Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: Mardi Gras Edition!

Hey gang!  It’s the return of Thirsty Thursday!!!  And with Mardi Gras coming up next week, I’ve got the perfect cocktail for you!IMG_4279

This is the King Zulu; I snagged the recipe from Cannata’s stock pile of recipes for King Cake Vodka.

Oh yes… King. Cake. Vodka.

Lucky Player also makes a King Cake vodka, but it’s about $29/bottle…whereas Taaka is only $7, and from what I hear tastes exactly the same.  It’s a combination of almond, cinnamon & vanilla.  VERY tasty stuff, but with just a lil’ bit of a burn.

The Zulu parade is noted for their tradition of tossing coconuts to the parade watchers, so this recipe pulls in a delectable layer of coconut flavor, which pairs perfectly with lime juice, pineapple, and the King Cake vodka!

INGREDIENTS:

Purple colored sugar (mix about a 1/4 of a cup of sugar with 3 drops each of red & blue food coloring, and toss to mix)

lime juice (for making the sugar stick to the glass)

2 oz King Cake Vodka

2 oz Pineapple juice

0.5 oz Coconut syrup

1 oz lime juice

sparkling wine or club soda

Lime & Pineapple to garnish

 

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the vodka, pineapple juice, cocnut syrup, and lime juice in a glass with ice and mix to chill. 

Dip the rim of a glass in lime juice, then dip into the colored sugar.  Add ice to the glass, and then pour the cocktail into the glass.  Top with the soda/sparkling wine.  Garnish with the pineapple & lime wedge.

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Purple, gold & green!  The perfect Mardi Gras cocktail!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

First Day Post-Daniel Fast: Chili Cookoffs & Toilet Seats

Well, I’m posting, which means we did NOT fall into a meat-sugar-caffeine induced coma.  Though…we tried.  Really.

Breakfast:  I’ll just let the picture tell its thousand words.

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That’s biscuits, sausage, coffee (decaf) w/caramel syrup & some almond milk, and yes….CUPCAKES.  Half of each of the cupcakes that I brought home & froze after Amy’s wedding shower.  Because…I mean…CUPCAKES.

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Then we headed over to the Sertoma Chili Cookoff to sling some tasty steak & sausage chili!

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(We end up next to the Toxic Chili guys like, every year.)

We never win, but it’s still fun, and for a good cause.  After our shift was up, we headed out and tasted some chili!

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(Oh…and beer, of course.  PS—the first person to figure out the clothespin thing was BRILLIANT.)

After we’d filled out still shrunken bellies with chili (which only took about 15 booths, or about 2.5 total cups), we wandered about to check out all the booths:

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(Elks Lodge is on the left—they place pretty high every year.  Good stuff.  Waffle House…ehh, I was too afraid it would be ACTUAL Waffle House chili to try it.)

Then we headed over to The Scoop to take advantage of the awesome weather and pick up some trash on our Adopt-A-Street stretch! With all the snow & cold weather, we haven’t been able to get out there in a few months, and it’s…well…always an interesting experience.  We tend to find a lot of the usual:  empty beer cans & 50 mL bottles, fountain soda cups, random junk mail & newspapers… and then there’s the just plain sad ‘n nasty: socks, a couple syringes (needles gone), a tampon applicator (*gags*  WHO does that on the side of the road???)…. and then there’s the “WTF?”

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Half-full bottle of E&J, and a TOILET SEAT.  (We also found a full set of keys, but that doesn’t beat toilet seat.  PS—Jo… I’m sorry my hubs is not wearing gloves. I was, just FYI. But I PROMISE he washed his hands as soon as we got back to the shop.)

After the trash pickup, we headed home so I could pack, since I leave for Louisiana tomorrow:

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And then…what to eat for dinner?  With so much chili in our bellies, we weren’t really that hungry, so we snacked a bit (I had a few sweet pickles), and…well… we just HAD to have some ice cream! *grins sheepishly*

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Blue Bunny “Perfectly Peppermint” + hot fudge.

So..while we managed to eat pretty much EVERYTHING that was forboden on the Daniel Fast (white flour, meat, caffeine, dairy, sugar, alcohol), we actually still only took in about 1600 calories.  And with all the walking around and trash pickup, we burned off most of those.  Not too bad.  Just gotta remember—if you want to eat the garbage, gotta be willing to work it off.

