Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

 

Two of my favorite things – the crock pot and BBQ!  I am depending more and more on my crock pot.  A few years ago, I used it occasionally, and sometimes forgot about it!

Now, I really depend on my crock pot when I have a long day ahead, or know that I won’t have time to really make a good dinner after I get home.  As long as I have a few ingredients on hand, or plan a day or two ahead, I can throw a little into the crock pot in the morning or in the middle of the day, and still have a great meal ready to go!

This BBQ recipe is easy to adjust to your own taste and adjust for a few or several people. And it only has 3 ingredients!  I like things simple and easy, as you can tell.

For a couple of big appetites, the following meal is quick, and goes great with a simple side, like sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, beans, or slaw.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Only 3 Ingredients! Serves 2-4 people.

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup chicken stock (low sodium, please)

 

Chicken, stock, spices

Chicken, stock, spices

>>>  Place in the crock pot for 4 hours on high, or 6 on medium.

>>>  If desired, add a little extra seasoning to the chicken. I sometimes add some garlic pepper seasoning, and some sweet smoky paprika.

>>>  During the last hour, add 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.

 

After 4 hours on high, shredded with fork

After 4 hours on high, shredded with fork

When finished, the chicken should be tender enough to shred with a fork.  Shred completely before serving.  Add extra BBQ sauce to taste if desired.  This could also be served up on a bun for a BBQ chicken sandwich.

 

Ready to serve, with a little extra BBQ sauce

Ready to serve, with a little extra BBQ sauce

Serve up with some garlic bread and some candied sweet potatoes or mac & cheese!

 

 

Five Pointers for Parents – Emotional Health for Babies, Children, and Their Parents

Children really do learn to imitate what they see, hear, and experience from the people around them.  Some of it is wonderful and precious, and some of it, unfortunately, is not.

No parent has ever been 100% positive that everything they do is the right thing.  We learn by paying attention!  All parents have to learn along the way, because every little personality is different, just like their parents!

Here are 5 quick pointers that I have learned being a parent and a teacher. These are ways to be positive and help babies and young children learn that they are loved and taken care of.  These are ways to make sure there emotional health is taken care of.

We can feed and clothe a child, but if we aren’t paying attention to how they are feeling or how they are being treated, they won’t be happy or learn to trust others.

5 Pointers for Parents

  1. “Read Between the Lines”                                                       Observe the behaviors your child is showing.  Listen carefully to their sounds, their words, and try to figure out what they need, even if it isn’t obvious.  Behaviors and sounds mean something, whether we understand them or not.  Infants who cannot talk learn to communicate in many ways.
  2. “Use Positive Words and Tone of Voice”                                          Using positive sounds and words encourages your child to be positive in interactions with others, too.  Since all children are individuals, not “good or bad”, only their actions are “appropriate or inappropriate”.  Directly praise “good actions”, such as “good brushing”, or “you’re doing a good job keeping your feet on the floor”, or “thank you for trying so hard to tie your shoes”, or “I’m glad you said please”.  Try to tell children what action they are to do.  As they get older, you can ask them what they should be doing.  Avoid “no” and “don’t”, or they will remember and do those inappropriate actions.
  3. “Stay Attentive and Available”                                                            Be on the same wavelength emotionally as well as physically.  When taking care of household chores (cooking, cleaning) continue to listen and observe, and put down chores when necessary to “be there” for your child.
  4. “SMILE”                                                                                         When the so-called “terrible twos” begin (at any age!), adults tend to forget that the child will be a mirror of their important caregivers (family, friends, teachers).  Smiles, positive words, having fun, are imitated and copied; so are frowns, no’s, don’t, and whining.  If you want your child to be positive and listen, you also have to be positive and listen.
  5. “Enjoy Your Child”                                                                 Remember to enjoy your baby, your son, your daughter.  We can get so caught up in daily routines and problems that we forget to notice and enjoy all the great little gestures, facial expressions, phrases and movements that these miraculous little ones show us every day.  Stop and take the time to listen, watch, and photograph or “video” those wonderful moments that you can’t get back.  Time really does fly fast when we’re not looking!

 

 

Low Sodium and Full of Flavor!

