Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is Eating Gluten-Free a Fad?

There have been so many diet plans that promised us weight loss.  And that's great!  What was it about that particular diet that was healthy or unfortunately unhealthy?  Did we really keep the weight off or have we found the "lost" weight and some of its friends?

Comments I've heard through the years about various diets (can you guess which ones I'm talking about?):

  • "You can eat all the meat you want!"
  • "There's no fat so I can eat as much as I want and not gain any weight!"
  • "All the stars are doing it and look how great they look!"
  • "I can eat anything I want within a certain color."
  • "All my food is prepared for me."
  • "I can eat one of anything and still lose weight."

The list of comments can go on and on and on.  You get the point.

Diets are fantabulous for businesses and marketers.  Not so much for us.


Getting back to my question about gluten-free being a fad.  For those of us who cannot tolerate wheat or gluten, it is a way of life.

We have some friends that lost weight switching over to a gluten-free diet.  They attributed the fact that the food was so much more expensive that they didn't eat a lot of bread or pasta.  When they did eat the gluten-free items, it didn't seem to leave them bloated so they enjoyed the healthy feelings.  They also didn't want to spend the additional moola for gluten-free cakes or donuts.  Hence, the weight loss.  What they did find out was their weight maintained after a certain period of time.  No more weight loss so they went back to eating wheat products.

There is some credence to our friends' findings.  I've been gluten-free for more years than I can remember.  I didn't know it was a gluten-free diet.  In the beginning, I knew that bread made me feel sick so I stopped eating it.  I too lost a certain amount of weight.

I'm thankful for marketing, executives families, and stars turning to a gluten-free diet.  There are now so many more options and places to purchase.  The other day, I actually found gluten-free flour in Big Lots.  Let me tell you excitement was the word of the day since the flour was well within its expiration date, a brand name that I typically purchase and at a lower price.

See what I mean about marketing?  If not, let me try and see if marketing makes more sense with these other diets.  Do you remember the "low-fat", "low sodium", or "Adkins" diets?  One day we're all happy eating fat, sodium and anything else.  The next day, we can barely get through the check out counter at the store without reading headlines about how bad sodium or fat is for us in the magazines.  Then on our next visit to the grocery store, the aisles are stocked with low sodium, low fat, or Adkins products.  Or how about years ago, maybe in the 70s or 80s, when eggs were supposed to be bad for us and now some research is finding out that it may not be so bad.  Marketing.

In the past it's been a little harder to market fresh foods.  Today, we see buzz words floating around: "Green" "Organic" "Local" "Humane" "Fresh from the Market" or how about the new trend of buying from the "farmer's market".  I'm not saying, in any way, that these words are bad.  In fact, they are really good.  Remember to ask the person at the market if the produce has been sprayed with pesticides.  Has the fruit been treated in any way?  Where does the food come from - is it local or trucked in from out of state?  What do the chickens or cows eat?  How do the animals live?

There is a learning process that comes along with eating healthy or gluten-free.  Give yourself space to make mistakes and know that you're healthier for your choices.  From time to time, we still "cheat" and spend way too much of our hard earned money to buy frozen gluten-free waffles.

Think of all the foods you gain by eating gluten-free and all the ways you save money by not eating at fast-food restaurants, pizza joints, or the bread and cracker aisles in the store.  As time goes by and more people are diagnosed with Celiacs Disease or gluten intolerance the restaurants, even fast-food places will carry gluten-free items.

Gluten is found is so many common items such as frozen french fries, breaded fish, chicken nuggets, dressings, bread, pasta, cereal, cake, and donuts.  Read the label and when in doubt leave it off your plate and out of your cart.

Another thing I've learned through my years of thriving without gluten is that items that I've typically purchased are now labeled "Gluten-Free" and the price has increased.  Same product, new price.  The label has also been added to silly things like fresh produce - apples picked off the tree shouldn't have any gluten in them unless something has been added to or sprayed on the apple.  Maybe the soil has been treated with a wheat-based product causing the apples or other fresh produce to have gluten.  I don't know.  If not, here's where that genius marketing comes in to play.

