Let’s do this!

Hi All!!

It feels really good to be typing again and wanting to be back in a routine! I know that the blog updates and posts have been lacking and its time to get back into the swing of things.

We all have to get back in the proverbial saddle on occasion. ūüėČ

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On that note.. I feel as though I should explain a little about the reason for the radio silence.

Unfortunately, in April I found out that I was no longer in remission.

This was the biggest sucker punch I have ever felt. Not only was cancer back that but¬†it was back in my brain.¬†BIG TIME. Really, this was the only place it could go (I’ll talk about that in a later post.) The¬†diagnosis was straight out of a horrible Hallmark Movie. The Radiation Oncologist¬†told us with a stone face less than 6 months of life, and within the month I would¬†likely be unable to fully function-as in coordination, communication, the whole gamut. He¬†gave us zero hope.

SERIOUSLY.

Here was my diagnosis: Leptomeningeal Metastases

This is not common. Here is a science-y description from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1156338-overview

  • Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) is a rare complication of cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. LC occurs in approximately 5% of people with cancer and is usually terminal.

 

Guess who’s passed¬†6 months?? ME.

And I, along with the fam, friends, God, an amazing team of doctors, am driving this horrible disease into remission.

How?

First we cried. A LOT.

Then:

We took control.

Guess what? Doctors can be wrong and just because one guy in a white coat said I had a snowball’s chance in Hell, didn’t mean it was time to give up. We then¬†dove into research mode and decided¬†to go to the most amazing place on earth (not Disney):

 

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

 

So, here I am, six months later and still able to function fully and take care of my little family and myself. I’m also¬†debating on sending that doctor a little note letting him know he was incorrect and I’m still kicking.

I just want him to know that there are options and he should not tell people to give up.

Yes, somedays are harder than others but my treatment is working and it’s worth it! I have now gone thru 2 brain surgeries, multiple rounds of radiation, IV and oral chemo, mastectomy, reconstruction, and various other not so fun cancer related activities.

That’s the thing, all of us have trials and tribulations. We have to realize that everyday we make choices; ¬†diet,¬†exercise, getting out of bed, how we treat our neighbor, and¬†especially how we treat ourselves. And most days-even if we fail, we have to pick our selves up and try again.

That is why today I chose to type again-to put myself out here again. To advocate for this way of life and know that I am making choices to better myself and those around me by telling my story. There is no way that I could have made it this far without making choices to put myself out there, lean on those offering support, and find for what works for me.

 

And yes, I still believe I have been truly blessed.

 

 

Galveston!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

That’s right! ¬†I said Ice Cream! ¬†Chocolate Ice Cream!

I’ve been experimenting all summer, and not only do¬†I have a great recipe for you, but it is an excellent activity to keep the kiddos entertained at the same time (if you choose to do this method.)

 

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The best part, other than the amazing taste, is the simplicity!  Just a few simple, pure, ingredients that you probably have on hand, a little waiting time, and dessert is prepared!  A creamy, delicious dessert that no one would ever guess is SUGAR FREE!

Here’s what you need:

3 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 c Pyure Sweetener

1/2 c Unsweetened Cocoa

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla

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Optional:

Ice cream salt

Ziplock Bags

or

Ice Cream Maker

 

Directions:

Whisk together cream, sweetener, and cocoa in a saucepan until it barely starts to simmer.  Add vanilla and remove from heat.

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Let it cool on the stovetop until the pan is not scalding. ¬†Place in the refrigerator to bring down to at least room temperature. (You don’t want to add the mixture to the ice cream maker or plastic bags at a high heat.)

Here are your options:

Kids version:

Pour 1/2 cup of mixture in a quart size Ziplock bag.  Seal well!  Place that bag in a gallon size ziplock filled with several cups of ice and 1/4 cup ice cream salt.  Seal the gallon size bag.  Hand it to your child with a dish towel and have them shake it until exhaustion or until the ice cream is the consistency of soft serve.  Enjoy!

 

No mess version:

Pour your saucepan of cream mixture into an ice cream maker, turn on, and walk away.  It should be nice and creamy in about 30 to 45 minutes!  Enjoy.

 

I hope your family enjoys this as much as ours!  Happy summer!!!

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What to do with all those EGGS?

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We love Easter in our home!

We love the reason behind it, and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. We love the excitement of the Easter egg hunt, the wonderment, the family, the traditions, and yes, the FOOD.

