Category Archives: Healthy Living

Recipe Sharing: Thai Curried Lentil Vegetable Stew

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I’ve been wanting to try a curried lentil recipe ever since I spied a few on my cousin’s Pinterest board (and her Facebook page – social media, it’s how I set my menu) and this cold, snowy weekend was the perfect time. Two recipes stuck out to me and I decided to combine them into one, which could go very bad, or (in this case) very good. Above is the final product, created from these two recipes: Curried Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Quinoa and Vegan Red Lentil Soup. My recipe is not vegan since I used chicken stock, but you could easily make it vegan with vegetable stock and our grocery store only sells the plain old green lentils so I used those.

Thai Curried Lentil Vegetable Soup
1 tablespoon oil (I used coconut)
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup carrot (chopped)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
1 cup butternut squash, cooked (I used 1 box frozen winter squash)
1 tablespoon garlic (chopped)
1-2 tablespoon ginger (chopped)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg (or garam masala)
1 cup lentils
3-4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup quinoa (cooked, you can cook it in the soup, but be sure to increase your liquid accordingly)
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 3 limes (or 1/3 can frozen limeade)

  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the squash, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Add the lentils, stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the chickpeas, quinoa, coconut milk, cilantro and salt and pepper, simmer 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice, simmer additional 5 minutes. (If it seems too think, you can add more water and give it a good stir.)
  6. Serve with a garnish of cilantro.

This recipe makes 6 good-sized servings of 1.5-2 cups each (about 200-225 calories per serving). Serve with flatbread and you have a hearty, filling (and delicious) meal. Liam ate this along with me, just picked out the chickpeas but otherwise gobbled it up. Simon was more doubtful and did not partake. I loved the flavors and added the limeade as an afterthought as I thought the recipe needed a little something and another similar recipe I had pinned had mentioned squeezing lime juice over the top, but all I had was some left over limeade so I used that instead and it gave it the perfect zing.

Enjoy!

2013 Resolutions

2013_resolutionsPrior to blogging, I was never really one for making annual resolutions (aside from the time I resolved to only flip Simon the bird one time a day – I made that resolution, BTW, and I know I’m just the best wife ever). But I have attempted to set them for the past two years, knowing that by publicly posting them, I’m more likely to keep them, or at least try. I don’t think resolutions are necessary for a happy life, or that you have to set them at the first of the year, but it’s been working for me – I’d encourage you to do whatever works for you.

I think realistic goals are a good thing and I believe that if you don’t meet your goals, you don’t beat yourself up about them. There is no score chart, no scale by which we are measured for these things so it is pointless to feel guilty, but it is not pointless to try. It’s in the trying that we improve, that we learn more about who we are and often, it’s how we make new friends, friends who join us for part of the journey and cheer us on when it gets tough. Last year, for me, was a tough one but my friends made the difference and helped me stay upright and moving forward (even if in inches). I’m happy to bid it adieu, but 2012 really was a gift, in that it taught me that I can’t do it all (whether I think I can or others think I am) and asking for help and doing life with other people is the way to be happy. And I’m so glad to have lessons to be learned, to continue to work on being a better person.

Life is meant to be dynamic, not stagnant.

That said, here are my resolutions for 2013 and here’s hoping they are kept but I reserve the right to not complete them and to not feel bad about that. Sometimes (often), despite our best intentions, life has a way of leading us in a completely different direction than where we think we are headed.

  1. Read more books (a minimum of one a month)
  2. Pray EVERY night with the boys [so far, every night Liam has asked to pray for Joseph, you know, Jesus’ adoptive father]
  3. Eat more meals with all four of us around our kitchen table [this happens rarely as there are only two days a week when we are all home at the same time and not sleeping]
  4. Be a better friend to my family
  5. Prepare house for selling/renting (and preferably, do one of those things)
  6. Work on non-blog writing
  7. Host a dinner party
  8. Lose 50 pounds
  9. Move 500 miles (walking, bike, elliptical) [If you want to join this effort, sign up for this group on Facebook.]
  10. Go on a family vacation
  11. Spend more days at the beach
  12. Procrastinate and worry less; laugh more
  13. List my gratitude on a weekly basis

2011 Resolutions: Report Card

I honestly meant to write this post before we left and schedule it to run at the beginning of the month but I also meant to do the same for my 2012 resolutions. Instead I spent most of January resolution-free, other than resolving to eat what I wanted in Australia and not feel guilty (I’m happy to report that there was zero weight gain on our trip, well, there was some but it’s all gone now so that’s a double bonus for me).

