Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Me Project"

When: Wednesday Nights
Where: Tacos and Beer (exit 11)
Time: 7pm.
What: The Me Project by Kathi Lipp

Is there a way for a woman to pursue her dream that honors God and, at the same time, to balance all the other roles of her life?

Is it selfish for you to want more, or could it possibly be that the feeling is from God-that you were created to honor God and serve Him in other ways besides caring for a family and bringing home a paycheck?

"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ...he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone." (Ephesians 1:11)

The purpose of The Me Project is to help you accomplish just that- to help you determine not only what your God-given talents and passions are, but also to come up with realistic steps and a timeline to help you achieve all God intends for your life.

What life has God uniquely created me for??

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

One of our big jobs here on earth is to figure out what those plans are.

Starting the Me Project:

*Brainstorm 50 things that you would like to do in the next 50 years.

*Be very free in what you write down!

*Trust these are between you and God.

*Once a month peruse the list and update any progress towards goals.

*Pick ONE to do the Me Project with.


*Pick a goal-any goal

*Get a journal

*Read through all the projects

*Find accountability partners

*Sign the Accountability Covenant

*Decide on a start date

*Come up with your plan

*Share your project plan with your accountability

*Be flexible





The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted by Kathi Lipp

The ME Project schedule: (Schedule is subject to change)

Wednesday May 18th- No meeting
Wednesday May 25th- 7pm (Discuss Laying the Foundation: Preparing for The Me Project)
Wednesday June 1st- 7pm (Discuss Projects 1-4)
Wednesday June 8th- I will not be here...we will discuss skipping this week or let someone else lead.
Wednesday June 15th- 7pm (Discuss Projects 5-11)
Wednesday June 22nd- 7pm (Discuss Projects 12-18)
Wednesday June 29th- 7pm (Discuss Projects 19-21 and what we've gained)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Lot Going On....

SO I realize I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. It's been a bit crazy.

First, my littlest (who just turned two yesterday by the way) had surgery! If you know us, you know about what happened after having surgery in October. He coded two hours after surgery and had what they call bronchospams during surgery! It was very scary and needless to say, I was a bit worried when his doctor wanted to do surgery again. This time the surgery wasn't supposed to be as invasive as the last time but I was still concerned. If it wasn't for the fact that he showed mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, I wouldn't have done it.

The night before surgery he began running a high fever which completely stressed me out and because of it I didn't sleep ANY that night. I was a basket case the morning of surgery from lack of sleep and constant worrying. He ended up doing fine during surgery. The high fever was because of another ear infection beginning. He slept for more than three hours after surgery and the hospital kept us for a total of about nine hours before they let us go home. FINALLY, that evening we were released (which made my little man so happy!) Scottish Rite was wonderful to us and took such great care of us. They even gave my little man a new Mickey Mouse which made his day but not so much that he wanted to stay! He kept saying, "Go! Bye now! GO!" It was too funny.

A couple of days later Georgia and Alabama were hit with those awful tornadoes. We had an F-3 touch down less than 20 miles from our house. It was pretty scary. I am already terrified of bad storms and tornadoes. God and I definitely had a talk that night. We slept in the basement until around 3 am and then when we received the all clear, we went upstairs. We were extremely lucky but many around us were not. My heart truly goes out to the people and families that were directly hit. I donated money through Samaritan's Purse to help with the disaster relief and would challenge everyone who reads this to do the same. http://spvolunteernetwork.org/ShowFeedLink.aspx/link/www.samaritanspurse.org%2findex.php%2farticles%2fresponding_to_deadly_tornadoes%2f

I'm posting what our meterologist emailed me about the tornado 20 miles from our house.

Bartow, Cherokee, and Pickens Counties
A National Weather Service survey team along with the Cherokee County Emergency Management determined that an EF3 tornado with winds of 150 MPH touched down around 925 PM EDT Wednesday evening. It tracked from 5 miles northeast of Kingston in Bartow County, crossing northwest Cherokee County, and lifted approximately 7 miles west of Jasper in Pickens County near the intersection of Jerusalem Church Road and State Highway 53 at approximately 945 PM EDT. The path length was 23 miles and width was a half mile. Several chicken houses were destroyed along Interstate 75, several outbuildings were destroyed and hundreds of trees were downed in Bartow County. Hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted in Cherokee County. Extensive damage was reported along Henderson Mountain Road and Bryant Road in Pickens County where several mobile homes were destroyed. At least 3 injuries were reported with this tornado, two in Bartow and one in Pickens.
Path of EF-3 tornado that struck Bartow, Cherokee, and Pickens Counties.

Please continue to keep these families in your prayers!

Friday, March 25, 2011


So excited to find that someone Seth went to bible college with now works at Disney and has offered us four free park hopper passes!!!! If you know me, you know how much of a Disney nerd I am! Having grown up in Florida, I love EVERYTHING Disney and have imparted that love to my boys.

