Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Foods

We all have to eat to live- it is essential to our survival. When we are younger we rely on our parents to provide the ingredients to sustain our lives. It is usually at this time when we discover some of our most favorite foods- you know the ones that even to this day when you sense them- an instant memory of happiness blossoms and you just have to find it and eat it. What I also find interesting though is that heir are new tastes we develop as we get older too. My example of this is tomatoes. I could never understand how anyone could enjoy the taste of a juicy tomato unless it was in a spaghetti sauce, ketchup or salsa- but now- Ah yes- heaven has more recently become a vine ripened ruby red sphere, and I can’t believe I never appreciated a tomatoes delicious flavor until later in my life. 

So what I would love to know is what are your absolute favorite foods. If you could have any food in the world what would you choose? One benefit to being an adult is we have the ability to eat whatever we want- or make what we want- and savor it to our hearts content. I am a self-proclaimed, foodie, food-a-holic, food lover- and I don’t plan on changing this status anytime soon. As I learn and prepare myself to become a Registered Dietitian I am curious to learn what other people love and take pleasure in eating. 

So please share with me and post your top ten most favorite foods or drinks-(yes I’ll let coffee count as food I guess) There are no rules to this thing and if you even have time to tell me why I would love to know that too. At the end of the list I think it would be fun to name the single food or drink that you think is disgusting, or maybe you tried it and know you can live without it. When you are done- if you want to post the note to other friends and learn about their favorites too then go for it. I know not everyone is as passionate about food as I am but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have favorites- and maybe we will discover some new favorite cuisine as we read each others list. 

Eat well and prosper my friends!

Here is my top ten - which only will scratch the surface of my favorites:
1. Sweet potatoes. They can be in any form and I am in love. Baked, oven fries, in bread, in soup, even sweet potato burgers. As a treat sometimes I can hardly resist ordering sweet potato fries at Firefly Restaurant- sooo yummy!

2. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I am not aloud to make them anymore because I will consume more batter than should ever be allowed. This is the only food that can strip me of all my willpower. (Don’t worry I make then eggless and they are AWESOME!)

3. Blueberries. My mom used to call me the Blueberry kid since my birthday is in August when blueberries are ripe for picking. I love to freeze blueberries and then eat them like candy!  And the health properties are endless which makes them even more awesome!

4. Smoothies. Frozen Fruit, vegetable, soy milk, the icier the better. I love to concoct new and exciting flavor combinations all the time. My newest favorite is a strawberry banana carrot smoothie, or peach, flax, vanilla and cinnamon. I put things like bok choy and kale in there too, the kids never notice and it is another great way to get your greens!

5. Celery with Peanutbutter. I could seriously eat this every day and be happy. Apples with peanutbutter is a close second in this category for sure. This would be my go to snack everytime.

6. Avocados are amazing and I love them. I just love them.

7. Ginger. Used to not be so fond of this flavor- or maybe I just didn’t understand it- Now I wish I could put ginger in everything- As a treat I love Ginger spice cookies!

8. Rice Pilaf. This is a family tradition and no one makes it better than my Mom. I love the smell of it cooking- I love it reheated with a little pepper on top. I love that my kids love it just as much as I did when I was their age.

9. Ice Cream. I used to work at Wares Brothers for anyone that didn’t know and loved being able to create my own mixtures of sundaes and flurries.  I don’t eat dairy anymore- so I have started to make my own great alternative ice cream at home with the ice cream maker that Tod and the kids got me for Christmas. It is a ton of fun and our favorite so far was a chocolate rice ice cream that was out of this world! I always challenge myself to come up with healthier versions of everything we eat and this category has been the most fun to experiment with.

10. I am sorry but for me ten is not enough so for this last one I am going to say this: If it is a green and growing, a sun loving plant that is safe to eat then I am most likely in love- In its fresh unprocessed whole form though- this includes especially peppers, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, kale, bok choy, zucchini, raspberries, blackberries, pears, cherries and then list goes on into infinity…..  Oh and Quinoa!!!!  I can't leave that one out because I just think it is the coolest grain ever and so healthy as an added bonus! 

