Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden Fresh Marinara

It is tomato season! Our balcony garden has been producing tomatoes and we have been loving them!

Here is a garden fresh marinara sauce that will be a great accompaniment to your next meal. It can be used as a topping over noodles, rice, potatoes, or veggies. It is easy to make and can be made from ingredients you can grow in your own garden. No water is added to this sauce as it reduces down and blends the flavors together.

I hope that you enjoy it as much as we all do!

3 cups diced tomatoes
1/3 cup diced onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots (finely grated)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon italian seasoning

Wash and dice tomatoes. Place tomatoes into a sauce pan and put on medium heat. Dice the onion and finely grate the carrots. Add them to the tomatoes in the pan. Sprinkle seasonings over the top and then stir. Bring to a simmer and stir again. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered for 30-45 minutes. Do not add any water.

Sauce is ready as soon as the onion and carrots are soft or at a texture you will enjoy.

Here it is served over some Ancient Harvest noodles made from organic corn and organic quinoa flour. 
I served it with some grass-fed organic beef on the side. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pear-Berry Sauce for Canning ~ No Added Sugars

Years ago one of my friends shared some of her "pear-berry sauce" with me. It was amazing! The sweet taste of the pears mixed with fresh berries. It was simply amazing! I was determined to recreate the recipe, with a few tweaks for our diet and still keep her secret recipe in tact.

Fall is fast approaching and so is the pear harvest. We recently got a 20 pound box of local ones and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to make pear-berry sauce again. My kiddos thoroughly enjoyed being the taste testers. 

12 cups pear puree, takes about 12 pounds of pears
4 cups fresh (or frozen) blackberries, you can use any berry you prefer
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups orange juice

If you are choosing to can this for later eating, then you will need 8 pint jars, lids and rings. 

Wash, peel and core the pears. Remove any discolored, mushy or bad spots. Toss pears into a food processor and puree them up. Pour puree into a large pot on the stovetop. As soon as you pour in the first batch of pureed pears, add the orange and lemon juices. This will keep the pears from turning brown. After the pears are done, wash and puree the blackberries as well. 

If you are eating it right now, you are done. You can also put it into freezer jars/containers for storage in the freezer. If you are canning it (as I did), then continue. 

Heat over medium stirring often just until warm. There is no need to boil, just get it hot so that you can hot pack your jars. Once it is hot, carefully ladle it into pre-sanitized jars, wipe rims and add lids and rings. Process in your canner as a hot water bath for 15 minutes (for pints).  Then remove to a cool place where they can rest for 24 hours before removing rings. 

Recipe yields 8 pints. 

This recipe is much like applesauce. It is sweet and has just a bit of a grainier texture to it (from the pears). If you are canning make sure and do not omit the lemon juice, it is needed to maintain the acidity level for the blackberries and prevent bacteria. 

The natural sweetness of the fruit does not need any sugar added to it, making it a perfect "no sugar added" and super healthy snack for you and your kiddos! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Say Something, Because Anything is Better Than Nothing

The ways in which God moves are deep and mysterious. He hovers over the water; He is a gentle whisper;  He roars; He reveals secrets;  He brings healing in His wings; He rejoices over us with songs of deliverance; He brings kings to their knees; He gathers His children in His arms; and He loves us.

He is the creator of all things.

God knows everything.  He knows when to keep silent and when to speak.

We don't always know how to do that. As humans, ones who fail and make mistakes, we don't always know when to keep silent and when to speak.

This has been a different week for me. It has been a week of shifting, and of rearranging in my heart.

I spent an early morning with a dear friend watching the sun come up. It was in a place where we had spent many hours laughing and talking about life. But this morning was different. My friend's heart was broken.

Tears fell from her eyes, and I could feel they were coming from her heart. I put my arms around her and whispered, "its okay, I'm here for you." There was no need for any other words. Words would have been empty and hollow. Words would have struggled to wrap sense around the chaos. They would have been clouded and misconstrued.  They would have been coming from a human mouth. But tears, they are honest. These tears came straight from her heart, a heart that was carrying God's.

For two hours we sat and I held my friend while she grasped for words to make sense of the hurt that was gripping her heart as an endless stream of tears poured from her eyes. I had very few words to say. Not from being uncomfortable,  not from lack of wanting to speak, and not from being in a rush. I had very few words to say because at that moment Jesus had very little to say. Jesus knew she needed to be held. And in that moment of brokenness I was Jesus with skin on for her. I was a safe place for her heart. She needed someone to say something, so I did. 

