Thanksgiving Soaks Dry Bones

Soaking Dry Bones THINK THESE

I am thankful for my home… a place so unlike the home I grew up in. Here, my children know love, peace, comfort. Here we have hugs, giggles, memories, traditions. Here, no matter what we’ve met in the world, within these walls, Jesus is. Here is where we exhale… where there is safety… where there is refuge from the world. Here is where we shake the dust off our feet, find renewal and REST in His goodness because here, HE IS WELCOME – and His spirit fills this space.

I am thankful for my good man… my good, GOOD man. A man that faithfully wakes every morning and goes to work without complaint. A man that loves to love us – with roaring fires when it’s cold, tickle parties when they’re needed, a tune on the ukulele when spirits are down, homemade waffles and bacon on Saturday mornings. A man that is funny, patient, kind, thoughtful, true; a man that laughs heartily, serves diligently and never tires of doing right. A man that loves me, his woman, with his every breath… and can still catch my eye across a room and melts my heart. A loyal man, a strong man, a man after the heart of our Father and who is perfect for me in every. single. way.

I am thankful for motherhood and these babies that make me ‘mama’. Ah, motherhood – the journey of refining, humbling, strengthening; an exercise where I am daily reminded that I must decrease and He must increase. A journey where I’ve had breathtaking, beautiful highs around one bend, and then thick, dark, muddy valleys around the next. My babies – His treasures and my greatest gifts. Every single quirk, challenge, difficulty, difference, tear I’ve shed – thankfulness abounds.

I am thankful for what I’ve left behind… thankful I’ve been broken over and over and over – and that, through every crushing of self, He’s bloomed compassion, forgiveness, empathy, humility. I’m thankful He has seen me fit to discipline… and that by His discipline, I get to experience the fullness and peace that abounds when I willingly sacrifice my will for His.

I am thankful that because of His great mercy, we are not consumed. That we awoke with breath in our lungs – and opportunity to be His hands and feet today.

I am thankful He is REAL… He loves me… He called me… He saved me. I’m thankful that no matter what is going on in this world, no matter what circumstances threaten to sweep me away, HIS TRUTH REMAINS. In the midst of brokenness, heartache, distraction, He holds my face in His hands, looks me in my tear-streaked eyes and says, “FOCUS ON ME. Do not fear – I have you! I’ve told you before that in this world you WILL have trouble – and yes, it is heavier now that it ever has been. But do not worry! Remember, I have overcome the world and I WILL NOT LEAVE YOUR SIDE.”

I’m thankful I can choose turn off the TV.

I’m thankful I can choose to unplug.

I’m thankful I can choose PEACE in the face of chaos, LOVE in the face of HATE, TRUTH in the midst of lies, JOY in the mist of DESPAIR.

I am thankful I AM FREE… I AM HOPEFUL… I AM CERTAIN THAT I AM HIS. And that, when my bones are dry from the overwhelming brokenness all around me,  all I have to do is be still and willing to hear Him SPEAK LIFE that renews my soul.

PRAYER: Father, this world is in chaos. Hatred. Division. War. Doubt. Fear. Hopelessness. In the midst of this darkness, equip Your children to be Your Light! May we be people focused on You: on what is TRUE, NOBLE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY. May we be gracious people, kind people, generous people… and, through us, may people taste and see that YOU ARE GOOD. Thank you, Father, for your pure, unconditional love… and for your patient heart that would see no one perish. In Jesus name, Amen.


YOU CAN DO IT: Homemade Salted Quinoa & Fruit Energy Bars

DSC04671 If you’ve been with me awhile then you know “SmartyBars”.

I started making SmartyBars in my kitchen back in 2009 when Seb was in the 2 year old constant snacking phase. I struggled to find prepared snack items that weren’t fortified (meaning they were so stripped of nutrition in processing they had to re-add the vitamins back in), or amped up on processed sugars, or filled with chemicals.

The other issue I struggled with was, while I had no problems getting him (or the rest of my family) prepared with good snacks while we were on the go, I was constantly running on empty. My lack of attention for my own well being meant I fell into a pattern of either a) not eating, b) eating everyone’s leftovers and lasts (half a piece of cold toast, the last bite of banana, the cold crumbled scrambled eggs), or c) lots of fast food.

