Monday, November 30, 2009

To Your Health... Quinoa!

As I began making another pot of Quinoa today (pronounced KEEN-WAH), I thought that perhaps sharing this food with you would be a great way to introduce the first of the Self Care postings, 'To Your Health... !'

I have been enjoying the taste and the benefits of this little seed for almost twenty years now, and although it is not a common item found in most kitchens today, perhaps it will find a home in yours, once you learn how wonderful it can be for your health!

When I first began eating Quinoa I thought that it must be a grain, but I was surprised to learn that it is actually a seed that is closely related to Beets, Spinach and Swiss Chard and that it was once considered the 'gold' of the Incas because it notably increased the stamina of their warriors!

Because I love history I was fascinated as to why I had to hear about this food from a nutritionist and not find it on the tables of families and friends, and it's because that although Quinoa has been grown in Peru and Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years, it was not until 1980, when two Americans discovered the concentration of nutrients in Quinoa, that they were given permission to bring it back to Colorado and to try and cultivate it there.

My Italian sister-in-law says that when cooked, Quinoa reminds her, in looks, of cous-cous, yet the taste of Quinoa is somewhat 'nutty' and it has a really nice fluffy texture. But here is the thing... Quinoa is packed with high PROTEIN, and not only that, but the protein found in Quinoa is a complete protein meaning that it includes all nine of the essential amino acids, particularly lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair!

Quinoa is also known for other nutrients essential for good health like manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. I remember a nutritionist telling me that Quinoa was not only a good food choice for everyone, but particularly those suffering with migraine headaches, because of its high content of magnesium and riboflavin. It is also a good choice for promoting better cardiovascular health, particularly in menopausal women; and because of its content of copper and manganese, Quinoa is an excellent antioxidant... and it is a great source of insoluble fibre! And there was an article that came out of the New England Journal of Medicine a few years ago that stated that Quinoa has the ability to substantially lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes due to its high concentration of lignans.

I think you get my drift... Quinoa is good for you!

My favorite way to have it is with my dinner meal, a great substitute for starchy white potatoes! Sometimes I'll just place a cup of cooked Quinoa in the middle of my plate and then place my favorite steamed vegetables over top. I love to serve it along side a serving of chicken wings and another favorite dish of mine, Beets and Kabachi Squash. I won't be offended if you do not say YUM! with me, but really, unless you've tried it, don't be too quick to knock it!

As far a getting your hands on some Quinoa, try your local health food store, and when you get it home I would suggest placing it in a plastic freezer bag and storing it in the freezer to prolong its freshness (8 to 9 months).

Making it is a snap, just rinse it under cold water in a sieve and then place in a pot with water, the ratio being 1 part Quinoa to 2 parts water, bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cover and remove from heat when soft and fluffy (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Then serve with a few chopped green onions and peas tossed through, or get creative and come up with your own way to implement it into your meals. Remember, it's 'To Your Health!'
P.S. This is just the coolest thing... my youngest son, knowing what my posting subject was today, said that he was watching a football game on TV a few days ago and the quarterback was talking about his healthy diet and credited his new found strength and stamina to.... QUINOA! (I'm just sayin'...)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Gift of Sisters

click on pictures to enlarge

Just look at some of the wonderful women that I got to hang out with this morning, and let me just say that we had us some pretty amazing Bible Study and fellowship together!

Margaret and I both arrived at the same time thinking that it was so quiet we must have gotten something wrong... the time... the place... that date?

But nope. Once Angie opened the door we saw Debbie sitting at the table and the other girls began coming through the door one after the other!

Edna has just returned from Mexico and is as BROWN as anyone I have ever seen! White was definitely in her colour palette for this morning... and that is why she was sitting beside me! My pale, washed out winter complexion certainly highlighted her 'golden hue' beautifully! Edna had brought some beautiful bookmarks for each of us from Mexico, I could just kick myself for not taking a picture of them... they were made from avocado leaves and hand painted. That's not all I could kick myself for... I forgot to choose one for myself as they were passed around the table! Edna, could you choose one for me and keep it until we see each other again?

Joan looked so Christmasy in her red and as always she was a wealth of information in our study. She even brought hymnals for our time of worship... but more about that in a minute.

Angie had the coffee brewing to warm everyone up on this very wet, rainy, grey morning, and there were a few bowls of goodies on the table to snack on as well.

Margaret and I took this quick 'self portrait'... usually I cut off part of the head whenever I attempt to do this, and even if we both look a little dubious about the result of our efforts, I was just pleased that we came out... whole!

Wendy was so please when her daughter Cat was able to come this morning. Did you know that we have four sets of mothers and daughters that are doing this study together? Not all of them were able to make it this morning, but I am thrilled that Wendy and her daughter Cat, Angie and her daughter Marnie, Debbie and her daughter Sherri, and Margaret and her daughter Jill are with us!

After Angie opened our Bible Study in prayer, committing all things to the One Who had gathered us together, and after we had all agreed with our collective, Amen!, Debbie burst out with... OK, I have a question! And we were off and running!

