Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Barley Recipe And Deciding If You Should Go Gluten-Free

My fascination with barley continues.  I have another recipe and this time it's a salad!  I tried it and like it very much.  If I were to choose my favorite recipe of the 3 I have shared so far, I would definitely choose this one.  It is the easiest, has less mess and tastes fantastic!
   I realize that barley is considered one of the gluten grains and if you are gluten sensitive at all, you may be thinking you want to try and avoid barley and all its glorious nutritional goodness. 

   First of all, I am one of those gluten sensitive people.  Yep, had myself tested and the Doc says I have some definite gluten sensitivity.  He couldn't really tell where on the spectrum I was.  From what I can tell, it's a sluggishness in my whole metabolism after eating white flour and wheat products. Gluten Sensitivity is quite a range, to say the least.  There is the full-blown Celiac Disease, where any kind of gluten can wreak havoc on your system, damaging tissue and organs, all the way to just the slightest irritation in the system when too much gluten is consumed.  Because of its immense nutritional value it becomes a question of whether or not the benefits of eating barley outweigh the risks.  For me, I say yes! 
   "Wheat is unquestionably a more common source of food reactions than any of the other "gluten grains," including barley. If you are implementing a wheat-free diet, you will want to experiment at some point with re-introduction of this food. You may be able to take advantage of its diverse nutritional benefits without experiencing an adverse reaction. Individuals with wheat-related conditions like celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathies should consult with their healthcare practitioner before experimenting with any of the "gluten grains,"  including barley." -whfoods.org
   Barley is such a good source of  dietary fiber and selenium.What does that mean for you?  It means, for one thing, that chances are good you can avoid colon cancer because the fiber going through your colon can sweep out the cancer-causing cells in the colon, plus selenium is shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer significantly!  That is huge for me because one of our best family friends died an early death because of colon cancer.  He was running marathons one day and dead a few months later.  He also had two older children who died even sooner than he did from colon cancer and brain cancer. I think I'll keep eating barley!
Here's the recipe!  I served it at a family get-together and it was gone in no time! Everyone loved it!



Corn and Barley Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup hulled barley
Approx, 3 cups chicken broth (I used 2 bouillon cubes in the water)
2 tbsp olive or avacado oil
15 oz. frozen corn
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. chopped chives or green onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

In a medium saucepan bring the barley and chicken broth to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until done, about 40 - 50 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat oil and saute both the frozen corn and onion along with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder until transparent, about 8 minutes.
Mix 1 1/2 cups of the barley with the corn mixture together in a medium salad bowl.  Toss in the tomatoes, the mint and the chives/green onion.  Serve warm or cold.  It is wonderful!

Adapted from Solid Gold Eats, a great food blog!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Born Frisbee Catcher! How Fidobiotics Can Help Your Dog Stay Calm!

   Our dog, Evee, was born to catch and track frisbees.  And how perfect that is for this disc golf loving family!  But she wasn't always the perfect fit.  We got Evee as a troubled 10-month-old.  Her owners were beside themselves with her antics and her wily ways.  She chased bikers, cars, 4-wheelers, cats, kids.  Aything that ran, she chased. Even though they were sad to part with her, they knew they couldn't manage her.  Having had a border collie before-may dear Daisy rest in peace-we were up for the challenge.  But we weren't quite ready for what we got!  When we had visitors, Evee would become extremely protective and even aggressive, to the point of making people afraid. If she didn't get her way, she tried to bully us by nipping, growling and snarling.   Conversely, she was afraid to jump into even the lowest of cars so had to be lifted in.  When she was actually in a car, she had extreme anxiety, huddling into a trembling ball of fur.  We had our hands full the first year we had her.  She was a wanna-be alpha female, even trying to be dominant to me.  I had to show her who was boss and it took a few tries!  Even now, my husband is the only one who she will completely obey. (He's the Frisbee God) And so even though she is a study in contradictions, we love her so much!  She has turned into the sweetest girl.  
   When we took her disc-golfing the first time, we were stunned.  She wanted to chase every frisbee that went out and bring it back.  It was terrible.  She ran across the field like a streak, tracked down the disc, picked it up and brought it back.  Not good when people are trying to play disc golf.  We knew we had to channel that energy.  So we got her some special dog frisbees and I got to work.  It wasn't too long before she was catching the frisbees and bringing them back.  Now she knows which are her frisbees and which are the discs.  She leaves the discs, only tracking them and giving them a lick, when she finds them.  It has come in handy because she can locate them when they become lost and entangled in trees or brush.  

