Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year and a New Me - 3 Week Diet - Our Recipes and Tips

So my husband found this new-to-me weight loss diet for us - the 3 Week Diet. He needs to lose about 80 pounds and I need to lose about 35 or so - if my body will cooperate. :) He shared it with me and asked me, "Can we do this?" I read it over, liked the science behind it, and said, yes. We are on Day 9 of the diet, and he has lost 12 pounds so far, and I have lost 10 pounds. IN NINE DAYS. (Can you say, fast weight loss?!) AND I am not dissatisfied with the food amount I am eating; and neither is my husband.

Below, I wanted to share some of our recipes and tips that helped to simplify this for us. (If you are just interested in more information, click the affiliate link for a video that describes how it works.) I will also share some of the things I bought that have made it easier for me via aff links too. :)
The 3 Week Diet
OK, so I began by reading mostly the whole thing. There is a ton of information in there. I skimmed some of it, but wanted to understand how this diet could work for us. Brian Flatt is the author, and I don't know much about him personally, but his book was fascinating, and I liked the details as to why and how we lose weight. It pretty much lined up with what I already understood so that was a good start for me! (He was also kind enough to answer an email I sent him, and that made me feel a lot better about this program before even starting it.) When people are really out there, and actually answer the questions you ask, that means something to me.

This diet works in phases and the first week (Phase 1) is essentially: reduced calorie intact with less fat, meat, with a lot of delicious veggies. If you don't like veggies, this may be a bit more difficult for you at first but you may be surprised at how satisfied you can be - especially with the recipes below! Since I love veggies, and get creative with them, this works well for us. Phase 1 is the cleansing phase. It is the first seven days, and these were not as difficult as I thought they'd be. While Phase 1 may have a limited selection of food choices, you can do a lot with a little if you put your mind to it, and it is only for seven days. Meals should be about 1200 for a female and about 1500 for a male. On some days, I undershot this, but not on purpose. I was worried I'd overshoot it!

I used the coolest website, that probably most of you know about, My Fitness Pal. This was truly invaluable. Not everything I note below is exactly the same brand I used. You just need to figure out which listing is the same as what you have and add it to your food diary. Here are some of the meals I put together.

Phase 1 Paleo Weight Loss Meals:

Hot Stir-Fry and Salad:

Slice the beef and sauté it in Trader Joe's Coconut Oil Spray in this seriously amazing non-stick ceramic frying pan. I note the pan because it was one of those "as seen on TV" things that did exactly what it said it would do! It is entirely non-stick and you will need that when you are cooking with low oil. [Both the pan and the spray are invaluable. Buy them (or something like them) before you begin as you will use both every day.] I remove the beef once done, and set aside. I then add the zucchini, red bell pepper, and one teaspoon of olive oil. I add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you like ginger and soy sauce, add that too. When I do add those, I sprinkle ginger and soy over the top. I don't use too much soy sauce, just enough for taste. You can also use Bragg Liquid Aminos as it tastes the same as soy sauce and is much better for you. I sauté only long enough to just cook it. You don't want to over cook it or you lose the value of the veggies. You can substitute almost any veggie that can be sautéed that is within the veggies allotted to you in Phase 1. Asparagus and cabbage are good choices too if you don't like zucchini - or add them all. Then I make a salad with the arugula, tomato, raw white mushrooms, and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is a full plate of food with tons of veggies. I could have probably added more veggies if I had wanted to.

Spiced Beef Chili with Veggies:

This is really a simple meal to make. Sauté the beef the same way noted in the previous recipe. Then add the Ro' Tel and some spices I forgot to add to the list: 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder, along with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. It is really important that this stuff tastes good or I have a hard time eating it. Add the mushrooms, the artichoke hearts, and the chopped cabbage. Cook until the cabbage is just done. It is a hearty meal and is very low in calories. As before, I could have added more veggies, or a salad, but I was just beginning when I put this together and still figuring out calories, fat, and protein! Add more veggies if you want to - you certainly can with the calorie count noted above!

