Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating

Thursday, March 31, 2016
My darling hubby, Steve was diagnosed with diabetes 6 years ago.  It's hard to believe it has been 6 years! It was a shock to us, but when we really started thinking about our diet, it was easy to see why.  Steve had this habit of eating one meal a day, and that meal would be huge to make up for not eating the rest of the day.  This reeked havoc on his blood sugar without him ever knowing.

Once the diagnosis was made, and we attended nutrition classes, we really got on the ball and stuck to a diet that not only helped him lose weight, but also lower his blood sugar.  It took a couple of years for this to happen, but it did happen.

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
The beginning of a beautiful bone broth.  Nature's elixir of youth.

I was bound and determined to be as supportive as I could so I decided to follow his diet as well, only tailor it to female proportions.  In doing so, I lost 45 pounds over a year's time.  I was able to keep the weight off, until the past year and a half.

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
Beautiful purple potatoes, high in antioxidants, they can help lower blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.

It is so easy to ease back into bad habits.  Life can get pretty hectic, and during the winter, when we don't have the fresh veggies coming out of our garden to eat, we end up taking advantage of fast foods and convenience foods.  But once we start eating those, the pounds pack back on.  And Steve's blood sugar starts creeping up (he had lowered it with diet and exercise), and his cholesterol started to rise.

Here's the kicker.  It isn't just our health that is of concern, but it is our children as well.  We can tell our kids all we want not to drink soda or eat junk food, but if they see mom and dad throwing back a can of soda and a bag of chips, then what does that tell them?

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
I love this quote.  It says so much about our society.

So in order to get us back on track and teach our kids good nutrition, we have started eating healthier. I won't say we are on a diet. In fact I absolutely hate that word and how people have used it in a negative way. Really there is nothing wrong with the word. The actual definition from Merriam Webster is "food and drink regularly provided and consumed" and the next one is "habitual nourishment." I kind of like that last one. It is not until the fourth definition provided that it talks about diet being a way to lose weight.

I have already shared a couple of recipes with you that would fall into the almost healthy range.  I say almost healthy because they could do with a little tweaking to make them even better. One of them is Lentil Sloppy Joes. We made these again last night, but I used red split lentils instead of the green lentils.

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
Isn't the color gorgeous! They are a great source of fiber and protein and are also packed with B vitamins and iron.

I also cut way down on the amount of sugar. Instead of the 1/2 of cup that the recipe calls for, I used 1/4 of a cup.  The rest of the recipe stays the same, but this time, I added some fresh mushrooms and diced tomatoes to the sauce.  It was yummy!  In fact Carly loved it so much that she took the leftovers to school with her for her lunch.  Now I call that a win!

We are trying to eat foods with an abundance of color (like the purple potatoes pictured above).  We also have cut down on our snacks, unless they are healthy (like yellow, orange, white, and purple carrots!) and we have cut down on our portions.

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
One of my favorite breakfasts, plain organic yogurt with frozen fruit and pumpkin flax granola.

The other thing that we are changing is purchasing organic. Not only is it healthier for you, but the food really does taste better. Think you can't afford organic? Then you need to revisit the stores. The organic versions are only a few dimes higher than the non-organic. Some of them are even the same or less if they are on sale!  Another way to get inexpensive organic veggies is to grow them yourself. You don't need a big plot of land, you can plant seeds in flower pots. Don't want to grow them yourself? Another great place to get organic produce is at your local farmer's market.

Our Journey Towards Healthier Eating  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
My organic and non-GMO groceries from Aldi!

So from here on, you will be seeing healthier recipes from me.  And with the garden season starting, it will (hopefully) be with veggies that we grow ourselves.  I hope that you will stick with me through this and that you will make baby steps as we are in striving to eat healthy!




It's Spring Time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
I absolutely love spring!  Flowers are blooming, gardens get planted and that means fresh veggies and canning season right around the corner.

I can't wait until the produce I have on my window ledge actually comes from my garden!
We are getting our garden beds ready to plant.  I am glad that I have held off because we have had some hard freezes still yet in our area.  However I believe that we are ready to go ahead and plant some veggies.

In the past we have always tilled a big 40 foot by 60 foot plot and planted, but we had so much rain last year, that nothing grew, except a pond of course! ;-)  That is when we decided to make raised garden beds (you can read about how we made them HERE).  This year there isn't much to do to get them ready except add a little soil.  And the exciting thing is that while we did have to buy some soil this year, next year we won't have to.  We should have enough compost to add to our garden beds, and after all that is what we are striving to do, to become self-sufficient.