Now we just need to decide when we'll head that way. We can go as early as April 3rd or as late as my fall break in September. The only thing about April is that it's one of Disney's busiest times of year and during the summer, it's way hot. Since Eli isn't two yet I'm not sure how he'll handle the extreme heat. Last time we took him he was right over a year old and the middle of the summer. He did okay I guess. But either way, it's free!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another thing to consider is where to stay! Should we stay at the park somewhere or a preferred Disney site or some where else? We'll also either do Sea World for a day or Universal. The boys have never been to Universal. I guess it all just depends on how much money we have whenever we go. We're trying so hard to get debt free and as much as I love Disney, I don't want to jeopardize that...which is why I'm so excited about the opportunity to visit for free!!!! I didn't think we'd darken Disney's doorstep for at least two more years! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things in the Works

Okay so my last post was a bit...heavy? I think that's the word. One person described it as raw and honest. It wasn't really meant to be much of anything but I do admit, it was a bit cathartic. Anyway, I've decided that my next few posts will be a little lighter! :)

So, I've been attempting to get back into my couponing habit because between work, church and my stinkers at home, I've not had alot of time to clip coupons. Seth and I are trying really hard to get ourselves out of debt and with his student loans now being paid monthly, we're not seeing much of a change in our debt load because we now have to take money that was being paid on credit cards to now cover student loans.

It cracked me up the other day or rather irritated me a little bit when Seth came to me and said, "Hey! I was speaking with one of my old college buddies and his wife does all of this couponing through some website and saves a ton of money a month! You should try that!" Ummmm...was he not paying attention last summer when I was spending maybe $40 in groceries and saving at least the same amount?? When he told me what website the girl was using, I was even more irritated! It was the same website I had been using for the last year or so AND THEN when I asked him what else the wife did, he said, "Um, I don't know...stays home with their kids?" YEAH! So this super couponing woman was doing everything I had done when I had time to do it and didn't have to work outside of the home. I'm sure she has time to scourer couponing websites and clip coupons. He didn't notice when his own wife did the same thing but he sure noticed when some random woman did!!! Okay...vent over....light and fluffy post beginning again! :)

SO, I decided to once again begin reviewing my favorite couponing sites instead of scanning the emails and deleting them. :) I've found some great deal sites too and am combining the two. I did a tester the other day to see if I still had it. I spent $36 in groceries at Target and saved a little over $11. Not bad for only using four or five coupons. That $36 included a pack of diapers, two bottles of vitamins, tooth paste and enough food for three nights of dinners. It wasn't bad but I can definitely do better!

Today I bought a http://www.moolala.com/deals/id/DPLHCB5/lions-wines-cellar deal for the website E-Mealz. My best friend has been using this website for about two or three years now and loves it. The deal was half off for a year's membership. http://e-mealz.com/ Here's what the website says about the meal plans: E-Mealz has been created to provide a kid-friendly and family-uniting meal planning resource for busy Moms and frugal family cooks. Each meal plan is based on the current sales at the grocery stores, with plan options categorized according to store and/or weight management strategy. The recipes are delicious, simple and easy to follow. Each plan is new every week and has a corresponding aisle-by-aisle grocery list. Almost every week includes a crock-pot recipe and easy dinner ideas. There are meal plans for two people, for a low fat diet, a low carb diet, and for those who are following a point system, as well!

Exciting stuff! With the coupons, E-Mealz and my determination, it shouldn't be too hard for me to really start saving us some money. I'm excited and can't wait to see what comes of all of this!

Here is the link to my moolata if you want to give me referral points!!!! http://share.moolala.com/r/P2YYNL7

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Husband is Living the Life I Dreamed of...

My husband is living the life I dreamed of.

When we got married ten years ago I made it very clear that my hearts desire was to one day be a stay at home mom. I watched just about every pastor's wife and good christian woman that I knew raise her children while fulfilling the obligatory motherly duties of being at home and at the beck and call of both her children and husband. I wanted that life and assumed it would be mine one day. I was prepped for it by my own mother and when I married a man in the ministry, I assumed that he understood the rules of motherhood. I just knew that as the spiritual head of our house and church, that he and I were on the same page and that I would one day be baking cookies for our children after school.

We got married young. I was almost 21 and he was almost 25. In hopes of deterring us from marrying so young, my father decided we should pay for our own college. Being the over-achiever that I am, I went on to earn my Ed.S. and nearly 65,000 dollars of student loan debt. My husband earned a MA and 25,000 dollars of debt. We moved seven times in our first eight years of marriage although we only lived in three states. In those eight years my husband lost his job or changed jobs three times. In those eight years we also had two sons and with each pregnancy I prayed that somehow God would make a way for me to stay at home. It never happened.

With our first son, my husband was able to stay home for about 6 months. With our second, my husband is still staying at home. Our youngest is currently 22 months old.

For a long time I was very bitter. I was angry at God and also at my husband. How could they allow my heart's desire to go unfulfilled? As I strived to support my husband's dreams of being a pastor, I had to give up mine. When would it be my turn? To make ends meet, I coached after school and even took up a job waitressing at a local restaurant. I listened to the voices that condemned me for working so much and for allowing my husband to always be the one taking care of the kids. I believed them when they said I was a bad mother because deep down, I agreed with them. Just like them, I was raised to believe that a woman's place was at home.

After experiencing severe anxiety, I knew it was time to seek some help and guidance. I also knew where most of my issues were coming from. I was jealous and overwhelmed with the feeling that I had very little control over my life. In the things that I felt I had some control, I over compensated which often resulted in me being too exhausted to do the things that I really desired to do.

I began seeing a local christian counselor who somehow knew me within the very first session. I had heard the saying, "she read my mail" but had never really experienced it until that meeting. She helped me to realize that in my jealousy and situation of supporting my family that I had found myself, I had misplaced my ability to trust in God. I erroneously thought I could handle it all myself since God and my husband had seemed, in my mind, to have dropped the ball. Things that I obviously could not control like the weather and plane rides caused me to suffer severe anxiety attacks.