The Food I could live without:
The one food that I can live without most obviously for anyone that knows me is any animal/animal byproduct.  The more I learn about being a compassionate eater, it only makes sense to me. I have lived more happily and healthily this past year since I made the choice to eliminate this source of what I don't even consider food anymore.  While I understand that this choice might not seem to be for everyone, I challenge people to take a deeper look at what animal food sources really are and where most of them come from.  Having such a deep love for animals as I have had my entire life, and then stripping away the desensitization of many years of just eating what I was taught was OK- well it comes down once again to how I cannot ignore what I know.  What I know is that my new truth says it seems completely unfair that someone should suffer for my own eating pleasure.  Just watch any wildlife show or right out your back window if you have a yard and you will see that animals have the same capacity as we humans do with a will to want to live.  In nature they only take what they need to survive, and they only produce as much as is needed to nurture their own babies.  I don't believe that God put animals on this earth for our own pleasure, other than the happiness they bring when witnessing their own curiosities and silly frolicking. I mean isn't that why we have pets, the simple joy that they bring to our families and lives?  Farm animals only exist because humans chose to put them there, and I think if they had a choice most of them would not choose the type of service they have been forced into doing or dying for.  Please understand that I have been on the other side of the coin and that I didn't always think this way.  There was a point  in my life when I would have proudly called myself a "meatatarian."  The thought makes me shutter just a little now, but that is OK because it is a part of who I am and what helps me understand why people make the choices that they do.  I am in no way perfect either, but I only try my best to live my truth and share my truth with anyone who asks.  

A Stellar life includes standing up for what you believe in and not being afraid to be a shining beacon of love and compassion.  Be Bold, Be strong, and smile- and in the words of Ghandi: Be the change you want to see in the world.
xoxo- Stephie

Monday, February 16, 2009


I was finding my self very discouraged this morning, but like most times when this happens to me I am able to either move on and let it go, or I decide to do something about it- In the case of the later- my discouragement usually turns into a passionate crusade to come up with a solution that helps me manage my feelings and determine how I can learn something new, possibly make a difference and move forward.  All of these thought processes were traveling around and around in my mind this morning before I finally said aloud: "Enough!!"  I turned my ipod off, which was playing a podcast that I truly enjoy and love (Vegetarian Food for Thought) and turned on the radio.  What usually happens when I make this electronics switch from the transmitting ipod to the car radio is a volume difference which makes the car radio very loud if I don't catch it right away.  BOOM- The first words of the song that happened to be playing at the switch were Steven Curtis Chapman's - "So la, la, la, la, live out loud" and instantly I knew that those lyrics were my answer.  As much as I have come to realize one of God's loving ways of communicating with me is through music- it still wonderfully takes me by surprise every time, and this morning was no exception.

You see the thing that I was struggling with so badly this morning was "why can't I just live my truth?"   -My truths, because there is more than one I am struggling with.  I was finding myself in a place where I completely know exactly what I should do, but no matter how much I say I don't care what people think- I was afraid.  I was afraid that while trying to not be disrespectful, or in that one moment when I just want to fit in that I would abandon what is truly most important to me.  Notice that I used the word "was" in the last two statements.  I Do know better than to let this mentality take over.  The hope which was so beautifully delivered in the message of that song this morning just reminded me that this world is so much bigger than me, but I still have the opportunity to talk, walk, live and be what I know is true in my heart.  The people in my life- the ones that mean the most to me- well I have faith that they will accept me no matter what.  They may not always agree with me, but they don't have to.  I shouldn't be afraid to be me, EVER, and starting right this very moment I, Stephanie Lee Sheffer am making a promise to myself To Have No Fear of standing up for what I believe in.  

So what do I "believe in" you might ask?  Well... I invite you to ask me sometime.  If you want to hear a testimony about life transformations, with happy and healthy discoveries for a joyful existence- I am always happy to share- and I would love to hear your story too.  Are you holding back something in your own life- for fear of the unknown?  I am someone who would rather be brave and uncover what is real, than not know or be ignorant- I always say KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and with that comes responsibility- because you should not ignore what you know- ever!  It would be too much of an injustice to your heart and soul to hold yourself back on anything that really moves you.

