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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2006 I moved with my Hubby (then boyfriend) to Florida.  His boss was Brazilian and thus we hung out with a lot of Brazilians.  I tell you what they have some of the best BBQ and food around!  They buy large “slabs” of meat and cook it up and cut it there right off the grill, everyone sort of gathers around to munch on the meat.   I learned a really simple dish from the boss’ wife, because of the language barrier we lovingly started calling it Brazilian Rice.

The first thing that she did was fry/brown the rice.  I had done that with rice-a-roni before but never in just making homemade boiled rice, although I confess most of my rice experience growing up was instant rice.  After the rice is brown then you add your water, bring to a boil and cover.

Chop up like making salsa: tomatoes, onion, garlic, green/red bell peppers, cilantro and then season with allspice and salt.

THAT IS IT!  Once the rice is done then you add the fresh ‘salsa’ on top of the rice and enjoy.  I tell you what the fresh food on top of the rice really pops in your mouth.

I used to make this all the time but over the years I have stopped, but I never stopped thinking about it.  I often wonder if I forgot a spice or two or even some vegetable (lemon or lime maybe?).  I’ve done internet searches to see if I could figure out the real name, but no… so alas we have Brazilian Rice ala Florida. 😀

 

Today is day 23, down another pound, feeling great, clothes are fitting better, energy is high.  I do admit there is still hunger, something about juice just doesn’t make our minds think we are full.  I know I’m getting all the nutrition I need, I am seeing the “glow” in my skin now.  Although I am ready to get back to a semi normal life.  I crave a cheese burger pretty much daily, so I know when I am done there will be a burger in my future!  Almost two weeks left, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

 

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We went to our first chicken slaughter well over a year ago, maybe two.  We have built a friendly relationship with our local feed & seed staff and they invited us out for a chicken slaughter.  We have been to several others they have put on over the past year and a half.  As we learn more about nutrition and food the slaughters become more interesting, for working a day we get our share of chickens, plus we get organ meat and this last time chicken feet.  Now let me tell you, if I thought getting to the organ meat was hard, looking at that grocery bag in the freezer with talons hanging out… it was really easy to just let it sit there.

I have zero experience with chicken feet, ZERO.  Honestly I didn’t even know they were edible.  I did a little research, but only a little… actually I think I looked at one website.  I knew that the feet were nutritious and from a gal at our feed & seed that they make a gel when you cook it, she called it gelatin, instantly I’m thinking cherry flavored, wait… cherry flavored chicken feet?  I guess we’re not talking JELLO here.  So Sunday I pulled out the chicken feet from the freezer and put them in the sink, here is what they looked like frozen.

All the dark bits are dirt and poo, plus you have the added bonus of blood, it was nasty slaughtering them but the feet are funky.  So I dumped them in to a sink full of cold water.  See there is this skin on the chicken feet, that yellow color is the skin.  Apparently you blanch the feet “briefly” and this skin is supposed to come right off, so for that not to happen while we were cleaning them we used cold water.

The dirt and poo came off, so did the blood and there were some extra feathers hanging around.  So if I sounded a bit sarcastic above about the skin on the feet it’s because I was.  See the skin killed the process for us, it was the most annoying thing ever!  The bag we did ended up being three different batches.  We blanched the first batch the longest and the skin came off but so did most of the meat under it.  The article I read said that it could become like glue if blanched too long, but honestly it didn’t feel very long.  Hubby asked “What did it say? How long are we suppose to blanch?”  “Briefly” was my answer, because that is what the article said.  The next batch, Hubby dumped in walked to the sink to get the strainer, then grabbed the pot and dumped the water.  It couldn’t have even been 30 seconds, but again the stupid skin was the worst!  Third batch, a little longer than the second batch and less than the first, and still we were left with skin we couldn’t peel off.  By the last batch we were so annoyed with chicken feet and skin we just left some on and I decided I’d just strain the soup stock.

Finally after we got them all done into a big pot they went with very good filtered water.  I think water is very important and the additives they put in city water, along with all the pharmaceuticals they have found in most city waters, it can be really bad for us.  So when you make soup use good filtered water.  Added the feet and on the stove it went for the evening.

