Lentils & Rice

Upon a rainy and thundery Wednesday morning, I thought the coziest thing I could plate up for dinner would be lentils and rice.

I don’t remember the last time I indulged in this humble, comforting dish, so I thought it was the perfect time to make some. To my surprise, Husband had never had lentils. Lentils are an odd thing – the best description I could come up with was a cross between a split pea and a bean.

A bag of lentils could easily serve 6-8 people, and a one lb bag usually costs less than $2. Lentils are good for diabetics because they lower blood sugar levels and have been found to lower the risk of death from heart disease by 82%. They also have a lot of iron and 2 B vitamins, both of which help fight fatigue, plus a quarter of the calories in lentils come from protein.

There are many ways you can cook lentils; stove top, crock pot – but I had so longed to use my dutch oven for the past several months. Making lentils and rice couldn’t be easier. In the dutch oven, I sauteed up a half an onion, roughly chopped, and then dumped a package of lentils in {after rinsing} with 10 cups of water {I used extra water on purpose so the lentils could cook all day}, 1/2 TSP of cayenne, 2 TSP of salt, a TSP of black pepper and 2 TSP of Italian Seasoning {or equal parts Oregano, Basil and Parsley}. Bring the pot to a boil, cover and then turn the pot on low. I let it simmer like that for about 6 hours {they only actually need to cook for about an hour, but I love the depth of flavor that slow cooking adds}. If you do this, you need to make sure you are occasionally stirring throughout the cooking process, otherwise the lentils will settle at the bottom of the dutch oven and burn.

An hour before the lentils have finished cooking, you can start the rice. I did a mixture of 1 part brown Jasmine rice and 1 part wild black rice. Follow the cooking instructions – it should take about 50 minutes.

When everything is finished, plate up a serving of rice, and spoon the lentils over the top. We served ours with a side of roasted butternut squash.

Enjoy!

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Worthy Wednesdays Part 1: Won’t You Take This Journey With Me?

I am so excited about today’s post.

For the next 20 weeks {or longer, depending} every Wednesday, I am going to dedicate my posts to finding self worth.

Why, you ask?

Because I don’t have any. And in doing this I hope to learn my value and maybe in the process, that someone might find theirs, too. I will be chronicling every step of my journey, not from a self-help book, but trial and error – seeing what works for me, in a non pity-party way.

So, today is the first Worthy Wednesday post and that being said, I am going to take a journey back to the beginning and I encourage you to as well, if you also deal with low self esteem. Won’t you take this journey with me?

As far back as I can remember, I have always thought about myself in a negative way – I never had anything funny or important to say, and I have never been “cool”. Just an awkward person wanting to be loved and cherished. There wasn’t anything to compliment about me, and I was just kind of there. As a little girl, I wasn’t carefree. I worried about everything. I still had a great childhood, with fond memories and a wonderful family.

This heavy anxiety that weighed on me traveled with me to my teens, where it began to really take it’s toll. It started out in middle school with small things, like tweezing my eyebrows, which then evolved into an obsession that went from something innocent to something destructive like pulling out my hair, strand by strand. When I was 12, I had 2 bald spots. I have a lot of hair, and was pulling out the hair underneath, so not a lot of people noticed.

This path of despair quickly turned into Body Dysmorphic Disorder when I was in High School. I began picking at my face, seeing little blemishes that no one else could see. I never had acne, but I saw imperfections that I thought were not suitable, and I could not accept them. I desperately wanted to be perfect.

When I was a sophomore in High School, these small things exploded into full blown anorexia. Being only 14, I was still growing, but this stunted things quickly. At around 5 foot 2, I weighed near 80 pounds, and my period disappeared for a long time, even after gaining back weight. My doctor put me on antidepressants, which I continued to take for 5  moreyears.

I struggled with anorexia for 2 years, and to this day don’t feel as if I’m completely healed. I’ve tried to go back to not eating more times than I care to remember, even as recent as a few weeks ago. It’s almost like a comfort. I don’t have to worry or focus on anything other than what I’m putting into my mouth. The world seems like it’s fuzzy, and I only have to think about one moment at a time.

Even though I still deal with that on a daily basis, every meal literally being a battle in my mind, it’s no longer a threat to my life. Now, my low self worth isn’t such a physical thing, but dark, demonic thoughts. I look at myself as if I am a monster – I constantly tell my husband that I’m a terrible, disgusting person for no apparent reason. I look at myself and think I’m just pathetic, having nothing to offer to anyone.

I have decided I hate living like that. I am a person, with thoughts and feelings and valid emotions. I deserve love and I DO have something to offer, even if I don’t know what that is, I will find it through this quest. I’m determined.

I don’t know the reason behind my lack of self worth, and I don’t really care to find out – just to fix the problem. I do often make excuses that it stems from Middle-Child Syndrome. I still sort of believe that, but I’m taking things into my own hands and making the choice to change that.

So thank you for letting me be as raw as I have been, and for not judging me. This is a place for me to figure out myself, and a place free of judgement, mean thoughts and bullies. I hope not only myself, but maybe someone else out there will benefit from this and know that they are loved beyond comprehension by someone.

