Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

I enjoy this recipe because it’s simple, delicious, and healthy.  It comes out tender and juicy every time.  The following is my version of this recipe; original recipe was found in a crock pot cookbook I use to have.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

3-4 pound fryer or roasting chicken or 4 chicken breasts (or can do more, can do this with frozen chicken breasts or a frozen hen)

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the hen or breasts

Juice of 2-4 lemons (or limes or a combination of lemon and lime) depending on size and how much juice can get out of them, just enough to have a light layer in the bottom, pour over hen or breasts and let it flow to the bottom of the crock pot

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tbsp fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)

¼ tsp paprika

1 pod of garlic (optional), make sure to peel the skin off each clove. Lay around in the bottom or can put ½ of them in the bottom of crock pot and the other half under the skin of the hen or inside the hen.

Rinse chicken well and pat dry; remove any excess fat. Put in remaining ingredients as stated above. Put the salt, pepper, parsley, paprika, and any other spices or herbs over chicken; it’s OK if some gets in the bottom of the crock pot. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Optional: cut a lemon into slices and put under the skin or in the cavity of the hen.

Lara’s Notes: Once you have cooked this once, you’ll find you can add herbs and spices to taste and different ones to your liking in order to have different variations of this. Sometimes when I have time, I will add spices and herbs half way through the cooking process when cooked on low. I normally rinse chicken, but don’t pat dry or take off excess fat. I usually add spices and herbs until I see enough on the chicken in order to be able to distinguish each herb and spice. I use good quality, organic, free range chicken.

When I do this recipe with a hen, I flip the bird over a few times in the crock pot to make sure it is well coated with the oil and lemon juice.

I have also made this recipe using chicken breasts in a big Pyrex dish (at least a  9.5 X 13.5 X 2 in 3 QT) and cook on 450 degrees for 45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.

Comfort in grief

When a dear long-time family friend passes away (or when anyone you know passes away), it forever changes you. It makes you think & question your own life, your own choices. Like many a life that has gone on before him, his life becomes etched onto our hearts. Taking a piece of our heart, & taking some of our love with him. Find comfort in the joy of knowing him. It doesn’t mean we should forget him much less love any less, but rest in the beauty he gave to our life.

May his spirit unfold a beckoning light which shines brighter with the multitude of angels surrounding us that help lead us through the dark valleys. Choirs of angels sing around us as we go about our day, so we may be strengthened after we fall. Let not the memories haunt, but be a comfort of peace. Let the joy envelop your soul. Let the love, enrich your life. May love and happiness anchor you to others. Rest in knowing they loved him too.

May he be a star that helps guide, a light brightening a path, a guardian angel to all those who loved him and his comforting presence always be near.

Don’t let someone’s death disrupt your life where it’s too hard to live your own life. Our lives are temporary on this earth. Let yourself grieve, but it is important to live and enjoy life no matter what happens. We need to celebrate the lives of those who go on before us, remembering them with such love and fond memories.

Beef & Salsa Burritos

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Pictured with a salad, on top of a scrambled egg and a little bit of cheese & jalapenos

I found this recipe many years ago in a magazine. I have thoroughly enjoyed making it over the years.  For those who don’t like spinach, you cannot taste it in this mixture because of all the seasoning in this recipe. Make it mild or spicy, and always taste mixture as you combine the ingredients in order to make it to your liking with seasoning and spiciness level.  It is wonderful as leftovers; I, at least, double the recipe for that reason.  Bon Appétit!

Beef & Salsa Burritos

25 minutes, makes 8 burritos

1 ¼ pounds ground beef
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained
1 ¼ cups prepared chunky salsa
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 medium flour tortillas, warmed

1) In large non-stick skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings.

2) Season beef with chili powder, cumin, salt, & black pepper. Stir in spinach & salsa; heat through. Remove from heat; stir in cheese.

3) Spoon ½ cup beef mixture in center of each tortilla.  Fold bottom edge up over filling; fold sides to center, overlapping edges.

Lara’s notes for additions and revisions: Can use a pound of meat instead of what it calls for and is good with substituting ground turkey for the ground beef.  If use ground turkey, will need to use more seasoning. Can use fresh spinach instead of frozen and can use more than what is stated.  Omit the cheese in mixture if you wish.