How do I feel?  Well…like not getting up off the couch for a while.  But that’s partly because my calves are still burning from our trash pickup adventure (our stretch of road is about 1.8 miles round trip & has some steep slopes).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 19: The Last Day!

Today’s Devotion: “It Is Finished-- John.19:28-30After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.’

It is Finished! You have completed your journey & remained faithful to the task. I commend you for your sacrifice of food & time to pray & not only strengthen yourself but to stand in the gap for those who at this time don’t even serve the Lord. This fast has broken the bands off of those standing in the valley of decision & loosed them to run to the Lord. Ears are being opened to hear His voice, hearts that have been calloused have been softened by the balm of Gilead. Each word of prayer you released caused the oil & the wine to be poured out to release healing to the hurting as you move in the Spirit of the good Samaritan as you ministered to the wounded. And there is nothing we do in the Lord that we don’t benefit from. We are healthier, we probably have lost some weight that needed to come off, & fasting always gives us a clearer mind so we can process all the revelation that has come to us during this time. This year has been started out on the right foot so go forward in the Word of the Lord. 2013 will be a year of Restoration so begin taking the land He has already declared belongs to you.”

Wow.  The last day.  There was a time when three weeks seemed like a long time…but the days have really flown by!  I’m grateful for the opportunity to have completed this challenge with my husband so that we could pray and have devotions together, and share in a physical trial. A little weight has been shed (about 8 lbs for me, which I was definitely grateful to lose), which hopefully we won’t gain all back tomorrow when we can have coffee (and those frozen cupcakes) and gorge ourselves on chili at the Cookoff tomorrow.  But more than that, I think we’ve lost some of the trepidation about the things we have upcoming in 2014.  And while we don’t have all the answers, we definitely have made progress in the right direction and feel a more clearer purpose.

Breakfast:  Green smoothie w/pineapple, spinach, blood orange, banana, ginger, oats and flaxseed.

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Lunch: Whole wheat rotini pasta with the leftover “pizza” sauce & veggies from last night

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Dinner:  After work I had to run over to the Expo Center to help set up for the Chili Cookoff tomorrow, so by the time I got home I was pretty pooped & didn’t feel like cooking a big meal, so instead we popped some popcorn on the stove! 

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This may sound silly, but I’ve never popped popcorn on the stove before!  My parents had an air popper when I was growing up, and I’ve just always used the microwave since then.  I used some coconut oil and about 1 third of a cup of kernels, and it filled the pot!

We split it into two bowls and seasoned half with taco seasoning, and the other half with garlic & onion powder and a little bit of basil.

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Not a fancy last Fast meal, but a tasty one!

And the perfect one to go with the package I got from Amazon today!

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(Quack, quack, quack, quack…  PS—why does only Emilio Estevez get top name billing on the case?  Everyone knows Joshua Jackson is the star.  Emilio’s only in D3 for like, 5 minutes!!)

We’ll be sure to post tomorrow as a follow up…if I don’t post, please assume that the sugar, caffeine and meat shocked my system into a coma.  :)

Daniel Fast, Days 17 & 18: Homemade pizza!

Day 17 (Wednesday)

Today’s Devotional: “Thankful Hearts- Psalms 105:1 ‘O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.’  1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

We should be the most thankful people in the earth. We have had all our sins forgiven & forgotten as far as the east is from the west. We have received life because of Jesus death, He became poor so that we could be rich, weak so we could be strong. He has given us the ability to make a great exchange & this should be the message of witness to those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord. Why don’t you take a few minutes today & thank him for all He has done for you.

I am truly a blessed woman.  I have an amazing husband who’s taken this Fasting journey with me, a loving family, good friends, a paid-for home that keeps me warm, enough to pay the bills, keep our stomachs full, and afford us even a few luxuries, a good job that I enjoy, hobbies to keep me entertained.  My cup truly runneth over.  We are without want.  Our lives are never completely stress-free, but our issues are minor in comparison to some others in this world.  And even when we are in the midst of a trial, we still always come out on the other end; perhaps a little emotionally banged up and teary-eyed, but alive & changed, hopefully for the better.  In this life, I think that’s really all a person can ask for; anything more would be excessive & superficial.

