Tag Archives: Healthy Living

Going back to the garden.

What is 28 days of faith and food?  This month we pledge to seek a more balanced approach to food as enjoyment and fuel.  Together we will discover delicious recipes, healthy tips and find a little food for thought as we dive into the Bible to discover a little more of what God says regarding food.
_______________________________________________________ Before we begin I suggest reading Genesis 3 to get a little background on the topic we’ll be discussing.

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The scene is set.  A beautiful garden, a lovely young girl.  Wandering through the garden seemingly aimless, uncertain of what to do next she is met by a friend or so she thinks.  This friend convinces her to try something that she knows is forbidden, he convinces her it will do no harm.

This moment filled with temptation, seduction and pressure.  We’ve all had a moment like this.  A day when we’ve been trying to eat right and a friend hands us a donut saying it can’t hurt, it’s only one day.  A moment when a magazine ad caught our eye and those Oreos with rainbow frosting suddenly became irresistible.   We know the rules.  We know to avoid processed food.  We know to limit our portions.  Yet when we enter society there is so much around us, so much to tempt us and seduce us.  How can we possibly resist?

When we look at the story of Eve and this forbidden fruit we see that ultimately she makes a choice.  She chooses to take that bite, chooses to give in to the pressure that surrounds her.  We also have to make that choice.  Temptations today may not come in the form of an apple or a pomegranate, they might come in a bag of kettle chips or a slice of pound cake, but they are real.  The choices might not have the eternal consequences that Eve faces but they do come with consequences.  Each morsel of food has the potential to provide our bodies with antioxidants, nutrients and healthy calories it needs to keep going.  Our choices affect how we feel and function in this world.

In a way it’s rather humbling to realize how little things have changed over time. To realize that temptation is still such a force in our modern lives when things are supposed to be easier and experts have all the answers.   We are told what to eat, what not to eat and how much of everything.  In all of the rigidity, in all of the rules it would seem that we’ve forgotten something very important.  God has given us food to eat and enjoy.  In the story of Adam and Eve there is only one tree that’s off limits, we’ve got the whole world to explore and enjoy.

There is so much available to us in the world.   So many fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils and so much more.  God has given us a world of food to explore and discover.   Unfortunately we’ve lost sight of how appealing this food is, we’ve discovered ways to change and manipulate God’s gift to us to create some pretty unhealthy things.  It’s time to take our food back.

This week as we make our food choices we need to listen for our serpents, for the voices in our heads that attempt to sway us and drag us in directions we don’t wish to go.  We want to make healthy choices from foods that are given to us by God.  This week the goal is to discover the rest of the food in the garden, to find the things Eve overlooked when she was seduced by the forbidden fruit.

As you head out this week to do your shopping pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before, grab some beans if you’ve never used them and experiment with the gifts in God’s garden.  If the ingredient list is a mile long or you don’t know what an ingredient is, put it back.  This week we embrace the food that God has given us.  This week we’re going back to the garden.  As we go through the week I’m will post some recipes as I experiment myself and if you have any great culinary success let me know and I’ll post a link here.  We’re all in this together!

Faith and Food Challenge:

Every week I thought I would add in an extra challenge for those who are interested.  This week’s Faith and Food Challenge comes from Michael Pollan who says “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry.”  This week every time we’re about to mindlessly munch or grab a few crackers we should ask ourselves if we want an apple.  If I’m not hungry enough for an apple, I’m probably not hungry.

 

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Banana Muffins: Just like Grandma used to make.

Well almost.  They are almost like Grandma used to make.  I’ve replaced a few things, changed the recipe slightly and added some chocolate but let me tell you, Grandma’s essence is the heart of these addictive beauties.  I am absolutely delighted with the outcome of these muffins.

I started with my grandma’s recipe and tweaked some of the ingredients.  The result is a slightly healthier albeit equally delicious rendition of her recipe.  It’s so good.  If you have bananas that are soft, make these tonight!  Your breakfast tomorrow will be the best part of your day.

If you’ve noted the Thomas the Tank Engine wrappers please understand that I live with a two year old who is obsessed with trains and cars.  Imagine the devastation when he realizes we need to remove them in order to eat the muffins. 