When use really good lean ground meat 97%, won’t need to drain off drippings. When using frozen spinach, no need to let thaw and drain if don’t want to as the juices from both will add to the flavor and there won’t be much as most of it will be cooked out.

Add 4 to 6 cloves garlic chopped fine or run through garlic press.  Add 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, and ½ tsp black pepper instead of original measurements per to the amount of 1 to 1 ¼  lbs meat.  For cheese, I use 4 oz Cheddar Cheese and 4 oz of some kind of white Mexican cheese. Sometimes, I don’t use the cheese or I will just put how much I want on top.  Use Herdez Salsa Casera Mild for the prepared chunky salsa or any kind of salsa that is like that one.  Opt for using corn tortillas instead of flour if you wish.  For a kick, use a hotter salsa or more spices, adding Cayenne is a good option. For a low carbohydrate meal, just eat the mixture without the tortilla. For a vegetarian style, leave out the meat and add more spinach or some other kind of vegetables or some other kind of greens. Makes good nachos or just eat with corn chips. Good with scrambled eggs or on top of a bed of lettuce (of your choosing).

Top it if you want with ingredients such as sour cream, guacamole, avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, onions, black olives, jalapenos, and/or cheese.

What I have learned about love, part 1

Love is an action. It shows in what you do and not in what you say.  Saying I love you is nice & beautiful, but it’s not the same as doing something that demonstrates love. For love to be truly felt, words need to be followed by action.

Love is a feeling, but there is much more to it. Love is innately in us because God made each of us to be on this earth, and we would not be on this earth if it were not for him. We are all images and mirrors of him and his love, and we are to share that love with others especially the one who is our significant other.

This is part 1 because there is so much more to share on this subject.  I share this about my own life; I have been married and divorced, so I have seen what love is and what it is not. My dad was a preacher, so I grew up in a good Christian family who knew and knows how love should be shown.  Here is what I have learned over the years about true, real love:

* Love is what it states in the Bible in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. If you don’t understand the context of this, then please go to someone who can break it down and explain it to you.

* It is taking the garbage out, helping with the laundry, or doing any other chore around the house without being asked. When asked, don’t procrastinate if you can help it. Do the chore as soon as you can. Make sure you do it with a willing spirit and a positive mindset.

* Love is wanting to share in the chores around the home unless you have the money to have hired help for inside (or outside) the home. Two are better than one in getting anything done as it makes it easier. You get things done more quickly and efficiently and you can have fun in sharing in doing them together.

* How you treat each other speaks volumes. If you tease all the time and the other one has asked you to stop, then stop it. If there’s anything abusive or negative in how the other person treats you, then it’s not love. It’s crucial you treat each other with respect, consideration, patience, and understanding.

* Learn not just to listen, but to hear what the other is saying so you can give good feedback, and do it in a way, so the other knows you understood what was asked or said. Put whatever you are doing to the side and focus on what is being asked or said to you. If you don’t have a response at least acknowledge what was said.

* Love is not manipulative, is not doing things begrudgingly, or being demanding in any way. It is not anything negative, and it is everything good and positive. It is being kind and caring in everything you say or do because love draws that out in us.

* Love is not just about having sexual relations with your significant other. It’s about having a deep relationship and connection where you both communicate well with each other and can be open and honest with one another. The communication lines always need to be open. When you start cutting those lines, your relationship suffers and you both suffer from the consequences of it.

* It is always about wanting to grow and mature in ways where it improves you as individuals, together as a couple, and change your life for the better all the time. It is wanting to build and strengthen that love every day and not when you want to do it.

*There is a famous quote from the book and movie, Love Story by Erich Segal and it is this: “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Love is about saying “you are sorry” when it’s needed and meaning it when it is said, but it is about always admitting when you are wrong. Saying “you are sorry” doesn’t always help matters, but it can sooth us to a point where it can bring peace.

* Love is not intentionally hurtful; it’s not wanting to cause pain in any way. No matter what we do or say, we may on occasion hurt each other with words (or by doing or saying something) because we are all different; we are all different in many ways. It’s important to bring peace and harmony to the relationship.

* It is about saying pleasantries such as “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome” and meaning it when those words are said.

