YOU CAN DO IT: Thai-Inspired Carrot Quinoa Soup

Did you see this headline a few days ago: Harvard University has determined A Daily Bowl of Quinoa Could Save Your Life. See! Just ONE bowl… so, imagine what a quinoa habit does for your health :)

Today I want to share a recipe for a soup I made a couple of nights ago: a thai-inspired carrot quinoa soup. Traditional carrot soups are usually creamy – and we’re not a creamy soup kinda family. We like bulk. We like texture. We want to eat a bowl of soup and feel like we’ve eaten… not be left with feelings of ‘what else is comin’.” THIS soup did just that – satisfy.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

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8-10 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, diced and smashed
1 large stalk of lemongrass, quartered and pounded (or three pre-cut stalks)*
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely diced
1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3/4 dry quinoa (OR, 3 cups precooked quinoa)
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP fresh squeeze lime juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
the zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

(*Find lemongrass in the herb section of your grocery store. It’s very tough; use the back of a heavy knife and hit the stalk several times to release the oils that will flavor your soup.)

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot, add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, add in your diced onions, garlic, lemongrass, and parsley, and sauté on medium high for a couple of minutes.

When onions are translucent and your mixture is fragrant, add in your carrots and ginger. Stir everything together and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, water, DRY quinoa, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; then, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.

When quinoa is cooked and carrots are soft, remove lemongrass stalks; add in the lime zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
This is what you get:
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It was DELICIOUS.

Now, notice I did something I’ve never told you to do before: use DRY quinoa. When you’re making a brothy soup like this one that has adequate liquid, you CAN add dry quinoa right into the pot. The key is remembering that quinoa sucks up water and expands to almost 4x its original size. So, just keep that in mind when you choose to go the DRY route… otherwise, you’ll end up with an overly thick bowl of porridge-style soup versus a brothy one. (If this turns out too thick for your liking, just add an additional 1/2 cup of water or broth towards the end. Not a big deal.)

Before I go, if you haven’t picked up my quinoa e-book, The Quinoa Habit, don’t forget it’s available here.

And hey, if you’re in the Portland area, join me on Monday, March 30th at the Bridgeport Whole Foods for The Quinoa Habit class! You can sign up HERE… I’d love to meet you and encourage you into a healthier food lifestyle with quinoa as a foundation. Here’s the flyer:

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Thanks for being here with me!

Waking Up Again

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Photo by NicholasBellPhoto on etsy.com.

My man and I went to a Tyrone Wells concert this weekend and one of his opening acts was this darling beauty, Emily Hearn. I’d never heard of her before – but, when she began singing, the rain we had run through, the tough week I’d had, the heaviness of my heart in that moment… all of it melted into her song, “Waking Up Again“:

It’s been so cold for so long now…
I don’t remember what the sun feels like.
We’re gettin’ old inside this house…
I don’t remember what the breeze feels like.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get our feet back on the ground.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get the spring back in our step again.

My heart. Right there in that dark theater, this sweet 24-year-old girl was singing my song. It didn’t matter that our souls are almost 20 years apart… what she was feeling that led to the song, and what I was feeling in my mommy skin. Sameness. Humanness. Connection.

(I ran out and bought both of her albums – and now I suggest you do, too.)

The reason her song hit me so hard is because I’ve been feeling this for a while… this no-spring-in-my-step, chilly, getting old kinda feeling. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s my scattered nature. Maybe it’s the white hair I found the other day, or the fact my exercise pants are fitting wayyyyy tighter than they did a few months ago. But, whatever it is, it’s had me kinda uninspired on the inside. Not sad or depressed – just ‘keep your head down and keep pushing forward’ kinda uninspired. I’ve had writers block, we’ve been eating a ton of burritos, and – well, if I’m really honest, I’ve been walking around and around and around in a fog.

Fog walking is a seasonal thing for me. I go through periods where I’m walking a defined path towards a goal – getting things done, creating new things, dreaming big dreams… but then there are periods like this one I’ve been in: wake up, make food, wash laundry, clean house, get kids, make food, rinse, repeat. It’s two steps forward, three steps back – day in, day out.

But then something shakes me like Emily’s song did… and, all of a sudden, I’m reminded of what the real problem is: ME.