After our study time together we had a time of worshipful singing. Marnie's dog Dash joined in... and let me just say that Angie's cat Bandit made a contribution 'of sorts' as well!

Again, I could just kick myself for not getting pictures of those two!

Lovely gifts were handed out, and as usual our hostess Angie lavished us with gorgeous desserts, delightful presents and the warm and hospitable ambiance of her home. It was a wonderful morning and after our many good-bye hugs and lingering conversations at the front door, all I could think of as I was driving away was... "Lord, you have blessed me beyond measure in the gift of my precious sisters."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aging, Well!

This morning, in between figuring out what dinner would be for tonight and washing up the few extra dishes by hand that would not fit into the dishwasher, I was thinking about time. Well, actually I was thinking about age, but perhaps upon second glance they are not such distant cousins as we might first think.

My thinking really wasn't that deep, so you probably won't find anything profound here, but for some reason I remembered a long ago visit that my Uncle and I made to see a friend of his that lived way up in the heights of North Vancouver. My Uncle was a Scotsman and my recollection is that his friend was as well and that they had met through work quite soon after my Uncle had emigrated to Canada.

I had visited this home a few times for gatherings and I always remember the lovely library that they had. It was a richly furnished home and their enormous windows looked out over the Vancouver landscape. The library was beautifully furnished in warm but cheery colours and whenever I visited in the evenings, after dinner I would be allowed to sit by myself in this wonderful place, and while the lights of Vancouver twinkled below through the expansive window, I would settle myself into the wing backed chair and begin to read a book that I had been allowed to choose from a shelf. On one occasion I was given a hard bound copy of 'The Lady of the Light'; in retrospect I really think that it was chosen under the assumption that it was about Florence Nightingale (The Lady of the Lamp), but I have to say this one that I had been given was pretty racy for a 9 year old... I remember something about 'stolen kisses' in the evening under a large tree on the grounds of an estate where a dance was being held sometime in the 1800's.

But this particular visit was not going to find me in the library, because the whole purpose of the visit was to wish my Uncle's friend a happy birthday. While they enjoyed their conversation, I patiently waited for a bit of a pause between them, and when it came I was finally able to ask, "How old are you?". I was very quickly told by my Uncle that this is not a polite question and as they continued their time together I resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to know. (But I do remember thinking at the time that he must have been 'quite old'; in retrospect, he was probably just about five years older than I find my own sweet self today! Jeesh!)

Like most 9 years olds, I knew that having another birthday was a big deal, after all once 9 was gotten through it was into the double digits for me! Why this man could not proudly declare his age, and why it had all of a sudden become 'not polite' to ask was beyond me. Children are very careful to state their milestones according to their age... "I am nine"... I am nine and a half". Funny how I don't seem to have maintained this same enthusiasm throughout the years.

When you are nine years old you are counting UP and it is exciting to think what all lies ahead up there! Then there comes 'the age', distinctly different for each one of us (the wrong side of 40, 50, 60?), where all of a sudden, even though the numbers are continuing to go up... we begin to view it as counting DOWN! And to be perfectly honest, it just doesn't seem to be as exciting as we look at what all lies ahead down there!

Now, as a woman of faith I am counting UP, in the sense that I know where and with Whom my ultimate destiny of the ages lies. But when it comes to just plain earthly age... time does take it's toll!

And so here is what I am thinking.... instead of going through life with a number on our backs (and let's face it, you can be 30 and feel 70, you can be 70 and feel 30), how much better it would be if we were to embrace the changes we see in ourselves through each passing year, and be determined to take care of these glorious bodies that God has given to us through good nutrition, exercise, and a proper perspective on aging itself.

For the past twenty years I have been very aware of what 'good health' really is.... physically, mentally and spiritually, and I would like to share some of that here, at Pure Grace, from time to time to encourage you into better self care. Self care is not self indulgence, nor is it selfish... self care gives glory and honour to the One that created you and Who has purposes that He would see worked out in you. God's purposes in you are not cut off at age 65! Self care is about keeping our body, mind and spirit healthy so that we are available in ANY season of life. Self care is also not about lengthening our days, as our individual time clocks have been wound by God Himself and it is He that has determined the length of our days upon this earth. Self care is about the quality of life that we have at any given time.

I also know some pretty incredible women that totally get what true 'self care' is about and I would like to share their stories with you as well. I am also thinking of the younger women that I see coming behind me, that need to see 'older women' honouring God through balanced self care. And by the way, I am a big believer that to a 10 year old, a fifteen year old is an 'older women', so as we reach to those ahead of us, and reach to those behind us, we are building into women of ALL ages, a healthy view of age, beauty and the benefits of good nutrition, exercise and attention to their faith.

I look forward to sharing with you and I also look forward to you sharing back through the Comment section of the Pure Grace Room.

with love,

Friday, November 20, 2009


I'm Back! These past few weeks have been FULL and while I may not having been writing here at Pure Grace, you can catch up with some of my doings in the Room to Read and the On-Line Study!

In keeping with the theme of 'I'm Back' I attended my late morning appointment with my chiropracter today. My back has been 'tweeking' on me the last week or so and I thought that perhaps it was time to have it attended to.

