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For Jesus And For The Culture. . .Being Black, Christian and a Millennial In America

How to stay focused on your new year’s vision plan

Dear Reader, 

It’s the new year, which means it’s time to get focused on your vision plan. Yes I chose to save this post for near the end of January. My reason is because this is the point where most people are already done with their New Year’s Resolution.  If you’re like many people, you may have already set some goals for yourself. But now it’s time to get serious about achieving them.  Don’t give up. This post is to help you stay focused on your vision and achieve your goals in the new year. 

Define your goals for the year – what do you want to achieve in 2023?

As the new year begins, each of us has the opportunity to set new goals and become the best versions of ourselves. Whether it’s becoming more organized, learning a new language, or pursuing a career goal, setting clear objectives for yourself makes it easier to stay on track and continuously improve. As I look ahead to what 2023 holds for me, I’m determined to make progress in both my professional and personal life. Professionally, I want to expand my network and make new connections while developing my skill sets. I want to focus on being more present and mindful while continuing to nourish relationships with loved ones. Whatever your ambitious target may be this year, never forget that dedication and hard work can help you achieve great things – start now and be proud of how far you’ve come in 12 months!

Write down your goals and put them somewhere you’ll see them every day

It can be incredibly easy to forget our goals in the daily hustle and bustle of life. Too often we give in to distractions and neglect the important objectives that will bring us joy and satisfaction. One of the best ways to stay focused on our goals is by writing them down. Writing down a goal makes it concrete and tangible, creating a reminder of what you are trying to achieve. In addition, if you put your written goals somewhere that you can see every day, such as on your refrigerator or hung up next to your work desk, these attainable opportunities will be constantly reinforced – both psychologically and physically. This not only serves as motivation but also helps instill discipline into reaching these goals over time. Such a simple act can have many positive effects; Goals that may have seemed impossible before are now succinctly broken down into something achievable through incremental steps. Thus, writing down goals and seeing them every day can be an incredible way to keep motivated and on track toward achieving our dreams! ⁠⁠⁠⁠

Create a plan of action to help you reach your goals – what steps will you take to get there?

Achieving a goal can be difficult, but it still doesn’t have to feel impossible. Every task can seem daunting when taken on its own; but by breaking down the goal into smaller, more manageable steps, it’s possible to create a plan of action that will help take you from where you are to where you want to be. Start by taking an honest look at where you are and what kind of resources you have. This will help you identify realistic steps that you can take toward your goal, and it’s crucial to start small and build gradually from there. Once the action steps are outlined, take a few moments to consider any obstacles – both real or imagined – that may be in your way. Developing strategies for dealing with potential roadblocks before they happen is key; otherwise, they might lead to hesitation and frustration. Finally, set a timeline with achievable deadlines set in place so progress can be monitored and celebrated along the way. The beauty of such a focused plan is that it serves not just as laying out the course, but also helps keep your motivation and spirits high as you zig-zag your way toward success!

Set regular reminders to review your progress and make sure you’re on track

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by long-term goals or get stuck in a rut when working on them. That’s why it’s important to regularly review your progress, identify patterns, and make course corrections to help keep you on track. To ensure that this happens, set regular reminders for yourself every day, week, month, and/or quarter. For example, if you have a monthly goal of reaching out to three new people who might benefit from your services, set an alarm each Sunday at 10 pm to remind you to reach out that week. With regular reminders of your progress and the adjustments that need to be made along the way, you can stay focused on your long-term goals and ensure sustained success. It won’t always be easy but setting regular check-ins with yourself will make the journey much more manageable. So find what works best for you and set those reminders—it’ll pay off in the end!

Celebrate each milestone along the way – give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

When it comes to achieving success, the journey is just as important as the destination. Each time you hit a milestone along the way, it’s important to take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Not only does this encourage you to keep going — but it also reminds you that every step forward is an achievement in its own right. Every project presents its unique challenges, and even simply facing those challenges with resilience can be something to celebrate. Staying focused and meeting deadlines can be difficult, but developing good habits ensures your long-term success. And if there are obstacles that stand in your way, approaching them one step at a time will help prevent any feeling of being overwhelmed or of becoming discouraged. So don’t forget to celebrate each milestone as you go — take pride in knowing that your hard work is paying off! The big picture will come into view soon enough, but remember to enjoy each stage of progress along the way. That’s ultimately how true success is achieved!