Later this week I met with another close friend, one who has always been a safe place for me. I began to speak of a deep hurt that I had, a place of deep brokenness and of a decision I need to make where I feel buffeted by either side. I shared how though numerous people knew of my hurt, only one person ever said anything to me about it. I was still terribly hurt that no one else had said anything to me about it. There was a moment of silence, the environment around us changed and the conversation got shifted to other things. I spent the remainder of our time together trying not to cry.  As I was heading home I stopped to text her and apologized for my attitude change in the middle of our time together but that I wished she had said something to me, anything, about my hurt. Her response was that she was sorry too but there never seemed to be enough time to talk about the deep things of God.

Time to take a deep breath. Time to breathe in, hold it, wait, and then breathe out slowly.  It is time for a "selah" moment. A moment of deep reflection and silence.

Are we really that busy? Are we really so busy that we cannot take a minute to talk about the deep things of God, the things that stir our heart, the things that cause endless amounts of tears, the moments of complete brokenness, the secrets He is telling us, the whispers we hear, and the great mysteries of life? Are we too busy?  Or are we too uncomfortable? 

It is not my place to judge the heart or intentions of another person, but I do believe we use time as an excuse for keeping ourselves from being uncomfortable. I've seen it from people, we all have. That avoidance of eye contact. The way people walk quickly pass you. How a text message is more important than talking about your feelings. Not knowing what to say generally leads to not saying anything and also avoiding contact.

The deep things of God are just that, they are deep. They are complicated and mysterious. It takes time to talk about them and peel through layers of emotion and knowledge. There is depth and substance to them. God made them deep for a reason and we need to make time to talk about them.

Last month I found out that one of my friends had her husband leave her for someone else. It broke my heart to hear that news. The next time I saw her, I hugged her and whispered to her how much I loved her, that I was here for her, that all of this chaos was not God's heart, and that she didn't have to talk about it if she didn't want to.

But she did.

She showed me her hand where her wedding ring had been removed. She cried as she talked about the chaos and the hurt. It was hard for me to see, and I cried too. But I had still said something.

I gave her my time, my heart, and my full attention.  I didn't say much, I mostly listened, because that was what she really needed. She needed someone to say something, to give her the choice to share or not. And at that moment she chose to share. She needed a safe place for her heart.

When was the last time you gave someone a safe place for their heart? When was the last time you went out of your way and stepped out, making yourself uncomfortable to provide comfort to someone?

We don't always have all the answers, but we don't have to. We don't always have good timing or perfect solutions, but we don't have to. All we have to be is there, because God takes care of the rest. All we need to do is look someone in the eye and say, "I am here for you. You have my full attention. I am here, do you want to talk?" The rest is up to them. As someone who has been hurt and not had anyone be there for them, it is better to say something than nothing at all.

So take a moment. Take a deep breath, and think about it. Take a "selah" moment and reflect on how you interact people around you. Are you someone who avoids being uncomfortable?  Or are you someone who says something?

Take a moment and say something, anything; because to someone who is hurting, anything is better than nothing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Easy Organic Salsa for Canning

I'm all about efficiency.  If there is a more efficient way to do something then I'm on board, as long as the efficient way doesn't sacrifice the integrity of what you are doing. With that being said, here is a salsa recipe for home canning that is both efficient, easy and still safe to eat and delicious!!
Picking the tomatoes from your garden (or a friend's) will keep the cost low. Or you can find a pick your own farm near by for fresh and inexpensive tomatoes as well.
Here is the recipe. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!
12 cups chopped organic tomatoes
3 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped organic hot peppers (I used a combination of poblano,  jalapeƱo and hot cherry bombs)
6 cloves of garlic
1 can Organic Tomato Paste, 6 ounces
2 cups apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
*note: as a recipe variant you can omit the cumin and cilantro and add an extra 1/2 Tablespoon of garlic powder instead.
Wash tomatoes and remove any stems. Cut in half and place in a food processor. Process tomatoes to a coarse chop (so there are no large chunks but it is not completely liquid) and measure until you have 12 cups. Pour into a large soup pot. Next chop onions in the food processor as well until you have 3 cups of coarse chopped onions. Put onions in pot with tomatoes. Put garlic cloves and hot peppers (stem peppers but leave in seeds) in food processor too. Once they are chopped to desired size place in pot. Add in vinegar and all other seasonings except tomato paste.
Simmer salsa on medium heat for 30-60 minutes to reduce down. I let mine reduce down about an inch. Once it is at your desired consistency,  turn off burner and add in tomato paste. The paste will help keep it thick after its canned. Stir until paste is incorporated in to salsa.
Ladle salsa into pre-sanitized jars and add lids and rings. Leave 1 inch of headspace.
Process in your canner in hot water bath style for 15 minutes for pints. Let jars sit for 5 more minutes in canner before removing. Let them sit for 24 hours undisturbed in a cool place before removing rings and storing.
Recipe yields between 7-9 pints depending on how far you reduce it down
Note: I am not a master canner. I got the original recipe from and modified the seasonings and preparation method. It is very important to make sure you follow safe canning practices and keep your acid ratios (in this recipe that is the tomato and vinegar ratio) in safe ranges to avoid botulism and other bacterial growth.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Parks and Rec

