Lean and Green “Pasta” Sauce

2 large cans of no-salt added crushed tomatoes

garlic, onion, basil, oregano seasonings to taste (generally 1-2 tbsp of each)

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp zero-calorie sweetener

Put it all in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high or up to 8 on low.

TIP: Make extra an freeze it!

Cauliflower Pizza

Our health coach passed this recipe on to us. You can switch the toppings up. Just make sure you are getting the right amounts of lean protein, veggies, and healthy fats.

Crust:
1 cup Grated Raw Cauliflower or 100 g (2 Greens)
1/4 cup Egg Whites from the carton (1/8 Lean)
1/2 cup or 2 oz 2% Reduced Fat Three Cheese Mexican Blend (4/8 Lean)
1/8 tsp garlic powder – optional (1/4 Condiment)
1/8 tsp basil – optional (1/8 Condiment)

Toppings:
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp or 1.5 oz 2% reduced fat Mozzarella cheese (3/8 Lean)
1/2 cup Italian diced tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes, canned – less than 5 g of carbs per serving or an approved pasta sauce such as 1/4 cup Bella Vita Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce (1 green)

Directions:
Measure out 1/2 cup diced tomatoes and puree in blended or chopper. I just pulsed for a few seconds in my little chopper. Set aside. Or you can use an approved pasta sauce such as Bella Vita roasted garlic pasta sauce. It also comes in spicy tomato, tomato basil, and meat flavored.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine grated cauliflower, egg beaters, cheese, garlic powder and basil until mixed completely. Spoon mixture on prepared pan. Use the back of a spoon to thin out mixture (or your hands) and form a circle about the size of a dinner plate without the rim. The thinner the crust the less chance of it being soggy. Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the pizza crust over using a spatula to lift all edges of the crust off the parchment first. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until edges are really brown and crisp. Mine are usually burnt around the edges but it won’t taste burnt. Let cool.
Add tomato sauce and cheese on top. Broil until cheese is melted about 5 to 10 minutes. If you are making several cauliflower pizza crusts like I usually do, you can put the cooled crusts in gallon size Ziploc bags. I usually can fit 4 to 5 pizza crusts in a Ziploc bag. No need to wrap each one in foil. They won’t stick to each other. When ready to eat, take it out of the freezer as you would a normal store bought frozen pizza. Top with sauce and toppings. Bake for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees or until cheese has completely melted. I can usually get 4 to 5 pizzas from one head of cauliflower! Enjoy!

 

Enchiladas

Tortillas: (two servings – two large or 4 medium sized tortillas)
1 cup grated cauliflower
1/4 cup egg beaters
½ cup 2% reduced-fat shredded cheese
1/8 tsp Southwest Chipotle Mrs. Dash (optional)
Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes per side, until golden (but still soft and flexible)

Filling:
°Bake or grill your favorite lean protein (chicken, beef, or fish/seafood)

Sauce:
°2 Cans crushed tomatoes
°1-2 bell peppers, chopped roughly (optional)
°1/2 tsp salt
°1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic
°1 tsp onion powder or 3 tbsp diced onion
°Blend in the food processor until smooth

Assemble:
°Put 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of an oven safe baking dish.
°Fill shell with meat, roll, and place in the pan.
°Cover with 1/2 c. more sauce and sprinkle with low fat or fat-free Mexican or cheddar cheese.
Bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is starting to brown.

 

 

Green Beans

This makes wonderful green beans to add to a healthy meal:

Sauté 10 unsalted almonds, sliced, in 1 tsp. of trans fat-free margarine.

At the end, add 1 clove of garlic, minced. Sauté until you smell the garlic.

Add 1 cup of green beans per person. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. Add 1 tsp. trans fat-free margarine. Add 1 c. fat-free or low-fat chicken stock. Cook until beans are done and stock has reduced to a thicker sauce.

 

They will know we are Christians by our …obnoxious political rants?