Be flexible with your plans – if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to adjust the course

Being prepared is important, but sometimes our plans can be too rigid and don’t account for the inevitable surprises that life brings. Although we might have an idea of what we want to achieve, it’s important to be open to the possibility of making adjustments if things don’t go the way anticipated. Being stuck in a rut or plowing ahead when something isn’t working has never been successful in helping us reach our goals. On the other hand, if we’re willing to be flexible and willing to adjust course and listen to others, then unexpected opportunities can present themselves that may even lead us further than we originally expected. It’s okay to stay focused on your main objective but always remain open-minded when it comes to altering the approach or tactics. In doing so you’ll likely achieve more success because you weren’t afraid to move away from a plan that wasn’t productive and instead tries something new. So don’t hesitate; be flexible with your plans – if something isn’t working as expected then don’t miss out on other possibilities by not having the courage to alter course!

So what are you waiting for? Define your goals for the year, write them down, and make a plan to achieve them. 2023 is your year! Set regular reminders to stay on track, celebrate each milestone along the way, and be flexible if something isn’t working out. With a little planning and determination, you can achieve anything you set your mind to this year. So get started today – what goal will you tackle first?

Tips to Help Keep Your Skin Hydrated This Winter

Dear Reader, 

If you’re like me, you’re not really on the lookout for the newest beauty trends and products to hit store shelves, but you have dry skin. Because of this and social media, you may have noticed that winter skincare is having a moment. This season, it’s all about prep and protection against harsh weather conditions! Here are a few tips to help you get your skin ready for whatever old man winter throws your way.

Invest in a good moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated during the colder months

When winter rolls around, it can seem like moisture is being sucked right out of the air. That’s why it’s important to invest in a good moisturizer during those months. Not only does a good moisturizer help lock in your skin’s hydration by creating a thin layer over the epidermis, but it also helps replace the existing oils and prevent the skin from drying out. The best moisturizers for winter consist of thicker, oil-based products such as shea butter or jojoba oil, which can help create an effective barrier against environmental stressors while simultaneously helping keep your skin looking smooth and supple. With that said, avoid petrolatum or mineral-oil-based moisturizers because they aren’t effective at hydrating the skin long-term and can clog pores. Ultimately, investing in a quality moisturizer during colder months will do wonders for keeping your skin supple and radiant all season long.

Exfoliate regularly to get rid of dead skin cells and prevent dry, flaky skin

Exfoliation is an often-overlooked part of any skincare regime, but it can make a huge difference in how healthy your skin feels and looks. Regular exfoliation helps to get rid of dead skin cells that block pores and leave the skin feeling dry and flaky. It can also help to prevent acne since it encourages blood circulation while clearing away pore-clogging dirt and oils from the surface of the skin. Depending on your particular needs, you can choose between chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid or manual exfoliation with a loofah sponge or cleansing brush. Make sure not to overdo it though; you only need to exfoliate once or twice a week so as not to strip away too much moisture from your delicate dermis. With regular exfoliating, you’ll be able to reveal healthier and brighter skin beneath the surface. Enjoy!

Use a face mask at least once a week to nourish your skin

Whether your skin is oily or dry, using a face mask at least once a week can help to improve the complexion and health of your skin. Face masks provide nourishment and hydration to the skin; particularly those with natural ingredients like clay or oats, that can draw out toxins from the pores and detoxify the skin. Not only will this help keep your complexion clean, but it can also reduce wrinkles and prevent acne breakouts. When choosing a face mask for your skin type, look for ingredients like kaolin clay or oatmeal that are natural astringents to absorb excess oil and combat pimples. For sensitive or dry skin, opt for masks with hydrating ingredients like aloe vera or honey that will help soothe and add needed moisture. In short, making use of face masks once a week is an excellent way to tackle common issues such as blemishes, dryness, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles while revitalizing your skin!  Each time you use one you’ll feel more pampered than ever while reaping the numerous benefits they have to offer. Finally, remember that consistent use is key when it comes to achieving long-term results – so don’t forget to stick with it! Your skin will thank you.

Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods to boost your skin’s radiance from the inside out

When we think of improving the health and look of our skin, it can be easy to focus too much on topical treatments like masks and serums. However, it’s also beneficial to take care of your body from the inside out to achieve glowing, flawless skin. Drinking plenty of water is essential for keeping your body hydrated, which is important for digestion and detoxifying your system. Additionally, make sure to consume healthy foods, such as plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains that are packed with long-term nutrient benefits. Not only will these foods fuel you with energy but they’ll also provide you with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help promote better skin health. Furthermore, avoid processed foods and sugary snacks that can deteriorate the strength of your immune system over time. Incorporating a balanced diet into your routine can go a long way in helping improve the radiance and glow of your skin from within!  Taking care of yourself internally will give you healthier results externally.

Avoid hot showers and baths, which can strip away natural oils from your skin

Everyone knows that warm showers or baths can be a luxurious way to relax after a long day, but did you know that hot water can be damaging to your skin? When it comes to long, hot showers or baths, moderation is key. Hot water strips away natural oils from the skin’s outer layer and breaks down fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin. Additionally, it can encourage the production of sweat and oil glands, leading to even more dryness. To keep your skin looking healthy and radiant, stick to lukewarm showers and baths no longer than 10 minutes and avoid scalding hot temperatures at all costs. Sweat-inducing workouts are best done with cool water and finished off with some cold rinses to close the pores. A gentle cleansing routine will go a long way in keeping your body hydrated and looking its best!  So next time you consider taking an extended soak in hot water – hold back – to maintain healthy, glowing skin!

It is really hard not saturate yourself in hot water when its cold outside but your skin will thank you for exercising self-restraint and moderation. 

Taking care of your skin from the inside and outside is essential for achieving a radiant complexion. Our tips provide you with easy ways to improve the health and look of your skin without having to invest in expensive treatments or products. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, avoid hot showers and baths, and use face masks regularly to see long-term improvements in the appearance of your skin!

Easy winter craft ideas for when you’re stuck in the house

Dear Reader: 

If you’re looking for something to do this winter, why not try your hand at some fun and easy crafts? From making your cards and decorations to cozy knitwear, there are plenty of projects to keep you busy. And what’s more, crafting is a great way to relax and de-stress. So get out your supplies and get ready to get creative!

Make a wreath out of old newspapers

Get creative and crafty with your old newspapers! Making a wreath from recycled materials is an easy way to get crafty and upcycle. All you need is to gather up the newspapers, scissors, glue, and some string or ribbon. You can cut out shapes or strips of paper from the newspaper and use these to create the wreath shape. When it is complete, all that’s left to do is add a finishing touch by attaching a bow of your choice, such as some colorful ribbon. There’s no wrong way to make a newspaper wreath—make it bold and striking with large pieces of paper, or subtle with tiny strips interlaced together to form a delicate frame. This project also serves as a fun activity for all ages—it’s perfect for family member bonding during the winter months! With just a few simple materials, you can have the satisfaction of creating something unique and beautiful that expresses your creativity. Plus, it’s an incredible way to give old newspapers new life! This DIY project can be further jazzed up with other materials such as buttons and beads if you want a sparkling touch on your newspaper wreath. So get creative this holiday season and make something special just for yourself!

Turn an empty wine bottle into a vase for fresh flowers

Reusing and upcycling are great ways to use the items that occupy our living spaces without breaking the bank. A fun and creative project you can do with minimal effort are turning an empty wine bottle into a vase for fresh flowers! All that’s needed is a few general household tools and some patience; this do-it-yourself project has endless possibilities! To begin, choose an empty wine bottle–whether black, green, or clear glass–to place in a pot of warm water on your stovetop. Put it on low heat until the bottle is covered in steam (it should take just a few minutes). After that, grip the neck of the bottle firmly with oven mitts or towels and carefully twist off the neck. Once cooled, wash away any remaining label glue from the scored lines left around the bottle. Dry it out and you now have your very own decorative upcycled vase for your lovely space! Place wildflowers or boughs of your favorite plants to show off your green thumb skills. Whether decorating indoors or outdoors, creating something beautiful out of common items is always inspiring–as well as giving new life to something collected. So go ahead and be creative while helping out Mother Earth at the same time! It’s a win-win situation all around.

