Rainy Days in the Mountains…

Happy Independence weekend from the mountains of Kentucky! The rainy season has made its way to our small corner of the world and continues to linger over the mountains. Without a doubt this is the rainiest spring and summer that I can remember. I love an occasional slow summer rain, frogs peeping from the trees, and the peace and tranquility of reading and relaxing with a hot cup of coffee while the rain falls softly. However, too much rain for a farmer means a lot of extra work, some disappointments, and making changes when necessary.

Rain clouds gathering over the mountains…

With all the rain also comes lots of weeds in the garden that have to be hoed, tilled, and pulled. We’ve definitely had our fair share of weeds this summer but limited dry time to remove them. All hands were on deck this week as we used the one evening without rain to till our corn, and hoe between and around all the veggies. Talk about a great workout for the upper body and a great workout for the garden. It looked renewed and revived after the working was complete. The rain has actually proven to be a blessing for our cucumbers, squash, and zucchini.

Squash is one our favorite summer veggies!

We’ve been able to pick an abundance of zucchini, squash and cucumbers between the random showers of rain. We’re not complaining…we’ve enjoyed baked, fried, and sautéed zucchini and squash, and delicious vegan zucchini bread. Eating what we’ve grown brings a sense of completion, but sharing the fruits of our labor with neighbors, friends, and family is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling labors a farmer can experience.

Despite the weather and rescuing and reviving and re-staking our forty-five tomato plants that were riddled due to high winds and heavy rains…our tomato plants are still standing with lots of green tomatoes and some that are slowly ripening. Our entire family loves tomatoes ripe or fried green! Fried green tomatoes is a dish that never gets old! Its also healthy, clean, and vegan!

I was also able to check an item off of my ever-growing to do list this week, which always makes me happy! However, happy does not quite describe the emotion I felt as I clicked send on the email containing the attachment of the final revisions and edits of edition II of the textbook that I wrote. It has been long tiring journey, but a rewarding one that I’m glad I embarked on! I’m super excited to teach with and for my students to use the new textbook in the fall!

Summer II classes began Wednesday, which means the fall term is only a few weeks away and also lots of early morning grading and planning. I fully intend to make time for my favorite early morning walks where I love to take pictures capturing the beauty of our mountains. I also look forward to reading on the porch for a few more weeks before the fall term begins when things get a bit crazy…but it’s a good kind of crazy!

Random picture I took on an early morning walk after the rain!

I’ve also enjoyed time in the kitchen this week and working to perfect my vegan lemon bread recipe. No worries…that tasty recipe is coming soon! I must say it is delicious, but I want to try one more tweak before posting the recipe! I’m loving the use of tofu in vegan recipes and am anxious to share new ideas and recipes with you soon.

My first attempt at clean vegan lemon bread!

Despite all of the rain…it’s been a blessed week. Feel free to follow my blog and also leave comments. I enjoy hearing from each of you. God bless for now from the mountains of Kentucky!

Sunday Morning in the Mountains…

I love quiet Sunday mornings in the mountains. I like to refer to them as “my me time.” I enjoy early morning coffee on the porch, listening to the chickens crow their good mornings crows to all, and watching daylight break through the mountains. Quiet mornings like this are also a perfect time to catch up on a little reading, have devotion, prayer time, and to soak up the wonderful atmosphere in our little corner of the world…deep in the mountains of Kentucky.

I love mornings in the mountains…

The simplicity of living in the mountains, along with good role models still inspires me even today! The mountains today are just as rich and lush as they were in the days of our youth. My husband and I live within three miles of where we both grew up. Some might find this boring, dull, or bleak…but we’ve found it to be a place that we loved raising our children and now watching our grandchildren grow and appreciate the mountains as much as we do. Visiting other places is always a fun learning experience and often a fun adventure, but returning home is always welcomed. 

With the cool of the morning still lingering in the air and the dew still beaded on the grass, the garden is beckoning me to come and take a stroll. I value this time as the quiet steps in the rich soil between the rows of beautiful vegetables allows me to reflect on memories of the past, meditate on the blessings of today, and plan for tomorrow. This morning in particular I felt a strong connection to my past as I thought of my Papaw walking along the rows of his garden in the early morning hours. As a child I wondered why he enjoyed this morning stroll so much. I now know. It’s a time to draw strength, relax, and soak up all that the land has to offer, enjoy time in deep thought, reflect, and relax and unwind. The lonesome call of a dove allows my thoughts to return to the present time. Wiping a tear from my cheek…I continue my stroll through the garden enjoying the progress of our labor.

Enjoying a stroll through the veggies.

As I stroll between the broccoli and squash a beautiful vibrant yellow color catches my eye. With a smile on my face I bend to pick our first summer squash of the season. With a closer examination, I find several squash and also some rich green zucchini…ready for the picking. I love this time of year as the fresh veggies are always great for Sunday morning breakfasts. 