   With all that extra energy and with the July holidays coming up, I gave Fidobiotics a try. Fidobiotics is a company that is concerned with the health of dogs. You can choose from 3 probiotic formulations--one for digestion issues (does your dog have stinky gas?), a breath remedy, and a calming product. 
   Here in Utah we not only have the 4th of July fireworks, but we celebrate the 24th of July, again with even more fireworks.  And in our area, it feels like a war zone because there are so many going off.  Evee isn't the typical nervous Nellie.  She actually wants to attack the fireworks instead of running away.  She'll run right up to the fireworks on the ground and attack them, even risking injury.  I guess she thinks she is protecting us.  I decided to try the calming formula called 'Relaxin' Rover'.  I didn't start her on it until right after the 4th of July so I had an opportunity to compare her reactions.  
   The formula comes in 30 packets called sachets.  They are full of probiotics and calming herbs like L-tryptophan, chamomile flower and ginger root.  It is to be sprinkled in the food and eaten along with it.  The flavor is called Salmon and Sushi. I found that a whole packet in her food was too much, so I cut it down to 1/2 a packet per day.  
   I've noticed that she is doing well!  I took her on a walk around the neighborhood on the evening of the 24th, when everything was just getting started.  She was definitely aware of the fireworks going on around her, but she didn't seem to pay them any attention.  She was doing amazing, sniffing at bushes and flowers with popping going on all around!  I even got a comment from a man watching us from his deck.  He said she was an amazing dog, and being so good!  We were out for about an hour.  As it got dark, the huge fireworks started going off all around us.  It was then that she decided enough was enough and she started barking ferociously at the explosions in the sky.  I couldn't blame her though.  They were extremely loud and close.  I took her back to the house and she spent the rest of the evening laying quietly under my desk.  She didn't necessarily want to be confronted with the loud noise, but she was calm and quiet in the house.  On the 4th, before I started giving her the Fidobiotics, she was in the house, but would startle every time an explosion went off, sometimes running around the house or whining.  I wouldn't have even dared to take her outside on a walk!  So this was a huge improvement.   


The Relaxin Rover and a sample pack of all three of the

I put half a pack in her food before pouring it in her dish
    Right now if you enter the code FidoFans, you will receive 15% off your purchase!  Follow Fidobiotics on Twitter and Facebook



Friday, July 18, 2014

Old-School Reading And Writing And The Benefits



As I was going over a list of things to do today in terms of my blog, I was struck with how much social media has taken over a lot of my time.  I don’t  feel  like I can sit down and solely write content. The pull of social media sites is strong and many times I succumb, spending way too much time updating Facebook and Twitter posts, reading and responding to e-mails and trying to grow my social media reach.  This leaves me precious little time to actually write!  Bloggers are told that we need to have Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Stumbleupon thumbs up, Pinterest Boards, Klout Scores, LinkedIn connections and more!  I think it’s because people are looking for the quick bites of information via texts, notifications, e-mail , search terms and hash tags.  
  Research shows that 8 seconds is the new attention span limit.  It used to be closer to 21 seconds!  And of course bloggers want to take advantage of that 8 second window!  However, this constant stream of quick hits of information flooding the brain in random and rapid succession  is proving to be problematic  to the human memory.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley of UC San Francisco discovered that distractions are a key component in the natural decline of the human memory!  Think about it, what are distractions?  They are exactly what I am talking about.  Social media is a series of distractions! 

With the advent of the internet, social media, and its amazing capacity to supply information, we often neglect the part of the brain that needs to be exercised daily with reading and writing!  It’s kind of an irony that the Information Age is contributing to the dumbing up of Americans.  But we don’t have to let our brains succumb to the craziness.  We can do things, with both reading and writing, to exercise our brains and ensure we keep our edge, so important in an increasingly complicated world, constantly changing at a breakneck pace.

Reading:   


Reading a novel, short story or information on a topic you are interested in can keep the brain active and can prevent Alzheimers.  It can also improve your mood and helps to boost analytical thinking, along with developing vocabulary.  Reading fiction makes you more empathetic of others and also enhances your memory.  Cracking open a book makes you a better  writer, which is another important exercise you can do to help your brain counteract the mind numbing effects of the Age Of Information!


Writing:  


Writing is a wonderful way to boost the benefits that reading starts.  In addition to mental stimulation, writing is an exploratory exercise, giving you immense understanding into your own inner workings.  It can be very cathartic!  Doing a daily writing, whether it is in a journal, on a blog, or on a Word Doc, will help you immensely!  Do it first thing in the morning and it will wake you up and energize you.  Do it reflectively in the evening and it will relax you.  Writing with a purpose can accomplish so much!  An exercise that I think is very provocative is to write a historical fiction story, with a definite goal. The goal would be to write about one of your relatives or ancestors.  Maybe you know their name, where they were born and where they died, but not much else.  You know they existed and you, more than anyone else, have an interest in their life.  Bring it to life with your own writing! 