Create a photo collage of your favorite memories

Your favorite memories are the ones you will remember and cherish for life, so why not capture them forever in a photo collage? Not only is it easy to create a stunning collage out of pictures, videos, and other types of media, but it’s also the perfect way to relive those special moments. When creating your collage, think about what makes each image special to you. Maybe it’s from an unforgettable time with friends or family, or maybe it reminds you of an important event in your life. Whatever the case may be, each image should tell its own story — and when combined in a single artwork, these stories can create something utterly unique. A photo collage helps to immortalize your most cherished memories and is sure to evoke powerful emotions whenever you take a look at it. So take some time out of your day to assemble the perfect collection of images and create a lasting keepsake that you’ll be proud of for years to come!

Side note: I LOVE COLLAGES. I realize that all of this are messy ideas but winter is the time to get messy and watch snow fall. DO IT !

Paint a picture of your favorite winter scene

In my favorite winter scene, the snow lies heavy and pristine on the ground. The trees stand in stark contrast to shades of white, their silvery branches stretching like veins against a deep blue sky, illuminated by a bright winter sun. Ambling across the field, I come upon an immense pile of snow – the perfect ramp for launching myself into powdery softness. Nothing can compare to racing down that mountain of snow on a sled or even just tumbling lightly off of its apex. This, coupled with running and jumping until I am out of breath, is one of my most cherished winter activities. In this wonderful landscape, I also appreciate how everything is transformed under the cloak of white so that familiar places look like something completely new and exciting. At winter’s end when the blanket melts away again, I take comfort in knowing that I’ll be able to experience it all anew once more when cold times return. Until then, I remember it fondly as part of those rare and beautiful moments in life that make life distinctly worth living.

Make a gingerbread house out of graham crackers and candy

Making a gingerbread house out of graham crackers and candy is a great way to get creative in the kitchen. Start by gathering all the supplies you need such as graham crackers, colored icing, and plenty of assorted candies. Next, prepare your workstation so that you have easy access to all the materials. Think about what type of house you want to make and plan out your design before getting started. After that, it’s time to build! Use the graham crackers for walls and roofing, the icing for cementing them together, and the assortment of candy for decoration. Believe it or not, creating a gingerbread house out of traditional ingredients isn’t that different – just construct the walls with graham cracker sandwiches filled with frosting instead of dough! So go forth and get building – no matter what kind of gingerbread house you make with this method, it will be sure to delight family and friends alike!

Build a fort out of blankets and pillows

Make your fort – it’s easy and fun! All you need is some blankets, pillows, and a little creativity. Start by draping the blanket over two chairs or other pieces of furniture to support it. Then grab some more blankets or sheets and arrange them in triangular shapes coming down from the top blanket to create walls. Add pillows to the inside for comfort and decoration–throw in some colorful stuffed animals for more fun. Don’t forget to find a way to close off the sides such as using a rolled-up carpet as an extra door. With your fort complete, now you are ready for hours of imaginary playtime! Build a train station out of chairs and make passenger tickets under a desk or pretend you’re camping under the stars with fairy lights twinkling overhead. No matter what activities you choose, building a fort out of blankets and pillows will surely create special memories that will last forever. So go ahead–it’s time to escape into your imagination!

Bible Journaling 

I know you remember a time when Bible Journaling was a huge craze. People were just buying tons of highlighters, special pens, and special Bibles with special paper. Now dust off that hidden journal Bible you have somewhere and get to work! Or if you don’t have a Journaling Bible, maybe use your regular art supplies. Paint a scripture. What images come to mind when you read this verse? Draw the image. Write the verse on top of it. I’ve been doing that with my mini watercolor notebook after work and it had an impact on my ability to unplug. Let’s use this winter to get crafty with Jesus! I’ll share one of mine with you below: 

Delicious meatless winter meals that will make you forget all about chicken and beef

Dear Reader:

I’m vegan, by food allergies and not really by choice, but oh well..Having been interested in keeping myself alive and respecting my body as a Temple, I’m getting really good at cooking. It’s a major adulting win!

So for those of you out here doing Vegan/No Meat January Challenges  or Meatless Tuesdays or something, here’s winter vegan hits. If you’re vegan and you have some favorites, please drop them in the comments. I am an experimental cook. Also note, you can make some foods faster or slower using air fryer or crockpot respectively. 

