fearfully made

I'LL DRIVE

March 3, 2011Read: Psalm 139

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

"Jimmy, you drive." Those three innocent words used to cause me serious panic. Well, it wasn't so much what was said, but who said it. Growing up, whenever the family went anywhere, Dad drove. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times he didn't. But on the other hand, when I got old enough to drive, he'd surprise me and want to take my truck.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't so much the driving that worried me, but it was the condition of my truck. See, I wasn't a neat freak. Alright, that's putting it mildly. I was kinda messy. (My mom and Loretta are both nodding and shaking their heads right about now.) And whenever Dad caught me off guard, his disappointment in how I was taking care of the truck he gave me was like a dagger.

See, to Dad, that truck was more than something to get me from here to there. It was a gift that he practically built with his own hands. And my negligence might as well have been a blow to the gut. Speaking of, at PrayFit, we believe that our effort to be healthy, whether it be to lose weight or lower our blood pressure, is a way to show God just how thankful we are for the body He made to get us through life. Hypothetically speaking, if God asked us to take Him from here to there, in what condition would He find us? On second thought, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

DAIRY-FREE HEALTH A look at five alternatives to your traditional glass of milk

Whether it’s because of allergies or other personal or dietary reasons, many folks choose to avoid cow’s milk. For a while, soy was the only option at many stores – not anymore! We tested five types of milk alternatives for taste and nutrition.

The Criteria

For our taste tests, we typically sample the same product from various brand names, like peanut butter or nonfat vanilla yogurt. Since the most popular cow’s milk alternatives are made from very different ingredients, we are testing the five most common: rice, hemp, almond, coconut and soy. Each beverage was ranked using our 5-point scale (5 being the highest) and judged based on taste and nutrition information. Since many of the brands offer a variety of options like low fat, vanilla flavored and unsweetened, we chose the “original” version of each brand. We found that all were best served (very) chilled.

Rice Dream Organic Rice Drink Rating: 4.5 Cost: $1.99 (per quart) Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 120 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: An overall great option if you’re used to skim milk. It’s surprisingly sweet even though it contains no added sweeteners. A watery consistency (just like skim milk) with some fat added from organic vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower and canola). It’s also very low in protein but fortified with calcium and vitamin D in similar amounts as cow’s milk.

Recommended Uses: Drinking plain or over cold cereal. You can also cook with it – there was a yummy-looking recipe for polenta on the box.

Pacific Hemp Milk Rating: 2 Cost: $3.99 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 140 calories; 5 grams fat; 3 grams protein

Our Take: We weren’t fans of this dairy-free option. It was thick and chalky with a sour, nutty aftertaste. It was sweetened with brown rice syrup and was fortified with 50 percent of the daily recommended amounts of calcium as well as hefty doses of vitamins D and B12. It was the most expensive and among the highest in fat, though the fat came mostly from the heart-healthy polyunsaturated kind.

Recommended Use: Smoothies

Pacific Organic Almond Milk Rating: 4.5 Cost: $1.69 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 60 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: A much more pleasing nutty flavor than the hemp milk with an easily drinkable consistency. It does have a strong almond flavor, which is fine if you like almonds. It was sweetened with evaporated cane juice and fortified with riboflavin, and vitamins A and D, but no calcium.

Recommended Uses: Chocolate milk, over whole-grain cereal, soups, pancake batter

So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage Rating: 4 Cost: $2.00 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 80 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: Thick (almost too thick) and creamy with a mild sweetness from added dried cane syrup. There was really no noticeable coconut flavor, but since it’s made from the fruit, most of the 5 grams of fat per serving comes from the less healthy saturated kind. Added nutrients included calcium and vitamins A, D and B12.

Recommended Uses: In coffee or tea, smoothies, or frozen into ice cream and popsicles

EdenSoy Extra Organic Soymilk Rating: 4 Cost: $2.99

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 130 calories, 4 grams fat;, 11 grams protein

Our Take: Like all soy milk, this had a distinctive flavor and slight aftertaste. It did score some points for having far more protein than any of the others, but it did contain some added sweetener. Fortified nutrients included calcium and vitamins E, D, B-12 and beta-carotene.

Recommended Uses: Great for baking due to its high protein content – these banana muffins are proof.

TELL US: What’s your favorite variety of dairy-free milk? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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I'LL DRIVE

December 8, 2010Read: Psalm 139

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

"Jimmy, you drive." Those three innocent words used to cause me serious panic. Well, it wasn't so much what was said, but who said it. Growing up, whenever the family went anywhere, Dad drove. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times he didn't. But on the other hand, when I got old enough to drive, he'd surprise me and want to take my truck.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't so much the driving that worried me, but it was the condition of my truck. See, I wasn't a neat freak. Alright, that's putting it mildly. I was kinda messy. (My mom and Loretta are both nodding and shaking their heads right about now.) And whenever Dad caught me off guard, his disappointment in how I was taking care of the truck he gave me was like a dagger.

See to Dad, that truck was more than something to get me from here to there. It was a gift that he practically built with his own hands. And my negligence might as well have been a blow to the gut. Speaking of, at PrayFit, we believe that our effort to be healthy, whether it be to lose weight or lower our blood pressure, is a way to show God just how thankful we are for the body He made to get us through life. Hypothetically speaking, if God asked us to take Him from here to there, in what condition would He find us? On second thought, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: ORANGE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES

That's right, it's time for some dessert. Being healthier, after all, isn't about painful deprivation as much as it is about better choices. So if you are moving your body regularly, you shouldn't feel guilty about occasionally giving in to your sweet tooth. But if you are being calorie-conscious, this can be a bit more agonizing unless you know how to indulge without going overboard. That's where PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, comes in.

"My mother-in-law discovered this recipe last year in a magazine, and these cookies became an instant family favorite," she says. "The combination of orange and chocolate makes for a light but decadent cookie. At 90 calories each, you can have one (or two) and not feel guilty about dessert."

Orange-Chocolate Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 egg yolk 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup orange marmalade 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate 1 tablespoon shortening

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk and orange peel. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Press your thumb into center and fill with 1/4 teaspoon orange marmalade.

Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening over low heat. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate mixture. Place cookies on rack to set.

Calories: 89 Fat: 5.5 grams Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams Protein: 1 gram Carbohydrate: 11 grams Sodium: 2 milligrams Cholesterol: 15 milligrams Fiber: 0 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

>> PLUS! 3 ways to start losing bodyfat...today