Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas cookie

Hi friends and family,
Here's a great cookie recipe for ya. I have been craving peanut butter for some reason, and so I've made a batch a day for about 4 days now. Super easy. Wheat-free. I came up with the recipe by trial and error and tweeking a few recipes I saw on-line. I'm calling them...

Sesame Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy... doesn't matter)
1/2 c. sucanat (or turbinado or rapadura or brown sugar)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt (optional)
Set aside: 1/4 c. sesame seeds in a small bowl (optional)

Mix up all the ingredients with a fork... except the sesame seeds. Form into balls. Roll each ball in the sesame seeds to cover with seeds (optional) or just put the plain cookie dough balls on an un-greased baking sheet/ baking stone. Use a fork to gently push down on each ball to slightly flatten it, and then do it again the other way so fork-lines are perpendicular... I love that word. Ha! Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet so they set-up. Then scrape the spatula under each cookie to lift them to a plate. Melt your favorite dark chocolate in a double-boiler and top each cookie with a big dab of melted chocolate. Allow to cool. Fantastico!

Quick double-boiler suggestion:
The best way I found to melt chocolate is to use my big glass measuring bowl and fill it half-way with water (which means about 4 cups water). Microwave the water until boiling (3 min. approx.). I then break up some dark chocolate squares (roughly 1 cup) and put them into my smaller glass measuring cup with handle. It has a 2 cup capacity. I lower the smaller cup into the larger one's hot water, and hang the smaller's handle over the edge of the larger's rim. It melts very smoothly and just can't burn or overcook. That's what I like about it!

Merry Christmas!

Faith, hope, and love.... but the greatest of these is love!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Hi friends and family,
I've struggle on and off with the pain of carpel tunnel syndrome in my wrists, hands, and fingers. It started when I was a teenager bussing tables, and has gotten worse over the years. I just turned 38, so I've been dealing with the problem for over 20 years. Wow. Anytime you claim anything for over 20 years, there's just a sense of oldness. And that's how ailments make you feel. In the past month, the pain shot from my head to my fingertips daily. Throbbing. Severely. So, now you know why I haven't been blogging lately. Using the computer keyboard was too painful. But.... YES THERE IS A BUT! I am really thankful for some great relief lately. I just had my second appointment with a very skilled massage therapist and aromatherapist named Deb Stoltzfus. It's a love/hate kind of thing. I look forward to going there just because the word "spa" is on her door, but this woman is not interested in any foofy pampering. Granted her massage therapy room above her home is beautiful, smells wonderful, and has peaceful instrumental music playing.... but this woman is serious about the therapeutic part of massage. She wants to know your problem and eliminate it. She's focused. She's strong. And just like during contractions before child birth, I found myself trying to breathe through the pressure she delivered, especially to my neck. Since getting 2 massages, the carpel tunnel symptoms have really let up, and so I had to write to tell you about her healing gift. Lately, my arms, wrists, and hands are feeling so much better. God is glorified! Her business is called "Inshanti Wellness Spa" and is located on 48 Slaymaker Hill Rd. in Kinzers, PA. You will also love her essential oils. She has her own lab and is a purist when it comes to choosing and mixing these wonderfully healing oils. Check out her website by clicking on the title of this post or go to Thanks Deb!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Farm to School

I went to Millersville University last night to see the movie "Two Angry Moms" and hear the discussion afterward. It was really good. It told the story of two moms who mobilized school lunch reform and how they are helping others do the same thing. The words that stuck in my head were "farm to school" because the tastiest meals come from the freshest ingredients... and kids learn best when they see the whole process in action. Have you ever heard of an edible school yard? Click on the title of this post or go to this website to check out what one great Pennsylvania school is doing at:

Just may be worth a field trip!

If you want to help your school's staff and families increase their food I.Q. and get healthier hot lunches, let me know. Also, you'll find good resources on the facebook page of "Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local." Linda Aleci has posted some really great info! Thank you Linda.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movie Night Friday

The public is invited to a movie screening of "Two Angry Moms" ... sorry for the late notice on my blog... but I hope you can come! There will be a movie and discussion. I've never been to any of these events... sounds intriguing to me.

Location:Meyers Auditorium, McComsey Hall, Millersville University
Time:7:00PM Friday, October 15th
Friday, October 15 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm

LocationMeyers Auditorium, McComsey Hall, Millersville University

Created By

More InfoFed up with the deplorable state of school lunches? Find out how 2 angry moms took action! Movie screening and discussion with Dr. Julie Lombardi and Dr. Adele Ruszak of Millersville University. Free and open to the public.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't worry...

If you can't prepare a healthy meal tonight because of time constraints, do not eat your fast food take-out with guilt and regret. Stress blocks nutrients from being absorbed. So, just take a deep breath, relax, be glad, and eat with ease and thankfulness. Slowly.

Remember that what goes into your body becomes a part of you. If your meal is poor, make sure to boost wealth to the rest of your body by drinking pure water, breathing fresh air outside, keeping a running dialogue with God, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep tonight.

For tomorrow, anticipate healthy creativity in the kitchen. Throw together a savory stir-fry with clean meat, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, chopped broccoli, and sliced red pepper. Start your saute with onions and garlic in cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. End it with a simple sauce of Bragg's Liquid Aminos and fresh grated ginger... both can be found at any health food store or here:


Friday, October 8, 2010

My First Public Meeting in Harrisburg

My family's nutrition is sustained by local farmers. What a great concept. They do what they are good at doing... and then I buy their whole foods and milk ...and this helps farmers to keep farming. It's a great relationship.

It sounded strange to my ears the first time I heard someone say that we have to defend our rights to buy affordable high quality food from local farmers. Who are we defending ourselves from? Well, I got a taste of the answer yesterday.