I. Am. The. Problem. I beckon the fog with my whoa-is-me attitude and my ‘if-only’ internal dialog.

It’s hard to admit, especially when it’s so easy to place the blame for my heavy spirit on the ‘if-only': if only I didn’t have so much to do, so many people pulling at me, so many obligations. If only my kids would listen better… if only I had more help… if only I wasn’t overlooked… if only we had more space… if only… if only… if only.

‘If only’ seems so safe and secure when it first steps in – but soon, the ‘if only’ thoughts have me bound up, beaten up, and broken into bits.

Thinking through all of this I remembered something Jesus said in one of his sermons: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Oh man, how convicting! When I dwell where I should – in Truth, beauty, loveliness, goodness, thankfulness – I feel lit up; I’m happy, ready to serve, not easily offended, and other-focued. But, when I choose to dwell where I shouldn’t – in self-centeredness and selfish thoughts about what I need, I want, I deserve – the darkness and the fog closes in… just like Jesus said would be the case.

I’m sharing this with you today because maybe you need to see you’re not the only one that feels like you’re in a fog… and maybe you need to hear the Truth I’ve heard: where I am is a result of my choices. If and when we choose Light – we will be filled with Light and be light; if and when we choose fog – the fog will gladly close in around us and strangle our joy in the darkness.

So, let’s choose to see Light and be freed from the darkness of the fog, okay? Let’s wake up again – right now, right here, right where we stand. Let’s wake up to His goodness… and let’s get the spring back in our steps and bask in the warmth of the His Light.

YOU CAN DO IT: Quinoa Banana Pancakes

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Nothing to get me back to the blog like an AM Northwest morning!

Today I spent some time with Dave and we made one of my favorite quinoa recipes: quinoa banana pancakes.  (Man, I love him. He is so bright and happy – and always a joy to stand beside and cook with.) Last summer I told you about these and how to make them with fresh peaches… but, since we’ve yet to hit the summertime bounty, banana is what seems to be making an appearance most often in my kitchen these days.

These little patties  have no added sugar, can be made gluten free (just use gluten free flour), and taste great fresh out of the pan with a little maple syrup, or cold as a little mid-day snack.

I have a whole batch sitting in my fridge right now and, when the hunger strikes, I nibble on a couple with a big bottle of water and keep running through my day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups precooked quinoa
2 eggs
1 heaping cup of smashed bananas (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

TO MAKE: Whisk your eggs together and pour the eggs into a bowl with the precooked quinoa. Add your smashed banana, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder. Stir together until evenly incorporated… and then fry in a butter coated pan on medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. Patties should be golden brown when done!

ENJOY!

BY THE WAY – WANT TO COOK WITH ME?

If you’re in the Portland area, I’ll be hosting a “Quinoa: Breakfast to Dinner” class at Whole Foods Bridgeport on March 30. Connect with me on FB, Twitter, or on Instagram for more details to follow this week. SPACE WILL BE LIMITED!

Thanks for being here with me…

Get To Work on the Trees (REPOST)

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I wrote this back in 2013… but I’m reposting it today (with a few edits) because I figured if I needed the reminder, maybe you do, too :)

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You ever feel like you deserve better?

You ever find yourself wishing you could be healthier, or fitter, or more patient, or more friendly?

You ever look at your life and wish you read more, or loved better, or took more walks?

I do. Not a day goes by where one of these thoughts don’t pop through my mind. The funny thing, however, is that they pop in… but then I push them right back out. How? By remembering God gives me the power to TAKE A STEP.

That’s it. Just one step.

That’s the thing He’s taught me over the last several years. “Wanting” is one thing… but, unless I am willing to put one foot in front of each other and do the work to really possess the life He’s graciously given, ‘wanting’ is all I’ll ever do.

Just look at this Old Testament story where the 12 tribes of Israel were being assigned their lots of the promise land. Joshua parceled out a particular area to the decedents of Joseph (the former ruler of Egypt), but they didn’t like their lot. Nope, as they looked around at what other people were getting, they complained to Joshua and basically said, “This? But, it isn’t fair! We are better than this! You gave us a bunch of land that requires too much effort to make it something: we have to cut down trees and fight enemies. But, we want the low country where it is beautiful and easy. We deserve it; we are great people and, therefore, we want the land that they have – but, not this.”

(Can you relate? It’s easy to think everyone else has it ‘better’ than us, isn’t it?)

