Posted in Recipes

Polenta Meatball Lasagna

I know I am on a polenta kick, but I figure if it’s something as good as polenta then why not, plus I bought a few rolls to make the polenta chips (see previous blog post). So, when I had spaghetti and veggie meatballs for dinner with enough sauce and meatballs to feed a small army and I picked my last little bell pepper from my garden, so I wanted to use all my ingredients up without zucchini for once. I’m sure if I did use zucchini this would be even better, but I knew my family would thank me for leaving it out.

I also was glad we started having cooler weather, so I could enjoy eating a warm meal in the evening instead of drinking my dinner like I have to do in the summer. In the summer I cook and eat a larger lunch because with my pots the heat makes it too hard on my heart to eat a warm large meal in the evening.

This is a fast dish because I had everything already done but if you need to make the sauce, meatballs and polenta it will add a lot more time.

Polenta Meatball Lasagna:

1 roll of polenta

1 jar of marinara or the equivalent to one jar homemade

10 small meatless meatballs (or meat if you prefer)

1 small green bell pepper chopped

1/2 white onion chopped

3-4 garlic cloves diced

1-2 Cups of grated mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion, pepper and garlic then add meatballs and a little sauce to simmer together for a few minutes.

Spread sauce onto bottom of a 11×9 pan lay cut polenta on top of sauce then place meatball mixture on top of polenta, add cheese then layer like a lasagna
After you layer polenta and filling top with remaining sauce and cheese then bake 350 uncovered for about 30 minutes
Serve, top with parmesan and enjoy
Posted in Uplifting

When some of us don’t ever get to the mountain top

This picture is of the hike I took on my last birthday. The trail starts at 6,223 feet elevation and ends at a little over 10,000 feet so the views are amazing all along this beautiful trail. I didn’t make it to the very top of the mountain, but I didn’t mind, I think the climb leading up to the look out where we stopped was more fun than getting to the final peak. For some on the trail it was all about the end, the goal, the destination the 10,000 feet top. Infact as I was coming down a few hikers asked how the peak was, when I said I didn’t go all the way they acted like my hike was a waist but to me just to get out and hike some was all I wanted to do.

Isn’t it like us though, to think life is all about the mountain tops and the final goal instead of the peace of just being where we are. The simple joy in just purely living. We tend to miss so much when we put the goal ahead of our day-to-day life.

I think that one of the reasons we can get so anxious and unhappy with our life is that we expect to have one big life on the mountain top. One goal after another, almost as if we would like to take a helicopter ride from mountain top to mountain top so we never have to deal with the hard climb, the sweat or dirt that gets us up to that beautiful top. What if life happens and we end up just only making it to a lookout point but not the final peak? Would that still be, okay? Would you still find the beauty at the lookout point, or would you feel like your life isn’t as good as the other people who “made” it to the mountain top.

When I find myself looking at the other people who have that kind of life. The people that seem to make it to the final top and stay there, I can be happy for them or start to get envious and not be happy with just my lookout spot but for me I choose to be happy, not trade in my peace for envy. Maybe my life is just a lookout point and not the glorious mountaintop but that’s okay too because it’s my life and my lookout point. The great expression, “In acceptance lieth peace” is so true.

(Foot note the expression is from a poem by Amy Carmichael but my mom would say this to me all the time growing up)

Posted in Recipes

Polenta Chips

I wish I was the genius that came up with this great side dish/snack, but I am not. I was watching PBS, (yes, I am one of those) I believe it was the Jazzy Vegetarian who gave me the idea for this great recipe. She made these chips for a side to her veggie burgers, and I thought that I would share how it went when I made this recipe.

Polenta is low in fat and when you bake these chips instead of frying them you get even more of a health benefit. Plus, polenta is rich in complex carbohydrates so higher in nutrition slower to digest so you stay full, and because of the slow digestion rate your blood sugar doesn’t have that big swing of a simple carb. A few other benefits you may not know is polenta is a soluble fiber so you gut will be happy while the zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamin A really give this nice different side a lot of great health benefits.