I wish I could say that things now are completely different. They are not. BUT my mindset is slowly changing. I am realizing that no matter how much I'd like to be, I'm not in control over much of anything. My husband still stays home while I go off to work every morning but I am learning to lean on him more instead of assuming the role of provider. I'm learning not to try to do it all. We just recently came back from Dallas and my suitcase, fully packed, sat on the floor for nearly two weeks!!! That's huge for me!

Most of all though, I'm learning to trust again in God. I know He knows my heart and loves me despite all of my shortcomings. There will always be situations that are out of my control and things that do not go the way I dreamed they would. But I think God has been waiting on me to realize that this illusion of control that I had created in my mind was just that, an illusion. I don't know what illusions you have created for youself but I know that there is a God that loves you so much and wants to bring you back into His reality.

Lamentations 3:24 "I say to myself, "The Lord is my provision; therefore I will trust in him."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Created to be his Help Meet

I'm reading this new book sent to me by my best friend and I just felt like I should share some things as I'm reading. I know that if these are things that I need to hear, that you might too. I plan on continuing to post my thoughts as I end each chapter and think of new thoughts. Maybe this can be an email bible study?? If you're interested in getting the book the name of it is Created to be his help meet by Debi Pearl. Keep in mind that I've JUST started reading it, literally today. I just thought it may be a journey we can all take together. Let me know your thoughts!!!

This is from the TIME TO CONSIDER section after chapter one:
God's perfect will for my life is that I be a help meet to my husband. (I do have a choice in how good my marriage will be.) "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (I Cor 11:8-9)

Make a new habit: Think of ways that you can be a helper to your husband. Start today.

Getting Serious with God: Locate in scripture the following words or traits as they relate to a woman of God. Write the verses in your diary, and ask God to work each of these attributes into your character. 1. Virtue 2. Graciousness 3. Wisdom 4. Prudence 5. Goodness

A Good Help Meet has a passion to be of service: the words help meet bring up images of a woman who serves others. A good help meet will have a passion to be of service. Her first calling is to be of service to her husband, then her children, and when time affrods, her passion of service will spill over to serving others.

My thoughts: Being a help meet doesn't mean that I need to be the world's idea of a PERFECT wife. I have nothing to prove to others. Something that touched home was the comment that "it is far better that the job be done poorly by your husband than to be done well by you. Your excellence as a help meet to him may very well be God's plan for improving his leadership role in the family. Your female nature cannot be retrofitted to the male role without permanent damage to the original design."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Campbell's Kitchen: Creamy Irish Potato Soup

Campbell's Kitchen: Creamy Irish Potato Soup

2 tablespoons butter
4 medium green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 stalk celery, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 3/4 cups (49 1/2 ounces) Swanson® Chicken Broth (Regular, Natural GoodnessTM or Certified Organic)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 medium potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups milk

Heat the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until they're tender.
Stir the broth, black pepper and potatoes in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Place half of the broth mixture and half of the milk in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Repeat with the remaining broth mixture and remaining milk. Return to the saucepan and heat through.

Nutritional Information

Total Fat



Total Carbohydrates

Dietary Fiber

How to Freeze and Thaw
Confused about what freezes well and what doesn’t? Do you want to learn how to thaw those foods you freeze? Here are some suggestions and helpful tips.Things we like to freeze:Cooked foods: soups, stocks, stews, casseroles, lasagna, cooked rice, breads and bagels (slice first!)
Raw foods: cut-up fruit, blanched vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, stuffed pastas, tortillas, pesto, butter, grated or block firm cheeses, dough (pizza, pie crust, biscuit)
How to freeze:Cool cooked items to room temperature before freezing.
Freeze in small portions (for fast freezing and thawing).
When freezing soups or sauces, leave about ½-inch at the top for expansion.
Use bags and containers made for the freezer. When using bags, squeeze out all of the air. When using plastic wrap or foil, double or triple wrap. You can freeze in original unopened packaging, but wrap again with plastic wrap or foil for extra protection. Be sure to label your items and include the date.

How long to freeze:

Cooked Foods
Soups, stew and stocks
2 to 3
Casseroles, Lasagna
2 to 3
Meat and poultry
2 to 3
Lunch meats
1 to 2
Frozen dinners
3 to 4
Breads and cakes
1 to 2

Raw Foods
Meat (chops, steaks, roasts)
4 to 12
Meat (ground)
3 to 4
Poultry (parts, whole)
9 to 12
Fish (fillets, whole)
3 to 4
Bacon and Sausage
1 to 2
Firm cheese (grated, whole)
2 to 3
2 to 3
Dough (pizza, biscuit, pie)
1 to 2
3 to 4
3 to 4
Stuffed pastas
1 to 2

How to thaw:Preferred method: thaw overnight in the refrigerator (or figure 8 hours per pound of meat to thaw).

Food should not get warmer than 40°F to avoid the growth of bacteria.