Tonight I am enjoying the soup.  I added some dehydrated chantrelle mushrooms we had harvest in the fall, dehydrated tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, cabbage, and rice and made a hardy soup.  The chicken feet stock is mild, although we’ll probably add more water and let them boil another night.  With salt it tastes like the real deal, and it is a gel at cold temperatures, that means you go the “good stuff” out of the feet.  It has a lot of fat on top, which is healthy fat.  Fat is good for us people! Don’t listen to the people who says it isn’t.  Anyway, after all that finally enjoying the fruits of our labor.  It was very labor intensive, if you know how to skin chicken feet better, PLEASE tell me, we have two more bags in the freezer!  I suspect if you buy them in the store they will already be skinned, this is worth it though.  We used the whole chicken, even parts people would discard and we got tons of meals out of it, plus a boatload of nutrition.  So for the first time ever I’m enjoying chicken feet, who would have thought.

 

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Sounds appealing huh?  Well actually they were really delicious!  Here’s the deal, I have horrible teeth.  I haven’t had dental insurance in a long time and when I finally buckled down and went I found out that all those years of not going and not properly taking care of my teeth has resulted in a lot of money spent sitting in a dentist chair.  I do go to the dental school, but still it’s expensive.  I started to do some research on alternative dental care.  I had already learned about the horrible dangers of fluoride.   The dental school still tries to push that one me, my student dentist does know my preferences and although the instructors try to say it, I let it go in one ear and out the other.  Fluoride is a horrible toxin, it shouldn’t be anywhere near our bodies.  Feel free to search it on naturalnews.com and learn more about why fluoride is so bad for us there.

So in my quest to find a more natural approach to dental health, I found a book called Cure Tooth Decay With Nutrition by Ramiel Nagel.  I highly recommend this book!  Rami really puts the research of Weston A Price into a neat and easy to read and understand book.  Dr Price wrote a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, where he basically goes around to different cultures around the world.  He goes to “indigenous” people who live off the land, they eat the entire animal when it’s killed, they don’t eat processed foods or sugars, they eat raw milk (by the way check out this article about a Harvard study that shows that Pasteurized milk is linked to cancer http://www.naturalnews.com/035081_pasteurized_milk_cancer_dairy.html).  Then he goes to their opposite, the “industrialized” (aka what we live in) people.  These people are in many minds, better off than the indigenous people, they have processed foods and sugars, they buy the prime cuts of meat at the store and rarely eat the entire animal.  What his studies found was that the people who ate from the land, ate raw milk and all the animal they kill had better teeth than those who live in the industrialized culture.  He has photos to prove it.  I haven’t bought Dr Price’s book, although I want it very badly.  I have seen photos from the book (in Rami Nagel’s book as well as online) and I’ve done research on this subject myself.  So the thought process is that we are living in an industrialized society where we don’t eat the organ meats anymore, honestly most people (myself included) think they are pretty gross.  But what came out of this research is that tooth decay is not from sugars and such on our teeth that cause the decay but that we are not getting the right nutrition in our diet, and then our body must take nutrients from our teeth in order to let other more important organs survive.

When Hubby and I were invited to a chicken slaughter we went and helped.  In return we got chicken and I asked for a ton of organ meat.  Honestly, it’s been sitting in my freezer for months!  I just don’t know how to prepare it!  Finally last week Hubby took it out and basically forced my hand to get that into our bodies.  I did some youtube research and watched people make things out of the organs.  Apparently, most of the world still eats these and it’s just us who don’t.  In many ways it’s pretty disrespectful to NOT eat the entire animal, if you kill it, it should all be used.  There were a lot of Caribbean dishes made from liver, gizzards and hearts.  The first night I made some, it was ok, basically a saute of onions and garlic and veggies and liver over rice with braggs amino acids.  The second night was better, I followed a recipe I found on youtube http://caribbeanpot.com/simple-chicken-liver-and-gizzard/  here is the link to the website for the recipe.  I did goof it though, the “green seasoning” that it calls for I sort of winged.  I didn’t want left over so I just put some into my magic bullet (yes, I have one and love it) then ended up dumping it all in before realizing that it only called for 1/2 tsp, but I have to say it turned out really good.  Again we had this over rice.  There were tons of left overs from those two days.  So Friday I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and I picked up a tortilla press ($20 and totally worth it).  Hubby bought a huge bag of Masa (corn flour) and I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making homemade tortillas.  We had a blast trying to figure it out.  It was a comedy of errors but we did get to eat.  🙂  I think making tortillas takes time to figure out.  You have to get the dough just right and the pan has to be really hot with not too much oil.  We topped them with some of the left over organ meat and rice, plus added fresh veggies, cheese and sour cream.  They tasted AMAZING!  We did decide that anything would taste pretty good if you put cheese, sour cream and hot sauce on it though. haha.  Then we had two days of nachos, with the meat and rice over chips with cheese and heated in the oven.  Again, you really didn’t know you were eating organ meat.

