Thanksgiving is over, and the wonder of the Christmas season is here! I love it!
But the wonder of the Christmas season also includes a wonderful To Do list that has gotten much longer since before Thanksgiving. In addition to all my regular activities, it now includes:
We do all these things during the Christmas season because we want to honor and express our thankfulness to God for sending His Son and we want to bless others and enjoy our family.
But all this wonder often makes it more difficult for me to maintain my normal health routines that I depend on to keep me on track with good health habits. As I am working through my wonderful To Do list, I’m finding it harder to cook healthy meals, get regular exercise and get enough sleep.
Have you ever considered that one way that we
can honor God and express our thankfulness to
Him during the Christmas season is to do what is
necessary to take care of this beautiful
body, mind and spirit that He has given us?
And one way that we can bless others and our family
is to take care of ourselves so that we
are available and have the energy to
give to them and enjoy them?
To help us do that during this wonderful season, I want to share my current favorite One Pot Wonder that I have cooked many times when I want to prepare a healthy meal in the midst of a busy schedule.
This One Pot Wonder has many positive attributes:
This One Pot Wonder is called Shakshuka (recipe below) and I must thank my daughter for introducing me to this wonderful meal!
My family enjoys this meal with a high fiber crusty homemade whole grain bread that contains oats and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and chia) – another One Pot Wonder recipe that I will share at a later time.
I hope you try out this wonderful One Pot Wonder so that you can enjoy a wonderful and healthy Christmas season!
(adapted from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/245362/chef-johns-shakshuka/)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1/2 cup water, or more as needed
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons crumbled goat or feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Cook and stir until mushrooms release all of their liquid and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in bell peppers. Stir in jalapeno pepper (optional). Cook and stir until peppers begin to soften up, about 5 minutes. Season with cumin, paprika, turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir and cook to "wake up" the flavors, about 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and water. Adjust heat to medium and simmer uncovered until veggies are softened and sweet, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water if sauce becomes too thick.
Make a depression in the sauce for each egg with a large spoon. Crack egg into a small ramekin and slide gently into each indentation; repeat with the rest of the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until eggs are to your desired doneness.
Top with goat or feta cheese and parsley.
Everywhere I look, I see that we are all settling into the traditions and expressions of the fall season.
I see this, and I understand:
We all want to enjoy the colors and symbols of the beautiful fall season!
I see this, and I don’t understand:
Why would anyone want to buy Halloween candy
when Halloween is well over a month away?
Yes, I know we Christians can have differing views on the acknowledgement and celebration of Halloween. Some choose to ignore it to avoid evil influence. Some choose to participate to leverage it to make a positive impact. And some of us find benefit in buying that Halloween candy well before the date when the selection is wide and varied. Those snack size treats can be stored away and used as a great portion control strategy for enjoying some treats in moderation throughout the year. But whatever we personally choose, it doesn’t change this fact:
We will face a large and prominent Halloween candy
display every time we go to the grocery store, drug store or discount store between now and October 31st.
For those of us who face the temptation to overindulge, it may be a set up to stumble!
For those of us who tend toward overindulgence of sweets at this time of year, the more Halloween candy we see, the more we are likely to buy. The longer we have Halloween candy in our house, the more likely we are to eat it and then buy more.
In Matthew 5, Jesus has something to say about stumbling. When speaking of the sin of adultery and the lust that accompanies it, He said:
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Regarding the application of this passage, a few very important points need to be made:
It is also important to remember that gluttony, like every other sin, cannot be detected by just looking at someone on the outside. As Jesus clarified earlier in Matthew 5, just because we don’t see a man commit adultery (vs. 28) or murder (vs.22) doesn’t mean these sins are not hiding in the heart or lurking behind closed doors. Likewise, just because someone is not obese does not mean that this person is free from the sin of overindulgence and gluttony. I can personally attest to this!
When it comes to the sin of overindulgence and gluttony, there are many ways that we can be set up to stumble. But we can overcome that trap by taking to heart the principles outlined in this passage of scripture.