In a pinch, completely submerge item (wrapped) in a large bowl of cold water (not warm or hot water because you don’t want your food to get warmer than 40°F) and change the water every 30 minutes for a maximum of 2 hours. Or defrost in the microwave at 1-2 minute intervals on the defrost setting, checking your food each time to make sure it’s not cooking. If you use the microwave to defrost, cook the food immediately as the microwave heats unevenly and some parts might be warm or partially cooked.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Masking Tape Brown Rice Casserole and Other "Church" Recipes

Masking Tape Brown Rice Casserole

1-Can of Campbell’s Consume Beef Soup
1-Can of Campbell’s French Onion Soup
1-Cup of long grain Rice (Uncooked)
1-Stick of butter
½-Cup of grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:Pour rice in a 9x9 square baking dish. Add Consume Beef and French Onion Soup. Then add a whole stick of butter to the center of the dish. Bake on center rack in a 350-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the soup and the onions are on top. At this point pull out of oven and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes until cheese has formed a crust. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8 people
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 Minutes
Difficultly: Easy
Read More From Apron Strings Recipes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meatless Monday Meal

Herbed Spaghetti Squash
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse
Prep Time:
5 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
4 servings

1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed soft herbs, such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley and sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.
Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meatless Mondays (Daniel Fast - Days 16-17)

I've decided I'm making my family go meatless...well, at least on Mondays! I'm joining the Mealess Monday campaign which encourages its members to go Meatless on Monday every week. The idea is that Monday sets you up for the rest of the week and if you start off your week healthy, you may continue it that way.

During the Daniel Fast there really haven't been A LOT of things that I've craved...and the things that I have really craved haven't been meat. I do confess that I would like a nice juicy hamburger and a turkey wrap from Rolly Polly but other than those two things, I'm good. For the majority of things, we've already gone organic and even when I do buy meat it is organic. For awhile I've considered becoming vegetarian but the idea scares me and I know that Seth would struggle with it. He is DEFINITELY a meat man and I think completely going vegetarian might start a world war in our house. I do think though that I'm going to try my hardest to make myself vegetarian options whenever I cook dinner. I'm not completely ready to make my kids meatless either because I want to ensure that they are getting enough protein. But I do want to make them more conscientious about WHAT they're eating.

So as I'm finishing this Daniel Fast segment of my blog, what are some of the things that God has spoken to you during your fasting?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Daniel Fast - Days 9-15

I haven't been able to post like I'd like to. We found out early last week that Seth's aunt passed away so we literally hopped in the car and drove to fridged Ohio! It was so cold and snowy the whole time we were there. The temp was in the negatives. I'm so happy to be home to say the least. Anyway, I do have some posts that I will post when I get the chance. I've got A LOT of work at school to get caught up on but here are some recipes to tide you over in the mean time!

Lentil Chili
Serves 8
This simple vegetarian chili recipe uses lentils instead of beans. Brown lentils work best as they will hold their shape even when tender after cooking. Serve with our Health Starts Here hearth bread from our bakery.
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 1 large red bell pepper, chopped 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 teaspoons salt-free chili powder 1 (16-ounce) package brown lentils (about 2 1/4 cups lentils) 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent and pepper is tender. Stir in chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils, tomatoes and remaining 7 1/4 cups broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender. Uncover and cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in cilantro and serve.
Per serving : 120 calories (5 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 6g protein

Black Bean Burgers
Serves 6
These easy-to-assemble burgers can be shaped ahead of time and cooked off when you’re ready to eat.
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained 1 egg 1/2 yellow onion, chopped 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granules Salt and pepper to taste Hot sauce to taste 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or canola oil 6 whole wheat hamburger buns 6 green leaf lettuce leaves 2 tomatoes, sliced 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Put beans in a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Add egg, yellow onion, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Mix well to combine then shape into 6 patties. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange patties in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to buns, top with lettuce, tomatoes and red onions and serve.
Per serving (about 8oz/222g-wt.): 290 calories (70 from fat), 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 450mg sodium, 47g total carbohydrate (10g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 12g protein

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Daniel Fast - Day 8

I wanted to share this email that I received the other day instead of writing my own thing today. I do have ALOT that I'd like to say but I want to say it RIGHT so I'm drafting it out first. It may have to wait a couple more days. So instead, here is an awesome post at a MUCH needed time.

You're Just Like Your Father
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth Malachi 3:3 "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" (NIV).

Friend To Friend The story is told of a group of women who met each week to study the Bible, hoping to learn more about the nature and character of God and how He works in our life. The women were puzzled and even a little troubled by the description of God they found in Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." One of the women offered to do a little research on the subject and report back to the group at their next meeting. The woman found a local silversmith and made an appointment to observe him at work, explaining that she was particularly interested in the process of refining silver. She watched as the craftsman carefully selected a piece of silver for his demonstration. She thought the piece of silver was already beautiful but evidently the silversmith saw something that she could not see. As he held the silver over the furnace, the craftsman explained that in refining silver, the silver had to be placed in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so all of the impurities would be burned away.

The woman was silent for a moment as her thoughts drifted to the fiery trials she was facing in her own life. Honestly, she did not get it. Why would a loving God allow His children to suffer when He could so easily deliver them? In fact, why does God even allow bad things to happen to people who are seeking Him and really trying to live for Him?
The woman asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. "Oh, yes!" he replied. "I cannot take my eyes off the silver. If it is left in the furnace even a moment too long, it will be destroyed." The woman suddenly understood the beauty and comfort of Malachi 3:3, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

Yes, there are times when it seems as if we will be swallowed whole by the fires of Hell itself. The pain seems too hard to bear. The fear is paralyzing. The doubt is overwhelming and questions flood our heart and mind.
Is God really who He says He is?
Will He really do what He says He will do?
Will He really keep His promises?

Our trials are not random persecutions. Heaven is not in a panic and where we are and what we are going through is no surprise to God. We may be knocked down and kicked around by life, but if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not be destroyed.
Our lives are filled with excess baggage and waste - a cherished sin we refuse to relinquish or an addiction to which we are enslaved. What about the emotional garbage that weighs us down or our unforgiving spirit that holds us prisoner? Fiery trials come to burn away the guilt of sin and then purify our heart. From those ashes of freedom, the Father then creates a work of beauty.