    My Guest writer, Aundria Kenning, has done just that!  She takes  a name, date and maybe one lone fact and turns it into a story woven around the life of that person.  It’s a fascinating concept that can illuminate the lives of those directly related to you! 

Aundria also helps writers improve their writing with coaching and suggestions on a site called Writers.com.  It is free and a great resource if you are wanting to become a better writer and aren’t afraid of a constructive comment  about things you have already written!   She is also a judge for writing contests at the site.  Here is what Aundria has to say about writing and our busy lives – 


"The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention." - Kevin Kelly, Wired magazine

Everyone is too busy! Texting has become the communication of the day. The messages are quick and concise and even the small words are abbreviated or left out altogether. Punctuation has been replaced by emoticons and misspellings are overlooked. A new language has been created and the magic of words has been forgotten. Free time is scarce and distractions are plentiful. Disconnection through connectivity is the challenge of our age.


With time at such a premium, how can we grasp and keep the attention of the wandering mind? How can we make our family history relevant in an age of instant information? How can we make our ancestors heard in an era where there is already too much noise?
Many genealogists want to inspire the members of their family with the hidden treasures and triumphs they have uncovered. They want to share their passion for family history and the wisdom of the generations that have come before. But they fear that these stories will wither and die for lack of interest and the lure of idle industry. I hope to help them accomplish this goal. I am fascinated by characters and hope to help discover the people behind the names.

By writing their stories in a short but informative form, short stories are quick and unobtrusive. They ask little time of the reader, yet can ignite their imagination. Through the use of historical fiction and short memoirs, we can breathe life into well-known anecdotes and create a spark of interest into otherwise forgotten family lore. The true character and thoughts of our ancestors will live again when the world they lived in is re-created.
If you are interested in joining a community of writers with this goal, and beginning your own online portfolio of family memoirs and their stories, please come visit us at the Roots and Wings Discussion Forum. This group offers a discussion forum, prompts to help you get started on finding these stories, and even a writing contest. It is located in an online writer’s community. While membership is required, it is free. To join our site, please visit www.writing.com to get started. If you have any questions, please contact Aundria Kenning at aundria_k@writing.com.


 Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.  Posting guest content does not indicate personal endorsement or promotion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A $50 eGiftCard #Giveaway to The Magic Zoo #Jewelry + 10% Discount Code!


 Thank you for joining A GAL NEEDS...for this great giveaway! One lucky reader will receive a $50 eGiftCard to purchase any item from The Magic Zoo!  Read about our awesome sponsor below and enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!  Good luck!

We all have special people in our lives, as well as special animals.  The Magic Zoo creates fine jewelry for you to wear, honoring those special and beautiful animals!  Wear the animal or pet that you love in a beautiful animal pendant of sterling silver or 14K gold. Every one of the designs is available in gold or sterling silver. Some select designs are also available in ceramic and lead-free pewter.  Capture the warmth of the human-animal bond with an animal pendant representing your furry, feathered or scaled companion. Add a high-quality chain of either silver or gold and your pet necklace is ready to wear as soon as it arrives. Feel connected to your pet wherever you are.  Below are just a few of the animals immortalized into wearable art!  But there are so many more, check it out!  Also, read Helena's full review here!   Use the special discount code below, giving 10% off any purchase at check-out! AGALNEEDS10 (Valid through July 29th only)

Sterling Silver Bassett Hound

Enamel Guinea Pig

Enamel and Pewter Parrot

14k Gold Earrings
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Yummy Barley Recipe - #VeggieBurgers

Are you ready for another barley recipe?  Barley, as it turns out, is a wonderful grain.  I was able to create a Barley and Black Bean Burger of my own that looks like a real hamburger and tastes amazing! My inspiration comes from The Cooking Network and Pinterest!
I never even considered this additional reason as to why barley is great to cook with.  Aside from being high in protein and fiber, it is very inexpensive!  And when combined with another inexpensive food, black beans, it is a great budget meal!  I quite like veggie burgers but have come to understand that if they are purchased, many of them have additives and are full of GMO by-products, so make your own!  They look and taste so much better!  Here's what I did!

Barley and Black Bean Burgers - Yield: 4 Burgers
Black Beans take a long time to cook but are finally done here!

My Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. dried black beans, soaked overnight, cooked in crock pot on low until soft (low - 8 hours, high- 6 hours)
  • 1/4 c. hulled barley, cooked on stove top until soft, usually about 1 hour
  • 1/2 c. chopped green pepper
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions or scallions
  • 1/2 cup kale or chard chopped rough
  • Approx. 3 Tbsp. bread crumbs or crushed croutons
  • Olive oil
  • Bacon drippings or oil of choice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/6 tsp. Chili Powder or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Seasoning Mix (I use Spike) or to taste
  • 1/6 tsp. Cayenne or to taste

After beans and barley are cooked and soft (make sure to salt each while cooking), process them in a blender or food processor until they are well-mixed. 