“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.” – Malcolm X

Tofoodles

I found something interesting at the store the other day. They are called Tofu Noodles {or as Husband calls them, “Tofoodles”. He’s clever like that}. Have I been under a rock, because I have never heard of them.

Not only do they add protein to any dish, but an entire package {which has 2 servings, approximately a cup each} contains only 40 calories – quite the contrary of it’s starchy cousin. Even a cup of whole what pasta has almost 200 calories! Yikes.

I have come into the season of wanting to cook Brussel sprouts and mushrooms all. the. time. So, I grabbed some cherry tomatoes {3/4 C}, brussel sprouts {1 C}, mushrooms {3/4 C}, and of course, onions {1/4 C} and got to work.

I started roasting the tomatoes in a pan, covered on medium high heat, with a little olive oil and a TBSP or 2 of water, stirring every few minutes. When they started getting soft and the skin brown, I halved the spouts, and began to steam them in about a qaurter cup of water, over medium high {7-8 notch} heat and covered. I quartered the mushrooms, added them into the pot and drizzled in about a half a TBSP of olive oil {mushrooms soak up everything, so just a little oil should be used}. I roughly chopped the onions and added them, too, still covering the pan.

Bring the heat to medium low {3-4 notch}. When the water has completely evaporated, everything should be nice and tender. Keep covered for another few minutes, and let everything begin to brown just a little, to add some crunch. When the brussel sprouts have turned a little brown, add in a quarter cup of tomato sauce, 1/2 TBSP of Italian Seasoning, 1/2 TSP of salt, 1/2 TSP of garlic powder, pepper to taste, and a TSP of Basil Pesto. Stir everything together, and cover.

Drain your Tofu Noodles {they come packed in water}, and rinse. Add them into the pan, stir and cover. Keep occasionally stirring, and after about 5 minutes, you can remove from the heat and plate it up!

It’s like a succulent little Italian dish, but without all the fat and carbs. The entire dish { it’s HUGE – I couldn’t eat it all} has around 300 calories, 12 grams of protein and zero cholesterol.

Enjoy!

Hello, again, lovely home!

Many of you {or quite possibly none of you} may have been wondering why I didn’t post at all last week.

We moved. Shocker.

The funny part? We moved back into our old apartments, just two buildings over, in a larger floor plan – in the same building as our best friends! So, we didn’t get a house. But that’s okay, and I’m not at all sad about it! I actually feel a little relieved. We can continue to save money, and buy our dream home in a few years, rather than a home we are rushed into. AND we bought a king size bed – we both feel like kids in a candy store.

The boys come back home in just a little less than two weeks {and now they have their own rooms!}! Let me tell you, two months without those crazies is far too long. But I feel good – I feel like we have gotten over the hardest part and realize that even though physically we’re not with them, they will never be gone to us. And we talk/Skype to them a few times a week, which makes things much easier. But still, I can’t wait  to squeeze the goo out of those little boys. And, oh, the fun we will have when they arrive!

As I type this, I look around me at the ginormous mess of moving that is my home, and yet I feel so peaceful; so blessed. Blessed that God provides everything we need when we need it; blessed that we can purchase new things, and treat ourselves a little. It may sound silly to some, but a year ago, we wouldn’t have been able to imagine buying a new mattress for ourselves. Our priorities were different and our circumstances were different. I truly feel as if the Lord is giving us a break that we {particularly Husband} haven’t gotten in far too long. I feel like our marriage is already being renewed {we’ve been through more in a year than we feel like a lot of marriages have in ten years}, and we are finally able to relax. We’ve been wound so tight for the past – well, since we started dating.

So, tomorrow I will be back to my regular posts, but for now I am off to tackle this day and get our home in tip top shape – with help from my mother. Thank goodness.

Enjoy!

The Raw Regime

Recently, I had been fascinated by the craze that is Raw Foods. The dishes the “raw foodies” create are just pure art and I wanted in on a little of the action, so I decided to try and make my own raw foods dish.

Turns out, it was pretty good! Although, I do have to admit that it wasn’t 100% raw foods because it contained mustard and garbanzo beans, which both have to go through a process that requires heat of over 116 degrees {the official temperature that these foodists consider to be “cooked”}.

The diet is supposed to closely resemble what us humans would have eaten during the primitive era. Also known as the “Caveman Diet”, raw foods does have a lot of health benefits, and possibly the largest one is that no nutrient is lost during the preparation of your raw foods meal. Heating food has been proven to destroy these nutrients that are so vital to our health. Also, there is no calorie/carb/fat counting. You can eat as much as you want, when you want because of the freshness and lack of processing. A couple more perks is that it is better for the earth, and can clear up skin.

I did a bit of research on the subject, and turns out this diet is extremely strict {which we all could have guessed}, and more so than I ever thought. Raw Food dieters cannot eat honey, sugar, soy sauce, nuts {unless they have not been treated, which can be dangerous because many nuts contain a poisonous oil that dissipates when roasted}, soy milk, anything canned and much, much more. If you want beans, you have to sprout them yourself.