Breakfast:  Oatmeal with a few chopped dates & figs leftover from the Antipasto party

Lunch: a baked potato with a drizzle of olive oil, pepper, and some Cajun Seasoning, and 2 tbsp of homemade “guacamole”  (actually leftover sauce from the cilantro-avocado pasta the other day, with a little lime juice added in) and corn tortilla chips

Dinner:  The Hubs’ parents were in town visiting, so they took us to Qdoba.  I got a Grilled Veggie Burrito (whole wheat wrap, brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, grilled squash, pico, corn salsa, salsa verde, & lettuce) and had them cut it in half so I can take the other half for lunch (because remember, even just their veggie burrito with no meat, cheese, or sour cream has over 700 calories).

Day 18 (Thursday)

Today’s Devotional: “He Has Established My Goings- Psalms 40:1-3I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.’  Phillipians 1:6 ‘Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’

You are standing in the middle of the purpose of God because He loved you & chose you before the foundation of the world. He set your feet upon the rock (Jesus) & gave you the ability to stand on a firm foundation that can hold you up, unlike the clay ( flesh) that you once trusted in. He has given you direction for your life & because of this a song of Victory has filled your mouth. There is nothing impossible for you, nothing out of reach, you have your eyes fixed on the prize & refuse to allow anything or anyone to stop you. You are determined, directed, destined, & you will not be denied.”

This was a great message to start the day with, as we’ve been having some issues lately. I won’t mire you with details, but suffice to say it’s mechanical, annoying, and has involved a repairman coming out to our shop THREE times,  only for us to realize that they *may* have caused the issue to begin with (but of course won’t admit that). *sigh*  These details are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but they are definitely aggravating enough to make us fret and worry about the days & weeks to come.  Mechanical issues when we’re closed are one thing…mechanical issues when we’re open and trying to keep things frozen; that’s a whole new animal.  But we power on, and pray over it, and ask God to reign over the situation & to give us peace in the matter.

Important things to remember with all we have going on in 2014, the least of which is my upcoming professional exam on March 7.  I’ve been taking practice tests a few times a week to see where my weak areas are, and then studying whenever I get the chance (mostly at the gym, so I can multitask):

This exam means a lot to me, because I *technically* don’t have a hard “science” degree, let alone a degree in Geology.  My bachelor’s was in Mass Media (with a focus on environmental photojournalism) with a minor in Geology.  My master’s degree was in the Geography program, with a focus on Environmental Analysis (ie, using GIS and remote sensing imagery, along with environmental law), with another minor in Geology.  It’s through those minors that I have enough Geology credits (30 hours) to qualify to take the Professional Geologist exam—and really, only barely, since right after I got accepted as “qualified” to take the exam, they changed the requirements for future applicants so that the 30 hours have to require a specific set of courses (which I only have half of).  The slightly egotistical part of me likes to think that I’m the reason the made the change…I’m the last one to slip through without having a Geology degree… (muahhahahha).  In reality, it’s likely a coincidence. :)

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When I started my professional career down in Louisiana, all the scientist positions were titled as “Biologist” (Biologist I, Biologist II, etc.)  I never cared for that because, well, I haven’t had a biology course since high school.  Not to mention the confusion it caused in the field, when a client would assume I was a biologist and start asking about some weird fish he caught last weekend, and then try to describe it, assuming that I must OF COURSE know what he was talking about.

(Sidenote: I don’t.  If it’s not a catfish, crappie, or trout, I have no clue.  I have a reference book in with my scuba gear for anything more complicated than that.)  After a couple years, they changed the title to “Environmental Professional”.  Which encompasses a much more broad swath of disciplines….but it makes for a very vague job description.  I would meet people and when you say “I’m an environmental professional”, they say “ohhh” and nod…then pause, and ask, “but what do you DO?”  My aunt used to tell people when we were out & about that I was marine biologist. I would correct her but she would shush me and wave her hand dismissively and say, “oh, but sweetie, ‘marine biologist’ just sounds sexier.”

Here, I’m a “Project Manager”, which is a bit more descriptive as far as titles go:  I manage projects!  That’s what I do!  But it still ends up sounding a bit vague and almost…administrative.  So to be able to have that title of “Professional Geologist” really hits home.  And I will finally be able to say, “I’m a geologist.  That’s what I do.”

