Aside from the people buying billions of bottles of water for convenience, huge numbers of people don’t trust their sources of drinking water. They either buy filters for their faucets and fridge dispensers, or buy filtered water from the store. Even if you don’t think you buy your water, what about the electricity to pump it out of the well? Or, depending on where you live, there could be a charge per gallon on your water and sewer bill? So to me, throwing out perfectly good liquid and paying (one way or another) for more water to cook with looks like a waste.

Whenever I cook pasta or beans I save the “broth” for making another batch, or for soup stock. But there’s another liquid I used to throw down the drain, simply for lack of a better idea. That is, until now.

My family goes through a LOT of dill pickles. Pickles on lentil burgers. Pickles on tofu sub sandwiches. Pickles on peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. I even like pickles in tossed salads. So I was thinking about all the pickle juice I’ve thrown out over time.

Pickle juice is mostly salty watery vinegar (with some garlic and or herbs, and if it’s from sweet pickles it would contain some sugar). All breads include water or some kind of liquid in the ingredients. Bread also tastes best made with some salt, which I read somewhere is chemically important in the rising process. Sugar (or honey) is also good for softening the flavor of whole wheat flour, and for making yeast grow. (As a side note, adding a sugar crystal to a droplet of water containing yeast particles has so far been the most interesting thing my son and I found to watch under his microscope.) Biscuits and soda breads benefit from some vinegar mixed into the liquid ingredients, as it reacts with the soda to add puffiness. I even use vinegar in my pancake batter to help them rise. So, it almost sounds like pickle juice was made for making breads, doesn’t it?

This week I finally tried using a whole quart of dill pickle juice in making regular yeast-raised whole wheat dough for four loaves of bread. Also, instead of sugar, I added the syrup from a can of peaches, and I threw in the liquid from a can of black olives. When the bread came out of the oven, everyone devoured a loaf as usual, spread with butter and honey. My son agreed that this batch of yeast bread came out very well. No one could guess from the great flavor of the bread that I had done anything odd. It certainly did not taste like pickle bread.

I’ll admit that since I only had one quart of pickle juice on hand, I had to increase the volume of liquid by adding water. (Don’t ask how much–I rarely measure when cooking.) But the important fact here is that a whole cup of pickle juice per loaf of bread did not at all harm the bread’s flavor.

Vinegar is believed to have health benefits, so the juice probably improved the nutrition of our bread—even though store-bought pickles are obviously made with white vinegar. Some sources say apple cider vinegar is recommended for the most health effects, which makes sense because it still contains more of the original food material not present in distilled (white) vinegar. But other sources explain the health value of the acid content of white vinegar. Apparently, any vinegar is good for you, even though some kinds may be even better. So, if you make your own pickles using apple cider vinegar, and then put that juice in your bread, you might reap even more benefits than I did.

Here are two handy articles about the nutritional values of vinegar. Normally I don’t like the quality of eHow articles, but it really depends on the particular article’s author, and I’ve read similar information as this in numerous other places including books.

http://www.ehow.com/facts_4814363_health-benefits-vinegar.html

http://www.ehow.com/facts_4814363_health-benefits-vinegar.html

Even WebMD can’t argue that there clearly seem to be benefits to consuming vinegar:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/apple-cider-vinegar?page=2

There are multiple books on the market dedicated to the health benefits of vinegar, which include helping with such things as cholesterol, diabetes, weight-loss, allergies, skin care, and more.

Whether or not you believe the findings on vinegar’s benefits, the absolute least that I did was conserve money and water, by reusing three liquids which were already processed for human consumption and which otherwise would have gone down the drain.

Do you have other uses for pickle juice? Have you tried cleaning with it, giving your mirrors and counters that “fresh pickle scent”? How about using it in place of vinegar in that old method of clearing sink drains? I have yet to try these uses myself, but I’m thinking about it—if I have any left after bread-baking 🙂

 

© NPM

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Is there a bit too much of you after all those holiday dinners?

You can give “yourself” away on EVERY ordinary day.

Giving away your food, or the time you would spend preparing food and eating, reduces your intake which over time will reduce your size. This can be done within your ordinary routine—there’s no need to join a club or charity or diet. You can even give to yourself!

When you give something up, you won’t feel deprived if you focus on the joy of sharing and seeing someone else enjoy what you’ve just given (or the joy of giving yourself something unusual and fun).