In my dish, I added raw fish {sushi grade}, which is a debate amongst raw foodists, because although technically raw, most say any animal products are a no no. However, there is a diet that they say is similar to the raw foods, where you can add raw meats {dairy is still not allowed} called the Paleolithic or Paleo diet.

After learning so much about this lifestyle {which is truly what it is} I commend these people who have this amazing self-discipline. If you can do it, more power to ya! I’m not saying I couldn’t – maybe someday I’ll try it – but for now, I’ll leave it to the experts.

So I suppose, if enough research is done, I didn’t actually create a raw foods dish, but it was my attempt and a pretty darn good one.

I started with a bed of zucchini and carrot strips.

I then added spicy sprouts and sugar snap peas.

Then comes the sushi grade salmon, skinned and deboned.

I tossed over the dish some chickpeas.

I made a dressing out of a little extra virgin olive oil, spicy brown mustard and soy sauce.

Enjoy!

A Little Taste

Two weekends ago, hubby and I went to the Taste of Colorado – an event held every Labor Day weekend in downtown Denver pertaining to all things Colorado. Rows and rows of tents featuring local and chain restaurants, booths filled with artists and their art pieces, holistic products, live music {G Love & Special Sauce was here this year!} and much, much more. The event is free every year, unless you want to purchase any of the items. We purchased some pretty sweet art pieces – 4 to be exact.

I am truly blessed to live in Denver. Truly, truly. When we were considering moving to Arizona, I tried to look at all the positives that it could have for us, and accepted it as a new adventure for husband and I – being on our own in a new state {Jason is a 5th generation native, so it’s kind of unheard of for his family to move away} seemed kind of exciting.

When we made the decision to stay, albeit sad to not be near the boys, I was a little relieved – more than I thought I would be. Although I’m not a huge snow fan {I love the first couple weeks of seeing the beautiful, sparkly fresh powder, and then I’m ready for heat}, I am glad that we get all four seasons – something Arizona definitely does not get the chance to enjoy. And pine trees, and leafy trees and grass. And no scorpions. And those bog ol’, beautiful Rocky Mountains. Yes, that is a good deal.

So, here’s a few pictures from The Taste, and come visit Colorado if you never have – it will enchant you.

The art museum from down below, taken by hubs. @violentkingdom_ on InstaGram

Another view of the DAM

The Colorado peeps

Cows are my friends.

Enjoy!

Garlic Hummus

Hummus is something that I think anyone can make, with endless possibilities in regards to flavors and ad-ins. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is usually a favorite when it comes to store bought for me, and I also love the garlic varieties.

I decided to try and roast a red bell pepper – that is, until I remembered that our oven was broken. I’m sure there is a way to microwave a red bell pepper to roast it {let’s face it – there’s a microwave option for just about anything} but I wanted this to be authentic. Hummus is such an intrinsic food, consisting of just a few components. So while it may be an easy thing to make, you must choose your ingredients wisely.

Chickpeas are so neutral, making them exceptionally versatile. So when you consider making hummus, let your one extra ingredient shine.

Since I couldn’t use a roasted red pepper, I decided on some fresh garlic.

Honestly, there really isn’t a recipe I could write out for you, because it’s all about experimenting with the texture. I couldn’t tell you how much olive oil I used because it was a trial and error process for me.

What is very important is that you use a good food processor. Otherwise it will have much too choppy a texture and not feel like a hummus at all, but rather mushed chickpeas {I know that’s what hummus is, silly, but remember: texture is the vital thing here}.

I used one 8 oz. can of drained chickpeas, a few TBSP of water, olive oil {to which the amounts I am unsure – probably between 1/4 and 1/2 cup}, 1 – 2 TSP of salt, and 2 or 3 cloves of freshly chopped garlic. Finely puree all components in your food processor, and voila! You have your own hummus concoction – just as tasty as store bought at a much tastier price.

Enjoy!

Jacob

Today, Jacob turns 7.

I love his heart. I love how he cares about others more than himself. I love his longing to be a hero. I love how he looks up to his daddy. I love how he wants to teach his brother everything. I love that his main concern is making Jesus happy and that worship music brings him to tears.

I love him.

Here are some pictures through the years.

*

Happy birthday, big boy. We love you more than you will know.

(**This picture and all our other Christmas 2011 pictures were taken by my amazing sister/photographer Mary Jo Aguilera. Click here to visit her photography Facebook page.)

Finally, some art!

Okay, so I am not going to make this a lengthy, intellectual post on the subject of art – no, I will let the the art do the talking, because frankly, it speaks better than I ever could.

These are some of my pieces I contributed to the art show.

Spanish Dances “Bachata”, “Salsa”, and “Argentine Tango” {all sold}.

“Dripping Ribbons”

“Argentine Tango” {sold}.

“Bachata” {sold}.

“Salsa” {sold}.

“Produce”

“Eggplant”

“Carrot”

“Lime”

“Abstractions 1”

“Abstractions 2”

Purple Glass Table {sold}

Purple glass table {sold} & “Dripping Ribbons”

Enjoy!

PS, my talented friend took these photos for my portfolio. Go here to see more!