Monday, March 10, 2014

classic hummus

I love dips-- salsa, guacamole, spinach and artichoke, queso, hummus, you name it. I love the combo of dips and the dippers too-- chips, pitas, veggies, fruit. Many of these can be store bought for convenience; however, I enjoy preparing my own too. Food Network is without a doubt my favorite channel and one of their new shows is also becoming a favorite as well! On Saturday mornings, The Kitchen airs and I love watching it. Four food experts share their tips, ideas, and recipes in a talk-show format. It is so entertaining and informative! A couple weekends ago, Katie Lee shared her take on a classic hummus and I couldn't wait to try it! I followed her recipe exactly, except I used curry powder for a garnish instead of paprika. It is so easy and so delicious!

Classic Hummus
recipe courtesy of Katie Lee

2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
paprika or curry powder for garnish
veggies or pitas for dipping

Blend the first five ingredients in a food processor. While the dip is blending, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth. Garnish with more olive oil and paprika or curry. Serve with your choice of dippers! 

Notes: This recipe makes a ton of hummus! I stored some in a larger container for home and also filled several small, individual containers to take to work with my lunch. Also, tahini is somewhat pricy, but the flavor really makes the hummus. Keep in mind, hummus is more than a dip--you can use it as a spread on a sandwich or wrap. This basic recipe will definitely be used again and again in our home! I can't wait to try adding more flavors and ingredients like roasted red peppers, spinach and artichokes, and some more spices! 


Friday, March 07, 2014

7 on the 7th: nutrition edition

Happy Friday everyone! This month is especially filled with happiness as many of our family members were born in March. Also, I think it is a given that we are all anticipating SPRING! Winter, you have been beautiful, eventful, and cold. Now bring on the fresh flowers, the farmer's markets, and the pretty pastels! March is especially dear to me because it is National Nutrition Month! For this installation of 7 on the 7th I'm sharing my favorite nutrition tips!

1. Eat real food
If the ingredient list is a mile long and full of things you can't pronounce or identify, it shouldn't go in your body. Stock your kitchen with fresh ingredients that allow you to create tasty, nutritious meals without any concern of what additives, chemicals, and preservatives are in them. Most healthy foods are found around the perimeter of the grocery store rather than in the aisles where the processed, shelf stable products are kept. Consider starting your own garden this year so you can enjoy fresh produce just steps from your kitchen! Also, support local farmers and vendors by shopping at co-ops or farmer's markets! 

2. Eat colorfully
Who doesn't love a beautiful, colorful plate? Aside from the aesthetic appeal, colorful plates are packed with vitamins and minerals. Think about your plate as you make menu choices. Which sounds better? Baked chicken breast(white), baked potatoes(brown/white), and summer squash(yellow) OR chicken fajitas with red, yellow, and green bell peppers and black beans. Aside from the fact that I could eat Mexican food daily, I would always prefer to eat a plate full of colorful food than a monochromatic one. 

3. Eat mindfully
When you eat, enjoy it. Savor the moment, the fellowship, the flavors. Think about what you are eating and how it plays a vital role in your health. Try to avoid having to rush through your meal. Pay attention to when you are hungry and when you are full. Consider portion sizes. Rather than feeling the need to "clean your plate," opt to save some for a later meal. When we mindlessly eat, we miss out on the experience of our meals and often overeat. 

4. Eat with a plan
Last year I began planning our meals for a week at a time. It is one of my favorite parts of the week! I grab my cookbooks, my grocery list, a cute notepad, and login to Pinterest for inspiration. I aim to try new recipes at least once a week. I also attempt to alternate cuisines throughout the week. For example, one night we may have Mexican, another night Italian, and another Asian, etc. In addition to flavors, I think about the colors and ingredients. We vary between fish, beef, poultry, and pork as our protein sources. I also try to switch up our vegetable choices each night. When you take the time to plan your meals, you benefit from variety and organization. It also helps you stick to a budget! 