A Stellar Life begins when we decide to be thankful for each new day, and also when we practice joy, discovering happiness in the wonderful treasures of our families, friendships, and the unconditional love of God.  Be bold, be strong and smile- And Remember one of my favorite quotes: "Be the change you want to see in the world!"  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Food Lover's Dream Valentine

This has got to be one of the most thoughtful Valentines I have ever received from my family.  I had been out with some girlfriends earlier in the day, while my Handsome Husband Tod took the kids out ice fishing.  I arrived home before they did and went straight to my studying for a big Nutrition class exam I had to take the next day.  About an hour later I went out to the kitchen to get something to drink and noticed this heart shaped box on the table.  Tod and the kids had gone to Oryana (our Local Food Co-op) and filled this box with all kinds of yummy, organic treats.  Dried fruits, nuts, granola and carob chips (my favorite)!  

I guess the reason that this meant so much to me is that it was so wonderful to see my family embrace all the details about food I am so concerned about.  They took a holiday tradition and made it even more special by not only making it healthier, but personal and unique- ultimately highlighting what they know is most important to me!  I feel so special and loved.  This is truly the best Valentine ever!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Deciding What Works Best for You, but Respecting The Choices of Others

Tod and I making Christmas Breakfast for Family
(I made vegan (egg and milkless) pancakes that everyone liked)

The following is a posting I did for a discussion in my Nutrition class. The question was related to what is a better choice: A Plant Based diet or an Animal- based diet, and would I ever choose a vegetarian diet. I held back a lot of my views about the treatment of animals, but tried to answer the question in a way that addressed a lot of the classmates who had posted before me. I was very frustrated in reading a lot of their responses, because they were very negative about vegetarians and so much of what they wrote to me seemed ignorant. Instead of getting upset though it taught me that we all need to be careful when we are making statements about topics we do not know a lot about. It can be so easy to form an opinion without having all the facts, but I think that it only limits us in our ability to explore and learn new things if we just always believe everything we are told. We should question where our information is coming from- could there be a better way to do what we have always just done? For some that might be a scary question to answer- it may just take us out of our comfort zone- but if it means a better way to live then why wouldn't we want to explore new options? So with all that being said, please know that I am in no way perfect when it comes to making the best choices for a balanced healthy diet- I have my days and binges just like everyone else- but I think it stands to be noted that I have not given up even when it does get a little bit tough. Do the best you can, that is all we ever need to really try to do.  

Stellar Nutrition starts with beautiful curiosity, a wanting that comes from within to do something good for yourself. Live, Learn, Discover and Enjoy your Life Deliciously!

I have a really hard time with putting myself or other people into a dietary label or category based on what we eat. There are so many ways to achieve a well-balanced diet and it is always going to be a personal opinion on what is the best way to survive nutritionally. As some of you have mentioned, the term flexitarian is probably an adjective that would most easily describe what most people strive for in regards to their diets. That being said, and to answer the discussion question: In my opinion a Plant- Centered diet is more healthful and compassionate than an animal-centered diet. The essential nutrients that we must consume in order to be healthy- this includes all amino acids can be obtained from a diet rich in plants, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.... The only reason I can imagine that anyone would believe that eating this way (vegetarian) would be harder is because we have been led to believe the only way we can get certain nutrients is by concentrating on certain products or choosing foods that have been enriched with vitamins and minerals, known as processed foods. Fresh meat is just as processed as a box of Mac and cheese, when you consider all that went into raising that animal- including antibiotics, and a regimented diet for that animal- enriched with nutrients in order to be passed on to the humans that eat it.
I can understand how it would seem impossible to eliminate certain staples like animal products and byproducts from your diet just to convert to a vegetarian lifestyle. When someone does not have the knowledge behind making a significant change- especially in their dietary intake- I think there is a lot more reason for concern and their health. Any time you make a change- your body, your cells are affected in a way that they must adjust to receiving new energy sources- it is much like riding a bike for the first time- where you are training your body to do something new and different. It is tough at first but after much practice it becomes second nature, easy, and in regard to choosing to eat a plant-based diet you are able to sustain yourself just the same without feeling like you are lacking or deficient. It is so important to have researched your new choice and know what will help you be successful though.
When it comes to nutritional information, please be weary of the source. It makes sense that the dairy and meat industry, even the United Soybean Board would be touting their products are the best way to get protein- its their business to sell their product. Who's best interests do you think they have in mind- as long as their product sells? Yes, everything in moderation is still the key here no matter what dietary label you assume to live under.

