Monday, June 27, 2011

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are vegetable to be marveled, and a superfood for sure. I'm not talking about the kind that come packed in syrup in the can, but rather, ones right out of the ground, whole and loaded with healthy vitamins. Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates—which your body breaks down and absorbs—fiber isn't digested by your body. Therefore, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body. Even more, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal! Along the same thread, sweet potatoes offer a low glycemic index rating. That’s because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer.

Sweet potatoes are also high in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, potassium and copper. They are a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin E. Beta carotene is the nutrient responsible for giving sweet potato’s flesh its orange pigment. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. A meager 200 gram (less than a cup) serving of sweet potato yields 769%DV of your vitamin A! Vitamin A can help improve vision and decrease your risk of heart attack and lung cancer. When cooking sweet potatoes, make sure to do so with some sort of fat. By eating sweet potatoes with fats, your body will more readily absorb the available vitamin A.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (3-4 small-medium)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey, agave if you want to make it vegan
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
A few pinches of salt
1/4–1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, depending on spice tolerance
2 peeled and sliced shallots

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the sweet potatoes (skin on!) into 1-inch pieces and put in a baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet along with the sliced shallots. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, cayenne and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and bake, stirring half way through the cooking, for about 40 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Eat over rice or quinoa. I sometimes toss in whole, raw, peeled carrots with the potatoes and shallots. They take about the same amount of time to cook and provide a second heaping dose of beta carotene, which I need since my husband and I are blind as bats and our children are doomed to being those babies with the crazy strap on eye glasses right out of the womb.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

WE'RE MOVING! West Seattle?

Don't you already live in West Seattle? Yeah, we do...This past week has been a whirlwind emotionally and spiritually. On Wednesday we had dinner with our community group leader, Jeremy Allen, to finish the Mars Hill membership process. The final step was to have an interview with him to affirm that we are willing to follow Jesus and abide by our church's doctrine and leadership. All went well with our membership interview, but even more, it was evident as the night progressed that God was actually calling us to move to the Mars Hill West Seattle campus. To be fair, this didn't entirely come out of nowhere. I had told Arthur, my husband, even before we were married that this was on my heart. But instead of pushing the subject, I felt that I needed to quietly pray for him to make the best decision for us. Although we had continued discussion on this idea, months later God used Jeremy to speak into this subject, and by the end of the evening it had been decided that we would leave Ballard for West Seattle starting this Sunday (today). By the way, I don't plan to post in such length too often, so don't quit on us now!

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We have both been at the Ballard campus for nearly five years, so this move is certainly going to be a challenge is some ways. We are leaving our amazing community group (read, family), the friendly faces we would see every Sunday, the uber hip culture, the more than awesome worship music, my Sunday trip to Trader Joe's, and the blessing of watching our preaching pastor live every week. But while are trading in hanging out with dudes that wear skinny jeans all year round to families with white picket fences (maybe a little dramatic?), I know this is exactly where God is calling us to plant our roots. We look forward to getting involved at West Seattle, the church and the community.

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Today was our first day attending West Seattle. I had been praying while I was getting ready that the Lord would specifically put people in our way who could help us get connected this week. It was such a miracle that as we settled in our seats I saw a friendly smile and wave out of the corner of my eye. I recognized the face as someone we had greeted with at Ballard. Her name was Betty and she so graciously came up to me to say hi even though we didn't really know each other. Strangely enough, it felt so wonderful to see a face I recognized, a little piece of home. She ended up being the mother-in-law to one of the campus pastors who is around our age, and we think might be a great connection to get involved. Furthermore, during greeting, Arthur unknowingly ended up approaching the head campus pastor, Pastor David Fairchild. How cool is that? He was able to introduce himself and give him a quick rundown of who we were and why we're there. The Lord totally answered my prayer.

The vibe of West Seattle is very different than Ballard. After today's awesome sermon about investing our earthly lives for eternal gains, Pastor David engaged with the congregation by talking to us, like literally talking! He asked what people got out of this sermon and individual people just spoke up and told the room what stood out. It was so exciting to us and made us feel like we were part of a small community church, which is something I’ve been praying for the past few years.

