Fajitas de Navidad

WOW! There are no words to describe how thankful I am for all of your positive comments so far! I had no idea the blog would be so well read in just a few short days! Your words of encouragement are inspiring me to keep on writing and sharing! 2014 is going to be an exciting year and I look forward to seeing what God has in store! It is hard to believe 2013 is coming to an end.

We just finished our last Christmas celebration with family this past weekend. My husband’s children were here and we had a great time. And of course with holiday celebrations come lots of delicious food. For the last three or so years, we always made Sesame Pork Loin when they are here and mashed potatoes. At Thanksgiving this year my husband had the idea to change up the menu and do a Feliz Navidad meal. I loved the idea (I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine) and traditional Mexican food has plenty of gluten free options so that always makes me happy! The kids loved the idea also and so that is what we did. We prepared a meal of fresh guacamole and homemade fajitas. I vowed about three weeks ago when I made beef stew with a homemade seasoning (blog post on this coming soon)—not to buy any more store bought seasoning packets. The seasoning packets are loaded with extra fillers and preservatives and many contain MSG. It is so easy to mix up a seasoning mix; I can’t believe I just figured this out. I have used store bought seasoning mixes my whole life and never thought twice about it but on this journey of a healthier lifestyle I know it is much healthier to make from scratch and it is cheaper!

So here it is—my fajita seasoning mix that was a hit! The mix was my contribution to the meal. My husband prepared the meat and vegetables. For our fiesta, I quadrupled the seasoning recipe. You can also make up seasoning mix ahead and store in a glass container so it is ready to go when you need it.

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Fajita Seasoning Mix                                                                                                            1 tbsp. corn starch (can use arrowroot or tapioca flour)                                  2 tsps. chili powder                                                                                                               1 tsp. salt                                                                                                                                    1 tsp. paprika                                                                                                                           ½ tsp. onion powder                                                                                                             ½ tsp. garlic powder                                                                                                              ¼ tsp. cayenne (more or less depending on preference)                                   ½ tsp. ground cumin

Stir ingredients together and then add juice of one half lime

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Three Meat Fajitas
4 chicken breasts (sliced or cubed)                                                                               1 bag frozen shrimp, tails removed                                                                          1¼ lbs. steak of your choice                                                                                           6-8 peppers sliced (red, green, yellow or any combination you like)  2-3 onions                                                                                                                 Avocado or olive oil                                                                                                   Seasoning mix (see recipe above)

Sauté vegetables in a pan with oil. When almost done, add 1 tbsp. seasoning and stir. When done remove from pan. Then cook meat. For this recipe you can mix all meat together or cook each meat separately. If you cook all meat together add the shrimp later (be sure not to overcook shrimp and steak). Add the seasoning mix when meat is almost done. Simmer for several minutes and then serve. Serve meat and vegetables on tortilla shells or for a healthier alternative skip the shell altogether and enjoy the flavors of the meat and vegetables. Top with fresh guacamole, cilantro, cheese, and/or jalapeno slices.

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Happy New Year to each of you!

~Amanda 

Dec. 3, 2013-Wellspring devotion

James 1:17-Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

With the Christmas season upon us what better time to marvel at the most perfect gift God has given us-the birth of his son Jesus! This is such an exciting time of year as we remember the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth. God sent his only son to save us wretched sinners so we do not have to live in darkness.

As the year comes to an end, let’s take time to reflect on the past year and thank God for all that has happened in our life. For every blessing and every struggle we have experienced this year let us give thanks and acknowledge that everything that has happened in our life this past year comes from God the Father. We must put our selfish thoughts aside and realize all of our blessings come from God. It is so easy to get caught up in this I, I, I, world where we want to take credit for all that we have done. During this busy time of year, let’s not get be selfish but instead give all of the glory to God. Oftentimes, when life is going along and we are doing well we want to take credit for it and we forget that every perfect gift is from above. God is the true light of the world and he does not change. We have the assurance that he keeps his promises.