The kiddos and I are down in southern Oregon for the week visiting my parents. Which means lots of garden fresh organic produce, swimming time, hotter weather, and fun with family.

On Sunday we headed to one of the county parks for our former church's annual picnic and baptisms in the river.

Gabriella attempting the monkey bars. She never made it pass the first bar but it was the first time she has ever tried them by herself. 

Ariella getting pushed on the swings by Gramma. 

Throwing rocks in the river when we headed down for the baptisms. The grown ups were skipping the rocks and the kids were trying to make big splashes. 

I love this crazy cat!!

Me and my mom! Who doesn't love a good "us-ie" photo op?! 

During the baptisms I told Xander it wasn't okay to throw rocks in the river any longer. So he stood right on the bank and dropped handfuls of them in and said, "otay, me just drop them rocks in." Gotta love a creative thinker! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zoo Fun!

One of our big splurges when we moved up here was for a family zoo membership to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma. During the nicer weather the kids and I were going once a week. It was a great way to get us all out of the house and in a safe environment. Plus the kids love seeing all the animals and creatures they have!

A big perk  to the family membership is that we can take 3 people in free with us every time we go. So any time anyone visited us or we wanted to hang out with friends, we headed to the zoo. Here are some of our highlights of our trips these last few months!

Me and my sweet Gabriella. Her favorite animal, the Oomingmak, was in the background.
The four of us at Zoo Lights in December. It was 19 degrees when we took this...
Hanging out with Olivia while the kids went crazy at the play area.
One of the free range peacocks came up very close to us while we were eating our lunch.
Xander made a Budgie Buddy!
Measuring up to the polar bears with Gramma and Grampa
And of course, the picture inside a giant shark's mouth replica!  

Paleo Zucchini Bread

Its summer time and as usual, zucchini is abundant. It seems like people always grow it and then don't want it. I have been frustrated by other paleo bread recipes where the bread is only one inch high or has a terrible texture. This recipe makes a full loaf that comes out as tall as the bread pan. I love it!
Here is my recipe for some paleo zucchini bread. The kids gobbled it up and even my hubby (who hates zucchini) really enjoyed it.
This recipe has no added sweeteners which is my favorite part! Be sure to pat the zucchini dry after you grate it. Putting the zucchini in wet will throw off the liquid ratios of the recipe.
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/3 cup Organic Coconut Oil , melted
3 organic eggs
1/2 cup Organic Coconut Flour
2 cups almond flour
1 cup grated zucchini, patted dry
1/2 cup peach sauce (or applesauce)
3/4 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk beverage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and process until they have made a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and blend together with an electric handheld mixer until blended.
Spoon batter into a 9x5 baking pan that is lined with parchment paper .  Place into a preheated 350F oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes. The bread should be browning on top and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
When it is completely baked, remove from oven and let cool in baking pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove from baking pan by lifting up the parchment paper. Allow to cool on a baking eack for 2 hours before cutting. Cutting the bread while hot will cause crumbling or the loaf to fall apart in large chunks.
Yields 1, 9x5 loaf.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Dangerous Prayer

Some days it hurts to breathe.  Somedays the rain falling matches perfectly the tears from our eyes that just don't seem to end. Some days it feels like the whole world is falling apart; and that's because it is.

The more you look around you the more suffering, sorrow and madness you see. Children dying of cancer, old men in a shell of their former body struggling to remember who the person sitting across the table from them is, persecution, murder, babies born sleeping, people starving to death, hate, greed, destruction, disease, chaos, wars, young girls are forced into sex slavery and violence rages on around us while we watch.

At times the sorrow seems unbearable. Every time I hear of a baby born sleeping, a person dying slowly from an agonizing disease, watch my Grandpa with dementia, or any other senseless act of evil it makes me cry. There are days and moments when the sorrow of this world is just too much for me.

