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Veggies on Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day to you! Today my sons and I celebrated by learning how to grow vegetables and fruits and how vegetables and fruits help us grow. They each planted tomato seeds and both cannot wait to see the seeds sprout. They were also able to learn how plants help the Earth’s environment stay healthy.

In honor of Earth Day and my sons and I’s lessons on fruits and vegetables, I want to share with you some great vegetarian recipes. Instead of Meatless Monday, we could call today Meatless Wednesday. Here are two recipes that my family and I have made and loved every time. And yes, this means we sometimes simply have veggies for dinner and no meat.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese – Recipe adapted from Blogging Over Thyme

Ingredients:
Homemade Tomato Sauce:
(Or you can use your favorite Tomato Sauce. When I made this I used our favorite marinara sauce with basil. It sped up cooking time, but I wanted to include the homemade tomato sauce option as this was included in the original recipe.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes
 
Sautéed Spinach:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely sliced
1-2 garlic cloves chopped
6 ounces baby spinach (you can also use frozen chopped spinach)
 
Panko Bread Crumb Topping:
(You can omit this or use almond meal if you do not incorporate grains in your diet.)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Mushrooms:
8 large portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
olive oil
4 ounces soft, young goat cheese
 
Directions:
Prepare Sauce:

  • Using large saucepan, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the chopped garlic, stirring continuously for 30 seconds, making sure that the garlic does not brown (this is essential). Add the bay leaves and the dried oregano to the pan and stir continuously for a minute.
  • Add tomato paste and canned tomatoes, stir together, and bring to low simmer. Cover and simmer sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté Spinach:

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent.
  • Add the baby spinach and sauté until just wilted, stirring continuously. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. (If using frozen chopped spinach…Defrost the spinach, remove access moisture and then add to the pan. Cook until cooked through.)

Breadcrumb Topping:

  • Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Once the butter is just beginning to sizzle add the panko breadcrumbs and toast for three to four minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning–or until the breadcrumbs become lightly golden.
  • (You can omit this or use almond meal if you do not incorporate grains into your diet.)

Prepare the Mushrooms:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with foil and wire rack.
  • Trim the portobello mushrooms and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the portobello mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place the grilled portobello mushrooms gill-side up onto the wire rack as they are ready (the mushrooms will give off a lot of liquid as they cook and sit, and this will prevent them from sitting in any of their juices).
  • Top the mushrooms with a large spoonful of tomato sauce and then top with spinach mixture, distributing it evenly among the mushrooms.
  • Slice the goat cheese into 1/2″ thick slices (roughly half an ounce). Bread the goat cheese slices lightly in the panko breadcrumb topping and place on top of each mushroom. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown and goat cheese is jut beginning to soften. Serve immediately.

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Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach – Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste.

Ingredients:

2 medium Italian eggplants, cut lengthwise into 10 (1/4-inch thick) slices
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups quick marinara sauce
1 large egg – this is a binder, so if you cannot have eggs then try chai seeds or almond flour
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese (You can sub for cottage cheese or mix the two. I mixed ricotta and cottage cheese to make it creamier.)
8 oz frozen spinach, heated through and squeezed well
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup (4 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella (Polly-O)

Directions:

  • Cut the 2 ends off the eggplants. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, into 1/4-inch thick slices until you have a total of 10 slices about the same size. It’s easiest to do this with a mandolin. My mandolin is from OXO. If you do not have a mandolin, you can easily use a knife.
  • Sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt to help remove excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplants. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pat dry with a towel.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.  Season the eggplant with a little more salt and pepper,  then arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Cover tightly with foil and bake until eggplant is tender and pliable but NOT fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg then mix together with ricotta, spinach, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.  Dividing the ricotta-spinach mixture (about 2 generous tablespoons each) evenly and spoon onto one end of each eggplant slice, spreading to cover.  Starting at the short end, roll up slices and arrange them each seam side down in the prepared dish.  Top with remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and tightly cover with foil.
  • Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 45-60 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving with additional cheese if desired.

eggplant

I hope you enjoy these amazing vegetarians dishes. Do you have any favorite vegetarian dishes you would like to share?

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Look Again

Ever feel like you can do nothing more for your situation? You don’t necessarily want to give up, but you feel like you have hit a dead end in your search for an answer. Last week, this was me. I stood at my dead end moment as I looked at my two year olds continued suffering with eczema and allergies. His body was being attacked pretty intensely and I felt I had hit a wall. For the past two years, my husband and I have researched for answers almost everyday, prayed daily, and brought him to pediatricians, allergists and a dermatologist. On top of that, he has been seeing a homeopathic doctor for the past seven months. With what seemed like no other options, I felt defeated. Do I find another doctor? Do I google for answers one more time? Do I keep praying? Or do I just let go and see what happens? Do I just face that this might be our family’s reality?