So over all it went well.  I think we still have to try new recipes, if you have one please feel free to share!  The whole fried liver and onions thing though… yeah it still tastes like liver.  It’s too bad we didn’t grow up eating these more, I think it would not be so difficult to figure out now, but it’s still a fun challenge.  Oh! And I saw a lady (on youtube) who put chicken hearts on a skewer and put them on the BBQ.  So Hubby has some more organ meat marinating in some Jerk Seasoning he made, which he learned to make from a Jamaican friend in Florida.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.  Now let’s just pray this pays off in future dental visits.

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One of my go to snack foods has always been crackers, but if you look at the ingredients of any of the boxes you find a lot of not so great for you things.  Hydrogenated oils (read more about these toxic oils here http://www.naturalnews.com/024694_oil_food_oils.html ) sugar, preservatives… you name it.  Most of the ingredients are not whole food ingredients, and if they don’t come from God why are we putting it into our temples?  Since I’ve been doing sourdough however,  I have found a lovely alternative.  Sourdough crackers are crispy, crunchy and delicious!

You add your sourdough starter to your flour and let it sour over night, I’ve actually got busy after I started these and let them sit on my counter for a couple of days and they still turn out amazing.  Mostly I’ve used raw butter but you can also use coconut oil.  The souring process breaks down the phytic acid and makes the grains much more easily digested, it doesn’t have to take the  minerals and vitamins from your body to break it down, thus giving you a much healthier option.  Plus the only limits you have in variety is the limits in your imagination.  After you sour your dough, you roll it out pretty thin, cook them in a hot oven until golden brown and let sit until cool (if you can wait).   Then you can either top them with some cheese or just eat them plain.  Then do not last in my house!  Last time I made a double batch and still they didn’t last.

For flavor options you can always steal ideas you see in stores, sun dried tomato and garlic, cheese, thyme and rosemary… Once I have my dough soured I add my additions before rolling it out.  They say you aren’t suppose to “play” with your dough too much because it won’t be as crispy and crunchy but so far I haven’t had this issue.  I’ve made cheese, where I grate cheese (I used Tillamook Pepperjack) then I took a handful put it on top of my dough and then kneaded it in, took more once that was incorporated and kneaded that in, until I had what I thought was enough.  The cheese blended in, so it was a guessing game as to how much, but once they cooked… oh my! They had the most amazing cheese flavor and it was natural not some chemical cheese flavoring.   Hubby wanted a type of graham cracker, so I made plain crackers and wiped the top with coconut oil.  I used my fingers (since my body temp heated up the coconut oil) but you can melt some and use a brush to brush the top.  Then I added a cinnamon/sugar mix we have (that we put on toast from time to time) and baked them.  It was a sweet treat and I got to control the amount put on top so you know how much sugar you are using, rather than getting what you get from a pre-packaged box.

Two years ago we had a crazy summer, most people here in Oregon didn’t get red tomatoes, people still call it “the year of green tomatoes.”  Thankfully we were not those people and actually ended up with so many tomatoes we didn’t know what to do with them.  So we dehydrated them and I’ve been putting them in soups and spaghetti and on homemade pizza with great success.  I cut them up and throw them in the dough and they taste like sun-dried tomatoes.  We also went mushroom hunting and have dehydrated chanterelle’s that I have added to soups and such, I bet these would make a fun addition to some crackers.

