Author Archives: Michelle Rollins

Quinoa-Lentil-Kale Soup

During my visit to Sun Harvest this past weekend, I picked up a can of black lentils. I wanted to do something simple with them, so I thought up a soup using the quinoa and red kale I had also just bought. I scoured the internet for a recipe to work from. This recipe is light on the calories and heavy-handed with the nutrients. Plus, it’s FILLING!

While I enjoyed the recipe I used, I do suggest using cumin, curry powder, and cinnamon as the spices to warm up the dish, since the basil and oregano sort of hid in the background. And now that I think about it, I forgot the tomato paste. Ah well. 

Enjoy!

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Quinoa, Black Lentil, and Kale Soup
(Adapted from this recipe)
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, unpeeled, chopped
1 large stalk (or two small stalks) celery, chopped
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can black lentils
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1-2 cup kale, chopped or torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil ( again, I suggest subbing the oregano and basil out with 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp curry powder, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering, then stir in the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle with some salt and allow to cook until onions art translucent.

Raise heat to high and add the broth. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to simmer (at about medium head). Add the quinoa. Cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy. Stir in lentils, kale, the 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and the herbs/spices. Cook for another 15 minutes or until kale is tender.

Check out the nutrition facts!!!:

Calories: 326
Total Fat: 6g
Saturated fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Total Carbohydrates: 52g
Dietary Fiber: 13g
Sugars: 6g
Protein: 18g

 

This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Iron and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese.

 

———–

30 Day Challenge
Day 6: 30 Facts about yourself

1. I strongly dislike roller coasters. I hate them. No, I abhor them. I vehemently abhor them. I’m such a buzz kill at amusement parks.

2. It’s February and I’m already in the mood for fall.

3. I don’t like bananas when they’re under ripe, which means I don’t like them until they’re speckled with brown.

4. I’m not the biggest fan of hot oatmeal. It’s the texture.

5. I honk for minor chords. Or something…

6. I’m a mezzo-soprano. I sing alto (A1) in choir because I can sing the entire alto range and entire mezzo-range, but not the entire soprano range, which stinks when there isn’t an S2 part written in the music.

7. I’ve been with Edgar for over four years and he has yet to hear me sing all by myself.

8. All I know about reading music has come from seven semesters’ worth of choir experience plus a vague memory of elementary school music class and a year of recorder class in 5th grade. I’m basically learning very slowly over many years what most music majors learn their first semester.

9. I have the most random taste in music. It makes absolutely no sense. There’s no rhyme (pun not intended) or reason. I currently have six songs playing on repeat on my iTunes right now, and they consist of: one bluegrass song, one rock-song-turned-acoustic-and-bluegrassy, “Love the Way you Lie” by Eminem, “Samson” by Regina Spektor, “Sally’s Song” sung by Fiona Apple, and “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry.

10. I do not enjoy country music, but I love bluegrass a great deal. It also reminds me of fall and road trips.

11. I have a condition called uterine didelphys. Wait what?? Long story short, I have two uteri. And to answer your question, double-pregnancy at two different gestational periods is technically possible but extremely unlikely.

12. I’m allergic to cats. My mom is also allergic and I became so half-way through high school. Both my sisters became allergic to cats during high school as well.

13. I have carpal tunnel syndrome.

14. I love climbing trees

15. I love hiking. It’s cardio and strength training in one! If I had my way, I’d hike every weekend.

16. I love pilates/power yoga. It reminds me of ballet!

17. I was homeschooled from 5th grade through graduation and my social life didn’t suffer even the slightest. In fact, it greatly improved once I started homeschooling.

18. A lot of people are scared of hospitals. I’m not. Some of my earliest memories were of visiting the hospital when my mom was working there as a medical transcriptionist. It also helps that my grandfather was a doctor and my aunt is a nurse.  Medicine is a familiar field in my family.

19.  5 years of Spanish and all I got was this rusty Spanglish. Actually, when I hear people speak Spanish (and here in Texas, it’s almost more common than English), I can always understand some of what they’re saying, and I can usually read what’s written in Spanish. I’m not that confident in my ability to speak it, though.

20. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I decide to take first semester Old Testament History with the hardest religion professor on campus, but I didn’t pick up on her teaching and testing style until half-way through second semester New Testament History. I got a C in Old Testament as a result, and if I had actually gotten an A in that one class, I would have graduated Summa Cum Laude. Humbug.

21. My minor was in psychology, I have 12 graduate level hours in counseling, and I’m a member of the Psi Chi National Honors Society for psychology.