To ensure that you're not buying into the fad of a gluten-free diet, please be aware that eating too much pre-packaged food is probably not very good.  So many things are added to packaged foods such as preservatives, chemicals, coloring, MSG, and a bunch of words that many of us are unable to pronounce.  Do we really want to load our bodies with all that all the time?  Also, remember that everything in moderation helps to keep us balanced.  Eat lots of vegetables, home cooked meals, fruits.  If you can afford to switch over to organic, the better.

Read the labels.

Do you believe that eating Gluten-Free is a fad?  Where have you found the best places to purchase your gluten-free foods?


P.S.,  We are not doctors, dieticians, or nutritionists, so be sure to check with your doctor before starting any diet or changing your dietary needs.  We are merely trying to get a conversation going.

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Substance of Living

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe


Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of Living
Black Pirate

If you're over 21 years of age (that's the legal drinking age in the United States), this is a drink you'll enjoy during the cold weather.  It's also a nice drink over ice to stay cool in the summer heat.

You may be aware of a drink called a Black Jamaican or My Maria that has Myer's Rum and Tia Maria.  This Black Pirate is our version.

Can you see yourself serving up this nice drink at a fall or Halloween party?  The name alone makes me think of a movie screening party, pirate party, or a fun night of adult mischief including a scavenger hunt.
Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of Living

Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of LivingLike most things, creation is born from necessity.  Well, it wasn't necessary that DH and I have a drink, but it does coincide with our game of choosing something new to try on a regular basis.  Anywhoo! We wanted to make a Black Jamaican but didn't have Myer's Rum and certainly didn't have Tia Maria.  I mean, do you?  But like many people, we did have some rum - which happened to be a spiced rum, and we had a coffee liqueur on hand.

Did you know that there are many substitutes if you don't have a particular alcohol on hand?  For example, any coffee flavored liqueur could be substituted for Tia Maria or Kahlua.  If a recipe calls for a dry Riesling wine and you don't have any then try a white table wine.  The white table wine won't be as dry or carry a specific flavor such as a Chardonnay will so it will work better.

Ingredients


1 oz. Spiced Rum
1 oz. Coffee Flavored Liqueur

Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of Living

Note


  • If you are serving this drink warm, combine the ingredients and heat in a crock pot (if making a signature drink for a gathering) or warm in the microwave for maybe 20 seconds.  This is meant to be warm, not hot.  Serve in a cordial glass or a coffee cup.  Enjoy with some whipped cream and maybe a cinnamon stick.
  • If you want to enjoy this drink cold, then fill a rocks glass with ice and combine the ingredients.  Again, a nice dollop of whipped cream would be nice.
  • We used Captain Morgan Spiced Rum Reserve and Kahlua Liqueur.
Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of Living
Black Pirate - A Cocktail Recipe by Substance of Living
Look at that whipped cream floating down into the warm drink. YUM!
Thank you as always for joining us here at Substance of Living.  We love that you allow us to show up in your email inbox.

If you do try this recipe, please drink responsibly and do not drive.




Hey!  Let us know what you think of this drink and if you tried something different.

P.S., This was not a sponsored post. As always, we want to share with you products that we enjoy and think you might too. We also try to give alternatives to a particular brand or alternative dietary needs.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Does The Board Game Monopoly Have to do with WWII?

Monopoly Board Game shown on Substance of Living
Monopoly Board Games used in WWII
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing Not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.


Someone in MI-5 (similar to America's OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.


At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.


By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Monopoly Board Game by Substance of Living
Monopoly Games were used in WWII
Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.


As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:

  1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
  2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
  3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!
British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square. Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail Free' card!


Thank you again for sending us your emails.  We were able to verify the truthfulness of this information through Snopes, CNN, and Wikipedia.  OSS mentioned above stands for Office of Strategic Services.

I will never be able to play Monopoly again without thinking about the lives it saved.

What is your favorite board game?






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Monday, January 13, 2014

Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil - Product Review

Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil in Sold and Melted Forms
Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil in Sold and Melted Forms

After my first conversation with Michael at Skinny & Co., I was super excited to try their coconut oil.  I didn't have to wait but a couple days and my coconut oil arrived in the mail.

My initial thought was, "Which recipe do I try or should I create something new?"  That thought was blown out of the water when I began reading about the benefits of using coconut oil raw.