If you’re looking for some delicious, winter comfort food that happens to be meatless, you’ve come to the right place. These seven recipes are sure to hit the spot and leave you feeling satisfied. So forget about chicken and beef for a little while and give these hearty, veggie-packed dishes a try. Your taste buds will thank you! I happen to be huge fan of sweet potatoes and red lentils this season so I hope you enjoy those foods too!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Quinoa

Roasting Food can be a great way to add intriguing layers of flavor, complexity, and depth to otherwise ordinary dishes. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Quinoa is an excellent example of how roasting can take an everyday dinner item to the next level. Sweet and savory butternut squash, smoky kale, and nutty quinoa come together to create a warm, earthy combination that is sure to please all palates. Building the soup by roasting each of the ingredients separately helps create a complex balance of flavors that could not be achieved if all ingredients were cooked together in one pot. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Quinoa requires minimal effort but provides maximum satisfaction – it’s the perfect dinner or lunch option for someone looking for something extraordinary yet easy. If you’re ready to take your cooking up a notch, give Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Quinoa a try – you’ll be glad you did!

Ingredients:

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

-2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

-1 onion, chopped

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

-1 teaspoon ground cumin

-1 teaspoon paprika

-1 teaspoon dried thyme

-Salt and pepper to taste

-3 cups kale leaves removed from stems and coarsely chopped

-½ cup cooked quinoa (can be made ahead of time)  

Instructions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.   

3. Place the cubed butternut squash, carrots, onion, and garlic onto the baking sheet. Drizzle all of the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.      

4. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  

5. Remove roasted vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool slightly while you prepare the soup base.    

6. Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat on the stovetop then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil followed by the cumin, paprika, and thyme stirring constantly for about 30 seconds to bring out the flavor of the spices.     

7. Add in cooled roasted vegetables followed by vegetable stock then season with salt and pepper as desired. Bring soup base to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are very tender when pierced with a knife or fork.    

8. Using an immersion blender (or carefully working in batches using a regular blender) blend soup until all ingredients have broken down completely creating a smooth texture (add additional stock if needed).     

9). Add in kale leaves while the soup is still hot so that they cook down slightly before adding cooked quinoa at step 10 below    

10). Once vegetables have been completely blended stir in cooked quinoa until the mixture is evenly combined then serve warm topped with extra kale if desired! Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce and Lentils

Spaghetti squash is a delicious and nutritious vegetable to enjoy any time of year. It’s also an incredibly versatile ingredient, so why not take it up a notch with this delicious recipe? Start by cutting the spaghetti squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and baking it in an oven. While the squash is baking, prepare your sauce by gently sautéing tomatoes, garlic, and lentils with spices like cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Once they are all cooked together perfectly, combine them with the spaghetti squash pasta in a flavorful meal that looks as good as it tastes! Best of all, this dish takes minimal time and effort to make – yet provides you with plenty of nutrients for sustainable energy throughout your day. So why not give it a try tonight? You’ll never put off dinner preparation again!

Ingredients:

– 1 Spaghetti Squash

– 1 can of Diced Tomatoes

– ½ cup of Lentils

– 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced

– ½ teaspoon of Dried Oregano

– 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, divided

– Salt and Pepper to taste 

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half, season with salt and pepper, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until it’s cooked through and tender when pierced with a fork or knife.

2. While the spaghetti squash is baking, prepare the tomato sauce by heating one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for one minute until fragrant. Then add in the canned diced tomatoes along with dried oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes until thickened slightly. Reduce heat to low and stir in lentils; cook for another 5 minutes until lentils are softened but not mushy. Turn off the heat and set aside while the squash finishes cooking.

3. Once the spaghetti squash is done cooking, use a fork to shred it into long strands resembling spaghetti noodles on top of each squash half (in both directions). Divide tomato sauce lentil mixture onto each half evenly then serve immediately while still hot! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Enchiladas

When life gets busy and cooking feels like a chore, the perfect dish to lift your spirits can be found in Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Enchiladas. This easy-to-make delicacy features all the flavors of Mexico without being overly spicy; plus, it’s packed with plenty of nutritious ingredients to give you an extra boost throughout your day. The sweet potatoes provide a delicious contrast to the savory beans and corn, making for a filling yet flavorful meal that’s sure to become one of your go-to dinner staples. With this dish sitting in the oven, you’ll be feeling inspired in no time! Not only are Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Enchiladas delicious enough to rival any restaurant entrée — it also requires minimal effort in the kitchen, so you can have dinner on the table faster than ever. What’s more, its beautiful colors bring out the best in Mexican cuisine while still allowing for flexibility in terms of ingredients or spices. So what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and get started on making this delectable party-in-an-enchilada today!