Bruschetta Chicken Sauce with Veggies and a Salad:

This is my personal favorite because it is so darn delicious. I hope you have a Trader Joe's near you because the Amazon price for the Bruschetta from TJs there is off the chain. I link to it only so you know what I bought. You can certainly do this with a different sauce, just be really careful how much fat and how many carbs are in it. This is similar to the chili above in how to make it. On low I cook the Bruschetta and add the chopped up artichoke hearts and diced cooked chicken until warmed up. I made this for my husband and added canned mushrooms and probably another veggie. It is flexible as long as you stay within the calorie range. Veggies are so awesome for adding bulk. I then made a salad with the arugula, olive oil and vinegar. Again, I could have added more veggies to the salad, but did not. I really like arugula so it was fine for me.

Giant Veggie Chicken Salad:

This was delicious and really satisfying. It is quite and painless, and I just made a giant salad out of the veggies with arugula as the base. I mixed up the chicken, dill pickles, and white onion, and mixed it with oil and vinegar then placed it all on top of the other veggies. It was a large plate full of food and it was satisfying to both my husband and I. 

Brussels Sprouts and Beef (or Chicken or Turkey...):

This is an  "I need dinner quickly, please, I am hungry and want to eat in 20 minutes recipe!"

Clean, and slice in half, all the Brussels sprouts, and put them in a bowl. If you are doing just a serving for you, add in no more than two teaspoons of oil, salt, pepper, and mix well. I made a big old Costco bag of them and used less oil than two teaspoons for each 2 cup serving, but I did pretty much eyeball it. They were not very oily, but just enough to have that delicious flavor when done. Roast in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes and eat hot. While they are roasting, cook your meat in the pan with the spray. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder or mix it up with Trader Joe's Lime Chili seasoning. This has been a great non-naughty edition to our meals. It is crazy good over meat, raw tomatoes, or to help spice anything up. As always, you could probably add more veggies to this, but it was sufficient to make our stomachs happy.

A Little More and What's to Come...

I have never lost weight like this before, but I have never really exercised before either. This is a KEY ELEMENT to weight loss, and I am convinced we'd not see the same results if we had not incorporated it into our day. He doesn't ask for more than 20 minutes of brisk walking each day - that's it! He suggests other things if you want to accelerate your weight loss, and we have done some of those exercises, but even those are not that hard - and this is coming from someone who is truly lazy when it comes to exercise. Really, it has just been dietary changes and daily elliptical (as we have been having a really rainy winter!)

All I can say is that It. Feels. Awesome!!

We made it through the very short Phase 2 fast day (not entirely a fast day - but you will find the info about that on in the book. I am pretty sure I can't give it all away. :D) Now we are on to Phase 3. I will post more on that on another day. I wanted to get this out because if you are like me, and want to know more about the 3 Week Diet, and what some of the meals look like, that's what this post is for. If you want more detailed information on the diet, you can find it at that link on the website. However, if you have already read about it, and want to get started, be sure you use this link to save $20 for fast weight loss.

More to come! Stay tuned, follow me here, Pin these recipes, or sign up by email to get it in your inbox!

The 3 Week Diet

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Westfield Studios ~ Biology 101 ~ A Review

There's something wonderful about reviewing a product you can wholeheartedly endorse. I was tickled to receive, Biology 101: Biology According to the Days of Creation, from Westfield Studios. If you have never heard of The 101 Series, you are in for a real treat. Westfield Studies is owned and operated by the homeschooling husband and wife team, Wes and Tammy Olson. In 2003, Tammy could not locate a program she was excited to use with her children, so her husband decided he'd make it for her! Wes Olson had "...15 years of corporate film production experience, and his natural love of science," so The 101 Series was born.

Designed specifically for the homeschool family, this four DVD set comes with a 114-page PDF Guidebook that helps you use and flesh out this study, as well as a 12-page PDF Course Accreditation Program. (More on those two later in the review.) In the study, you will find 11 segments that are divided into 27 individual weeks of study. With all the details done, let's get into Biology 101!

