Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Healthy Dinner Ideas

I've had several friends ask me what I eat, since I don't cook with meat. I understand their question. I mean, how many mouth-watering Pinterest dinner recipes do you see without "chicken" in the title?

So many "homemade" dinners are full of pre-made, processed ingredients, like "cream of whatever" soup, canned sauces, frozen or packaged foods, and of course, chicken or ground beef. I try hard to not cook with those things.

I rarely make up my own recipes, but I do make things that require no recipe, such as:

Roasted vegetables- Tossing cut up cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potatoes, peppers, beets, carrots, or squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasting at about 400 degrees until golden brown. By far the most flavorful way to eat veggies. Alone or with hummus makes a great meal in and of itself.)

Wraps-Tortillas or pita bread with beans, rice, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, spinach, lettuce, roasted veggies or whatever you have in the fridge.

Paninis- My brother gave me a panini press many years ago, and I love it. Whole wheat bread with cheese, mustard, hummus, pesto, tomatos, spinach...grilled and melty. So quick.

Quesadillas- Black beans, tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, sauteed onion, zucchini, or mushrooms with sprinkle of cheese inside a whole wheat tortilla.

Pasta-- Whole wheat of course. :) While the pasta is boiling, add shopped peppers, squash, zucchini, or broccoli to the water for the last 3-4 minutes so they boil together. Drain all of it, add a jar of pesto, spaghetti sauce, or alfredo sauce (one of the processed ingredients I do buy for busy nights).

Taco Salad- Salad greens, crushed tortilla chips, ranch style beans, salsa, sour cream, gauc, cheese. I never tire of such foods.

Here are links to some of my favorite recipes. They may not sound amazing, but all of them really are keepers! That means I have made them more than once and my husband and I both think they're delicious. I love that most of them have lentils, beans, or nuts, which are absolutely supreme to meat (as far as nutrition goes) in countless ways. They're full of micronutrients and phytochemicals that meat has none of.  We love all of these!

Lentil Loaf
Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos
Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Avocado Lime dressing
African Bean Soup
Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole
Black Bean Avocado Enchiladas (all the recipes on this site are fantastic!)
Walnut Meat Tacos
Spicy Coconut Kale Stir-Fry
Black Bean Cakes
Dal Makhani
Vegetable Pot Pies
Spicy Peanut Noodles
Spinach Tomato Tortellini Soup
BBQ Sweet Potato Pizza
Pesto Pizza using this Whole What Pizza Crust

I have more where that came from, but that will have to do for now. Happy cooking!



Friday, July 1, 2016

When Life is Unfair

I help take care of three sweet boys right now, and a few weeks ago I was eating lunch with two of them, who are 5 and 8 years old. The older boy mentioned, "Yesterday, I got FIVE cookies at Carol's house!" The younger boy's eyebrows furrowed and he exclaimed, "What?! There were cookies?!!!!" He had been outside playing when the cookies got passed around, apparently, and when he heard that he had missed out on something he values very much (sugar), he went into hysteria and threw himself onto the couch, his little body wracking with sobs.

I thought this was pretty extreme, and rather ridiculous. It was over and everything was fine, now. He wouldn't still be enjoying those cookies the day after. Shouldn't he just be happy that his brother, at least, got to enjoy something? It was so irrational to throw such a fit when everything was fine now.

Unfortunately, I have seen some of that ridiculous irrationality in myself. I have been more like this 5-year-old than I want to admit, and I think many of us have been, on occasion. We balk at unfairness. We want the good fortune that other people have. We get caught up in comparing ourselves in the NOW, instead of remembering that in the end, it will be fair.

I haven't been throwing 5-year-old type fits, but I have had to fight the urge to when I've seen pregnancy announcements and posts of new babies, born at the end of uncomplicated pregnancies. I'm truly happy for them, but it's a kick-in-the-gut reminder of what I want so bad that I didn't get. It's a reminder of what I'm missing out on.  However, I'm constantly improving, and now I'm at the point where I don't feel envy boil inside me. I truly don't. I feel a lot of love and excitement towards the people I know who are expecting babies or have babies, and I want them to include me in the excitement.  It hasn't been easy to get to this point, and I need to constantly work on it, but God has helped me. I share this because He can help you, too.

Today I was reading Elder Holland's talk, "Laborers in the Vineyard." He says, "Envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is--downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!"

"There are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing, or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt--and certainly not to feel envious--when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see [who gets the most cookies, who has the most children the fastest,] or even who is the most blessed. The race we are really in is the struggle against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those."

This logic makes sense in the head, but it can have a hard time reaching the heart. Yes, in my head I know that I am not diminished when someone else is added upon. I know that life is not a race. I know it does me no good to be envious. I know that comparison is the thief of joy. And yet, my heart has had a hard time getting that. I would still feel hurt to see other couples' plans unfolding as planned. It caused confusion. Am I not trustworthy to have children? What have I done wrong? Why do other couples have everything going for them, and our life doesn't go as planned?

But God has helped me feel better, thank goodness!  In many instances He has calmed my heart and urged me to see the bigger picture. One example was in March, right before we lost Samuel, and I was still healing from the loss of Luke. I was at church. Many struggles were on my mind. I was still heart broken we had lost Luke, even though I was pregnant again. I was thinking of my friends in Paraguay and India, and the sheer misery of poverty they endure. My heart was also heavy as I thought of some of my friends and family here, and the many challenges they face. Just lots of hard, earthly circumstances weighed on me.

We sang the hymn, "The Spirit of God." I was overcome with the Spirit as we sang, "How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion, shall lie down together without any eyre....and Jesus descends with his chariot of fire..."

The image of a lamb and lion, lying down together really spoke to me. It means complete peace. It means that all the struggles of today, the constant burdens of life, will one day be....over. They will be conquered by Jesus Christ! I was so full of gratitude for the Savior and the hope for peace He provides.  The struggles of my friends in Paraguay, my own heart ache, the financial, health, and family problems of people I know---it is so hard now, but at least we can look forward to a day when it will all be over. Thanks to Christ, all that is unfair about life will be made right.

Knowing this, but most importantly feeling this and remembering it, helps me not to be envious, or hurt at the good fortune of others. Someone else may get the job you wanted, someone else may get the boy or girl you crushed on, someone else's life might go exactly how you wanted yours to go. Our natural-man, knee-jerk reaction to unfairness is to be bitter and toss ourselves onto the couch in sobs. But God can help us feel and remember that He knows best!  We will all get lots of cookies and everything will be fine, one day, if we endure this test of life well. When all is made right, we'll remember any animosity and think we were pretty ridiculous.

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