Your kind act should give you an emotional boost to counter any lingering hunger. If you need extra help, take a deep breath stretching yourself tall while pulling your tommy in, and tell yourself, “I’m getting thinner.” Then go on to your next chore with a cheerful mood.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you are making yourself a snack when your spouse or friend walks in the room, give your food to him/her, or at least half of it. (This may or may not work with kids, as they might not like the kind of food you fixed for yourself.)
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  2. When making breakfast or lunch for your kids, don’t make any for yourself–just eat the scraps or their left-overs. Give the extra time saved to your kids instead, in the form of your attention while they’re eating.
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  3. When you usually eat with family, but find yourself alone for dinner, either skip dinner alltogether or have something quick and light like popcorn or a piece of toast, and give yourself the meal time for something special instead (like a long bath, or reading a book you’ve been wanting to get to, or cleaning the closet, calling a relative or far-away friend, writing that book you’ve been dreaming about, or any other thing you don’t usually have time for).
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  4. Taking lunch to work? Watch for a homeless person and if you see one, then give away your lunch and go without that day. (You’re more likely to see a hungry person if you are looking for one.)
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  5. Taking lunch to work, idea #2: Share it with someone who has less quantity or less quality in their lunch bag.
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  6. At home OR at work, when you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, look around on your way to the food for little chores that need doing, and do them (an hour or two may pass before you get to the fridge, and by then it might actually be meal time). You’ll feel happier because you were productive rather than wasteful/waist-full.
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  7. When you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, idea #2: Ask someone nearby if there is anything you can do to help them right now. (This gives you a break from your own activities, and gives you an energy boost from being surprisingly & kindly helpful, while keeping you too busy to eat.)
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  8. Planning on buying your lunch? Give that money to something later by putting it in another pocket, telling yourself it will buy XYZ (or it will go with tomorrow’s lunch money for XYZ if XYZ costs more). Make sure XYZ is something you’ll feel good about, like a present for a child or spouse, lunch out with your mom, or something you could really use that you’ve been putting off buying.
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You can probably find more ways to give yourself thin, if you get started and keep looking. You’ll become happier, and so will those around you!

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© NPM

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Here’s the best diet plan ever.

FUN Advantage 1:
You get to create your own version.

FUN Advantage 2:
You won’t get tired of it, and if you think you are tiring, you just adjust your version.

Advantage 3:
You don’t have to think about getting too fat or too thin, ever.

How is it win-win?
Because while you’re losing unhealthy weight, you’re accomplishing something else altogether that will make you feel great, AND your accomplishment will be positively meaningful to someone else (or even maybe many other people).

Okay, I’m sure you’re ready to hear some details. Nothing in life is simple, but this has a very simple start.

First, set your mind and heart on something bigger than personal physical gratification.

Second, every time you think of eating (outside of normal meal times), remind yourself that you don’t have time—you need every minute to work toward your important something. Remind yourself that you’ll feel better by accomplishing a step in that direction, than you would feel if you stopped to eat. Try it and see how you feel. Food will taste better when you’re truly hungry and have accomplished something valuable, and you won’t have any guilt from eating when you finally get around to it.

Your important something could be anything, like:
Helping your child to be smarter and happier,
Helping more people with your work or your charity,
Being healthy and energetic in order to______ (fill in the blank),
Learning or experiencing ______ (fill in the blank),
Earning more money so you can______ (fill in the blank),

Be specific, choosing something that would make your heart soar if you were succeeding—something that would make you feel like an important and positive contributor to the world.

You will pour so much energy into your “something important,” that excess weight will slip away. And when you need more energy to keep working, you’ll remember to take time for food. You’ll want to eat simpler, cheaper meals, so you can spend more time and money on your “something important”; and you’ll truly want healthy foods, because you’ll seriously want good health to accomplish your “something important.” But at milestones, you’ll relish a celebratory feast—without any guilt.

If you ever think you’re tiring of the whole thing, it’s not a matter of giving up on a diet–because your focus isn’t dieting; your focus is your “something important,” your goal. If that “something” is tiresome, adjust either your goal or your method of attempting to reach it.

When you reach one goal or complete one “something important,” you’ll feel so great that you’ll set new goals and keep going—lean and strong.

If you don’t believe me, look around. In general, overweight people are unhappy and reach for food to feel good fast. Forget about food, and reach for something meaningful to do. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the people you affect.

© NPM

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