What oh what to do with all those eggs you dyed?  We used to hunt those dyed eggs as kids until the dog got sick on them :-).

Our¬†children just hunt the plastic kind, but I still love the tradition of dying the boiled eggs on Good Friday! ¬†They love it too! ¬†But what do you do with all of them? ¬†This is where I can help! ¬†They are just sitting in your fridge, right? ¬†Well, don’t let them go bad. ¬†I have ideas for you! ¬†And, yes, they are still good to eat!

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Take those beautiful pastel eggs and use them – ketofy them!

There are numerous uses for boiled eggs such as adding them to salads, (especially tuna salad and cobb salad), deviled eggs (an Easter favorite), add them to sautéed spinach or asparagus with hollandaise, or even just eat them for breakfast or a snack with a little salt and pepper.

My favorite Easter memory is creamed eggs though! ¬†Creamed eggs just scream Easter morning breakfast for me, and this is how my mom used our dyed eggs on Easter morning. ¬†She literally just used a B√©chamel sauce and added the chopped boiled eggs. ¬†Of course she served it over well-buttered toast, and it was delicious, but when you are eating against the grain you need to modify. ¬†What do you do when you can’t use flour in your B√©chamel? ¬†Did you know that if you simmer cream long enough, it will naturally thicken? ¬†This trick I did not know until I went Keto!

This is what I did:

Peel and cut up your boiled eggs and set aside.

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Allow about 45 minutes for your cream to thicken.

Using 4 cups of heavy whipping cream, (add a Bay Leaf if you like), and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.  Keep an eye on it because it will make a mess if it boils over, and it does have a tendency to do this.  Keep the cream at a low boil for about 45 minutes stirring frequently over medium heat.  When it reaches the consistency of a cream sauce, turn it off.  It can take a little longer, but not more than an hour.  (Yes, I would say this is a weekend treat unless you get up really early.)

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Now, you can add salt (1 tsp Pink Himalayan) and pepper (1/2 – 3/4 tsp freshly ground) and keep it as it is or add some more flavor.

Now, plain is delicious, but I took it a step further:

I added a couple of Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley and 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan.  Stir until melted.  Lastly, add your eggs and gently mix them in.  You can also add a few TBSP of butter for extra decadence.

My family loved it, but couldn’t figure it out the new taste with the cheese until I told them what I added. ¬†It was deliciously creamy and decadent. ¬†You don’t even need bread! ¬†Spoon it into a bowl and enjoy your new tasty, gluten free treat!

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Go Enjoy Yourself!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Super Bowl Sunday! We sure did!!

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Denver Fans ūüôā

Parties and get togethers can seem a bit intimidating when you are trying to change your diet. All the delicious and often not so healthy options and all those people around enjoying them…¬†It can be tough!

 

But here are a couple ideas to keep you social and on track:

 

1. Ask the host what they are planning on serving and what are others bringing. Are they doing the main dish and asking for sides? Has some one offered to bring the veggie tray? Develed Eggs? Fill in the blanks with Keto Friendly foods

 

2. Don’t show up starving! Snack a bit before leaving. It’s better to go to a party with a little something in your tummy.¬†It’s easier to make good choices when you are not¬†diving for the first plate.

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3.¬†Consider soda water. Soda water can really fill the void of not drinking (if that’s what you are going for) or can help slow you down if you are drinking. Fizzy drinks can fill you up, give that sensation of an adult beverage, as well as keep¬†the attention off of your lack of imbibing.

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4. For those who do choose to drink.¬†Diet Tonic and Soda water are¬†not always found at everyone’s bar or party. Bring your own and enough to share. Oh and don’t forget the Uber!¬†Here is a link if you haven’t tried it!

5. Try to avoid hanging out right next to the food table. After you have eaten STEP AWAY from the table. I know I used to hang out right next to the food. It was so easy to grab another bite or see when the deserts were set out. Just try to make over doing it a little harder or at least out of arm’s reach.

 

6. Use a plate. Seriously. This will make it more obvious (to yourself) how much you have eaten. If you are grazing without a plate you will have no idea how many¬†jalape√Īo poppers you have downed. (Yes! Those are usually keto friendly-but share! :))

 

The keto life style and definitely cutting sugar is creeping it’s way to be more mainstream-think how long gluten free has been a thing and now it’s almost everywhere. It’s really becoming common to see many people pass on cake, so likely most, if any, will not even notice unless you bring attention to what you are (or aren’t) eating.

