Inner Peace through Food

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Inner Peace Through Food

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

     Just what I was looking for, a pair of decoratively stitched blue jeans. I picked out one in my size and went to try them on. In the dressing room I discovered that they didn’t fit. Not only did they not fit they weren’t even close to fitting. Muttering under my breath, I redressed and went out to select another size. The next size up didn’t fit either.
     Were the jeans I was wearing my favorite jeans or were they the only ones that fit anymore? Tears filled my eyes as I quickly put on my worn and faded jeans. My only thought was to get out of the store before I burst into tears.
    It was painful to have my emotional blindfold ripped from my eyes to see the truth in a department store mirror. I had avoided shopping for new clothes, and I had avoided weighing myself, all to avoid admitting I was gaining weight. Yet in the end, the weight was there and I was no longer able to turn away from the truth.
     After a prolonged cry and then a bout of anger I realized that I was now free from my self-inflicted bondage. No longer did I have to avoid my image in store windows, no longer did I have to pretend my clothes fit, no longer did I have to carry the pain of feeling unattractive.
     I harnessed the emotional energy I had spent on denial and turned it full-force on positive action. I turned the page in the book of my life and began a new chapter. The first step was a visit to the library where I checked out a stack of books on health and nutrition. Next on the list was a long overdue visit to the doctor, who ran tests, said I was in good health but needed to lose weight, not a surprise.
     It has been a long journey of small steps and my emotions have run the gamut but now when I try on a pair of jeans there are no surprises. That day in the department store I went searching for jeans and found me.
    Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2011
 

 

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

     Gram always said, “If you have your health, you have everything.” Good health is the cornerstone on which to build your life’s goals and dreams. Whether your goals include a new career or a trip to an exotic locale, you will need the energy and focus that healthy eating provides.
     What food groups and what amount from each group do you need to eat each day? Visit www.choosemyplate.gov  and click on “Get a Personalized Plan” in the box on the right-hand side of the page. A new screen will open, simply enter your age, male/female, weight, height and physical activity and click “Submit.”
     If you are at your healthy weight, you will receive a daily food plan. If you are above the healthy range for your height, it will ask you if you want a food plan for your current weight or if you would like a food plan to gradually move toward a healthier weight. You can print a PDF version of your results and also a Meal Tracking Worksheet. Review the plan and talk to your healthcare professional before making any dietary changes.
     The Daily Food Plan can be the first step toward a healthier life. Compare what you eat on a daily basis to what the plan suggests. Look for eating habits that might be undermining your health such as an excess of carbohydrates, fat or sugar.
     Remember what Gram said and take the first step today toward that bright, healthy future.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2011

   

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

 
     The nutrition label, it’s on almost every package of food. Numbers and percentages for calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium and much more are listed on the label. What does it all mean to the consumer? How can we use the information on the label to make informed food choices?
     Comparing similar products is easy when you read the label. Nonfat milk and 2% milk each have about 30% of your daily calcium per a one cup serving but differ in calories and fat. Nonfat milk has fewer calories then 2% milk and no fat. Two-percent milk is higher in calories than nonfat milk and can have up to 15% of your daily value in fat. You can cut calories and fat in your cooking if you use nonfat milk.
     Are you watching your sodium intake? Sodium is added to many foods to add flavor or to preserve them. If you are looking to decrease your sodium intake, make sure you read the nutrition label on any food you purchase. The label lists the sodium per serving size in milligrams and also includes the percentage of daily value per a 2,000 calorie diet.
     Reading the label is not only about limiting your intake of different nutrients but can also be used to increase your intake. If you need to add vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium or iron to your diet, the percentage of daily value is listed near the bottom of the label. Use the label to choose products higher in the nutrients you need.
     Develop the habit of reading the nutrition label when you are choosing food products. It may add a few minutes to your shopping trip, but the knowledge you gain will put you in charge of your health.
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2011
   

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

 
     Who in the family but me would spend an entire day in the kitchen just to create a mouth-watering loaf of French bread? The careful selection of the ingredients and the kneading of the dough are moments that I savor. When the loaves have risen and the oven has warmed the kitchen, only then are the pale dough loaves slid carefully into the heat. Within minutes the aroma of baking fills every nook and cranny of my home.
     By the time the timer starts to buzz, my husband and I are impatiently waiting for a taste of the hot, crunchy French bread. Removing the loaves from the oven, I proudly present my artistry to an appreciative audience.
     Baking bread from scratch can be a relaxing hobby. Simple bread recipes need only a few ingredients to make a mouth-watering loaf that can complement stew, spaghetti or just enjoy the bread with a little butter.
     The most time consuming part of bread baking is the time needed for the dough to rise. Depending on the type of bread there is usually an hour or two of rising between the kneading and the punching down of the raised dough. It is fascinating to watch the mixture of flour and yeast turn into a ball of light, airy dough.
     If you don’t have the time to make bread from scratch, you can still fill your home with the delicious aroma of baking bread. There are numerous ready-to-bake breads at the grocery store that allow you to enjoy baking the quick and easy way.
     Nothing tastes better than bread fresh from the oven. Baking bread can help you unwind whether you bake from scratch or use prepared products.
    Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2011
 