You know what Joshua said?

He said, “Well, okay. You are right – you are great, and you do deserve better. But this is what God has set apart for you. So, if you’re really as great as you think, go up and make use of what you’ve been given: cut the trees, defeat the enemies, and make something of this land you call ‘nothing’. (See Joshua 17:14-17 for the full context.)

What does that have to do with me today? It tells me simply: what I have is what I get. I get one body. I get one mind. I get THIS life – with this husband, and these babies, and all that comes with. I can either complain and ‘want’ for more, or I can get to work on the trees that are blinding me from seeing the beauty of what I have – and that are holding me back from making the most of my lot in life.

I’m constantly reminding my children of this – my precious babies who are daily battling a culture that says what they have isn’t enough; that says they need ‘more’, and ‘better’, and ‘different’ to be happy. Because here’s the thing: whether we like it or not, life is not fair. There will always be someone who travels more than us, who has better hair than us, who is taller, who is more petite, who has more friends, who can knit better, who can cook better, who is happier, who is healthier, who wins more, who laughs cuter, who has a ‘sweeter’ husband, who has nicer legs. Always.

Always. Always. Always.

So, instead of getting caught up in this cultural focus of what we don’t have and what we could use ‘more’ of, I try and always bring them back to what we do have; my message is always consistent and simple: Celebrate YOU and the blessing of YOUR life; your stature, your hair, your gifts, your talents, your laugh.  You have been assigned a lot in life – a lot that is beautiful, and abundant, and needs YOU to bring out the best in it. No one else can fill your shoes! Instead of looking at what other people have, figure out what lies in your possession! Do just one thing today that makes your lot more beautiful: cut down a tree, dig out a rock, plant something new. Do the work to make the most of what you’ve been given. 

It’s what I tell them… but, it’s also what I also have to tell myself – all the time. It’s a Truth I constantly feed into my spirit to combat my feelings of inadequacy: that God has promised my lines have fallen in pleasant places… and, life only grows more beautiful when I’m actively working the land He’s entrusted to me.

So, today, be encouraged… and do just one thing, just one!

Maybe you eat quinoa instead of pasta.

Maybe you choose a book before bed instead of watching TV.

Maybe you go for a walk instead of taking a nap.

Maybe you choose kind words over harsh words.

Maybe you tell your man he’s lights up your life, instead of waiting for him to say it to you.

Whatever it is, keep walking, sister. Just keep walking… and then, tomorrow, get up and walk some more. One choice at a time.

Because what we have is beautiful… it’s just that sometimes what we’re searching for is waiting beyond the trees.

Home… I am HOME

Well, for those of you who aren’t with me on social media, you may not know: we are now in Guam! Yep, thanks to Food Fighters, we are home. (If you didn’t catch the full episode, you can watch the final round HERE.)

We arrived late last night after four days in Tokyo… and Tokyo was amazing. (I’ll have to post that later… there’s too much to cover here.)  We visited a Japanese onsen (which I think will go down as the coolest thing we’ve ever done together as a family to date), ate more ramen than you can imagine, and walked more miles in four days than we’ve done in the last year. The Japanese culture is wonderful… and we had a total blast.

As for Guam, we arrived late last night and  started today at 7am with toes in the sand – and a rainbow!

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Tumon Bay outside the Outrigger Hotel

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Me and my man, Tumon Bay

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From the beach we put plumerias (my favorite flower on earth) in our hair and spent a full day with my dad and family…

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Here we are with my dad and my sweet Auntie Bobby.

then ended our evening with a gorgeous island sunset….

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Overlooking Tumon Bay from the top of the Outrigger Hotel, Guam

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View from atop the Outrigger Hotel, Guam

while our kids enjoyed the GoPro and the warm pacific ocean…

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Now that I’m sitting in my bed processing the day, I’m in awe. First of all, I can’t believe we’re home. Seriously? Did I seriously compete on an NBC game show and win the money to allow for this amazing family vacation? And, how can it be that I was raised here? Here? Really? On this little rock of paradise in the middle of the pacific ocean? How can it be that I knew these beaches before the mega hotels and beach bars and millions of tourists? How can it be that these waters raised me? How can it be?

Being back home and watching my kids take joy in the warmth and beauty blesses my heart beyond belief. All I keep whispering to myself is, “Thank you, Father”. What a gift… what a gift.