If you don’t make your own polenta and you buy it in the roll this makes a very quick side or great snack in a short amount of time, but you still get the health benefits

Polenta Chips:

(Depending on how many you would like you may use more than one already made roll)

1 Roll of already made polenta, plain or any flavor you would like

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Sea salt per taste

parchment paper, sheet pan (cookie sheet)

Remove packaging from the polenta roll, then with polenta on its side slice the roll in thin round slices. Place the thin slices on the sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper. Brush polenta with olive oil, sprinkle with salt on both sides. Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes flipping the chips halfway through. Remove chips and serve

You may want to serve the chips with a dipping sauce or eat them alone

Dipping sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise (vegan is awesome)

1/4 cup of tobacco sauce (more or less per your taste)

Mix together

Posted in Uplifting

The Call

seven assorted colored rotary telephones
Photo by Bruno Cantuária on Pexels.com

I like this image of phones, back when we would have to pick up the call to find out who or why people were calling, it was almost braver to pick up not knowing who was on the other end. Now we have the luxury of screening calls, if you recognize or like the number then you’ll pick up. If you aren’t sure of the number or maybe, you don’t like that person then the best option is voice mail and even then, you can screen and choose what you’ll do. It’s almost like we don’t have to acknowledge what we don’t want to and only acknowledge the enjoyable or easy.

Perhaps, this is a reflection on how we are now handling life.

Just the other week I had a call that went to my voice mail because I have my phone on vibrate but even if I didn’t, I’m sure I wouldn’t have answered it because it was a number I didn’t recognize. I did notice I had a voice mail, so I listened, and even though her voice was pleasant, and the message wasn’t rude I delayed returning her call, almost as if I could delay hearing what I already knew, almost as if I delayed calling her back then I wouldn’t have to hear my pathology results and life would still be okay. I could spend just a few more hours not having my worst-case scenario happen but of course I had to call her back and face one of the worst things a person can hear.

How many times do we get those calls in life? The call from the doctor, the nock at the door in the middle of the night or papers given to us that we would rather never see. To hear the worst news can rock our world, it can make us wish for a life that is happy where all you have to do is not pick up and all is fine.

Although I did get that call and life as I knew it is changed, it’s just that I still have life for now. An easy life was never promised but yet we live like it was. Changed life or not I still have the gift of waking up. We never know when our last day to wake up will be. Not to get sappy here but knowing this somehow helps in a weird way and knowing I’m not alone in the good and the really hard days is what helps me the most.

All I do is call God who never screens calls, and he will give all I need for that moment.

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Posted in Recipes

Sweet Potato Brownies

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I have such a weakness for brownies. I almost feel like a Dr. Seuss character in “Green Eggs and Ham” except  I would and could eat them everywhere. I have been know to eat a whole pan in one sitting or so my kids say. I don’t confirm or deny it but I can say I have cut back on my consumption these last few years because I have been trying to cut back on eating so much sugar.

So when I was on Facebook and I saw a new recipe from “Vegan strong dad” (you should really check him out) I got so excited and had to try it.

Here it is and I must say they are REALLY tasty!

Sweet potato brownies:

 

1 Cup of mashed sweet potato

1/4 Cup coco powder

1/2 Cup of nut butter of your choice

1/4 Cup maple syrup

 

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well, pour in 8×8 pan (I didn’t grease it and it didn’t say) Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Yes that is it and then you have semi healthy brownies that are so good that you could eat the whole pan if you choose.

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Posted in Uplifting

20 Seconds of Courage

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.”

― Benjamin Mee-We Bought a Zoo

I have never seen the movie but maybe now I will. When I read that quote and thought how true. I couldn’t have read it at a better time. I was having one of those days when having a meltdown sounds pretty good and if I was a baby, I’m sure I would have. You know those days you wake up maybe a little crabby and all the normal things that you do in the morning without effort take effort and don’t go smooth. You start to wonder if you should have stayed in bed, but you can’t because life goes on even if it’s not smoothly.

This was were I was at but trying to make the best of it when I read that quote. My mind went into over drive I thought I have 20 seconds to be kind and not have a crabby attitude. I think that was the longest 20 seconds I have had in awhile but I made it through. I moved on with a little more of my day with that thought of I can be nice for 20 seconds and for me on a crabby day that is real courage.

That day kept me in the moment, it kept me mindful, and how to be nice when I don’t want to be. How when everything feels like its just one big crap shoot you can still rise above it even if it is just for 20 seconds at a time.