First squash and zucchini of the season…yummy!

Today, our veggies will allow me to prepare a veggie tofu omelet for myself and it’s eggs and sausage as usual for my husband, who supports my love for veggies and a vegan diet but who also still loves his portion of meat along side the veggies. We share a mutual respect for each other’s food preferences. With that in mind, God bless and happy Father’s Day from the Mountains of Kentucky! I’m off to prepare Sunday breakfast. Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the world. Feedback is always welcomed! I’ll be posting a new and tasty treat in upcoming days. God bless…

Counting My Blessings…

There is one thing that is certain…life is uncertain. Every day is filled with surprises, some are welcomed while others are not. But through the years I have learned to take life one day at a time. I have learned not to dwell on the past as we no longer live there. I have learned to not depend on the future as we never know our day of departure from this life. However, I have found that reflecting, not dwelling on the past, is a healthy practice to achieve peace and contentment. I have also found that setting goals, but not solely relying on those goals, but working one day at a time to achieve them has brought me much happiness, and I wasn’t devastated when I had to veer off the path occasionally.

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Enjoying the morning reflecting on the past…briefly visiting plans for the future.

Saturday mornings are usually a time of rest, relaxation, and reflection for me. These are mornings that I enjoy a cup of coffee, the sounds of our small farm waking up. Roosters crowing their good mornings from their roost, the puppies barking from the puppy pen, and the rain softly tapping on the windows. This particular morning I am enjoying the beginning of Christmas break. Our tree is up and decorated, shopping is finished, packages are wrapped, and the turkey and ham await our dinner in the freezer. Christmas break isn’t just loved and appreciated by the students at UC, but also loved and appreciated by the professors and all of the staff and administration as well. Christmas break allow us time to rest, relax, reflect, plan, prepare, and above all to enjoy time with our families.

With the days of a busy semester behind me and plans for the upcoming semester hovering above me…I find myself this morning counting my blessings. Yes, it’s been a busy semester. Yes, it came with challenges and yes, I learned much from life’s experiences, as well as from colleagues and students. No, life hasn’t been perfect. It’s been anything but perfect. However, as I think about others who are facing so much heartache from the loss of their loved ones, sickness’ that are ravaging their bodies, traumatic stress from  horrible addictions of their loved ones, loss, failure, and much more…I, although not living in a perfect world, am blessed.

Our immediate family hasn’t suffered the loss of an immediate loved one during the year 2016, we have homes to protect us and house our families, we have food to feed and nourish our bodies, we have clothes and shoes to protect us from the elements, jobs that provide for our families, churches where we worship freely, and the saving grace of God that fills our hearts. Our family also gained a new addition this year. We greeted and welcomed our fifth grandchild into our family.

Was life perfect? No, it was anything but perfect. There were stressful days, hurtful days, heartache, loss, sleepless nights, hard work, sadness, anger, and many other realities real emotions that visit everyone. However, I have learned over the years to take each day one day at a time, live each to its fullest as these are days that we will never be able to live again, pray hard, learn from the experience(s), move forward, get up when we get knocked down, be thankful for what we have, and expect better days ahead. So, as I enjoy the warmth of the fire in the fireplace I find myself reflecting on the past and briefly revisiting plans for the future…I find myself being thankful for past days, weeks, months, and years, and the experiences that each provided, whether they were happy, sad, good or bad…each of them has helped to mold me into who I am today.

I hope you’ve enjoyed browsing my memories and sharing one of my special days. Please, feel free to leave your comments and visit again. If you enjoy healthy delicious sweet snacks, feel free to check out Random Acts of Kindness & Clean Almond Joy Bites… for a delicious holiday, or any day treat. Merry Christmas and God bless from our house to yours.  image

Random Acts of Kindness & Clean Almond Joy Bites…

Have you ever felt compelled to display a random act of kindness? Did you act upon it or did you override the feeling and let the opportunity pass by? Maybe you felt like stepping aside and allowing the person behind you in the checkout line to check out ahead of you. Maybe it was the gentleman sitting on the curb holding a homeless sign that stirred the desire within you to buy him a meal from McDonalds, or maybe you thought about leaving a kind note in your co-workers mailbox. Did you follow your heart and act on your feelings? Whatever the kind thought or act of kindness that you feel compelled or inspired to do…I urge you to act on the impulse. You see, we truly do not know what others may be going through. Many people display a happy face in public even when their hearts are aching with sadness, or they’re in a turmoil trying to make an important decision, or just feeling a little down for no particular reason at all. A random act of kindness that may seem insignificant to others, may be a prayer answered for another.

