Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Vegan Meals I Love

I won't try to convert you here but I will say that I feel a bazillion times better eating vegan than I ever did eating paleo. The paleo diet was not right for me and my healthcare professionals are all very happy with my great lab work these days. 

These are the meals I'm most enjoying right now... 

Baked oatmeal- So simple, so filling. Pretty perfect, no? 

Burrito bowls- cooked rice + riced cauliflower (cilantro lime is the family favorite style) and "refried" (no oil so basically just smashed) pinto or black beans with green chillies, romaine lettuce. Then I load up the table with optional add-ins and everybody can put whatever they want on top! Red onions, sauteed bell pepper & mushrooms, black olives, salsa/Pico de gallo, cashew "cheese" or nutritional yeast. I used to also have optional meat but none of my family wants to eat meat right now! A and my husband were my only big meat eaters though and both have gone vegetarian in the past so I guess not surprising. 

Cannellini sauce rice bowl- Rice + riced cauliflower, garlic, onion, and whatever veggies sound good that day!

Hot cereal- I usually do a combination of quinoa and buckwheat and I usually add riced cauliflower, spaghetti squash, pureed pumpkin or pureed butternut squash + ground flax seed or hemp hearts. We mix in a little maple syrup and we top it with trail mix, fresh fruit, and nut butter.

Lentil loaf- like meatloaf, but not. I just make it up as I go now after trying the Oh She Glows cookbook recipe once. I serve it with salad, baked/mashed potatoes, and baked cinnamon peaches. A loves making lentil loaf sandwiches with the leftovers.

Pasta- There are six of us so I often do a package of quinoa-rice pasta and a package of lentil pasta. Whatever veggies we feel like- onions, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, kale. Tomato sauce, pesto, that cannellini sauce that feels similar to Alfredo sauce. 

Pesto wraps- Spread pesto on a tortilla. (I was out of pesto so the above pictured was made with Plant Perks cashew "cheese" instead). Add veggies of choice... I tend to love spinach + red onion +  avocado. I usually add walnuts or crispy chickpeas/mungbean sprouts too, for a yummy texture change.

Polenta sautee- I take a tube of polenta and chop it up into little chunks. I bake those at 350 for about 30 minutes. While those are baking, I chop and sautee veggies. For Italian: garlic, onion, mushroom, zucchini, spinach or kale. Mexican: garlic, onion, mushroom, green chilies, bell peppers. If I feel like I "need" sauce, I'll often do either pasta sauce or that cannellini sauce for Italian, salsa for Mexican.

Potato enchilada bake- huge hit! Enchiladas with mashed potatoes as the filling instead chicken & cheese or something. I mixed garlic, onion, mashed cauliflower, green chilies, and spinach into my mashed potatoes. The girls and I liked black olives in ours but the boys don't care for them. I just layer tortilla + Siete enchilada sauce + mashed potato mixture like a lasagna instead of rolling up a bunch of enchiladas. We all especially love this meal with beans and mango on the side. 

Salad + baked potato or sweet potato- Salads are admittedly not as yummy to me as a meal now but I still like a simple side salad just fine and I always love baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. But! I don't really like my sweet potatoes savory. I just do nuts + hemp hearts or chia seeds + cinnamon if I go with a sweet potato.

Snack plates- We have snack plates for lunch every day. They're simple and versatile, and satisfy everyone's tastes so easily! All kinds of solo fruits and veggies of course but also apples with almond butter, carrots and cucumbers with hummus, ants on a log, strawberries with chocolate cashew dip, sweet potato slices baked 30 minutes at 350 and topped with almond butter and berries, crackers with cashew "cheese," smoothies, chia seed pudding topped with trail mix or granola, side salads, a cup of soup, baked oatmeal, leftovers!

Soup & toast- Tomato-y vegetable soup with gluten free sourdough is a current favorite but gosh, so many possibilities! Black bean, broccoli potato, butternut squash, caldo verde, cannellini "zuppa," lentil, minestrone, roasted red pepper, tomato, tortilla! And toast... Cornbread, crackers, paleo garlic rolls, sourdough!

And, of course, a few resources I love for veganism! I say start with the Forks Over Knives film and then move onto Fiber Fueled! But I also adore The Colorful Family Table // Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better // Forks Over Knives book and website 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Current reads!

From top to bottom: 

A Crown for Kate... This first grade level book from The Good and the Beautiful is my current buddy read with kindergartner B. We take turns reading a page at a time. I really like this book and talked about it on a podcast episode. It's the perfect amount advanced for her. It's mostly at her reading level with a word here and there she needs help with and learns from! 

Wild Words of Science... Love this science devotional! 

Everybody Always for Kids... Love this Bob Goff devotional (essay collection is a better description) even more! 

The Mouse and the Motorcycle... Current buddy read with second grader A. Also read by taking turns on each page, also the perfect level of advanced so he mostly reads it just fine but grows a little as a reader with each chapter! 

Because of Winn Dixie... Current read-aloud. I approved this one a couple of years ago. I must be leaning harder into my 1-wing right now because it's making me a lil uncomfortable and I'm self-editing a lot but still liking the overall message.

The Story of the World... We love this history read-aloud! A is much more interested than B but both love it. We read a chapter or two most weeks. 

In This House We Will Giggle... This is a lovely book about virtues. It's set up to be read once a month so that's what I do! April's virtue is faith. 