When it comes to the temptation to overindulge in Halloween candy this time of year, here are a few adjustments that I plan to make in my life to avoid stumbling:
What about you? How will you deal with the temptation of Halloween candy that will be with us for the next month and a half? What will you do to keep yourself from stumbling beyond moderation and into overindulgence?
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A few years ago, I taught a required Health & Wellness General Education class at a local Christian university. Like most GenEd classes at college, the freshman students were mainly concerned about fulfilling the requirement and moving on to classes within their field of study. And so, like most GenEd courses, getting the students to enthusiastically participate in class was a challenge.
But there was one day when class participation went through roof all because I asked one simple question at the start of our unit on Nutrition and Eating Behavior. The question was:
Would Jesus eat a Twinkie?
There was an almost immediate uproar as the students grouped together with others taking their side on the issue. It was pretty much a 50/50 split and each group enthusiastically debated the merits of their stand on the issue.
The first group was eager to speak as they believed that Jesus would absolutely not, under any circumstances, eat a Twinkie. Their argument consisted of the following points:
The second group rolled their eyes and sat back in their chairs with a bit of a smirk on their faces. When their time came to speak, they stated that they believed that Jesus would have no problem eating a Twinkie. Their argument consisted of the following points:
One student was particularly interested in discussing the matter further and suggested looking at it within the context of the greatest commandments of all:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
By applying the greatest commandments to the question, we were able to come to the following reasonable speculations about how Jesus would most likely react to the idea of eating a Twinkie:
1. The same God who asks us to honor Him with our bodies is the same God who provides all things for our enjoyment. If Jesus believed that eating a Twinkie would be enjoyable, He very well might eat one, but given that it is a “fun food” as opposed to a “fuel food” it would be a very small part of his diet, most likely eaten on rare occasions.
2. Putting God first in our lives means that we get rid of anything that would cause us to sin or interfere with our devotion and service to Him. So, Jesus would be the master of His Twinkie eating instead of the other way around. As Paul discussed with the Corinthians regarding their freedom in Christ, …“I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12).
3. If Jesus enjoyed eating a Twinkie, He would gladly forgo that experience if it would cause difficulty or hardship for anyone else in the room. He would follow the biblical principle of In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:3-4) and If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love…(Romans 14:15)
4. Jesus would honor the food choices and eating convictions others, without judgment or interference, Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another… Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification…So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God (Romans 14:13,19,22) unless those choices were associated with a sin (such as gluttony or greed) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
What do you think? Would Jesus eat a Twinkie? Whether you personally would ever choose to eat a Twinkie or not, the biblical principles that were part of our class discussion are relevant to all of us as we make our day to day food choices. It may be wise for all of us to ask ourselves:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
We live in a country where we have many choices, including many food choices. For example, the Food Marketing Institute estimates that the average number of items carried in US supermarkets in 2016 was 38,900 products. Sometimes it seems that the number of choices available in the average aisle of a supermarket is both overwhelming and absurd.
And the abundance of choice exists not just in the grocery aisle. Restaurant eating accounted for 48% of the American family food dollar in 2017 (compared to 25% in 1955). That demand has brought about an abundance of choices. In the town where I reside, if I want pizza, I can choose from 42 different establishments. If I want Mexican, I can choose from 15 different restaurants. For dinner in a hurry, I will have to make a choice among 37 contenders for my fast food order.
Our busy lifestyle combined with an abundance of choices contributes to the difficulties that we often face when trying to make healthy food choices.
There are several good strategies for combating the impact of these excessive number of choices on our dietary habits:
Cook at home: Recent research (2017) showed that people who eat home cooked meals more than 5 times a week (as opposed to less than 3 times a week) not only consumed more fruits and vegetables, but also were 28% percent less likely to be overweight and 24% less likely to have an excess percentage of body fat. This is not surprising because when you cook at home (from the limited food choices in your kitchen) you know what is going into your meal and you can adapt recipes to accommodate your health goals. Yet, life is busy and, for many, cooking at home most nights of the week seems unrealistic.