2011 Resolutions

  • Practice one random act of kindness per week. (??/52)
  • Send one “snail mail” letter a month. (20/12)
  • Sell $500 worth of stuff on Craigslist. (125/500)
  • Make it to church twice a month (at least). (12/12)
  • Clean/organize closets. (4/4)
  • Read one book a month. (16/12)
  • Drink more water, eat less bad food, exercise.
  • Get family photos taken.
  • Cut my husband some slack.
  • Use a calm, measured voice [with my kids] more often than a loud, short one.

I think I did pretty good when I look back at my list. There are a few things I can’t cross off but I know I worked on them and in other areas I surpassed my expectations for myself. Here are my thoughts on the above:

  • While I don’t know that I could say I did 52 random acts of kindness, I did try to be more intentional about doing nice, thoughtful things for people (strangers, family and friends); tried to be more generous with my time and resources.
  • Selling stuff on Craig’s list was really to help me purge things from the house, which I did by taking two carloads to Goodwill so while I didn’t sell the money value I wanted, I still got stuff out of the house.
  • Loved our old church but really love our new church because it’s small enough and our kids love it so much that we can’t get away with sleeping in as often as we did in the past and not going to church on Sunday morning. So, so glad to be back in a more regular routine and to give that example to our children.
  • I could not have known when I wrote that resolution that I would really get serious with getting healthier and that I would end up losing 50 pounds this year, but I did and wow does it feel great. There is still more to go, so I am by no means done but it’s amazing what a difference that change has made in my life – I am at a base level, so much happier (though I never would have said I wasn’t happy before).
  • Love, love, love our family photos
  • Still need to work on being a better person to those closest to me, but I think that might be something we all could say because those are also the people we know we can push against when we are frustrated and who get to see us at our worst (and best) because they are with us the most.

Top Ten Things I’m Thankful For (This Year)

It seems only appropriate that today’s Top Ten blog would be on thankfulness, but I thought I’d be more specific and talk about things from this past year – and let’s just assume I’m most thankful for the things I listed on Friday (family, friends, jobs and health).

1. Jack’s surgery – a year ago Jack had just had surgery to take a bone from his toe and put it in his thumb and to have his “finger” nubbins removed. I’m thankful that surgeon was skilled, the surgery itself went off without a hitch and the recovery was uneventful – as uneventful as an almost-two-year-old in a cast for six weeks can be.

2. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital – this was the hospital that took such good care of Wesley when he was first born – our community is so blessed by this hospital and its wonderful staff and Sarah and Brian were so blessed to bring Wesley home much sooner than expected – their little Wesley was quite the NICU rockstar!

3. Weight Watchers and myfitnesspal.com – my two secret weapons (along with exercising) that have helped me along the journey towards the new, better me.

4. Blogging – I’ve been reading blogs for what seems like ages but just started mine at the beginning of 2011 (thanks to more than a little prodding from a certain loved friend named Heidi) and I love it – I’ve always been a journaller just like my sweet friend, Kim, and this is really an extension of that past-time, albeit one that is way more public than the ramblings in my journals from high school and college (those have never been viewed by anyone else’s eyes, you’re welcome for that). Plus, it’s helped me grow a wonderful friendship with my dear friend (and fantabulous walking partner), Sandy.

5. Sugar Momma’s Bakery – though this is in direction competition with reaching my healthier-living goals, I love that this place is near my office (probably good that we are moving) and even though I don’t know the woman who started it, I am so proud of her because she is younger than me and has started her own business. I hope she has great success because her baked goods are AWESOME!

6. Our road trip with the boys to Texas went smoothly and the time we spent there was so very enjoyable! Hopefully we didn’t use up our good travel karma and have some left over for the upcoming trip to Australia.

7. Sunday night date nights – I’m so glad Simon and I have made extra effort to spend time together, just the two of us. I think we can all agree that one-on-one time is key to helping any marriage.