I believe the words I just wrote. I know and accept the truth that trials and hard times make me stronger and strengthen my faith, but there are times when I want it all to stop. I find myself asking, "How much is enough, Lord? How many trials do I have to endure? When will the pain and trouble end?"

"How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" the woman asked. The silversmith smiled and answered, "Oh, that's easy. The refining process is complete when I can see my image reflected in the silver."

God is not committed to our comfort. He is committed to our character. Only God can exchange the ashes of our sin for the beauty of His forgiveness and grace. God alone can replace our despair with His peace that passes all understanding. Hope can only be found in Him. Our purpose in life is to know and become more like Jesus ... and act just like our Father.

Let's Pray Father, I want to be more like You. Give me the strength to withstand the trials in my life. Help me love the people who are hard to love and forgive the people who have hurt and even abused me. Burn away the sin in my life and empower me to live for You. Create a clean heart in me, Lord, and teach me how to live for You.

In Jesus' name,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Daniel Fast - Day 5-7

I know I'm late posting Day 5 and 6 but I was FINALLY able to get out of the house and I really didn't get a chance to sit down and post!

Friday I went out the grocery store and got so excited when I discovered the Jewish section of the grocery store! SO many Daniel Fast approved things at one place! I spent entirely too much money but it was totally worth it!

Saturday I had a baby shower to go to so Caleb and I went and left Eli and daddy at home. It was actually probably the first time I really struggled with being on the fast. The shower was at a yummy pizza restaurant and of course, they had garlic knots and pizza and cake! I'm not normally a cake person but I so wanted that cake. Luckily the girls that worked there were nice enough to make me a salad that I could eat and to bring me olive oil and vinegar for dressing. Saturday night we took Caleb to our first ever hockey game. Seth and I did cheat some because we felt it was a special night so we shared a thing of crinkle fries. They were the "healthiest" thing we could find that we felt weren't ruining the fast. We had such a great time. It was a cancer awareness night and also "teddy toss" night where you donate a teddy bear or small stuffed animal and throw it on the ice the first time the home team makes a goal. It was pretty awesome to see all of the teddies get tossed onto the ice.

Today (Sunday) we had church (of course) and then came home. I got to spend the morning with a bunch of cuties (including mine) in the nursery and I must say, I had more energy to enjoy them then I normally do. When I left I'm not sure I had much make-up left on after allowing all of the boys to use me as a climbing platform. It was worth it though. So much fun! Tonight I plan on making vegetable soup. We had Mexican Rice and beans for lunch and I had a banana for breakfast. We're off once again tomorrow for Martin Luther King Day...not that I am complaining about having a day off but I'm SOOOO ready to be back on a schedule.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Daniel Fast - Day 4

I found a new blog to follow today and I'm so excited! Once again, my friend Cat has come through for me. The name of the blog is Post Punk Kitchen and you can find the link to the right of this post. I'm excited mainly because even though she's vegan, she gives ALOT of options for cooking without using Tofu! I've never tried Tofu so yes, I'm sure I could probably be persuaded to eventually try it but I'm pretty sure I could NOT convince my husband. There are some awesome looking breakfast recipes and desserts which really excite me but unfortunately are NOT Daniel Fast approved. She uses baking powder and syrup in some. :( I will definitely try them though when the fast is over! There are a couple of recipes that I do plan on making during the fast though too! One of the recipes I am DEFINITELY going to try is the Fluffy Mashed Potatoes.

3 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk at room temp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for the water)
Several dashes fresh black pepper

Cut potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Spinkle about a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then place back in the pot. Do a preliminary mash with a potato masher, just to get them broken up. Add milk, oil, salt and pepper and mash until fluffy. You may want to add a bit more milk, if needed. Taste for salt and pepper and serve!

You can make mushroom gravy to go with this! Yummm!

Once again, we are OUT of school for a snow day. Now we don't go back until Tuesday because of the holiday on Monday. This is really a bit ridiculous. I guess today maybe God is teaching me patience??? I also have to decided to really try to eat healthier when all of this is over. I say that every year and we're good for about six months and then we fall back into our rut of eating out alot and going through drive-thrus. I'm going to attempt at least one vegan or vegetarian meal a week. That will be my new challenge for 2011. I'm hoping that in doing that, we'll start eating healthier every day and not just once a week. Seth made me promise that we still have our pizza nights and Caleb wants Chinese movie night too which should be okay. :)

Check out the Meatless Monday campaign here : http://www.meatlessmonday.com/category/breakfast/

What are some of the things that God is talking to you about during this fast?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Daniel Fast - Day 2 and Day 3

Technically I'm posting this on Day 3 instead of Day 2 but there is a story behind the posting. As of today (Day 3) we've now been snowed in for three days. Detoxing and being snowed in is NOT a happy combination. I have had a caffeine headache since Monday evening and then this morning when I finally woke up without one, my youngest decided to headbutt me in a pre-terrible-two- cabin-fever-induced rage. So to say these first three days have been challenging is a bit of an understatement!