22. I think my body requires 9-10 hours of sleep every night to feel rested. This means I never feel rested.

23. I have been blogging regularly since 2003. I was 14 and a sophomore in high school when I started my first blog.

24. I don’t swear. And as far as I can remember, I’ve never knowingly cussed. It’s not a habit I ever picked up, nor one I desire to have. I like to think I have a more creative vocabulary.

25. I eat hamburgers upside down. The burger, not myself. This is probably why my burger innards are all assembled backwards.

26. Those Larabars I was saving for my trip…I just ate ‘em. Both of them. Meh, I’ll buy more later.

27. I’ve been able to do a back-bend from a standing position since I was a single-digit age.

28. I’m currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. I just finished the Sorcerers Stone.

29. I’m a bit of a bread snob!

30. Tamales are my very favorite Mexican food!

I bought out Sun Harvest…

…Or so it feels like.

Our trip to Lubbock started later than we were planning, so we ended up grabbing breakfast at the convenience store on our way out of town. Gas stations in Plainview are not known for having good healthy options. A V-8 Fusion and a bag of trail mix was the best I could do.

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What to do in the car for an hour? Take pictures!

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Our first stop was to David’s Bridal, where I tried on dress options for Greg and Ana’s wedding this June. I’m a bridesmaid!

Which do you prefer?

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or…

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The actual color I’ll be ordering is “marine,” which is like a dark, foggy blue, but for the purpose of sizing, I tried on whatever was available.

I originally came to try on the first dress, but I decided to try on the second for the heck of it. I’m surprised to say I actually really prefer the black one! It reminds me of Audrey Hepburn! Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite that Audrey pizzazz in the marine color, but oh well. It ain’t my wedding. 😉

Another thing. I bought my wedding dress at David’s Bridal in a size 14, and it was a tad snug. This dress is a size 8! WAHOO!

After playing dress up, Edgar and I visited Office Depot and Best Buy to look at laptops and see if we could find an international voltage converter/power adaptor, and I had NO LUCK finding the latter! Uggghhh.

Lunch followed at Rockfish. It was sort of our early Valentine’s dinner, but at lunch. We’re playing it cool this V-day, especially since I don’t really get to see him at all tomorrow.

Bring on the Grilled Rainbow Trout with Pontchartrain sauce, grilled asparagus, and sweet potatoes.

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I DEVOURED it. I would have eaten the rice, too, if I hadn’t already promised it to Edgar before we ordered.

I swiftly worked off lunch with a THREE HOUR grocery trip in Sun Harvest. Edgar spent the majority of the time napping in the car while I flittered around the store. It was actually sort of unenjoyable because I had to go to the bathroom a short while after getting there, and I didn’ t have my phone on me, so I couldn’t call Edgar in to stand with the cart. Ahh!

But nevertheless, here be my loot. I didn’t even get everything I needed!

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  • Organic tomato paste
  • Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (NO SALT ADDED!!!)
  • Organic arugula
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Dried, unsweetened, unsulfured mango (a snack for my 36 hours of travel just getting to Germany)

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  • Frozen organic mixed mushrooms
  • Bulk quinoa
  • Bulk wild/brown rice mix
  • Asparagus
  • Organic red kale
  • Organic low-sodium chicken broth
  • Organic low-sodium beef broth
  • Kashi GoLean Crunch! cereal
  • Organic leeks

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  • Red bell peppers
  • Bulk pistachios
  • Bulk nutritional yeast (Edgar asked, “what is this?!” I said it was fish food)
  • Applegate Farms nitrate/nitrite-free organic bacon (this was REALLY AMAZING in a quiche I made for dinner last night!!)

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  • Gruyere
  • Organic rainbow chard
  • Llano Chardonnay
  • Blue Diamond Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze (almond milk)
  • Organic black lentils
  • Unsalted black beans
  • Unsalted garbanzo beans
  • SIGGI’S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Now I don’t have to travel 7 hours away to get my fix! And to mix things up, I got a vanilla flavor instead of my usual Orange & Ginger. And to make things better, they’re cheaper at Sun Harvest than Central Market or Whole Foods! Instead of $2.50 each, they’re $2/each!)

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  • Organic European-style nonfat plain yogurt
  • Organic half-and-half
  • Organic baby carrots (they’re thin-cut!)
  • Blackberries
  • Organic 70% dark chocolate
  • Sardines in tomato sauce (I can hear the collective, “eeeeewww!” Trust me, it’s good in place of beef in ragu. Plus it tastes better than most canned tuna)
  • Larabars (also for my travels)
  • Pure bar
  • High fiber/high protein wheat wraps
  • Bananas
  • Local raw honey

We got home right before 6pm, just minutes before people started showing up for our Saturday night dinner. We played it down and had a Leek, Bacon, and Gruyere quiche in a whole wheat crust with a side of aru
gula. Yummmmmmmm!