8. Jack’s daycare teachers – we’ve been blessed by all three daycares we’ve “used” since Liam was born but our current home is just perfect for Jack, our into-everything kid. At least once a week I pick him up and he’s in different clothes because he soaked through what he was originally wearing at the water table and they just laugh and tell me how much fun he had that day.

9. Kindergarten – Liam loves it and I’m so glad we got into the district we did with our county’s schools of choice program; we only wish it was full day every day – Liam would love it even more then! But he has nothing but good things to say about every aspect of his day and he adores his teacher – on the weekends he draws her pictures and practices whatever he’s been working on to give to her on Monday.

10. A new church home – after years at the same church, we made a switch in April to the church where I’d been going to MOPS for the last five years. I miss much of our old church, but this new church is smaller and more suited to where we are as a family right now. I wish we could go to both… but am so thankful to be blessed where we are at in this time.

What are you thankful for?


Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Thoughts on 10 Percent

It only seemed appropriate that this week’s top top ten list had to do with losing 10% of my body weight since officially starting my better living journey (a.k.a., Weight Watchers), a milestone I reached this past weekend. (Unofficially, I’ve lost more since last summer – more like 20% – but I wasn’t making a concerted effort until April.) It made me laugh when I was given the option to start maintenance, rather than set a new goal; now that I’ve come this far, there’s no way I’d settle for staying where I am.

Here’s what I’ve learned (so far):

  1. A balanced breakfast to kick off the day is as important (if not more important) as any other aspect of diet and exercise. I have a boiled egg, yogurt and fresh fruit (and often a slice of whole wheat toast) most every morning and it makes a difference.
  2. I hadn’t even realized how much sugar was in my diet until it wasn’t there anymore. And I don’t miss it. I’d much rather eat some black forest ham than a gummy bear for the same number of points. [I had cake and some gummy fruit slices yesterday for Liam’s birthday and today I have the biggest headache.]
  3. People who are openly supportive are awesome, inspiring and great for keeping me accountable. I started using myfitnesspal.com a couple weeks ago to see if I liked it better than WW and it’s been great to have people I know on there and see what workouts they are logging and be able to comment and cheer them on, and vice versa (it’s like Facebook for diet and exercise). I also have a great walking partner and knowing we have a standing “date” every week with our boys commits me to working out at least once a week.
  4. I enjoy exercising and I’m done with excuses for not doing it, because there are many and they are valid but being healthy is MORE important than the excuses. I walk at least once a week with the lovely Sandy, but my goal is at least five times a week of 30 minutes of activity at a time. It’s hard with working full time, having a spouse who works when I’m not working and having two young children but it must be done. I borrowed a stationary bike from friends and have it in the basement and after the boys are in bed, my Kindle and I hit the basement and sweat it out. I’d love an elliptical or a treadmill (I’d love to do the Couch to 5K program, but with Simon working nights, the only way I could do it would be on a treadmill or getting up before work. You can see why I’d choose a treadmill.)
  5. I sweat, a lot. According to my dad, it’s hereditary. Sorry to anyone who sees me after I work out. It’s just the way it is.
  6. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel “skinny,” but I know I’ll feel healthy. I don’t love the way my body looks but I never have – no matter what size I was. I also don’t hate my body and never have. But I do love having endurance and more energy – that I can tell a difference with. What’s most important is feeling good about myself, not based on what I look like or the number on a scale (though it’s nice to have it be smaller), but based on how I feel. Right now, I feel good but I know I can feel great.
  7. I totally don’t mind eating cucumbers or bananas for a snack. If I’ve got points/calories to spare, pretzels and tomatillo salsa are also yummy.
  8. I love salads. A good salad should take time to make; if you take the time, it will taste delicious. (My favorite salad: greens, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, black forest ham, boiled egg and shredded parmesan cheese (red wine vinegar and garlic salt for dressing) – 4 pts. on WW and delicious, I’m not even kidding.)
  9. Splurging once a week on a meal out where I don’t worry about calories is great and allowable, and key for not getting burnt out. I’m learning to not feel guilty about it because it’s obviously not a deterrent overall.
  10. I’m proud of myself and doing this for me but I’m also glad to be doing this for my kids and while Jack has no clue what’s happening, I know Liam is proud of me, whether he gets that feeling or not.


Top Ten {Tuesday}This post is linked to Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.