* Love is knowing when to say or do something and when not to because our words and our tone can be misconstrued by others.

* It is about not having to explain yourself constantly because love is all about completely trusting that person. It is about not having to remind the other of something more than three times. If you find yourself reminding the other more than that, then you come off as you are begging and nagging.

* Love sets you free and allows you to become who you are meant to be because true love will encourage you in all things and assists in making you be complete when you are with the right person.

* Love is trusting, understanding, respecting, encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring one another all the time no matter what happens in life because you know life is sweeter just by having that person in your life.

The Power of Food

What you eat does affect your skin. It can affect your whole body. We reach for the lotion or pills or something else to remedy the situation. I can tell you from personal experience that what we eat affects our health, and we need to look at the correlation between what we eat and how it affects us.

Certain foods give me headaches and some spike into migraines. Raw onions and coconut give me headaches, so I can’t consume them. I can eat onions when they are cooked or marinated in something. Just smelling coconut gives me a headache and it doesn’t matter if it’s in beauty products or if it’s in food, I avoid it like the plague.  Coconut is in many different things other than beauty products (it’s even in green beauty products) and food; it is also in cleaning products. I have had to research and learn all the names & derivatives just to make sure I’m not using anything with coconut. That is just to give you an example as there are other foods I can’t eat or use.

I have eczema on my hand and have had it for many years. It flares up in the winter. It use to be on my arms really bad too, there’s just a little patch of it now. When I went gluten free 4 years ago (due to a wheat allergy) and started healing my gut, I have seen the eczema improving and going away. I was born with intestinal Candidasis, so healing my gut has been of utmost importance to my health.

I was having migraines at least 2 times a month and headaches were practically an every day occurrence. When I stopped eating gluten, my headaches and migraines were slashed 80%. I still get them, but headaches are not a daily occurrence anymore, & migraines occur once every 4 months if I’m lucky.

Your choices in what you eat matters, and that is why I shared this information about myself. It is one thing to want a quick fix to make the pain go away, but it does not resolve anything if you don’t know the root cause. Please don’t dismiss the idea that something you are consuming or using on your skin could be the culprit. Your health and the health of your family matters.

 

Don’t Judge Me — one of my poems

By: Lara
Written: October 2006

Don’t Judge Me
(Matthew 7:1-2)

I may be slim or fat
I may be a different race from you,
I may be from a different culture from you,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may be blind,
I may not be able to hear,
I may have lost a limb or a digit and that makes me handicapped,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may look different from you,
I may act different from you,
I may talk and think differently from you,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may vote a different political party from you,
I may be a different religion from you,
I may go to a different church from you,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may be straight, gay or bi-sexual,
I may live in a different kind of dwelling place from you,
I may be lower class, middle class or upper class,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may have more money than you or I may have less than you,
I may be employed in a different field from you,
I may drive a different vehicle from you,
But that doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I may be different from you in all kinds of ways,
But that doesn’t mean you have the right to “label” me.
It doesn’t mean you should stereotype or generalize me,
Those are all forms of judging me.
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge.

I just need you to love me
I need you to accept me as I am
Without trying to change me
Try walking a mile in my shoes
Please don’t judge me as you will be judged as you judge me.

 

Lara’s Note: I wrote this because we all judge in some way. We can say we don’t, but we do. The fact is we are all different in every possible way a person can be different from us. We need to celebrate our differences and make each other feel beautiful because of how unique we are from another. We should not be making others feel bad or awkward because they are different from us and don’t let others make you feel that way. We need to stand out and be ourselves. We need to love and accept others as is no matter what.

 

Be moved to action

The way we think about ourselves is powerful. When we are positive & feel and think we can do anything, it moves us to action. It moves us to do whatever is humanly possible. And it moves us to do what we even think we are not capable of doing.

If someone told me four years ago I was going to lose over a 100 pounds in two years, I would have rolled my eyes at them.  If someone told me I would gain the strength to leave out of my almost 14-year-old marriage, I would have said “Really?” But here I am four years later, and I have lost 100 plus pounds. I divorced and removed myself from a very unhealthy marriage. I have never felt more proud of myself because I lost the weight all naturally. I went gluten-free, started limiting my sugar intake, & walked as much as I could 5 to 6 days a week.

