Bye bye meat

For the two years or so, Josh and I have been on a journey to better health. Both of us grew up with very little boundaries when it came to what we ate, but happened to both be active in sports so weight was never an issue back then. At least until the “freshman 15” came to me with fiery revenge. We exercised, so that meant we were healthy, right?  I remember many days in high school of eating my beloved Chick-fil-a for THREE MEALS A DAY. A Fried chicken biscuit in the morning before school, a friend chicken sandwich AT school (yes, Chick-fil-a basically runs my home town) and then whatever my heart desired after Wednesday night church when my whole youth group would meet at the restaurant. This was combined with so much sweet tea it makes my teeth ache just thinking about it. What I wouldn’t give to have that metabolism back.

Since moving to Austin, I’ve been so challenged by the dedication of the people here to exercise and eat right. It’s hard to believe that a city dripping in queso and alcohol could actually be a motivation for me to cut back. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our major moments of gluttonous indulgence, but we are trying to take it one day at a time here, and see our health as a big-picture issue.

Eating less meat has been on our radar for awhile now. Seeing films like Food, Inc and Forks Over Knives has played a role in this goal, but I can’t say we have done much about until now. Josh had the notion recently to switch to a “whole foods, plant based diet” until Easter. Well, since that meant I couldn’t eat cheese or yogurt, I decided to counter offer with simply going vegetarian. We figured Lent would be a great time to try, since there is a definite start and end date, plus we can be mindful as we go about the process of our dependance on God and the responsibility we have to glorify Him with our earthly bodies. Josh reluctantly agreed to the compromise, and we have been meat free for 9 days now. This is by far the longest I’ve ever been without it, but I have to say that it has been surprisingly easy. We’ve been eating oatmeal or yogurt/granola in the mornings (typical), PB&J’s with fruit for lunch, and I’ve been trying out a bunch of meatless dinners I’ve never had the willpower to try. I’ve been completely blown away by how DELICIOUS some of these dinners have been. And I promise you that it’s not because of any cooking skills I might possess. They are foolproof! We feel so great after meals too. We feel so satisfied, without the nasty overstuffed sensation that tends to happen later.

Besides ridding our bodies of the hormones and excess harmful animal proteins and yadda yadda, I feel much less guilty about being the cause of many animals suffering in the world. Poor little cows 😦 I don’t intend on giving meat up forever, but I am temporarily feeling like a better human for cutting it out of my diet. Umm, except that statement alone makes me a terrible human…anyway…

Here are a couple great recipes we have found to be a wonderful vegetarian solutions in case you care to try them. You have my assurance that they are EXCELLENT.

Stacked Roasted Veggie Enchiladas 

IMG_6177

IMG_6175

ingredients:

1 poblano chile, cut into matchsticks
2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, halved and slivered
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 T heat-safe oil like grapeseed or coconut
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups homemade or store bought salsa/pico de gallo
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 big handfuls)
9-10 corn tortillas, halved (try making homemade tortillas!)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a cheddar-Monterey Jack blend)
sour cream and thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish, if desired

directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a large shallow roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet.

Place poblanos, red bell peppers, cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, and corn kernels onto cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the cumin and minced garlic over top. Add a generous pinch or two of salt and black pepper, then use your hands to mix everything together. After everything is coated well, spread the vegetables evenly in the pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender and begin to brown in spots. Stir or shake the pan every 10 minutes for even roasting. Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Prepare an 8x8x2 or 9x9x2-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, stir the cilantro into the salsa. Spread 1/4 cup of salsa into the bottom of the baking pan. Add a layer of tortilla pieces, to completely cover the salsa. Top with 1/3 of the vegetables, a handful of spinach, and 1/3 of the cheese. Make a second layer of tortilla, salsa, vegetables, spinach, and cheese. Top with with a layer of tortillas, salsa, vegetables, and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is heated through.

Let it sit for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of sliced scallions.

Mushroom and Wilted Greens toast with a Fried Egg **Great for lunch!

KaleMushroomToast2-682x1024

Ingredients: (serves 2)

2 slices whole wheat or multigrain bread

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms, any variety
4 cups chopped greens, such as kale or chard
1/2 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

-Toast (using your favorite method) the bread and go ahead and arrange each one on its own plate.

– In a medium sized skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until faintly shimmering. Add in the minced garlic and saute until soft but not brown – 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the mushrooms, stir to combine and cook until they begin to release water. Throw in the chopped greens and stir again to get everyone mixed up. Stir in the bit of mustard and allow the greens to cook until tender but not mushy – 2 to 3 more minutes.

– Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with about a half a tablespoon of butter, and crack an egg onto the melted butter once the pan is nice and hot. When the egg starts to separate from the pan and can be flipped, flip it over, keeping the yolk in one piece. Cook for another minute or so until both sides a slightly brown and the center is still runny. Repeat to make a second fried egg.