I had simply allowed motherhood to run me ragged… and, because I had stopped seeing how I nourished myself as a big deal, I was tired, achy, cranky and developing a palate that craved salt and sugar constantly.

SmartyBars were the concoction that got me back on track. I pulled together the best whole ingredients I could find and figured out a way to stick them all together in ONE snack. I wanted something that would be nutritious, would fend off hunger, digest well and keep my mind sharp. SmartyBars ingredients were prized for all of those things.





That’s it. Only four ingredients went into my SmartyBars and, because they were so clean and pure, I got myself (and my cravings) back on track.

I had a manufacturer for SmartyBars for a couple of years and sold them through my website and several local stores. Then, in 2013, I manufactured my very last batch and shut the company down. (Thankfully, however, the Lord used SmartyBars as the springboard for NBC Food Fighters, this Rebel Grain blog and to launch me as the Quinoa Queen! So, no regrets :) ) Today, however, I’m going to show you how to make your own SmartyBars… and, let me tell you, if you’re looking to get back on track and retrain your cravings: THIS IS IT.

While my original recipe was just four ingredients, the version I’m making today is a little more tasty with a few additional ingredients:





You’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of precooked Royal Quinoa (or you can use 1.5 cups of Royal Quinoa flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats (regular oats are fine, too, if you’re not gluten free)
  • 1 cup of whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup of unsulfured dried apricots (NOTE: sulfur is the preservative that gives typical dried apricots the bright orange look; unsulfured apricots are dark brown (like mine in the photo), but they taste WAY better without the preservative. Find them in bulk bins at some grocery stores.)
  • 2/3 cup of dried, pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

I like to rehydrate the fruit just a little bit so it’s easier for the food processor to work with. To do this, simply add the dry fruit and about 2 TBSPs of water into a shallow, lidded pan.


Turn the pan on high and, when the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the fruit to steam for about a minute or so.

Next, using a slotted spoon (so that you don’t add any additional water to the mix) add your fruit into the bowl of a food processor….


and process until smooth, like this:


Scrape the fruit puree away from the sides of the bowl, and then add in the rest of your ingredients:


Process all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds to a minute… and then, you should have a mixture that looks like this:


NOTE: It may be necessary to scrape the fruit puree out of the processing bowl and then work the ingredients in two batches. It all depends on the strength of your processor and the stickiness of the mixture.  You’ll know if it’s necessary because the processor will be moving too slow to break down the ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick. Then sprinkle the top with a little flaked coconut and some coarse finishing salt (optional):




Now, place the prepared tray into your oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (This isn’t really ‘baking’ the bars, it’s simply allowing some of the moisture to evaporate.)

Remove the tray, cut the bars into your preferred sizes and then, with a spatula, carefully place all the bars on a drying rack:


Allow the bars to ‘air dry’ for as long as possible; then, store in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for grab and go snacking.

This recipe makes about 24-28 bars (depending on how large you cut them and how much you eat BEFORE you press them onto the pan 😉 )… and, start to finish, you’re looking at a time investment of about 30 minutes.



The best part? If you make these yourself you’re saving a ton of $$$$ by not buying the prepackaged options. And, honestly, I think these taste a thousand times better than anything you can buy off a shelf.


Give them a try… and play with the recipe, too! Here are some other ideas:

  • If you like more texture, don’t process all the ingredients together. Make the fruit puree as I described, then add it to a bowl with your honey, coconut oil and dry ingredients. You can use your hands to squeeze it all together and then, when it’s all fully incorporated, press it onto the pan and follow the rest of the directions.
  • You can use any dried fruit or nuts you prefer! Just follow the general guidelines for fruit/nut/grain ratios and you’ll be fine.
  • Substitute the precooked quinoa for quinoa flakes. If you do this, you remove a lot of the water content from this recipe and the bars will have a longer shelf life. (It’s the precooked quinoa in this recipe that requires they be refrigerated.)

I hope you’re inspired to make these… and, if you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading :) I love having you here. ENJOY!


Quick & Creative Mealtime Challenge: A FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY® GIVEAWAY

With more and more families leading active lifestyles, home-cooking has been put on the back burner while fast food, takeout and grab-and-go options have heated up… am I right?  Well, one of the reasons I’ve been so blessed by my partnership with Frigidaire Gallery® is because, just like my heart is to inspire YOU to cook more at home, they want to inspire you in the kitchen, too!