Based upon the six days of creation, we begin at the beginning of the third day, after the first two days of "setting the scene" or getting the "backdrop" ready for living creatures in Genesis 1:11-13:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Biology comes from two Greek roots, bio for life and logos for study. (Logos has other meanings, and the wiki on the word is very fascinating for word geeks like me.) Life is hard to define. He addresses this right at the beginning in the Introduction. Most of us don't think about the definition of the word life. We just live it. We often take it for granted--at least I know I do. It is really an indescribable, indistinguishable something that keeps us all alive - breathing, making and expending energy, developing, and reproducing. I'd say scripture is clear about the Giver of life. As Job 12:10 so eloquently states, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? God is the source of all life, and everything your family learns in Biology 101 flows from there.

In the Introduction, Wes Olson goes over the whole taxonomy (or laws of classifiying) system. I have always been fascinated with this! When our children were younger, we memorized the seven classes that he defines in the series: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. To give you an example of how this is used, he classifies an animal.

Source: Wiki
Kingdom: Animalia (all animals from insects to zebras are in this kingdom)
Phylum: Chordata (the animal has a backbone)
Class: Aves (birds)
Order: Passeriformes (birds that perch)
Family: Muscicapidae (birds that catch flies) 
Genus: Turdus (brown thrush)
Species: Migratorius (migrates)

So the Turdus Migratorius is what we commonly call a Robin. I find classification to be absolutely fascinating! He delves right into this in solid detail. 

The 37 minute Third Day lesson focus is, of course, the plants and vegetation that God brought forth on the third day. The first section is divided into Vascular Plants and Non-Vascular Plants. This is the breakdown of this section of the video:
Some of the things our family learned from this lesson were totally fascinating! Here are just a few:

* Vascular plants take in water and nutrients through what we'd call tubes or windpipes of sorts. Many of you have taken a stalk of celery with a fresh cut at the bottom, and placed it in a glass of water with colored dye. Wait a few hours and you will see the celery turn that color. These are the "tracheas" of the plants at work. A tulip is a good example of this. Moss is a good example of a non-vascular plant because it takes it moisture from the surface of the plant. 

* Most of us have heard the terms stamen and stigma, but do you ever remember how to tell which is the male or female? He gave the simplest way that I highlighted already: men = male and ma = female! 

* Did you know that algae played a role in the development of dynamite? That was highly fascinating and you will find the answer to that in this lesson!

* Did you know that without grasses, the world wouldn't survive? Wheat, oats, barley, sugar cane, corn, and rice are all considered grasses. Half the world's population relies on rice for a main staple. So even if you are a paleo enthusiast, all the meat you eat has to eat the grasses. It is quite a cycle!

* Did you know that trees are the oldest living things in the world? That the oldest tree still living is around 4,500 years old and was growing during the time the pyramids were being built and Abraham left his home in obedience to God? 

These are a *tiny* number of the many wonderful facts that you learn along with the definitions and photos or videos of whatever he's discussing. The facts systematically build upon each other and you end up with a very comprehensive understanding of the subject for each lesson.

The remaining lessons are: 

Aquatics (40 minutes)
Avian (44 minutes)
Land Animals Part 1 (22 minutes)
Land Animals Part 2 (28 minutes)
Mankind Part 1 (27 minutes)
Mankind Part 2 (24 minutes)
Genetics (40 minutes) 

These are broken into segments and the Course Accreditation Book explains how to do this.

The Guidebook (sample) is a fantastic resource. The videos provide the meat, and the potatoes and veggies are found in the Guidebook. You will find specific information on the lesson directly from the film, side bar trivia, commentary, biographical information, source footnotes, discussion questions, assignments, field trip suggestions, as well as Bible study suggestions on the topic here.

Some of the quiz questions for the lesson include:

* Chlorophyll is the chemical responsible for ______________?
* Why is the stamen considered the male part?
* The division name of vascular plants is ______________?
* Penicillin is an antibiotic made from _________________?

