Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cinnamon Pumpkin Coffee Creamer

Admittedly, i have never ever in my life even tried the Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks or anywhere else. i imagine it tastes good if *a certain demographic of women* i see with ugg boots and a Patagonia vest with a white striped shirt underneath heads there the moment the leaves start to change colors..there must be something there, huh? i only joke. i only joke.


i do love pumpkin and i do love creamer, however with my intention of trying harder to cut back on sugar and every fatty thing in sight, i don't get to just head to the creamer aisle and throw every flavor in my cart. believe me, i would love to. 

i have been trying harder to come up with semi healthier options for some of the treats i crave, one of them being coffee creamer. i thought maybe if i tried making one at home, i could control what goes into it, and maybe even find a way to cut out the sugar and additives, but create a still, possibly even better flavor! 

i got the idea from making egg nog creamer a few christmases back, my friend had introduced me to the idea of making it yourself. i loved that creamer, so why not try it here again and see what i can come up with? i chose pumpkin because it reminds me of chai flavors, that delicate nutmeg and allspice, cinnamon and vanilla..warm spices that are subtly sweet and smell of fall. 

this creamer that i blended together is creamy, mildly sweet using stevia, and full of lovely fall smells, even using real pumpkin, i am quite pleased how it came out! 

for some it might not be sweet enough, which you van adjust the sweetness level to your liking. i have actually toned it down considerably with my sweetness levels, i think because i cut way back on white sugars, i don't need nearly as much for something to come across as sweet for me. this is actually a relief for me because i was full blown addicted to sugar and i had a hard time in the beginning letting go of all my sweets and treats and my body displayed my addiction for all to see,  five sizes bigger and sugar sacks hanging on every area of my body..


i have since lost a lot of that [praise the Lord] and i am working to have a healthier relationship with sugar. i use natural sweeteners, not artificial. i limit my desserts and sugar in my coffee. 

anyways, you didn't ask for a weightloss journey update, so here's the creamer recipe. again, feel free to add sweetener if its not sweet enough. i loved how the spice and pumpkin really shined through and it was a perfect complement to my cinnamon dolce coffee beans! 



you'll need:

2 cups of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup pure pumpkin-make sure its not pumpkin pie filling, you just want straight up pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 few dashes of nutmeg and ginger
4-6 drops of liquid stevia



in a small sauce pan, heat up heavy cream, pumpkin and spices on med-low heat. 

blend with immersion blender till everything is mixed well. 

let cool and chill. 

pour over coffee and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Butternut Veggie Panang Curry

This is a new recipe i tried putting together because there was a family in our church who welcomed a new baby, and i wanted to bring them a meal. i had asked the dad what they were craving or what sounded good, and he mentioned they had already gotten a LOT of Mexican food so they were kind of burnt out with that. the weather had been so warm as of late, so we also ruled out a hot and heavy soup. i asked if he wanted Indian or some foreign dish and his face lit up and said "we would love some of your home cooked Indian food!" yay. that's one area of cooking that's right up my ally.  

i wanted to make a vegetable curry of some kind, but i usually make one consisting of snap peas garbanzo beans, and maybe spinach. i call that one channa masala. i love that dish and it has made many a mouth do a happy dance, but i wanted to branch out, try something new, but still use vegetables and simmer them in a full bodied rich curry. also, i think i made that family the aforementioned dish before. can't have that..

so panang curry was born. i had been to my favorite asian store to restock my curry pastes, sesame oils, frozen parathas and what ever else i feel like picking up, and stacked next to one of my favorite pastes, masaman, was a similar size can, red and cheerful and it said panang curry paste. i dropped a few cans in my basket and moved on. i am so glad i tried it out! this curry dish that emerged ended up being another top favorite in my own tiny option of my various curry dishes! i had made such a huge amount, that i had some left for my own family after neatly packing it away for delivery and my husband said he loved it so much, he wanted me to write it down so we wouldn't forget the recipe! [that's what i am doing right now.] my youngest daughter even enjoyed it as well, and it does have a bit of a heat kick to it so that was pretty impressive to me that she loved it too. 

it is always a bit nerve wracking when you drop off a meal, especially a new one that you haven't even tested anywhere except on people outside your own family, plus you never even know if they like it or not unless they go out of their way to tell you, and i try not to expect that, just hope that they don't barf and the frazzled mom gets a moment away from being a 24 hour milking cow and can manage a few spoonfuls of food that she did not have to cook herself. 

the next day the mom had sent me a meme of a man in the middle of dining,  his facial expressions seeming to say over and over again [i mean that's what a gif is isn't it] the caption saying "i had no idea that food could be this delicious"...phew. i think i can take that as a good sign, right? 

let's get onto the recipe shall we? my  pangang curry is a mixture of thai and indian flavors melded into one beautiful dish. i sauté the vegetables [this time, butternut squash, tiny baby tri colored potatoes, carrots, purple cabbage, and of course spinach- i love that green peeking around] in a dry curry mixture, and then toss it in the thai flavors using the paste, coconut milk, and freshly squeezed lime. the result was a creamy curry dish, a perfect balance of sweet and salty, nutty and bright, the vegetables finish cooking in the wet curry and it is delicious! i make sure to serve it with plenty of basmati rice, flaky parathas, and lots of fresh coriander! love it! 