A whole foods, mostly raw vegetarian diet is the one that I choose, and I could go on for hours why I have made this choice, but mostly it comes down to the fact that I feel the healthiest and happiest in this type of lifestyle. I have also spent a lot of time researching, wading through all types of information, recipes and podcasts. I know that this isn't always ideal for everyone, and I believe that I am successful in this diet mostly because it is important to me to know the sources of my foods and to have a well balanced diet. I have a family to support nutritionally, and so I want to make sure I am giving them the best start possible. We are all thriving, and my kids love the fact that our fast food comes from the supermarket, or right off the tree- just as easily as going through a drive thru at Burger KIng. It just takes a little creativity and planning ahead sometimes, but our bodies are accustomed to this way of eating and we enjoy it!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Random thoughts Running through my mind- I'm not really trying to make a point about anything today...

I am so good at talking.  Just to clarify that statement, I don’t mean that in the way that I am an accomplished speaker who can use really big scholarly words.  I don’t want to sound as if I am trying to be boastful about myself in any way either.   What I mean by the above statement is that I know how to talk and I could go on and on until I lose my voice (it has been known to happen a time or two).  I might not be the most appropriate talker- I interrupt, I am loud, I always have a similar story to share that may seem like I am trying to one up you, I keep people on the phone a lot longer than necessary and I have a hard time being near anyone (people I know and people I don’t) without having something to say out loud.  Its not that I am one of these people who is full of themselves or loves to be the center of attention, Ok maybe I do like being the center of attention a little or maybe a lot, No, but seriously I just find that being quiet is something I do not do well.  So the reason that I think I am so good at talking is because it’s all I ever do, all the time, every chance I get!  Talking is something that I practice every possible second of my existence.  I enjoy it so much that I am constantly preparing dialogues in my head of all the things I can say, how I will say it and whom I will say it to.  The privilege of owning a cell phone has been a great demonstrator to my talking abilities since it keeps track of my minutes.  On several monthly statements I have found myself defending my talking since I have gone over so far on our minutes that they don’t even have a  category to cover the amount that I am over and the costs for all this talking are not cheap!  I might as well just have a permanent receiver attached to my ear since it would free up an extra hand so I can at least multi-task while I am talking.  No, we better not do that- actually the thought of that just seems all wrong- especially since I would rather be talking to people in person than on a phone any day!  It also creeps me out when I see the people with the Blue Tooth ear attachments just walking around-  Are they on the phone or not- its just plain weird.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Letter to A Friend that is A Good Update to Share with All

Rachael- a dear friend of mine- Oh how I miss her!  I promised her a letter and once I finished it figured it was a pretty good representation (short version) of all we have been up to.  So here you go- a small slice of the Sheffer Family recently:

*Ranae, Rach, and I at the ballgame last summer.

Dearest Friend,

Even with the below zero degree days I would still pull myself out of bed in the wee small hours of the morning if it meant I could go for a walk with you my friend.  I so dearly miss those mornings when no topic was off limits and we had the opportunity to just say what was on our minds.  I guess it was a way to start our minds with a fresh and clean slate.  The worries of days past left behind once they were able to leap from our tongue verbally and be heard by a trusted friend.

Life continues to go along at the normal Stephanie Sheffer pace- about 100 miles per hour- my hair whipping in the wind and yet I still have time to appreciate my surroundings and find joy and happiness in the littlest of life’s curiosities.  The kids are growing so fast, Lauren just turned 7 on Monday- Groundhog’s day!  She can read so well, almost as if she has been doing it for years.  Riley has sharpened his artistic abilities, with pictures that depict stories and imaginative scenarios of adventures he embarks on as a super hero.  They have not played in the snow very much since it has been sooo cold.  I am hoping that as the weather warms we will get outside to create a snow creature of some sort.  I have a picture of the kids with a snow man almost every winter of their lives so we will most definitely make this a priority on a sunny day.