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
 
One of my best friends voted on a different side than I did. We are both Bible-reading Christians who came to different conclusions on what issues we felt were most important and who we felt would be the best to lead the country. Do I think less of her because we don’t always agree on politics? No. Will we call each other names or degrade the other one for making a different choice? No. We will still have spirited debates about why we believe in our side? Absolutely. Will we expect the other to continue to be educated about what is happening in our country and around the world? Yes. Will we agree in the next election? Probably not. Will we remain friends and love each other anyway? Without a doubt.
 
Christians, stop it. Quit calling names, posting political opinions that you agree with and then trying to tell anyone who disagrees that you don’t want to be political. Quit condemning the other side because you don’t understand how someone came to that conclusion. 
 
John 13:35 says that the world will know we are disciples of Jesus by our love for each other, our love for the other people who profess faith in the same Savior we do. No wonder the world is a mess. From my newsfeed today I cannot tell who is a believer and who is not. There is condemnation, hate, gloating, attacking, but almost no love, almost no attempt to understand the other side. How can we expect to show the love of Jesus to our lost world if we cannot find it in our hearts to love a fellow child of God whose opinion is different from ours because their life/experiences/economic status/geographic location/___________(fill in the blank) brought them to a different conclusion than our own. 
Christian brother or sister, how are you known today? By your love and care for other believers (because until we figure that out we can’t even begin to care for non-believers well) or by your hatred or opposition of a certain political party, figure, or issue?
*NOTE: I am not accepting comments on this post. This idea here is to encourage self-reflection, not a debate.

I’m the mom of the child in the gorilla enclosure….

Ok, so not really. But I could have been. And so could you. And for 27 minutes one summer day I was that mom.

Along with several sets of friends, I took my kids to a water park in the capital city of Taipei, Taiwan while we were living there. We had been to the park previously with visiting family so I knew where things were located. I had all three kids with me but my husband stayed home in order to attend a training seminar on a church management system. The older girls could both swim well and knew the rules of water parks. I put our little man, who was 3, in his U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation suit and we headed out.

The rule was that the kids had to stay within my eyesight unless they had permission to go off with another parent from our group. Toward the end of our time all three kid were playing in the same general area, though not together. My eyes were constantly bouncing from kid to kid…1…2…3…1…2…3, keeping track of them. Then it happened. 1…2…and no 3. Certain he was right there I walked a small circle around where he had been playing before I looked up to check on his sisters. He wasn’t there. Thinking he had joined his sisters or another group of kids from our larger group I checked. He was not there.

Panic set in. He was missing. At a water park. In a foreign country. As the minutes ticked by with no sign of him, my panic level rose. I couldn’t adequately convey what was happening to the Chinese-speaking lifeguards. No one in our group could find him. No one around us spoke enough Chinese to convince the guards to take some kind of action. I was describing him to everyone around who spoke any kind of English and people, complete strangers, began to search the water park for him. I went to all the places we had been that day. I looked around the ice cream stand and the food court. I looked at the slides he wanted to do but was too small. No sign of him.

As I returned to the area where he had been playing I was at a total loss as to where to look next and what to do. I began praying. Out loud. In English in a Chinese-speaking country. I took a deep breath, ready to go look again when a man came up to me. A dad. From Australia. He asked me what my son was wearing. He said, “I have little boys. I will find him.” I was grateful for his help, although a little surprised by his calm assurance that he would find my little man. He took off running, calling his name and yelling for his sons to help him find where a little boy was hiding.

I was left standing at the top of a slide platform, in an attempt to get a better view of the kids area and hopefully spot his bright green and blue flotation suit. I kept reminding my self that a panicking mom was no help and to keep a calm head. I kept reminding myself that he was wearing a flotation suit and would not drown. And I kept praying.

After 3 minutes, and 27 total minutes, the Australian man and his sons walked up to me, holding my little guy by the hand. “He was hiding by the pinball machines in the arcade. I knew right where to look.” I tried to thank him, but he just smiled at me and walked off with his arms around his boys. I don’t even know his name.