That’s why today my friends over at Frigidaire Gallery® are offering you a chance to win a featured Frigidaire Gallery® appliance packed with time-saving, easy-to-use innovations. And, the hope? That you’ll be inspired to create a quick, easy and creative meal that will appeal to all of us on-the-go families.


Here’s the scoop:

Starting today, you can enter the “Quick & Creative Weeknight Meal Challenge” by visiting to submit a quick and creative meal idea for a chance to win a featured Frigidaire Gallery® appliance of your choice AND have your recipe developed by a “well-known home chef and blogger”… me!


I’ll be selecting THREE WINNERS based on the following:

Speed of preparation.
Ease of cooking.

(Oh, and I also want to see you use at least TWO KRAFT® ingredients in the recipe.)

Here’s my example of what your entry might look like: 

“I marinate Tri Tip steak in a mixture of mayo, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, fresh diced parsley, black pepper and sea salt, then I roast it in my oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.” 

That’s it… simple!

Here’s how my idea plays out in the kitchen:

Simple, creative ingredients:

1 Tri Tip roast, 1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of dijon mustard, juice from a lemon, 1 handful of rough chopped fresh parsley, 2 garlic cloves (smashed), 2 TBSP black pepper, 2 TBSP sea salt

MARINADE RECIPE:  1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of dijon mustard, juice from a lemon, 1 handful of rough chopped fresh parsley, 2 garlic cloves (smashed), 2 TBSP black pepper, 2 TBSP sea salt


Easy to prepare:



(With less than 5 minutes) Mix all ingredients in a bowl to create the marinade... then, place the meat in a large plastic bag with the marinade and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (but up to 24 hours)

(With less than 5 minutes) Mix all ingredients in a bowl to create the marinade… then, place the meat in a large plastic bag with the marinade and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (but up to 24 hours)

Easy to cook:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast the meat on a roasting pan for 15 minutes per pound – and, in the last three minutes of cooking, turn on the broiler so the meat and ingredients really sizzle on top.

Remove meat from the oven, place on a cutting board (or plate), and cover with tinfoil for at least 10 minutes. While meat is resting you can prepare the table or the other sides… and get ready to enjoy!

Delicious to serve:


Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve with roasted potatoes, a hearty-spinach salad, or (my favorite) a simple quinoa salad made with roasted veggies and a little olive oil.


Please SHARE this opportunity with your friends and family and GET YOUR ENTRY IN BEFORE OCTOBER 23rd!! I’m looking forward to seeing all your creative ideas.

Yes, this post is sponsored by Frigidaire Gallery®… but, as always, the recipe and all opinions are my own.

Portland’s AM Northwest: Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Parfait

If you love pumpkin spice, then you’re in heaven these days. Everything is coming up pumpkin spice: lattes… cereal… chips… yogurt… creamers… Twinkie… Peeps.

Most of these ‘pumpkin spice’ foods, however, are very little (if any) pumpkin or actual real spice. (Always read the labels – especially on ‘healthy’ foods!) And, for me, I love pumpkin and spices way too much settle for nothing but flavor. I want the good stuff – the REAL stuff… and I know you do, too!

That’s why today, on AM Northwest (KATU, Channel 2 here in Portland), I showed Dave how to cut and clean a pie pumpkin, how to spice it before roasting, and then how to turn the delicious spiced pumpkin into this:



Seriously, peeps, THIS IS AMAZING. Wonderful texture, just the right amount of sweet, and a perfect tangy touch from the greek yogurt. Most importantly, though, while you’re getting your pumpkin spice fix, you’re also getting a fix of some amazing nutrients and goodness. (Just look at how nutritious pumpkin is!)

So, roast up some spiced pumpkins, cook up some quinoa, and store both in your fridge  this week. That way, no matter how busy your day gets, you’ll have exactly what you need on hand to satisfy your cravings and keep you powered for your calling.