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

      My interest in living a healthier lifestyle has developed into a passion for nutrition. The longing for food has been replaced with a desire to understand the effect that food has on my body. I read voraciously both books and magazines relating to nutrition. The fact that the tomato contains vitamin A which is good for your vision, skin, and hair is utterly fascinating to me
      So began the process of discovering how to create a delicious meal filled with vegetables. My favorite foods are chocolate, garlic bread with cheese and pizza. Vegetables have never ranked in my top ten favorite foods. Snacking on a sliced green pepper with sour cream dip is as close as I had ever been to my daily servings of veggies.
     It was obvious that new food choices would be making appearances on our grocery list. My husband, Tom, purchased an encyclopedia of vegetables. While we experiment with cooking recipes that are full of vegetables, he regales me with the nutrition of the different ingredients we are using.
     After discovering that I really enjoy eating vegetables, they are now at the top of our grocery list. I still love pizza and Tom’s birthday gift to me was his creation of pizza soup. Not only does the pizza soup smell heavenly while it is cooking but it is the best tasting pizza you can eat without a crust and full of vegetables.
     Thanks to the knowledge that I have gained, Tom and I are succeeding in our lifestyle changes. The more we understand food and nutrition, the more we are in tune with our bodies. Knowledge has been the key to unlocking the healthy person within.
 Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2011

 

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

 
     I was looking for a way to prepare a vegetable dish that was healthy, flavorful and would fill my kitchen with the joy of cooking. During a brainstorming session at the kitchen table my husband, Tom, suggested I make a hot, bubbling pot of soup.
     What a novel idea, create a dish that has been a staple of the human race for thousands of years. Out of the bookcase came vintage cookbooks which I spent several evenings perusing. Basic soup appeared to consist of broth, vegetables and a protein such as chicken, meat or seafood.
     A trip to the market was in order. I wanted my first bowl to be recognizable to my taste buds so I selected traditional vegetables. To simplify my first attempt I purchased vegetable broth and canned chicken. As I pushed my cart to the checkout, I was proud of starting a healthier lifestyle.       Excitement coursed through my veins as I arrived home. Looking at my purchases, I wondered how long it would take to clean and dice that vegetable mountain. My husband’s offer to help with the prep work was gratefully accepted.
     The broth was poured into the newly purchased, incredibly large soup pot. As the broth simmered, we chopped, diced and tossed the veggies into the pot. Conversation, laughter and peaceful quiet moments passed between us.
     My first attempt at homemade soup was a delicious success. The original concept, how to eat more vegetables, has expanded to using food to create a healthier life for us.
    Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2010

 

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

 
     “I only eat once a day. Why can’t I lose weight?” Ashley lamented.
     A common myth involving weight loss is that starving your body will force it to lose weight. This idea is based on wishful thinking rather than a basic understanding of how your body functions.
     Metabolism, from the Greek, means “changeable.” The body’s metabolism is the process that changes the food that is eaten into chemicals that are transported into the cells.
     Digestion requires energy. The less you eat, the less energy and calories your body expends. Your body uses fewer calories to maintain the basic functions of your systems. Fewer calories burned make it harder to lose weight.
     Balance is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Information to help you get started on a healthier meal plan is only a click away at www.MyPyramid.gov. Using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the web site offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan/assess your food choices.
     The web site has audio podcasts that explain how to get the right amount of food, healthy work habits, eating out and how to organize your refrigerator. Watch a video that explains better snacking habits, what you can find at farmers markets and how holiday parties can be made healthy.
     The human body is a brilliant, complex living machine that operates twenty-four hours a day without taking a break. A lack of knowledge will hinder the function of this beautiful machine. Understanding your body will help you achieve the ultimate goal, good health.    
     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2010
   

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

"I’m afraid and it keeps me awake at night. Am I too old to improve my health?" Sierra asked, a worried tone in her voice.

Sierra’s father had just returned home after several weeks in the hospital. He had suffered a major heart attack as well as complications. "Family history" and "genetic predisposition," expressions used by the doctor, were keeping Sierra awake at night.

Genetics cannot be altered but the wake-up call in the form of a family member’s health problem can be a blessing in disguise. This can be the time to explore major risk factors than can be either modified, treated or controlled by lifestyle changes or medications.

Risk factors that can be affected by changing your lifestyle or taking medication include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes and smoking. The American Heart Association at www.heart.org has several assessment tests that you can take to evaluate your risk factors.