I believe that the more we make ourselves the healthier we will be.  We control what goes into the food, there are no secrets, no mystery chemicals, no cancer causing materials, just whole fresh food that is made with love.  I guarantee that if you give some homemade sourdough crackers a try, they won’t last in your house either.   Make some farmers cheese or some yogurt cheese (like cream cheese with a bit of a bite) and put that on top for some homemade probiotic cheesy goodness.

Make what you and your family like to eat.  I guarantee they will be gone before you know it and you’ll be setting more dough out to sour.  I can’t believe how easy these are and how cheaply the can be made!  There really is no reason to buy crackers at the store anymore.  Sourdough does take some planning ahead so you can soak the phytic acid out, but there is joy in planning nutritious food for you and your family.

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I fell into natural food and medicine in 2006 while reading a book on the subject.  I had several introductions to the life but for the most part stayed complacent until 2006 when reading Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About.  Yes, I jumped on that “fad” but honestly it changed my life.  Well it’s actually been a slow process but it’s coming along.  The book talked about things that I had heard previously from a Naturopathic Doctor who was treating me in 2001 for something that stumped the Medical Doctors.  The light went on and the journey began.  Since then I’ve been gobbling up information like a sponge, so I thought I would share some of the places I find good ideas on natural living.

#1 GNOWFGLINS-  My most recent find.  It stands for God‘s natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally in season, whew is that a mouth full!  I’ve been a serial lurker on this website, they have eclasses but I have not ever signed up.  I’ve made cheese with my milk lady, I bought their sourdough ebook, and the classes in the “fundamentals” class well, I didn’t think I needed.   I pretty much know how to cook a chicken, and sprout beans, soaking grains however… I could figure it out.  But, I am on their email list and they have a new eclass Fundamentals II, the one thing that reached out and grabbed my attention was how to cook organ meats.  I have been trying to find a good source on this subject for a while.  We help butcher chickens so I ask for organ meat, I know it’s healthy for us, but I have no idea how to cook them.  So I signed up, they have very easy terms for payment, I chose $10 a month and you can cancel at any time.  The older classes which I didn’t think I would need, are amazing!  I highly recommend this website gnowfglins.com

#2 Natural News– My favorite website!  Mike Adams is a great guy with lots of amazing information.  This is my go to website for questions on herbs or natural treatments or remedies.  They also expose a lot of garbage going on in the world, like GMO, Pesticides, Cancer etc.  You can search virtually any topic and find something about it.  They have videos (for free!) and also a store where you can purchase items.  There is a search where you can find drug interactions with herbs… ok I could go on and on… but just check out naturalnews.com

#3 Sally Fallon‘s Nourishing Traditions.  This book is PACKED with info.  I ignore the “millions of years” garbage because I know I was created perfectly by God in heaven, but her info is great in the nutrition department.   She talks about whole foods, grains, raw milk products, organ meats, fermentation etc.   Basically it’s GNOWFGLINS but in book form.  I haven’t gone through and done everything in this book yet but even though it’s a bit pricy, I do recommend having this on your shelf.

#4 For fermenting specifically Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.  This is where I got my recent sauerkraut recipe. 🙂 I believe he also talks about lacto-fremented sodas which we also do.

I think I’m going to stop here.  I have a lot of resources for other things, vitamins, coconut oil, herbs etc, but that’s a bit much for one post.

I did just watch a gnowfglins ecourse video about making your own soaked pasta and I believe that is going to be on my list of things to accomplish this week, maybe some soaked muffins or bread.  I’ve soaked grains before when doing sourdough but not just in regular cooking and what an important thing it is for proper digestion and mineral absorption.  I really do love learning new things. Cheers to a healthy life!