Ingredients:

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1 red onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 teaspoon ground cumin

-½ teaspoon chili powder

-Salt and black pepper to taste

-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes (about 4 cups)

-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 

-1 cup frozen corn kernels

-8 whole wheat or gluten-free tortillas (flour or corn)

-2 cups enchilada sauce (store-bought or homemade) 

-½ cup shredded vegan cheese such as cheddar or Jack (optional)

Instructions:                                                

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.                                 

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Sauté for 3 minutes until fragrant and softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste then add the sweet potatoes. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until they are fork tender, about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.   3. Remove the lid from the pan after 10 minutes of cooking time has elapsed and add in the black beans and corn kernels stirring all ingredients together until everything is warmed through. Turn off the heat and set aside while you assemble your enchiladas.       

4. Take one tortilla at a time using tongs or a fork to keep it from tearing apart while filling it with a scoop of your sweet potato mixture across the middle of it in one line making sure that there is an equal amount of filling in each half of your tortilla so that you can roll it up easily without having too much filling on one side versus another side of your enchilada wrap/tortilla before rolling it up tightly around itself once all sides have been filled with sweet potato mixture evenly distributed throughout your entire wrap/tortilla. Secure each with toothpicks if necessary so that they do not unravel while baking in the oven later on during cook time given below shortly thereafter.         5. Place each filled wrap/tortilla seam side down in your greased 9×13 inch baking dish pouring the remaining enchilada sauce over top to cover all layers followed by sprinkling vegan shredded cheese over the top if desired but optional as well both steps prior, covering dish securely with aluminum foil before placing into preheated oven mentioned earlier up above when we were preheating oven itself.    

6. Bake covered for 20 minutes until hot throughout then remove the foil covering the baking dish followed by additional 5 minutes of cooking time uncovered to lightly brown. Allow enchiladas enough to cool down & rest momentarily before cutting & serving.

White Bean Chili

White bean chili is a hearty and delicious meal that can easily become a family favorite. This dish lends itself to easily adding your favorite vegetables and spices, allowing you to make every batch unique. The great thing about making this type of chili is that the beans provide plenty of flavor and texture on their own, but combining them with additional ingredients results in a dish even more flavorful than expected. For those interested in keeping the dish vegan-friendly, it is easy to do since it does not use any meat products. Chili is also extremely economical and tends to be a filling meal. What’s more, the ingredients are typically things most of us already have in our kitchen pantries, meaning we don’t need to go out shopping if we’re short on time. All these factors come together to make white bean chili an ideal weeknight dinner choice for any crowd!  Plus, leftovers heat up well in the microwave or can be used as part of a recipe for burritos or nachos for an entirely different meal the following day! Motivate yourself and your family by giving spicy white bean chili a try tonight!

Ingredients:

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 large onion, diced

– 4 cloves garlic, minced

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 2 teaspoons chili powder

– Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

– 1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes with juice

– 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth 

– 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

– ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

– 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

– ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions:         

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper; cook for another minute.                

2. Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juice along with the broth; raise the heat to bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes to allow all of the flavors to combine.               

3. Add in the white beans, corn kernels, and red bell pepper; simmer for an additional 10 minutes until all of the ingredients are heated through.             

4. Ladle into individual bowls; top each bowl with fresh chopped cilantro if desired before serving. Enjoy!

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Whether you’re a vegan looking to try something new or curious about plant-based alternatives, Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is a great place to start. This classic recipe is surprisingly easy to make: simply mash up potatoes with dairy-free butter and spices, top it with sautéed vegetables in a savory vegan gravy, and bake until golden brown. Not only does this comfort food dish full of wholesome ingredients look beautiful when served but it also tastes good. The deep umami flavor of the gravy mingles perfectly with the creamy potato topping while the carrots, peas, and mushrooms bring texture and sweetness. With just a few simple ingredients and steps, anyone can make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie even if they don’t cook often. It may look intimidating but simply by following the recipe, even beginner cooks can whip up this tasty dish – no matter what your dietary preference is! There is no reason not to give this plant-based version of an old favorite a try. So why not roll up your sleeves and give Vegan Shepherd’s Pie a try? You’ll be surprised by how delicious it turns out!  You won’t regret giving this vegan twist on a classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe a go!