sigh. moving onto the recipe for real, this time..

you'll need:

1 pound of cut up butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small bite sized chunks
1 cup of baby tri colored mini potatoes [yellow, purple, red] 
1/2 cup chopped baby carrots
1/2 cup chopped purple cabbage
2 cups of roughly chopped spinach
2 tablespoons ghee
1/2 purple onion, diced and chopped 
1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp garam masala 
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1    tsp ginger 
1/2 tsp ground mustard powder 
1 small can of panang curry paste 
2 cans of coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

in a large pan, heat up ghee. when hot, toss in garlic and onion. fry and move around till fragrant, onion gets soft and sharp smell of garlic chills out, taking care not to burn. 

toss in cumin, garam masala, chili, cinnamon, ginger, and mustard powder and fry spices in the onion mixture. if things get too dry, plop in some more ghee..

throw in butternut squash, carrots, baby potatoes, cabbage,  coating everything and stirring around the pan. 

in another large pot, [i used a dutch oven pot], heat up the panang curry paste and fry at the bottom of pot. when the fragrance starts to sing, pour over the two cans of coconut milk. stir, stir, until it becomes a rich soft red color.

keep your eye on the pan. you want to cook and coat everything just long enough so the vegetables only begin to soften. you want to transfer the contents into the coconut mixture and let them finish cooking in that pot of goodness. 

continue to stir on medium heat and you can toss in the spinach and some of the cilantro. 
i put the lid on and let it simmer for a good 15 min on med-low heat. that really gives the curry a chance to soak into the vegetables and sink the flavors everywhere. taste test. does it need more garam masala? more salt? 

at the end of simmering, stir and test the veggies to see if they are firm or as soft as you like. i like mine with a hint of firmness to them, i don't want them completely to mush up, but either way, it only adds to the depth of flavor. you really can't lose with this. 

turn off heat. add remaining cilantro and squeezed lime. 

in a serving bowl, scoop a generous heaping of basmati rice, and top a ladle full of panang curry on top. serve with hot parathas. 

over and out. 

i hope you enjoy!!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

ocular migraine.

counting the gift[s] today:

this morning i was hit with the fearfully dreaded blurred vision in my left eye as i walked the aisles of the Bridge Street Market with my daughter and son. i could not see out of my peripheral corners and my line of vision ran straight into a mirage-y haze, like the wavy wall you see just above a bonfire. my heart threatened to spill into overwhelming panic. i thought, is this happening all over again? now my left eye? is my retina detaching? i stopped a few times to calm myself and breathe. the flashing lights and hazy vision subsided after a good 20+ minutes, and i proceeded to meet with my small group of women as we sat in the little cafe.

next came the rushing in my ears, it sounds like an angry waterfall to me, and i was hit with a pounding headache right behind my eyes. of course. i should have known that was coming. at least in my experience, i have had numerous eye and head things that like to wreak havoc together. i barely made it through our meeting. it was this invisible brute force, pulsing, throbbing, clubbing my brain and pulling at my eyelids, but i tried to minimize it and not draw unneeded attention to myself. well my friends are going to know when something is wrong with me, they know me inside and out, so i wasn't fooling anyone. 

we began to wrap up and lindsey happen to have Motrin in her car! what are the chances? i wasn't really sure what i was going to do, i hadn't thought very far past the searing pain, i just wanted to close my eyes and stop everything from spinning.  the three of us said our goodbyes and lindsey met me in the parking lot. she gave me two motrin and told me to go home and try to sleep. she gave me peppermint oil to rub directly on my forehead and temples and it honestly felt like anointing oil. any relief was welcome. she pointed to the unopened Fiji water in my hand [again, another gift], and commanded me to guzzle that whole thing down on the way home. water always helps with migraines, she said gently. 

somehow, by the grace of God, i drove home without any added injury to myself or my children. i just hoped that Ari would go down for a nap at this much needed time so i could rest and try and sleep this migraine off. Olive would be fine, sitting next to me watching her episodes on the little iPad. 

ari fell asleep just as we pulled into the driveway. would i be able to transfer him? would he stay asleep? i laid him down ever so carefully and he wiggled into a peaceful position. my nausea was rising and i thought maybe it would feel good to throw up. at least that's what my body seemed to be shouting. i was dizzy and feeling awfully sick and queasy all while my head and eyes are just clanging with cymbals and i can't think. 

olive planted herself next to me as i balanced on my knees in front of the toilet. i just waited for anything to come out. i thought maybe the migraine would spill out my mouth and i would feel better. olive put her little hand on my forehead and began to pray for me. so sweet and precious and h u m b l i n g. 

we moved to the bed and i had to lay down and just focus on breathing. i drank some more water and closed my eyes. ari did not stir for the next 2 1/2 hours and i fitfully slept, but i did sleep. olive ate fruit snacks and asked me through my haze if it was ok if she watched another one, and i mumbled a yes. and another yes. and another. 

i woke up some hours later and i felt considerable relief. my eyes still hurt, but the pain had dulled. wow, wow. thank you so much Jesus! the morning was bizarre and hard, but i just look at this as a story of how God looked out for me so personally! the medicine! lindsey! ari sleeping just enough time so i could sleep!  the iPad charged for olive! the water! her prayer for me! God answering her and even my desperate prayers too!  ari did not stir until i had gotten up to use the bathroom and i heard him chatting to himself. another gift. another Him looking out..

my take away is God looks out for me. He cares. He sees. and i am important enough to Him to tend to my little migraine needs. i am so thankful and all i can do is praise Him. 

that's all. i don't even know why i had to write this down, i just want to remind myself of His love that is so kind and personal. it humbles me and brings me joy. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

early mornings.

