lean meats, vegetables, and fruits are encouraged. Of course, the book also points out that physical activity is an important part of the solution. I liked the book and plan to try the meal plan because I think at the very least the penalty points will help me stay on track to healthier eating. This would be a good read for anyone who has diabetes, prediabetes, or has a family member with it.

(I received this book for free from BloggingforBook.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.)

Book Review: “The Uncommon Marriage Adventure” by Tony & Lauren Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

978-1-4143-8372-9

I was drawn to this book after my husband recently went to an All Pro Dad conference where Mr. Dungy spoke. He had brought home The Uncommon Marriage, also by Mr. and Mrs. Dungy. This book makes either an excellent companion to that book or as a stand-alone devotional book for couples. It is divided into 16 weeks, with a devotion to do together as a couple each day. Each day is started with a Bible verse and then a discussion portion penned by either Mr. or Mrs. Dungy. Following the discussion section, is a section called “Adventure Application” which helps reinforce the day’s topic. Also, the book spends two weeks exploring what the book describes as “The Core Principles of an Uncommon Marriage.” These principles are:
1. Look to the Bible as your guidebook and to Christ as your living example.
2. Stay in sync spiritually.
3. Manage expectations and appreciate your differences.
4. Work as a team.
5. Practice committed love.
6. Communicate well and often.
7. Don’t run away from conflict.
8. Support each other in serving others.

As you can see, all of the principles are important in a healthy, loving marriage. I could easily relate the personal stories in the discussion sections, even though I’m not really a “sports girl.” I think this would be a great book for any married couple, whether they have been married for quite some time or are newlyweds. In fact, it would make a wonderful wedding present to help the couple get a great start be intentional about their marriage.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “God Gave Us Angels” by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a delightful children’s picture book.  The illustrations by Laura J. Bryant are simply gorgeous as well.  The book tells the story of a young bear cub who talks with his father about angels.  The father tells his son that angels are all around us.  He also tells him that angels do many things such as bringing messages to us or guarding us.  He also points out they always worship God.  Little bear is intrigued to find out that he might have seen an angel, but was unaware that they were an angel.

This was a wonderful children’s book.  Little Bear easily portrays a child’s innocent curiosity about angels.  I love that the book tackles this curiosity in a Biblical manner that young children can understand.  I also love that the beautiful illustrations feature angels that look like bears.  My daughter loved looking for them.  She loved the book and so did I!

I received this book for free from BloggingforBook.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.