In olive oil, sautee the vegetables until tender, adding kale or chard leaves last, cooking them until wilted.  Add in the seasonings to taste.  Add this into bean and barley mixture and blend until well processed.  In addition, add approximately 2 tsp. bacon drippings (or another oil of your choice), and the bread crumbs.  The mixture should be well mixed and feel like wet clay.  Form into 4 patties and put into frying pan and brown with oil of your choice.  
Burgers browning in the pan

Once browned, finish cooking them in a preheated 350 degree oven, about 15 - 20 minutes.  Serve on buns with tomatoes, lettuce, and condiments of your choice. 
Finished Sandwich
Serve with Sauteed Swiss Chard and Bacon!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Swiss Chard and #Bacon With Parmesan

  If you haven't cooked with Swiss Chard, I suggest you do it this summer!  It's delicious! 
 I'm embarrassed to say I had never cooked Swiss Chard before a couple of years ago, but after I did, there was no turning back.  The leafs are very thick and don't look like they would be very good raw, like in a salad.


 First, I cut up an onion, 2 carrots and some garlic.  I sauteed these in some bacon drippings until they were tender. (I love bacon drippings.  I'm like my grandmother, I save it every time we cook bacon!)

I then added some chicken broth and put in the finely chopped red stalks of the chard.  I cooked these until they were tender and lastly, added the leaves and cooked them until they wilted!  I added some crumbled bacon, lemon juice and topped it with Parmesan Cheese.


The result was amazing!  I felt like a chef indeed!  I absolutely love the subtle zingy taste of the chard.  It is a great addition to any meal!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Lasting Tribute To A Beloved Pet! Magic Zoo Jewelry


Some of you know I have a Border Collie named Evee!  She is quite like my child and definitely part of the family.  She likes to play tug-of-war, fetch, catch, and go on long walks, both on and off leash.  She is an amazing Frisbee catcher and loves to show off her skills.  She loves to hear the oohs and ahhhhs when she leaps off of the ground and catches the Frisbee mid-air.   She is a bit finicky and doesn’t like to share very much with other dogs or with children.  Each of my three youngest nephews has had a little run-in with her because they have gotten into her space a little too quickly.  She requests, no she demands, respect from those who interact with her, especially those she feels dominant towards.  And by respect, I mean to not get too touchy-feelie too quickly, especially around her nose and face, don’t take her toys from her unless you have that confidence that she wants you to, don’t tease her with food and don’t play with her food dish while she is eating.  To her pack she is a protector, a nurturer, a companion and a child.  She knows I’m momma. 
When I heard there is a company called The Magic Zoo that is passionate about creating pieces of quality jewelry that depict animals, I was very intrigued.  I love all kinds of animals and I feel kinship with many of them and felt that I would love many different kinds of animals in a piece of jewelry.  But what did I do first when I visited the website?  I looked to see if there might be a border collie piece.  Why?  Because I love my dog!  And yes, there was a sterling silver border collie pendant, which I ordered.  

When I received the piece, I was impressed because the artist captured the Border Collie at rest.  The ears flopping down, the content smile on the face with the tongue slightly out, and the stripe down the nose.   I loved it!  Don’t have a border collie?  No worries, there are 46 different dog breeds depicted on the site.  Also, I heard through the grapevine that the artist, Merry Rosenfield, loves to work with her customers to make the perfect piece.  She is very accessible.   I actually had a question about her most popular animal pieces and she personally responded, telling me that the guinea pig pieces are super popular.  People must really love their guineas!  It makes me want to have a guinea pig as a pet...  The most popular dog order is the Yorkie puppy, another really sweet and popular pet!
But there are so many more animals depicted with jewelry at The Magic Zoo!  There are farm animals, pocket pets, sea animals, butterflies, cats, reptiles, and insects.  The materials used are sterling silver, enamel, pewter, gold, and bronze.  There is a metal for everyone and a price for everyone. 
About the Artist:  Merry Rosenfield has been fascinated with animals since her childhood and now has meshed her art talent with her love of animals.  She has animals represented from all around the world.  She states, “My dream day would include creating new animal designs from early morning until I couldn’t keep my eyes open at night.”  You want someone who is that passionate about their work doing work for you! 
If you love animals, and want to express that with the very fashion you wear, you can count on Magic Zoo to help you make the statement beautifully.  Animals are beautiful--why not make them a part of what makes you unique?  Make a lasting tribute to your favorite animal with a unique piece of jewelry!  If you had just one choice, what animal would you want to pay tribute to? 

Disclaimer:  I received product for the purpose of review.  All thoughts and experiences are mine!