We have ONE DAY LEFT!  Friday (tomorrow) will be our last day.  Normally this would be a 20 or 21 day fast, but Saturday is the 33rd Annual Sertoma Club Chili Cookoff, and we have to work my company’s chili booth. And then Sunday I fly down to Louisiana for work…and trying to travel while on a Fast would definitely be tough.  When we were looking to schedule our fast, we picked the time between SuperBowl & my Louisiana trip because it was the only time close to 21 days that we had “open”…our lives get pretty chaotic.  And here in a couple months, The Scoop will be open and the option of not eating meat or dairy would be near impossible, since we often spend all our extra time at the shop and end up having to eat there.

Breakfast:  Oatmeal with a few chopped dates & figs

Lunch: The other half of my Qdoba burrito

Afternoon snack:  Pineapple & cantaloupe

Dinner:  I decided to take a whack at making pizza.  I found a recipe for matzah dough (unleavened bread)—however, we only had about 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour left, so I used that plus 1/2 cup of corn meal.  We had to bake it a little longer than the original recipe (about 4 minutes on each side) but it held up well.

I had marinated some veggies (mushrooms, asparagus, bell pepper, red onion) in a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and yellow mustard) for about 30 minutes while prepping the crusts; then I put the veggies on a grill pan for about 5-7 minutes so they would get tender.

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In a small pot, I used one 8oz can of tomato sauce (pre-flavored with garlic & basil) and added 2 Dorot basil cubes, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp crushed rosemary, and 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning.

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When the crusts were ready, I loaded them up, and spinkled crushed cashews over the top (I read somewhere that they taste similar to parmesan), and baked for 8 minutes.

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Not quite as good as “real” pizza, but still darn tasty!  And the crusts held up really well, crackery like a thin crust pizza!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 16: Avocado Pesto, & Baba Ganoush!

Today’s Devotion: “Don’t Forget Who You Are-- James 1:23-25 ‘For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

You have come too far to get off course now. You have seen the hand of God (His power) & you have seen the face of God (His presence). You can’t allow yourself to forget who you are. How can you do that? By not continuing to look into the law of liberty. Freedom comes when we realize what Jesus has done for us. When we know what the word says about something we have something to stand on. Kenneth Hagin said years ago, “Faith begins where the will of God is known”, we have to know who we are in the Lord for faith to be established in our hearts & that knowledge comes from the word. It declares, you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus, you’re the head & not the tail, above & not beneath, the righteousness of God in Christ, this is how our faith comes forth so forget anything else you have heard that is contrary to what the word says. The word is the truth, nothing else matters.”

This morning I faced a few challenges—we’ve officially run out of “breakfast proteins”.  By which I of course mean peanut butter. (Okay, so this is an exaggeration—we still have oatmeal.)  In fact, we’re running low on many of the items we bought specifically for the Fast:  AllFruit jam, PB, hummus, flatbread, to name a few.  With only 4 days left we don’t necessarily want to “stock up” on things, but all the same…we have to be able to make it through the next four days!  We may have to get creative.

Today I also had to do some field work for the first time in a few months, so I was a little concerned about the challenges that would present—mainly, if we didn’t finish up in time, what was I going to eat for lunch?  Typically when I have field work, I grab food from whatever restaurant or fast food place is close to my site, or bring a sandwich with me.  But sandwiches aren’t really easy on the Fast…especially when you ate your last piece of bread for breakfast, and don’t have a protein (hummus) to spread on them.  I threw together some pasta last night and just prayed that we would finish up in time for me to eat back at the office.  Thankfully, everything went smoothly and I was back in the office by 2pm, nommin’ down on a late lunch.

Breakfast:  ½ piece whole wheat flatbread, 1oz bag of peanuts, 1 cup pineapple, and a few grapes

Lunch: Cilantro-avocado pesto pasta w/sautéed mushrooms & onions

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INGREDIENTS: (makes two servings)

Sauce:

  • 1 avocado
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

  • 2 servings whole wheat pasta, boiled
  • 4 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Puree the avocado, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, & onion powder in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms, onions, seasonings, garlic & olive oil together in a large skillet until tender.  When the pasta is cooked and mushrooms are tender, combine, toss, and serve!