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This is some heavy change for us, especially since we're trying to figure out the basics of being married. We could really use your prayer over the next month or so as we get connected in our new community. We are also looking for opportunities to get connected with the campus leadership and figure out where the Lord wants us to be using our gifts to serve our new church body, which is still Mars Hill as a whole. We are particularly eager to find a new community group, and would appreciate prayer for direction clarity while we try some out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strawberry, Banana, Mango & Avocado Smoothie

Wait, what? Avocado? Yes! Avocados are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fat, contain 13 different essential vitamins your body needs, are high in folate, which is great for babies and pregnant mamas, contain potassium, which our body needs to function normally, contain Lutein to keep our eyes healthy, and provide a moderate amount of Magnesium, which helps our bones absorb calcium and is important for our heart muscle. They are also believed to be an aphrodisiac. Need I say more?

Have you added avocados to your grocery list yet? Even better, you don't have to buy organic avocados. In fact, they've made the "clean 15" list of produce that is safe to eat in non-organic form. Conventional produce with a thick outer skin you peel is generally okay to consume without concern. Although my man isn't much of an avocado fan, he will usually choke them down for me. Lucky for him, you can't taste even a hint of avocado in this smoothie. All the benefits with no avocado taste. By the way, did you know avocados are a fruit?

Lately we've been into smoothies for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner or dessert. They're so versatile, sweet and perfect for summer. Despite the fact that summer hasn't quite hit Seattle yet, our "eco-friendly" apartment traps heat like no other and we generally spend our evenings baking in front of the fan. So smoothies are a great option for us.

We purchase most of our frozen smoothie fixings at Trader Joes and try to keep our freezer stocked with different types of fruit and berries, so as not to limit our culinary creativity! I do admit though that we don't always purchase the organic variety of berries to save on our food budget. I tend to splurge more than my husband does. You can even freeze your avocados and store them in a freezer bag.

Another trick I've figured out is always adding a few chunks of frozen banana, no matter what flavor you're trying to achieve. The banana just adds a hint of creaminess and somewhat acts as a dairy replacer.

More on our Vitamix later, but for now all I can say is, BEST. WEDDING. GIFT. EVER. (Thanks Uncle Bill and Aunt Cathi!)

Strawberry, Banana, Mango and Avocado Smoothie
Servings: 1
2 chunks frozen banana
1/4 c frozen mango chunks
1/2 c frozen strawberries
1/6–1/4 of an avocado
1/2 c Strawberry Kefir
~1/2 c of your favorite milk (conventional, soy, almond, rice, etc.)

Add all ingredients into your blender and blend on high until smooth. You may need to add more milk depending on how thick you like your smoothies.

Check our our cute new straws from IKEA ($1.99)!

Posts you might have missed:
•  Reduced Guilt Frozen Banana Bites
•  Getting Ready: From her perspective

Hand Grown in California
The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 of Produce

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reduced Guilt Frozen Banana Bites

I hope you all enjoyed our first post on Wisdom and Honey yesterday. It felt so good to get those precious memories written down before they began to fade. I have selectively terrible memory and often find myself forgetting the details of way too many important events. Writing is good for me.

I am a total sweets girl. I definitely have at least one dessert a day (more often than not I'll have two). However, it's also important to me that I'm eating a balanced diet and that my weekday desserts aren't overboard on fat or calories. I almost always have a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer to grab a palm full of, but it never really hits my sweet spot.

I've written more than once about one of my favorite semi-vegan/vegetarian/healthy lifestyle blogs, (never home)maker (now featuring (never home)maker woah baby!). Recently, Ashley posted about her Frozen Banana Bites. This was it! The solution to my weekday sweets craving.

I gave them a shot not knowing whether they would truly hit the spot, but oh baby did they! She wasn't kidding when she claimed that the bananas turn into a faux vanilla ice creamy center. My husband and I are totally hooked. And they're vegan if you use the right chocolate chips. Trader Joe's chocolate chips happen to be vegan.

I've noticed that they keep nicely for about a week without starting to taste a bit freezer burnt, which works great since a batch lasts a little over a week for us. Also, three medium-large bananas seem to work perfectly per one bag of chocolate chips. Let us know if you try them, we would love to hear what you think!

Reduced Guilt Frozen Banana Bites
3 medium-large ripe bananas
1 bag of chocolate chips 
2-3 Tbsp peanut butter (we use organic/natural creamy)

Dump the bag of chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish along with the peanut butter and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chips are melted and smooth.