So I thought I would share some pictures with you about how we are getting ready on the farm for our garden.  The pictures below only show one of our garden beds.  We currently have three and will be adding more this summer.

Adding the soil
I can't stress how important it is to let your kids help with the gardening.  We have to teach our younger generation where food comes from, good nutrition from fresh veggies, and how they can feed themselves as they get older.  I am so glad to see that gardening and canning are making a comeback, because it is an art that should never be lost!

But Mom, we have to spread the dirt around with our hands!
I can't blame them, I love getting my hands and bare feet in fresh soil.  There is nothing that feels better.  The soil we bought did end up with a lot of clumps, so getting them out was a job that my kids loved!

Why, yes! That is a poodle skirt she is wearing to garden. :-)
Here they are leveling out the soil.  Next come the seeds.  My dear friend Amy gave me some wonderful seeds that she had and wasn't going to use.  It was like Christmas and my birthday all wrapped up into one looking through those seed packets.  I was trying to figure out which ones to plant, there were just so many to choose from!

Some of the seeds I will plant.
I have not had good luck with carrots in the past, but each year I keep trying and I am bound and determined to grow some, someday.  I really think our soil is just too rocky, but hopefully with the raised beds, that will help the situation.

I also thought I would share a couple of pictures that to me mean springtime.

Our forsythia bush
Growing up we always had forsythias.  I love their yellow flowers in the spring and lush green leaves in the summer.  They are almost always the first thing to bloom letting us know that spring is almost here.  I planted this little guy from a small start about 4 years ago.  It is slow growing, but it is growing and each year, I get more and more blooms.  I just love it!

Dogwood bloom
This is one of those pictures that I didn't think was going to turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dogwoods are another one that signifies the start of spring to me.  I have tried to grow dogwood trees in my yard, but they don't make it.  They need cover, which is why they grow in wooded areas so well. They love the cover of the taller trees.  I hope someday to have a pink dogwood tree near my house that I can enjoy.

So how are your plants blooming?  Do you have a favorite spring flower or tree?  Let me know in the comments below!


Saying Goodbye to My Little Boy

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Today is my son's birthday.

Clowning around with his sister.

I know this should bring happy thoughts and excitement, parties and celebrations, but this year I can't help but being a little sad.

I have always heard about people having a midlife crisis. They hit a certain age and become depressed with the knowledge that they are getting older. I think I might be having one of those. My thoughts race back to past times and my younger years. Times that were happy, and some that were sad. Times that I would never want to repeat, and yet there are some memories that I would like to experience again.
Date night with my little man.
But all of this has nothing to do with my age, not really. Even though I am in my 40s, I haven't hit an age that depresses me.

No, my midlife crisis has nothing to do with how old I'm getting, but how old my kids are getting.
It could be that the problem is made worse with all the babies that seem to be arriving. In fact we will have a new baby in our family in May (my great-nephew). Going against what I said in an earlier post, I am now looking at Drew and longing for the days when I could hold him and cuddle with him.

At our town's 2015 Christmas Parade.
This birthday is especially hard because we are having to say goodbye. Drew is now 10 so we are saying goodbye to the single digits. And while it is not unanimous on when the tween years officially begin, the consensus seems to be at age 10, which means we are also saying goodbye to childhood.

So this year we are celebrating Drew's birthday by going away. We were invited to stay with some friends at their land (in the Ozarks, people don't have vacation homes, they have "land") there will be no big "friend" birthday party, (well maybe later, it is his 10th afterall) just a basketball cake, good friends, and we will quietly say goodbye to childhood and hello to the tween years.

My Mona Drew
But somewhere deep inside, my little boy is still there.  The little boy who still calls me mama. The little boy that still let's me hug him and give him kisses. The little boy that still snuggles up to me on the couch while I'm reading aloud. But while that little boy is still there in certain ways,  it is getting harder with each passing year to still see the little boy in him. He is almost as big as I am.  And will soon be bigger.

So goodbye single digits, goodbye childhood, goodbye little boy. I know you are growing into a wonderful young man.

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Last year, about this time, I received a phone call from a friend wanting to know if we wanted some ducklings.  Without even thinking I blurted out, yes! Then realized it would probably be better if I asked my husband, Steve first before I commit us to this new endeavor.

Steve and I had already discussed adding ducks to our growing farm.  It was something that we wanted to do, but we needed to build a floating duck house (Be sure and watch our video on building a floating duck house), and find a good place for them to grow before going to our pond. 

Steve reminded me of all this, and I reminded him that we got chickens before we had a chicken coop.  We tend to do things like that.  We always put our cart before the horse.  If we waited until we were ready, nothing would happen!