Banana Muffins
just like Grandma made 

Ingredients:

  • 2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 c soy milk
  • 3/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 scant c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  •  4 extremely ripe bananas
  • Optional: 1 c chocolate chips
Instructions:
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Line 2 muffin tins with liners.  Lightly spray each liner with cooking spray.
  • Cream bananas, sugars, applesauce, and vanilla.  Set aside. 
  • Combine soy milk with the apple cider vinegar to create sour milk.  Stir and set aside. 
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and corn starch. 
  • Alternating dry ingredients with the sour milk, add to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. 
  • If using the chocolate chips stir them in. 
  • Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
  • Enjoy! 
Extra Information:

  • This makes 24 good size muffins.
  • There are many add ins that would work with these.  I think walnuts would be delicious.  Some coconut or chopped dried fruit might be nice.  Anything your heart desires {and believes would go with banana} is a welcome addition.  Create your own masterpiece!  

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

That name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  This salad was thrown together tonight in a moment of desperation when I realized I was too late to begin my planned meal. The tomatoes were ripe on the counter, cucumbers fresh from the store and the honey from my farmer’s market was just crying out to be used.  It was delicious.

When the tomatoes are fresh and plentiful I tend to make use of them and this is one of my favorite ways.  Fresh tomato salad is refreshing, easy and quite attractive {if I do say so myself}.  Enjoy!

Tomato Cucumber Basil Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 english cucumbers
  • a small bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions:
  • Chop your tomatoes into bite size pieces
  • Quarter your english cucumbers and chop into bite size pieces
  • Chiffonade your basil
  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. 
  • In a small sauce pan bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. 
  • Once it has reached a boil reduce heat and simmer.  
  • Add honey to the mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • When the dressing is at the desired consistency remove from heat. 
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mixed until it’s coated. 
  • Enjoy!  

 Extra Information: 

  • This is a great side at a BBQ or an excellent quick dinner.  I often whip up a small salad just for lunch.  It’s so good!
  • If you don’t eat honey I’m sure agave nectar would work quite well.   I haven’t personally tried it but I’d be interested to know how it works. If you try it, let me know!
  • Just in case you don’t know what a chiffonade cut is, it’s essentially cutting your basil in ribbons.  I’m sure everyone knows that but I just wanted to clarify in case someone didn’t.  To make my life easier I stack all the basil, roll it tightly and then shave off tiny ribbons.  It’s much easier than chopping and looks quite pretty in salads and pastas.

I {heart} Kale

I’m seriously in love with Kale right now.  We use it in everything from salads to smoothies and it brings a smooth flavor to whatever we’re cooking.  Last week we had quite a few small bunches left the night before we were headed to the farmers market and I decided to make some Kale chips to use them up.  Kale chips are delicious.

If you’re looking for a kid/adult friendly way to include more greens in your diet, Kale chips may be the answer for you.  They take an already tasty veggie and crunch it up.  You get crunch, nutrition and some fun at dinner.  It’s a win/win in my book.

My recipe is simple and somewhat vague.  I’ve included step by step pictures so that you can see it’s an inexact but ridiculously easy process and one I highly recommend attempting!

Kale Chips:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small bunches or 2 large ones.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Clean the kale very well taking care to remove the tough woody stems from the leaves.  Break the leaves down into smaller pieces and place them in a bowl.  If the leaves are too wet at this point dry them a little before placing them in the bowl.   

This is how my leaves looked at this point.  Once your leaves are prepared, mix the olive oil and soy sauce together and then drizzle over the leaves.  Lightly toss with your hands to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.  Place the leaves on your pan.  It should look like this:

I know the pan looks too full but trust me, it’s not.  The leaves shrink and everything will be fine.   Place your pan in the oven for 12-13 minutes.  After the alloted time remove pan from the oven.

Evenly distribute the leaves on the pan and place back in the oven for an additional 12-13 minutes.  When you remove the Kale chips from the oven a second time, check to ensure that they are cooked and crunchy.  If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the chips into a bowl and lightly sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder over them.  I use a very small amount of onion powder and a slightly larger amount {though still small} of garlic powder.  The important thing to remember is to start small and taste as you go.  You do not want too much of either.  Gently toss the chips and serve!