Get Educated: Reading Nutrition Facts labels can certainly help, but with so many choices to evaluate, even that strategy is of limited benefit. We are busy people. The Hartman Group did a study (2016) that found that even when people were watching their weight, only 59% frequently or almost always read Nutrition Facts labels on food products. When it comes to dining out, a recent study (2016) showed that while 1 in 4 consumers had a restaurant-specific app on their smartphone, only 16% had looked up nutritional information while dining in a restaurant. Detailed nutrition facts about the foods available to us can be very useful in making healthy food choices, but only if we take the time to study them.
The truth is that, sometimes, I am in a hurry. I am out and about and don’t have time to go home to make a meal and didn’t have time to make a meal to take with me before I left the house. The truth is that, sometimes, I am distracted. I am preoccupied with reading, writing or socializing and I don’t have the mental bandwidth to investigate 4 different nutrition facts labels before I make my food choice.
I recently remembered another strategy that has helped me greatly in making good food choices, even when I am busy and distracted. That strategy is prayer.
Last October, I was in my busy day and had to stop for a quick lunch. Based on my location, I had two choices of where to eat lunch: Culvers and Panera Bread.
It was the last day of the Indian Summer and I really wanted my lunch to also be an opportunity to savor the last warm day of the year before the cold weather began in earnest. As I pondered my choices, my first thought went to Culvers. I could get a kid’s meal that had a small cheeseburger, small fries, small drink and a small serving of frozen custard. That cool frozen custard appealed to me as the perfect way to savor the last really hot day of the year. I don’t believe in labeling foods as “good” or “bad”, but I knew that, based on what I had eaten so far that day and had planned for dinner, this particular meal was not the best choice for me at that moment. But, I wanted it anyway.
And so, I prayed a prayer that helped me then and has helped me many times since. “Lord, please help me to choose what is better.” As soon as I silently spoke those words, God answered my prayer by reminding me that Panera Bread had outdoor seating. I could order a cool salad and a cool flavored water and sit outside on that sunny and hot day to enjoy experiencing the last warm day of the year. It was perfect! I had a healthy meal and a great experience.
Life is about choices.
In the classic story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), Mary and Martha both had choices. Martha was corrected not for choosing something bad, but for failing to choose the best option. Mary was commended because, considering her two choices, she had “chosen what is better.”
In talking with the Corinthians about their freedom to make choices (1 Corinthians 10:23), Paul provides some clarification to their statement, “I have the right to do anything” by reminding them that:
“…but not everything is beneficial.”
“…but not everything is constructive.”
There are many ways to go about making good food choices. In a perfect world, we would all take the time to cook at home and take the time to research the nutritional value of the foods we eat at home and in the restaurant. But most of us don’t live in that perfect world. And for most of us, there are other factors that influence our food choices, such as our social interactions and our physical and emotional state.
With so many choices coming at us and so many confounding variables that affect our choices, may I suggest that one important part of making good food choices is simply to pray the following prayer:
“Lord, among the food options available to me,
please help me to choose
what is better, beneficial and constructive.”
How about you? Have you considered prayer as an effective way to help yourself make good food choices? Will you commit to praying this prayer this week? May God help you as He helped me on that hot day in October!
Summer is here and with the beautiful change in weather also comes a change in our eating habits. We all have a list of our favorite cold and refreshing foods and beverages to cool us down on a hot summer day and, if you are anything like me, ice cream is high on that list.
I really appreciate a good bowl of ice cream, but I have found that, for me, ice cream can be a very difficult food to eat. Why? Because it is so difficult to eat only the standard ½ cup serving size that you see on the Nutrition Facts Label. For example, my all-time favorite ice cream is Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip.
It tastes really good, but eating only a ½ cup portion of this ice cream is very difficult because:
When speaking to the Corinthians about the balance between exercising their freedom and honoring God, Paul counters the argument about having the "right to do anything" by saying:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.