As I write this, tears stream down my cheeks. Tears over remembering the anguish I felt. Tears of relief that my son is happily banging on his piano 5 years later. Tears over the realization that very easily this could have had a very different outcome.

As parents, if we are honest, most of us will admit to losing track of our kids at one time or another. Maybe it is in a department store when they hide under a clothing rack or a grocery store where they run into the next aisle. Maybe its at a park where they wander to the swings when we thought they were on the slide. In most of these situations no one else knows that the child has wandered away. No new crew interviews bystanders about the experience. And no one is hurt. But in some cases the outcome is much worse. There are parents still waiting for word 5, 10, 20 years after a child wandered off. And while there are obviously cases of neglectful parenting that may have led to these various situations, often it is not because a parent wasn’t watching the child. I didn’t have a cell phone out. I wasn’t attempting to watch the kids from a distance. I simply looked away from the youngest one for no more than a minute to check that his sisters were still where they were a few minutes before and he was gone.

The truth is, these things happen. Maybe not as sensationally as a child getting into a gorilla enclosure, but they happen. They happen to most parents. Good parents who pay attention to their kids.

I have no idea what transpired to allow this child to get away from his parent(s). I have read accounts that don’t portray the parent as being on the phone or otherwise engaged, but I cannot testify as to what allowed this situation to occur. I would question the security measures in place that would have allowed a small child to accidentally gain access to this exhibit and I am sure the zoo will be doing the same thing. What I can do is offer a bit of grace to this parent. Because, for 27 minutes in 2011, I was this mother.

 

Preparing for the Worst

consent-clipart-pen_and_paper_legal_document_with_pen_signing_the_paper_0515-0909-2116-0233_SMUIn the last six weeks we have supported friends who lost their son and a friend whose husband died. Walking with my friend whose husband passed has brought about a renewed focus to make sure we have all our papers in order should anything tragic happen.

*DISCLAIMER – I am not a lawyer and am not offering specific legal advise. I am giving you suggestions of where to start.*

1. Make a Will – Visit a lawyer or buy software and make out a will. Include plans for what will happen with your children, your final expenses, your debt, and your money. You can specify who is presumed to have passed first if you both die within a certain time frame. You can give care instructions for your children. You can set up a trust to provide for your children in the future. You can also bequeath individual items to specific people and record your wishes for your funeral service.

2. Make a  Power of Attorney – Again, with a lawyer or software, make out a Power of Attorney that will allow your spouse to make decisions for you in the event you cannot. This will allow your spouse access to accounts and credit in your name only, as well as allow them to perform business on your behalf.

3. Make a Health Care Power of Attorney – Once again through a lawyer or software, make out a health care directive giving your spouse the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Include your desires for life support and extreme measures, as well as your wishes to be an organ donor, if you so desire.

4. Make a file that includes birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards and other important identifying documents. Make sure you both know where this is and that it can be easily accessed. Include the kids identifying documents here as well.

5. Make sure both spouses know when and how to pay the bills. Even in today’s world, usually one person ends up managing the finances. Make sure you both know they system and how to use it.

6. Have all finance, insurance, and investment papers up-to-date and filled where you both can access them. Including banking records, safe deposit box keys, debt statements, mortgage information, auto loans, car or other vehicle titles,  and property deeds.

7. Have a secure list of your log ins and passwords. These can be kept in separate documents with a number code matching them up if you worried about security. You can also keep them in a hand-written notebook instead of on a computer file. Just make sure your spouse can access your online accounts or shared accounts.

8. Talk to each other. I know it is a subject no one wants to deal with, but the truth is that sometimes you do. Talk to your spouse about your wishes and their wishes. Will she stay in the current house/location or move closer to family if something happens? Will he have to put the kids into school (if you homeschool) or pay for additional child care? Do you want to be buried somewhere specific or do you just want your spouse to do whatever they think is best? Are there extended family issues that could complicate an already difficult time (e.g. Cousin Steve always pops up and asks for money when he knows someone has received something)? Talk about it all and then get it in writing.