I can’t wait to share more of my beautiful island home and our family adventures with you – including local food and recipes! Stay tuned – and connect with me on Twitter,  Instagram and Facebook if you can! This is gonna be quite an adventure.

Give the Gift of Music: Guitarfish

So have the Christmas lists started in your house? In my house it always seems that as soon as we start talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas present ideas start getting planted, too. Maybe it’s because the Christmas catalogs have been filling the mail… or maybe it’s because the week before Thanksgiving all the decorations and music around town start making everything feel like Christmas. But, in any event, with Thanksgiving upon, it’s not a bad idea to start the gift planning.

But hey, here’s some encouragement: if this gift giving season starts to stress you out, don’t let it! Don’t approach gift giving ‘have to’… think of it as a ‘get to’. This is the time of year we GET TO remind others of our appreciation and love for them.  So, let be cheerful givers, shall we? Givers that  don’t just give stuff to give stuff, but givers that give in a way that we want to be given to.

With that in mind, over the next weeks before we leave for Guam (yes, we are leaving for Guam on December 9th!! Thank you Food Fighters!), I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite things: books I’ve read and discovered – some food related, some not; things I can’t do without in my kitchen; my favorite ‘girlie’ things; and, my tips for finding designer goods at discount prices. And, yes, I’ll throw some of my favorite, easy, cold-weather recipes in there, too.

Today, however, I want to start with one thing I hope you all consider giving someone you love this Christmas: the gift of music.

Recently a friend of mine gave me four free guitar lessons at Guitarfish in Tigard:

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I can hear you now, “Elisha, guitar lessons?” Oh, you bet! While you may not guess it by looking at me, there’s a secret rockstar dream in my heart – like singer/songwriter kinda dream. I’ve talked about it for years, actually… and several years ago my man even bought me an acoustic guitar for my birthday. I’ve just never found the time to  start learning.

Then, I got the gift – a gift that allowed me to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do. The gift that wasn’t just a thing – but was an opportunity for me to learn something new, have some fun, and feed an inner passion I’ve had my whole life.

I loved it.

Now, let’s be honest, okay? Four weeks wasn’t long enough for a 41-year-old woman to master a new trick – especially a trick that requires fingers to simultaneously move in different directions with precision and purpose. BUT, four weeks was a taste of something really good… a taste that made me long for more, a taste that showed me firsthand what my kids experienced when they starting learning their instruments… a taste that made me realize MUSIC – i.e. lessons at Guitarfish – is one of the things I’ll be giving this Christmas.

What made this gift so great was that it wasn’t just any guitar shop either – it was GUITARFISH, which is probably the most beautiful, welcoming music shop I’ve ever been in. (If Apple were to do a music store, THIS is what it would bel like.) It was bright, clean, well-organized – and my lessons were done in one of their little private sound studios that made me feel I was really doing something special.

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And… my cutie-patootie teacher, Justin, was patient, clear, joyful (in spite of my lagging skills), and super encouraging.

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Anyway, my point is this: the gift of music isn’t just for kids, it’s a gift you should consider for yourself, you spouse, a sibling, even a parent! And, when you give the gift of music, you’re giving more than just ‘more stuff’… you’re giving an experience, an opportunity to be better, an opportunity to learn something new – and an opportunity to be BRILLIANT.

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So, check out Guitarfish for a music lover in your life. They have locations in Tigard, Hillsboro, and Clackamas is coming soon – and they teach kids 5 and up. And look: they offer more than guitar lessons, too! (I’m spying the ukulele lessons and keyboard lessons for a couple on my list :) )

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(Thanks to my sweet friend, Becky, for the gift of the lessons and the opportunity to try something I’ve always wanted to do… and thanks to Justin for being patient with me ;) )

BTW: Mention this blog post and Guitarfish will give you $20 OFF 1 month of lessons if you sign up by December 31st. 

YOU CAN DO IT: Crunchy Salmon Quinoa Patties

So, my girl gets back today. I’ve missed her so much this week! In just T-2 hours I’ll be hugging her, taking her for cold drink somewhere, and then bringing her home to RELAX. I’m sure she’s going to need it… and probably a long, hot shower, too.