A heart-healthy diet is a boon to anyone regardless of their family health background. Your heart will thank you for a few simple changes in your food choices. Vegetables supply vitamins and minerals yet contain no cholesterol. Adding vegetables to your next meal will not only add nutrients to your diet but vegetables also add flavor. Reduce the fat in your diet with a switch to low-fat dairy products and use whole grain bread when making a sandwich. Always consult with a health care professional before making changes to your diet especially if you are taking medication or have other health issues.

Worry is based on the fear of the unknown. Take the fear out of your health and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose numbers give you a concrete base to build your good health on, regardless of your age.

Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout the US, Canada and Europe. © Cindy Sue Blair 2010

 

   

Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

 
     The banquet table was overflowing with delectable food samples from the deli department in the grocery store. It was the yearly sampling event, the perfect opportunity to try a variety of tasty tidbits.
     Two young women, fresh from their weekend workout at the gym, approached the table. It was lunchtime and the woman in pink had a look of anticipation on her face while the woman in green lagged behind her friend, a frown marring her appearance.
     Miss Pink requested the full plate which included small samples of BBQ beef, cheese potatoes and two different pasta salads while Miss Green declined to try anything. When Miss Pink encouraged her friend to at least try the cheese potatoes, Miss Green angrily accused her of trying to ruin her diet. She hadn’t eaten all day and if she ate anything now she would just get hungry and binge when she went home.
     Are you afraid of food or your response to it? Using fear and anxiety as a foundation for your lifestyle is like building your home with termite-riddled wooden support beams. Eventually the structure will come crashing down upon you.
     Negative eating habits are the termites destroying your attempts to build a healthy lifestyle. To prevent the roof falling in on your life, take a moment to contemplate one of the most stress causing bad food habits, skipping meals.
     If the young woman at the sample table had started her day with breakfast, she could have enjoyed her trip to the grocery store. Instead her hunger caused stress not only for her but also for her friend who bore the brunt of her anger.
     If your busy lifestyle makes it easy to skip meals, start a new habit of always have a snack bar on hand. Make it a priority on your grocery list. Stop letting your mind overrule your body’s common sense and use it instead to make wise food choices for your body.
     Experience the bounty of life when you tap into the powerful triumvirate of your mind, body and soul with simple yet effective lifestyle changes.
      Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010

 
   
Inner Peace Through Food
by Cindy Sue Blair

     The day was long, difficult and my patience was sorely tried. Walking out the door, I left the business day behind but irritation was my companion on the drive home. My "companion" muttered that I deserved a treat, just look at the stress I had endured.

     Visions of tasty delicacies danced in my head. It would only take a quick stop at the store to indulge the voice of stress. After all I deserved it.

     I made the mad dash into the store for that fat-laden, sugar-rich, high-cholesterol, sodium-laced goody. It took only moments to indulge myself. I should have felt wonderful as all the stress of the day slid off my shoulders.

     Unfortunately the reality was that the stress I was trying to dissipate never left. My shoulder muscles still ached, my head hurt and now I had added guilt to the emotional cocktail that I was mixing. Obviously it was time to rethink my food choices.

     What do I deserve? I deserve to feel good about myself emotionally, mentally and physically. Since turning to food in times of stress was my worst habit it was time to change it into my best habit.

     It began as baby steps. To the uninitiated the changes were almost imperceptible yet every action I took made me feel better about myself. It felt good to treat myself to a new lifestyle, one that I had always deserved.

     Years have passed, I have lost a considerable amount of weight and gained a more peaceful perspective on life. I have even discovered how to indulge my taste for pizza. Check out the recipe in the column to the right, courtesy of my husband, the family chef.

     Here's to eating your way to inner peace.

     Cindy Sue Blair is an internationally syndicated columnist. Her articles appear in publications throughout US, Canada and Europe.
© Cindy Sue Blair 2010

 

Cooking with Tom
by Tom Blair

     That hard granular cheese known as Parmesan is associated with Italian cooking because it was developed by Benedictine monks more than 800 years ago in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The cheese was hand made in the monasteries and enjoyed locally.
     It wasn’t until the early 20th century that modern transportation and production facilities made this unique delicacy available to the rest of the world.
     Enjoy a bowl of Pizza Soup with the old-world flavor of Parmesan.

Pizza Soup

Ingredients:

1) 2-3 oz. package of crumbled bacon bits
1) 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2) 10.5 oz. cans condensed tomato soup
1 /2 tsp. garlic powder
1 /2 tsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 /2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese (optional)

1. Add all the ingredients except for the mozzarella cheese to a large saucepan.
2. Bring soup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Serve in soup bowl and top with mozzarella cheese. Makes about 4-6 servings.

© Tom Blair 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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