Extra Information:

I don’t oil my pan as I have an old, beat up pan that I use for things like this.  The kale really doesn’t stick and if a few pieces do I can usually scrub them off with little to no effort.  If you are using a nice pan I would lightly spray it to ensure ease of cleaning.

You may find you have too much kale depending on the size of your bunches.  If I have a bit too much for the bowl or pan I’m using, before I drizzle the oil on I rescue a couple of handfuls and refrigerate them until I need them.  They keep very well and are quite handy once cleaned and prepped.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Grilled Hummus Wrap

We love hummus in this house.  I’m fairly certain if I gave my son hummus for breakfast he would be the happiest person in the world.  We eat a lot of it because it’s healthy, quick and so versatile.

Lately I’ve grown weary of the standard hummus, cracker and cut vegetable lunch my son favors.  I wanted something different, a little more grown up and this  wrap was the result.  It’s a grown up lunch and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.  It’s fantastic.

If you’re in the market for a different lunch give this a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Grilled Hummus Wrap:

Ingredients:

  • One 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • Hummus (I use light hummus but anything would work)
  • Sundried tomatoes.  These can be packed in oil or not according to your preference.
  • 1/2 of a roasted red pepper
  • a handful of baby romaine lettuce
  • 6 small olives cut in half. I like the olives stuffed with jalapenos but again according to your preference here.
  • 6 slices of english cucumber

Instructions:

  • Lay your tortilla flat and cover the about 2/3 of it with hummus.  Definitely hit the middle 1/3 and then move outwards until a fair amount is covered.
  • Lay the english cucumbers on top of the hummus in a strip from the top in a row of 4 with 2 on top of that row.
  • Lay the red pepper on top of the cucumbers.
  • Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and olive halves.
  • Spread the romaine evenly on top of the wrap
  • Fold up the bottom half and then fold each side in on top of each other.  To aid in making sure my wrap stays together I always add a little hummus to the side that will be on top to make it a little sticky.
  • Place in your panini press and grill until golden brown and warmed through.
  • Enjoy!

Extra Information:

  • If you make this on the stove in a grill pan or frying pan you’ll have to grill it upside down to make sure the wrap seals before flipping it.  Because of this I would warn you not to overstuff the wrap as it can be disastrous {speaking from experience!}.
  • You could mix things up with other things you like.  When I don’t have roasted red peppers on hand, pepper strips work well.  I also enjoy adding basil and other seasonings from time to time.  The possibilities are endless!

Warm Spicy Carrot Soup.

As I looked in my fridge this afternoon and pondered what we should have for dinner I noticed 3 bags of shredded carrots that I purchased earlier this week on sale and hadn’t done anything with.  It was a dreary, cold day here with brown grass staring at me through the window so I needed something warm and comforting.  Looking at the carrots and thinking of soup I thought I’d try something a little different than the usual Curried Carrot Soup I make.   As I looked in the cupboard I found I was still moved towards an Indian flavor but wanted something milder with a fuller flavor.  This Warm Spicy Carrot Soup was the answer.  Because it was late when I began this venture I took a few shortcuts.  As a result it came together in less than 30 minutes and my husband absolutely loved it!

Warm Spicy Carrot Soup 

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb of shredded carrots
  • 8 c veggie stock
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric

Instructions:

  • In a large stock pot place the shredded carrots, veggie stock, onion powder and garlic powder.  Stir a few times to combine.
  • Bring mixture to a boil, stirring a few times while cooking.
  • In a small bowl combine the garam masala, chili powder and tumeric.  Set aside.
  • Once it is boiling, turn heat down to medium and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.
  • About 15 minutes into the cooking process add the spice mixture.  Stir well and continue to cook.
  • Once the carrots are cooked, blend mixture well.
  • Serve!

Extra Information:

  • I use an immersion blender for this but you could easily blend it in a stand alone blender or food processor.  Don’t over blend.  A little texture is a good thing.
  • This serves 4-6 people or one very hungry husband {and his wife}.

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