As I fuddled around in the kitchen this morning thinking about her, I made up these Salmon Quinoa patties that are, well, gonna blow your mind.     I wanted to do something with either tuna or salmon – particularly because I wanted something protein packed to eat after my morning workout… and tuna patties + bodybuilding always went hand in hand when I was growing up. Thankfully, my craving for protein was satisfied with one lone can of wild salmon in my pantry… and, now, you’re going to see how easy these DELICIOUS, protein and nutrient packed patties are to make and enjoy in your kitchen, too.

The patty mix is very simple:

  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1 can of wild salmon (tuna would work, too)
  • 1 cup of spinach sauté (see below)
  • 3 eggs + 1 TBSP olive oil, beaten together
  • 1 cup of processed oats (whole oats put in a food processor for 15 seconds)
  • Panko brand bread crumbs

Mix together the quinoa, salmon, spinach saute, and egg mixture.

DSC02081 Once mixture is mixed, add in 1 cup of processed oats, and stir to incorporate.

DSC02085 Once patty mixture is put together, it’s time to make the patties – and here’s where the Panko comes in. (Panko is a japanese style breadcrumb that is extremely crispy… it’s the same stuff used for tempura (and why Japanese tempura is unlike anything else). It isn’t gluten-free, though. So, if you are gluten-free, just replace the Panko with your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs… I’m sure it will work just as spectacularly.)

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Take a handful of patty mixture, and make a patty. Hold the patty over a plate of Panko, coat each side of the patty with the breadcrumbs, and gently press the breadcrumbs into the formed patty. Finished patties should look like this – about 3/4″ thick and 3″ wide:

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As you make your patties, place them into a hot pan coated in olive oil. (Use the same pan you sautéed the spinach in… and no need to wash it out first, either.)

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Cook the patties with burner on a little hotter than medium heat. (Think of how you cook pancakes: you want enough heat to sizzle, but it should be low enough so the patties can cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes without burning.)

Cook patties for 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden brown like my photo)… and look:

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Beatiful, huh?

“Now, Elisha, how do we eat these patties,” you ask. Well, DON’T stick them between a bun – you do NOT need a bun – and please do not slather them with a bunch of mayonnaise or dressing. Instead, you can either eat them plain and whole like a grab and go snack – you know, a REAL protein bar. They’re super yummy just like they are…

Or, if you have time to sit and eat, present yourself with more of a meal and eat them like I did this morning:

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I tossed a big handful of arugula in a sesame, soy, wasabi dressing (see below), laid it on a plate, then topped the dressed arugula with one of the patties, some fresh, thinly sliced tomato, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. (I also poured the remaining dressing from the bottom of the bowl over the tomatoes once I plated it all.) IT WAS DIVINE.

Maybe you’ll give these a try this weekend… or, think of them next time you have leftover grilled salmon (or any fish, for that matter) in your fridge. They’re perfect for instead nourishment – and, like I learned today, an awesome way to reward yourself after a good workout.

Now off I go to get ready for my sweet Kenna-girl to return.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

  • Spinach Sauté: Heat a pan and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Saute 1/4 cup of diced onion, 1 clove of garlic (diced and mashed with the back of a fork), and three really large handfuls of raw spinach. Add 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 TBSP of black pepper, and 1 TBSP of sea salt. (NOTES: Spinach really breaks down when heated, so you’ll use a lot more spinach than you think. (The goal: 1 cup of finished saute for mixture – so add more spinach to pan if needed.) Also, yes, the saute will be really salty standing alone – but remember: it’s getting mixed into other ingredients and that saltiness will be tempered perfectly.)
  • Sesame, Soy, Wasabi Dressing: Add 1 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP rice vingegar, 1 tbs sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp of wasabi into a small dish. Whisk together until wasabi is incorporated. This will be enough to dress 2 handfuls of arugula for plating, and leave enough for a small drizzle over the top of the tomatoes and patty.

And There She Goes Again

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Outdoor school is here once again… only this time, for my Kenna girl.

She’s quiet, yet incredibly strong. She’s organized, flexible, and filled with kindness. She’s the one I’ve always described as Snow White – the one that wakes up filled with so much brightness and joy that, if she opened her windows and began to sing in the morning, the birds and squirrels and deer would swarm just to be near her pure sweetness.

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She’s my tender one… my baby girl. And, right now as I write this, she’s on a bus and headed away from me for three nights with hundreds of other 6th graders.

