Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's for lunch?

 My new favorite lunch? Chicken Salad! In the past I had a couple of bad habits that I've been trying to break:

1. Feeding the daycare kids crap. Although for the most part I've always been pretty good about making "healthier" choices for the kids (we avoid fruit juices and canned fruits, never have sugared cereal, etc), I was still falling back on kid-friendly (there's nothing friendly about processed foods), inexpensive and easy meals such as hot dogs, mac&cheese and frozen pizza (who doesn't love Pizza Friday?). I don't remember the last time I served the kids any of those three (except today we're having nitrate-free turkey dogs!).

2. My lunch was usually quick, if I "ate" at all. Usually I'd gobbled down a slice of pizza (or other "naughty" foods) while serving the kids and clean the kitchen. When I eat while I'm "on my feet" I have the tendency to overeat. One slice of pizza turns to three slices. I finally get a chance to sit down when the kids are finished with their lunch. As I sit down to the leftovers I think, "Boy, I'm so hungry!" I'm not hungry but my brain says I am because I never had the opportunity to sit while eating. So now I've reduce grazing. :) I also prepare my lunch before I make lunch for the kids - although I am feeding them healthy foods, there are still some foods that I avoid such as tortillas and bread.

Chicken Salad has become one of my favorite lunches. I can make it up ahead of time

I make this to taste, meaning I taste test while making and add ingredients if necessary. Here's what I use: 
Diced Chicken (chicken breast, leftovers from whole chicken, etc.)
Mayo (this day I used Vegenaise but I'm not fond of a few of it's ingredients....I need to make my own mayo!)
Nuts - almonds or walnuts
Sea Salt

If I have on hand, I also add:
Fresh cilantro or parsley
Green onions

Occasionally I spoon my chicken salad into a romaine heart for a salad wrap or put on top of a bed of spring greens but usually I eat it just as it is!

I love this recipe as I can make a batch at the beginning of the week to use for quick lunches and dinners. There is usually a little left over for Saturday which is the day I let my family "fend for themselves". :)

April's HomemakingThe Chicken Chick

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thank you, God, for Madeleine

I grew up in small town in Iowa, just two doors down from an amazing woman. She wasn't glamorous nor did she have a job with a fancy title that required a fancy degree. She was just Madeleine; housewife, mother and Jesus-follower. I know that she loved Jesus because of the way that she loved others.

Madeleine was the one who led me to Christ that summer so long ago at Vacation Bible School. She was the adult that I could have gone to if I had something that I "couldn't discuss" with my mother. I don't think I ever did but it sure was comforting knowing that there was someone that I could trust with anything. She was somebody that I could count on. 

Today Madeleine is having a mastectomy. After suffering for the past years from a debilitating disease (Parkinson's) she now has breast cancer. Tears flow down my face as I think of this sweet, caring, selfless woman and the suffering that she has endured over the past years. Thoughts of "it's NOT FAIR!" and questioning why good people suffer creep into my mind. Yet as soon as these thoughts begin a vision of how Madeleine would respond to these questions chases away the questions of doubt. 

"Oh, it's okay, kid!" she'd say, shrugging off the suffering as if it was a nuisance to even speak about and then giving me a big smile. She always called everyone kid. She always smiled.

We moved away from that small Iowa town when I was fifteen so I've only seen Madeleine a handful of times over the past 30 years. But a few years ago I visited and had the opportunity to witness the sweetest act of servitude. A large group of my parent's friends had meet at a restaurant for lunch after church. There were too many of us to fit at the same table so I had the privilege of sitting at a smaller table with Madeleine and her husband. I left that day with a heart full of gratitude and love for this couple. During our meal I watched Madeleine, the one who was always serving others, being served by her husband. It was the most beautiful thing (next to her constant smile) I have ever witnessed. In her husband I saw patience and a love that turned this tough, manly-man into a tender and compassionate caregiver. In Madeleine, despite the fact that her husband was helping feed her, I saw this incredible joy, joy which radiated from her constant smile. My friends, that beautiful image will remain in my memory forever.