Here’s the segment:

Here’s the detail:

2 pie pumpkins, stems cut off, sliced in half, and all strings/seeds scraped out

Spiced rub: 2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP honey, 1 TBSP ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and, using a fork or small whisk, mix until all the spices are fully incorporated.
  2. Evenly divide the butter/honey mixture into the two halves of the pumpkin and, using a spoon, spread the mixture all over the meat of the pumpkin.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves skin side up on a sheet pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes (or until you can puncture through the skin with a fork).
  4. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool before scraping all pumpkin meat from the inside of the skin. DONE.

Finally, as I say in the segment, KEEP YOUR SEEDS! Clean them and roast them… JUST LIKE THIS.

Let me know if you try this! Thanks for reading :)

Royal Quinoa Pasta: The Perfect Friend For Your Leftovers


Whew, big week in my heart. Lots going on… lots of hope, creativity, and EATING.

Yes, we are always eating in our house, which means I’m always cooking and loving on my babies and my man through my food. What happens a lot, though, is we end up with lots of odds-and-ends in our leftovers.

Whenever I take stock of our leftovers I pretend I’m playing “Chopped”. (If only they’d put me on the show already… you hear that Food Network? PUT ME ON CHOPPED!) I look at the foundational ingredients, think up some unique way to add another flavor layer or texture and then – boom! – a brand new meal.

Today I want to share how I used leftover salmon and sautéed broccoli to make a delicious, bright quinoa salad. The twist? Instead of using quinoa grains like I typically do… I used this:


The Green Quinoa Royal Quinoa fusilli pasta has become a favorite of mine. I’ve been using it in place of regular pasta in COLD pasta salads (they are very tender noodles, so hot applications tend to make them disintegrate)… and, not only do I appreciate the nuttier flavor of quinoa pasta, I really appreciate how it doesn’t leave me feeling ‘stuffed’ (like regular pasta often does).

Now, before I share the recipe with you, here are SPECIFIC TIPS for using Royal Quinoa pasta:
  1. Bring the water to boil, add 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tbs of salt before adding the noodles.
  2. Cook the noodles for about 5 minutes – you want them al dente.
  3. They are very, very tender – just like egg noodles. So, don’t overcook them or let them sit in the hot water after cooking.
  4. Immediately drain and rinse noodles under cold water to stop them from cooking any further.

Once my noodles were cooked, I put them in a big bowl with my leftover salmon and leftover sautéed broccoli….



Then I chopped up some sweet cherry tomatoes and a little red onion…


I used my favorite tool in the kitchen - my Microplane Zester - to add the zest of one lemon...

I used my favorite tool in the kitchen – my Microplane Zester – to add the zest of one lemon – and YES, YOU MUST ZEST!!…

Then I squeezed the juice from the zested lemon, drizzled some olive oil, sprinkled some black pepper and sea salt, threw in a big handful of baby spinach and some chopped fresh parsley and – BOOM – this:


I bet your mouth is drooling, isn’t it. Y.U. M. Seriously. On days like this I have no problem being the “Queen of Leftovers and Lasts“… especially when I see the delicious beauty that can come from a little playfulness.

So, if you’re looking for a new way to mix up your leftovers, think of these Green Quinoa Royal Quinoa fusilli noodles… and let the creativity flow!

Have a great, relaxing, NOURISHING weekend everybody… and come back on Monday for some BIG NEWS on a BIG GIVEAWAY.

(This post was sponsored by Green Quinoa – but, you know me and my love for quinoa… and you can trust this recipe and opinions are all my own. :) )

BTW: once you have your delicious salad to sit down and enjoy, I hope you'll join me on the 31 day challenge I started yesterday - just click here or here to keep up with the daily posts.

BTW: once you have your delicious salad to sit down and enjoy, I hope you’ll join me on the 31 day challenge I started yesterday – just click here or here to keep up with the daily posts.

JOIN ME: 31 Days of Soaking Dry Bones

Cracked clay landscape in the Atacama desert.

Today I’m doing something quite crazy in my mind… I’m committing myself to a 31 day experiment.

When I left for the retreat last week, I need to tell you the truth: I was OVER it. I was over cleaning, and serving, and volunteering, and washing, and doing, and answering, and feeling like a puppet. I was over being exhausted, lonely, and feeling overlooked. I was dried up on the inside and dying (praying!) for the time away to light me up.

