Thursday, March 28, 2013

Edamame, A GARDEN???, and weeds, oh my!

I am in love! Who (or what) has captured my latest affections, you ask? It's... let's throw in a drumroll please... This really cute guy!!! Nope! The adorable new puppy we just got!!! Not even CLOSE! (and for those animal lovers out there, NO, we did not just get a dog (thank God for that!))
And, (this really is surprising) it's not a new workout. What's left you ask?

Edamame!!! Try saying that ten times really fast! It took me about a month to learn how to pronounce that, but it only took a single taste to fall head over heals in love with it!
Are you one of those people who thinks green foods = grossness? Well, prepare to be amazed. These beans have a very subtle, sweet flavor, and are really buttery and smooth. They can be used in dips, on salads, or (my favorite) eaten steamed and right out of the pod. Add a little salt, and you're in flavor heaven.

Guess what? They're good for you too! The thing I love about them nutritionally is that they're chock full or protein. And it's the complete protein! In fact, it's the only plant that has a protein equivalent to that of eggs or meat. Yay! I'm chucking the egg-whites (blah) and broiled chicken (double blah) out the back door and eating THIS for breakfast. It's the first protein I've actually enjoyed, and I'm sticking with it.

On another note, guess what? I'm actually going to look into GROWING edamame this year. You know what this means: a garden! I know, I know, it is a random idea, but I'm in the process of weeding and setting up a place to grow veggies and flowers this year. And I'm pretty pumped! Homegrown veggies, plenty of out-door time, and (guilty smile) the promise of a nice summer tan are a few of the reasons I'm looking into this.

But, there are a few issues I'm gonna have to resolve:

Cute as rabbits are, they are a hungry bunch, and they happen to be interested in the same foods I am. Apparently, rabbits agree with me that edamame is pretty awesome, as online gardeners have complained about how MUCH rabbits love edamame. (they have good taste!) It looks like a fence will be in order! This will mean a little extra work, but I'm selfish and don't want to share my edamame!

Speaking of work, last night I was doing plenty of that! I weeded our "garden plot" last night for the for the first time in three years. And the roots to those weeds were predictably deep! It took lots of grunting, groaning, tugging, yanking, pulling, and sweating to get those things out! And I'm still only a sixth of the way done! Occasionally, I would come across a "baby weed" which is a breeze to pluck out of that dirt, but goodness, those ones with the roots were tough. I'd spend 10-15 minutes on ONE WEED!!!  Why? Not because I enjoyed it, but because it was worth it.

Earlier that week, I was having a discussion with a friend about how tough it can be to get rid of those thoughts that we all have from time to time that don't glorify God. Honestly, I was pretty much giving up. I've tried for so long to get rid of them, but just when I think I"m doing better, I realize that I'm back to where I've started. I started to wonder if it the work was worth the effort, and if what was going in my mind really mattered.

Well, while I was tugging at weeds, I needed something to think about! and I realized that, because I wasn't careful in the past, I had let weeds grow in my heart, too. These weeds are deep rooted and so hard to yank out that, being the wimp I am, I give up, throw aside the "shovel" and distract myself from any issues I have. But they're still growing, and unless they're uprooted, even the littlest things, a little "water", a little "sunshine" can make them deeper.  Why is it that I"m not okay with weeds in my garden, but I'll let those weeds grow in my heart? 

Those weeds are tough.  But my God is tougher. And bigger. And stronger. With His strength, someday, I want my heart to look like a beautiful garden, not a weed patch.

For those of you who don't struggle with constant negative thoughts like I sometimes do, GUARD YOU HEART! Even the little things can make you give in just a little more each day, and suddenly you've got a huge weed in your heart.

As for me, I've decided that even if the weeds are tough, even if I'm a wimp, the struggle to uproot them is WORTH IT. It won't happen overnight, it won't be a one week transformation, but it will be worth the effort.

So I end this LOOONNNGGG blog post with this: Do you want your heart to be a weed patch?

Or a beautiful garden?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Of Chocolate

I promised you all a post about chocolate, so here it is! And in case you're wondering, this is not the "Chocolate is bad for you, never, ever eat it" post that you might expect from someone who prefers oatmeal over cupcakes, and smoothies over milkshakes. On the other end of the spectrum, it isn't the, "Chocolate is health food. Eat if for breakfast, lunch and dinner" post that you all deep down are probably hoping for. (I for one certainly wouldn't mind finding out that chocolate is actually the health equivalent of a pomegranate) So enough of telling me you what this post ISN'T. Let's dive into a world of sugar in rich chocolate form.