I’ve been waiting for this day for so long…

With a practically empty fridge+pantry, a replenished bank account, and an epic two-page shopping list, I’m off to Sun Harvest (and other places) in Lubbock to replenish my wares!

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Later!

Hero

Not having a great deal of food in the house paired with the fact that I’m trying to limit cow’s dairy can be lame sometimes.

Or inspire creativity.

Yesterday I packed a quick breakfast to eat at my desk.

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Blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranate swimming in light coconut milk, with the last of my Uncle Sam cereal mixed in at the last minute. It looks grainy because it kinda was (my leftover bag of coconut milk had seen the microwave  a few too many times). Didn’t taste grainy, though, so I guess that’s all that matters. 😛

I stole an idea from Courtney in creating my lunch. The other day she tweeted about having a goat cheese, avocado, and red sweet pepper quesadilla, and I decided that was way more fun than a peanut butter sandwich.

I used some corn tortillas I had on hand and loaded them with goat cheese, avocado, half a red pepper I carefully haphazardly roasted over my gas range, grilled chicken, and spinach.

I have a problem with overloading my quesadillas. I always feel the need to increase my veggies.

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Mmm. My photography needs serious work.

This was so good that I’m making this for lunch again tomorrow, only I’m putting it in a pita instead!!!

For dinner I ate some pan-fried chicken, steamed drowned-in-sea-water broccoli, and some roasted delicata squash I seasoned with rubbed sage and salt.

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Yum. Frying anything is a rarity in my house!

But dark chocolate isn’t.

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  —-

30 Day Challenge
Day 5: A time you thought about ending your own life

I mentioned in my previous 30 Day Challenge entry that I had a dark period in my life in early high school. During that particular year I had all the classic signs of depression: couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate, was always tired, lost interest in things I usually loved, was involved in a codependent relationship with someone who was far worse off than I was, had a general dark and bitter outlook on the world, felt hopeless and misunderstood (ah, 13 year olds), was emotional and didn’t know how to express myself constructively. I don’t remember having much of an appetite, but I gained quite a bit of weight that year. But I was never suicidal. I never remotely believed that death was an answer to anything. Maybe it was my upbringing; maybe it was my faith; maybe it was my common sense, but suicide wasn’t an option.

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(A blurry picture of my sister, Holly, and me during an end-of-semester program for my homeschool group back in December, 2002, right as my depression was setting in)

In a way I’m thankful for that year. I’m thankful in the “you know light because you’ve known darkness” way, but also because that experience made me a little more aware, a little more sensitive, a little less naïve about the world we live in. Something in me permanently changed as a result of that year. Peers who were dealing with issues much deeper and darker than I ever had were drawn to me, even though they knew nothing of my prior struggles and I wasn’t depressed when they met me. I became unspeakably approachable to them, in part because I was never part of the “in” crowd anyway, and that year helped me (even if I went overboard in expressing it at age 13) in being confident in my individuality. I tended to (and still often do) move against the mainstream. It was easy for me to empathize with the darkness I saw in others, but I was also grounded in reality and in my faith. I was a constant for many people who came in and out of my life. I was someone they could talk to without judgment. I was someone who could relate to what they were feeling, if only distantly. I was someone who would try to understand and care about them as a whole soul, a whole human being, instead of passing them off as “weird,” “messed up,” or a “punk kid.” I had friends dabble in Satanic worship, and I was there for them when they came out of it. I’ve had friends struggle with eating disorders, self-mutilation, promiscuity, self esteem issues, physical abuse, drugs, rape, prostitution, abortion, mental disorders, and yes, even attempted suicide. On one occasion, my friend Brandon had me to talk to a friend of his who was having self esteem issues. I became friends with this particular person, and a year later he told me that he was about to attempt suicide (for the third time) that night we first spoke, but something I said stopped him. It’s been seven years and he hasn’t attempted suicide since.    

I don’t say all this to toot my own horn or anything. I share this because even though I’ve never considered attempting suicide, I’ve known what it’s like to feel hopeless, alone, and misunderstood. I can clearly see what drives people to get involved in questionable activities and sometimes even attempt suicide. The people that deal with these issues usually look just like you and me. They look “normal.” They often blend in. We’re all human beings with souls and a purpose, and we all struggle. The difference is experience and how we deal with them. And we all need to open our minds and our hearts to those whose perspectives we might not understand. It just might save somebody’s life.

 

I could share many different songs that deal with this subject, but I’ll leave you with two of my favorites:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zv7xaDZoto]

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pm4qHWixz8]

Have you ever been a hero to someone?
Who has been a hero to you?