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We grow much of our own produce in the spring and summer.  It is such a blessing to go out of your home, pick something that you grew and go inside and make something tasty and delicious with it.  We get so accustomed to it, that when winter rolls around we forget that we actually HAVE to go to the grocery store and get produce.  By produce I mean, greens.  Last week I was feeling “green deficient.”  We harvested apples and pears and made wonderful things with them, pear sauce, raw apple cider etc.  We have canned veggies, but most of them are pickled, and the fruit and pickled veggies were not enough, we felt we needed more.  So I went to Whole Paycheck and grabbed a big container of organic spinach and a couple of heads of broccoli.

Suffering from green food deficiency (I made that up) we decided to go with a nice spinach salad for dinner.  We have quit buying salad dressing in our home.  Which has been hard because I was a strictly a ranch type of girl, luckily when you start to eat different you get use to it.  So without further ado, here is the easiest (probably cheapest too) salad with non purchased salad dressing, which is all preference and your taste, so play around with it.

Large bowl of spinach greens (individual servings)

Lightly sprinkle olive oil on top, to taste

Lightly sprinkle Balsamic vinegar (we use a sweetened with honey and thyme vinegar, but have also used balsamic MANY times), to taste

Lightly sprinkle with Bragg’s Amino Acids (this might be the “secret weapon” it adds a salty taste and you get amino acids), to taste

Sprinkle with brewers yeast/nutritional yeast

Slice smoked gouda cheese in very small pieces and sprinkle a little over the top.
The flavor will explode in your mouth!  The Gouda adds a wonderful smoked flavor, I think it makes the salad.  Feel free to try other smoked cheeses, we get our smoked Gouda at Grocery Outlet and for CHEAP, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a great tasting salad.
Enjoy!

 

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Every kid I know would gobble up some of these deep-fried “treats” but the million dollar question is what part of the chicken exactly is the chicken nugget from?  Seriously guys this is not food.  Nuggets contain cancer causing agents, Dimethylpolysiloxane which is a type of silicone that is used in breast implants, phosphates and more.  This stuff is NOT made from God.  This is human “experimenting” at its worst and people feed this to their growing children, so their teeth are going to be made from silicone?!  What is food?  It helps us grow, and regrow.  It makes skin and cells and teeth…  The next photo is disturbing… this is what a chicken nugget looks like before it looks like a chicken nugget, brace yourself.

Why is it pink?  And not flesh pink, that is cotton candy pink.  GROSS!

Have you ever seen a chicken being slaughtered?  Have you ever been part of where your food comes from in that way?  If not I seriously recommend it.  Chickens are easy to start with, honestly they aren’t the smartest of all of God’s creatures, sorry chickens.  But this is all coming to you from a “city girl” in fact I went vegetarian for a year because I felt it was so wrong to not be able to kill my own dinner.  Vegetarianism ended for me with a beautiful grilled steak.  😉

In 2009 my husband and I moved from Portland, OR (“the big city”) to a small town about 45 minutes from Portland.  We had a landlord who wouldn’t allow us to have a garden, and if we did everything had to be in containers which then had to be completely cleaned up at the end of the growing season.  We saw a movie called Faith Like Potatoes, if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.  In the movie (which is based on a true story) a farmer in South Africa grows potatoes, and had to put his faith that God would provide a good crop.  See when you plant a potato they grow underground.  It isn’t until harvest that you actually see the fruits of your labor.  Will you have potatoes at all?  Will they be big? Small?  You have to have faith that God will provide you a good crop.  Hubby connected with that and his desire was to grow potatoes.  So when we moved from Portland, he asked our landlords if he could grow potatoes.  They agreed.  After that he wanted to have chickens for eggs.  Then agreed.  And slowly we started getting into growing our own food and truly knowing where it all comes from.

We became fast friends with our feed and seed.   Some employees there were raising meat chickens, when it was slaughter time they called to us for help.  In exchange for the help we would get to take home some freshly butchered chickens for our freezer.  I had never witnessed a life being taken like that before, in fact I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond.  There were others there, other customers who wanted to see what it was all about, some people wanted to get their hands dirty and learn how to do it.  Our friend that lived there has kids, and her little girl was up the hill crying because she knew we were killing chickens, oh the innocent little heart!  But when I looked up the hill, I could see her inching closer and closer for her to get a glimpse of what we were doing.  Even she had a curiosity about the process.  Seriously though, chickens are easy.  You put a couple of screws in a wood round, stretch their necks out and guess what?  If you let go, they just lay there, there isn’t a fight or a struggle… they just keep their head there.  Chickens are pretty stupid.  Our laying hens will come when called and they know us, but they peck their own poo… come on, can’t be too smart when you peck your own poo. 😉