We worked together last night to pack her bags. We went item by item down the list – if it was recommended, it was packed safely into the duffle.

Extra shoes? Check.

At least three pairs of pants? Check.

Towel and toiletries? Check.

Sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight? Check, check, check.

So when we woke up this morning to get her out the door, while I was sad she was leaving, I was confident I was sending her out as prepared as possible for the week ahead.

I stayed with her at school til it was time for her group to go. While I spoke excitement for her with my words and face, I think she could sense my heart was aching while I watched her inch to the edge of the nest. She giggled with friends and owned her space, but never overlooked I was still there. She’d turn every few minutes, to smile at me – her secret language of “Mom, I love you… don’t worry – I’ll be okay.”  While I took dozens of photos, she indulged me. When I hugged and kissed her for the umpteenth time, she hugged and kissed me right back; and, after she sat down on the bus and I knocked on her window to wave and take just one more photo, she smiled big and blew me a kiss.

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That’s my girl. Precious. Kind. Confident. L.O.V.E.

This is the business of parenthood, no? I must raise… and release. Raise… and release. Raise… and release.  I must take the moments we have together and intentionally help my little ones ‘pack their bags’ with all the things I’ve been instructed, things like Truth, Wisdom, courtesy, kindness, humility, empathy. And then, at various times – ready, or not – I must step back, let them take the bags I helped them pack, and watch them fly with their own wings – wings, I can only pray, are unburdened and lifted by His grace.

I will miss her this week, but I know she’s written on the palm of His hand and He won’t overlook her for one second. I’m struggling with the distance we’ll have between us, but I trust He goes before her and will be her rear guard.

Guamanian Steak & BBQ Potato Quinoa Salad

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nothing takes me back to the islands and the days in my nana’s kitchen then the smell of BBQ. The blend of smoke, fire, and food is pure comfort to me. (Now, if every BBQ was only accompanied by rain falling on a tin roof and roosters in the yard, I’d be in heaven.)

With that said, I BBQ steak every chance I get. I don’t do BBQ steak the way most people do, though. No BBQ sauce or fancy rubs. No, for me, I keep it simple – I keep it Guam-style, ‘nana-style': lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper. It’s deliciously aromatic – and the taste of the finished product… um, divine.

What I love most about this simple steak marinade is that steak leftovers are so versatile. You can use the leftover steak in eggs in the morning, you can warm it in a tortilla with some beans and cheese and make steak quesadillas, or you can use it this – the most amazing grilled steak salad you’ll EVER eat: The beauty of this salad is not only that it uses thin strips of Guamanian-style steak, it also uses roasted potatoes and veggies you roast up on the same grill. It’s all done outside – it all takes on a nice smokey flavor – and, it’s the perfect dish for these last days of summer. So, go grab your favorite cut of beef, gather up some red potatoes and veggies, and MAKE THIS.  Once you do I have a feeling it will become a favorite you BBQ year-round.

NOTE: Before I give you the recipes for each item, here’s rundown on how timing this out should work: the potatoes will take longest, so get those on the grill first. About 15 minutes into roasting the potatoes, throw the steaks on the grill. Potatoes and steaks will come off at about the same time; and, while your steaks are resting, roast up your veggies.

First step: Turn your grill on to preheat and prepare the ‘potato pillows’ for grilling: Turn your grill on to medium high to start preheating. Close cover. Chop your red potatoes into small, even squares and place them into a large bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Pour olive oil over the mixture and stir to coat all potatoes evenly. DSC01897

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Tear off a tin foil square and fill the center with potatoes. (NOTE: Keep the potatoes in a single layer on the tin foil as best as possible for ideal roasting.) Fold the foil around the potatoes into a little pouch – being sure to seal all the sides and keep steam inside. DSC01903

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Once all potato pouches are filled, lay them on hot grill. Turn burners down to medium, cover lid, and grill on direct medium heat (approx 450 degrees) for 25-30 minutes. And look what you’ll get:

Step 2: Marinate and grill the steak. Simply take your choice of steak cut (chicken works, too), and lay it single layer in a dish like this: DSC01883

Sprinkle each side of the meat with garlic powder and black pepper, then pour equal parts of lemon juice and soy sauce over the cuts. Allow meat to marinate for at least 15 minutes prior to grilling. DSC01885

Move your potato pillows to one side of the grill and grill your steaks on the other side; all burners should remain on medium. Grill the steaks on medium direct heat for 6-8 minutes per side (flipping ONCE) for medium doneness. Once you pull the steaks off the grill, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Guamanian Style Marinated Steaks

Step 3: Get your veggies on the grill. Drizzle some olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper over your washed, dried, and trimmed veggies (I used asparagus for this particular recipe, but I also love using sweet bell peppers, too). DSC01914

DSC01918 Grill until slightly charred.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad {4 servings… which means you’ll have a lot of steak and potatoes left over for breakfast – or more salad!)