As I shared with you yesterday, the time away did renew me. The hard part about that, though, is that it didn’t renew me only because it was all fun and roses. (Sometimes we think fun will solve all of our problems, don’t we?) No – the deeper reason I came back renewed is because I did something I had been struggling not to do: face the Truth my hard heart was the reason for my exhaustion. As we opened the Word and shared our stories with one another, minute by minute, brick by brick the wall of bitterness separating me from the Truth came down until, all at once, I saw clearly: I wasn’t doing what I was called to do.

I am called to be a servant – that’s just what it is. I am married, I have babies, we have a life that requires my 100%… yet, I had stopped seeing it as a get to and turned it into a ‘got-to’. I had been running from “servant”, fighting against “servant”, hating the word “servant”… yet, on the very last day of our time together, one of the sweet gals handed me a printed word and said, “I’ve been praying for you… and as I prayed I asked the Lord for a word to share with you. He gave me this word…”

I reached out – excited to see “powerful”, “leader”, “strong”, “courageous”… yet, you know what she handed me?


I didn’t know what to say in that second (especially since disappointment was coming on fast like a tidal wave), so thank God she continued. “… and here’s the verse this word for you flows from. I held back the tidal wave, looked her in the eyes, and she read to me Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”

I wept. Like, I couldn’t hold it back kinda cry. It was like Jesus has stepped down from heaven in the form of my sweet sister, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “SERVANT – LEARN FROM ME. SERVE LIKE I’M ASKING YOU TO AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL.”

It was a life-changing moment… that moment standing by Priest Lake with Jesus and Truth.

Now that I’m back, the challenge begins. Change doesn’t just happen – we have to MOVE in the direction we want to go in. And, me? I want to go in the direction of green pastures, still waters, and joy in the day-to-day of my actual, everyday, very real life. It’s where He’s calling me – to learn what SERVANT looks like so that I can life free, and full, and bright like He did when He walked this earth.

Studies show that the best learning happens when we engage ALL senses. This means for the next 31 days…

Here’s the plan:

Each day I will wake up with a new Truth to meditate on; a Truth that will help me get my focus off me and back on Him. I will read it with my eyes, speak it with my mouth (2 senses)… and then I’ll also assign myself an activity for the day that will reinforce what I’m meditating on (hopefully engaging touch, taste, smell).

I don’t know how this is gonna work – I’m literally thinking of it as I go and praying for inspiration. All I know is this: in the valley of dry bones, the only thing that can bring life, and form, and wholeness back is His Spirit pouring into us.

This is where I’m at… with dry bones that need a good, long soak.

What do you say… join me?

If so, come on over to Facebook and Instagram where I’ll be posting my daily verses and activities. Also, please tell me: what sucks the life out of your bones? Hearing what you have to say will be great inspiration for where to focus this journey. We’re in this together, you know – and I’d love to walk hand in hand as we pursue His heart.

The Door Is Open

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

Several months ago in late spring, right in the middle of closing on our new house and anticipating the new life we were jumping into, an invitation arrived in the mail.

It was an invitation that came unexpectedly… from a woman I had never met personally… and invited me to join a group of other women from across the country that I had no personal knowledge or connection to.

The funny thing, though, is that in my quiet times before the Lord, I had been praying – PRAYING – with tears for help. My spirit and creativity were drying up; I had been feeling lonely in my writing, wandering in my work, questioning my calling. Even though everything on the outside said “good” and “put together”, my insides were a mess.

Father, please,” I had asked Him… “Please place someone in my life that understands this place that I’m in – someone who can help me discern what you’re calling me to do with all You’re faithfully giving to me.” Days upon days went by – and soon weeks of this prayer, always the same: “Father, I know you see me. I need you – I need your guidance to calm me in this storm of confusion, and to focus me on using my gifts and talents for YOUR work.”

Then… He showed up in an invitation to The Open Door.

I chuckled to myself as I read the invite thinking, “Lord, I asked for someone… are you serious? You’re giving me an entire GROUP??”

I continued to read and when I got to the themed verse of the entire event, He whispered through it, “Yes, sweet girl. I’m giving you an entire group, and here is My purpose: that, when you walk through this open door, YOU WILL KNOW MY POWER, together with all of My people, and be able to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP My love for you is, and that My abundant love surpasses all knowledge.”