Dinner:  I bought an eggplant last week, so I decided to try to make baba ganoush for the first time.  Such a fun word.  Always makes me think of Wedding Crashers.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked salt (if you have it)
  • 1/8 cup tahini (if you have it—you can omit if you don’t)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • dash of chili powder (I used chipotle for the smokiness)
  • 1/3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley or cilantro, or about 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Char the skin of the eggplant over your gas burner, or under the broiler if you don’t have a gas stove (about 5 minutes per side if you’re using the broiler).  Then roast the eggplant on a cookie sheet for about 20-30 minutes or until tender (easily pierced with a paring knife.

Remove the skin and place the flesh into a food processor along with the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.  Drizzle with additional olive oil and garnish with lemon or olives.  Serve with pita (if you’re not on the fast), tortilla chips or crackers (if you are).  

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Since we already had the chips out, we also finished off the last of the veggie chili…like cheeseless nachos! 

 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 14 & 15: Surviving Antipasto & Some Stats

Day 14 (Sunday)

Today’s Devotion: “I Shall Not Want - Psalms 23:1-6 ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’

I shall not want. Want in this verse means ‘to lack, be without, decrease, be lacking, have need’; because the Lord is my Shepherd lets me know the certainty of his provision. My God shall supply all of my need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Every verse in Psalms 23 gives us the confidence we need to know how great our God is. He has provided for the things ahead of us as He leads us down a righteous path, but also lets us know that following us ( that speaks of where we have already been) goodness & mercy will be there all of our lives as we dwell in His house. Because He is my Shepherd I will have peace!

It is interesting how frequently we as people confuse “want” and “need”; yet, here in this verse, they are synonymous.  When you’re on a fast, it’s the “wants” that tempt you, and yet, with the Daniel Fast, you have all you “need”.  There are protein sources, filling carbs, healthy fats, plenty of vitamins, and no restrictions on spices, so even flavor isn’t lacking.  Sugar cravings can be crushed with some fresh fruit; and yet, those donuts in the office break room still tempt me.  I mentioned before that our daily calorie intake has gone way down (typically 1500 calories/day before the fast, and now an average of 1000 while on the Fast).  I mentioned this to a coworker and she couldn’t believe I wasn’t hungry, and said that our stomachs must have just shrunk.  Well, while I don’t doubt that our stomachs probably have shrunk a little, the VOLUME of food we’ve been taking in hasn’t really changed all that much.  You’ve seen our plates every day of this fast—have they ever been “small” portions?  Not really—we’re still eating a full plate of food at each meal.  We’re not hungry because we have more than enough sustenance.  We aren’t deprived.  Our fridge isn’t empty.  Our stomachs aren’t growling.

Now, admittedly, I’ve cut my workouts down to about 1x/week while we’re on the Fast, just because we’re taking in so few calories—if I was still working out 2-3x week, I would probably be getting hungry.  But I’ve been spending that gym time in prayer & devotions while on the Fast.  I’ll probably lose some muscle mass—but that’s not the point.  This isn’t a diet.  It’s a spiritual commitment.  And I’m sure we’ll have no trouble getting that muscle back when we resume our regular diet next week.

Now—some nerdy stuff.  If you’re considering a Daniel Fast, but you’re concerned about protein, I got bored the other day and created this handy-dandy table of various protein sources (vegan & non-vegan, for comparison), so that you can try to pick the best protein sources while you’re fasting.  The highlighted items are Fast-Approved. (Also, please note, if you’re preggers and want to do the Fast, pretty much all of the Daniel Fast books & sites out there say you should still eat small amounts of lean chicken & fish in order to get the required amount of protein for baby-making.)

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While we haven’t tried seitan since starting the Fast, I’ve heard good things about it from my vegetarian friends.  And it’s actually easy to make at home if you can’t find it at the store.  And if you want to add the nutritional yeast that’s in most recipes for seitan, that’s also Fast-approved, since it’s deactivated & not actually a leavening agent.

Breakfast:  Oatmeal w/raisins

Lunch:  We had a baked potato bar with our small group from church.  We threw together a delicious chili using black beans, a seasoning packet, a can of tomatoes & some crumbled up Boca burgers that a friend left in our freezer over the summer after a BBQ.