Nine years ago in Mozambique, on my face in the dirt, I begged God for every part of His heart. I begged Him to let me know His heart in the fullness of His joy and the depths of His suffering. I wanted to have things hurt me that hurt Him, and to feel His pride when things brought Him honor. I wanted my heart to beat to the same rythym of His and not for one minute to live any other way. At the time, our fearless leader Leslie-Ann Leighton told us that was a dangerous prayer.  I heard her say that and I thought to myself, "its time for the world to have dangerous Christians." And I still firmly believe that. Not for one moment would I choose to take back that prayer.

So here I am, 9 years and a million tears later. My friend lost her baby two days ago. I know that it broke God's heart because it broke mine. There are thousands of Christians,  including children, being mutilated and persecuted in other countries. I know that breaks God's heart because mine is breaking too.  We live in a broken world, and it should matter to us. There are people hurting and dying every second, and it should matter to us. The problem with our world isn't what is going on in it; the problem is that it doesn't matter to us.

If we truly want to know God, to know His heart; that means the down times too. That means sitting with God while He cries, that's what He does with us. Our relationship with God is designed to be intimate, more intimate than our relationship with our spouse. When my husband's father died unexpectedly last year I sat up all night and cried with him. Have you ever done that with God? Have you ever spent a night unable to sleep because of the sorrow your Savior was experiencing?

The world has enough apathy. The church has turned a blind eye and deaf ear for too many years. In our technological age social interaction has become limited and avoidable. And while you may insist that your smartphone or Ipod doesn't hamper your relationships, did you realize that God doesn't text? He won't tag you in His Facebook status update or tweet at you. His LinkedIn profile doesn't exist.

Its easier than ever to avoid the negativity in this world. But the One you were made to be one with doesn't avoid it. He experiences it over and over every day. He cries for the brokenhearts and lives lost.

Do I expect one person to change the world? Will any one person actually end human trafficking or stop the persecution of Christians in the Middle East? Of course not. But the church can.

God tells us in the Bible that "the prayers of a righteous man avails much." Jesus died for us to make us righteous in God. So there you go; you are made righteous in Jesus which means that your prayers can change the world!

Be bold,  pray a dangerous prayer! Ask God to give you His heart, and then when He gives it to you, DO SOMETHING WITH IT! Start praying when you feel God's heart breaking. Release prayers that bring hope, peace and life. We can't change the world on our smartphones, but we sure can change it on our knees.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sorghum Cornbread

We love our soups, chowders and chili. But we also like something on the side when we eat them. I have been working for awhile and finally have a moist and delicious cornbread recipe without rice flour! Woo hoo!!

Here is our fav recipe for cornbread.

1 organic egg
1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk beverage
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Organic Coconut Sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Gluten Free Sorghum Flour
1 1/4 cup Organic Corn Meal
1 tablespoon Aluminum Free Baking Powder

In a medium size bowl, whisk egg until it gets slightly foamy. Add in sugar and oil and whisk again. Add milk and whisk again. Pour in flour and cornmeal. Sprinkle baking powder and sea salt over top of flour. Use a large spoon and mix dry ingredients into wet until all is wet. But do not over mix.

Line a 9x9 square baking dish with Parchment Paper. Use a spatula and scoop batter into lined baking dish. Flatten the top of the batter with the spatula. 

Place baking dish into a preheated 400F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cornbread should be just starting to brown on top and a knife inserted into the middle should come out clean.
Here it is beside a bowl of Vegetable Ham soup. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chocolate Banana Health Bombs!

I know, I know. Not the best recipe title, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe them.

Sunday was the one year anniversary of Matt's dad going to Heaven and he wanted cookies for dinner. Of course I said, "sure thing!".

I made Matt and the kids a batch of my Gluten-dairy-free-chocolate-chip-cookies (with an added 1/4 cup of protein powder) and then had to figure out something that I could eat that was like a cookie.

Here it is... a grain/gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened cookie.

In a medium bowl blend together:
1 banana
2 organic eggs
3 Tablespoons Organic Flaxseed, freshly ground
3 Tablespoons Organic Maple Syrup

Once they are thoroughly blended, stir in:
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Almond Flour
1/4 cup Raw Cacao Powder
1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut.
Batter mixed up and ready to bake

Drop by spoonful onto Parchment Paper lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes at 375F

Then gently move to cooling rack to cool.

They are delicious, have a good texture and 3 grams of protein per cookie!!! 
My batch was 20 cookies.