Easy ways to improve body and soul

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

— Oprah Winfrey

We are three weeks into the new year and I have heard mutterings of the January blahs and disappointment from resolutions that have already gone down the tubes.

Think of this time of year as a chance to make small changes that will bring renewal during the long winter. We should always take time to reflect on past mistakes and make changes in the year ahead. Why not make four easy changes?

  • Spice up your life with cinnamon. A study reported in Diabetes Care indicates that adding this spice to food will help lower blood sugar naturally, fight off bacteria and deliver antioxidants to the body. Just add as little as 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) a day to the diet. Enjoy hot tea with whole grain toast, covered with honey and cinnamon.
 Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com.
  • Ditch the polluting air fresheners. Use that almost empty bottle of vodka left over from the holidays in green cleaning. Vodka will combat germs while freshening and disinfecting the home. In a clean spray bottle, mix 1/2 cup (125 mL) each of water and vodka, and 20 drops of essential oil and mist away.
  • Shine things up. Take a clean damp sponge, sprinkle with baking soda and a few drops of dish soap and start scrubbing. Adding soda to the wash cycle and bath water will soften fabrics and skin.
  • Add a punch with colour. It can be as little as adding some vibrant colours to a favourite vase or purchasing a throw pillow. Bring out Grandma’s old serving plates or pick up something new to brighten the table.

Here are some menu ideas to put on one of those plates.

Mushroom Beef Roast

Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and steamed green vegetables like green beans, brussels sprouts or broccoli.

  • 3 lb. boneless beef cross rib pot roast 1.4 kg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 2 mL
  • 2 tbsp. oil 30 mL
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 
2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 c. chopped pepper, color of your choice 125 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or garlic seasoning
  • 1 tsp. oregano 5 mL
  • 2 cans sliced mushrooms, not drained 284 mL
  • 2 
1/3 c. beef stock 75 mL
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup 30 mL
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 10 mL
  • 3 tbsp. flour 45 mL

Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C).
Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon (15 mL) of the oil and sear the meat over medium-high heat approximately four minutes per side. Transfer to a roasting dish.
In the same skillet, saute the onion, carrots, pepper, garlic, and oregano over medium heat until softened, about five minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for an additional five minutes. Scrape vegetable mix over the beef roast.
our the stock into the skillet and bring to a boil. Let bubble for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the meat mixture and roast for two hours or until beef is tender and a thermometer shows that meat is done. Remove the roast to a platter to let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice across the grain.

While meat is resting, combine the flour with approximately 1/4 c. (60 mL) of water; whisk into remaining roasting juices. Put the roasting pan back in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until gravy has thickened. Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine: January 2008 and www.allrecipes.com.
Slow cook on low for seven hours as an alternative to oven roasting. Serves six.

Saucy Mocha Chocolate Pudding

There are few things more delectable than a warm chocolate dessert. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream and top with fruit. Grate dark chocolate over the top if desired.

  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. cocoa 60 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 7 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted 60 mL
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. milk 125 mL
  • 1 c. brown sugar 250 mL
  • 1/3 c. cocoa 75 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. hot water 375 mL
  • 1/2 c. cold coffee 125 mL

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Blend in the egg and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients alternately with milk. Spread into a greased nine x nine inch (22 cm) square baking pan. To make sauce, combine the brown sugar and cocoa. Add hot water and coffee, mix and pour over the batter. Bake at 325 F (160 C) for 45 minutes.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: [email protected].