Did you know that you can use coconut oil as a makeup remover, as a lotion for skin rash or reducing wrinkles?  I didn't.  In fact, I wouldn't have thought to use coconut oil in any other capacity except cooking.  I do use raw coconut oil to make my vegan butter.  I thought it would be too expensive to "waste" using it any other way than ingesting.

I have since changed my mind.

I now use a teaspoon in my morning coffee, use it to make vegan butter, lotion for my dry hands and feet, moisturizer on my face, and have begun wondering if it would be good for my kitty cats (need to do more research here before giving it to them).

I haven't actually worked out the cost of replacing my lotions, makeup removers, moisturizers, hair conditioner, or mouth wash with strictly using coconut oil.  What I have been able to come up with is that by using coconut oil I can save time shopping for all those products, reduce my carbon footprint, save pain and suffering on animals (to my knowledge Skinny & Co. does not test or work with companies that test on animals), and not put more chemicals into my body since Skinny & Co. is "the only 100% raw, medicinal grade coconut oil in the world".

Here are some of the things I've learned about using coconut oil in its raw form.  Not just any coconut oil but Skinny & Co.'s because of their unique harvesting location (Ben Tre Province in Vietnam) and pressing process ("Our NUTRALOCK SYSTEM ™ is a 'fifth generation' process that extracts the 100% RAW coconut meat by cooling and dehumidifying our virgin, hand picked coconuts.  Once extracted, our coconut meat is hand pressed to virtually eliminate friction."


I am all about self-education, so I want you to read the benefits of coconut oil for yourself:

Have you tried Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil?  If you have, please let us know what you think in the comments below.








P.S., Did you know that good karma is passed on through comments?! :-)
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Misfits Trek (The Talan Revolt #4) - A Book Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Misfits Trek (The Talon Revolt #4) by John Blackport


A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
—Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces


When I was chosen to review John Blackport’s latest novel, Misfits Revolt (A Talan Revolt #4), I was excited and a little nervous.  Excited to learn a new (to me) author’s style of writing but also a new genre – fantasy.  Nervous because this author trusted me to honestly review his book.

I’m thankful to say that I thoroughly enjoyed both the author’s style of writing and his story.  His hero, Rick Rivoire, is what many would call “A Man’s Man” and yet he is gentle enough so that women are attracted to him.

The hero, in this case, Rick Rivoire, must face three key phases in his journey.  These three phases seem to occur within each book of John Blackport’s series.  The first phase is the departure where he leaves his home and familiar surroundings around the age of 10.  The initiation phase of his journey tests his character, which he must pass successfully in order to grow and fulfill his destiny.  Rick’s final, and possibly most difficult, phase is his return to the field in order to fight for what he believes is justice.  He cannot fail.

A Gamer’s Delight

I have ready many books about magic, vampires, elves, drama, and romance.  This book had them all and more!

John Blackport, author, spins words like no other.  From the first page, I was hooked and unable to put the book down.  The descriptions so clear that at times I not only saw and heard what was happening, I felt their every emotion.

The story opens with a daring, if not impossible, rescue of captives on their way to a mass execution in San Bitante.  Rick Rivoire, the lead character, appears to be in the third phase of the hero’s journey.  He has already left his familiar surroundings and been faced with trials that tested his character.  Now he is armed with knowledge, magic, along with a band of misfits – endearingly called “The Cornered Rats” – and is ready to defy his country leaders in order to stand up against slavery and religious persecution.

Just as if you were playing a game, travel along with Rick as he searches for love, fights vampires, strengthens his magical powers, and faces each situation with heart in order to triumph over evil.

A must read!

Rules of Engagement:

  • All humans are born with five lives or “Gifts”.  This sounds fantastic, except the bad guys have five gifts as well.
  • Cavalry officers are able to fire magic from the palms of their hands and conjure up smokemares.
  • Magic must be replenished and can only be done so in specific places so pistols, swords, and actual horses are used whenever possible.
  • From the human’s standpoint, ogres are good and elves are bad.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Have you read this book or any within the series?