I received an email invitation to a public hearing where government officials would vote on a proposed regulation which would supposedly promote milk sanitation. I am all for milk sanitation, but get this! The regulation would require PA dairy farmers to buy a machine that would bottle and cap plastic milk jugs... and this would have to be done in a separate room from the milk tanks. This sounds simple for a factory, but terribly expensive and ineffective for a small farmer. It's like using a chain saw to cut bread. My needs are being met so well by an Amish girl who fills my glass milk bottles each week with clean hands right from the clean milk tank in the clean milk house. It just works.

Food prices are high enough. If these regulations were put into place, then farmers would understandably have to raise their prices or quit farming. So, I went to Harrisburg yesterday, and I got the privilege of hearing about 20 PA dairy farmers (many of them plain folks), plead this noble case. Wow, it was an intense 3 hour meeting with lots of heart-felt testimonies from people who just wanted to keep working hard on their farms with out being over-regulated.

I arrived at the 10:00am meeting just in the nick of time. It was held on the 14th floor at 333 Market St. in front of the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission. I would say there were 50-60 people in the room for the same reason. Many of them were dairy farmers. I bet they never saw public speaking in their job descriptions. But they did it anyway. It's nerve-wracking being in front of government officials in suits and ties... oh, and one woman chief counsel... with all the standard protocols that we know nothing about.

When each farmer would get up and tell his/her testimony (with shaking voices) telling why this regulation would be too expensive for them and ineffective, the other farmers would clap supportively for him or her. The chairman told everyone not to do that. He said this is not a broadway musical where were get applause. We need to keep to the business of the law. Well, there was so much suspense in the room, and everyone tried their best to hold their applause until the very end ...when the proposed regulation was actually voted on ...and it was disapproved by a close vote of 3 to 2. Yeah!!!! The whole room erupted in a relief of clapping and cheering that justice was served. The chairman scolded the group again saying, "I asked you not to do that!" What an interesting 3 hours.

I'm sure this is not the end of the story. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission felt that the PA Dept. of Ag. could resubmit a proposed regulation that was separate from the federal standard of mechanized bottling and more suited for small farmers. I appreciate the regulations which keep us safe, but I will support our Pennsylvania farmers as the experts they are in their field. When I got up to speak at the meeting, I simply said that as a raw milk consumer I trust my local farmer's milk sanitation practices because he is serving the same milk to his own family, and he is an intelligent man with many years of expertise in food safety.
Love live trustworthy farmers! Long live just law makers!

P.S. For more information on behind the scenes defenders of local sustainable agriculture, go to

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baked Pumpkin and The Country Barn

I went on a field trip with my 3rd grader's class yesterday to "The Country Barn" on Donnerville Rd. in Lancaster. Great place, but man... was it cold and wet! We lived to tell about it and had fun anyway. The kids got to walk through the muddy fields and choose their own live pumpkin to pull off the green vine. They also got to watch 4 pigs race and yell suuuu-weeee and all that good stuff. Farmer Jim made a point of informing the kids of where their food comes from. He dug up potatoes for them to see. He was a wealth of whole foods information. He held one of his free-range chickens and her fresh brown egg as he asked the kids how many eggs do most chickens lay in one day? Most of the kids thought it was about a dozen or more. The correct answer is one... with an average of 360 eggs per year per chicken. Brown eggs come from colored chickens and white eggs come from white chickens. It was all good information for the non-farm kids and grown-ups... which would be most of us.

When I (with pride) told Farmer Jim that I had just boiled a big pumpkin the other day and made pumpkin cake roll and pumpkin pie, he informed me that I had poured all the nutrients down the drain after boiling. Hmmmm.... I said to myself, deflated. He said, "Bake your pumpkin and it will be the best tasting pumpkin you've ever had, and it will keep it's nutrients. I have to agree. And will definitely do that next time. Makes sense.

To bake your pumpkin, just wash it, cut off the stem, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, lay it face down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until soft. Cool. Scoop out the flesh and throw away the peel. I've attached a recipe for pumpkin spice cookies that looks fabulous from "natural papa's" website.

"The Country Barn" is open to the public. You can interact with the animals or shop at their farm market. Here's the website:

Have another cheerful rainy day! I gotta keep telling myself that. Ha!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin seeds

We went to Lancaster Farm Fresh's stand at Central Market on Saturday, and each of our kids picked out a favorite pumpkin for carving. They were sooooo excited! Each drew a picture on his and her pumpkins, and we cut the tops off and pulled out the seeds and guts.

After washing the seeds and letting them air dry overnight, I cracked open one of the white hulls and pulled out the tender green seed inside. Yum! I also like to buy a bag of pumpkin seeds from the natural food store (always buy them from the refrigerated section so you know they are fresh) and add this nutrient-dense food to berries and yogurt.

The rest of this post is some great info on pumpkin seeds from Whole Food's website:
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat, dark green seeds. Some are encased in a yellow-white husk, although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without shells. Pumpkin seeds have a malleable, chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. While roasted pumpkins seeds are probably best known for their role as a perennial Halloween treat, these seeds are so delicious, and nutritious, that they can be enjoyed throughout the whole year.

Tips for Preparing Pumpkin Seeds:

While most stores sell pumpkin seeds, it is fun and easy to make your own. To do so, first remove the seeds from the pumpkin's inner cavity and wipe them off with a paper towel if needed to remove excess pulp that may have stuck to them. Spread them out evenly on a paper bag and let them dry out overnight.

Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and light roast them in a 160-170ºF (about 75ºC) oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them for a short time at a low temperature you can help to preserve their healthy oils.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables.

Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads.

Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.

Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal.

Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe.

Next time you make burgers, whether it be from vegetables, turkey or beef, add some ground pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Profile
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc, iron and copper. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and vitamin K.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Farm Talk

I buy fresh (unpasteurized) milk from a few different local organic farmers. One of them is an Amish farmer named Leroy Miller. And I trust his farming values and practices. He puts his jersey cows out to graze in the grass whenever there is grass, and feeds them grass hay in the winter. No feed with chemicals or pesticides. He doesn't give them steroids or antibiotics. He is very open to talking about his farm. It's easy to drive up and see his happy pigs, sheep, cows, turkeys, horses, and their living conditions.

My kids and I especially like the pigs cuz their ears flip-flap when they skip around, their tails do a curly-Q, and their snouts dig really fast when they're looking for food. One time, we were quietly tip-toing closer and closer to a cozy group of about 20 sleeping piglets who were huddled-up together with their moms. Suddenly, one of my kids coughed, and all the piglets simultaneously popped up their heads and oinked a gasp in stereo. With synchronized ear-flopping! We couldn't stop giggling because it startled us too.

I usually go to Leroy's farm once a week. Raw milk lasts 7-10 days. If you're interested in buying anything from his milk house, bring cash or check. No cards. The person behind the counter will ask you if you're a CARE member. This stands for Communities Alliance For Responsible Eco-Farming. It is a private organization consisting of 42 farmers and more than 5500 community members, which requires a $20 annual membership in order to obtain food from the farmers. The money supports the small local farmers. And they also gather together to support one another's good farming practices through meetings, publications, mutual-inspections, etc. If you say no, then they'll ask you if you want to be, and they'll give you a short form to fill out.

Bring your own glass bottles or buy their plastic bottled milk. They are open on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, & Sat. Closed Wed. and Sun. He also calls his farm:
Life Enhancing Acres
2931 Miller Lane
Bird-in-Hand, PA

...but you won't see a sign. Just a little red building next to his barn. Simple. Functional.

I was at Leroy's milk house a couple days ago and wrote down his prices for you:

Whole Raw Jersey Milk $5.50/gallon or $3.00/half-gallon or $1.50/quart
Raw Cream $9.50/quart or $5.00/pint
Yogurt $4.00/quart
Butter $11.00/ lb.
Sour Cream $5.50/pint
Cottage Cheese $4.25/pint
Kefir $6.00/quart or $1.50/pint
Fertile Eggs $3.50/dozen
Broiler Chickens $2.75/lb.

Here's an excerpt from "Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local" guide to local foods:

Life Enhancing Acres

2931 Miller Lane, Bird-in-Hand, 17505

Phone: 768.7848

Fresh chickens: May-Oct, turkeys: Nov, eggs & frozen meats all year. M,Tu,Th,F 8 - 5, Sa 8 -4 Pastured poultry, turkey, eggs, beef, lamb, fruits & vegetables

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sugar, Rapadura, Sucanat, Turbinado, Demerara,etc...

Sweeteners! When I started expecting real nourishment from my food, I stopped buying many over-sweetened processed chemically preserved foods and started sweetening my own yogurt, baked goods, and oatmeal, etc. with natural sweeteners. I quickly realized that the possibilities are vast. What are they all? What do they do? How do I substitute for white sugar in recipes? So, I read some books and web articles and made each birthday another baking experiment in the kitchen over the past couple years.

My son just turned 7 last Thursday, so I experimented with 4 kinds of brownies. My older daughter will be 9 tomorrow, so I made an angel food cake today with raw honey. I found a handy substitution guide that's working well for me so far at:

It's great to use local foods as much as possible. For Lancaster, our local natural sweeteners are definitely honey, maple syrup, and local fruits and fruit juices. Of this list, I like raw honey because it is the least processed and contains enzymes that help digest carbohydrates. The substitution guide above says to use 1/2 c. honey wherever a recipe calls for 1 c. sugar, then reduce the liquid content of the recipe by 1/8, reduce oven temp. by 25 degrees, and bake a bit longer. This worked well for my angel food cake today.

Reminder: Don't give raw honey to kids under the age of 2 because their digestive tracts are not mature enough to deactivate the bacteria spores. As for the rest of us - enjoy!

Regarding cane sugar forms, I'll list them in order of least processed (which contain the most nutrients) to most processed (which contain the least nutrients): muscovado, rapadura, sucanat, turbinado, demerara, sugar in the raw, brown sugar, and white sugar. If you see the terminology "evaporated cane juice," this doesn't really tell you anything specific because all of these are some form of that. Muscovado and rapadura are the two forms of evaporated cane juice which do not have the molasses separated out of them. This is good because the molasses contains the trace minerals and nutrients you want like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It also has a toffee like flavor, which is much deeper than the neutral flavor of white sugar, so you need to be aware of the difference and decide how you like it. (I like the toffee flavor, but not full-strength, so I cut it by using honey or agave nectar with rapadura in many baked goods and homemade icecream.) To see the nutrition info. on rapadura, go to an old post of mine at

Sucanat also has some molasses, and although it contains less than the aforementioned, it still has some worthwhile trace minerals and nutrients while delivering a milder flavor than rapadura.

The rest of the "brown" sugars are turbinado, demerara, sugar in the raw, and brown sugar. Am I missing any? Probably... cuz there are various brand names that are some form of those listed. And in each of these, all the molasses is removed and then a very small amount is put back in. It's such a small amount that it's nutritional content is pretty close to white sugar which is devoid of nutrients altogether. But it can be used as a bridge if you are trying to get used to sucanat or rapadura. Since it has some of the molasses flavor, it will help your taste buds become accustomed to something new.