 

Truthfully speaking though, if you are great or even really good most of the time, lets say 90%, then having little treat that you can’t find at home may be worth it. But it all come back to you and your lifestyle choices. If¬†you can have a small brownie or a bite of standard desert and not finish the whole plate (I’m impressed) then¬†have that little taste.

 

 

Also don’t forget, enjoy the party and the people around. Events are even more fun when you are thinking about more than what is on your plate.

Thanks again Bronco’s! We have been waiting for a little while.

Easiest Dinner Ever!

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Well life just got super crazy in our house!  We were just getting into the swing of basketball season, and the craziness of baseball season smacked us upside the head.  Little did we know that baseball started the day after the draft and looks to be 7 days a week between the two boys.

Pile that onto 3 ongoing basketball teams and a move!  My head is spinning.  We are regrouping to some very easy, fast meals that can be prepped ahead and thrown into the oven at go time.

This is something I made on a ski trip on the fly so I pulled it out today. ¬†It doesn’t get much easier than chicken, sauce and cheese!

Green Enchilada Casserole

2 Chickens or 6 Chicken Leg Quarters

1 jar of 505 Roasted Green Chili Sauce

3 cups Monterrey Jack Cheese

Sour Cream

Hot Sauce

Yes!  It is that easy.  I bought the precooked chicken quarters at Costco (Not the best quality, but as well as I could do in a pinch) and just peeled the chicken.  We prefer the fattier dark meat chicken, but you can also use a rotisserie chicken, chicken breasts or boil or roast a couple of chickens.  I was able to get about 5 -6 cups of chicken out of the Costco pack.  I used 4 in my casserole dish and saved the rest for chicken salad.

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Pile the chicken in your dish and cover with about 2 to 3 cups of the green chili sauce and mix throughout the chicken. (I used 1/2 a large jar)  I even mixed it in the baking dish.

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Top with cheese!

 

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That is it.  Now you can either throw it in the oven or cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
I cooked it on 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  You could do 350 degrees for 30 minutes, but I had carpool and needed the time!

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We like to top it with a healthy portion of sour cream, and if you like it spicy, add some hot sauce too.

It goes beautifully with broccoli and Kerrygold.

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There you have it!  A hot great dish in less than an hour!

Enjoy!

Teeth, Chemo, Cutting Sugar, and Keto

Oh My!

 

This past week I went to the dentist, the hubs goes tomorrow, and our bright eyed 4 year old went today. She LOVED it!

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Keep smiling sister!

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I was a bit anxious it has been a good while since I was in ‘the chair’ and really I was a bit anxious. ¬†The longer you put off the dentist¬†the odds of serious scraping and further discomforts only increase. But the reality is, life happens. Back I went through my chemo lesson (this is when you are sat down and given a large booklet before round #1) there is a list of to-do’s and and definite to-don’ts. Right up there with¬†no crowd events, wear mask while flying, wash hands often, don’t get pregnant, was NO DENTIST.

 

Seriously. Not during treatment.

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The nurse told me if I needed to go I would HAVE to clear it with them. And likely that answer would be no. We all have heard how dirty people’s mouths are and oncologist don’t want to add mouth infection on to a patient’s¬†chart as well.

 

I’m a good student; so of course I listened. But then after chemo was surgery then expanders followed by a finish up surgery¬†make things “normal-ish.” Again, the fear of infection pushes lesser pressing things, like going to the dentist, down the taking care of yourself totem pole.

 

But get this, last week I was told, “No cavities.” NOT. ONE.

 

This is kinda a big deal for me. For a few years(before my little dentist hiatus) it was a given, would go in for a cleaning and would be walk out with a follow up filling appointment OR maybe 2. I had come to believe that I just had wimpy teeth.

 

The reality is my teeth are great-Strong like Bull. But the sugar in my diet was even stronger.

Make that Grass Fed Bull (Guess where he is now…)

 

Even though I was bushing and floss like a normal and maybe even not so normal(for years I have kept floss in my purse and car at all times.) I was still getting cavities, it was not until I changed my diet and really cut out sugar, the obvious and the not so obvious, did my dental reality change.

 

Chemo can cause major side effects on your entire body and but your mouth can really be one of the hardest hit. The effects of the drugs can cause serious dry mouth, mouth pain, bleeding gums, infection, etcetera. Fun Stuff.