As we approach the Christmas season, let’s face it with peace and love. Put aside stress, worry and busyness and replace it with pure joy because God loves us so much he sent his only son to die on the cross for us. When you are making decisions this holiday season, stop and ask yourself if it is the right decision. Does it make sense to go into debt to buy nice gifts for everyone on your list? Stop and ask yourself, is what I am doing right now exemplifying the true meaning of Christmas or am I putting the emphasis on material possessions? Also, ask yourself how the decision you are making will affect your family? Let’s challenge ourselves this December to live more like Jesus and show more love and compassion to those around us. Let’s choose to be happy and calm amidst the craziness going on around us and let the rest of the world see what peace Jesus can bring!

Prayer for the week: Thank you Jesus for all of the good and perfect gifts you have given me this year. I especially thank you for keeping your promise and bringing your son into this world to set me free from my sins. Give me the strength and courage to glorify you this Christmas season and when my selfish personality rears its ugly head, please help me to realize it and put the focus back on you and the true reason for celebrating Christmas. In your name I pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

What are some specific things we can do this month to keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas?

What is one thing you will do in the spirit of Christmas before Dec. 25?

Find more devotions at the Wellspring Facebook page.

December 17, 2013- Wellspring Devotion

Isaiah 9:6-For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

What joy the Christmas story brings year after year in our hearts and minds. It is a story that does not ever get boring. The story of the birth of our precious Lord is always exciting because of the hope that Jesus brings to the world. In the birth of the sweet baby born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago we find peace and hope to live this life God has given us. How amazing it is that our Savior is called “wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.” No matter what we are going through in our day to day life, we can always turn to Jesus. He is our counselor and when we put our faith in him we have eternal life! He is mighty, mighty indeed. He knows all of our weaknesses and flaws and he loves us anyway. He brings peace to our hearts and our world!

At this joyous time of year, there is no other story that brings more joy and hope than the story of Christ’s birth. Take time this holiday season to revel in the story of Jesus’ birth. Take time to read the Bible story of Christ’s birth leading up to Christmas day. The book of Luke details this exciting story well! If you have children or grandchildren, take time this Christmas season to read to them the story of Jesus’ birth aloud! Read it directly from your own Bible or their children’s Bible. This is a neat way for children to see that your Bible is something you use and cherish. It is never too early to start having children become familiar with the Bible. Don’t have any young children in your life? No worries, you can read the Christmas story on your own and revel in its amazing message.

In this busy time of year, take time to pause and thank God for all of the many gifts he has given to you! Don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and forget the real meaning. We have a “wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace” who is with us every single day! What more could we ever ask for!

Prayer for the week: Dear God, We praise you for the birth of your son Jesus! Thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can live free. Please be with me this Christmas season and help me to show Christmas cheer to all those who I come in contact with. Help me to keep the focus this week on the wonderful Christmas story just as it is told in the Bible. In your name I pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

In what ways have you been reminded of the true meaning of Christmas this past week?

How will you share the joy in the Christmas story this holiday season?

For more 2013 devotions visit the Wellspring Facebook page.

For the love of cranberries…

Ok, I can’t believe I am admitting this at age 37, but I bought fresh cranberries for the first time in my life just over a month ago! Yes, I was walking through the grocery store shortly after Thanksgiving and the beautiful bags of bright, red berries just jumped out at me. I decided I must buy some. Truly, I had no idea what I was going to do with them but I know they are healthy and they sure look pretty! In my health food stores, we sell a lot pure cranberry concentrate and cranberry capsules because of their antioxidant properties. But hey, we have to eat so why not add some fresh cranberries to your diet also!

When I got home I looked through some cranberry recipes and did not like the ingredients I found in most of them. So what did I do? Make up my own cranberry recipe. Most recipes call for canned cranberries….UGH….we have to get away from the canned goods and back to REAL food!