I don't know why Madeleine has been living a life of great suffering but I do know God has a plan. Maybe that plan is to allow others to serve Madeleine, repaying her for all those years of serving others. Maybe her suffering is an example for some who needs to learn how to suffer well. 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I don't know why she suffers but I do know that my life has been forever changed by an amazing woman named Madeleine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A great love

Last week I did a little craft project with the daycare kiddos. I did the first cross painting to model for the children how to create this water painted cross. As I showed them the importance of using just the right amount of water - not too much and not too little, we talked about Easter. I opened with the question, "Why do we celebrate Easter? What is it all about?"

Responses varied but most had to do with the Easter bunny. Instead of getting discouraged I instead agreed with them (hold on here), "Yes, part of our celebration includes the Easter bunny. We sometimes add things to holidays to make them fun. At Christmas we have Santa and at Easter we have a bunny but......Why do we celebrate Christmas? Whose birth do we celebrate?"
They all cheerfully exclaimed, "JESUS!"

"Yes, Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus! Does anyone know who Easter is really about?"

One boy hesitantly said, "Jesus?"

"YES! It's all about Jesus! It's about Jesus dying on the cross for US!" The kids at this point would usually be itching to begin their own painting project but today they seemed just as interested in learning about Easter so I continued, "Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross for each of you!"

As I painted one of the boys said quietly, "I wish Jesus didn't have to die......"

"Oh honey, guess what?", I said with a big smile, "Jesus, because he's God's son isn't dead! He came back to life! Which means if we believe in Him then when we die we will get to live in heaven with Him! He is waiting for us in heaven! Isn't that exciting?"

The smiles on the faces of these sweet, precious children was priceless. As I continued to tell the kids of Jesus' love for them one of the girls exclaimed, "He loves us to the moon and back again!"

Yes, dear one, He loves us to the moon and back again. In fact, He loves us to the cross and back again!

It's all about the cross, my friend. The cross and God's great big love.

Living He loved me! Dying He saved me! Buried He carried my sins far away! Rising He justified freely forever!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa

As I was preparing dinner the other night, hubs walked through the kitchen and saw this:

and said that I needed to take a picture. Being the obedient wife that I am (only by the grace of God as obedience has always been a struggle for me), I did. There is something very satisfying in the act of preparing dishes such as this one. It's like a slow, sweet dance that I perform in my kitchen. A dance that I prefer to dance alone but one which will benefit those that I love. I lined my pan with foil, carefully placed the fish and drizzled it with oil. Next came the cutting board and my favorite knife (does everyone have a favorite knife or is this just another one of my oddities?), herbs and fruits spread across the counter top, each waiting their turn to contribute their delishishness to my dish. 

First the pineapple. Top and bottom cut off for my backyard chickens to feast upon. Slicing the pineapple in half and carefully shaving off the skin so that only the sweet, juicy fruit remains. Fingers sticky from dicing up the pineapple, I place the fruit on top of the fish. I love touching my food (yes, I'm sure another oddity). A few pieces stolen to taste, rinse my fingers and move onto the next. Tomatoes halved and quartered. Squishing garlic (no need to mince for this recipe). Chopping chives, green onions and cilantro (my favorite of herbs). Each ingredient sprinkled on top of dinner. Squeezing the orange and lime, juice topping the goodness that will soon fill our bellies. As I top my creation with foil, pinching the edge of the bottom to the top, I am filled with joy and anticipation. Joy from the act of creating. Anticipation to share this joy with my family in the form of nourishment for their bodies. 
The tilapa was served on a bed of jasmine rice and accompanied by green beans and a salad. 

The green beans (frozen) were simply tossed with Wildtree Roasted Grapeseed Oil, a little salt and pepper, a handful of Parmesan cheese and baked for 30 minutes. 

The spring salad was topped with my favorite homemade dressing (Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil, balsamic vineagar, and Wildtree's OPA! Seasoning), tomatoes and sunflower seeds. 

Printable recipe: Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa

The Chicken Chick