So guys were the ones picking up the chickens and cutting their heads off.  They then threw the flailing birds into the bushes until they stopped moving.  Yep, they could run with their heads cut off!  Then they are picked up by the feet and dunked into a large pot of boiling water so that the feathers come off easier.  Then there is a group of people who remove the feathers (they have since upgraded to a plucking machine, which spins the bird around a container with plastic knob things in it to remove the feathers).  Next the feet are chopped off and they go into a bucket (to keep and make chicken stock for soup), then the insides are cut into and the good organs are kept and put into ice water.  There are a few organs that you don’t keep and those go into a slop bucket, but things like the liver and heart and gizzards… those you keep and EAT.  The chickens are then washed with a hose, and then they are put into ice/ice water until you can wrap them.

I want to take a little side note to talk a bit about the organs.  I actually have really bad teeth, and no dental insurance go figure.  In my searching of natural medicine/foods etc. I found a book called Cure Tooth Decay With Nutrition by Rami Nagel.  He uses a lot of research done by Winston A Price for the basis of his book.  Basically Dr. Price found that in cultures that were industrialized they had higher cases of tooth decay, and in places where they drank raw milk from grass-fed cows, and they ate all of the animal that was killed, there were significant reduction in tooth decay, some never saw a dentist ONCE in their life!  In our industrialized society we are in the same boat, we are not eating naturally, we are not eating what God gave, but processed garbage then expecting our body to run optimally on junk.  The below people all have strong healthy teeth because of their diet, not because they had root canals and fillings and whitening treatments.  Check out Winston A Price’s book for more info, Rami Nagel’s book for more info or the Winston A Price foundation.

The experience of butchering a chicken wasn’t as horrible as I thought.  I didn’t chop a head off though, but I had a lot of blood on me.  We asked for a bunch of the organ meat, we got some chicken and our last time even all the chicken feet.  (which are still sitting in my freezer, shame on me!)  Now butchering meat rabbits, that is a whole different story.  We tried that for a while, but we are too sensitive for that (they scream, ugh).  We were so proud to know where our chickens came from, who took care of them, how they lived, how they died.  God gave us dominion over the earth but he never said we should be cruel to his creation.  Chickens should be able to roam free, not stacked on top of each other or fed horrible growth hormones.  Please watch Food Inc if you haven’t.

BBQing up a freshly butchered chicken, I tell you there is nothing like it.  Knowing you worked for your food, again there is nothing like it.  The last thing that I think most of us “industrialized” folk don’t do is make a bone broth after your done with your food.  Right now I’m drinking turkey bone broth soup from our Thanksgiving bird.  Don’t let your food go to waste!  There are important minerals, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in there.  Things we need.  These are leached out of the bones when you cook them in water.  If you are doing beef, you need to cook them in the oven for a bit first.  This was told to me by a naturalpathic doctor that I was seeing once.  She said that the beef bone is harder and in order for it to work right and get the most nutrients you need to cook the bones a bit.  Which sounds weird because you have probably already cooked your beef, but it couldn’t hurt to cook the bones alone right?  I google searched it and you are to bake the bones for 30-40 minutes on 400 degrees  or an hour on 350 degrees.  Chicken and turkey is much easier, eat the meat, leave the stragglers and put in a pot on your stove to heat.  I usually turn the stove on low and just walk away, easier still it can be left overnight, and you can use a crock pot if you don’t want to leave your stove on all night.  Once it’s done, let it cool, strip the bones clean (toss them or compost them as long as you don’t have dogs) then save the broth.  You can add whatever you want, carrots, celery, potatoes, rice, beans… whatever floats your soup boat.  Just get that nutritious stuff into your body.  In our home if you have meat on the bone one night, then you better believe dinner the next night will be soup.  Start making that a tradition in your own home, and lets get this temple healthy!

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