Ubi Caritas

Quick post. Mondays are crazy for me. My day began at 7am and between work, three choir rehearsals, and Zumba, I didn’t get to rest until I got home at 8pm.

I regret not the incessant choir, though. We get to sing this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5MoZlNVG-s]

 

And not to mention a billion other songs.

I’m thinking of limiting my dairy and/or switching to goats milks for the time being. Having a mucus-y throat while singing is no good.

Anyway, I’m tired. Off to bed. It’s good for my health!

Accent Vlog! Plus, my faith.

 

Hey everyone! Peeps just left and I’ve finally got my accent video done!

I don’t really have a lisp, so I don’t know what that was about. But now that I hear myself, I do kinda have a Southern accent. I blame Plainview. I sound like a hick every time I visit my family in Fort Worth.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQeidM8gRJQ]


Background:
I am from Fort Worth, Texas, and my parents are from Missouri/North Carolina and Texas. I was raised in Texas all my life.

Edgar is from a small country town (Canadian, TX) barely on this side of the Texas line. His dad grew up in El Paso and his mom is from Oklahoma. He has also lived in Texas all his life.

Kris was born in Fort Worth, lived his first few years there, moved to Florida for a few years in grade school, then came back to the Promised Land Texas. He has spent most his life since then in a small town just outside Houston. His parents are both Texans.

Justin’s dad is a pastor and he has traveled all over the country, including New Mexico and Oregon, and has family in Missouri. He doesn’t claim a state.

Aubrey has lived in California and Wyoming. She also doesn’t claim a state.

By the way, I looked it up and the other word for roly poly I was trying to think of was pill bug!

Kris says we should start a morning talk show.

—-

30 Day Challenge 
Day 4-
My views on religion.

Well, I certainly don’t try to hide my faith.

I grew up in a Christian home. I’ve been going to Baptist churches all my life. When I was homeschooled I was a part of several different Christian homeschool groups. I graduated from a Baptist University and now work there.

But none of this makes me a Christian.

While I’ve believed in God for as long as I can remember, I didn’t make my faith my own until I was 14. I didn’t experience an actual relationship with God until 2003 when I participated in my first mission trip and saw God’s hand working so perfectly and obviously. I had spent the year prior in darkness as I struggled with interpersonal issues with a depressed/self-mutilating friend with whom I was toxically codependent. I boarded the bus numb to the world, but just a few days later found myself standing the middle of a dirty street in Mexico in awesome realization that God had always been there through all my struggles, and He was so much bigger than any burden I carried. I realized the incredible feeling of being small, and it was beautiful. His greater plan for me was so much better than anything I could dream up in my shortsighted, feeble mind.

I look back at my perspective of life the day I left for that trip. It was dark and gray. Just 8 days later, the days permanently switched to light. It’s been almost eight years and even thought I’ve struggled with heartbreak and uncertainty, I have never felt as hopeless as I did before meeting God face to face on that mission trip.

I know it’s not typical for people to change overnight. But I’m living proof that it’s possible. Letting go of my plans and allowing God to move them was was set the entire rest of my life into motion. It was easily the most pivotal week of my entire life.

If I hadn’t gone on that mission trip, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog post today.

On that trip, I met someone who would be my very best friend for the next three years. Through him I learned what it meant to know God, to delight in Him, to be in communion with Him, and to see others the way that God saw them. I learned what it meant to love, which is what God is all about. I learned what it meant to trust God, which is something I’ve always struggled with. I still do, but I do have a hope that I cling to:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)

That verse is the hope on which I have gripped for the past 8 years. That hope has led me to Wayland, to Edgar, to this job which has led me to get healthy, this confidence, the love and friendship I have in my life. I know peace because I’ve actively trusted God. I know hope because I’ve seen my life fall to ruin and be resurrected so much better than before, on every occasion. I know love because I’ve hurt and been hurt. I’ve opened up my flaws and accepted them in others. I’ve given up my own good and have others sacrifice for me.

God delivered me from more than my sin. He delivered me from more than an eternity of hell. He gave me my earthly life back in spades. He never promised me I wouldn’t struggle, but He promised that I would have a way through it. He never promised I would get everything I wanted, but He promised I would get everything I needed. Where there is darkness, there is now light. Where there was uncertainty, there is now trust. Where there was fear, there is now peace. Where there was dread, there is now hope. Where there was heartbreak, there is now fullness of heart. Where there was brokenness, there is now healing. Where there was selfishness, I now know, see, and experience love on every good and perfect level.

I didn’t get there by going to church, or by reading the Bible, or believing in a “higher power.” I got there because He who is so much bigger than me brought Himself down to my level so that He and I could see face to face. He took me in His arms and I opened my eyes for the first time. I saw His face and wept tears of joy. I gave Him all I had and He gave me riches, and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. 

