Welcome When it comes to nutrition and health, we have all heard that the quality of ingredients we put into our bodies has a great impact on how our bodies perform and the energy output we have. Being someone that really enjoys food, including rich entrees and decadent sweets, I can definitely tell when I’ve been letting the nutritional quality of my food slide. Based on the appearance of my skin and hair, the dull ache in my gut or back, and a general feeling of sluggishness are all signs that I need to be more aware about the quality of ingredients I’m putting in my body. But the “put good in, get good out” philosophy doesn’t just apply to our physical health. It matters to our mental and spiritual health as well. Thanks for joining me today.
Food For Thought Do we dare fill our hearts and minds with junk and expect to reap good fruit for the Lord? Do we allow worldly garbage from media or those we spend our time with to saturate our thinking, and wonder why we aren’t bringing more people to the Church? Speaking broadly here, I think it is no surprise that the Church is not growing, but actually being attacked and vacated by so many who see these “Christians” as hypocrites by their actions, or fruits. When I allow shallow, and even offensive movies and television to dominate what I watch, I am not going to bear good fruit, but BAD fruit instead. If I choose to listen to songs that are saturated with profanity or encourage sinful choices, this healthy tree will become diseased and bear no good fruit. If I let negativity, criticism, competition, and jealousy be the norm in my thoughts and words, I will be recognized for what I am…a useless plant ready to be cast into the fire. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be that tree!
The good news is that I have the power to be a healthy tree. Just like I have a choice in the types of foods and drinks I put into my body, I have a choice with the images I allow to enter my brain. In fact, despite a common theory out there, I even have control over what my pre-teen daughter sees and hears as well! I can resist physical disease by eating less processed junk and eating more whole foods based on nutritional value. I can resist disease in my soul by seeking wholesome ingredients, such as God’s Word through Bible study, worship and fellowship, communication with God through prayer, and spending time in activities that feed my soul. When I hear language or subject matter that begins to rot my thinking, I can change the channel, take out the movie, or turn off the song. When I’m in a group of people that are speaking with foul language or nothing but gossip, sometimes I can remove myself from the situation. But even if I cannot physically leave, I can use a “shield” of truth to block this junk from getting in my head and heart.
Now, let me be very clear here! It is not always easy to resist what we crave when it comes to our healthy eating plans. My readers know I LOVE to bake cakes and cheesecakes and I have trouble resisting chocolate most any day. And sometimes I just want some fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. And sometimes I eat it and love every single bite! The same is going to happen in our spiritual lives. Sometimes we’re going to go ahead and watch that show that is so popular among our peers and laugh at all those inappropriate jokes or get engrossed in that explicit scene. Sometimes we’ll be at that concert, having a good time, even though some of the words aren’t super wholesome. I’m not saying to go ahead and eat the triple bacon cheeseburger with fries and chocolate shake, just like I’m not saying go ahead and watch all of those shows and movies that are less than holy. I’m just saying we need to be aware of what’s good to take in, physically and spiritually, and what we need to consume less of (or not at all.) If I’ve spent some days (ahem, or weeks) consuming a poor diet, I better plan on making up for it, being even more conscientious of what I’m eating and drinking. Likewise, I need to be sure to combat all of the less-spiritual things I bring into my mind with plenty of God-focused study and positive images. It would be great to see how much fruit we can bear from our healthy trees!
Today’s Recipes It’s Two For Tuesday! We have two recipes today that bring some whole grains to the party, along with some savory vegetables and protein, or some sweet fruit and a little nibblin’ of chocolate.
Let’s start today with some quinoa. It took my family awhile to get used to this trendy “super grain.” It’s described as not quite a cereal grain, but not a grass, either. It also has some very unique and beneficial properties as compared to some other grains. One half-cup of cooked quinoa is considered a serving and comes in at only 110 calories. This serving also delivers 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Additionally, you will get essential amino acids, antioxidants, and a healthy dose of magnesium and manganese. (Nutritional information from Authority Nutrition, The Super Foods, and Mind, Body, Green.) I have found that when I serve quinoa as a base, in place of rice, seasoned, my family enjoys the flavors much more than just a side. This week we made Steak Fajita Quinoa Bowls. Keep in mind you can use this same technique using most any “bowl” or stir-fry recipes and ingredients.
Steak Fajita Quinoa Bowls with Homemade Guacamole (makes 6 servings)
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. flank steak, or preferred steak cuts (you can also use leftover roast beef), cut into strips
- Olive oil for the pan
- salt and pepper
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced (I used red and yellow, because they have a higher vitamin content than green)
- 1 pkg reduced-sodium fajita seasoning
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 lime
- 1 cup quinoa (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 avocados
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced small
- 1 jalapeno, diced small
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 15-oz can seasoned black beans
In medium saucepan, add water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, juice of half a lime, and 1/2 the package of fajita seasoning, and quinoa. Cover with lid and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes. Heat black beans in small pot over medium low heat.
While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add strips of steak, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Sear steak on each side and cook to desired doneness. When steak has cooked, reduce heat to medium and add sliced onions, peppers, and remaining fajita seasoning to skillet. Stir to coat vegetables in seasoning and cook until just beginning to soften.
For guacamole scoop out the green flesh of two avocados and place in bowl. Add juice of remaining half lime, 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, diced onion, and diced jalapeno. Mash together with fork, stirring to combine all ingredients. Taste, and season as necessary.
To assemble quinoa bowls, place 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in bowl. Add 1/4 cup of black beans, 3-4 ounces of cooked steak, and plenty of peppers and onions. Top with a heaping tablespoon of guacamole. Serve with salsa or hot sauce, if desired.
For our second recipe today, I’m turning one of my favorite cookies into a breakfast-friendly granola bar. I love cranberry white chocolate cookies, but usually only making them in late fall or around Christmas time. But why not take some whole grains and turn my favorite cookie into a guilt-free snack. So here you go, Cranberry, Almond, and White Chocolate Granola Bars.
Cranberry, Almond, & White Chocolate Granola Bars (makes 16 bars)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups whole oats
- 1 cup puffed rice
- 1 tsp baking spice (you can also use pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice)
- 1 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup sunflower seed kernels
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Linea 9×13 baking sheet with foil. In medium bowl, stir together eggs and next 5 ingredients. The mixture will look thick and syrupy. In separate bowl, mix oats and remaining ingredients. Using a rubber spatula pour brown sugar mixture into cereal mixture, stirring to coat. Spread this mixture evenly on prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Cut into bars. They store well in large zip-top bags, for about a week, at room temperature.