– To serve, divide the greens mixture into two and top the toasted bread with it. Place the egg on top of the mixture. Season with a bit of fresh ground pepper and serve immediately – the joy of this is the runny egg so be speedy in serving & eating it.

Thanks so much to Running with Tweezers and Perry’s Plate for coming up with such great options for  us to try!

What are you guys giving up for Lent? This is my fist year every practicing the tradition so I’d love to hear if anyone else out there is doing it!

Cheers!

Caroline
Advertisements

Va Va Valentine’s Day

I love love!

Thursday was so much fun celebrating this gift and all the joy it brings, whether romantic or not. Josh and I don’t typically celebrate Valentine’s day. It’s honestly an accomplishment if one of us manages to remember to get a card. But this year we decided it would be a good day to use the gift card to Ruth’s Chris that Josh got at his office Christmas party. It says a lot about us that we have YET to find a day important enough to use such an indulgent gift. It was so much fun. The restaurant handed out long stemmed roses to all the ladies, and I got to wear my newish dress with hearts on it. Tee Hee! I was giddy with how handsome the food tasted and how yummy my date was…Wait…I got that backwards. See, I’m all flustered. 😉

IMG_6122

IMG_6127

IMG_6129

IMG_6132

After dinner we got to celebrate with some friends who were having a Valentine’s Day dance outside their house. Their carport was covered in streamers and glittery hearts and mushy music was playing in the background. It was perfect. But what was even more perfect was when the mushy music stopped and Remix To Ignition came through the speakers. We certainly had fun with that one.

IMG_6135

IMG_6143

IMG_6146

IMG_6160

IMG_6153

IMG_6161

I think I can handle Valentine’s Day if it’s like this every year. I’ve never been a big fan, but I might be a changed woman after this week. Yay for love!

Hope everyone had fun with people they care about this week. I’m so grateful to have a handful of them. Not to mention this guy…

My furry valentine!!

IMG_6133

Ash Wednesday

Marked by Ashes by Walter Brueggemann


Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day …
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

 

May we all find joy today in the one who trades our dusty, doomed eternity into life of peace with Him both now and forever. May our worship today and always be an uncontrollable response to the lavish grace that He’s poured out. Thank you Jesus!

Limits

I have some pretty definite limits in my life. When said limits are reached, things start breaking down. Mainly my emotional wellbeing, but a few other things as well. This time it also involved my immune system. I have been in a pretty constant state of broken-downness the past couple weeks. I have committed myself to things past the point of my invisible limit, and I’ve been paying the price. Things came to a head this weekend when I was emotionally drained and physically sick on the couch with my poor husband picking up the slack. I reached the point where I tried to be so useful that I end up being completely useless to everybody. My limit.

Life is such a guessing game at what we can take on, what we should say no to, how much “me time” I should allow myself, and avoiding becoming a lazy bum. My 20’s have been all about learning that balance, while also attempting giving myself a little grace. Since we’ve moved to Austin I have gone 1 1/2 out of the last 2 years without a full-time job. I’ve fought guilt, shame, frustration, overcompensation, and many other things that came along with the free time I so wanted to enjoy. The free time I SHOULD have been enjoying. The free time that my husband was more than happy to allow me to have. It was an opportunity to indulge hobbies and interests that have been put on the back burner, and also a chance for me to support him and his career by making sure everything was taken care of at home. I really do love cooking and cleaning, after all. (As weird as that may be)

God gives us seasons, and I think instead of loving my “Stay at home housewife/part time babysitter” season for what it is, I have been too focused on making sure I felt assured that I was doing enough. That I AM enough. And really if I had been listening to Jesus at all…He was assuring me of that all along.

So I committed to things. Lots of things. And a few things I probably knew better than to commit to. And then all of a sudden it happens! BOOM! Useless, sick, stressed, emotional Caroline appears. And trust me, you don’t want to meet her. I’m starting to back pedal and retrace my steps that got me here, and as I do I’m learning a lot about why I do the things that I do. I love each person in my life right now and I want to give myself wholly to each one of them who might need me. But the truth is, I’m useless to everyone if I don’t go back and find that wiggle room, that time for myself that feels so indulgent to have in my days.

I hope we all can figure out what our limits are before we actually reach them. Rest and meditation and indulging one’s God given desires are healthy and VITAL. It is a struggle every day for me to recognize the need for rest and have to say no sometimes to people. Usually I fail miserably, like the past couple weeks, and sometimes I do better. For the sake of my sanity and wellbeing of those around me, I never want to operate in fight-or-flight mode. I want to give myself to those I love out of the abundant joy in my heart, knowing that my schedule and my mind have some room to breath. I know people who regularly operate on pretty unhealthy stress levels, and it’s easy to see from the outside looking in that they would be much better at everything they take on if they’d lighten their load a bit.

Phew. That was a lot to get out.

Since I’ve been too much of a mess to take time to take pictures or make sweet memories to speak of, I will leave you with a funny super bowl commercial. Best one ever, in my opinion.

Have a great week, folks.

Caroline