I was just at Miller's Natural Foods today (on Miller Lane in Bird-in-Hand, PA) and wrote down some prices of sweeteners on their shelves. Everything listed is price per pound unless otherwise specified:

Organic Rapadura $2.65
Sucanat $1.50
Unrefined Demerara $0.79
Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar $0.75
Evaporated Cane Juice (white) $0.67
Fructose $1.35
Maple Sugar $10.00
Stevia powder $54.64
Stevia herb powder $22.00
Date Sugar $5.95/ 11 oz.
Raw honey $9.80/ 2.5 lbs.
Liquid Stevia $18.75/ 4 oz.
Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar $9.26/44 oz.
Pure Maple Syrup $13.20/32 oz.
Xylitol $12.49/ 2.5 lbs.

Let me know if you have any questions! And thank you Melissa for writing to me about it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gut Feeling

It's amazing what the body can do with rest. And the digestive tract is no different. Fasting is resting for the digestive tract. And a full 12 hour fast each night (like 7pm-7am) makes all the difference for me. The daily cleanse of eating nothing at all for those 12 hours feels like renewed strength for my gut each morning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hi Everybody!

Just wanted to say hi. The past 2 weeks have been life changing for me. I didn't go anywhere... I'm just here... it's all inner. I'm more in love with my husband than I have ever been in my life. When you go through an inner transformation, it's really hard to put words to it. I haven't been out of my house and yard much in the past couple of weeks... just taking in all that there is... thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, the rain, and the air I breathe... God is love. Ahhhh, peace.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What makes some vegetables bitter?

I recently spoke with a medical doctor who said that most Americans' diets are sorely lacking in the needed vitamins and minerals found in fresh vegetables... probably because most Americans don't like them enough to prioritize the time to buy, grow, or prepare them. He suggested that most people don't like them because they're bitter sometimes. This got me thinking about the question: What makes some vegetables bitter sometimes?

I mean, there's nothing worse than a head of bitter broccoli. The taste lingers in the back of your mouth like a toxic fume. I'm making a bad face just thinking about it. On the other hand, most broccoli is pleasantly mild with a slightly sweet earthen green flavor. Oh, it's so good lightly steamed on a baked potato with sea salt, pepper, and sour cream. Or lightly sauted in stir-fry. Bright green excellence!

Until today, I never knew that there could be so many reasons as to why some vegetables are bitter. I researched and came up with this list... and what you can do about it:

1. Pesticides taste bitter. Wash well. Use a natural vegetable wash, submerge in water, gently agitate delicate vegetables or scrub hearty vegetables. Recipe for natural vegetable wash is 1 c. apple cider vinegar, 1 c. lemon juice, and 1 c. water. Mix it up in a spray bottle. Or buy organic.

2. Anti-oxident nutrients are naturally bitter. Lightly steam vegetables to subdue bitterness.

3. When cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) are overcooked, they produce a sulphur compound and emit a rotten egg smell. Go easy. Blanch, steam, or lightly saute vegetables right before serving time.

4. When vegetables are old, they get bitter. Conversely, baby vegetables (like baby spinach and baby carrots) are less bitter, but they are also less mature and therefore so is their nutritional content. Buy fresh and buy local.

SIDE NOTE: "Baby cut carrots" in the supermarkets are actually not babies. They come from specially bred fast-growing full-grown carrots which are cut up into 2 inch sections, peeled by a machine, washed (usually using chlorine), and bagged. They typically contain 30% less beta carotene of a normal carrot because they were in the ground for a shorter period of time.
But I still think they are a great example of healthy fast food. I personally always buy the regular big organic carrots and either scrub or peel them, and soak them in water until ready to eat. It only takes a few seconds.

5. Some vegetables are meant to be somewhat bitter (collard greens, swiss chard, kale) and they are very good for you. This taste compliments stews, soups, and savory sauces. The other day, I tried tossing a little bit of agave nectar into my kids' steamed kale, and they loved it.

6. Although I am not an avid gardener (that's my husband's department), I read that any stress on a vegetable such as high temperature, low moisture, low fertility, or foliage disease can cause bitterness. My Amish friend told me that cross-pollination and the acid level of the soil can also cause bitterness. Root vegetables which get exposed to light can turn green and taste bitter. Keep carrots and potatos in the dark before and after harvest.

7. There are people who are genetically extremely sensitive to bitterness. They are called "super-tasters" and about 25% of the population fits this category. Here is a list of sweeter vegetables: sweet potatos, squash, carrots, beets, peas, corn, sauted onion and garlic, local tomatos, avocado, cucumber, fennel, romaine lettuce, head lettuce, and baby lettuce.

8. Some nutritional bitter compounds in vegetables are lipophylic, meaning they dissolve readily in fat. Try a little butter or cream sauce. Salt blocks bitter and acts as a filter to let more desirable flavors come through.

Buy fresh! Buy Local! Enjoy the harvest!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eating well on a low budget...

I just found a great website and I think you'll enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rice Flour Pizza Crust - WOW!