Ingredients:

– 2 tablespoons of vegan butter

– 2 cloves of garlic, minced

– 1 diced onion

– 3 cups of vegan crumbled sausage (such as Beyond Sausage or Gimme Lean Sausage)

– 2 celery stalks, diced

– 2 carrots, diced

– 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

– 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

– 3 cups of vegetable broth (or substitute with water)

– 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels

– 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

– 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari 

– Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:

– 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed 

– 4 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil

Instructions: 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Grease a 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

2. Heat vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened.

3. Add the vegan crumbled sausage and stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes until lightly browned.

4. Add celery, carrots, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste; cook for about 5 more minutes until vegetables are tender but still firm.

5. Sprinkle in the flour and stir continuously for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Slowly pour in the vegetable broth while stirring constantly so that no lumps form; bring mixture to a gentle simmer for about 8 minutes until thickened slightly (mixture should not be too thick).

6. Stir in corn kernels, tomato paste, and soy sauce; simmer for an additional 5 minutes then remove from heat. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings if necessary; transfer to prepared baking dish spread out evenly into an even layer then set aside while preparing to top.

7. To prepare to top: Bring a pot of salted water up to a boil then add potatoes; reduce heat slightly so that water is just barely boiling then cook potatoes for 15 – 20 minutes or until fork tender but not falling apart (do not overcook). Drain potatoes through a sieve or colander then return them to the same pot they were boiled in; mash potatoes using either a potato masher or hand mixer adding 4 tablespoons of vegan butter or olive oil as you mash them into desired consistency then set aside while filling cools down slightly before topping with mashed potatoes (filling should be hot but not scalding hot when topped with mashed potatoes).

8. Spread into an even layer using a spoon or spatula if necessary; use a fork to create decorative peaks on top as desired then place the baking dish onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (to catch any spills) before popping it into the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes until edges are bubbly golden brown (cover loosely with aluminum foil during last 10 – 15 minutes if needed). Allow shepherd’s pie to cool down completely before serving otherwise it will be too runny when served hot directly out of the oven – leftovers can be stored and covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days reheat portions as needed (best served warm not piping hot!).

Ratatouille

Cooks of all experience levels can find inspiration in the classic French dish, ratatouille. While it may take some finesse to perfectly blend its array of ingredients, the simplicity of the dish is part of its charm. Ratatouille consists primarily of items found in any kitchen pantry, such as olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs. Once assembled, it can be served either warm or cold to create a delicious summertime treat that’s perfect for impressing dinner guests! With just a few easy steps and the right ingredients, you can make your version of this classic dish. Ratatouille not only brings joy to all who partake in it but also serves as an affirmation that great food does not require hours of prep time or fancy appliances. So get creative and see what flavors you come up with — after all, ratatouille is as much about experimentation as it is about presentation!

Ingredients:

• 2 large eggplants

• 2 medium-sized zucchinis

• 4 bell peppers (2 red and 2 green)

• 2 yellow onions

• 6 cloves of garlic

• 6 ripe Roma tomatoes

• 1/4 cup of olive oil

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Optional: fresh herbs such as basil or oregano 

Dice eggplants into small cubes. Slice the zucchinis lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Cut each bell pepper in half and then remove the seeds before slicing them into thin strips. Peel and dice the onions and mince the garlic cloves before setting aside all ingredients separately on cutting boards or in individual bowls.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat before adding about ¼ cup of olive oil – enough to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet. When hot, add in all diced vegetables at once – eggplant cubes, sliced zucchini, bell pepper strips, diced onion, and minced garlic. Stir occasionally until all vegetables are tender and lightly browned; approximately 10 minutes total cooking time should suffice. Finally, add diced tomatoes along with salt and pepper (and any fresh herbs). Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes until everything is cooked through and heated evenly. Remove from heat when done and let cool slightly before serving warm or at room temperature as desired! Enjoy your homemade Ratatouille dish!

Delicious and nutritious vegan recipes to try this winter, give these a go! They’re all hearty and filling but still packed with vitamins and minerals to help keep your immune system strong during cold and flu season.  Please note that these are merely suggestions. Go ahead and add your preferred seasonings, switch out to vegetables you like, Do you! 

To Everything, There is a Season

Dear Reader

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8  reminds us that to everything there is a season. As we near the end of the year 2022, we can reflect on the seasons of life we’ve experienced this year. We can pause and think about what knowledge and wisdom we learned this year that we can store in preparation for the upcoming year. 

