Monday, October 29, 2018

Jellytelly Review
A couple of years ago, I got the wonderful kids' video series, What's in the Bible? from my local library on inter-library loan. My daughter watched all the episodes (26!) with great enthusiasm. It's a program for children with puppets and rhyming songs - really cute and fun - and she really enjoyed it.

In subsequent months, when I was teaching her religion, from time to time I'd mention something that I considered pretty obscure, the kind of thing you might learn in a graduate Theology class. Stuff like the parallelism in Hebrew Old Testament poetry. Or who Rehoboam was. Or Ishbosheth. Stuff you wouldn't expect a kid to know (much less be able to pronounce! ; )

And, she'd say, "I know that Mom." (She's NOT one of those kids who always says that no matter what I say).

I'd ask, "You do? Where did you learn it?"

(Since we homeschool, I feel like I usually know what she knows pretty well!)

The reply would invariably be, "What's in the Bible!"

So, this year, when she said she wanted to watch it again, I was enthusiastic. Except that the new library didn't have it. And I'm cheap (okay, okay, "frugal!") And, it's NOT a cheap set to buy!

Well, my husband did some research, and discovered that we could subscribe to Jellytelly and watch the WHOLE series. And it would only be about $5. per month (at the time of this publication)! Which is a STEAL!

So, we signed up. And she watched ALL the episodes of What's in the Bible, followed by a summary of the whole Bible on Superbook. Then every episode of 321 Penguin. The Owlegories, then Paws and Tales. Then who-knows-what else! Each one of these series costs a bit to buy, but on Jellytelly, they're all included in the basic price : )

We're super-diligent about what we watch. We have no TV in the house, and we select videos carefully. Because as the popular saying goes, "How could we entertain ourselves with something that caused the death of our Savior?"

And, I'm delighted to say, we can let her watch Jellytelly freely. No restrictions. If it's on there, it's good.

We're Orthodox Christians, and once in a while, we might have a tiny difference in perspective from that of the mostly Protestant writers. But, the differences are small, and the benefit is great. We can always explain the points of difference. And, it's good for her to know how other Christians understand the Faith.

What I like best about this streaming service is that the wonderfully entertaining programs aren't just "not harmful," but rather they're truly beneficial. The Spiritual nutrition of Spinach, but the TASTE of Ice Cream ; )

If you're looking for some wonderful viewing for your kids - or for a great gift for Christmas or another occasion, sign your kids up for Jellytelly! (note, this isn't an affiliate link or a paid ad, I just LOVE this service!)

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Monday, October 22, 2018

10 Wonderful Ways with Lentils

Lentils come pretty close to being a perfect food!

They're cheap; packed with protein and other great nutrients and  easy to store. They're quick to cook - unlike beans, they don't even need to be soaked. Nearly everyone finds them easy to digest - but if your stomach is especially delicate, the red ones are even easier to digest than the brown or green ones, since the fibrous "skin" has been removed from them.

What a lot of people don't realize is that they're also super-versatile. They can be used to make everything from soups, to salads to entrees.

Here are ten of my favorite ways to enjoy them:

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Lentil & Rice Salad

Masala Dal

Moujendra, Black Tie

Red Lentil & Artichoke Stew 

Lentil Spaghetti

Family Favorite Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup - Moroccan or Sephardic Styles

Three Bean Dal

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Everyday Saints and Other Stories, a Book Review

Everyday Saints and Other Stories
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, translated by Julian Henry Lowenfeld,  has been on my "ought to read" list for a few years now.

First, a good friend recommended it to me.

Then, while working in my Parish bookstore, person after person would point to it on the shelf, and ask if I had read it. When I told them that I hadn't, invariably they'd tell me that I ought to.

But, it's kind of a daunting book. About 500 pages. And the library didn't have it (the public libraries nowadays almost never have newer Christian books). So I hesitated to buy a book that would require such a large time commitment.

Finally, one more friend recommended it.

And, the clincher, she also loaned me her copy! : )

Of course, I discovered that all those recommendations had not been wrong!

Despite its phone-book thickness, this book is an easy read. It's a collection of true short stories that all took place in the years of the Soviet empire. Most of the events happened in the 1980's and 1990's, though some of the events occurred much earlier or a little later. It was originally a huge best seller in Russia, then was later translated into English.

The stories are compelling to read - much like a good novel - and there are many photographs of the men and women in the stories. 

Each story tells of God's action in the world, involving Monks, Nuns, and the laypeople they knew.

The cost of serving God during those dark times is well known, and the heroic courage of these men and women makes the book a real page-turner at times. How people remained true to the Faith, and with what unwavering courage is definitely worth meditating upon.

The book is filled with inspiring stories and remarkable miracles.

One story that particularly touched me was the story from the time of Civil War before the Revolution (circa 1917). It tells of a poorly run monastery with some "bad" monks, Monks who had a reputation for laziness and alcoholism. The Bolsheviks thought that these Monks would be an easy target - so they attempted to force them to publicly deny Christ before the townspeople - many of whom held them in contempt. The Bolstheviks threw on the ground the Holy Cross and the Scriptures, and demanded that the Monks trample upon them in front of all the people. The Abbot turned to his Monks and proclaimed, "Well, my brothers, we have lived like pigs, but let us at least die like Christians." Of course, the Bolsheviks then proceeded to behead them all, making them Martyrs for the Faith.

This story greatly impressed me with the lesson that, even when outward sins or addictions are glaring, we cannot truly know the heart of another. And, repentance is more powerful than any sin. The person we think of as "bad" might have a Faithfulness to God that we can only dream of.

But, truly, each of the stories is a gem in its own way - there was no need to single out just one.