When I originally made the appointment earlier this week, the receptionist inquired as to how long it had been since I had visited the office. I thought for a moment and replied that it was probably about 8 years ago. When she had finally located my file, I was informed that my last visit was in January 1990... two months shy of TWENTY YEARS AGO! Time flies when you are having fun!

When I arrived for my appointment there was the inevitable clipboard and pen, complete with paperwork to to fill in. While setting myself upon this small task, the two women next to me were leaning into a little book that they were both obviously captivated by and discussing quite deeply (and loudly) their theories on the deep meaning and significance of... Sudoku! As I sat there filling in all my little blanks, I felt like I was getting a free tutorial on the game. Honestly, they were discussing this like two highly educated professors, they were expounding on their theories of the great minds that had put this game together and took it all the way to the amazing benefits and impact that it has had upon our society today. Hmm-mm... Fascinating.

Another thing that fascinated me was that every single person that entered through the door after I arrived were either as crooked as a pretzel or unable to move their head without turning their entire bodies around; and yet every single one of them (eight, I counted), when upon arriving and checking in at the desk, responded to the receptionist's cheery greeting of "Hi, how ya doin?'", with an impressive and lusty, "Good thanks!". Hmm-mm... Interesting.

I was finally called into the examination room to wait for the doctor. I waited... and waited... and waited... and then pulled out my camera and took a couple of pictures.

He finally arrived and the consultation began. I have been asked to return late this afternoon to have x-rays taken (No Charge. I must be a fascinating case) whereupon we will set up another appointment while he looks over the x-ray of my bony frame and decides the best course of action.

His diagnosis... as I am only 5 years younger than he, he was quite surprised at how young I look for my age and said that I seem to be in very good shape and appear healthy. Oh, and my pelvis is tilting to the left; my lower back is knotted up; my neck is tight; and my left leg is a tad shorter that the right when I sit down and put my legs straight out. I like the first two observations best, they appeal to my sense of denial!

As I left the office I passed by posters of smiling men and women rock climbing, snow boarding, golfing and water skiing... sure, their backs are probably wonderfully limber and loose, legs all the same length, necks able to turn full circle... but I wonder if they have recently been told how young they look for their age...

I'll 'Be Back' at their office in a few hours... sigh.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

While on my way home recently, I made a quick trip to the grocery store, before leaving I thought that I would swing by the magazine aisle and pick up a hair magazine since I had an appointment the following day and thought that I could do with a style change.

Now, you have to know that I have not purchased a magazine in... years! If I do feel like reading one, I usually just check them out at the local library and two weeks later check them back in again. So anyway, there I am, standing before a ridiculously vast selection of magazines... all devoted to hair. As I began to flip through the pages I found one that seemed to reflect what I wanted to try. After choosing my magazine I turned to the cover page to find the price, all the while having a little conversation all to myself in my head... “Hmmm, that’s odd, they always use to put the price at the top right hand corner... and who are these 20 year old celebrities on the cover, anyway? I haven’t a clue who they are..."

Finally I spotted a woman who worked at the store and asked her if she could tell me the price of that particular magazine. She looked a little incredulous, but pointed to the bar code at the bottom right hand corner and kept on walking. “Oh great, I didn’t bring my readers with me, how am I supposed to read this? OK, if I just stretch out my arm and pull my head back, alright, that’s better.... looks like... looks like two dol... (eyes adjusting)... looks like twelve ninety-five, yep, that’s what it is ... twelve ninety- five! What? I only pay fifteen for my cut!”

Back went the magazine and I cashed out at just under nine dollars for my onions and two tubs of plain probiotic yogurt... I’ll just be descriptive in telling my hairdresser what I want and take my chances!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beckoned Beyond My Window

The sky was blue, the air was crisp and the Fall colours through my window beckoned me outside... so away I went!

There are just some days when something in the air makes you feel like you are 12 again. After being cooped up with a cold I was ready to head outdoors; I had no idea where I was going, but I was ready to enjoy the beauty of the day as I went!

After an hour or so, as I was heading back home, I passed a portion of land that I used to ride horses in when I was much younger. As I glanced over at the farm, I saw two young horses and one rider, cantering around in the paddock... before I really even had time to think, I found myself walking across the damp, spongy ground in front of the barn and heading to the fence that surrounded the paddock.

I waved hello and both the horses and rider came over to see me, along with another woman I had not seen from the road, who was standing watching as well. It turned out that the rider and the other woman were sisters, and that this lovely little 6 month old filly was a gift, from one sister to the other, given just that morning!

They were both delighted that I had stopped by to say hello and introduced me to little 'Jazzy' who had only just been separated from her mother 3 days previous, but who had obviously found a new mother in her new owner Allison.

While I was there, Jazzy took a sudden urge to run around the paddock and half way through her run she jumped over the set up rails... Allison, beaming, said that if she had not seen it with her own eyes, she never would have believed it! Proud mama...

After a lovely visit and lively conversation it was time to go; I have been told that I have an open invitation to drop by whenever I would like....

Perhaps I will, on another day, when Life beckons me beyond my window, take them up on that offer!


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