For anyone out there who has a gluten sensitivity, here's an outstanding gluten-free pizza crust for you. I just made it today for the first time and it got rave reviews by my whole family and our friends who joined us for dinner. Most of us liked it better than any "normal" pizza crust we've had before. There's a combined chewy and crispy texture along with a mild whole grain flavor that substantially supports any toppings you choose. No falling apart (like many gluten-free things) and no compromising taste or texture just because you deviated from the tried and true wheat flours. You can expect that a rice flour dough will feel sort of like cookie dough. It's very different from a wheat flour dough because the rice lacks the elastic gluey protein called gluten (found in wheat). Never fear. It just requires a little bit different handling. It's not hard at all. You just spread, push, and shape the dough into the pan with your fingers rather than using a rolling pin or pulling and stretching it. The directions below are very helpful: complete and accurate. Embrace brown rice! It's easy on the digestive tract and full of nutrients. Lately I'm learning that it's good to rotate foods as much as possible to give your body a break from the same ingredient day after day... like wheat which is usually overdone in the Standard American Diet (SAD) in the form of both white flour and whole wheat flour. People are more prone to food sensitivities and allergies when they gravitate to the same food day after day (my doctor just reminded me of this today). Regardless of any analysis, I plain love this pizza crust!
Here ya go... and let me know if you try it.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

By: GinnyP 
Oct 29, 2002

From Carol Fenster's "Special Diet Solutions".

SERVES 6 (change servings and units)


1 tablespoon dry yeast

2/3 cup brown rice flour or gram flour or fava bean flour (I use 'garfava' flour which is a blend)

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 tablespoons powdered milk or non-dairy powdered coffee creamer (Dairy alternative, 2 T tapioca flour or sweet rice flour in place of 2 T dry milk powder or non-dair)

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 teaspoon italian seasoning

2/3 cup water (110 degrees F)

1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey or agave syrup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In medium bowl using regular beaters (not dough hooks), blend all ingredients on low speed.

Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

(If mixer bounces around bowl, dough is too stiff. Add water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, until dough does not resist beaters.) Dough will resemble soft bread dough.

Put mixture on lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan or 11 x 7-inch pan (for deep dish version).

Liberally sprinkle rice flour on dough, then press dough into pan, continuing to sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking to hands.

Make edges slightly thicker to hold toppings.

Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Spread pizza crust with your favorite sauce and toppings.

Bake another 20 to 25 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I used to look at the fat content on a food label and avoid anything with a high number. I didn't care what kind of fat it was. I thought all fats were bad for the arteries and for the waist line. So, I lumped them all into one category and avoided them as much as possible. Them... them fats... them fat guys... who are they? I didn't care. I just thought it would be safer to avoid every type of fat on the planet. Sweeping generality. Intolerant. Prejudicial state of mind. Meanwhile, I was getting fatter and fatter having no idea that there were healthy fats out there that I needed to consume to be healthy, feel satiated, and stop overeating. This food group is quite misunderstood. The kind of fat you're eating is much more important than the grams of fat you're eating. It tastes good and feels good to cook and bake with healthy fats like cold-pressed virgin coconut oil... and for salads: extra-virgin olive oil. Enjoy this GREAT article by Dr. Mercola:

Healthy Fats

Fats in general are considered the dietary villains by many people. And while a low-fat diet is actually quite good for the 1/3 of people who are carb nutritional types, the other two-thirds of the population do not fare well on this type of diet.

Another persistent sub-set of the fat myth is the belief that saturated fat, in particular, will increase your risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

This is simply untrue.

Saturated fats provide the building blocks for your cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances that are essential to your health, and saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.

When you eat fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry.

In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

Saturated fats are also:

- The preferred fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure

- Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)

- Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti fungal agents (lauric acid)

- Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)

- Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid).

Sources of healthy monounsaturated fats include olive oil and nuts, such as pecans. Canola oil is also in this category, but I advise avoiding it and using olive oil instead. Keep in mind, however, that olive oil should not be used for cooking. Instead, use coconut oil for cooking, frying and baking, and save the olive oil for salad dressing.

One of the most important of the healthy fats is omega-3.

Deficiency in this essential fat can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year.

For more information about omega-3's and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.

Dangerous Fats

Now, the type of fat that is truly disastrous to your health are trans fat and damaged omega-6 fats.

Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It's also found in most processed and fried foods, such as French fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers.

This is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.

Trans fat raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and lowers HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health!

In fact, trans fats -- as opposed to saturated fats -- have been linked repeatedly to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.

Clearly, if you value your health, abolishing trans fats from your diet should be at the top of your list. It really doesn't matter how filling the food might be – if it contains trans fats, avoid it at all cost…

So which Type of Food is Really the Most Filling?

The issue of satiety is a big one, especially when trying to manage your weight, and food manufacturers know this. According to the Food Navigator article above, the US diet food market – which is typically focused on increasing satiety without the calories – is valued at $3.64 billion!

Unfortunately, "diet foods" are among the worst foods there are. Nearly all of them are processed and pre-packaged, and contain a slew of chemical additives.

So, what should you eat if you want to increase that feeling of fullness and reduce hunger pangs?

Although healthy fats can help you feel fuller longer, protein beats both fats and carbs when it comes to satiety.

However, the amount and type of protein that you need can vary dramatically, depending on your gender, height, weight, exercise levels, and, most importantly, by your nutritional type.

A strong carb type, for example, can feel stuffed for hours on a meatless salad with a no fat dressing, while the same meal would have a strong protein type craving for food in about twenty minutes. So keep in mind that although you certainly need protein, you have individualized requirements for it.

The way to decipher your requirement is by determining whether you're a protein, carb, or mixed nutritional type.

Protein types, as the name implies, do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets. A typical ratio might be 40 percent protein and 30 percent each of fats and carbohydrates, but the amounts could easily shift to 50 percent fats and as little as 10 percent carbohydrates depending on individual genetic requirements.

Carb types, meanwhile, normally feel best when the majority of their food is vegetable carbohydrate. Yet they, too, still need some protein and fat in their diets. (Mixed types fall somewhere in between.)

The type of protein that your body thrives on will also vary according to your nutritional type.