So Steve agreed, with reservations of course, and I excitedly once again told my friend, yes!  She didn’t know how many there would be.  Anywhere from 2-7, but she would let us know when they were ready. So excitedly we went about the rest of the evening planning and dreaming, anxious to get started on our new adventure. 

Then time past, and we didn’t get any ducks.  And so we waited.  Still no ducks.  And we waited some more. And still no ducks.  We actually thought that we weren’t going to get them.  We kept asking and wondering.  The kids kept asking and wanting to know when the ducks were coming.  We even went to pick them up one night from my friend’s house, but they hadn’t been delivered.  Things were looking pretty grim about actually getting any ducks and Steve and I had pretty much decided that it was probably for the best.  Then at what I thought was the worst possible time (one week after I had major surgery), we got our ducklings. 

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com


They were absolutely adorable!  We ended up getting 4 ducks and we immediately fell in love.  I realized that the timing was perfect.  With me unable to do anything but look at them (and even then it was only for a few seconds) the kids HAD to pitch in and do their share to take care of the ducks.  Of course Steve had a big hand in the ducks’ welfare and I am so grateful!  When Steve had to go back to work, but I still wasn’t able to take care of myself, let alone anything else, my parents would come over and my dad took care of those little ducklings.  I think he enjoyed it!  Or at least if he didn’t, he sure didn’t complain. 

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com


After having them for almost a year, there have been a few things that we have learned.

1. Ducks are extremely messy and smelly!
I really had no idea how messy they are until we got them.  They love to splash in the water!  And not just puddles or ponds.  They like to splash in their drinking water.  They also mix the water and food together and then it gets everywhere.  If you have to keep them inside (we did until it warmed up and they were older), then I must warn you about the smell.  We had to clean out their little home twice a day.  It was almost impossible to keep it clean!  We don’t have a garage, so inside the house was where they stayed.  If you have a garage, that would be much better!

2. Ducks are surprisingly resilient.
We almost killed one of our ducks unknowingly.  We thought it would be a great idea to fill up a little tub and let them swim.  What we didn’t think about was that they water, straight from our well was icy cold.  One little duck, the runt of the bunch, got too cold and almost died.  It because lifeless and I grabbed a towel and wrapped it up and gently rubbed it.  It started to revive, but I knew it needed more warmth.  So I heated up one of our rice bags and put the bag under the towel that I had the duck wrapped in.  It survived, thank goodness!

Then another duck got trampled by the others while they were outside.  It was unintentional, but we thought this little duck was a goner for sure.  We separated it and took special care of it.  It took a couple of days, but was soon well again and able to function.

3. Ducks make great watch dogs.
I remember when we got our guineas my mom warned me that they would be loud.  Well, it wasn’t the guineas that were loud, but the ducks!  Not all the time mind you, just when something was going on that shouldn’t be.  Their quacks were definitely loud enough for us to hear inside the house, and we always knew that when we heard them, we needed to check on them.  They are great watch dogs!

4. Ducks love to eat dog food!
We do not intentionally feed our ducks dog food.  Our ducks, chickens and guineas roam free in our yard.  So if the dogs have not eaten all their food from the night before (we have to feed them at night when the animals are all put up so they actually get to eat!) then the ducks go straight to the food and finish it off for them!  Our poor dogs, they don’t quite know what to do.  They know better than to hurt the ducks, they have been trained.  So they just lay there and watch them eat.

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Poor Lynn and Abby, the ducks eat all their food. 

5. Duck eggs are delicious!
Duck eggs are a bonus!  They are extremely delicious, very rich and creamy, are great in baking.  They have 9 grams of protein compared to 6 grams that a chicken egg has.  They are also higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, and people who are allergic to chicken eggs, generally are able to tolerate duck eggs.  Also depending on the breed of duck you have, they can lay year-round.  Our ducks laid this past winter while our chickens did not.  This allowed us to continue having eggs without having to buy any!

6. Ducks live well with chickens and guineas.
We decided to put our ducks in with our chickens and guineas.  We did have to ease into this.  We first put them into the run with the chickens, but not in the coop at night with them.  The ducks had their own little home at night which was fine for the summer months, but we knew during the winter that we had to get them into the coop.  Allowing them to ease into it, made all the difference.  It did take a couple of months, but they are now living happily together

7. Ducks will always come home at night.
When we first started taking the ducks to the pond, we thought we would have to go and get them to bring them back to the coop to keep them safe.  We were shocked when on the first night as we walked out the back door to heard them back to safety, they already beat us to it.  They had spent the day on the pond, enjoying the water and all the luscious berries, and grasses and bugs to eat.  But as the sun started to go down, they made their way back to their home for the night.  Every night since then, no matter where they might be in the yard, or even the field, when the sun starts to go down, they come home. 

