We all know that eating a lot of vegetables are good for you but did you know that not all vegetables are created equal? How can you tell if your fruit is conventional, organic or genetically modified?
1. Conventional produce has a four-digit number. If the PLU sticker begins with a 3 or 4 then this generally means that the produce was sprayed with weed killers and chemical pesticides.
2. Organic produce has a five-digit number that starts with 9. Ask to make sure it was not treated with chemicals.
3. Genetically modified items also use a five-digit number that starts with 8. This means the produce was genetically engineered (GMO stands for Genetically modified Organisms). They usually have bright colors and are chemically treated.
It’s best to buy your fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market. You support local farmers and receive more nutrient rich foods.
Tip: How do you keep berries fresher longer? Cook’s Illustrated recommends washing the berries in a diluted vinegar bath (1 cup vinegar plus 3 cups water) and spin them dry in a salad spinner lined with paper towels. When they are completely dry, store the cleaned berries in a container lined with paper towels. Leave the lid open just a little to allow any moisture to escape.
Cayenne pepper is a spice that is used frequently to season dishes. But did you know it is used often for medicinal purposes? While there may be some debate on just how much this pepper may help disease there is no arguing it does bring to the table a lot more than flavor.
How do you take Cayenne Pepper? Making a warm tea out of the spice is probably best for those who can tolerate the drink. Personally I take organic cayenne pepper capsules that I prepare myself. Another option I found to work well is to mix a teaspoon of cayenne pepper with two ounces of spicy v-8 juice and drink quickly. I have also tried mixing the spice with different types of food but found it all to be very unpleasant. Mixing the pepper with milk was the worst of my experiences. I am sure my gag reflex would have made a fine clip for the World’s Funniest Videos!
Did you know:
- It has been said that a teaspoon of cayenne pepper can stop a heart attack in 30 seconds.
- Known by some to remove toxins from the bloodstream, aid in digestion, ease toothaches, allergies and inflammation. Excellent for heart health, helpful in weight loss and even snake bites! I use it to help with energy and circulation.
- Cayenne contains capsaicin. Capsaicin is what gives Cayenne pepper its medicinal value and has been widely studied for its pain-reducing properties.
- The more heat the chili pepper produces the more capsaicin it contains. One of the hottest varieties is the Habanero.
- The heat of chili peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). Most with a rating of 30,000-50,000.
- Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A. It also contains vitamin B6, C, K, manganese and dietary fiber.
- Make sure to store away from direct sunlight.
- Cayenne gives a bit of panache to hot cocoa. I even add a bit to my spaghetti sauce.
- Chili peppers have been cultivated in Central & South America for thousands of years but they were not introduced to the rest of the world until the 15th century. Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the peppers on his explorations of the Caribbean Islands and brought them to Europe where they were used as a substitute for black pepper.
Cayenne pepper anyone? It’s definitely worth the research!
Important Note: Please make sure to check with a trusted physician prior to use.
“dolce far niente” is an Italian phrase actually translated as idleness but better known and certainly more eloquently put as “the sweetness of doing nothing”. The first time I heard this phrase was actually on an old Dick Van Dyke episode (remember those?) My daughter calls this a “deep breath day” in which you can simply enjoy the day without the guilt of doing nothing. I personally think its a very good thing to occasionally take a breather even if it means leaving things undone. If you’re stressed and feel the weight of life slowing dragging you down perhaps you should utter the phrase “dolce far niente”. Have a cup of tea, read a book, or just prop your feet up and take a deep breath without the guilt!
It has been said that it takes about 28 days to change a habit. Of course there would be plenty of opportunity to resort back to old ways, but we are more likely to stick with the change if we consciously make an effort for those 28 days. In my experience I have found this to be somewhat true. Though I also believe it would be a mistake to assume that once the 28 days are up one would automatically continue without effort. We all need to be mindful of the choices we make each day. What changes would you like to make?
Take this challenge:
Pick an area in your life that you would like to see change. Perhaps you know you need to spend more time with God, change eating habits, watch less television, exercise or read more. Maybe you want to spend more time with family or just be creative.
- Start out slowly. If you want to exercise but find it hard to work out for 30 minutes (3 or 4 times per week) then begin with ten. The second week, up it to twenty. The third and fourth week, go for thirty. Perhaps you want to learn a new skill but keep putting it off – pick up some how-to books and twice per week spend the time learning a new skill. Keep the television turned off.
- Document each accomplishment.
- After 28 days let us know how you did and what you think of the 28-day challenge. We will post some of your experiences!
I’m fairly familiar with that word. I suppose I daydream often, though not so much that it would interfere with the importance of the day (unless you count a few clumsy moments when the store display jumped in my way). I know many might see daydreaming as unproductive fantasy but I have found it beneficial in many ways. After all daydreams are usually pleasant thoughts and for me has actually been a great source of ideas and inspiration. Daydreams can improve moods, help organize thoughts, and allows one to travel, explore and imagine the impossible. I’ve been an inventor, traveled time, strolled ancient villages, wandered through strange woodlands and explored magnificent castles. Just stay out of the grocery aisles!
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right. Someone down the line will criticize you anyway.”
Stop listening to the negative voices around you and consider these four important things:
1. Seek God continually and learn to be a student of His Word. As a child of God you are in a wonderful position. You have access to the Throne of Grace, to the King of kings, and to a wealth of valuable instruction found in the Word of God which He uses to help guide and teach you.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)
2. Pray often and act in accordance with the belief that your prayers will be answered. In order to act it helps to have a plan which can keep us motivated. So pray over what is pressed upon your heart and ask God to help you create a plan. Give yourself deadlines that are reasonable. Please understand that our timing is not God’s timing. So pray, plan, and act, but be willing to adjust your plans if necessary. His timing is always best and He might lead you in a direction that is not what you expect, but far better.