There is point in our lives where we face a reality and have to make a decision either to simply accept this reality or to face the reality in faith. The reality is that our son has eczema and severe seasonal allergies. I cannot deny this fact, but this fact attached with fervent faith has a chance to change something. This revelation came to me as I read 1 Kings 18:41-46. Here Elijah tells King Ahab to go ahead and eat because a rainstorm was on its way.  Elijah’s statement was especially bold since at this time in history there had been a drought in the land for over three years. God had sent this drought to the land because the Israelites were worshipping foreign gods and had completely forgotten the one true God and all of His ways. Elijah stated that a rainstorm was on the way despite there being no evidence of rain approaching. By faith and the promise of God, he declared a rainstorm was on its way. Then he travels to Mount Carmel to pray to God for the rain to come. He would pray and then send his servant out to look at the sea to determine if the rain was approaching. However, the servant returns six times to tell Elijah that there was no sign of rain. But Elijah does not give up, he sends out his servant again and on the seventh time, the servant returns and reports, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” After the report of a tiny rain cloud, Elijah instructs his servant to hurry and tell King Ahab…he was to hurry because the rain would end up stopping him. Have you ever hurried to get to a safe place because you saw a small rain cloud the size of a hand? Me either, but there was a surety Elijah had that required his servant to hurry. Then just as Elijah stated in faith, a rainstorm occurred.

I have been reading this passage for several days and believe God is instructed me to call some things out in faith, pray and continue to watch for God to show up. God is teaching me several things from this passage that I would like to share with you.

1.  Despite the evidence, hold onto the promises of God and approach your currently reality in faith. For the Israelites, they had lived in a drought for years. However despite the reality, Elijah called out a rainstorm. His faith statement might not have made sense in the natural, but in the supernatural, he trusted God to show up.

2.  Do not stop praying. Elijah continued to pray. He did not give up when the servant brought a bad report the second or fifth time, but instead Elijah prayed without ceasing and in faith sent his servant out a seventh time to look for evidence of rain. Do not stop praying for the supernatural thing you are needing. Do not be discouraged by the reports of others. Instead, continue to pray and in faith continue to look for God to show up.

3.  Do not overlook the small cloud. Hold onto the small glimpses of God’s provision. Elijah could have become discouraged and asked, “Why God?” when his servant reported a small rain cloud. He could have easily replied, “That’s it God? A small rain cloud?” However, Elijah took that small sign to build his faith for the promise of the rainstorm to come. For me, God is challenging me not to overlook moments when our son is not scratching or days his allergies are not acting up. He is reminding me that these small signs are to build my faith for the greater promise to come…my son’s complete healing.

For my family, we are holding onto the promise that our son will be completely healed. With that promise, we are facing the reality we live in now with faith. God does not want us to give up and accept eczema and allergies as our reality forever. And He does not want you to simply accept your current reality, but to stare at your reality in faith. He wants us to continue to fervently pray and to look out one more time for the promise to reveal itself. When we do look again, let us not be discouraged if we only see a small sign, but let this encourage us to continue to believe that the promise will come in it’s fullness. Despite the dead end you feel like you are facing, look again in faith and proclaim the promise God has given you. Be encouraged and celebrate the “small cloud” moments of that promise being revealed. Like Elijah, in faith, let’s boldly believe, continue to pray and look again for the promise of God to come.


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SPRING Time

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Staring out of the window this morning, my eyes quickly noticed the budding of our trees, birds at the feeder, and the grass growing. It is a new season; spring is here! As I sit here being reminded of spring, I want to share a few spring tips and thoughts with you.

1. Reboot. Entering a new season is a great time to do a health reboot. Three day juice or detox cleanse, a sugar detox or a whole 30 challenge are great ways to do this.

2. Clean. I know the dreadful word for most, but its time to have a good spring cleaning. Here are a few items to tackle..clean your fans, change your air filters, dust your baseboards and blinds and clean out your refrigerator.

3. Plant. If you have not cleaned out your garden, now is the time to do that as well as plant your veggies and fruit for the spring. Check out Urban Farmer to see planting options during this season.

4. Out with the old. Step into your closet with a bag and get rid of clothes, especially those that were not worn last spring. I know the thought, “But this might come back in style.” Trust me I have said this phrase before, but chances are when it does come back in style, it will no longer fit or it will be out of your ages dresscode. Also grab a bag for your kids to get rid of the toys that they no longer need or play with. Then take your bags to the nearest shelter or thrift store.

5. Reflect and Respond. This week we are celebrating the events that changed mankind’s eternity. We reflect and celebrate the last week of Jesus Christ’s life, his death and his resurrection. We take time to read the Bible to remind ourselves what took place during this week. We take time as a family to have communion pausing our schedules to take the bread and cup in remembrance of what took place on the cross. We celebrate his life with community by attending church to worship together. And I hope that you will do the same this week. I pray you take time to reflect and respond…grab your bible, attend and engage in church, and worship the one and only Savior of the world.