Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting for Cookies

This happened several months ago, but I’m constantly reminded of the lesson I learned from my four-year-old nephew…

One morning he asked me to bake chocolate chip cookies to have for a snack after lunch. Just after lunch I went to the kitchen to prepare the cookie dough. As my nephew took his last bite of lunch, he walked to the pantry and said, “No, I want graham crackers instead, I don’t want chocolate chip cookies.” He proceeded to eat a few graham crackers and then declared he was full. Two and a half hours later, I baked the cookies for my niece, my mom and myself. My nephew had become excited again about the opportunity to have fresh baked cookies, so we placed one on a plate for him as well. He only poked his finger through the chocolate chips that were visible from the top of the cookie, licked his finger a few times, then declared, “I’m done.”

I began to think how many times I ask God for something good and grow tired of waiting, becoming impatient with the wait, turning to other, lesser things to fill me up. How often do I trade “fresh baked, warm and gooey cookies” for “quick, less satisfying, dry, plain graham crackers”? How often do I choose to “fill up” on TV, Internet, busyness, mindless things of this world, rather than wait for Holy God to speak, wait to clearly discern, wait to see His glory?

The difference between a graham cracker and a chocolate chip cookie is about 20 minutes…

Father God, in Jesus’ name I ask that you will strengthen me to hold fast to Your word, to pray expectantly, and to wait with great focus and anticipation at what You are saying and doing. Lord, I don’t want to fight you for the things I don’t truly want, please help me accept what You give that I truly need.

And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” – Mark 10:51

When Jesus asks what I want Him to do for me, I pray my requests will not be selfish, but will be guided by a heart laid bare before the One who redeems and lights my way, by a heart awaiting His divine guidance and wisdom, and by a heart that desires ultimately to bring Him praise, honor and thanksgiving.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ Cups Almond Flour/Meal
½ tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Grapeseed Oil – or – ¼ to 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
½ Cup Honey or Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (can use semisweet for a sweeter taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all ingredients. Scoop or roll into 1-inch balls and place on a stone cookie sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. (Makes about 24 cookies)

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Challenges and a Hearty Fall Breakfast

I finally made the commitment last week…I’m officially registered to run a half marathon in just about five short weeks. I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon and who knows…maybe one day I will run a full marathon…we’ll see how this half goes. On Wednesday morning I entered full-on training mode. I set my clock for a 5:00 a.m. wake up call…this is going to take some adjusting! I think I actually got out of bed around 5:40 or so and hit the pavement about an hour later. I usually work out in the evenings, so getting up-and-going early is going to be a challenge, but I don’t want to be in complete shock at 6:30 a.m. on race day morning, so it’s one I’m willing to embrace.

The last few days have been a test to rise early, but every morning as the clock radio comes on I remind myself of Proverbs 31:15 – She rises while it is yet night. In rising early, I can definitely see a big jump in energy throughout each day and more time to accomplish more daily tasks and more discipline to get in bed at a decent hour each night. I’m hoping to form some new and worthy habits over these next weeks.

I’ve always been a BIG fan of breakfast and with my new schedule it is essentially important to refuel with a well-balanced meal after a good workout. Wednesday morning I had the BEST Hearty Fall Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies, cauliflower mash, cantaloupe and kiwi.

This particular morning I scrambled the eggs with spinach, broccoli, turmeric and paprika. Mushrooms and red onions are also great additions, but we were out of those on this particular morning. Adding veggies to eggs is a most excellent way to pack extra nutrition into the day and the turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer spice.

Cauliflower is in high season right now, so it is super easy to find in abundance and is one of my most favorite and nutrient dense veggies to eat. I literally cannot get enough of it right now…eating it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner whenever possible.

Cauliflower mash

1 Head Cauliflower
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)

Quarter cauliflower and place in a medium pot with a small amount of water. Cook covered over medium heat until tender. Place cauliflower, olive oil and sea salt in a Vitamix or blender and process until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Restin' in Destin

My blog has nearly died on the vine…I’m not sure what happened to September, except to say that it flew by, so I must have been having fun! It’s a new season (yay for fall!) and I just spent a couple of nights in Destin, so I’m feeling refreshed and hoping my blog can be revived too!

Going out of town where you can’t prepare your own food is scary business when you must eat gluten-free. I did the research on Destin before we went to see what my options would be. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of restaurants that not only can accommodate gluten-free diners, but that have specially printed menus and well-trained employees who can answer questions and know the precautions to take when preparing and serving gluten-free meals. It was difficult to narrow down the choices, so we went with what we were nearest to when we were ready to eat. For dinner one night, that was Mitchell’s Fish Market. The menu is printed every day, so you know the offerings are fresh. I had the broiled trout with vegetable medley and topped the meal off with strawberry sorbet…yum! The following day, just before heading home we stopped at Cheeseburger in Paradise. I had never eaten there before, but had heard rave reviews of the one in Orlando, especially in relation to gluten-free dining. The chef came out and talked to us about the menu and told us about their new gluten-free bun for burgers and sandwiches. I don’t generally crave bread very often, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I sank my teeth into a real sandwich. So yes, I ordered the grilled fish sandwich and it was great! French Meadow Bakery makes the buns that they use in the restaurant and it was soft and light and just really delicious!

Another big issue when eating so many meals away from home is the quantity of salt and sugar that is used in many restaurant meals. To cut down on the intake of salt and sugar from eating out, I like to bring along some healthy breakfast items to eat while getting ready in the hotel room. Plus, it saves time and everyone can take turns getting ready and eating. On this trip, we took granny smith apples and banana blueberry muffins. I baked the muffins the day we headed out. They are so quick and easy with just a few ingredients, no added sugar, and I literally mixed them up and baked them in about 30 minutes time. (See recipe below.)

Our first night in the hotel brought back memories of an Orlando trip from about twenty years ago when the fire alarm went off every few minutes all night long! This time we were sound asleep at 12:00 a.m. when a loud, blaring, alarm started going off. My first thought was that someone forgot to check the in-room alarm and we needed to shut it off. My mom’s first thought: little Cole is going to be upset. (Cole is our over-anxious male maltese who doesn’t like any strange noises.) As we all came to awareness we realized it was in fact the fire alarm. We all threw on some extra clothes and headed down the stairs…thankfully we were only three floors up. I think...if there had been a real fire...we would have taken WAY TOO LONG to get outside. Nevertheless, we made our way outside and awaited a visit from the local fire department. As we waited, Alice and Wonderland, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and a few other unknown characters walked past. While it is October, Halloween is still a few weeks away, so I’m just hoping this crowd had found an early costume party to attend. This most certainly was not a dream! Strange and unusual, but not a dream! Praise the Lord when the fire alarm was shut down this time, it did not go off again!

Compared to the first night, the remainder of our stay in Destin was uneventful, relaxing and very pleasant. Being outside, walking around, looking at the ocean, the sand, the nature preserves and enjoying the somewhat cooler temperatures and low humidity were refreshing and just downright enjoyable. This was the perfect time of year for a little respite and I’m so thankful to the Lord for providing my mom, dad and myself with a little getaway and to my parents for letting me tag along.

Come aside by yourselves to a quiet place and rest. – Mark 6:31

Here is that yummy banana blueberry muffin recipe. These are also great to make ahead and freeze for those mornings when you are short on time.

3 Cups almond flour
¼ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
3 eggs
4 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 14 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients except the blueberries. Stir until well combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide between muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. The tops should be a golden brown and a toothpick should come out clean. Eat promptly or let cool and serve.