It meant changing how I saw myself, so that adjustment had to happen on the inside before I could work on the outside. For that to happen, it meant several things. I turned to God & meditation more than I ever have. It was about expanding my wings and allowing myself to soar into his grace, love, and guidance for my life. I removed toxic people & relationships out of my life. It did mean surrounding myself with supportive people who are honest, honorable, know when not to talk, and know when to back off. Having those kinds of people in life helps us lead our lives more beautifully & peacefully.  Relying more on my intuition and listening to that gnawing feeling in my gut has given me much peace of mind.  I regained a strong mental outlook that helped me to stand up to others, so I can defend myself when needed. Because believe me, if you have a controlling & manipulative person who has a strong hold on you, then you need to remove that person from your life. You will be a better & stronger person in believing you deserve better.

Please know that if you are struggling with weight, unhealthy relationships, or with your frame of mind, that you can do whatever you set your mind to do. You have the power to change, you just need to find your will and the motivation. Then you need to find your reasons for keeping up with it. For me, it was about gaining & regaining control. It was about finding strength and becoming a more resilient person. For me, it was about wanting to lose the weight for health issues I was having. It is about loving and respecting yourself.

Past, Present, Future — one of my poems

By: Lara
Written: 11/2014 & 12/2014

Past, Present, Future

Our past is what it is
It is not something we can change
If we *do not learn from history
Then we are doomed to repeat it*
So it is vital to learn from life experiences
But the past does not have to define us
Don’t look at the past with regrets
Rather look at it as stepping stones
That can help frame our future
And lead us to better places.

*Today is a gift that is why it is called the present*
Life does not mean we are just to merely exist
It is living each and every day to the fullest
And living each day as if it were our last
No matter what life brings us
What we do today helps build
What can be a better tomorrow
*Life is available only in the present moment*
So enjoy, breathe, and be happy as life is too short and precious
Because we are not guaranteed tomorrow as our life can be taken today.

The future is not something seen or touchable
It is not something we can easily understand
Even tomorrow is part of the future
The future is full of what is to come
It is a light at the end of the tunnel
That gets brighter and fuller with each step
Each step guides us to eternal bliss
To a final resting stop that leads us straight to the heart of our home
We create the future by our past actions and by what we do today
Let your dreams and hopes become your future.

I wrote this poem to encourage others in hopes that they will look back at their life and not see all the mistakes they made. Look back and see that what you did or happened is leading you to something better and learn from your mistakes and learn from past actions. Our lives are temporary on this earth and it is important to live life to the fullest extent that we can. Live your life, don’t just exist!

*Quotes by George Santayana (history repeat), Babatunde Olatunji (today gift present), & Thich Nhat Hahn (life available moment)

 

The Avocado Experience

thWhen picking an avocado, it is best to buy avocados when they are hard unless you want ripe ones. To know if an avocado is ripe, push only on the skin at the top of the avocado as handling the avocado can bruise it especially when so many others have touched them.  If you wait to use avocados when they are soft all over, then they are past its prime.

At the bottom of this post is a recipe for guacamole.  This is a very basic recipe for guacamole; it is the only way I make it, and the way many others in my family make it. Personally, I do not think adding onions and tomatoes or anything else, other than what is listed in the recipe below, adds to the delicious flavor of an avocado.  Once you combine onions and tomatoes in guacamole and leftovers of it go in the refrigerator, it changes the flavor & the consistency of the guacamole. I don’t know about you, but I want to taste the avocado and the ingredients that enhance that flavor. When you add onion and tomato, you taste those flavors more and they become a watery consistency that does not enhance the avocado. If you like tomatoes and onions in it, make sure that all of your ingredients are fresh and ripe and make sure there are no leftovers of the guacamole. If you do have leftovers of it, drain the liquid off. You will want to do that before and after taking it out of the refrigerator as the cooling agent from being in the refrigerator does make it become watery. Cooking or making anything with food should be to enhance the flavors of what you are making.

When entertaining and serving guacamole, you will want to use the below recipe.  Many people do not like onions, tomatoes, garlic, or cilantro in guacamole, but some people don’t like avocados. Some people are allergic to some of these ingredients and allergic to other food, so make sure of others’ food sensitivities & likes.  We all do not like the same foods, and it is important to be aware of others who have food sensitivities or allergies.