3. Actively fight the temptation to doubt. One of the biggest obstacles most of us face is the overflow of negative thoughts that relentlessly flood our minds. If we do not actively battle the voices of negativity and doubt, we will begin to believe them. When we begin to give them credit they prevent us from participating in those things that will lead us closer to our dreams. You can fight them by memorizing Scripture, reading motivational books that should lead you back to God and not to them or to self, and by limiting your time with those who continually bring you down.
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:21-22 (NIV)
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be who God created you to be.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. It is no good trying to ‘be myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop.” He went on to say, “I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call ‘me’ can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
When we are no longer influenced by people and the world around us and seek Him first, we will truly be able to become what our Creator meant for us to be. When we compare ourselves to others (which tends to be human nature) we begin to judge who we are and others. Do not let fears, doubts, your past, age, beauty, etc. define you. It does not matter unless you believe it does.
Writing plans down, setting priorities, making to-do lists and following through, are all helpful tools in getting where you want to go. Without these simple tasks it would be like taking a train ride home and not knowing which train to take first. You would most likely do a lot of needless wandering.
Here is a daily planner I created that you may download for free to help you get started.
By nature we have a habit of building up regret and guilt over past mistakes. Sometimes we let them go but the memories seem to pop in our minds at the most inconvenient times, allowing guilt and regret to have power once again. While we can’t change the past we can allow it to change us. By learning from our mistakes, forgiving ourselves, and moving on we have power over guilt and regret. What really matters is what we do today.
Thankfully we have a loving and forgiving Father. Be mindful of the difference between conviction which leads to repentance and guilt and condemnation. Our past mistakes are not an indication of who we are or who we are going to be. By the grace of God our sins are covered by our precious Savior. And as such, we put our hope and our trust in Him. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. (Psalm 145:3)
“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145: 18-19 NIV
It’s unfortunate that as Christians we are not more thoughtful when we speak to unbelievers or new Christians. We begin to speak in what might as well be a foreign language, popularly known as Christianese.
Words such as omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient or even simple phrases such as “born again” may have weighted meaning to us but those unfamiliar will be completely at loss. This type of communication will leave the listener feeling like an outsider and could hinder sincere conversation.
As you enter communication try to avoid the need to use Christianese jargon to those who simply will not understand. If you do use this terminology, thoughtfully explain what you mean in everyday language.
For those who struggle with the Christianese language, here are a few definitions to help:
Born Again: Refers to a “spiritual rebirth” rooted in a commitment to one’s own personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Breaking Bread Together: Eating together.
Calling: The God-appointment vocation of a Christian.
Christian: This term is used very loosely in this day and age. But a Christian is a “follower of Christ”.
Convicted: Remorse or regret which leads to repentance (turning away from the sin or behavior).
Daily Walk: Refers to the personal relationship between God and self expressed each day through words and actions.
Doctrine: A system of beliefs.
Grace: Undeserved kindness.
New Covenant: Epochal (significant, influential) relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment.
Omnipotent: Infinite in power, unlimited authority.
Omnipresent: Present everywhere at the same time.
Omniscient: Having complete and unlimited knowledge and understanding.
What we do and say becomes a memory in someone’s life. It’s not just the big things but the small day-to-day remembrance’s that plant itself firmly onto the pages of the past. Unfortunately this includes not only the inspired moments but the ones that may leave someone feeling like they just had dirt thrown in their eyes!
We go about our daily lives and sometimes we are oblivious to the trail of muck we might leave behind. The cashier at the grocery store might have needed a smile that morning and we left them with an earful of heated complaints. A child might desperately need a hug and we ramble off a list of reprimands without the added gentleness of encouragement. If we are thoughtful in our actions we might be able to leave a trail of kindness, mercy and grace even in the wake of our anger and frustrations. Being thoughtful of what we say and how we act or react to strangers, family and friends is a step in the right direction. It is not an easy task but one worthy of effort.
I remember hearing a friend highly praise someone because they always spoke their mind. I was a little surprised by the comment because while I am an advocate for righteously standing up for yourself and others, I do not believe that speaking every unrestrained thought is commendable. I have always found it more noble to be able to control your tongue and use speech wisely, considering what you want to say but being thoughtful if you should.
A few helpful tips:
1. Make sure to express your love to those you care about on a daily basis. Leave a note, hug, take time to talk, laugh or make a call. There are hundreds of small ways to let someone know you care.
For example, children love to receive mail so consider sending a card and adding a coupon of some sort. I use to give my daughter an extra hour of undercover reading because she loved to read at night. When my daughter was young we set up her own mail box and I would add mail to it weekly. She would love to see the flag raised! Be creative and considerate to their likes and dislikes.
2. I believe the smile is underrated. Smile often, it does everyone good.
3. Tell someone what you admire about them. My daughter caught me by surprise one evening and she looked at me sweetly and said “You are a really good woman. I thought it, so I just thought I should say it.” Let others know the sweet things you think about them. It will bless them greatly.
4. The next time you are angry try to be thoughtful about your words and actions. You just might find a great reward in restraint.
5. Forgive yourself. If you mess up as we all tend to do at times, forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness. Strive to do better and with each opportunity you will find it easier and easier.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 NIV