Discouragement visits everyone at one time or another. Recently this sad emotion invaded my peace of mind and tried to camp out long term and linger within my thoughts. I had encountered one of those weeks where I felt tired from daily appointments, overwhelmed with obligations, pressured to meet deadlines, and terribly worried about a loved one’s heath. But, with a smile on my face and faith in my heart I pressed on and prayed for peace as I did not like feeling this way.                                                        . Image result for picture of thank you cards with a candlePeace came in a way that I didn’t expect. I was reminded through a series of small random acts of kindness over a period of days from various people that helped the feeling of discouragement dissipate . I found a small notecard in my mailbox from a student with kind words that filled my heart, two days later I found a candle on my desk from a colleague with a thank you note, and finally one of my students told me the other day that if she could be like anyone in the world, she would like to be like me. What a heartfelt compliment and unforgettable moment. I’m thankful for each of these random acts of kindness as each was timely, and each helped restore my faith in mankind and each brought a smile to my heart and face.

The daily appointments are nearly over and I still feel energized, obligations no longer overwhelm me, and a plan of management is in place to help meet the deadlines that fill my calendar. I am still concerned with my loved one’s health issue, but through the random acts of kindness that I received I am better able to think positive, have increased and renewed faith, and expect better days ahead.

With peace and contentment also comes inspiration. So, with the holidays ahead and plenty of opportunities to overindulge in sweet treats I decided to post a new clean candy sweet treat that’s easy to make and one that I enjoy indulging in without the guilt! I hope you enjoy them as well. I plan to deliver some special treats to my coworkers this week…just a simple random act of kindness that I feel compelled to do. I hope you enjoy my clean version of Clean Almond Joys Bites.

The ingredients that you will need are:

2 cups of Unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of fresh raw honey
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of organic coconut oil
4 squares of unsweetened dark chocolate
Whole or sliced almonds

Making this sweet treat:

In a glass bowl combine unsweetened shredded coconut, honey, vanilla, and half of the coconut oil. Place in the microwave for just enough time to melt the coconut oil. Mix and allow to completely cool. You may either roll the mixture or spoon the mixture onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least thirty minutes.

almond-joy-one

I prefer to spoon the coconut mixture onto the parchment paper.

Just before removing the candy from the refrigerator place the remaining coconut oil and dark unsweetened chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave. While the chocolate is melting place one almond on top of each piece of the coconut candy. Spoon the hot melted chocolate mixture over the chilled coconut balls and refrigerate again until completely chilled and the chocolate is set. Finally, enjoy your sweet treat without the guilt!

almond-joy-four

Delicious bites of pleasure without the guilt!

Don’t forget if you feel compelled to do something nice for someone…don’t talk yourself out of this random act of kindness act on your feelings. I hope that I have inspired you with my story as I am still inspired by others’ small acts of kindness. These thoughtful acts of kindness helped brighten my day, lighten my load, inspire me, and helped me to smile from my heart. I hope that you enjoy the clean almond joy bites. Please feel free to leave feedback as I love to hear from my readers.

Getting Back to My Routine

So, it’s been a little while, actually too long since I’ve posted. I’ve been under the weather with carpal tunnel and am finally ready to re-enter the blogging world! I’ve missed my computer, my readers, and reading other blogs. But with the diagnosis of carpel tunnel also came a plan of recovery, which included clean eating! But, first things first…let me catch you up on what’s been going on my world.

The holidays found me as they did most of you cheating a little here and a little there. Am I right? As for me, I enjoyed a indulging in a few Christmas cookies, a couple of pieces of Christmas candy, and of course those savory Christmas dinners with all of our wonderful relatives. With those delicious moments of indulging also came a few extra pounds, a slightly elevated cholesterol, and the suffering that comes with carpel tunnel, which included joint pain, inflammation, and some sleepless nights. But, with all of the this…the life of a college professor doesn’t stop. Classes must go on! So what’s a girl to do? Limit her time on the computer, and get back to my routine and love of clean eating.

So, first things first! The holidays were officially over. It was time to do a healthy cleansing detox which included the following routine:

  • an eight ounce glass of room temperature lemon water first thing in the morning every morning to help kick-start the digestive system.
  • breakfast of either fresh egg whites with wilted baby spinach (I also included onions, red peppers, and mushrooms) or a plain cup of plain Greek yogurt with a fresh fruit and a drizzle of raw honey.
  • fruit choices included apples, tangerines, strawberries, red grapes, blueberries, or fresh peaches.
  • Lunch consisted of lots dark green lettuce, fresh veggies, with either tuna in water, grilled chicken, or grilled turkey.
  • Supper consisted of fresh vegetables steamed or cooked with grilled salmon or halibut.
  • the meats could be rotated between lunch and breakfast.
  • Snacks included fresh fruit (no bananas) or a handful of almonds.
  • For the first two weeks I didn’t incorporate any grains, or pasta into my diet and also drank one cup of unsweetened green tea after each meal to help increase metabolism, I also included eight full 8 ounce glasses of water daily as well.
  • I reduced my coffee intake to two cups per day.
  • And I returned to working out on my elliptical on a daily basis. I started slow and increased a couple of minutes each day.