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Coming home.


We lost one of our ducks.  I’m not sure what happened to it, although we can all guess that it probably ended up as a scrumptious dinner for either a coyote or fox (we have both).  We had lost chickens and guineas before like that, but it never bothered me knowing that is part of farm life.  It bothered me losing a duck.  I think of them more as pets than as a farm animals. 

7 Things I Have Learned About Having Ducks  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Playing in the pond.

This spring we have a chance to get more ducks and we have jumped at the chance!  We love our ducks and are looking forward to getting more to add to our family. 

Are you wondering about adding ducks to your farm?  I would definitely say it is worth it.  They are wonderful animals and even though they are a little work, they make our farm and our family a happier place.

Let me know in the comments below how you feel about ducks.


Happy National Pancake Day! (A Great Gluten-Free Recipe)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Happy National Pancake Day!  In our family we love pancakes!  Drew especially loves pancakes and asks for them every weekend for breakfast.  We don't always get to eat them every weekend, but we do try and have them a couple of times a month.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com

When we can't have them for breakfast, we have no problem making them for dinner.  They are an easy and quick meal to make and we try and balance out their cake-y goodness by adding in a protein and healthy fruit.  For dinner, we try and make them more savory and still enjoy veggies on the side!

I have a little secret to share.  When it comes to making plain old honest-to-goodness pancakes, Steve is the winner.  Every time!  His pancakes are truly the best and I have yet to be able to duplicate their fluffy, golden goodness.  However, when it comes to flavored pancakes, I'm the winner!  

I thought I would share with you a recipe for pancakes that is a little different.  This is a gluten-free recipe.  Most gluten-free pancake recipes use coconut flour, rice flour, or almond meal, but mine use something different...garbanzo bean flour!

Yep, you read that right, garbanzo bean flour.  It is one of the best flours I have used.  You can substitute 7/8 of garbanzo bean flour for every 1 cup of wheat flour with the same results.  That is almost a 1:1 ratio!  That makes it very easy when it comes to subbing it for recipes.  You can also use garbanzo bean flour in conjunction with other flours to make a gluten-free flour mixture.

This flour works very well in cake and quick bread recipes.  The first time I had this type of flour was when my friend Amy made a chocolate brownie, marshmallow, to die-for dessert!  In fact she is the one that turned me on to this type of flour.  

Never heard of this type of flour before?  Ever heard of gram flour?  It's the same thing! It is also known as chickpea flour. This type of flour is high in protein and fiber. And even though it has double (don't worry it still isn't that much) fat as whole wheat flour, 70% of the fat you find in this flour is from healthy unsaturated fats.  Those are the kind that you want to help lower your cholesterol.  It also is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and copper. 

You can also use this type of flour to help thicken sauces and gravies.  That is great when you are adhering to a gluten free diet. Ready for the recipe?  Well here it is!

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Another recipe with mainly pantry staples for ingredients.  If you want to use regular flour feel free!

The ingredients you need are:

  • 2 cups of garbanzo bean flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
First mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. I like to use my measuring cup to mix the wet ingredients together as you can see below.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Wet and dry ingredients
Next add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  You really don't want to over mix this just as you would a normal pancake recipe.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Ingredients all incorporated
Place the batter on a hot griddle.  You can use whatever you like to grease the griddle, butter, coconut oil, olive oil. I use whatever I have on hand.  I also use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out my batter so that the pancakes are roughly the same size.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Ready to flip!
Cook them until they have bubbles and the outer edges are starting to dry out, like the picture above. Then flip to the other side.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
A beautiful golden brown!
Cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute and then remove.  These pancakes cook up so nice and have a gorgeous golden brown color.

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
My mouth is watering!
The only thing that I would add to this recipe is a little cinnamon.  I did not add that to my recipe because I know not everyone likes cinnamon.  I did sprinkle some on top after the fact and it was ah-ma-zing!

Gluten Free Pancakes   www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Ready for a bite!
These pancakes are so easy to make and so delicious!  They would also be scrumptious with chocolate chips or blueberries added.  My kids loved them and I didn't mention the fact that they were gluten free, OR that they were made from beans!

Want a clean copy of the recipe to print out?  Click HERE.

Need a great and economical syrup recipe for your pancakes?  Then visit my post on how to make your own pancake syrup.  It is yummy and not too sweet!