Fast forward. Priest Lake. Food. Prayer. Laughter. Wine. Song. Women I came to adore within seconds of meeting them. We opened our hearts, shared our visions, spilled our souls – and, in our vulnerability, Jesus met us. Through our talks He cast new light on our old stories; He softened hard places as we realized we are not alone in our struggles; He filled up the places that came empty; He took the baggage we were afraid to let go of; and, He inspired us to keep moving.

So, while I’ve tried to figure out how to tell you all about it, the truth is this: I just can’t. There simply aren’t enough words that would do the experience justice. What I can tell you, however, is this: when we seek Him, we find Him. Period.

As He called me to the shores of Priest Lake, He used the time away to remind me that when we pursue Him, He brings us to sweet places. Yes, we must be willing to call and seek and search…but, more importantly, we must also be willing to let him say things to us that are hard to hear. We must be willing to let Him tell us we’ve been (or are being) prideful, or selfish, or mean… we must be willing to hear it’s us that needs to change, not the one we’re pointing at… we must be willing to be humble and broken so that He can fill in the gaps… and, we must be willing to do the hard things He asks of us – things like serve, forgive, trust, honor, hope, seek peace, lead with love, stop going our own way.

He’s calling our hearts, people. HIS DOOR IS OPEN. I’m telling you this because, here I am, 42 years old and ‘pulled together’ – yet I am human. From a past of brokenness. Prone to pride, anger, and bitterness. Not always happy to serve. Insecure, unsure, and longing for hope. The more diligently I seek Him, however, I more see Him… and when I see Him – like I did so mightily in the presence of the 11 beautiful women who started as strangers – I am able to take a deep breath, throw off everything hindering and entangling my spirit, and continue to run with perseverance this race marked He’s marked out for me.

You may not have a retreat you’re about to go on, but can I just encourage you today to seek right where you are? If you are discouraged, or exhausted, or questioning, or lonely, HE CAME TO SAVE AND HIS DOOR – AND HIS ARMS – ARE OPEN.

You are loved… adored… desired… valuable… needed. If I can pray for you in a specific way, please let me know – I would so love to come alongside you as you seek Him.

I’m blessed you’re here with me.

PRAYER: Father, while I thank you for the mountaintop experience You have brought me through, I pray for anyone reading who is longing to see you, not as the world portrays you, but in Spirit and Truth. May Your light shine bright in this dark world… and, as we seek, show yourself faithful and true to the brokenhearted. Thank you for how You love us unconditionally – and how, because of your Son’s willing sacrifice, we can have HOPE and HEALING. Thank you for who you are: unchanging, faithful, and true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


How to Make A Tasty Quinoa Smoothie… and ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!


Now that the kids are back in school, our schedules have returned, and we’ve paused the home remodeling projects, normalcy has returned to my days.

My day starts between 5:58-6:15 when our kitty, Daisy, starts meowing at my bedroom door for her breakfast. (Literally, EVERY SINGLE MORNING; she’s my alarm clock.)

I feed Daisy, put the coffee on, wake up kiddos, and get to making lunches.  If I’m making a hot breakfast, I get that started… and, then, by 7am, kids are bellying up to the counter ready for their sustenance.

By 7:15 I’ve prepared three lunches (sometimes four if my man needs one), fed five mouths, cleaned the kitchen, found lost clothing items, typically put a load of laundry in, mediated a minimum of three disagreements, and stolen a few moments to get dressed and pull myself together.

I’ve promised myself that this will be the year I get back to the gym on a regular basis. The summer really took a toll on me with the move and the remodel…. and getting everyone back on a schedule means it’s time I get myself back together. Mentally. Spiritually. Physically.

One of the things I’ve been re-incorporating into my day is a morning smoothie. My whole life I’ve been a smoothie girl – actually a “protein shake” girl… wayyyyy before Jamba Juice ever made smoothies a thing. When my dad had his gym in Oakland, he opened the first juice bar of its kind, offering simple protein shakes made with protein powder, apple juice, a banana, and ice. Then, when we moved to Guam and I ran the front desk of his gym there, I became the “Smoothie Queen” of the gym and made protein shakes for the bodybuilders all through my high school years. So, when I talk smoothies, know this: I take my smoothies seriously.