Slice your banana into five equal pieces.

Using a spoon, cover the banana in the chocolate mixture. I like to do one at a time. Then using two toothpicks, lift the banana bite out of the dish and onto your Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.

Pop in the freezer overnight, or until you can't wait any longer to try one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Getting Ready: From her perspective

First off, I am thrilled to be back. I truly enjoy blogging, and have been eager to get back at it since I slipped out last summer. Life has been exciting and busy since our engagement last December, the 11th to be exact. I am now married to the most wonderful man and we are learning to be grace-filled servants of the Lord. We live together, we sleep together, we eat together, we laugh together and we are constantly growing together, it's beautiful and overwhelming.

I married my husband on May 7th, 2011 at five o'clock in the evening. Our wedding day could not have been more perfect. I woke up to Mia crawling on my belly, sunshine in the sky, and my Matron Maid of Honor, Rachel, sleeping by my side (thank you Ben for giving her up for the night!). I slipped out of bed before Rach and began milling about as if it were any other day. Casually packing little by little, the excitement started to kick in.

We finally made it out the door and headed downtown to get my make-up done at Gary Manuel. After a quick bagel stop, we met my makeup artist, Ally, she was fabulous. We eventually ended up talking about marriage within a biblical framework, and I was so thankful to have Rachel and her wisdom there (Ally did not know Jesus). I was so encouraged by Rachel's ability to boldly profess the gospel in such a friendly and natural way. This is a gift I am working on honing.

A quick hour later, we were out of there and off to meet the rest of the girls in our hotel room at the Pan Pacific. I'm pretty sure I had repeated the words, "Oh my goodness, I'm getting married!" at least a hundred times at this point. I was so thankful for the Lord, who I could talk to and knew was just as excited about this day as I was. Aside from trying to convince myself (and others, for that matter) that this really was the day I was getting married, I spent a good deal of the morning in prayer.

It was surreal that this was my wedding day. I kept thinking about Arthur and wondering how he was doing. Was he nervous or excited? I figured a little of both. Arthur and his fellows got ready in the room we would stay in that night. I wondered if it had hit him that that room was where we were going to spend our first night together. There were so many emotions. I just wanted to hug him and tell him, "Oh my goodness, we're getting married today!"

Shortly after arriving at the hotel, our absolutely-over-the-moon-fantastic photographer, Kirk Mastin, arrived. We immediately connected and began taking advantage of the gorgeous natural lighting by shooting some photos of me in my beautiful robe. Although I had no idea the lighting would be so perfect, I had pre-meditated this scenario somewhat as an intimate gift for my new husband. The clock was ticking though and my dress was ready for me to be painted in.

I bought my dress right off the rack with no alterations, not even a hem. How lucky is that? I have to admit though, I could hardly breathe. The girls even unzipped me to give me some fresh air once in a while. It's a wonder I stayed moving the whole night. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

I finally made my way into the form fitting dress and began to squeal in anticipation. This was getting more real by the second. My gorgeous bouquet of soft pink peonies might have aided in the euphoria. I go weak at the knees in the presence of a stem of peony. Here I had a whole handful, just for me! The sparkly slippers were the last to go on, and my outfit was complete. This girl was ready to walk down the aisle.

I had the best support with me all morning. My ladies were relaxed and wonderful. We primped, we laughed and we jumped on the bed. It doesn't get much better than that. The room was filled with so much love.

I was a weepy mess all day. Every photo of me walking down the aisle has a ridiculous mushy-crying face. As silly as I look, I'm really thankful to have been so emotional. I know God allowed me these tears to express myself. Arthur was so supportive through all my weepiness, he just kept telling me that I have the cutest crying face ever.

It was a quarter to five and time to go. Kirk packed in with the five of us girls and we headed to 415 Westlake, our wedding venue. Rachel drove and prayed for our two minute journey. I was so grateful Kirk was there to capture these last moments. The clock struck five along the way and we all screamed in excitement. Oh my goodness, I'm getting married! 

There wasn't anywhere for me to go at the venue, so once I was out of the car, down the aisle I was headed. In light of this, our pastor, Bubba Jennings, came to pray over me in Rachel's car. My sweet bridesmaid Carrie opened our prayer and Pastor Bubba closed it. The butterflies were fluttering up a storm inside me, and finally, it was my turn. I was moments away from marrying my man.