If you wonder about Russian Orthodoxy during the Communist years, if you wonder about being a faithful Christian in a militantly secular culture, if you seek inspiring stories of faithful service to God, you'll enjoy this book.

If you'd like to get a copy of this book, here's a link. It's not an "affiliate link," but it's simply for your convenience. In addition to being able to buy the book through this official site, you can also read more about it here:

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, translated by Julian Henry Lowenfeld

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Monday, October 1, 2018

40+ Meals. WW Freestyle Zero Points. Vegan, Gluten Free

Zero Points, 40+ Meals, Vegan, Gluten Free
Looking for WW Friendly, Zero Freestyle point recipes that are Vegan and/or Gluten Free? 

I've compiled a huge list for you! 

With these recipes, you could eat dinners that were centered around Zero Point entrees for more than a month! 

There are also several side dishes here, in addition to the 40+ entrees.

Keep reading & find some that appeal to you : )

A few caveats are listed at the bottom of this post.



Almond Milk, Two Minute


Kids' Favorite Breakfast Ice Cream


Scrambled Tofu

Lunch and Dinner Entrees

Chinese Restaurant Food (rice & nuts not included in zero points)

Claire's Southern Delight (rice not included in zero points)

Curried Chickpeas over Rice (rice not included in zero points)

Eggplant Stew (rice or bread not included in zero points)

Greek Broad Beans (Koukia) or
Fava Beans

Greek Style Black-Eyed Peas ( Louvia )

Greek Chickpea Stew ( Revythia )

Greek Giant Beans ( Gigantes ) 

Greek Green Beans ( Fasolakia Yachni )

Greek Okra & Tomato Stew ( Bamies Yachni )

Greek White Beans, Easiest Ever (Fasolia Vrasta)

Indian Chickpeas in Ginger Sauce over Rice (rice not included in zero points)

Indian Mung Beans

Indian Spiced Blackeye Peas over Rice (rice not included in zero points)

Marinated, Grilled Tofu

Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables (for zero points, use capers instead of olives, and omit rice)

Mushroom Kabobs, Grilled ( Manitarakia )

Peas & Artichokes Yachni

Red Lentil & Artichoke Stew 

Shiitake Rice Bowl (for zero points, omit rice)

Skyline Black Beans and Rice over Spaghetti, Copycat (for zero points, serve without pasta)


Tofu Creole

Side Dishes

Cauliflower & Capers

Chinese Restaurant Green Beans

Corn on the Cob, Three Minute

Corn, Urban Grilled

Jicama, Simply

Refried Beans, Easiest Healthy


Sesame Broccoli

Simply Zucchini Saute

Veggies Vinaigrette



Better than Coleslaw (omit nuts for zero points - add carrot or red cabbage for visual interest, if desired)


Black Bean and Corn Salad (omit avocado for zero points)

Black-Eyed Pea Salad (on left)

Carrot Raisin Salad without Mayonnaise (use pineapple in place of raisins for zero points)

Fruited Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Glysterida Salad (use oil free version and omit cheese for zero points)

Mediterranean Two Bean Salad (omit olives for zero points)

Orange Beet Salad (omit nuts, and substitute orange juice for oil in dressing)

Refreshing Diced Salad

 Simply Greek Dressing (Traditional or Fat Free)

Super Simple Salad (use capers in place of olives for zero points

White Bean Salad



Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)


Broccoli Soup 

Butternut Squash Soup, Justin's


Family Favorite Lentil Soup

Greek Bean Soup, Favorite (Fasolia Yachni)
 Greek Bean Soup, Easy ( Fasolia Yachni )

Hot & Sour Soup

Lemony Dal

Masala Dal

Mediterranean Zucchini Soup 
Minestrone (omit pasta for zero points)

 Moroccan Carrot Soup

Spinach Soup


 Red Lentil Soup - Moroccan or Sephardic Styles

Split Pea Soup

Three Bean Dal

Appetizers, Snacks, Sauces, Dips & Spreads

Marinara Sauce, Quick and Easy

Salsa from your own Mix or 
Vat O' Salsa

Vat O' Spaghetti Sauce


Fruit Salad

Ice Cream

A few Caveats:

WW International is the trade name and Weight Watchers and WW are the trademarks and service marks of WW International.

I am not affiliated with WW in any way, so these recipes are not endorsed by them, and I'm not an expert on the program. I believe that these are all zero points on the new Freestyle program. Of course, I'm a human being subject to error. So, if you find a mistake please leave a gentle note in the comments so I can fix it : ) If you have doubts, please contact your local group leader and ask.

Nothing in this post, or in my blog in general is intended as medical or nutritional advice. I am not a medical professional or expert of any kind, nor am I a Registered Dietician.
In many of these meals, oil is an optional ingredient. For zero points, omit the oil. If you prefer, add the oil, and appropriate points. The only exception to this is Dark Sesame Oil - it cannot be omitted without changing the flavor of the dish substantially - but then again, it is usually used very sparingly.

A few recipes have a trace amount of sugar. I believe it's negligible in the calculation. If I'm wrong, please let me know.  

Many of these links suggest omitting rice, olives or various other ingredients for zero points. If you choose to keep those ingredients, go for it! You still have a VERY low-in-points meal. 

Pictures below are "serving suggestions" - so rice, bread & olives, etc,  in the pictures aren't  included in "zero points." 

If you follow a Gluten Free diet, be sure to use all Gluten Free ingredients. Things like Soy Sauce are available with or without gluten, so read your labels carefully.  

ENJOY! : ) 

Zero Points, 40+ Meals, Vegan, Gluten Free

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