20 seconds may seem short, but when you are trying to have “insane courage” and be “embarrassing brave” it’s a lifetime. Isn’t it just that, how funny when broken down it can be so do able. If done, then that is when we get “something that is great”. We get a good life even when things are going just the opposite of great. Even in a moment when you get the dreadful call with some news you never wanted or thought you would ever get 20 seconds of stepping out of our bad mood and being kind is just as infectious as the problems but what peace and contentment we have, making others want it.

Maybe next time someone cuts you off or miss treats you think 20 seconds, I know I will. We all are walking in some really uncomfortable shoes now but 20 seconds of kindness goes a long way and who can’t be brave for 20 seconds?

This did help me; my day stayed the same and the news was just as bad, but my attitude didn’t and with a better attitude, I could handle life a little better.

I also started to remember a Bible verse I love because it really breaks down what is required of us and it is simple especially when done at 20 second intervals.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Posted in Recipes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I had seen a post on Facebook asking about Vegetarian Sloppy Joes and needing a recipe  alternatives to the Morning Star ground. The following post is two years old but after I saw the post and responded to the person on Facebook I got to thinking maybe I should bring back this recipe for those that may have missed it.

Sloppy joes are one of my favorite foods, they are simple and if done right really good. I have experimented with all different meat alternatives but enjoy the health benefits of the lentil full of clean protein and fiber. Lentils are rich in folate, niacin, and vitamin E. As well as a great source of  minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

I substitute lentils in so many ways that I usually have some already cooked and ready for me to use in a wide range of foods but if you do not have them on hand. Place preferred amount cleaned and in a pot with just enough water to cover the lentils then cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. You my season them but when I cook them for the purpose to have them on hand I wait to season them later.

GREAT TIP: I  have found that when I use lentils for meatless meat balls or a meatless ground I mash them slightly and let them dry a little.

I like to use brown or green in this recipe but you may use what ever kind you prefer.

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1 – 1/2 cup of cooked lentils slightly mashed (may use more for a large family adjust the following ingredients as well)

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 small onion diced

4-5 mini sweet peppers diced

1 8 oz can of tomato sauce

1 Teaspoon (vegetarian friendly) Worcestershire sauce

1 Teaspoon of vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon of dry mustard

1 Teaspoon or so of brown sugar

The following per your taste salt, pepper and garlic powder

In a pan add olive oil, garlic, onion and peppers sauté until fragrant and onion is almost translucent. Add lentils cook until lentils start to look a little crisp then add brown sugar and rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Serve on buns or bread, can top with cheese.

Makes about 2-3 large sandwiches depending on size of bun and amount you use for each.

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Posted in Recipes

Stuffed Pepper Skillet

I have a surplus of zucchini from my garden this year. I’m not really surprised with my one zucchini plant giving so and boy the fun, I am having with my one plant that is feeding a small city. I give the zucchini away to friends/family or just at my mailbox in a bag marked garden surplus, because sharing is caring and when I have shared all I can I then turn to freezing this great veggie. I cut it in all sorts of ways from lasagna sized noodles to bite sized for soup then shredded for some wonderful bread or muffins plus using it freshly cut from the garden. So, today’s recipe is inspired by zucchini as you can guess and a few of my other veggies.

I was so excited to have peppers to use that I knew I would make an easy one pot kind of meal. I love stuffed peppers but didn’t have enough (at least not yet) to make a whole meal with them plus I had Anaheim chili to use. These peppers are mild on any scale but give a nice almost sweet flavor.

Not only do these peppers give a nice flavor but the really are awesome for our bodies. Did you know that Anaheim chili are mostly water, low in fat and bad carbs, so they make a great flavor in cooking for weight loss. These great little peppers also have vitamins like C, K, A and B6 so when you combine them with the bell pepper that is loaded with anti-oxidants and C just to name a few of the great benefits these two peppers have.

If you prefer you may substitute the rice with quinoa or any other grain, you enjoy or agrees with your body better.

After sautéing veggies let simmer for 15-20 minutes before adding the rice.