Joking (or maybe not??) aside, we've done well with the fast. I mixed up my menu a bit and I realized that the most important thing I need in the house is snacks. We have eaten LOTS of all-natural popcorn and plenty of pineapple...not together, although that's not a bad thought. I used my new rice cooker Monday when I made brown rice with squash and zucchini. I also made my friend Cat's mushroom orzo soup. Yummy! Yesterday we had meatless chili for dinner and for lunch we had salad with oil and vinegar dressing and leftovers from the day before. Today I'll make rice spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce. I'm hoping to get to the store today, at the very latest, tomorrow. I'm not sure if that's going to happen because as I'm looking out the window right now, it's snowing AGAIN. We're conserving our juice and milk (for our youngest) and I'm praying it lasts one or two more days.

Our predicament reminds me of another bible story in Exodus 16.
Even in the midst of the Israelite community grumbling because of their lack of food, God heard them and provided for them. As undeserving as they were, God STILL provided! I know that we're not TRULY stuck in the wilderness right now, although it sure seems that way at the moment. But I've already seen God providing for us. Our juice which normally only lasts for one day has already lasted nearly three. We're down to a little less than half a gallon of milk but it's still there for our little Elijah and I found some powder milk that I can use if I need to.

It's little things like this that remind me that God is providing in big ways, even if we don't always see it. It's easy to get caught up in the what-if's and the grumblings when things don't go exactly as we expect them to go. We rage at God because we feel that He has left us when in reality He's waiting on us to acknowledge Him and his provision. We are so limited in our understanding and we like to be in control at all times. It's often very difficult for us to relinquish that control and allow God to move and to be our provision. I'm learning, slowly I'll admit...but I'm learning as a self-diagnosed control freak, to relinquish that control and to allow God to be Jehovah-Jireh, MY provider.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daniel Fast- Day 1

So we woke up this morning to about eight or more inches of snow covering the ground! Gorgeous and also I thought, VERY appropriate for the start of a new season which is what I'm praying for! I just had to add some pictures here.

I made our whole grain oatmeal this morning with almond milk and fresh fruit. It was yummy. Caleb, our oldest son, has been very concerned with doing the Daniel Fast too. He got upset after he found out that the hot chocolate I gave him after playing in the snow wasn't Daniel Fast approved. I love that he really wants to do the fast with us and wants to understand it all. I had planned on making separate lunches, etc. for Caleb and Elijah (and I'm sure I'll still do some deviating for the boys) and so I was a little surprised when he came and told me that he really wanted to do the fast with Mommy and Daddy. It made me realize just how much those two stinkers really do listen and watch what we say and do! It also made me think that if they're paying attention, who else is?!? :) It brought to mind Genesis 31:44-54 when Laban and Jacob made a covenant at Galeed. Verse 50 says, "God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us." When we say we are going to do something or live a certain way, we sometimes allow ourselves little allowances but we expect others to totally commit and we're often the first in line to point fingers when they fail. We forget that God is constantly watching us even if there is no one else around. I realized that I really need to take this opportunity to be an example to everyone around me, my children, my husband, our church family....everyone! It's important to live a life of witness everyday, not just when we feel like it. Hopefully you'll join me these next few weeks as we follow the Daniel Fast and maybe something we experience or study will touch you and encourage you to live a life of witness. Enjoy!

I had to add some recipes to this post (mainly so that I would have them at hand)! I'm excited now for Mexican night which will probably happen Friday night. We'll see!

Tortilla Chips
- 20 corn tortillas
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- lime zest
- olive oil

Cut tortillas into triangles and toss with oil, salt, pepper, and lime zest. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until crispy. Allow to cool and enjoy.

Pico de Gallo
-Just toss together chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno. Add a touch of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and fresh squeezed lime juice!

You can buy 100% whole wheat tortillas, but these are so easy and fun to make. Use these tortillas for a veggie wrap or for chips with salsa. I'm using them to make black bean burritos. I also like to top the burritos with some of the juice from the beans and then top it all with shredded lettuce and Pico de Gallo. Yummy!


2 cups whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup warm water


  1. Mix flour and salt in bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and stir until well combined.
  3. Add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Knead dough on floured board for about 3 minutes (20 folds).
  5. Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes (this is called resting)
  6. Roll dough into sausage-shape and then cut into 12 equal parts (cut in half, then in half again, then each part into thirds) and shape into little ball
  7. With a rolling pin, roll each little ball into a tortilla (for best results, roll out from the center and outward).
  8. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Fry the tortillas in a dry stick-free pan for about 30 seconds on each side for soft tortillas or longer for crisp tortillas.
  9. Keep tortillas warm by placing in a tortilla holder or wrap in a kitchen towel

Yield: Makes 12 tortillas

Also, a Tahini free hummus dip thanks to my friend Gloria!

1 can of white northern beans (not chick peas) ;-) drained and rinsed
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 of a squeezed lemon
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
pinch or so of salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Natures Table Chili from Joy

Yield: 10 servings
1 (2-pound) can Heinz tomato sauce 1 (2-pound) can kidney beans, drained 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium-size onion, peeled and chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, cut in small chunks
1 carrot, cleaned and grated
...2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Spike All-Purpose Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
Shredded white Cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
1. In a large kettle or stockpot, mix all ingredients except shredded cheese.
2. Bring ingredients to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve with grated cheese.
Recipe note: This chili freezes well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Daniel Fast - The Day Before IT Begins!

Tomorrow is the first day of the Daniel Fast! I thought I'd go ahead and post my menu for the next three days. Some things may change depending on my mood but for the most part, this is what Seth and I will be eating. Here also is another helpful link that I found!

(the recipes below come from this blog!)

