Friday, November 13, 2015

It's a Friday the 13th Feast Day

"Friday the 13th"s have never really bothered me. It's so cool to know that today's Friday the 13th is actually Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini's feast day.  Mother Cabrini is a great example of taking what you've been given and using it to the glory of God. You can read more about here amazing life here.
In honor of St. Frances Cabrini,and since today is Friday, here's a recipe for a low sodium spaghetti with meatless meatballs from The Daily Dish.

Low-Sodium Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs

Serves 6.

SODIUM CONTENT: 81 mg per serving
Meatless Meatballs:
1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 c. uncooked bulgur
1 t. olive oil
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. sliced scallions
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/3 c. panko
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. red hot-pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1- 25-oz. jar no-salt-added pasta sauce
1 lb. dried spaghetti
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the bulgur, stir to combine, and remove pot from heat. Cover the pot and let stand 20 minutes. Drain any excess broth and set aside.
In a skillet, heat oil over medium. Add the mushrooms and scallions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Remove from heat and spread mixture on a plate to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
Place the mushroom mixture and walnuts into a food processor. Pulse until coarse. Add the bulgur and finely chop. Add the remaining “meatball” ingredients and pulse to combine. Let stand 5 minutes to absorb liquid. 
Pour the pasta sauce into a pot or saute pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, use a tablespoon to scoop out the meatball batter and gently add the meatballs to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, until the balls are firm. Turn the meatballs halfway through the cooking time, being very gentle so as not to break them.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions (omitting salt). 
Serve the pasta topped with meatless meatballs and sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Buono Appetito!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"A Traffic Circle in the Road"

I have come to what normally I would call a "fork in the road", but in my case, I'd say it's more like a traffic circle.
A month ago I went to the doctor to find out what had been causing dizziness/vertigo I had been experiencing for a few days. After my check up, she told me it was most likely being caused by an inner ear virus and should go away on its' own after a bit. I ended up having the dizziness for another week until it went away. I started back at work as well as the rest of my life getting back to what it was before the virus hit. For two & a half weeks, everything seemed to going smoothly. Then it hit again- this time with a vengeance. The dizziness/vertigo was back, along with nausea, tinnitus and head pressure plus migraines. I prayed and hoped it would go away for over a week. Finally, I ended up back at my doctor's office to see what was going on this time. She did another check up and this time the diagnosis was Meniere's Disease (MD). The Mayo Clinic defines MD as, "a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes in which you feel as if you're spinning (vertigo), and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear. In most cases, Meniere's disease affects only one ear.
Meniere's disease can occur at any age, but it usually starts between the ages of 20 and 50. It's considered a chronic condition, but various treatments can help relieve symptoms and minimize the long-term impact on your life."
Umph- I wasn't actually taken aback as I had already read a bit on MD along with other possibilities during the first round. I might have been thinking that she would tell me I have MD which is why it didn't really come as much of a shock as it could have. After talking a bit and getting a referral for the ENT plus a couple of prescriptions, Brian and I went on our way. Once home, I pretty much felt sorry for myself for a while while eating my dinner of way too much Taco Bell. Thankfully, my ENT nurse friend, Shelly, had been texting to see how I was. She asked if the doctor had put me on a low salt diet. I answered no, while thinking all the while of all the fast food I had just consumed. Knowing more than I about this subject, I followed her advice and started reading up on MD and a low sodium (lo-so) diet. It looked like a really good idea, and so I set forth on my new quest of low sodium cooking and eating. 
Well, since I can't do a whole lot, I've been on the Internet a lot lately. I'm excited to say I've found some great websites with terrific recipes, my favorite being Not only does Christy have a touching story about her own journey with MD, her recipes are mouthwatering! If that's not enough, she's got great tips and suggestions making eating low sodium easier than it seems. and the Food Network website have some yummy recipe ideas too.
There are even a lot of packaged foods that are lo-so.  Brian and I shopped today at Natural Grocer's and found a few things including these-
And this-

Needless to say, I'm not as worried as I was when first facing this new unknown. I've pretty much got the gluten free, lactose free & nut free thing down when the kids are home, so hey- I know I can do this..