Start Here Start Now... Starting my mornings with this book feels like chatting with a (Christian) life coach!  

Awaking Wonder... Re-visiting this delightful homeschool gem because I just love Sally Clarkson's books! 

Even Now... I'm kind of annoyed with myself for starting this book. I don't really read series but I'm so excited for the Baxter Family series by the same author. This is not part of that series. Why, self? Why??? But I'm enjoying myself anyway! 

Love Lives Here... This book is written by a fellow Enneagram 9 and I keep tearing up because I feel so known/understood!!! She and I think so much alike! She's even said phrases I always say! So far I highly recommend for other 9s 😍

Ancient Remedies... I am finding this book so fascinating and insightful! I really like Dr Axe and his faith-based perspective on health. I really like that he blends Western medicine with Eastern Medicine. There is so much great information in this book whether you are Paleo or vegan or something in between and I think that is a kind of rare find, don't you? I'll forever love learning about the amazing human body! 

Not pictured: Best Family Ever... I read this middle grade Baxter Family story and loved the sweet family values! When I saw that my library had it available as an audio book I read the description aloud to C who insisted, "We have to get it!" So far all four kids are really liking the story and the characters. 

Have you read any of these? Let me know how you liked it! 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Full Color

(Art from the cover of In my Heart)

I read Heaven is for Real years ago. It really weighed heavily on me at the time, the idea that I could never know if this story was real or if it was just a clever trick that raked in a lot of money for that family. 
A line that has stuck with me for all these years is one where Colton tells his father Heaven has colors we have never even seen down here. 

When I was little, the concept of eternity haunted me. It was always on my mind and I could never quite grasp it. I remember crying to my mom, "I can understand that God will keep going forever but I can't understand that he has always been. I just think, 'but when did that start?'" 

Ever since I read that book, I marvel instead over the possibility of there being colors I've never seen. How can that be? And why color? Does that even matter? 

Then one day, when I was still on Instagram, I randomly stumbled upon Enchroma. Enchroma makes special corrective lens glasses that change the contrast of the world so color blind people can suddenly see a full range of colors. 

Enchroma has amassed quite a collection of videos showing a person's reaction the first time they put the glasses on. 

"That's purple?!" 
"Holy... Wow." 
"Oh! That's green!" 
"I've never seen these before!" 

And so many tears! A young man trying them at school and standing up to take in a colorful poster of the periodic table of elements. A father seeing his red-haired sons' bright red hair for the first time. So many people tearing up as they marvel over the beauty of the world around them, at grass and flowers and their children's eyes. 

My favorite is of a man in his 60s telling the camera person he's been color blind his whole life and that this means more to them than it does to him. He tells them he's seen the videos where people get emotional but "I'm not going to get emotional." And then, of course, he gets emotional. 

It's my favorite because this man is a composite of my men. Enneagram 8s. My husband, my dad, and I suspect my grandpa. Strong, tough, possibly slightly-less-mortal-than-the-rest-of-us men. In my childhood I thought all men were like these men. Now, I of course know this isn't true. Then, it seemed like a given. 

No one is immune to awe and wonder. No one is immune to beauty. 

I think about these often. I think about their reactions and think about what Colton Burpo said Heaven is like. Colors we've never even seen? 

I can't wait. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Get Outside

Our family's love for nature started when Ryan and I were dating. We hiked quite a lot in those early days, all over northern Arizona and anywhere else we could manage to save up the money to visit.

Then we started having babies and started taking the babies on our hikes.

We've savored natural beauty in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

I've witnessed so much beauty in God's creation with my best friend by my side and bringing our children along for the ride has only made the experience richer.

We have hiked, skipped rocks, swam, stargazed, spelunked, played, admired. We've seen antelope, bear, bison, coyote, deer, elk, moose, soaring bald eagles. We've watched sunsets, floated on our backs, gotten caught in the rain.

And my heart feels so full of light when I think about all the adventure yet to come. 


Ink & Willow has created a gorgeous new nature journal, Get Outside, which they generously sent to me in exchange for an honest review. 


This guided journal "for refreshing your spirit in nature" might be the perfect thing for chronicling your own outdoor adventures. Get Outside is full of prompts for you to jot down thoughts, reflections, ponderings, memories, and highlights. It's also full of beautiful nature-themed quotes and resources like attractions in each state; hiking and nature photography tips; outdoor myths; cloud, tree, and animal track identification. 

I can't wait to slide this out of a shelf someday and see all the beautiful adventures my family and I wrote about together. 


My six-year-old has a real heart for books with vivid nature descriptions. Here are a few of her favorites: Anne of Green Gables // All Things Bright and Beautiful // Home in the Woods // Our Friend Hedgehog // Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow // Ladybug Girl and Bingo // Little House in the Big Woods 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Episode 18- The Christian Bookworm Podcast

We've got a great author interview in episode 18 and I can't wait for you to listen!

You can listen right here or through Anchor // Apple Podcasts // Breaker // Google // iTunes // Overcast // PocketCasts // RadioPublic // RSS // Spotify

Fiction - Beyond by Amber Van Linge // John 14:12, NIV // The Fault in Our Stars (secular, mature content, not recommended for all readers!) 

Connect with us online! Amber's blog and Instagram // my blog // my Goodreads account

Thanks for listening!