Protein types, for instance, thrive on high-purine meats like dark-meat chicken, or high-quality steak, while carb types prefer light meats or even beans as their source of protein.

Some generally good sources of protein (though you need to find out your nutritional type to really tailor your foods for optimal health) include:

- Eggs (ideally, raw and organic)

- Grass-fed beef and bison

- Free-range, organic chicken and ostrich

- Raw dairy products (raw milk, raw-milk cheese, and so on.)

- Wild-caught, mercury-free fish (only eat this if you can confirm via lab-testing that it's not polluted)

When choosing protein sources, it's extremely important to find high-quality varieties.

These would include grass-fed (not grain-fed) organic meats, raw (not pasteurized) dairy products, and wild-caught (not farm-raised) fish that you know is not contaminated with mercury and other pollutants.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

If you're wondering what to make for the next birthday party, here ya go! This is from "The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook" by Elana Amsterdam. Make sure to read my note at the bottom about where to buy this wonderful, super nutritious, high protein, low glycemic ingredient: blanched almond flour. This was my only challenge... I had a hard time finding it in stores.*

VERY VANILLA CUPCAKES (makes 10 cupcakes)
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 c. grapeseed oil (I accidentally omitted the oil once, and it still turned out well.)
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 TBSP. vanilla extract
1 TBSP. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 and 1/2 c. blanched almond flour (packed down)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk wet ingredients, except for egg whites. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into wet ingredients. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Fill up muffin cups with batter. Bake for 20-30 min. or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (My gas oven took 28 min. ~ Amy) Let cupcakes cool for 30 min. The center will sink just a bit - this is normal. Frost if desired with chocolate frosting below (also from Elana Amerstam's cookbook). It's excellent!

CHOCOLATE FROSTING ...which is deliciously fluffy, dark, and vegan!
1 c. coarsely chopped dark chocolate 73% cocao (like Dagon or Green and Black's Organic)
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
2 TBSP. agave nectar
1 TBSP. vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

Melt chocolate and oil in saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Place in freezer for 10-15 min. Whip with hand mixer until thick and fluffy, 1-2 min. Frost your cupcakes.

* I'm finding that the recipes in Elana's cookbook are absolutely delicious and extremely simple. The only challenge is simply finding blanched almond flour in stores. Bob's Redmill is easy to find, but it's not recommended for these recipes because it's not milled finely enough. It's worth ordering exactly what you need on-line. I just bought some great blanched almond flour from and it was $29.99 for a 5 lb. bag of this nutritious high protein and low glycemic ingredient. Shipping fees were minimal from this company ($4.95 for my order of 4 bags). Although the almond flour is more expensive than wheat flour, I figured out that my cupcakes used about 50 cents of almond flour per cupcake. Have fun!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Tonight, I'm outside in the dark, on the computer, watching my kids chase lightening bugs, while I'm savoring a few dark chocolate squares and almonds. Steve is pointing out the big dipper to the kids. Lucas is yelling, "I see it Dad! I see it!" And now he's telling the kids about how sailors used to navigate using the North Star. They see that too! What a beautiful night. Wow.

Back to chocolate... As I'm tasting smooth 70% chocolate squares, I'm remembering my latest visit to Cafe' Chocolate in Lititz, PA. Whenever I go there, it's always a good experience. A couple weeks ago, the owner, Selena, so graciously educated me on the specific health benefits of high quality dark chocolate. Listening to her talk is delightful because she truly enjoys what she does. She said that you can find good quality organic chocolate by reading the ingredients. If the first ingredient is either chocolate liquor or cocoa mass, and there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives or oils (other than pure cocoa butter), then there's a good chance that it's a very high quality chocolate. This is harder to find than I thought. Most grocery store chocolate has as it's first ingredient: sugar or high fructose corn syrup... along with a list of partially hydrogenated oils and artificial vanillin flavor, etc. But I did find some good stuff at Rhubarb's (on Rt. 501) and of course at Cafe' Chocolate.... where they also sell sugar-free chocolate truffles. Here is a portion of an article on her website:

"Chocolate is a good source of magnesium, potassium, copper and calcium. Even better, it contains healthy amounts of flavonoids, so-called phytochemicals that scientists believe may protect against heart disease and other illnesses, says the paper published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "

Café Chocolate of Lititz

Hours: 11am - 5pm Sunday to Thursday
9am - 9pm Friday & Saturday

Phone: 717.626.0123
Location: 40 E. Main Street | Lititz, PA | 17543
All major credit cards accepted

Always something here to delight you – Chocolate Sweets & savories from around the world

If you're wondering about the percentages of cocoa or chocolate listed on the label, here's a good explanation from
"Chocolate percentage" is an imposing phrase thrown around loosely among chocolate connoisseurs. It refers to the percentage of cocoa mass (aka chocolate liquor), the essence of chocolate, in the chocolate bar itself. More cocoa mass means a higher percentage, darker color, and a more intense chocolate taste. Unsweetened or bitter chocolate contains nearly 100 percent cocoa mass. Semisweet and bittersweet chocolates have added sugar, so their cocoa percentages are a little lower - good quality dark chocolateusually contains a minimum of 50 percent cocoa mass, but can go as high as 85 percent.

The percentage also gives us some idea about the chocolate's sweetness. If a dark chocolate contains 70 percent cocoa mass, it must contain about 30 percent sugar. The chocolate will have an intense chocolate flavor, with just enough sugar to make it palatable. The lower the chocolate's percentage, the higher the percentage of sugar and the sweeter the chocolate will be.

To avoid paying top dollar for a bar of chocolate that could pass as a bar of soap, purchase a reputable brand. Better quality chocolate bars have fewer ingredients, usually only five or six, and use real vanilla (not vanillin or other artificial flavorings).