Day 1
Breakfast- Whole Grain Oatmeal with fresh fruit (made with almond milk); juice
Lunch - Water, salad with chickpeas and mushrooms
Dinner- Brown rice and stir fry veggies
Snack- Natural Popcorn

Day 2
Breakfast- Whole Grain Oatmeal with fresh fruit (made with almond milk); juice
Lunch- Veggie Chili
Dinner- Veggie Chili on Baked Potato
Snack - Hummus with Carrots

Day 3
Breakfast- Whole Wheat Toast and Berry Blast Smoothie (see recipe)
Lunch - Mushroom Orzo (whole grain) Soup
Dinner- Rice Spaghetti with Homemade Tomato Sauce
Snack- Black Bean Dip


1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 TB fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Place ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process, scraping sides of bowl often, until mixture is a smooth paste. You can either refrigerate at this point, or serve immediately. Use as a dip with fresh vegetables or as a spread on a torilla.

Recipe Notes
Hummus has more flavor after it has been refrigerated at least 24 hours before serving. Prepare large quantities of hummus at one time. It can be refrigerated up to a week and frozen up to 3 months

Black Bean Dip

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell peppers (about 1 large pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
2 (15.5-oz) cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or 1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and red peppers, and cook until onion is soft and translucent. Stir in garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently so garlic doesn’t burn.

Place water and 2 cups beans in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Pour the pureed beans into skillet and stir. Add the remaining beans, parsley rosemary, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm.

Berry Blast Smoothie

1 cup water
1 cup frozen blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries
1 banana, peeled

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 8 ounces or 1 cup)

Recipe Notes
  • Your smoothie will taste best if either the berries or the banana is frozen. To freeze bananas, remove peels before placing in freezer. Put in a plastic zip-top bag until completely frozen.
  • To make this a "green" smoothie, add 1 cup of fresh spinach or kale leaves (stems removed from the kale).
  • Add 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal for a fiber boost.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Daniel Fast 2011 Recipes

It's that time again! I can't wait this year and I'm MUCH more prepared. I'm including some favorite recipes in this post! I hope you'll find them (and extra links provided) useful! - Charity

List of helpful links:
http://www.theverdantlife.com/ (not all Daniel Fast approved but can be adapted)
http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/the-veg-edge/the-veg-edge/index.html (again, NOT Daniel Fast but there are great recipes that can be adapted!)

These recipes are all from the Daniel Fast Cookbooks available at Daniel-Fast.com

Red Bean Soup
Beans are so rich in vitamins and protein. Plus they are excellent for our digestive systems! Serve this soup with a fresh vegetable plate and bean dip or a nice green salad.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onions
¼ cup chopped green bell peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 bay leaves
2 cups dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon Special Seasoning, (recipe follows on next page)
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup diced carrots
1 ½ cups cooked long-grain brown rice, warm
6 tablespoons chopped green onions
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the beans and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the Special Seasoning and stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 1 1/2 hours, until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the salt and parsley, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Remove 1 cup of beans from the pot and reserve.
With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the red beans. Add the reserved beans, and stir well.
To serve, ladle a generous cup of the soup into each of 6 bowls.
Top each serving with 1/4 cup of the rice and 1 tablespoon of green onions.
Yield: six servings

Greek Vegetable Stew
The Orthodox Greeks enter partial fasts as part of their religious practices. This recipe is one that’s handed down and common among Greek families.
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, chopped
1 pound green string beans, broken in half
1 package frozen or fresh spinach
4 cups water
6 zucchini, chunked
4 yellow squash, chunked
2 cups celery leaves
4 tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon salt
8 slices lemon
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons fresh basil
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lightly brown onions in a hot dry skillet in 2 tablespoons oil.
Add oregano and garlic, cook 1 minute.
Add 4 cups water and tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients. Cook covered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with a lemon slice in each bowl.
Yield: eight servings

Garden Vegetable Soup
This recipe calls for fresh vegetables, but substitute with frozen varieties if they are not available. By the way, tests show that frozen vegetables actually retain more of their vitamins and minerals because they are frozen so soon after harvesting.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 quarts vegetable broth
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 - 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Bean Curry and Rice
This is an easy recipe and you can adjust the spices to your liking. You might also consider adding mushroom, carrots or other vegetables.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry lentils
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounce)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounce)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (8 ounce)
1/2 cup raisins
salt and pepper to taste
8 cups cooked brown rice
Prepare the brown rice according to package directions so you have enough for 8 servings.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender.
Mix in the lentils and garlic, and season with curry powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and raisins. Season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Yield: eight servings

Stir Fry Vegetables with Brown Rice
You will end up having a couple meals that you really enjoy and you will make over and over again during your fast. This recipe will likely be one of them! Not only is it very appetizing in its colorful presentation, but it is filling and tasty. Change the recipe to your own liking and with what you have available, but don’t skimp on the vegetables as that’s what makes this recipe unique and satisfying.
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
4 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
½ pound fresh green beans, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on diagonal
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups greens, chopped (kale, bok choy, spinach, collards, etc)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ cups peas (if frozen run under water to thaw)
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
Heat a deep skillet or wok over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add oil and heat for 1 minute.
Add green onions and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Add broccoli, green beans, carrots, and garlic. Stir fry for 8-10 minutes.
Add greens and toss for about 2 minutes or until greens are wilted.
Stir in water chestnuts, brown rice, soy sauce, peas and almonds.
Serve as complete meal.
Yield: four servings
Tip: Serve this dish as a complete main dish along with a side of sliced fruit such as oranges, pineapple or mango. This is also a great recipe to double and then use the leftovers for lunch. Merely heat in the microwave or eat at room temperature.