My religion is hardly about religion at all.
It’s about relationship.
It’s about love.
It’s about hope, peace, and faith.
It’s about forgiveness.
It’s seeing how small we are compared to how big He is.
Wanting what He wants and seeing as He sees.
Choosing to live in His world instead of the trivial one we’ve created for ourselves.
It’s about sacrifice. “He died for me, so I will live for Him.”
It’s about realizing how depraved we are, how we’ve spit in His face, but He still forgives us when we ask, loves us even when we don’t, and offers us a role in his magnificent plan if we choose. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us.
It’s about wanting, seeking, and loving Him back.

 

So, do I have a funny accent???

Seriously?!

 

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Haven’t we had enough??

It’s been snowing off and on for the past week.

Yesterday we actually reached above freezing for the first time all week.

Neither classes nor offices closed at any time due to inclement weather. I guess they figure that Plainview is such a small town that any commuters can handle roughing it through the negative degree temps and ice.

Today is one day of relief. 50 degrees and I shaved my legs in celebration.

Tomorrow, I guess it’s back to this…

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(stolen from Facebook)

Anyway.

I tried Ashley’s Buckwheat Breakfast Bake today, using steel cut oats instead of whole buckwheat groats, almonds instead of walnuts, and dark cocoa powder+agave instead of carob powder.

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It was alright. I didn’t cook it long enough and I already know that buckwheat is an acquired taste that I haven’t fully acquired yet. I’m excited to try it out with other grains, though!

I also halved the recipe and ate a pear alongside. By the time I’d eaten it, it was nearly noon, so I’m still pretty hungry!

I think I’ll go try to convince Edgar to take me to Subway or something. I want to experience my one day of weather relief before who knows how long! I may even going running outside, but we’ll see…

I’ll be back later with the next installment of the 30 Day Challenge, plus an ACCENT VLOG!

 

How’s the weather been where you are? For the record, I’m jealous of you Virginians experiencing Springtime weather.

Bacon and Avocado go together like Peanut Butter and Banana. Plus! The Question of Alcohol

 

Speaking of bacon…

It makes the perfect salad.

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I’ve said before that I’m not big on salad, but just like I prefer nutty/fruity/cheesy salads, I LOVE avocado-y/bacon-y salads!

This baby had romaine, spinach, a boiled egg, BACON, avocado, some bits of deli turkey, parmesan, and some pomegranate arils for a sweet crunch.

I guess some would call this something of a cobb salad. Or a turkey club sandwich. I call it an awesome lunch. Fo shizz.

————

30 Day Challenge
Day 3: What are your views on drugs and alcohol?

Hmm, well this being a healthy living-oriented blog, I would imagine my response to drugs would be pretty cut-and-dry. Obviously anything illegal I’d consider a no-no on many levels.

I also try to limit any other pharmaceuticals. It’s not that I have a moral issue with them, but I don’t think they should be the primary fix for a problem. I’d rather address health issues by natural means than pop a pill. Plus, (and I’ve heard rumors that it’s because I’m a redhead) I build resistance to medications VERY quickly. If I take ibuprofen three times in one week, by the third time, it doesn’t really work anymore. And acetaminophen and asprin have never really worked on me. I like to look at pharmaceuticals as “last resorts” or “supplements” when natural means (nutrition, rest, etc.) aren’t enough.

When it comes to alcohol, I see things a little differently.

I grew up in a family that didn’t drink ever. And that’s alright. I never felt the urge to drink growing up. I don’t believe that drinking is a sin, but drinking can be a habit that spirals out of control quite easily. It can be controlling without really taking on the title of an “addiction.” Just like I easily go overboard with sugar and “dry carbs,” someone else can go overboard on occasion with alcohol. Or just like someone who eats emotionally, one can drink to drown their sorrows. Neither of which I recommend.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, The Screwtape Letters, which is entirely written in the form of one “head demon” (Screwtape) writing letters to a lesser demon (Wormwood) as to how he can successfully derail a particular man away from God. When I first read the book, this particular passage struck me as uniquely profound, and I still refer to it when explaining my stance on the use of alcohol:

“You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when he is happy and expansive. Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on [God]’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it was His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.”

I had my first “drink” while visiting an Episcopal church while in college. They held communion every Sunday and always used real wine.

I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to “swig” wine, and my throat burned for quite a while.