Your purchase through affiliate links will provide Substance of Living with a small stipend and help its continued efforts to bring you quality posts such as this one.
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Host Your Own Film Festival

In honor of Sundance Film Festival and to break up the January duldrums, we like to host our own Substance of Living Film Festival.

Think of hosting a multi-day open house but the movie of the day is the main attraction.

If you're not truly up to the task of a multi-day viewing then schedule a series of movies throughout one day and run it as a marathon. 

Let's do this without breaking the bank!

Invitations


Make up a flyer with the date(s), times, and movie selections and be sure to invite a lot of people.  The more people, the more fun and milling around.  Most likely not everyone will be in your home at the same time unless you have one particular film EVERYONE wants to see.

If you have more than one TV or DVD set ups, you might want to have two movies running.

Another fun addition is to make ID badges for the guests or "Stars" to wear to ensure entrance into the festival.  We wouldn't want the riffraff coming in, right?!


Films


Groupings might consist of a favorite actor, theme (holiday, scary), or a particular director.  Science fiction, Romance, Foreign - try to stay with one specific such as Italian/German/Chinese/Indian or how
about a Medieval, Renaissance, Shakespearean, Pirates, Epic, Musical themes.

Movie Selections

"Romeo and Juliet", "Excalibur", "Mid Summer's Night", "Princess Bride", "Pirates of the Carribean", "Amadeus", "Girl with the Pearl Earring", "Elizabeth", "Marie Antoinette"

"300", "Gladiator", "Ben Hur" 

"Like Water for Chocolate", "The Sea Inside", "Pans Labyrinth"

"The King and I", "Farewell My Concubine", "Memoirs of a Geisha", "House of Flying Daggers"

"The Bicycle Thief", "Live is Beautiful", "La Dolce Vita"

"Across The Universe", "Moulin Rouge", "Sound of Music", "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Grease", "Evita"

Remember that not all movies are going to be a hit with everyone.  Some of the viewings might receive a light viewing.
 

Search for Local Talent

Do you have a theater in your area?  Do you know of any film makers, actors, directors that are seeking to get their names out or their films seen?  Maybe even a 5 or 10 minute live showing of a play.  If you were to ask them to attend or perhaps work with them to see how best to showcase their work, they might just surprise you and actually think your small venue is a good idea.  Who knows, someone at the viewing might know someone that knows someone.  I think there is a seven degree thing working here.



Exit Polls


Hand out exit polls prior to starting each movie so viewers can rate or take notes while viewing.  They can drop the polls in a box or simply hand them to you as they exit.

Some Exit Poll questions to ask:


  • Title of Movie Viewed:
  • How much did you enjoy this movie?  Excellent, Very Good, Average, Fair, Poor
  • What did you enjoy most about this movie?
  • What did you least enjoy about this movie?
  • Would you recommend this movie?
  • Did you have any preconceived ideas about this movie?
  • Could you see a time in your life that was similar to this movie?  If so, would you please comment?
  • Any parting words?


Menu


Popcorn by Substance of Living
Popcorn

This is a great party theme to enjoy all those extra cookies, cakes, drinks from the holidays.  Remember, one of the most popular New Year's Resolutions is to watch what we eat or to lose weight.  How much more giving and selfless can we be than to share our goodies with our neighbors, friends, and family?  :-)

A themed menu might be fun if you're staying within a particular theme such as Pirates (gold foiled candies, grog, ale, punch, chicken wings), Holiday (cookies, cakes, eggnog, cider), or a specific Foreign Language (Chinese, Indian, Italian - think finger foods to ease) film.

Another hit is to simply have popcorn and sodas.  Maybe add a couple boxes of candies.



Decorations

Red Carpet for Film Preview
Source
  • Have a photo opportunity area with a backdrop highlighting all the movie titles and a red carpet.
  • The directors, play writers, writers, actors invited might have some props they could bring that would also help advertise their works.
  • Set up a polling area.
  • Set up a viewing area.
  • Buffet snack counter. 
  • If your guests were to come in costume, such as in a Pirate themethey will inherently make live decorations.

Reception / After Party


This is where everyone gets to mix and mingle.  Announce the final tallies of the exit polls from the movies.

Serve finger sandwiches, champagne, bubbly drinks, and lots of pictures.