“I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12
This passage specifically refers to the Corinthian’s appetite for sexual immorality. But, like the Corinthians, I also have appetites, including an appetite for ice cream.
If I am to honor God, my appetites must be managed in a way that acknowledges who I am in relation to what He has done for me:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
And I would do well to heed the words from the wise about the dangers of excessive indulgence in food and drink.
Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:
Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,
for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
I am free to enjoy ice cream, but when I allow myself to become mastered by that appetite and consume that entire 14 fl. oz. carton of my favorite ice cream (1,050 Calories, by the way), I am not honoring God. My appetite has mastered me and 1,050 Calories of dessert are not beneficial for my body as I desire to be a healthy and energetic servant of God.
So, how do I eat ice cream? Here are some things that I do that enable me to enjoy a wonderful summer dessert in a way that allows me to master my appetite for ice cream and preserve my health:
When serving up ice cream, always, always use a 6 ounce Pyrex custard cup. Of all of the items in your kitchen, this one is most likely the closest you will get to serving up ½ cup of ice cream without having to get out the measuring cups (assuming you don’t pack it down as if you were measuring brown sugar for a recipe).
When going out for ice cream, always, always order the kid’s size scoop. Again, this is the closest you will get to a ½ cup serving at the ice cream parlor. Another option to split a regular size serving with someone else.
Make your own ice cream alternatives. I have two “go to” ice cream alternatives that I really enjoy because they are:
Here are the recipes for my two “go to” ice cream alternatives.
You may want to give them a try.
Raspberry Ice Cream Alternative
(my very favorite)
3.5 oz. plain Greek strained yogurt
¼ cup of frozen raspberries (slightly thawed)
½ tsp cherry jam (or some other red fruit jam or preserve)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Alternative
(for when I want some chocolate)
1 small frozen peeled banana (slightly thawed)
2 tsp peanut butter
1 T chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa) or cocoa powder
For both recipes, simply combine ingredients and mash together by hand or pulse in a mini food processor until they reach your desired ice cream consistency.
This week, my mother celebrates her 90th birthday! There are so many things that I could say about the way that she has shaped, molded and influenced me as her daughter. But of all her activities associated with motherhood, there is one thing that she did for me and for our family that stands out more than anything else. She cooked. I mean, she really cooked – as opposed to ordering take-out or adding water and oil to food in a box or reheating prepared meals. My mother cooked well and she cooked often!
In the simple act of daily cooking for our family, my mother shared her values and demonstrated important attributes of character.
To value home cooking is to value good health!
First and foremost, by cooking meals at home, she shared with me the value of investing time and resources in activities that promote good health. During the time when home cooking was beginning to decline, my mom continued to cook from scratch using real foods in the interest of good health.
These days, the tide has begun to turn back to seeing the value of home cooking. In fact, a good body of research points to the numerous health benefits of consuming real foods that have been cooked at home.
Recent research (2014) done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied the eating habits of 9000 participants for 30 days and found that:
A more recent research (2017) using data from the Fenland Study (2005 – 2015) showed that those eating home cooked meals more than five times a week (compared to less than three times a week):
I have no doubt that my mother’s dedication to daily home cooking is greatly responsible for the good health enjoyed by me and other members of my family.
In addition to teaching me to value good health, my mother also displayed and taught me many other character attributes by her cooking at home.
Faithfulness: My mother cooked a meal at home for us every day whether it was raining or the sun was shining and whether our home environment was calm or chaotic. In her service to our family through cooking, she displayed consistency and dependability.
Courage: When I was growing up, fast food, processed foods and junk foods were becoming very popular. Some of my friends regularly had Twinkies, Ding Dongs, soda, bologna sandwiches with fake cheese slices on white bread. Others ate at McDonalds or had TV dinners often. My mom never bought into that popularity, much to my youthful disappointment. She displayed the courage to stand against the popularity of convenience foods and stuck to cooking healthy meals using real foods. In fact, when I first got to college, I was shocked at how different my eating habits were compare to my peers.