Besides that time, when I first started getting interested in cooking I decided to start experimenting with cooking wine. Yes, the vile, sodium-laden abomination toward grapes. But hey, we start somewhere, right? I didn’t care to drink before the age of 21, and when I did turn 21, I make it my personal mission NOT to go drinking to celebrate my birthday, simply because I think that’s overrated and cliché. I did have my first “real” drink about 2 weeks before my 21st birthday while hosting a fancy roast beef Sunday dinner with my roommate. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to braise the meat, and we also served it with dinner. I could barely drink it. I forced down four tiny sips and gave the rest to Edgar! The roast was amazing, though. 😉

Since then I’ve had and enjoyed various different types of wines and tasted a few weird beers (pumpkin ale, anyone?) more out of culinary curiosity. I have developed a bit of a taste toward some wines, but I usually can’t finish a whole 6 oz glass, and that’s perfectly alright with me. I think I prefer cooking with it, but I do enjoy it occasionally as a drink when the mood strikes, which happens maybe once a month. And in the spirit of my C.S. Lewis quote, it’s only when I’m enjoying relaxed merriment with a very small group of very close friends or in the comfort of a cozy evening with Edgar. If anything, having to sip a drink slowly helps me slooooow dooooown and enjoy the moment instead of being a spastic hostess. Hah!

 

Did you grow up in a house where alcohol was tolerated? Encouraged? Discouraged?

I’m a whatever-works-aterian

 

It really is a good thing when you take the time to prepare your meals and snacks for the next day. I’ve been spending most my lunch breaks in rehearsal with international choir (the premier choir on campus, with which Wayland Singers is collaborating for the trip to Europe in a few weeks), and since I have Wayland Singers three mornings per week, I have to make sure I make up enough time at work to cover those three hours. This means I eat my lunch at my desk, spend 30 minutes with Int’l choir, and come straight back to the office. I don’t get to go home for anything, so I’ve spent quite a few mornings over the past week and a half emailing Edgar lists of things I needed him to bring me because I didn’t take the time to prepare it myself the night before. This hasty preparation hasn’t really worked out to the best that it should. The past few days I’ve found myself insatiably hungry and whatever I brought (or had Edgar bring) hasn’t really satisfied my hunger. This means expensive trips to the campus bookstore to grab a bag of almonds, a fruit cup in light syrup, a sugary Clif bar, or a bag of trail mix. Clearly, I can do better.

Last night I made a point to pack my breakfast (overnight oats in a peanut butter jar. unpictured), lunch, and all snacks that I might possibly need:

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  • Sandwich with avocado, hummus, pepperjack, and spinach on Oroweat “Healthfull” 10 Grain bread
  • Red Grapes
  • Heirloom navel orange (it was AWESOME!)
  • Organic edamame (for the protein. More on that in a sec)
  • Carrot slices (I don’t like biting into big thick baby-cut carrots!)
  • ½ cup of nonfat plain yogurt mixed with 2 oz of blackberries and a squirt (4g) of agave

About protein, etc.

I’ll say first that I respect people who adopt vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, as long as they’re doing it for the right reasons, going about it in a healthful way, eating whole foods, etc. I do believe that it is possible to get sufficient protein from plant sources if you are conscious of the nutritional content of your food sources.

However, I do know that it is very difficult to get other nutrients that are commonly paired with protein in an exclusively plant-based diet. Zinc, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, vitamin b-12, and to some extent iron and calcium, are all more heavily concentrated in meat/dairy products, and unless you’re being very, very vigilant, it’s easy to overlook these necessary nutrients.

But above everything else, I feel that everyone needs to do what it appropriate for their own lifestyle and body’s needs. For me, I require more protein (and possibly other nutrients that are paired with protein, as listed above) than many other women. I’m taller than average at just about 5’7”, moderately active, have a large body frame and 115 lbs of lean body weight (total weight minus weight in body fat). And I’ve found that while I can successfully limit my consumption of meat for economic, environmental, and ethical reasons without trouble, eliminating animal proteins completely from my diet leaves me feeling lethargic, hungry, and possibly with some blood sugar issues. I’ve found that to feel satisfied, my body requires roughly 90-100 grams of protein per day. This is quite a bit more than the standard minimum of about 45g/day.

Now about soy. Many vegetarians turns to soy as their primary protein source, and I don’t see a problem with that if that’s appropriate for your body. Soy is high in protein, polyunsaturated fats (which can lower your LDL cholesterol!), fiber, and many micronutrients. However, many studies suggest (here, here, and here) that the phytoestrogens in soy could encourage growth in breast cancer cells in those at risk for estrogen-induced breast cancer. Since my mom was diagnosed with estrogen-induced breast cancer a year ago, I’m automatically at risk. While the jury is still out on the subject, and studies are still conflicting, I don’t want to take a chance. This is why I try to limit my soy consumption to the very occasional organic, non-GMO, whole-food soy product (soy milk, tempeh, tofu, edamame, soy sauce, etc.  Nothing trying to parade around as something it’s not, like “chick’n patties”). In general Americans eat waaaaaaay too much soy, specifically in processed food (soy lecithin is in EVERYTHING, and now soy protein isolate is popping up a lot, too), and at that level of processing, I can’t imagine that any of the benefits of soy still remain in the product.