  • 2 cups of precooked Andean Naturals True Bolivian Quinoa
  • 2 cups of roasted potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped steak (sliced into thin strips for easy eating)
  • 1 oversized handful of fresh arugula

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon) – then stir to incorporate everything evenly. Taste – and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. You can also add crushed red pepper (or fresh jalapeño) for heat. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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(Want to learn more about quinoa? Check out my brand partner, Andean Naturals – importers of the best quinoa in the world :) )

Happy back to school days, everyone. By the way, here’s a pic of my babies this morning. I told them to hold the signs… they said they would, but they still had to do it their way. LOL back to school

Submitting to the Plan

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“Father, create in me a clean heart… and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

I sat beside my 13 year old today as she got braces. We’ve been talking about this day for months – and, now, no more waiting: the process to straight teeth has begun.

We had a long talk with the orthodontist before today where we learned the transformation of her smile will happen without her even knowing it. He explained the wires and bands he’d apply would push and pull things into place – that it wouldn’t always be comfortable, but that she could be sure work was always in progress. He said what is crooked will be made straight; and what’s out of line will be brought into order. Slowly… slowly… slowly. He said he wouldn’t have to force anything to ‘right’ itself, but with the ever-so-slight pressure he’d apply over time, she’d eventually end up with ‘perfection’.

So at 7:35 this morning, my daughter walked into the office – willingly… a little giddy even. She sat in the chair – willingly. She opened her mouth – willingly. She gave in to the discomfort, dry lips, and multiple hands in her mouth – willingly. They didn’t have to hold her down, or bribe her, or scream at her, or pull rank. They simply said, if you want straight teeth, here’s what we have to do. And, since she wants straight teeth, she showed up and said ‘let’s do it’… willingly.

I was so impressed by her and her maturity. But, even more important, as I sat the foot of her chair with my mommy hand on the calf of her long, lean leg, I was impressed by a very simple truth I often strive to forget: sometimes I just have to submit to the plan.

HIS plan, not my plan. HIS way, not my way.

I know, I know. “Submission” is a dirty, loaded word these days. “Submission” brings up pictures of doormat women, and weak people, and images of everything most of us dread of being. But watching my daughter submit to the plan this morning wasn’t weakness – it was beautiful STRENGTH. She had a heart that understood the greater plan and she willingly said, “I’m in.” No one would call her a doormat because she submitted to the leading of the orthodontist; she wasn’t coerced or pushed around or belittled because she’s taking the opportunity to ‘perfect’ her teeth. To the contrary: by willingly submitting to the plan she can now sit back and allow the ever-slight-pressure to do it’s work for her good.

Just like my girl’s path to straight teeth began by her willingly sitting in the orthodontist’s chair, my path to ‘better’ – God’s ‘better’ – starts with my willingness to place myself before Him and His word. Yes, there will be troubles. Yet, in spite of the tests and trials He may use to make me uncomfortable and mold me through the process, if my heart is right and humbled before Him, I can know with certainty it will all work for good.

When we walked out of the office this morning, my girl had a Starbucks gift card in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other – two gifts to ‘celebrate’ the day. And me?  I walked out praying for courageous willingness to submit to the ‘treatment plan’ my Father’s laid out for me.  I admit it’s so hard sometimes… it’s hard to let go of me and MY way and submit to His spirit and HIS way – especially when things around me aren’t changing as fast as I want them to. But just as the orthodontist promised my girl his work will make a difference over time, my Father promises that, just as the heavens are higher than the earth, HIS ways are higher than my ways, HIS thoughts higher than my thoughts… and, His plan will make me more joyful, more loving, more forgiving, more patient, more kind, more powerful, more EVERYTHING than I could ever be without Him.