 

It was not until I changed my intake of SUGAR that my dental issues subsided. I have not wavered on my dedication to this way of life, but getting the all clear from the man holding the tooth drill gave me another reason to fall in love with our lifestyle all over again.
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A New Twist on Salmon

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The amazing world of Salmon!

First a little research, and then a great recipe the family will love!

We all know about¬†the amazing omega-3 benefits of salmon, but there are other unique health benefits from salmon that may have been inadvertently overlooked. One fascinating new area of health benefits involves the protein and amino acid content of salmon. Several recent studies have found that salmon contains small bioactive protein molecules (called bioactive peptides) that may provide special support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness, and control of inflammation in the digestive tract. One particular bioactive peptide called calcitonin (sCT) has been of special interest in these studies. The reason is because a human form of calcitonin is made by the thyroid gland, and we know that it is a key hormone for helping regulate and stabilize the balance of collagen and minerals in the bone and surrounding tissue. As researchers learn more and more about salmon peptides‚ÄĒincluding sCT‚ÄĒwe expect to see more and more potential health benefits discovered related to inflammation, including inflammation of the joints.

Salmon is also filled with plenty of B vitamins, Vitamin D, Selenium, Iodine, and of course, the great Omega 3!  It is a great protein to help regulate thyroid imbalances with all of its wonderful nutrients.

Half of my family loves broiled salmon, and the other half will only eat it every now and again.  I pulled out an old recipe that my mom and grandmother used to make on a regular basis, made a few changes, and received a lot of compliments.  This recipe brought everyone together tonight, so I had to share. Not only was it tasty, but it is a great fast weeknight recipe.

Baked Salmon Croquettes

1/2 White Onion Chopped

3/4 Chopped Green Pepper

10 Tbsp Kerrygold Butter

30 oz Canned Wild Caught Salmon, Drained and Flaked

1 can Evaporated Milk

1/3 cup Heavy Cream

1 tsp Himalayan Salt

1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

A Pinch of Xanthan Gum

More butter to top each dish

 

Directions:

Saute onion and peppers in butter for about 5 to 10 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add salmon, evaporated milk, heavy cream, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Sprinkle with xanthan gum to thicken slightly.  Spoon into ramekins, small pyrex bowls or sea shells.  Top each with a pat of butter and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Caution: These will be very hot, so I always remove from the dish and plate for the children.

Enjoy!

We especially enjoy salmon with sautéed spinach.  I use about 1/4 cup of butter melted to saute a few cloves of garlic. Once it is fragrant, add your spinach and stir until wilted.  It is ready to serve immediately.

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Increasing Evidence That High Fat Diets Lead to Better Health

This time of year, the gyms are packed, and the low-fat aisles at the grocery store are jammed with shopping carts.

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My reaction…”If they only knew they were spinning their wheels!” ¬†All I can do is sigh.

I know, and you know, they may drop 5 pounds, all the while starving, only to go back and gain 10.  It is the endless cycle I was in most of my life.  If only I had known then what I know now! I would have been a much happier and content individual.  Not to mention, healthy and lean.

I have heard so many times these last two¬†weeks, “Count your calories…” or “Eat more fruits and vegetables” and even, Agh, “Cut down on saturated fat.” ¬†Really?!?! ¬†Wake up to 2016 all of you morning talk show special guests. ¬†We have been in a downward spiral for over 50 years, and it is time to rise up and realize this low fat business was a really, really bad idea! ¬†It is okay to correct the bad advice!

I have heard nothing about eating more fat, so I am here to tell you; EAT MORE FAT!

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Now…with that, goes cutting down on the sugar – way down. ¬†In fact, way way down! ¬†The sugar and the carbs have to give, to stop that spike in your blood sugar so you aren’t hungry every two hours. ¬†This means eating healthy fats and saying no to sugar and processed foods.

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The good part is: you get to eat healthy, satisfying foods that will keep you going for hours and hours with endless energy AND boost your brain power.  It is an awesome feeling to gain control of your health so that you never have to struggle with hunger pains and yo-yo dieting ever again!

I was beyond excited to read an article my sweet friend, Tina, sent my way. ¬†It is interesting, scientifically based, and best of all, everything we have been preaching for the past two years. ¬†I just had to share! ¬†Take a moment, read, comment, and share with those you love. ¬†And…EAT MORE FAT!