In case you're wondering, this isn't a healthified version of chocolate cake. This is good old rich chocolate cake with gobs of creamy chocolate frosting. This is chocolate cake with a cup of oil and at sugar in quantities you'd rather not know. This is is the cake piled high with real milk chocolate curls.This cake is by no means "health food". In fact, last year, I would have considered this food a "bad food". A food so bad that I would very (and I mean very) rarely let touch my lips. I would calculate the exact amount of calories, grams of sugar, and grams of fat, and somehow that cake just wasn't as appealing. But it was more than unappealing. It was something I feared. It was something I cried over if I had to eat it after (and often while) I was eating it. I had made rules that I compulsively followed. Not eating chocolate was one of them.

Crazy? I didn't think so! Fear had me in its grips. I wasn't free. I wasn't free to enjoy an occasional dessert. I wasn't free to eat with my friends. Now this may seem totally extreme, and totally unrelatable. You probably don't shudder when you eat a bite of cake. But, I think we all have areas that we can be held in bondage if we aren't careful. And some are pretty subtle. (Satan can be pretty sneaky.)

In Galations 5:1, it says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

So often I think we can either abuse or forget the freedom we have in Christ. We have been freed from our sins! We have been freed from our world's standards of what makes us okay.  We are free! But so often, in one way or another, we let our thoughts and behaviors slip into the old. Little thoughts, little choices to just focus on the wrong thing, can ultimately lead to slavery. Slavery of our thoughts, which will ultimately lead to slavery of our behavior.

How does this all relate to chocolate? Well, for one thing, by all means eat chocolate! No guilt needs to be associated with it.  BUT (and here's the nutrition note you were all waiting for) everything in moderation, ya'll! This (sniffle sniffle) means you shouldn't eat doughnuts every day for breakfast. It doesn't mean that chocolate is the new health food to replace all others. Chocolate on occassion is great. Don't abuse the freedom we have in Jesus to eat it in excess! But don't forget that it is just fine every once and a while. :) It won't hurt you, and that piece of cake isn't worth the energy of feeling guilty over.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Baked Oatmeal: Yum!!!!!

I love oatmeal. I love the chewy, tender texture of oatmeal. I love the awesomely nutty texture of oatmeal. And it's really pretty awesome that oatmeal is pretty much a nutritional power food! I love it when foods are not only super tasty, but healthy! Now if, when you hear the word oatmeal, you think of a mealy, pasty, globby mess, you have NOT seen the true potential of oatmeal.
And in case you're wondering, this...
is not the true potential of oatmeal. It's time to prove to you how awesome oatmeal really can be.  First of all, oatmeal is great for your tastebuds AND your health! Just 1/2 cup gives you just about ALL of your whole grains necessary for the day. And it packs a pretty big punch of protein and fiber, which means it will keep you filled up longer! And, if made right, it tastes soooo good. So, here's a great recipe for baked oatmeal. Enjoy! I altered the recipe a bit (I always do!) but I assure you it still tastes good!
Baked Oatmeal:

See??? That doesn't look goopy at all. And it's absolutely delicious. And filling. Chewy, sweet, cinnamony, and drenched with milk, berries, and yogurt. Now THAT'S some good oatmeal. And you know why there's such a small amount in the above bowl? Because my whole family gobbled it up so fast, I had to scrape the pan to get enough to photograph. (Okay, actually I MADE them save me one piece, and they saved me about half a piece. That's NOT the same thing!!!! But that's a touchy subject.)

It isn't oil free or sugar free, but I did reduce both the sugar and the oil, it's full of power-packed protein, eggs, and of course, oatmeal! So I'd say it's relatively healthy, and kinda like eating an oatmeal cookie for breakfast! Which means it HAS to be a good thing! 

Baked Oatmeal:


3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats!!)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla


Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything together in a bowl, and pour into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes. Enjoy!


On another note, many people either think healthy-eating is  only for nutrition-addicts, those who are trying to lose weight, or for those who have health issues. The truth is, eating healthy really can be fun, and it can make you feel much more alive and ready to go conquer the world! (Or that pile of laundry, chemistry text book, etc.)  Buuuuuuutttttt a good thing CAN be taken to the point of obsession, which is never a good thing! I've been there, done that, and it's pretty miserable and just plain not smart. If you're looking to eat healthyISH, then I recommend doing it to take care of your body, because it's God's temple. It's a fun, somewhat easy way to glorify God in EVERY aspect of your life. Have fun, and eat oatmeal, people! :)