Friday, March 16, 2012

Is it Thanksgiving? Sweet Potatoes Everywhere!

Growing up Until the last few weeks, sweet potatoes were an ingredient that I saw one of 3 places...

1. Thanksgiving
2. Long Horn Steakhouse (Random?)
3. Baby food jars

Sweet potato casserole was and is my favorite side item for the holidays. Although now that I am grown and make it myself, I cringe knowing exactly how LITTLE nutritional value remains after all the sugar/butter/cream! Maybe it is just me, but these beauties were not a staple in our weekly meal plan. That all changed when we started our "Almost" vegetarian journey. I started researching meatless meals and the delicious orange vegetable showed up everywhere!

In the last month I have now used sweet potatoes in Mexican, soup and thai! Who would have thought? Which brings me to my new recipe of the week.... Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry! I originally found the recipe here. Their pictures are much better than mine... but mine include a cute baby. Bonus points? I think so!

I already had all the ingredients except the coconut milk and ginger, so I knew it was going to be a very budget friendly add to my menu.

I even had a little helper while I did my chopping. Typically, I do my prep work while he is napping, but alas... the time change has stolen my two hours of afternoon freedom. Yep.... no nap since Sunday. Clearly he has forgotten how glorious naps can be (and sleeping through the night for that matter... YES he is 6 months and no he still doesn't sleep through the night... On the plus side, I like the snuggles... Maybe it is because I have forgotten how much I would like a full night of rest).

Ingredients (for 6 servings):
  • Cooked brown rice (I used jasmine rice)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I used green chilies since I had a half open can)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used two)
  • 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 15-oz can coconut milk, solid and liquid parts mixed (just shake the can)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (not pictured... hey-I'm learning!)
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
In a heavy saucepan (Dutch oven if you have it!), heat the oil over medium-low heat.  After the pan has heated up for a few minutes, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Cook for about 5 minutes until everything is softened.  Add the curry powder and stir for 30 seconds.  Add salt and pepper (I added a lot of salt, almost a tablespoon).

Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, coconut milk, and water to the pan.  Increase the heat and bring to a boil.  As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sweet potato is tender.  It took about 15 minutes for me.  Add the peas and tomatoes; stir occasionally until they’re heated through, about 4 more minutes.  Serve over brown rice.

Next time I will omit the cup of water and use an additional can of coconut milk. Thanks to my handy dandy recipe creator on My Fitness Pal I calculated that there are 177 calories per serving so the extra can wont dent the calorie allowance too badly and I think the extra would make it so much creamier! My recipe served six and equaled about 1 1/2 cups of curry. I put it over a half cup of jasmine rice at 100 calories. Totaling 277 for the meal. Not bad :) And very filling!

On a fun side note... the weather in Georgia has been amazing the last few days. Clearly we just skipped over winter and spring. We took full advantage of the weather and went to the park. Carter loved his first time in the swing. I think more than anything he loved that his big sister was pushing him! Warms my heart to see that relationship blooming.  Glad we made it out since yesterday my little red head came home with a 103* fever. 

Her favorite spot. Gives me a heart attack every time she climbs up and down. It is much higher than it looks here. 

 HAPPY FRIDAY... Helllloooooo weekend... and the return of my Hubs from his business trip! This momma is ready for a break :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why We Went "Almost" Organic Vegetarian

GM Foods... Monsanto... High Fructose Corn Syrup... Hydrogenated Oils... PINK SLIME...

I'm sure most of you have heard of at least one of those lovely terms. Especially lately with all of the news stories breaking on pink slime. These terms are just a few of the reasons my family has made the decision to go "almost" organic Vegetarian. I have to say "almost" because I still plan one meat based meal a week and we still eat eggs, yogurt and "stinky" cheese :) As my friend Brittany likes to say, we are striving for a more plant based diet!

When my daughter was born we became much more aware of what we put in our bodies. As much as possible we stayed away from HFCS and Hydrogenated Oils. We were are those crazy parents who limit sweets (no sugar until her 1st birthday), don't keep chips in the house, have never bought a fruit snack and soda/tea/anything but water/milk/pure juice stays away. Has she missed out on having those things? Certainly not! And frankly, we don't shelter her, so when it comes to school and soccer/ballet/birthday parties she eats what the other kids eat, but she knows it isn't something that is good for your body all the time. And now when we sit down for lunch and I ask her what she wants to eat she says... SALAD! **Proud Momma**

However, a few months back my husband started doing a lot of research on the government's involvement in food production. If you have ever seen 'Food Inc.' you get a taste of what I am talking about. It is scary stuff.

With our recent decision for me to be a full time homemaker we knew that, as much as we wanted to, we couldn't afford to buy all organic meat, ingredients, and veggies all the time. However, what we could do was stop eating meat every night and save up our money for organic produce and grass fed meat when we did make that purchase.

 (like our bacon burger on last weeks spinach pizza... hey, when we do meat, we do MEAT!)