Read David Ludwig’s article here. ¬†It is worth the read!

Constantly Learning

I met a lovely (newish) friend the other day for coffee. She is also a young breast cancer survivor and we both have young daughters, so naturally we have plenty to talk about.

 

I’m curious if anyone was to over hear us what they would think. Really. We were literally talking about hot flashes, changing bodies, diagnosis, and various other battle¬†stories. I had tears in my¬†eyes. Not the type you think, we were cracking up!


She and I are both passionate about health in general and (likely due to the cards we have been dealt) have taken extra steps to ensure that not only are we staying healthy, and have taken to poking those around us to make healthier choices too.

 

Both of us changed many every day choices that at one time may have been difficult and have turned them into second nature. Granted our motivation is a bit different than most. But what is really interesting, is we both making these changes not because of things we were told by our oncologists but rather primarily from research that we have done on our own.

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My friend is a fitness instructor, is an essential oil connoisseur, and also sells a natural¬†skin care line. So I asked her, “Do you have people interested in learning more, who haven’t had a major health issue?”

 

You can guess her response.

 

The reality is, people are not that motivated to change until something drastic and likely very scary happens. ¬†Looking back before my diagnosis, I ate basically garbage, worked out only when there was a special occasion approaching, and¬†didn’t ¬†give much regard to labels (out side of price tag) on basically anything.

 

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I believe now, after enduring chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries, and countless scans, I am healthier than I have ever been due to the diet and lifestyle changes I have made. I just honestly wish I would have woken up to what I was doing to myself before I had to go through all of that. But would I haven listened?

 

A while back someone posted on a group I follow on Facebook- If you could give one piece of advice to yourself back when you were in middle school, what would it be?  While thinking of my middle school self basically gives me the heeby jeebies. I really believe if I would have known when I was younger (like mid 20s) what I know now in regards to how to take care of myself; things likely would have been completely different.

 

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Back in my early 20s ūüôā

 

That is why today I am still constantly reading, researching, and making changes. So that in 10 or 15 years I can look back and again think how much I have learned.

 

 

Home Cooking on a Cold Winter’s Eve

I don’t know about you, but getting back into the swing of things has been tough this week.

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We returned from vacation, had another Christmas at home, entertained family, Happy New Year, undecorated, reorganized, and now back to school and after-school activities! ¬†It’s a lot to jump into after a couple of weeks off!

The last thing I always want to do when we return from vacation, is go to the dreaded grocery store.  This means a lot of experimenting and improvisation in our house because my crew expects three hot meals a day out of me, and Mom is pooped right now.

What to do?  The freezer!  This is a word I rarely use because really, all we use our freezer for is ice and meat.  We purchased a half of a grass-fed cow in August, and we still have quite a bit left.  We always crave red meat when we have been traveling which was obviously the case, because I went to the freezer and pulled out stew meat, a roast, and some steaks.  The steaks we grilled right away, but the others required a little more effort.  Not much though.  On undecorating day, I knew I would be busy so I pulled out an old recipe, made a few changes, and prayed we would have something tummy warming good for dinner.

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It was amazing! In fact, my ten year old has asked for stew in his thermos for lunch every day since that he has needed a lunch.  We have had some moist bone-chilling days in South Texas recently, and there is nothing better than good, warm you up from within, home-cooked meals from the heart!

This takes a little forethought, but get it going, and forget about it all afternoon. ¬†Before you know it, it is dinner time and it’s ready to go. ¬†Perfect for those basketball practice nights when¬†everyone is coming home at different times.

Hearty Beef Stew

3 lbs Stew Meat chopped

16 oz bacon

2 cups beef broth

14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained

1 green bell pepper

1 cup baby carrots

1 small onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 tsp pink Himalayan salt

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried oregano

 

Instructions:

Slice your bacon into small pieces and cook in a large dutch oven.

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Once your bacon is cooking and you have a nice layer of grease, add your stew beef.  Cook until browned, and then add your onion, pepper and garlic.

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Cook these for about 5 minutes.  Add your remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until you are ready to serve.

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My family prefers their stew runny, almost like a beef soup.

If you are used to a stew with potatoes and a thicker sauce, this will not turn out like that.  If your family likes the thicker stew, dust the top of your stew with just a pinch of xanthan gum.  As it sits and you stir, it will slowly thicken.  This will give you a more stew like consistency.

Enjoy!

 

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