Don't have time to make pancakes?  Then you are in luck!  Today IHOP is giving away one free short stack of Buttermilk Pancakes per customer.  You can find out more information here.

Have you used garbanzo bean flour before?  Let me know in the comments below!  I would love to hear your stories!!

Throw Back Thursday Recipe: Quick Egg Custard

Thursday, March 3, 2016
Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com

Growing up, we had dessert almost every night.  It could be something as extravagant as a rich chocolate cake, or something as simple as fruit.  One of the easy desserts that my mom would make would be a quick egg custard.  It was a dessert that my dad loved so she tried to make it for him whenever she could.

When I was little I really didn't care for egg custard.  I think it was more about the texture than the taste.  But as I got older, I grew to love it.

When I was 20 years old, I had my tonsils out.  I remember people saying how I would be able to eat all the ice cream I wanted. After the surgery, I was in more pain than I had ever been in up until that time.  I was looking forward to eating ice cream, but the first time I took a bite, the cold hurt my throat to the point I couldn't eat it at all!  What I realized was that both cold and hot food hurt my throat.  Also I couldn't swallow.  I had to find something that would slide easily down my throat.

I went a couple of days without eating because of the pain, and my mom knew she needed to do something to get some nourishment in me.  She decided to make an egg custard.  Once it had cooled to room temperature, I was able to eat it.  It had protein I needed as well as some nutrients and the best part was that I was able to let it just slide down.

To this day, I love egg custard and enjoy eating it as a special treat.  However I will never forget the time that it was the only thing that I could eat.

So let me share my mom's recipe with  you so that you too can enjoy this special dessert.

Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
Love it when the ingredients are made up of pantry staples!


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of milk 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • nutmeg
As you can see, there aren't a lot of ingredients needed for the recipe.  And I always have these items on hand in my pantry!  I love recipes that have simple ingredients and nothing fancy!

First you need to preheat the oven to 475°F.  This is important to have a preheated oven!

Next you will need to scald the milk over medium heat.  Scalding is heating the milk till it is almost to the point of boiling.  Just make sure that you don't let it boil!

Scalded milk for Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
I used to think that scalded milk meant it was burnt!
While you are heating the milk, beat the eggs and add in the pinch of salt.

Once the milk is scalded, add a little of the milk to the eggs in order to temper them.  Tempering allows the temperature of the eggs to rise to meet the temperature of the milk.  If you didn't do this, then you would end up with scrambled eggs!

Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
My trusty mixing bowl.  It is almost 20 years old!
When you have tempered the eggs, mix together all ingredients.  Pour into an oven safe dish and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
All ready for the oven!
Bake at 475°F for 5 minutes.  Turn temperature down to 425°F and bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn temperature back up to 475°F and bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn temperature down to 425°F and bake for the last 10 minutes.

Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
I love the golden color of the custard!
Remove from oven and let cool.  Then enjoy.

Quick Egg Custard  www.HensleeFarmAdventures.com
All I need is a spoon!
This dessert really does bring back memories for me.  Good memories.  Not only did my mom make this recipe, but my grandmother as well.  In fact when I was making the recipe for this post, just the smell of it brought memories of my childhood back to me.  I was almost transported back to my mom's kitchen as a young girl.  I love it when food can do that!

I hope that you try this out and please let me know in the comments what you think.


Want the printed version of the recipe?  Then click HERE.

A Secret and a Shameless Plug

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
I am still in the process of getting back on track with my blogging.  I'm still having some pain from the surgery, and I'm still not quite back to my normal routine.  Although if you follow me on Instagram, then you know I was well enough to bake an apple pie the other night. :-)

I actually had a post ready to go, but was not happy with the pictures and I'm not able to show you the true finished project.  So that post is going on hold, and instead I am going to let you in on a little secret which leads to a shameless plug.

My husband is an amazing writer.  He can write some of the most amazing poetry and prose I have read.  When we were dating he would write me beautiful love letters, while my love letters compared to his would be "right back atcha" or "ditto."  I could never express myself the way he could.  I have always been amazed by him and his talent.

A Secret and a Shameless Plug  www.hensleefarmadventures.com
My amazing husband!

While we were dating, I took his poetry and made it into a sort of book.  I printed out his poetry on pretty paper and tied it all together with ribbon to create a special book that I know meant a lot to him.

Fast forward a decade and I'm excited to share that now his book of poetry is available to purchase online as an ebook.  This is definitely a side of Steve that most people do not know about.  Nor have they had the chance to see.

You can find his book here.

I hope you will check it out.  It is some beautiful poetry, and again, this wife is beaming with pride.

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