Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

I am officially moving this blog to Eternity In My Heart.

There are going to be lots of changes coming soon! While it isn't exactly as I want it yet, I decided to go ahead and launch it now because I don't want to post to both sites. Hope to see you over there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Love and Not Sacrifice

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." 
Hosea 6:6
I've been pondering my love for God recently. This verse is a reminder that God wants my love - He wants a relationship with me. It's not that He doesn't want me to make sacrifices for Him. After all, I am to take up my cross daily and follow Him. (As an aside, this dying to self business is pretty difficult. Has anyone noticed this besides me?) Still, He doesn't want what I can do for Him. He wants ME.  Sort of like when Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better way when she sat at His feet instead of doing household chores. As I keep finding reminders of this, I am deeply comforted and deeply contented. Things are not happy-go-lucky in my life right now. They aren't horrible, but they could be better, you know? That is always true in everyone's life. Still, I am incandescently happy right now because I am fully aware of God's great love for me, and I am determined to love Him back, fiercely and forever.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I'm only here for the food...

One of the most fun things about doing the Whole30 was trying a bunch of new foods and discovering some new recipes that will take up permanent residence in my culinary repertoire. Because the Whole30 focuses on nourishing food, it's important to have plenty of variety. This isn't an inexpensive endeavor, but the saying "you get what you pay for" applies to the food we consume as much as anything.

I went out on a limb and used some gift cards from Christmas to purchase the cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan. I do not regret it! A lot of recipes from these cookbooks can be found on Melissa's blog The Clothes Make the Girl, but not all of them! I do recommend both cookbooks. You can also find lots of paleo recipes and ideas on the internet, of course. Below are some of my favorite culinary discoveries from the Whole30. Note that this is not an exhaustive list!

Homemade Mayo
For almost two years I owned an immersion blender but I never took it out of its box. Finally, around the holidays I used it to make cream of asparagus soup. That was when I realized that my immersion blender is my second favorite kitchen tool (the first being my Kitchenaid mixer). After the first time that I made this mayo, the hubs and I decided we'd never go back. It is by far the yummiest mayo you've ever tasted, and it is the base for all kinds of dressings and dips. If you are even the slightest bit interested, try this recipe! You won't regret it.

Pureed Soups
Before I made the cream of asparagus soup over the holidays, I had never made a pureed soup. I am a convert now. Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup is probably my new favorite way to eat zucchini. I can't wait for extra zucchini in the garden this summer. Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon was a surprise to all of us - It is beyond delicious. I also made a lot of Golden Cauliflower Soup. If you have a baby in your house, these soups are a bonus because they make excellent baby food. Little Brother and I eat one of these soups for lunch every day, and even though I'm finished with the Whole30, I will continue this. We both enjoy them, and it makes getting all your veggies so much easier.

Most of the time, I drink my zucchini soup from a mug. 

Chocolate Chili
Whether or not you're interested in the Whole30, GO MAKE THIS CHILI. It is SO good. I've made the same recipe for our chili (and we've always loved it) ever since I got married, but now this is my go-to chili recipe. I've made it at least half a dozen times in the last three months. Yes, it is that good.

Coconut Milk Creamer
I couldn't put any creamer in my coffee on the Whole30, so I started out drinking it black. That was fine and dandy until we got a new kind of coffee and it was a super dark roast (we tend to try lots of different kinds of coffee around here just for the fun of it). On a whim, I decided to put some coconut milk in my coffee and I discovered a newfound love! I *just* might like coconut milk better than creamer!

Sunrise Scramble
Probably my greatest success (as far as making things that The Hubs liked!) in the Whole30 was the Sunrise Scramble in Well Fed 2. This recipe is not online (so you would have to purchase the cookbook to find it), but The Hubs loved it so much that I have made it at least once a week since January (sometimes more frequently). It's a skillet egg scramble with a diced apple, sweet potato, and sausage (or ground beef). I will probably continue to make this for a weekend breakfast for the rest of our lives. It's easy and delicious, and packed with nutrition.

Random Things
You can't have legumes on the Whole30, so that means no peanut butter. I don't consume a lot of peanut butter anyway, but I bought some Sunbutter so I could make Pad Thai and I fell in love. I also never knew it before this, but I really enjoy cabbage. I thought that I hated it, because I didn't care for it growing up. However, if you shred it and sauté it in some coconut oil it is better than cake. No joke. Also, I've been eating a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfasts, and there are tons of ways to make them special… just try mixing in chives, or cilantro, or even ground mustard! The possibilities are endless. If it weren't for the Whole30, I also would never have tried spaghetti squash or butternut squash, and they are nothing less than a treat if cooked correctly!

This is just a small sampling of some of the paleo food I consumed during my Whole30. These are foods that were completely new to us, but have become regular parts of our diet now. It was worth it to do the Whole30 just because of this!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Life Means So Much

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much

- Chris Rice, Life Means So Much

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It All Started When...

You should read It Starts With Food by Doug and Melissa Hartwig. Yes, you. I read it for several reasons, not the least of which is that Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended it. I'm not sure where I first heard about the Whole30, but I know it was sometime in 2013. I was intrigued by its use to pinpoint pesky health issues. By no means do I think that all health issues are food-related, but I do think that more are diet related than we realize.

My sister and I have had a conversation about food numerous times. We have acknowledged that we both have a weakness for emotional eating. You know what I mean - where I might try to soothe myself after a stressful day by buying a pint of ice cream and eating it in one sitting (or just finishing the half gallon that is already in the freezer). There is nothing inherently wrong with ice cream, but there IS a problem when stress or any other emotion is the catalyst for eating ANY kind of food (even if it is just chewing ice)!

This is why I was drawn to It Starts With Food. Their whole eating plan boils down to selecting foods that promote a healthy psychological response, promote a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut and support healthy immune function. They then share their reasoning behind limiting (or, more accurately, eliminating) certain foods. It is interesting to note that "stress eating" or any kind of "emotional eating" does not promote a healthy psychological response!

I doubt I will ever agree 100% with any book or author, so I can't say that I agree with all of what the Hartwigs have to say. Much of their "research" appears to be unsubstantiated (and is in direct conflict with the "research" touted by other experts). They actually admit this in the book - they encourage their audience to try their advice for themselves to evaluate its validity. However, I am currently on day 30 of my first Whole30, and I CAN say that I learned a few things about myself and my eating habits that were eye-opening to say the least! Watch for more blog posts on that coming soon! And if you think a Whole30 might be helpful for you, I'm open to any questions about the process. I feel that this book is worth reading and the Whole30 is a worthwhile endeavor.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pangs of Death

My Bible study on the life of Christ is wrapping up just in time for Easter and this week has been bountiful with the blessings of scripture. I was saved at the age of six and grew up hearing the story of the cross and resurrection continually. Every Easter is a precious time for me, but this year, this Holy Week has been an exceptional blessing. (Praise be to God!) This verse is a gem from this morning. I hope it encourages someone else as much as it did me to think that it was NOT POSSIBLE for death to hold Jesus Christ! Amen!

P.S. I loved this so much that I'm adding it to My Sword for this year! Verse 7.1!