On my journey to keep myself healthy, I realized my purpose for doing so is not purely selfish.  My biggest inspiration to take better care of myself is that I want to be able to watch my family grow!  I want to be here for my husband and my children, experience special times with them, and be able to support them on their journeys.

Now with a little 6 month old grandson, I want to be healthy enough to help care for him and any other grandchildren we might have. I want to watch him reach his first milestones as he grows and still be able to celebrate his graduations and accomplishments in the years to come!

If I don’t pay attention to this body that God has entrusted me with, then I cannot accomplish more on the journey He wants for me.

To continue with strategies for reducing the sodium in my diet to prevent high blood pressure…………………………

3 Easy Ways to Increase Flavor and Lower Sodium:

  • Experiment with spices.  Try all those spices that are hiding in your cabinet, use them alone or in different combinations to add a variety of flavors to meat or vegetables. No need for the salt!
  • Add lemon or lime juice and zest to meat and vegetable dishes. 
  • Some types of wine can add another layer of flavor to some recipes and sauces.  Use sparingly at first until you see how it changes the taste or consistency.

Nice Flavor Combinations:

  • Lemon and Lime   (the zest and/or the juice)
  • Garlic and Lime   (have tried this with salmon and chicken)
  • Garlic and anything!  (We love the flavor garlic adds, even to mashed potatoes)  Instead of salt, we use the Smart Balance butter, lowfat milk, black pepper and diced garlic when mashing up potatoes.
  • Lite Soy Sauce   (still has sodium, but much lower content)  Mix with brown sugar and ginger for a simple teriyaki style flavor.  I just mix some of each, don’t really measure.  There are several recipes out there for specific amounts for a teriyaki sauce, if you like exact measurements.
  • Parmesan Cheese and Black Pepper  (great with panko breading for meat – no extra salt needed)

Please comment and share any other flavor combinations you have found that add great flavor to meat and vegetable dishes!

 

 

 

Controlling Your Blood Pressure! — Low Sodium Choices

Now that I’m in my 50’s, the hereditary blood pressure has kicked in.  I used to have low BP as a rule, so this took me by surprise!  It shouldn’t, since my parents both have high BP (or hypertension).

After a hospital visit and follow-up doctor visits, I was placed on a minimal dose of medicine to control my blood pressure.  After the scare of wondering if I was having a heart attack, I gladly do what I can to make sure I don’t have one! I want to stick around and watch my family grow!

The medicine is doing its job, but I need to be responsible and do mine! Watching the sodium/salt in what I eat and drink is important and easy!  At first it seems hard to find low sodium foods, because there is so much salt added to prepared food products and restaurant menu items.

FIRST———————

  • I researched!  Be informed about what you are eating and drinking.
  • Read Labels!  If sodium content is listed as 5-10% or lower, then it’s probably okay if you realize that 10 items of 10% sodium is considered the total intake for the day.   If you already have high BP, your goal should probably be less than that.  If something has 30-40% sodium, walk away!
  • Easy online searches reveal sodium content in all kinds of foods, including soft drinks, condiments, canned foods, soups, and most packaged mixes.   I found these 2 sites helpful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.lowsaltfoods.com                                                                 http://www.nutritiondata.self.com
  • Check out the restaurants you visit.  Most now have menus online that show nutrition content, and some have items identified as “healthier” or “heart friendly”.
  • Medical lab work showed that I had low potassium, even though I was already eating a pretty good diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables. But changes as you age affect those levels as well.  So it was recommended to add a banana every day.  Potassium levels apparently have an effect on how your body processes the sodium, so this is one of several things that can help regulate your BP!
  • I learned more about foods that provide protein, potassium, and other essential nutrients to maximize good food without increasing how much I eat.
  • Controlling my weight and increasing exercise also need to be higher on my priority list.

NEXT —————————

  • I acted on what I learned!  I could not ignore what I needed to do – mostly simple steps.
  • I started depending less on prepared, canned, boxed and frozen foods. I simply started using more fresh options, and NOT adding extra salt!  Other spices can add lots of flavor.
  • I read labels on everything I pick up in the store!  It has become an easy habit, and very eye-opening.  Many grocery stores have been adding more items that are labeled “lower sodium” or “no salt added”.  You still need to check the percentage of sodium.
  • My doctor’s advice as I walked out the door was:  Eat a banana every day, and don’t touch the soft drinks!  I also drink more water, like we all should.