So when you factor in my need for protein, my hesitance toward soy, and my lifestyle (land-locked by cotton fields, cattle ranches, and Mexican food restaurants in the middle of the Texas panhandle plains), I do eat meat and don’t plan to ever try to eliminate it from my diet. However, I do try to be responsible about it. I get the majority of my beef, pork, and lamb from Paidom Meats, a local rancher who raises only 100% grass fed meat (with the exception of his “transitional” pork). The bison meat I can pick up from the local grocery chain comes from Comanche Buffalo in Lawton, OK (sort of local). I can typically get free range chicken at our Walmart, but when I can find Rosie’s Organic Free Range chicken at Sun Harvest for not too much money, I pick it up then. Occasionally I’ll get some grass-fed meat from Central Market, Whole Foods, or Sun Harvest when I can find it inexpensively. When I choose seafood, I try to go for what’s been declared a sustainable variety. And yes, doing this may cost marginally more money, but it’s offset by the fact that I don’t usually buy it until I see it on sale. Plus I don’t depend on it. I’ve had a stash of meat in my freezer for a while now, and it’s not exactly dwindling very fast! I typically eat meat once a day, and that’s usually at dinner, but it’s not uncommon for me to be too lazy to thaw out the meat that I just decide to go meatless. It’s not a big deal. I try to include a combination of beans/legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy into my diet to make up some of my protein requirements. Plus, a side benefit to this is that the greater variety in that sort of diet makes it possible to meet more of my daily nutrient recommendations!

Of course, I’ll also mention that I definitely do eat the occasional bacon, full-sugar Dr Pepper, or the skin off a roast chicken (I take that back. I ALWAYS eat the skin off a roast chicken!), and I have no problem with that. I don’t really have hard-and-fast rules with my diet. I don’t think eating any less-than-nutritious food is going to derail my health overnight, nor is it something to be ashamed of. What matters is consistency, and I am not constantly eating those things. While I prefer to put nutrient-dense, biologically beneficial, economically responsible food in my body, I don’t think there’s such thing as a “perfect” diet, even if I was able to successfully eliminate anything and everything that scientific studies deemed “bad” for me. I’m not into labeling my eating habits or my food. I just like to test the waters, explore my possibilities, see what works best for me in my eating habits and lifestyle, and learn some new things on the way!

30 Day Challenge
Day 2: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years. Hmm.

It’s hard to say where I see myself in ten years. Right now Edgar and I live in a state of limbo, waiting for him to graduate before moving on to the next step. For us, the next step is hopefully the military and moving around from state-to-state, country-to-country every three years. Not much is constant, and experience has proved that I will definitely not know where I’ll be just one year from now, much less ten!

But I know that in ten years, I would like to be homeschooling my kids. And possibly have a masters degree in photography.

But really, I’m okay not having everything planned out. Sure, I have short-term goals, but beyond knowing that I want to be a mom and a homeschool educator, I’m pretty fluid when it comes to anything beyond the next few years. I think it’s best that way, anyway. Makes it easier to accept God’s will when I’m not busy grasping desperately onto my own plans. 😉

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Do you have any “rules” to your diet? Any food you specifically avoid?

Sense of Humor

Things are finally starting to wind down here a bit. I just finished paying off my trip to Europe yesterday, and my cupcake fundraising is soon coming to a close. I’ll be glad to not have “failed” cupcake lying around my kitchen anymore. I’ll admit I’ve spoiled my dinner with such confections at least three nights in the last week. It was admittedly strange to have a real dinner tonight. I have a problem, I know. I feel like I’ve been in a perpetual sugar coma.

This dinner that I had was a cheap fix I prepared a few days ago. I like to get a ham hock from my local rancher/meat supplier and toss it in a pot of beans for a really cheap protein source that lasts for about a week, but I decided to mix it up with a 15 Bean Soup mix. Really, it’s just a mix of 15 different kinds of dried legumes. It has a recipe for an actual “soup” on the back, and I used it for reference. Oh, and I left out the “ham flavor” seasoning packet. Yuck.

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Unfortunately none of the pictures of the finished product turned out. Ah well. It was tasty, though.