Tod and I have been able to get back to “us” too.  I suppose with my school load not bearing so hard on me this semester I have had more time to give and he has made an effort also to help accomplish some home tasks that have been on the back burner for a while.  We just cleaned up the basement- I have taken 4 car loads of recycling and GoodWill items over the past month already and there is still more to go.  Tod made me my very own crafting/office room.  I am so excited to have a place to go to work on my projects and study for school.  I can’t wait to show it to you sometime soon- maybe we can do a little scrapbooking or sewing together sometime when you are in TC for an extended period of time. 

I have been cooking and practicing my culinary skills a lot too.  I prepare every meal and snack for my family and have really sharpened my skills.  We are eating such a variety of fresh, living food.  Not to mention I just love my juicer, and keep trying new concoctions all the time.   My newest discovery is how to make Biscotti- vegan.  I have created my own recipes and so far I have to say they are extremely yummy.  Tod says I need to be better about writing down my measurements so that I can recreate these recipes- especially since they are my very own.  I made an orange cranberry biscotti this morning that was delicious!  The more and more I learn about food and the choices that we have I feel confident that we are on the right track.  The color, the rich green abundance of life that comes from the food we have been eating is almost surreal.  It has made us all feel  more energetic, and happier too.  Family dinner time is what we all  look forward to at least 4-5 nights a week.  Listening to everyone say a prayer at the dinner table is always an answered prayer for me.

The biggest answered prayer of all though is that my Riley asked if he could have Jesus in his heart a few weeks ago.  So we prayed together and Riley has now made a new commitment and is saved!!!  He still has a thousand questions and I just pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me to say the right things, but his love for God and Jesus is so pure and real.  It has definitely helped me recommit in areas of my own life, with the example my boy has set.

Well, I look forward to seeing you in just a few weeks now.  Tod and I can’t wait to see your place and we so much appreciate your help with our travels.  Until then I hope you are finding peace, happiness and joy in each new day and that you and Reilly continue to experience love-filled bliss!  I love you my friend and I will be counting the days until we get to see each other soon!

Love and Hugs- Stephie xoxoxo

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Life's Path

Just about everyday I look at the link on my bookmarks bar that says "Steph's Blog" and I wonder if I will ever get back into writing on that thing.  I have been spending a little more time writing the old fashioned way with Pen and paper, so I guess I have come to the conclusion it is either one way or the other for me.   Since there are only so many minutes in a day, and I tend to consume them all with this, that or the other with the greatest of ease, I guess when it happens that I can write here I just will.

Lately I have been refining my focus in life.  I continue to believe that ignorance is NOT bliss and that Knowledge IS Power.  I have a deeper sense of responsibility for my own actions than ever before.  In understanding how my life is apart of something so much bigger than myself, my curiosities for discovering where I fit in have enlightened me to a new sense of purpose and belonging I have never experienced before.  It is a wonderful sensation when you realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and that you aren't supposed to just stay in that place.  That instead it should be automatic to continue moving, learning, loving and expanding the possibilities for an effective life.   I have realized that being content with what you have opens up your sight to an even greater appreciation for what you earn when you work hard.  Being content with myself has allowed me more time and energy to devote to helping others.  This is ultimately all I have ever wanted to do in my life.  God has blessed me immeasurably and now all I want to do is show him my recognition of these blessings, and my gratitude for all the happiness I have experienced in my life by giving back to other people.

There you have it- this is where my thoughts have traveled this morning- I admit it is a little deeper than I expected, but I have found that when I put these words into a concrete form and pull them from my mind- they become a sign post for where I am today- and a way to look back at where I have come from on the days when I am need of encouragement.  It is my prayer that you are all doing well and experiencing the joy we are intended to always have within us.  I read a church sign this early morning on my way to work that I know was not a coincidence.  At the very moment that I read it I was very concerned for My little Lauren who has not been feeling well all week long.  It said "There are no worries, when we have faith".  Deciding to have Faith that God will watch over Lauren and also help Tod and I make the right decision to help her along the way to getting healthy again was much more reassuring than just wasting all my energy being insecure and scared.  She is doing slightly better this morning, but I am taking her into the doctor today to have a professional opinion just to be sure we have not overlooked something.

Until next time- Eat well and prosper with love, happiness and a joy-filled life! xoxo-Stephie