Bean and Rice Casserole
Beans and rice combine to make a complete protein. So this casserole serves as an excellent source of protein during the Daniel Fast.
Preheat oven to 375
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 can red kidney beans (15 1/4 - 19 oz), drained and rinsed
1 can black beans (15 1/4 - 19 oz), drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans (15 1/4 - 19 oz), drained and rinsed
1 can stewed tomatoes (14 1/2 - 16 oz), drained
1 can chopped mild chilies (4 oz), drained
10 ounces frozen green peas, thawed by placing under running water
1 cup frozen corn, thawed by placing under running water
In a 5-qt Dutch oven over medium high heat, sauté onion in liquid of your choice (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, water) until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add rice; cook while stirring until parched and slightly opaque.
Add beans, tomatoes, chilies and 3 1/2 cups of water to rice and onion in Dutch oven and bring mixture to boil.
Cover tightly place in oven, baking until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed (around 1 hour for brown rice).
Add peas and corn, adjust seasonings, and return to oven until heated through.
Yield: four servings

White Beans and Sauteed Vegetables
This is a very fast and flavorful dish. Add a salad and some sliced fruit and you have a very nice Daniel Fast meal!
2 cans white beans, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup carrot, finely diced
¼ cup virgin olive oil (to drizzle after beans are dished up)
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain the white beans and set aside
Heat olive oil and then add all the prepared vegetables to the pan and sauté for until just done.
Add beans and heat thoroughly
Dish up on serving plates, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: 4 servings
Tip: It is best to cook with regular old pure olive oil – save the more costly extra virgin oil for salads, drizzling, and dipping. When cooked, extra virgin oil actually turns bitter and the great flavors are cooked away! So use the less expensive pure olive oil for sautéing and frying.

Vegetarian Chili
This is a very easy to prepare and hearty meal. I make this even when I’m not on the Daniel Fast! 2 medium-sized green peppers, chopped
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 tablespoons salad oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red peppers
2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 16 oz. cans tomatoes (juice and all)
2 16 oz. cans pinto beans (juice and all)
2 16 oz. cans black beans (juice and all)
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
1 4 oz. can of tomato paste

Chop and sauté in oil the peppers and onions. Add the sliced squashes, chili powder, salt, ground red peppers, and corn. When all the vegetables are soft but still firm, add the tomatoes, all the beans, the green chilies, and the tomato paste. Stir until just blended.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Yield: 6 generous servings

Southwestern Corn and Black Bean Salad
This bean, corn and nuts in this salad combine to create 19 grams of protein per serving. This is a very flavorful salad and easy to make ahead.
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup minced red onion
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste just before serving.
Place pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Whisk lime juice, oil, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, pine nuts, beans, cabbage, tomato and onion; toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: 4 servings

Barley and Black Bean Salad
This is a very easy and quick recipe. Beans and barley make a complete protein, so this is an excellent meal when eating a meatless diet. Each serving has 12 grams of protein.
1 cup barley, cooked according to package directions
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup corn (thawed if frozen)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine cooked barley, beans, corn, cilantro, lime juice, oil, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Serve on bed of chopped or torn lettuce.
Yield: 4 servings

Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
2/3 cup pearl barley
11 cups vegetable broth (can substitute water)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Add the lentils and pearl barley, mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils and barley are tender, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Six Servings

From The Verdant Life
Mushroom-Barley Soup
Adapted from The Simple Little Vegan Slow Cooker
Yield: About 4 servings
2 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1-1/2 pounds fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup pearled barley, uncooked
1 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp grilled chicken seasoning (I used Trader Joe's 21 Season Salute)
1 tsp dark mushroom soy sauce per serving, to finish
Combine all ingredients except the soy sauce in a crock pot (slow cooker). Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Ladle into a bowl and spoon soy sauce on top.

Onion-Potato Soup
(Yield: 4 servings)
1 large yellow or Spanish onion, diced
1 large shallot, minced5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oilpinch sea salt
1-1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced (skins on or off, your choice)
1 cup mushroom stock or vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 Tbsp dried Italian herb mix (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
1 tsp dark mushroom soy sauce
Fresh ground black pepper
In a large cast iron dutch oven, heat olive oil on low and add onions, shallots, garlic and salt. Stir to coat with oil and cover. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent.Add potatoes, mushroom broth, water and dried herbs. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are cooked through (about 20-25 minutes). Remove pot from heat and, using a potato masher, break up the potatoes and onions until you reach your desired consistency.
If you prefer a smoother soup, this would be a great time to break out the immersion (stick) blender and go to town!After your mash job, add soy sauce and pepper and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Arugula Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Fresh Grapefruit in a Citrus Agave Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy Chloe Coscarelli- Cooking Channel
Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1 (5-ounce) bag baby arugula
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large grapefruit, segmented
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the dressing: Blend the oil, vinegar, agave, and 1/4 cup grapefruit juice until combined. Adjust the proportions, to taste. Toss the arugula with the dressing and pine nuts, then season with salt and pepper. Top the salad with grapefruit segments.

Spinach and Cannellini Bean Dip
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, 2008
Prep Time:
2 min
Inactive Prep Time:
5 min
Cook Time:
4 min
4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6-ounce) bags baby spinach
1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 of the spinach and cook for 2 minutes until wilted. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
Place the remaining olive oil, spinach mixture, cannelloni beans, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.
Blend until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a small serving bowl.