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On another note, apparently there’s this 30 day blog topic challenge going around that I’m only aware of because I found it on Mary’s blog. And because I turned 13 back in 2001 and haven’t grown up since, I’m into these survey-type things and shall jump the bandwagon.

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Day 1: Your Current Relationship

So… my relationship?

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It was early 2006 and I was visiting Wayland Baptist University for the second time before becoming a student there in the fall. I was 17 and was focusing only on my new-found friends as we frolicked about the “concrete prairie” (a massive concrete surface in the middle of campus). At some point whilst I spun in circles and improvised ballet turns under the stars, he appeared out of virtually nowhere. (I am not the only one that uses this phrase when describing his arrival on the scene. Others attest, it really was as if he appeared from nowhere!)

I didn’t pay much attention to him. I was concentrating on how many constellations I could find and how to answer the question that Greg had just asked of me: “Would you rather go to Europe or Japan?”

Then I heard a friend say his name.

“Edgar…”

I thought it was a funny name. I didn’t know any Edgars!

He was 19 and a sophomore at Wayland studying instrumental music performance and business administration.

For the rest of the evening he tagged along in our little group. We shared a small bit of conversation, mostly about choir. I didn’t pay him very much mind since, truthfully, I was interested in someone else. But I did notice in his questioning that he was interested in getting to know me, and in his focus on me when I spoke I could see he cared about what I said.

After that weekend, I went home to Fort Worth, graduated high school, and planned my move to Plainview in the fall. I didn’t give Edgar any more thought than I would give a casual acquaintance, or so it seemed at the time. One evening in late July I was in a contemplative mood, thinking about the roles people play as they come in and out of your life. I was thinking about how my closest friend at that time had been going to the same church as me since I was four, but we didn’t meet or become friends until ten years later. I got to thinking about anyone we come across in life could be someone incredibly special to us later in life. I got to thinking about how I might have already met who might be my maid of honor* at my wedding, or even my husband, and not even realize it. I had these thoughts as I flipped through old pictures I had taken at the WBU Big Weekend that previous March.  I saw the photos of myself, my new friends, and Edgar frolicking on the concrete prairie, and the idea drifted into my mind…

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“No! It’s not him!”

Then I was immediately struck with the feeling of guilt toward my less-than-humble presumption. I turned to God and said, “just because I said that, if it’s him, You have a sense of humor!”

And He did.

Once I arrived on campus in August, Edgar laid it on thick. I could tell that he was interested in me. I was still not interested in him, though.  I was still recovering from the reality of what was not going to become of my prior interest, and plus… Edgar was a jerk.

Yes, I said it. He was rude, arrogant, and selfish.

But despite my best efforts, despite turning him down on three different occasions, I grew steadily more attracted to him. It also helped that he was also growing steadily more kind, humble, and genuinely interested in the good of others. Even our friends were noticing a change in his attitude. He was more open and friendly toward everyone. The darkness (which I’m convinced is actually visible in his pre-2007 photos) was falling from his face.

I struggled hard. I prayed. I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t interested in him. I tried staying away from him, and I tried praying for specific signs. I had spent the last three years absorbed in the intention that I wouldn’t date someone I didn’t plan to marry**, and I had absolutely no clue whether he was the one or not. I shared my struggles with a friend and she came back with one verse for me: “Perfect love drives out fear…”

Later that weekend, while Edgar was out of town, I prayed. I let go of the thoughts, the fears, the baggage that was holding me back. And I realized that God wanted me to live by faith instead of looking for a clear, direct sign.

On the Monday night before Thanksgiving, I took a leap of faith and called Edgar from my dorm room closet. I told him I’d changed my mind.

We shared our first date on December 2nd. It was dinner at my favorite local restaurant (Tokyo’s), a movie (Casino Royale), and Christmas-light-looking. During dinner he explained that he had called my dad that morning to ask his permission to date me. And just after midnight, Edgar asked me to be his girlfriend. I said no.

Kidding!

I almost did, though, to be hilariously cruel! But no, I actually said yes. And we hugged. And we dated for another 25 months before he asked me in a poem, over
a chicken crockpot dinner that I had prepared myself, to be his wife. We were married on November 21, 2009, in a church that neither of us attended but had both, on separate occasions before we started dating, decided that’s where we wanted to have our wedding.

 

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( December 3, 2006. The day we officially become a couple. At lunch the next day for Ana’s birthday)

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*I hadn’t officially met her yet, but I had been visiting her Xanga site through the Wayland blogring, and she was a friend of a friend, so I knew who she was.

** ‘Tis true. It was my intention that I wouldn’t date someone I wasn’t going to marry. And I really thought I was probably going to dump all that down the drain by dating Edgar, but God does have his sense of humor! I did end up marrying the only person I ever dated!

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