A SEASON FOR LEARNING

Sometimes life feels like it’s K-12 math: it is cumulative. We cannot build on what we didn’t learn last year. I remember being in college statistics, going to every office hour, and struggling. Finally, the professor was like please talk through this problem aloud. When I did, she declared, “I’ve got it! { I was like “what”? “ You lack a fundamental understanding of the number line,” she said.  That was not a huge surprise to me. I struggled so hard from K-12 with math.  To be fair, the reason I took statistics is that I figured out of all the options for required math courses, surely, that was the least math-y. It was not a surprise that I couldn’t do the math because of one fundamental thing I was supposed to learn in the second grade… mainly which numbers are bigger than the others on the negative side of the number line. 

Life gets like that too. Sometimes it feels like I am missing some fundamental piece I was supposed to learn before. God is the best teacher. He has infinite patience and compassion. He will not suddenly declare “ you lack a fundamental understanding of… !” Instead, he’ll talk you through it step by step like an after-school tutor. 

A SEASON FOR PREPARATION 

 One of the stories in the bible which highlights how God is a God of order and preparation to me is the story of how the Israelites were given mana. While to me, mana has many meanings since I play board and videogames… I’m talking about the original meaning in Exodus 16. 

Exodus 16 states that the Israelites were instructed to collect mana for the day and then the day before the sabbath to collect a double portion. For those ya’ll who don’t remember the background but the Israelites were a bit grumpy and were like how they were starving in the wilderness. Then suddenly, by the Grace of God,  they got some bread like rain, every single day except the Sabbath.

The Bible also talks about how if you tried to not follow instructions; things didn’t work out. So if you tried to store extra on a not sabbath it would rot. If you didn’t store for the sabbath, then you would starve. Sometimes we’re given specific instructions from God. Sometimes we’re just called to get up and go. But I want to encourage you that there is a plan and to store up inside of you, the good God has already done… so when it feels like God isn’t there and isn’t real, you can be reminded. Perhaps even write it down?

Domestic Violence and the Holidays

Dear Reader:

The holidays are often a time of joy and community, but for people in abusive relationships, they can be stressful and dangerous. Abusive partners may use the holidays as an opportunity to control and isolate their victims. They may also become more violent during this time of year, due to increased stress and alcohol consumption. If you have a family member in an abusive relationship, how you react is important. 

Please note that none of the information contained in this discussion is legal advice. 

Here are some tips to help you stay safe during the holiday season.

Communication

One of the most important things you can do to support a survivor of domestic violence is to stay in communication with them. This can be difficult, as their abuser may try to isolate them from friends and family. However, maintaining regular contact can let the survivor know they are not alone and help them to stay connected to the outside world. You can discuss safe times and ways to communicate and consider setting up a code word or phrase that will let the survivor know they can reach out for help if they need it. By staying in communication, you can provide essential support for the survivor during a difficult time.

Planning for visits

When survivors of domestic abuse are planning visits with family or friends, they often have to take extra precautions to ensure their safety. They may carpool with someone else to make sure they have a way to leave if necessary, or they may plan an escape route in case of an emergency. It’s also important for them to have a support system in place that they can rely on if needed. By taking these precautions, survivors can help make sure that they are safe and protected in case of an emergency. 

If your family is the problem, then may I make a radical suggestion : DON’T GO.  is customary to spend holidays with family but not at the price of your health and safety. Maybe this is the year you decline that toxic invitation. 

Plan for Alone time

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be overwhelming. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy, and family members to please. Amid all the chaos, it’s important to schedule some time for yourself. This may mean taking a break from social media, saying no to parties or commitments you don’t want to attend, or taking some time each day to do something you enjoy. It’s also important to practice self-care during this time and make sure you’re staying healthy and rested. Remember that you deserve to enjoy the holidays too! By taking some time for yourself, you can avoid holiday burnout and make the most of this special time of year.

Conclusion

The holidays can be a stressful and dangerous time for people in abusive relationships, but by staying in communication with survivors, planning for visits and alone time, and practicing self-care, you can support the survivor in your life and help them stay safe during this difficult time. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please seek help from a qualified professional. With support and resources, it is possible to overcome abuse and find healing and happiness.

If you need a permission slip to not go to a holiday gathering that will break your spirit, you have mine. Stay Safe.