If you have leftovers of the below recipe:  In order for it not to turn brown, put it in a shallow bowl or a small jar and put saran wrap over it and press it down over the guacamole, making sure no air will get to it.  Get a big enough piece of saran wrap so it covers up and over the lip of the bowl. Press down gently to get the bubbles of the saran wrap out, yet cover the guacamole.  Another good tip to do is to add just a dab of hot sauce by the guacamole (when I say hot sauce I mean the cooked kind you buy in a store or the kind served to you when you go to a Mexican restaurant. I do not mean Pico de Gallo or Tabasco sauce.), on top of the guacamole or make a hole in the center of the guacamole and add the hot sauce there; this too helps the guacamole from turning brown.  Do not mix the hot sauce and the guacamole together before putting in the refrigerator; this will rapidly change the flavor & the consistency of the guacamole.  I suggest mixing it together before using the guacamole again or remove the hot sauce.  When there is not much guacamole left, I leave the hot sauce in it, add a dab of sour cream or plain yogurt, and mix it together in order to eat it.

Ways to keep avocados longer:  You can refrigerate an avocado when it is ready to eat and prolong its life by 5 to 7 days.  Also, cut an avocado in half and remove the seed. Wrap in saran wrap (a vacuum sealer is the best option if you have one) then place into a freezer safe container or bag.  You can freeze several at one time.  The avocados will keep for at least 3 months.  I have tried this, but have yet to find out how to stop the avocado from turning brown once you remove it from the freezer.  If I find a way to do that, I will be sure to update this post. If you are using half an avocado, then use the side of the avocado where the pit isn’t there.  Keep the pit in the other side, and put the empty skin on top of it (as if it is a whole avocado) and then wrap in Saran Wrap.

Two more tips: In order to get more juice out of a lime (or lemon), roll it around in your hands or on the counter putting a little pressure on the lime but not too hard, or zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds on high.  This action releases the juice.  You can use lemon instead of lime, but the sweetness of the lime enhances the avocado.

 

Guacamole

1 lime, squeezed, remove any seeds if it has any.

1 avocado cut in half and then in quarters; make sure to remove any brown, dark spots & the pit.  All you want is the green portion of the avocado.

1 garlic clove (1 medium size or 2 small cloves) minced or through a garlic press – this ingredient can be optional

Salt to taste

Smash garlic and add a little salt (about ¼ tsp) with a fork in a small bowl.  Add avocado and lime juice and smash together with other ingredients.   Do a taste test and see if it is to your liking.  If not, may need to add more salt or lime juice.

 

What is beauty?

This website is all about beauty, health, & wellness in a holistic and natural way from the inside out; it will be stated in different ways.

Let’s define beauty, shall we? What is Beauty? What is beauty to you?

The definition of beauty is a combination of qualities such as shape, color, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially sight.   It is a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect. Because of that, many different things have beauty.

Beauty is in all of us, but it is harder to find in some people. Beauty is innately in us just as being happy is; although, happiness is a choice. True beauty comes from within and it is everything good & positive that we do, say, & think. Our values, ethics, & morals are what ground us and help make us who we are; those traits can make you beautiful or ugly.

True beauty is not about what we look like from the color of our skin to what we weigh to the shape of our body. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder; whether that is true or not, we have to realize how different and unique we are from one another. We are made to feel awkward and some times embarrassed by that as we are growing up. Some times, even as adults we are faced by that. But we should be accepting and celebrating our differences and uniqueness of ourselves and of others.

Have you ever thought about how boring it would be if we are all alike in every conceivable way? Think about that for a moment. What if we all talked alike, looked like each other, or even liked all the same foods or activities or had the same job. I know a bit far fetched thinking, isn’t it. But do you see the point I’m making. Our differences make us unique. We should accept ourselves and others as is. It isn’t our job to judge much less make another feel bad because of how different they are from yourself much less another person. Stop comparing and judging. Just love and be accepting of the differences and the uniqueness of others from you. Life will be much easier if you just let go of any pain and hurt. Love and peace will & can heal.