The way I make smoothies these days, however, is a little different. Instead of apple juice (which is too much concentrated sugar), I use water or coconut milk; and, no matter what fruit I use, I always add in small handful of baby spinach and 1 heaping tablespoon of something else I’ve come to appreciate, raw coconut oil. Finally, while I still love regular protein powder, I’ve also come to enjoy using something you might have never imagined would be good in a smoothie: quinoa flakes.



Quinoa flakes are typically used in baking, or for instant breakfast cereal or thickening soups. (I used quinoa flakes when I developed my SmartyBars, too.) Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the texture of flakes when they’re cooked alone (they get too mushy for my tastes), but I love the nutty flavor they add to my shakes. (And, you know me: I simply love quinoa in everything.)

Here’s the recipe I’m drinking these days for my mid-morning snack:



(makes 16 ounce serving)
1/2 cup of frozen fruit (I prefer frozen berries or frozen pineapple)
1/2 banana (add sweetness and thickens)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup (more or less) of water
1 small handful of spinach
1/3 cup of Green Quinoa Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes
1 TBSP of raw coconut oil (you can also add 1/4 cup of avocado – YUM!)
1/4 cup of ice

Layer your ingredients into your blender


Add 1/3 cup coconut milk





This recipe has protein, fiber, iron, and lots and lots of other good nutrients that help me feel satiated, bright, and energized… all the things I need to feel as I kick start my days.


Tell me your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments below and I’ll choose ONE random winner to receive a box of the Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes I use in my smoothies!

Ready… set… POST AWAY!

(This post is sponsored by Green Quinoa and giveaway prize is provided by Green Quinoa… but recipe and comments are my own :) Comments for this giveaway will close at 6pm PST on Sunday, September 27th, and one winner will be announced on my Facebook page on Monday at 9am PST.)

ENTER TO WIN: Reclaiming Home, A Book By My Friend Krista Gilbert


Today I’m joining in celebration with my friend Krista over at Meaning In A Minute. It’s the official day of her book launch… and peeps, let me tell you: this is a book I encourage every crazy busy mama out there will buy, read, and savor.

Krista sent me an early copy of her book several weeks ago – just as we were settling into our new house. It arrived in an oversized hand-addressed envelope; I wasn’t expecting anything and I must say: I was pretty giddy thinking something good may be hiding inside. As I reached in and pulled out the goodies, I was in awe by what I was holding: a handwritten note, her book, glittery things, an encouraging calendar… it was like an envelope of love and I could feel Krista’s sweetness pouring into my frazzled and overwhelmed spirit.

“Reclaiming Home: A Family’s Guide for Life, Love & Legacy” on the front… and, on the back the truth of my life in that very moment: “Are you watching as your family spins out of control?”


Yes. There it was. My truth in a headline.

Krista’s care package met me right where I was. Wires hanging from the ceiling where fixtures should be; kids bickering; groceries waiting to be unloaded; laundry taunting me from the other room; long, long lists of ‘to-dos’ I had to do to get us settled into our new space; and, an overwhelmed heart from recognizing this fact: I only have four more years with my oldest girl before she’s on her own and my day-to-day with her is gone.

Our move was more disruptive than I could have ever imagined – and, honestly, the first weeks after moving in I was filled with anxious thoughts. How the heck do I reign our lives back in and get things back in order? What can I do to get technology use under control – the devices have taken over?! How do I bring joy and peace and connection and play back into our seriously ‘busied’ family… and, Lord, show me how to fill our home with so much love and warmth so that, while my kids my leave someday, they will always long to come home?

I was praying for wisdom… praying for clarity… praying for practical advice. Then, out of the blue, Krista showed up on my doorstep and invited me to do what I was struggling to do: RECLAIM MY HOME.


Just check out the titles of her chapters:

Reclaiming Your Foundation
Reclaiming Time
Reclaiming Ordinary
Reclaiming Marriage
Reclaiming Childhood
Reclaiming Play
Reclaiming Imperfection
Reclaiming the Table
Reclaiming Traditions
Reclaiming Legacy
Reclaiming Faith

At the end of each chapter Krista has little checklists, worksheets, dares (the dares are awesome)… all kinds of things that have helped me pause, intentionally think through specifics of my situation, and be encouraged in the midst of the crazy, busy season our family is in right now.


There’s so much I could tell you about it… so many nuggets of wisdom I could share. But, instead of being long winded, and because Krista is so dang cool, I figured I wouldn’t just tell you about it – instead, Krista said I could give you a chance to WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY.