Organization & Efficiency: Through the tasks of cooking, my mother demonstrated good management of her resources and time. She always shopped with a grocery list. She cooked meals ahead and put them in the freezer and she always knew exactly what was in that freezer at any given point in time. She did batch cooking and lived by the philosophy that “If you have to chop one onion, you might as well chop two and use the extra for another meal.”
Thriftiness: My mother believed that food should never be wasted. She always had creative ways of repurposing leftovers. I remember the year that my grandfather had a bumper crop of zucchini in his garden and we ate zucchini in what seemed like 16,000 different ways, thanks to my mother’s creativity and thriftiness.
Respect: My mother had a set of rules that taught me to respect the people who were expending the effort to feed me. The first rule was, “Eat what you are served.” My mother cooked healthy meals and was not a slave to my food preferences. The second rule was, “After dinner has been cleaned up, the kitchen is closed.” There was a proper time and place to eat and the kitchen was not open 24/7 to accommodate my food whims.
Love: Cooking was and continues to be my mother’s love language. As her child, I enjoyed her warm pudding with pureed fruit on a cold day. Her grandkids enjoyed her blue blueberry oatmeal when they came to visit. She expresses her love through cooking for her family. We have all benefitted not only from her healthy meals, but also from her very practical expressions of love through cooking.
Thanks Mom, for all the wonderful benefits that our family received from your dedication to daily home cooking!
The other day, I could have just kicked myself! I got caught in a food foible and I should have known better!
I took my husband in for an outpatient surgery with an arrival time of 10:30 AM. We spent most of the morning getting the house set up for his recovery and, after a quick breakfast, I thought I would grab lunch at the surgery center while I was waiting, because…
…certainly, in a same day surgery center, they would have a small café where one can grab a quick sandwich or salad, right? Wrong! No café.
…certainly, in a same day surgery center, they would make a way to stay in touch with relatives who have stepped out for a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant, right? Wrong! Relatives must stay within the walls of the surgery center at all times.
I had made lots of wrong assumptions which put me in a bad place in terms of food choices. The surgery center did, however, provide snacks for waiting relatives and they looked like this:
Popcorn was the only “real food” option, so I enjoyed that. Beyond that, it was all about reading labels and choosing the granola bar with the highest amount of protein and fiber and the lowest amount of sugar. So, I had a snack and it was okay, but I could have done so much better.
You see, I forgot about my “go to” snack which is a snack that I always have ingredients for so that I can produce it in very little time. My current “go to” snack is hummus and cut up vegetables. I serve it every time when we host our small group because it is easy and healthy and, no matter what anyone else brings, people have at least one healthy choice food-wise. The great thing about hummus and veggies is that they are very portable. It would have been so easy to quickly put some in a container and take it to the surgery center with me. And I think that hummus is so much fun because there are so many different things that you can do with it! My current favorite is Macadamia Nut Hummus (recipe below).
My experience reminded me of the importance of always having my “go to” snack in the refrigerator and ready to go. It only takes about 15 minutes for me to make a homemade hummus and cut up some veggies and they last in the refrigerator for the entire week. The result is that I have a healthy and portable snack anytime I need it. My food foible could have been easily avoided.
Having a “go to” healthy snack in the house requires that I plan ahead, be prepared and have provisions on hand.
That means that I have the ingredients on my standing weekly grocery list and that I take the 15 minutes once a week to prepare it and have it ready to go in the refrigerator. Being prepared and having provisions on hand are indications of wisdom, intelligence and good management. From Abigail (1 Samuel 25:2-42), to the ant (Proverbs 6:6-8), to the woman of Proverbs 31 (Proverbs 31: 10-31), we see that being prepared and having provisions on hand enables us to effectively manage circumstances that come our way.
How about you? What is your healthy “go to” snack that can be used as a provision on hand for even the most difficult of eating situations?