5. Eat without guilt
One phrase that makes me cringe a bit is hearing someone say they are having a "cheat" meal. When is cheating ever a good thing?! Take ownership of your choices. Know the difference between an unhealthy habit and an occasional celebration. Enjoy a "treat" instead of a "cheat." Choose to indulge in a special meal/treat/drink every now and then. Have boundaries in place to avoid over indulgence. I love desserts but I don't keep many sugary sweets in our home because I know these are things we do not need every day. When we partake of treats, we enjoy them without guilt!

6. Eat to live
Make lifelong, healthy choices. What we eat directly impacts our health and our lives. One of my favorite quotes is by Virginia Woolf: One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. How true! If we over or under eat, our bodies cannot function as they should. Food is our fuel. Fad diets, quick-fix plans, products, and pills are not the way to achieve health and wellness. Eating real, whole foods promotes better nutrition and a better life! While we should enjoy treats, also realize that excessive consumption of sugar (or anything in extreme quantities) is not healthy at all. We must be honest with ourselves and make choices that will support lifelong health. Are you addicted to sugar? Do you eat too many portions? Is your relationship with food unhealthy? Take a moment to consider your food choices and areas you where you may struggle. Few people enjoy change, but it is essential for growth. Make eating real food your lifestyle, not just a phase. 

7. Psalm 34:8
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; how happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
The physical aspect of nutrition is vital; however, the spiritual aspect is infinitely more important. We must partake of scripture, our Daily Bread. Jesus is the Living Water. Christians are to be the Salt of the Earth. Devour His Word. See that He is so good. How happy, satisfied, and truly nourished, you will be when you do. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

a cup of tea and a lot of grace

Today marks the beginning of a special season: Lent-- the forty days leading up to Easter. Last year was really when I started learning more about this time of year. Simply put, although Lent's purpose is anything but ordinary, the next forty days are for many Jesus followers a time of fasting, repentance, and reflection.

Fasting is not something I have been very familiar with until learning more about Lent and reading the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker. Some may fast from indulgences and vices. Some may give up their favorite pastime, their guilty pleasure, or their comforts. Amanda Williams of She Reads Truth said it beautifully:

We give up that which we do not need to live, 
to gain that which we cannot live without: 
more Jesus. 

At the end of the day, regardless of what you give up during Lent, our goal should be to draw closer to the One we cannot live without. The One this journey is all about. It's so much more than reluctantly letting go of something. It's so much more than giving up something that is "easy" to go without. At the start and end of every day, and every moment in between, it should be about Christ. 

This past weekend while we were at home in Kentucky, I had a discussion with my mother in-love about Lent. I confessed to her that last year I missed the meaning. I fasted-- but not with the right intentions, not with the right posture. I had the physical aspect down for the most part, but I was very much lacking in the spiritual aspect-- the repentance and reflection. Basically, I went through the motions of Lent. This year, I desire so much more. 

Debbie gave a beautiful suggestion for this year. Rather than just giving up something, intentionally add something positive as well. Maybe that means reading a new book or devotional. Maybe adding a random act of kindness. There are so many ways to add goodness to our lives through Jesus' example.   

During this Lent season, I will be letting go of coffee-- my comfort drink, my vice, my favorite-- and focusing more on receiving and giving Christ's grace. Too often I hold myself and others to a standard of perfection. What an unrealistic and unfair expectation! This focus of grace is inspired by the print by Emily Ley I received as a Christmas gift. Each moment, I want grace to be at the forefront of my mind-- in my interactions with my husband, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my patients, and total strangers. 

"I will hold myself (& others) to a standard of grace, not perfection."

Are you observing Lent this year? There's no pressure if you are not, though I have found that anytime we intentionally seek to have a more intimate relationship with the Lord, the result is always a blessing. For some additional resources and guidance for reading scripture during Lent, two of my favorites are offering freebies-- 

She Reads Truth's Lent Reading Plan

I pray this season gives you a desire to draw closer to the One we cannot live without. I pray you're filled with His love, peace, and grace. Seek Him through scripture and fellowship. He longs to have a relationship with us! 

The next forty days will be less coffee, more herbal tea.
Less perfection, more grace.
Less me, more Jesus.

Will you join me?