Monday, May 24, 2010


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Lancaster county has a wealth of fresh fruits and vegetables growing already. As I walked up to a roadside stand this morning, I saw what I was looking for... boxes of perfectly ripe red berries, and I couldn't help but exclaim out loud, "Oh the glory of strawberries!" The two women standing there just chimed in and agreed.

Psalm 92:4 "Adonai, what you do makes me happy! I take joy in what your hands have made."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sesame Crackers

Hi friends! I just bought the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam and I highly recommend it. Her website also has many recipes on it including this one. Eat these hearty crackers with guacamole or hummus, cream cheese and salsa, etc. The nutrition of almond flour (made entirely of ground almonds) is superior to wheat and rice flours in potassium, magnesium, niacin, alpha-tocopherol, calcium, and iron. It also has twice as much protein and a glycemic index of less than 1 (as compared to the glycemic index of white wheat flour being 71 and rice flour being 98). In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with whole wheat flour and rice flour as long as we're getting a good balance of healthy protein and fat along with it. The problem is that the standard American diet (SAD) is heavily weighted on the side of grains and other carbs... and not enough healthy proteins and fats which sometimes creates a heavy strain on the body to regulate blood glucose. Enjoy this simple recipe. It's fun to make!

Sesame Crackers (from the The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

3 c. blanched almond flour

1.5 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt

1 c. sesame seeds

2 TBSP. grapeseed oil (or other oil)

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Cut 3 pieces of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and sesame seeds. In another bowl, whisk together grapeseed oil and eggs. Combine. Refrigerate overnight for nutritional “soaking” benefits which neutralizes phytic acid. If you don’t have time to soak it, it will still taste great with out overnight refrigeration. Divide room temperature dough into 2 pieces. Place 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll to 1/16 inch thickness. Remove the top piece of parchment and transfer the bottom piece of parchment with the rolled-out dough into a baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares with a pizza cutter. Bake for 12 – 15 min., until lightly golden. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheets for 30 min., then serve.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Here's what I'm into lately:
1. Organic grape tomatos. Wash 'em and leave on counter for easy access. Pop!
2. Fresh dark green salads w/ grape tomatos, cucumbers, and garlic hummus on top. Extra virgin olive oil and Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar for dressing.
3. Hard-boiled egg with Himalayan Crystal Salt... this high mineral salt rocks!
4. Grapefruit (sectioned) with Himalayan Crystal Salt. The salt cuts the tart and enhances the sweetness of the grapefruit.
5. Granny Smith apple cut-up and sprinkled with cinnamon. Eat with walnuts.
6. A bowl of whole yogurt (raw) with 5 drops chocolate stevia, thawed blueberries, and walnuts. Add any nuts and seeds for hearty texture and flavor. Amazing food.
7. Fresh-picked strawberries!!!! For dessert, serve with little chunks of dark chocolate.
8. Smoothies... berries and almond butter or dark greens.
9. Raw carrots every day! When in a hurry going out the door, throw carrots in a little paper lunch sack with a carrot peeler to peel fresh and pass out to the kids in between stops. Goes great with the whole hard-boiled eggs and salt... keep paper bag for egg shells and carrot peelings. Rinse both with a little splash of your drinking water (holding it out the car window for rinsing... while stopped). Hee, hee!
10. Pure water, water, water. Get a stainless steel thermos and keep filling it up!

Enjoy clean foods straight from the Creator Himself. Thanks for the snacks God!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Healthy Toe Nails

Hey, I have some personal good news to share! I didn't expect good results this fast, but my formerly ailing big toenails, which were literally decaying over the last 4 years from a persistent fungus, are now clearly healthy and about 75% grown-out. I am extremely excited about this progress. I wasn't so sure it would happen, and I certainly didn't expect it to happen this fast. I really didn't want to take the disgusting "before pictures" of my toe nails a couple months ago, but I felt like I should do it just in case I'd actually have an "after picture" to compare it to... and I do! Wow. Now, we'll see if it lasts. That's what I'm really interested in. Long-term health.

If anyone wants to hear about my total regiment with nail care and eating, I'd be happy to share it. It involves purchasing a couple little tools for scraping and exposing the infected nail bed in order to treat it with "Living Clay" each night. I also used peroxide for keeping the nail beds clean after scrapings about every 3 days. While wet from peroxide, I always went barefoot until the nail beds were dry. And I tried to "starve the fungus" by the anti-fungal diet suggested at By the way, this diet is also good for many many other health problems having to do with digestive issues, skin problems, mental health, yeast infections, etc... I think everyone loses weight on this diet, so just be aware of that. It's normal to lose weight when you eliminate starches and sugars.

For those of you who are familiar with the anti-fungal diet, I'm now on "Phase 2" which welcomes the addition of foods like beans and brown rice... yeah! I was really craving those wonderful foods. Still, no sugar, no milk, no mushrooms, no yeast, and no wheat, no corn, etc... No problem. I feel good. Whenever I go "off" phase 2 (maybe in a month) I will probably still eat sort-of like phase 2 because I just feel good on it... especially my stomach and digestion.