5:30 am: 
sit on the edge of the bed, 
the air outside dark, 
thick, and quiet, 
the heavy fog still on the prowl
i try and shove my boobs
into a black sports bra and pull on 
a pair of tropical shorts.
i approach the treadmill.
nathan slides out of the warm space 
next to me, 
slipping on his shoes, 
tying the strings by memory, 
eyes just opening. 
he steps out into the fog.
6:00 am: 
i finish up with toting my 
neon yellow weights, 
up over my head, 
down below my knees, 
the air squeaks from my lungs 
just barely escaping, 
I'm heaving, but i don't stop.
until now. 
the baby shuffles around my body, 
eating bits of paper and whatever else 
he can get his hands on.
he normally doesn't wake up 
this early, 
but one of us dropped the toilet seat
[i won't say who] 
a little too loudly, 
and baby was 
catapulted out of 
reverie.
[it wasn't me.]
oh well. we adjust. 
6:15 am: 
the smell of coffee brewing slowly 
methodically, 
the aeropress doing its part in 
easing us into our morning,
nathan slips quickly behind the shower 
curtain.
i do not shower, only roll on the 
deodorant, shed the work out clothes, 
and put on some shorts i found 
that slide down when I'm just standing there. 
they will have to do. 
i scrub my face, 
empty out the overflowing trash can 
from beneath the bathroom sink, 
straighten the towels and rug, 
calling it good with a few coats of mascara. 
6:45 am: 
nathan and i meet at the couch, 
the air conditioner hums, 
the lights off throughout the house 
except for  the little space we take 
on the couch has a lamp to 
keep us company. 
baby still awake, but ready to cuddle,
he rubs his eyes and nestles into my 
chest.
this is my favorite time. 
we sip our hot fresh coffee, 
we talk, we look each other in the eye, 
there are few interruptions,
and there is time.
my husband reads the Word 
aloud, 
it feels like cleansing rain falling steadily 
on me. or is it oil. 
i don't know but it 
does well for my soul.
we pray together, 
our hands laced together.
this is sacred and set apart.
it is this small window in time 
that i have 
never in my life 
peeked into, 
and now here, 
we are, 
resting inside this world 
i've never been a part of, 
waking up before the sun rises, 
it's like a gift of extra time 
that i've never used before. 
it was just sitting there that 
whole time, 
a whole village of 
early mornings 
but no one was living there. 
i have visited once or twice, 
but now i want to stay. 
put down roots in the 
birth of the day, 
i am seeing what it could be, 
what it has become.
7:20a:
it's time to gently wake up the kids 
for school..




Saturday, September 1, 2018

green

"you are.
 an inspiration,"
he choked.
the air conditioner hummed 
quietly behind us. 
"your heart of immense gratitude, 
the ability you have to see
everything-"
he is weeping now-
"as a gift, 
does not go
unnoticed."
the green of my leaves 
begin to slowly uncurl,
his words and tears streaming steadily now
dropping on my green,
we  sat there,
everything wet and glistening.
i had never been spoken to 
so sincerely by my father. 
not like this.
his heart like a hat in 
his hands. 
the words tumbled from his 
mouth, 
his shoulders, 
always strong, always upright,
now shook and the avalanche 
began to give way.
it was as if he felt the urgency to speak all the things 
he had never taken the time to,
he would not miss that opportunity-
not this time.
for that moment, 
i felt truly seen, 
nothing else in his line of vision, 
but little me, 
my tender vine growing 
by the second.
instead of shielding myself,
bracing against what would come,
i opened my little plush petals, 
pulled back my 
protective coverings,
shook off the dirt down to my roots, 
and let the rain come. 
i allowed the kind, 
gracious words, 
along with the tears of honey 
to wash over me. 
i drank drank, drank, 
as fast as i could 
as he encouraged, affirmed, and 
turned his 
powerful eye to me. 
i adore my father. i do. 
but i would never demand or expect 
this gift 
he has given me, 
the words of living water, 
i did not realize how thirsty 
i was. 
to see my father, 
weak with weeping, 
flowing with words that had no gate keeper, 
no reservations, 
i have seen nothing like this.
what a precious gift i will never forget 
and will cherish forever. 
he loves me
he looks up 
to me.
he adores me. 
is quietly learning 
from me.
i am speechless with humility, 
and my leaves, 
my stem, 
my roots, 
have all been strengthened and renewed. 
i have never been 
more green. 

i love you dad.