The results of my all of the hard work and dedication paid off. I dropped the five unwanted pounds that I had gained through the holidays as well as two more stubborn pounds that had hung around far too long! With the clean diet also came less inflammation and more restful nights. My doctor prescribed an arm brace to wear at night and while on the computer, which made a huge difference. I’m also a believer in prayer as well, so between many prayers, a clean and safe detox, returning to a dedicated clean diet, adding more exercise into my daily routine, and a simple arm brace…I’m back at my computer with no pain, down seven pounds, and feel like a brand new person. I’ll return to the doctor in a few weeks to have blood work to check my cholesterol level. I’m expecting great results there too!

Remember, we’re only human. We all have desires, cravings, family dinners, and we all enjoy sweet treats occasionally! We all fall of the wagon occasionally, but the important thing is to regain focus before things get out of control. I’m excited about regaining my vision, inspiration, and love of clean eating. I’m also excited about being back in my comfortable routine after a couple of weeks of indulging in unplanned meals. I’m thrilled about losing a few extra pounds, and thankful that I physically feel well enough to spend the time that I need to with God, my family, students, my computer, my blog, and simply feeling well enough surfing the web with no pain. I give God the praise and glory for it all. I’m also super excited about upcoming posts. I will be sharing new clean and delicious recipes with you! Be sure to come back and check out my blog weekly. I’m planning to post recipes on Mondays.

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Driving to work this morning was such an awesome experience! It was the same stretch of road that I have traveled for years! But, this morning God’s beauty and grace seemed so very evident, as was the beginning days of fall. I always dread saying good-bye to summer, but eager to welcome fall. I think I enjoy events, colors, activities, food, and the wardrobe that comes with fall more than other seasons. Okay, secret’s out…I love wearing sweaters and turtle necks! I also love baking in the fall!

God's beauty abounds in the mountains of Kentucky.

God’s beauty abounds in the mountains of Kentucky.

Even though it’s not technically fall I baked one of my favorite breads Saturday Morning. I baked it for our ladies meeting at church, and it quickly became a favorite among many of the ladies as well. Most of them were surprised when I told them it was clean. Several didn’t know what I was referring to when I said clean, so it started a nice conversation about clean eating while we enjoyed a variety of dishes.

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

For this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients;

1 tablespoon of fresh ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of fresh ground ginger
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 and 1/2 cups 100% Whole grain/flour

Fresh ground cinnamon is delicious

Fresh ground cinnamon is delicious

1/3 cup raw honey (the honey and molasses replace brown sugar)
1 and 1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup agave nectar (the agave nectar replaces white sugar. I have also used stevia as well.)
1/2 cup almond milk
2 fresh organic eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (the yogurt and applesauce replace the butter)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large apple of your choice diced (I like larger chunks, but that’s a personal preference)
1/2 cup of walnuts roughly chopped

Agave nectar is a great way to sweeten any drink or dish!

Agave nectar is a great way to sweeten any drink or dish!

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

Almond milk is a great source of calcium

I love having fresh farm eggs that I know are truly organic.

I love having fresh farm eggs that I know are truly organic.

1.) Whip eggs with a wire whisk and through a strainer into mixing bowl.

2.) Add and mix wet ingredients one at a time.

3.) Sift flour through a sifter, or a wire strainer to promote a smooth texture.

4.) Incorporate dry ingredients, spices, and lastly add the diced apples. I like to add the apples last to prevent bruising while mixing the ingredients.

I like larger chunks of apples in my bread.

I like larger chunks of apples in my bread.

5.) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

6.) Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. (I like to use organic coconut spray)

7.) Pour batter into the sprayed loaf pan, sprinkle rough chopped walnuts, and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. (You can increase the amount of nuts and incorporate them in the batter as well.) Oven temperatures may vary, so baking time may vary.

8.) You will know your bread is done when the sides pull away from the pan, and the bread is brown. You may also use a toothpick to test. Insert a toothpick in the center of the loaf, if it comes out clean your bread is ready!

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

Clean Apple Ginger Bread

This is a recipe that my family enjoys for breakfast, lunch, warm, cold, for dessert, or just as a snack! It will make you feel like you’re cheating, but you’re not! I truly love eating a slice of this delicious bread warm with frozen vanilla yogurt, and a cup of hot coffee. I’m excited to hear how you enjoy eating this deliciously clean treat! If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out my post for Almond Fruit Dip! I’m excited to bring you more fall favorites including; My Pumpkin Passion Smoothie, Pumpkin Apple Bread, zucchini Bread, all of which are clean and delicious! Thank you for taking time to read about my journey through clean eating! Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from you!