So where does this leave me? For now, I spend a lot of time on our borrowed recliner while the world spins around- sometimes more literally than others. I've learned to pray more for others (some I've never met, like my "friends" on Instagram), and am finding the joy of being able to read for fun again. I'm thankful for my iPad and phone, so I can do whatever work I can from home. I miss being at the salle a lot, but I'm learning to at least try to be content with where the Lord has me for now.

With all that being said, if you have a prayer request, I'd love to pray for you. Just leave a comment or email me with your need, and I'll add you to my list! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Recipes?

Part of the empty nest thingy is figuring out how not to cook every meal to serve 8-12. Yes, we're only a family of six, but I've had three men eating here for awhile now plus leftovers once in a while are helpful.  This being the case, I realized last week that I had a good amount of homemade granola bars leftover from when the boys were still home. Now, I could have frozen them or given them away or eaten all of them, but there comes a time to figure out something else. And so was born the Granola Bar Muffin recipe. Quick and easy plus not requiring any fancy ingredients, these moist breakfast gems have been not only delicious but a great way to reduce extra food, reuse an ingredient in a new way and recycle a recipe tweaking it enough to make something new! 
               ,                           Good mornings come with muffins and meows!



    For the muffins:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granola bars*, crumbled up 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For the topping:
  • 1 & 1/3 cups granola bars*, crumbled up
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


To make the muffins:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line 12 standard-sized muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, crumbled granola bars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add flour mixture, and mix just until blended.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.

To make the topping:

Combine crumbled granola bars, brown sugar, and butter until combined and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffin batter in pan.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until muffins are set and edges are browned.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, remove from pans to cool completely. Makes about 12 regular size muffins. 

*i used homemade granola bars, but I think any kind would work. Experiment with different kinds & let me know your favorite!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dealing with Empty-Nestness

How many times have you heard, "Enjoy them now, they'll be gone before you know it."? I know I've heard it a lot as I've raised my four kids. Never did I dream it would be the case for me. Well, this last month my husband and I joined the ranks of what is known as "empty nesters". That's right, all four of kids are away at school. I guess this makes us "mostly" empty nesters as they'll be home for Christmas and summer breaks. 
Lots of folks have told me how nice it'll be for Brian and I to have time together to do things we want or how much money we'd be saving once the last one goes. While that is true, no one mentions how you now need to do most of the chores yourself or how many leftovers you have because you've forgotten how to cook for just two or how it feels when it comes time for night prayer and you're the only one here to pray it. No one ever said how dinner time can end up being a quick 15 minutes because you and your spouse have had at least one or two other people at the table keeping up conversations for the past 25 years. And even though I knew it was coming, everyone forgot to mention just how quiet and lonely the house feels when you're the only one home. 
So now that's off my shoulders, what does one do to deal with the "empty nest syndrome"? I'm sure there are a ton of websites, books and even YouTube videos with advice, but I've decided to stay with the basics.
1) Pray. That's the first and foremost priority. Pray for your spouse. Pray for your kids. Pray for your extended family, your friends, the Church, the World. You can do this at home, at Mass, at Adoration. Just be sure you're doing it. 'Nuff said.
2) Love on your spouse. My husband has been doing an amazing job this last week showing this as I've been down with a viral thing causing me vertigo. I've actually been home from work for over a week. He's been making sure I'm keeping up on my meds, getting me tea and food, not to mention going to the salle today to be the "office guy" and doing my spot at Adoration tonight. Last night we talked about planning some specific things to do together, and the smile on his face when I suggested making homemade pasta was worth more than I could have imagined!
3) Fellowship with others. Plan a meal with another couple or family. Go to coffee with a friend. Join a Bible study or other group at church. Also be sure that you're serving in some capacity somewhere- church, a food bank, pregnancy center, etc. There are a lot of people out there needing a bit of help!

I guess I wrote this as a reminder for myself as much as sharing it with others. Let me know what other ideas you may have for getting ready and dealing with being an empty nester!