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Dinner:  Our friend decided to host an antipasto party at her house.  If you’re not familiar with “antipasto”, it’s basically Italian tapas or finger foods.  Everything BUT pasta, sort of.  Yummy meats & cheeses, dips & crostini, Tiramisu cupcakes from AmyCakes, and some homemade limoncello… all of which we couldn’t have.  *sad face*  So we brought a Mediterranean fruit tray:

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(cantaloupe, grapes, figs, dates, pears, and blood oranges)

…and a relish tray with some pickles, olives & nuts.  Chels also made a really yummy white bean dip that we were able to nom on with some mini sweet peppers.  Much fun was had, and we didn’t feel deprived.

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Day 15 (Monday)

Today’s Devotion: “Psalms 150:1-6 ‘Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.’

It’s time to Praise the Lord! Do you realize you have finished week two & are beginning the final seven days of your fast. God is so good. You need to take a few moments today & reflect on what you have already seen the Lord do during this fast. Isn’t it incredible, how can you keep your mouth shut? Scream, Shout, Jump up & down, give Him a wave offering, dance like a man on fire, that’s it---Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. He’s not nervous, backward, timid, shy, bashful, or religious so go ahead Praise God!!! He’s worthy of all of the praise you will give him. When I read this Psalm I can see each musician giving the Lord a solo praise on each of their instruments, it’s loud, it’s from the heart, & it truly blesses the Lord. What are you willing to give Him?”

Only five days left!  Is it odd that I’m more anxious to make sure I try all the Daniel Fast recipes I have pinned, than I am about getting to have coffee on Saturday?  It’s been a real blessing to be able to share this experience with our friends, family, and you readers!  I think our Life Group from church might even try to do the Fast together again at some point.  While we’re still waiting on answers for our big decisions this year, I can say I have much more peace about it than when we started.  Even though we don’t know what’s in store for 2014, we do know that God knows, and whatever happens, he’ll guide us through it.

As far as those who wonder about the potential health benefits/ramifications of choosing to do a Fast, I have to say—so far, there are no “bad” ramifications.  I mentioned that I gave blood last week; my test results came back, and in the 8 weeks since my last donation:

  • My iron level actually went UP, despite not having any meat in our diet—likely because we weren’t drinking any tea or soda, which can leach iron from your system.  But we’ve had plenty of beans & spinach (excellent iron sources), and plenty of Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb more of the iron from foods when you eat them at the same time.
  • My blood pressure dropped from 122/69 to 98/63.
  • My pulse rate dropped from 96bpm (high) to 66bpm.
  • My cholesterol dropped TWENTY-ONE points, from 185 in December to 164 in February.  For comparison, it was at 196 in July while The Scoop was still open (hot dogs & ice cream aren’t great for cholesterol, shocker, I know).  They don’t break it out into HDL and LDL, but still…an overall 164 is pretty awesome.

So, for those who have ever been concerned about the health of their vegan friends because they weren’t “getting enough protein”…you can probably stop worrying about them.  And for those vegans who are reading this and think, “Aha!   Now that you’ve seen the wonders of our diet, you MUST be considering staying on it, right?”

Umm…no.  Sorry.  I love cheese & bacon.  And I don’t believe in cramming a bunch of weird crap together into super-processed “vegan” version of meats or cheese. But I can say that all the label-reading we’ve been doing has made me much more aware of what goes into pre-processed foods.  For example—almost EVERY prepackaged food has sugar of some sort.  Some may use “cane juice”, or “molasses”…but it’s still sugar, folks.  We all have a sweet tooth, and the food companies have figured out that we think sugar makes everything taste better.  Even my canned “sweet peas” had sugar added.  Most of the canned beans—yup, sugar added. Even some of the flavored boxes of Triscuits I looked at had sugar.    Now…I don’t think sugar’s evil.  I love sugar.  Take a look at that tag map to the right of this post—you might notice that “desserts” is one of the most common tags.  But if you’re watching calories, or diabetic, or trying to go low-carb, you’ve really gotta watch out for any extra sugars that don’t NEED to be there.  So just be aware, and read labels.  There ARE products out there, even some generics, that don’t have added sugar.  My favorite examples for this Fast:  Original or generic Triscuits (aka Woven Wheat Squares), Kroger brand Greek dressing, Vlasic dill pickles, most yellow mustards (not honey or Dijon),  Smucker’s Natural peanut butter, Polaner AllFruit jams, Red Gold salsa, Bush’s black beans.