All you have to do to enter is this: leave a comment to this post stating the ONE chapter from the chapter list above that is speaking loudest to you. That’s it!  (I also hope you’ll subscribe to my blog in the sidebar… but I won’t make it a requirement for winning :) )

I’ll announce THREE random winners on my Facebook  Page this Friday, September 18th, at 12pm PST. So, after you leave a comment, be sure you follow me on Facebook so you’ll know if you’ve won!

Ok, now go for it. I really want to give you a copy… it will bless your socks off.

YOU CAN DO IT: Chocolate & Coconut Black Quinoa Pudding


Today my last little bird flew from the nest and into 3rd grade… which means a new school year has officially started for our family. Early mornings, carpool afternoons, sports, homework, and, hopefully, breathing room for my brain so that I can finally feel the freedom to get stuff done.

As I sit here in my quiet house, there are little piles of life all over the place – and I’m excited. Today begins the work of getting back to life. Bills to pay. House finishing to do. Pictures still waiting to be hung, and laundry waiting to be washed. Planning for the months to come. I feel the urge to nest – to hunker down, cozy up our half-finished house, and begin the process of welcoming Fall to settle in with us.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into a routine of cooking. I have to be honest: in the summertime, it’s grazing season. A quick salad. Slices of deli meat and cheese with some crackers. A steak on the BBQ with some roasted veggies. Meals happens… and don’t happen… and yet we all seem to make it through the hot, leisurely months satisfied.

With school back in order, however, food and life require more planning. I mean, with three kids and my man, I’m set to make over 640 lunches alone in the next 9 months. 640 lunches! Add in breakfasts and dinners, and I’m looking at potentially 1400 meals this year. (Ok – I’m tired.)

Flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to mealtime isn’t an option.

I also have to be really conscious of feeding myself well, too. While I’ll still grab and go on most days, I have to be prepared to have the right grab-and-go food available: a quinoa salad, some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit, greek yogurt with some quinola and fruit, or THIS:


This is my chocolate and coconut quinoa “pudding”. When I was little, we used to eat a rice version of this pudding called “Champulado” – a Guamanian treat. Traditionally, champulado is made with white rice, sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, and chocolate syrup. This version, however, is not only healthified with quinoa and free of refined sugars – the texture and taste is a thousand times better than what I grew up loving.

I’ve made this many times before and always used the regular white quinoa I can find in bulk. Green Quinoa, however, sent me a bunch of their black Royal quinoa and I WILL NEVER USE WHITE QUINOA FOR THIS DISH AGAIN.


GQ’s black quinoa didn’t really ‘open’ when cooking – it softened. The texture of the quinoa in the finished pudding reminded me of what happens to chia seeds when they’re soaked in coconut milk – not mushy, and just enough of a crunch when you chew. (When I’ve made this with white quinoa the seeds always open normally… so, it’s interesting to me the black quinoa responded differently with the coconut milk/water mixture.)

Seriously: this is SO GOOD. So good hot and right out of the pot… and so good as a grab and go snack out of the fridge.

Here’s what you need:

1 box of GQ Royal Black Quinoa
1 14 ounce of coconut milk (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey

(Optional Add-Ins)
1-2 bananas
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger


Place quinoa, coconut milk, water, and cacao in a high sided pot, then whisk the mixture until cacao powder is broken down. Add in the coconut and honey.

Bring pot to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Allow pudding to gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. (Every 10 minutes or so be sure to stir the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom while cooking.)

Turn off heat. DONE.

Now, you can eat the pudding right away as a warm porridge for breakfast (the way we always ate champulado). I love topping mine with fresh fresh sliced banana and grated ginger…

IMG_1090 IMG_1107 IMG_1098

Or, you can gently mix the sliced bananas and ginger directly into the pot, stir, and then portion the pudding out into individual storage containers, like this:


I do both… and then, when I need a grab and go meal, I have one ready to go. (I’m eating one of my pre-portioned puddings out of the fridge as I write this :) )

I’d love to know some of your tips for getting off on the right foot with food now that kids are back in school. Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? One thing I know for sure: it takes a village… and WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.

Thanks for reading – and thanks to Green Quinoa for sponsoring this post! Find them on Facebook and Instagram.