Yeah! Thank you God for healthy toe nails!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why hard-boiled eggs don't peel

I buy eggs from two different farms in Lancaster. Both farm's eggs are layed by free-range, pasture-fed chickens. Both have deep golden-orange yolks. Both are delicious, very fresh, brown eggs... but they are totally different in their peel-ability after hard boiling them. One is smooth and easy to peel. The other is impossible to peel and every tiny piece of shell wants to stick to the egg forever and ever. Feel the frustration. And so I say "Hmmm..." That's when I realize one difference... one farmer washes his eggs; the other farmer does not. My curiosity starts flying around the internet studying food science and the anatomy of an egg. Aha! I just read that "the outer eggshell is made almost entirely of calcium carbonate and is covered with as many as 17,000 tiny pores. It is a semipermeable membrane which allows air and moisture to pass through. The shell also has a thin outermost coating called the bloom or cuticle that keeps bacteria out. Once the egg is washed, the bloom has been removed. Once the bloom is removed, the egg is susceptible to air transference and this will speed up the aging process. It is this aging process that actually helps the egg to separate from the shell due to a change in the pH as well as transference of air into the egg shell. The conclusion: the unwashed eggs will last longer but the washed eggs are the only way to go for hard-boiling. Here's where I buy my washed eggs:

Leola: Meadowview Dairy Store, 172 S. Farmersville Rd., Leola, PA 17540. (717) 656-2261 or (717) 821-6748. Fresh raw milk for $3 a gallon from a small herd of Jersey cows. Variety of aged raw milk cheese available, retail and wholesale. They also have brown eggs from pastured hens, yogurt, raw honey and, and more. Stop by the farm.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Anti-oxidant Spices

Hi friends. I gotta say that I'm loving this unseasonably warm weather in PA. Love it! We enjoyed some cinnamon apple walnut pie outside tonight while sitting in lawn chairs watching the clouds go by. Very simple unsweetened recipe below. The aromatic spices bring out the natural sweetness and curb the tartness of the green apples. Really flavorful!

Besides being flavorful, I sometimes forget that there are potent antioxidant benefits in these spices. I just use them because they taste so good. The website I linked to (click on the title of this post) gives you a big list and description of highly beneficial spices like cloves, cinnamon, oregano, tumeric, etc... Have fun with them!

Unsweetened Apple Pie Filling
5 thinly slices granny smith apples (your choice: peeled or unpeeled)
1/2 c. walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Toss them all together. Set aside. Press half of the pie crust dough into pie pan to make the bottom. Pour filling into crust. Shape the other half of the dough over the top of the filling in thin pieces or strips (any random shapes are fine as long as the thickness of the pieces are even). Place foil over edges, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 min. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 min. 'til top is golden.

Pie Crust
2 c. flour (use fresh whole grain flour or buckwheat flour)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2/3 c. lard
4-5 TBSP. cold water (just enough to get a workable ball of dough that's not sticky)

Combine flour and salt. Add lard and work it into the flour and salt by hand until it's all combined and crumby. Then add just enough cold water to get a firm non-sticky dough. Work it in by hand pushing and kneading until well combined. I like to let my dough ball sit in the frig. overnight for maximum nutrient benefit so that it "soaks" and neutralizes the phytic acid of the whole grains. You can try a rolling pin to flatten, but I found that just pushing it into the pan and shaping it by hand worked best for me. Follow directions above to bake.

Further notes on antioxidants:
( Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer etc are all contributed by oxidative damage. Indeed, a recent study conducted by researchers from London found that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


There was a time in my life, specifically the years 2001-2006, when I was exhausted most of the time. Ah, my child-bearing years... so full of new life for the new people on the planet and so amazingly exhausting for me. I have to admit that going into those years, I actually believed that I would not be one of those slow-motion confused young mothers who seemed to age exponentially upon the first month of midnight feedings. I had stayed up late plenty of nights cramming for exams or working night shifts before having kids. I was so glad that since I was a "night person," this would actually make it kinda fun to be awake with my baby at night. I was fairly confident... over-confident... blissfully ignorant... and my delusions of grandeur would soon have a day of reckoning with reality. My first daughter Faith was a frequent feeder day and night (despite my "Baby Wise" plan) and so began the "infant haze" of which my sister-in-law forewarned me. She was right. I nursed Faith for a little more than 1 year. Just as my body was starting to feel like my own again, Steve and I welcomed pregnancy #2 and had Lucas just before Faith's 2-year birthday. I nursed him for a year. He slept longer stints than Faith, but was still awake once or twice a night for months and months and so was Faith for that matter (potty training day and night). Just when I felt like I was getting my body back again, we welcomed pregnancy #3 and Anika was born 3 months before Lucas's 2-year birthday. Each birthing experience was the highlights of our lives. Now, getting on with life, there's only so much messy potty training and diaper changing a person can handle in a day. But this is about the time that Steve wanted to get two kitten for the kids to enjoy. Ok... I'll stop here. I'm saying all this because for one, I'm not exhausted anymore (praise God on high), and for two, I just wanted to point out that people who are physically exhausted don't have to be intellectually and spiritually exhausted. This was a time when a lot of things started to "wake up" with in me. I didn't have a whole lot of spare energy, but I valued every bit I had. I kept my mind fresh by reading books. I started getting rid of junk food which drained the life out of me, ate whole foods, and even entered the unknown world of raw milk. Very good place. I didn't have energy to make any elaborate meals, but I'd make at least one meal a week that was new and entirely God-food. I slowly made changes as much as I could handle. Granted, my house was an absolute mess for all of those years (tidiness is still not my forte), but God is teaching me that even house cleaning can help to center me on the bigger picture. I like that. I need that. If you happen to be reading this and you're exhausted, be encouraged that there's still a vibrant person in there regardless of your energy level at the moment. Try starting your day with two glasses of pure water, take a 20 minute "deep breathing nap" at any point possible in your day (whether or not you fall asleep is less important than the deep breathing), and start moving forward on something you've always wanted to know more about by reading or listening to teaching on the topic. It's fun to awaken your mind and spirit even when you're body is sleeping. Dream life fuels progress.