Macadamia Nut Hummus Platter
1 cup dry roasted macadamias
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic. minced
¾ - 1 tsp salt (depending on tastes)
2-3 tbsp water
⅓ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
Assorted cut up veggies – red/yellow peppers, zucchini, carrots
Place macadamia nuts in food processor and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides periodically to make sure all the nuts are processed. (The nuts will break down, release its oils and go from grainy to paste-like)
Add all the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, streaming the olive oil as blending.
Taste and adjust seasoning needed.
Hummus will thicken in the refrigerator so bring to room temperature before serving.
A recent culinary adventure reaffirmed for me that “sometimes you just never know!”
I like vegetables, but had never really invested much time in learning some vegetarian recipes. It just didn’t seem practical because I live with carnivores. My man likes his meat and I have no interest in cooking multiple meals to suit multiple dietary preferences.
Enter my daughter’s roommate who is going through a very difficult time facing a tough situation that is difficult for most people in middle age, let alone a young girl in her mid-twenties. And like many women, one of my basic beliefs is that, while I can’t solve people’s problems, I can make sure they get a good meal! And so I confidently set out to make some delicious comfort food to send over, until my daughter reminded me that her roommate is a vegetarian. My confidence quickly faded as I realized that I had no “go to” vegetarian recipes and I could not imagine how any vegetarian recipe could produce that “comfort food” feeling.
Thank goodness for Google which saved the day and sent me on my vegetarian culinary adventure. In my search for Crockpot vegetarian recipes, I came across Crockpot Chickpea, Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Stew. As I read the recipe, I will admit that I had my doubts, especially when I saw a spice on the ingredient list called garam masala. My daughter informed me that it is an Indian spice. Every experience I have had with Indian food has left me either sweating or with indigestion. But my daughter assured me that it is more of an aromatic than a “spicy” spice.
And so I gave it a try – Crockpot Chickpea, Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Stew!
My culinary adventure resulted in an amazing success! It was delicious, hearty and definitely had that “comfort food” feel.
And any doubts in my mind were erased when my son tried it and told me that it tasted great and the chickpeas were really good. And this was from the boy who could once eat a double cheeseburger at any time, in any place for no reason in particular. I really enjoyed this vegetarian recipe and have since made it several times for myself.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul describes how, though he is a free man in Christ, he often used his freedom to adapt to the needs and preferences of others so that he could effectively share Christ with other people.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
I admit that adapting to the needs and preferences of others does not always appeal to me. I like to do things that are done my way and within my comfort zone. And I’m not a vegetarian!
But my vegetarian culinary adventure taught me that Paul’s approach to ministry brings about blessings for the person we are serving as well as for ourselves.
The vegetarian stew was a blessing to a young girl who could use a good nutritious meal while going through a very difficult time. But the vegetarian stew was also a blessing to me. I broadened my definition of “comfort food” and added a delicious, healthy and nutritious recipe to my personal cookbook that I would have never tried had I not made it for the purpose of ministering to the needs of someone else.
So, it is with great pleasure that I share this recipe with you. Why not give it a try? It makes a good amount (I needed to use my 6 quart Crockpot for this recipe) and it freezes very well! And if you really want to take it to “over the top” delicious, once the stew has completed cooking, you can add one ingredient that is not on the original ingredient list: a small can (5-6 ounces) of coconut cream which will add richness with a touch of sweetness.
Crockpot Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2-3 tsp garam masala
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs–average sized), peeled and chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
fresh minced cilantro for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot and jalapeno and sauté for about six minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds, and then add the garam masala, stirring well to coat. Take off heat.
Place the chickpeas, butternut squash, canned diced tomatoes, red lentils, vegetable broth and onion mixture in your slow cooker. Turn the heat on LOW and cook for 8-10 hours…the longer you cook, the thicker your stew will be.
Season with sea salt to taste and serve with minced cilantro on top. This stew freezes extremely well and will keep in the fridge for up to five days.
About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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