Now fresh cranberries are tart-yes very tart. So when making recipes with them it is easy to load on the sugar and quickly make the recipe unhealthy. So be aware and use sweetener with caution. And while you are eating them be sure to remember they are high in antioxidants and high in vitamin C. Cranberries are super healthy! I am not sure why we don’t hear more about cranberry recipes.

Cranberries

Cranberry Dessert
1 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries (wash well)
1/2 cup local honey
Juice of one fresh orange
1 tbsp. juice from fresh lemon
1/4 tsp. Redmond’s Real Salt

Simmer honey, orange and lemon juice for three minutes in a saucepan. Then add cranberries. Simmer for 5 minutes while stirring. Add salt and simmer another 6 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate in a glass bowl for serving later. Top with pecans or other nut of your choice, if you want.

One cranberry recipe was not enough so when I was at the grocery store again a week later I decided I needed to buy another bag of cranberrries. This time I was going to make Cranberry-Lemon Muffins (I modified another recipe I have for muffins to find a way to use cranberries.)

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Cranberry-Lemon Muffins

6 eggs

1 tbsp. juice from fresh lemon

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

6 tbsp. local honey

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup cranberries, washed well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another bowl. Once each are mixed well, combine the two and stir well. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan (I greased my pan with coconut oil) or into lined muffin cups.  You can top the muffins with fresh cranberry slices or pecans if you want. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

These muffins were delicious and I actually liked the taste and texture of them even better a couple days later. I shared some with friends but because I do not eat a lot of carbs on a daily basis I had some to freeze. I love having a homemade muffin like this in the freezer so mornings when I have to drive or run to an early morning meeting I can grab breakfast on the go. And when I grab these muffins loaded with cranberries I feel good about what I am putting in my body!

After making the Cranberry-Lemon Muffins, I had some cranberries left that I just could not let go to waste so I made a quick breakfast meal.

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Quick, healthy breakfast in a bowl

 1½  cups of almond milk

¼ cup chia seeds

 1½  tsp. pure vanilla

¼ cup of fresh cranberries

In this recipe I used one packet of Stevia sweetener. You could also use honey or pure maple syrup.

Mix together in glass bowl with lid and refrigerate. You can make this easy recipe with any fruit of your choice. Feel free to get creative and add cinnamon and other spices.

I would love to hear some of your favorite fresh cranberry recipes with real food ingredients!

~ Amanda 

 

 

Is the first post the hardest to write?

So I have a tons of ideas I want to write about on this blog. My list is growing each day since I first decided I was going to do this. But wow, trying to decide what to write for this first post has been very difficult. It was less than a month ago, I got the idea to write a blog. I talked it over first with my husband and when his response surprised me I continued to give it more thought. You see I thought Doug would say, “Amanda, you are already too busy—when will you have time to blog?” Instead he said, “I think that is a great idea. It would be a way to use a lot of your skills.” We both vowed to think about it and pray about it. I then begin to talk to others about it and when everyone’s response was favorable I decided now was the time to get going.

So right in the middle of the busiest season of the year at my two retail businesses I got to work making this blog a reality. For those of you who know me, you know this is not surprising. I like to have a lot on my plate and I do like to be busy doing things I love (yes I have had to learn over the years to say no to activities that I don’t feel passionate about…we will save that post for another day).

Feel free to check out my About page to learn more about my faith and food journey. The story will continue to unfold here on the blog. After much pondering on what to call my blog and my new endeavor, I chose the name I originally liked the best. Be Real. It is really that simple. Be Real in faith and find hope in the truths of the Bible. And Be Real in choosing the foods we eat.

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The recipes on this blog will all be focused on real food recipes…no junky additives and over processed recipes here. You see, I believe all of us could feel better if we ate a better diet without all of the carbs and sugar. Most serious health problems could be avoided or fixed if we would just change what foods we are putting in our body. I have heard story after story during the past five years while working in my health food stores of people who have changed their life because they changed the foods they eat. This is powerful information and we have the power to help ourselves. This is a timely message—our future and our children’s future depends on it!

Here’s to being real (even when it is really, really difficult),

~ Amanda