So far it is going great! And honestly, what started as a money saving tool has become a lifestyle preference. We feel better, have more energy and despite popular belief, my once constipated exclusively breastfed son poops more! I have really enjoyed the challenge of finding meat free recipes and cooking clean for my family.

Does this mean if we have already made one meat meal that week and we are with a friend who is serving meat we will turn it down? NO WAY! We are not super strict or crazy about it. It is a preference and we use it as a guideline. We believe these choices should enhance your life instead of hinder your life.

I look forward to sharing our journey and the recipes I discover along the way.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Have you ever limited your meat consumption?
Did you notice a difference in the way you felt?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My First "What I Ate Wednesday" Plus BUGS

Did you know there is a difference between a stink bug and a lady bug? 

This is the "lesson of the day" I received from my lady bug loving daughter today when she showed me her two new friends after school. I'm a girl... a girly girl at that and frankly I don't care for bugs. Yet somehow I gave birth to a beautiful bug loving red headed little girl.  I'm thankful God gave her a fabulous heart, but I'm about tired of the pet bugs coming into our home. Most of the time, by the time they make it out of her pocket after a day at school they are dead sleeping! Of which she is naively convinced taking a swim in water will awaken them.

(To prove my point, as I was writing she brought me this little guy... plus his friend who fell on the floor and we have yet to recover and said "look mommy.. its a baby lady bug. I love him already!" MAKES.MY.SKIN.CRAWL.)

Doesn't that make you want to talk about food? :)

Pre-Workout Breakfast

We are usually in a hurry to get out the door in the morning. Between Hubs returning from the gym and getting ready for work, getting Carly ready and out the door to school and me eating and getting out the door to the gym breakfast needs to be quick and healthy!


After the gym I had a few bites of this... and an egg and cheese biscuit (not pictured)!


Lunch was this lovely spinach salad with Gorgonzola, craisins and cashews topped with the most amazing dressing ever. Thank you Trader Joe's! While I was pregnant I craved this daily. Fresh Express makes a salad kit called Pear Gorgonzola. I use to buy that kit and hide the dressing from everyone just so I could have it on my salad each day. Then I discovered this beauty!

Afternoon Snack

After gymnastics we stopped for a special treat! Ice Dream at ChickfilA. Doesn't nice weather just make you want to sit outside and eat ice cream?


Dinner was leftover from last nights amazing Meatless Monday meal. Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry (recipe to come) over jasmine rice. It is amazing! The best part? Carly ate it and Carter enjoyed the peas and sweet potatoes!

I rounded out at about 1630 calories for the day! Even got some greens in there in honor of "Goes Green!"

What do you enjoy doing with the family when the weather is nice?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Favorite Photographer... Photo Overload!

After Carly was born we were a bit in survival mode. We didn't have the resources to do much extra... especially have professional pictures made. Once we grew-up were established and blessed with more abundant resources we knew we wanted to document as much of baby #2's life as possible. My dear friend, Katie, recommended her photographer Cassie Connelly for the job. I was hesitant as I didn't have the best experience with our wedding photographer.

Thankfully, after just completing our third shoot with her, we have found a keeper. Cassie is charming, respectful, makes you feel at ease and has an incredible patience with the kids (and super sweaty moody pregnant women). I am always shocked to see the images she captures. Usually the kids are all over the place, crying, or not acting the way I think that they should, but miraculously she captures that one perfect smile. She and I have bonded over pregnancy, pee, spit-up and dead car batteries and I'm so thankful to have her!

Here is our sneak peak for our most recent 6 month photo-shoot.

So thankful that God entrusted John and I to parent these two precious children!!

Psalm 127:3-5  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

It Happened...

You know, that conversation that happens in every household these days. The husband turns to his lovely wife and says, "Honey, why don't you write a blog?"

 Wait, what? I have facebook and for the sake of my marriage I recently joined twitter (my husband really enjoys "tweeting" and kindly insisted informed me it would make him feel loved if I, too, participated in the craze... which I have secretly come to love), but now a blog? So I had to dig a little deeper...

 "What do you mean honey?" I asked. "Well, you are at home now and I just thought you might want to have a blog. You can talk about all the mom stuff you do now. Like working out, cooking, crafts, and kids. Maybe God could use your blog as a tool to minister to other moms."

Reeeaaallllyyyyyy..... Well, thankfully I hold my husbandin  high regard, and in trusting his Godly discernment over our family, how could I say no? Maybe he is on to something :)

So, here I sit. Baby on the floor playing (a very cute little man, might I add), dinner in the other room cooking waiting to be cooked (recipe to come tomorrow!) , and me, who has yet to shower since returning from the gym, at the computer starting my blog journey.

It isn't pretty; in fact, it is usually a mess! But isn't that the best part of life? And what's more, isn't that where God shines the brightest? I know the bigger mess I make, the brighter His light seems to shine.

Speaking of messes, I have a big one to clean up in the other room. 

Has your husband ever approached you with a "suggestion" that made you laugh? 
What hobbies do you now enjoy the most after someone pushed you to try something new?