As for the whole food fans who are reading this who wonder if we’ll decide to go all-natural & organic and cut out all of the preprocessed foods from our life?  Also no, sorry.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that we like to cook healthy, wholesome versions of bad-for-you things.  But with working 45 hours a week, PLUS having The Scoop to contend with when it reopens, we just don’t have the time to cook everything from scratch all the time, even though I do PREFER cooking from scratch and using natural, organic foods when we CAN.  But when you have a crazy hectic life, sometimes you really need shortcuts (all my mom readers out there, holla!).  But you can make smart choices when you’re buying pre-packaged, and it’s pretty common sense stuff:  get things without a lot of added ingredients or preservatives.  If you can read the list of ingredients, you’re probably in good shape.  Aim for whole grains and whole wheats, avoid added sugar, and go natural when you can, but don’t break the bank doing it.  Your life is YOUR life, and I’m not going to tell people who make $30k a year that they need to start spending their entire paycheck to go organic.  You are NO LESS of a person if you can’t afford a whole foods diet, or even if you CAN afford it but CHOOSE not to because it doesn’t fit your life. Just make the smartest choices you can afford to make.

Breakfast:  Leftover garlic mashed potatoes & peas (we’re trying to clear out all the leftovers) and a cup of fresh cantaloupe with salt

Lunch: The last of the veggie minestrone

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Afternoon snack:  about a cup of fresh pineapple, and a bunch of grapes

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Dinner:  The leftover crab boil veggies.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 13: Bruschetta & a Cajun Veggie Boil!

Today’s Devotion:  “Day 13- Heirs Of Salvation-- Hebrews 1: 13-14  ‘But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’
Romans 8: 16-17 ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’

When we entered into covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ we became partakers of His glorious inheritance. As heirs everything He has belongs to us & we have access to it at any time. This is so powerful at work in His saints that He will dispatch angels to go ahead of us & prepare the way for his purposes to be fulfilled in his saints. I believe that at our command we can release an angelic host over cities or nations to prepare atmospheres for the presence of the Lord. Principalities & powers are already submissive to the Lord because of His victory over them at Calvary. So if there are some changes that need to take place or doors that have been closed that need to be opened for you, remember you’re an heir of God so release this angelic host by your decree & see the Salvation of God.”

Powerful words, especially when you find yourself feeling out of control and at the end of your rope.  All you have to do is ask.  Though I think it’s also important to spend time focusing on the blessings you’ve already been given, and thanking Him for those, lest we end up being unappreciative.  So many times we only find the time to pray when we need something.  I try to make sure to find time to just spend time thanking him for having a job I love, having a great family and friends, an awesome husband, paid off debts, surviving the first season of The Scoop…

Today was a nice day—we got to sleep in a little bit, I finished reading two books that I’ve been working on for a while.  Then I helped the Hubs bottle up his homebrew that he started 3 weeks ago:

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48 bottles of American bock.  Can’t wait to try it!

Aaaaand after that… we were pretty lazy.  And it was AWESOME.

Breakfast: Leftover veggie minestrone

Lunch:  a small serving of leftover salsa rice, and then some yummy homemade bruschetta with Triscuits!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced basil
  • 1 tsp minced oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: 

Mix all of the components together, and let rest for 30 minutes or overnight so the flavors can come together,  Then serve!

 

Dinner:  Again…this is a CAJUN food blog… and we’re still tired of beans.  So, I decided to have a SHRIMP BOIL!!!  …without the shrimp. 

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Yup, a dinner of just the sides.  YUM.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 large red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 8 oz white mushrooms
  • 4 ears corn, halved
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 bag Crab Boil
  • 1 tbsp Liquid Crab Boil
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional – you can add more or less to your taste)
  • Cajun Seasoning

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DIRECTIONS:

Fill a large pot with about 3 quarts of water, place over High heat, and add both of the crab boils, garlic, lemons, and onions.  When the water starts to simmer, add the corn & potatoes & cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Add the mushrooms when you have about 5 minutes of cook time left.

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Serve up on newspaper, and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.  Dig in!  (and wash your hands after you finish eating—lest you end up with capsaicin in your eye.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 12: Fasting & Valentine’s Day!