Have you ever hosted your own Film Festival?  How do you share your favorite genre of films or favorite movie?


Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.
Substance of Living

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Welcome to Substance of Living 2014
Welcome to 2014!

January is a time of newness.  We put away our holiday decorations and prepare ourselves for the future.  Many of us have resolutions, set annual goals or financial goals, create a visual board, or choose a word to help guide us through the new year.

My word for last year was RELEASE.  I worked on letting go.
  • Release my past.  Moving on and looking forward.
  • Letting go of clothes that no longer belong in my closet whether they still have the price tag or not.
  • Paired down my book collection.
  • Released negativity.
  • Relinquished control and allowed others to help.
My word for this year is PASSION.  I want to wake every morning with a spring in my step and an eagerness to get out of bed and get my day started.  Doesn't that sound like a great goal - to be excited to greet every day?  I know we all have a passion in which our soul is trying to make us aware.  Are you living your passion?

Each of us has a purpose and that purpose for this life may change throughout our time here on earth.  One of my purposes in life is to reach as many people as possible and share a moment with them.  You and I may not physically meet but we still have a connection.  Thanks to modern technology and the advent of the internet, you could literally be in another country or next door and we can connect.  I really do read each email and am in awe of the friendships I've been able to make through this website.

So, with PASSION being my operative word for the year, the continuation of releasing will have to take place in order to delve deeper and allow my passion to shine through.

Last year I said I'd like to ...


  • Host at least four parties in my home. - Yes!
  • Become more active in the performing arts. - Yes!
  • Plant bushes and flowers around the patio in the back yard.  Any suggestions? - Yes!
  • Install an efficient lawn sprinkler. - Yes!
  • Continue bringing you more of the items you've enjoyed the most here at Substance of Living. - How did we do and what more or new would you like to see?
  • Strengthen my friendships both face-to-face and across the miles, that includes those of you I've had the enjoyment to meet here. - Yes!  I've had the privilege to meet new friends and will continue to reach out.  What a fun year attending blog parties and link-ups.

This year I'd like to ...

  • Strengthen my friendships both face-to-face and across the miles, that includes those of you I've had the enjoyment to meet here.
  • Continue bringing you more of the items you've enjoyed the most here at Substance of Living.
  • Join and become active in a Body, Mind, Soul group.
  • Continue hosting Giveaways.
  • Seek Guest Bloggers to bring you fresh ideas and tutorials.
  • Attend blog conferences and parties.
  • Have you share with me the direction in which you'd like to see this website grow.  Do you want more healthy recipes, learn more about living a vegan life, join me in finding passion?
  • Bring you more books for our monthly book club.  Any suggestions?
Please send me an email (on the side of this page or at substanceofliving @ gmail dot com) with your goals, dreams, thoughts and what you'd like to see this year.

*****

Here is a fun teaser to get your year started:

Unscramble

  1. D W O R
  2. S L R O N I E O U T
  3. E T O F N E U R
  4. R E A L E C E B T
  5. L A G O S
1. word  2. resolution  3. fourteen  4. celebrate  5. goals

How did you do?  If you were able to figure them all out, Congratulations!  If not, it was just a fun game to occupy some time and entertain.

******

DH and I wish you the best this year.  We hope you had a good 2013 and hope that 2014 will surpass your expectations. 

What are your goals for 2014?  Do you choose a single word or a phrase to keep you focused on for the year?

Please remember to send in your Visual Board so we can post it.


Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.
Substance of Living

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Books to Read During the Month of January 2014

Welcome to the new year!  I love the word "new".  It gives me hope and allows me to think of the future.  What image comes to mind when you hear or see the word "NEW"?

January is such a busy month what with putting away all the holiday decorations, making preparations for the new year by creating Visual Boards, and setting goals so we'll go easy with this month's book club selection.

These two books were both referred to me by neighbors who also are dear friends.  These are light reading but hopefully they will touch and speak volumes to you.

When God Winks at You by SQuire Rushnell
When God Winks at You by SQuire Rushnell

If you're looking for more books to read, take a gander at our previous Book Club selections.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

Don't you love it when simple things, such as a kitten, have HUGE impacts on our hearts?  What other books have you read that touched you deeply?






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