Stuffed Pepper Skillet:

1 1/2 cup rice cooked according to package directions

1 small zucchini chopped in bite sized pieces

1 small bell pepper chopped in bite sized pieces

2 Anaheim peppers diced

1 small white onion

4-5 garlic cloves diced

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

1 cup of vegan meat crumbles

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder per taste

In a large pot on medium to high heat add olive oil, onion, garlic, zucchini and peppers. Sauté until veggies are tender add seasoning, crushed tomatoes and crumbles. Simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes add cooked rice or other grain of your choice, continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes then take of heat and serve.

Posted in Recipes

Roasted Veggies with Harissa Yoghurt

I made the roasted vegies last year and turned it into a Budda bowl but thought I would share this with the harissa yogurt sauce recipe I found in my challenge workout group. The roasted veggie with the sauce makes a great healthy snack and with back to school a good healthy snack is defiantly needed plus with cooler weather, hopefully around the corner this will make a great appetizer with all the holiday parties that are coming up.

I think you could also exchange the veggies with ones you like better, and I am also thinking that this will be perfect to roast eggplant and zucchini but haven’t tried it yet but with all my zucchini from my garden it will be done soon.

Ingredients For the spiced Veggies:

1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Depending on the size of your vegetables, use about 8 medium carrots, 5 beets, 24 brussels sprouts, cut in pieces as shown below.


FOR HARISSA YOGURT SAUCE:
2 Tbsp. shelled, unsalted pistachios,
chopped (reserve for garnish)
½ cup reduced-fat plain Greek
yogurt
2 tsp. harissa sauce
1 tsp. lemon zest



Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper; coat
lightly with spray. Set aside.
To make spiced vegetables, add paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to a
small bowl; toss to combine. Set aside.
Combine maple syrup and mustard in another small mixing bowl; mix well.
Place veggies on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with maple syrup mixture; toss
to evenly coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss to coat.
Arrange in an even layer; bake for 35 minutes, turning once, or until soft.


Make harissa yogurt sauce while vegetables cook. Add yogurt, harissa sauce, and
lemon peel to a medium mixing bowl; stir to combine.
Evenly divide veggies onto serving plates, top evenly with yogurt
sauce and pistachios.
Roasted Carrots with Harissa Yoghurt
Time: 42 minutes

Posted in Recipes

Walnut Tacos

Yes, you read that correct. I am always trying different ways to make my meals without using a lot of processed foods and sometimes it turns out then I will share, but then there’s times that I may be the only one that likes it, so I sit on the idea awhile, Like today’s recipe.

I told my mom my idea then her and my dad liked it so with a little more confidence here it is. I like the fact that these tacos can be soft or hard and you can make a larger or smaller amount of the taco mixture depending on your family size.

Plus, when you start cutting out processed foods your body will thank you. Did you know that processed foods lead to digestive problems, insulin resistance can happen, or you may end up eating extra bad carbs and sugars for fillers which lead to fatigue and a lot of other problems.

I am off my soap box now but books on the topic of how processed foods are slowly killing us line the shelves of bookstores and would be more helpful than my blog if you would like to look into that topic.

I can say this that walnuts the star of this dish are loaded with goodness. From plant Omega 3’s, antioxidants and more these great nuts really pack a punch with helping us with aging well, fitting some cancers, lowering rick of diabetes and even blood pressure help. Yes, there is even more these nuts do but I will get to the recipe.

Walnut Taco:

4-6 Cups of crushed walnuts

1 Bell Pepper

1 Chili Pepper of your choice

4-5 cloves of garlic diced

1 small white or purple onion diced

1 can of tomato sauce

1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon

1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Cummin, Chili powder, Garlic and Onion Powder, all per taste (salt can be added if your Boullioun is low or no sodium)

Taco mixture before tomato sauce is added

Place walnuts in a large bowel then add water to cover them, you will be soaking them over night or at least for 8 hours to soften them so you should also cover your dish and place them in the refrigerator.

After walnuts are soaked, place them in a food processor to finely chop them. Don’t worry they won’t be turned to mush but this is an important step and one I had to do by hand, but it pays off when you cook them.

In a large skillet on medium to high heat add olive oil, pepper, chili, onion and garlic sauté them until the pepper and chili are soft or onion is translucent. Add walnuts sauté a few minutes then add the bouillon, tomato sauce and seasoning. Turn to low add a lid then simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Serve as a taco salad or in shells with all your favorite toppings. Then enjoy!