Today’s Devotion: “Let God Arise- Psalms 68:1 ‘Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.’

It is day number 12 in our fast & 12 is the number of perfect government. To be governed perfectly means that the King is sitting upon the throne of our hearts ruling & reigning in our lives. That is a picture of his kingdom. I believe this is what this verse in Psalms is referring to when it declares, “Let God Arise”. Whenever we become complacent in the things of the Lord seems to be the times most of the attacks of the enemy come against us.  Not as though the Lord has left us or anything like that, but it represents times when we put Him out of mind & begin to do our own thing. But the answer is simple, ‘Let God Arise.’ We can avoid the heartache most of us deal with if we will remember this simple truth.”

Well, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!  The day where we celebrate a man who was martyred for marrying Christians with champagne, flowers and boxes of chocolates.  Completely logical, right?

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Well, with the Daniel Fast, we can only celebrate with one of those things.

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(Thanks for the flowers, Bishop Valentinus.)

So, are we stuck at home munching on celery & carrot sticks?

NOPE.  Well…okay, we are eating at home, but definitely not rabbit food!

(Unless rabbits also eat fungus & tubers. In which case…erm…well…sorta.)

Breakfast:  ½ whole wheat flatbread w/PB & pumpkin pie spice

Lunch: Leftover salsa rice.

Valentine’s Dinner:  Garlic Rosemary mashed potatoes, balsamic grilled mushrooms & onions, and steamed peas.

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That’s right…tonight’s dinner actually doesn’t have any “real” protein, because we’re kinda burnt out on beans.  So I used my favorite marinade to make us some meaty mushrooms and comforting mashed ‘taters.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)

Potatoes -

  • 2-3 large russets, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon (if it has no actual chicken product in it)
  • 1/2-2/3 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mushrooms & Onions-

  • 8 oz fresh portabellas, wiped but not washed
  • ½ onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

For the Mushrooms—place the oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, salt & pepper to a large Ziploc and mix well.  Then add the mushrooms and marinate for about 30 minutes.

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Boil potatoes with the chicken bouillon, minced garlic & rosemary to help infuse those flavors into the potatoes.  When the potatoes are tender, drain the water and add coconut oil and milk and puree until creamy.  Add more garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste.

While your potatoes are boiling, heat a large skillet over medium heat, spritz lightly with olive oil, and then add your mushrooms & the sliced onions.  Sauté until tender and the onions are caramelized.  You can add a bit of water if the marinade starts to render down too much.

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And for Dessert?  More fake ice cream!

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(1 ripe banana, mashed, 1.5 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp unsweet cocoa powder, 4 dashes cinnamon: blend together & freeze)

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Garnish with some fresh fruit (used a cookie cutter to make the shapes).

As for gifts: I pulled another “Crafts in the Office” & made The Hubs a little wall hanging from one of our favorite photos.

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Supplies:

  • 5” wooden plaque (Hobby Lobby)
  • Wood Stain or Paint
  • Modge Podge
  • Photo, trimmed to fit
  • Any lettering/decorations you want to use
  • Ribbon
  • Two thumbtacks & some Scotch tape

This was a super quick little craft. I had the photo printed at 5x7 so that I could trim it to fit, and then went through a recent mag and picked out some letters to decorate with.  This seemed appropriate. :)

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Backstory: This is from a trip to San Fransisco.  We missed the last Alcatraz tour (which you can barely see in the background).

I stained the edges of the wood that would be visible, and then set it aside to dry.  Then I applied Modge Podge to the wood, attached my photo, and then sorta “squeegeed” the photo to get the excess glue out.  Then let it dry.  Once dry, I added the letters, and Modge Podge’d over the whole thing, let it dry again, and used some sand paper to buff any edges of the photo so that it would be flush with the plaque.

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I taped the ends of the ribbon so they wouldn’t fray & used the tacks to connect to the back. IMG_20140213_085126

Ta-Da!

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Oh, and I also ordered The Hubs some personalized beer bottle labels, since he’ll be bottling up his first batch of home brew over the weekend!

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And for me?  Well… you know… I don’t ask for much… and yet, The Hubs takes quite good care of me.  Love you to the moon & back, sweetie!

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