Some of the Discussion Questions include: 

* How is eating a plant the same or different than eating an animal?
* What did Jesus believe about creation and the Bible? Why is it important to believe what He believed?
* How do we know the Bible is a reliable document?
* God made all vegetation on the day before He made the sun. How could the plants have survived this?
* Discuss a few of your favorite ways plants are talked about in the Bible.

The Course Accreditation Booklet (sample) shows you how to use the Biology 101 course as a base and to build from there. Suggestions in this PDF include:

Creating a Biology 101 Notebook, Utilizing Discussion Questions, Activities, Quizzes, Labs, Reports, Field Trips, Essay Suggestions, and much more. This 12-page booklet can flesh out the videos and build upon them for further study and course accreditation.

Other Resources from The 101 Series:

As a family, we have already used Chemistry 101, and are in the midst of using their new Physics 101 too. You might be able to tell that we like The 101 Series! I was excited to read that General Science is in the works for 2017!


Final thoughts:

Biology 101 is easy-to-use, content-rich, and truly a feast for the eyes. The visuals Wes Olsen uses to explain his subject matter are lush and beautiful. This is the visual guide to biology that you've been looking for. Every single one of these courses have produced the results I wanted - children interested and engaged in the subject matter!

Want to follow them on social media? You can find them here: FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

If you'd like more information from families that used this with their children, click the link below and explore the different reviews of all three courses!

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Family Verses

So do you have a verse or verses that you consider your "Family Verses"? We do. Slowly, over the years, we have memorized some scripture. Not a lot because I am a lame mom, but I love scripture and it fills me with Christ's peace when we read it or memorize it. It is something every family should do if they claim the name of Christ, but if you are like me, you don't always do what you should be doing.

Recently, we started memorizing verses again, but Colossians 3:12-14 has been our "Family Verse" for as long as I can remember. It is how scripture tells us to be in a family - and really how we should be to all, as those chosen by God. We strive for this, though often fail.

What are verses that mean something to you as a family? 

Do you memorize scripture? 

What are some of your favorites?

Monday, October 24, 2016


So my sister in law got married on Friday. The happiest rest of their lives to them!! 

My children and I spent two days helping get things ready for their big night. Among other things, I helped with the flowers, making boutonnieres and corsages. The wedding had two themes, music and science fiction (and their love for Jesus was shared during the service). :) My husband, Amy's brother, was given the perfect thing to wear - a Star Trek ComBadge! I'd post a photo, but I don't have one. You can see it at the aff link in the name. It is such fun, and all the important men in the wedding had one. The groom wore a commander badge. Since my husband is a tech geek, he wore the engineering badge. 

These were the flowers for the mothers that I made. :) 

I wish them both the joy of Christ, a deep walk with their Savior together,
and much laughter and love in their marriage. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Galations for You - New Reading Material

(Affiliate links included in this post.)

I am starting a new book this week. I just finished reading a fictional account of part of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, and this week, I will begin a non-fiction book, Galations for You, by Timothy Keller. My friend recommended it, so here I go.

I opened it up to the Introduction, because that often states the heart of the author. This is no exception. 

Part of it reads:

"But in this short letter, Paul outlines the bombshell truth that the gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life. It is not only the way to enter the kingdom; it is the way to live as part of the kingdom. It is the way Christ transforms people, churches and communities.

"We're going to see Paul showing the young Christians in Galatia that their spiritual problem is not only caused by failing to live in obedience to God, but also by relying on obedience to Him. We're going to see him telling them that all they need--all they could ever need--is the gospel of God's unmerited favor to them through Christ's life, death and resurrection. We're going to hear him solving their issues not through telling them to "be better Christians", but by calling them to live out the implications of the gospel.

"We're going to watch Paul challenge them, and us, with the simple truth that the gospel is not just the ABC of Christianity, but the A to Z--that Christians need the gospel just as much as non-Christians."

I am excited to read this. What are you reading right now? What is on your bookshelf that is bringing you encouragement in this life? What have you loved that you have recently read?