So far, so good!  So………in summary, what has worked for me:

  1. Read labels.
  2. Cut out soft drinks.
  3. Don’t touch the salt shaker.
  4. Eat that banana, alone or with cereal.
  5. Check restaurant nutrition.
  6. Drink water and increase movement.
  7. See the doctor regularly to monitor any changes.

Disclaimer:  Remember!  I am not an expert, and definitely not a doctor. These are suggestions that have worked for me.  Hypertension/High Blood Pressure is not something to mess around with.  Please see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment that is best for you.  Check your blood pressure regularly, and see a doctor for regular checkups, especially if you are in your 40’s and 50’s.  Lots of changes occur and sneak up on you, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle!

 

Next time, I will share some ways to add flavor to foods without the salt! Check out my previously posted recipes, since most of them are already light on the salt!

 

Sports Towels – Fishing or Bowling

The bowling towel I made for my husband was a combination of several ideas.  He loves to fish and bowls weekly on a league.  He uses a towel for keeping the bowling ball clean, and fishermen need towels or rags to clean all kinds of messes!  I chose to make the bowling towel.

Wanting to make a personalized towel for him, I could have sewn a cross-stitch aida cloth into a towel, but I chose to go with a premade towel I found at a JoAnn’s Craft store.

In our area, we have a choice of some well-stocked crafts supply stores, both chain franchises and independents.  I have checked out most of them, depending on the project I’m working on.  Sometimes I browse online or in the store to get ideas for a gift I’d like to make.  Most stores and online suppliers also offer some type of in-store or online classes.

Links to Crafts in My Area:

  • A. C. Moore                             www.acmoore.com
  • Hancock Fabrics                      www.hancockfabrics.com
  • JoAnn’s Crafts                          www.joann.com
  • Michael’s                                  www.michaels.com
  • Carolina Foam and Fabric Outlet (Buncombe County, NC)
  • Discount stores, such as Walmart, Target and Kmart sometimes have a craft supply section with a few items
  • Search online for other local craft stores

Searching online, you can find even more.  In most stores, for example, they don’t stock all the possible cross-stitch supplies and kits that are available. They don’t have that kind of space.  Check online for catalog suppliers and independent craft kits and supplies.

Kits are a wonderful way to start out, since the cloth, design directions and thread are already assembled for you in the kit.  It’s a great time-saver if you find the kit you need.

Links to Online Craft Suppliers I have found:

  • www.craftsy.com    –   supplies and online classes, lots of quilting
  • www.createforless.com
  • www.etsy.com
  • www.herrschners.com  –    wonderful cross stitch and needlework kits
  • www.everythingcrossstitch.com
  • www.janlynn.com
  • www.overstock.com  –  I had no idea they had great kits for surprisingly                                      good prices
  • The Stitchery! – www.stitchery.com  —  huge list and variety of kits and                                                                 supplies

For more ideas for cross-stitching, quilting and other crafts, don’t forget your local library for books you can check out for free!   See my post on Nurturing the Love of Reading in Children from 7-1-13 for library links.

Grandpa’s Bowling Towel

  1. I used a premade cross-stitch towel I purchased.
  2. I found an old bowling cross-stitch design to place on the left end of the towel’s aida cross-stitch insert.  I centered the design on the aida cloth.
  3. I chose my own colors, making the bowling ball the same color as the one “Grandpa” uses.
Left side - Green bowling ball, Right side - Year

Left side – Green bowling ball, Right side – Year

  1. In an old craft magazine, I found a lettering chart that was a perfect size already for the “grandpa” letters I needed.
  2. I used 4 basic colors red, green, blue, purple, for the letters.
  3. Then, with my need to make everything even and symetrical, I had to find a design to bookend the letters on the right side of the towel.  After over-thinking a little, I realized I could use the year his first grandchild was born!  2013 fit perfectly in the space, and I centered the numbers at an angle to complete the blank space.
Cross-stitched Letters in Bold Colors

Cross-stitched Letters in Bold Colors

So even though I don’t consider myself artistic, I was able to create something unique as a gift.  All you need is the desire to create  —   and some great craft stores  —  and some online searches  —  and maybe some leftover materials to spark a new idea!