Paleo Chocolate Granola

This recipe has been a savior in our diet. We have been paleo for about a month now and one misses certain crunchy goodness in the morning. You see my husband lost a lot of weight a couple years ago and one of his main snacks was organic, low-fat granola. So when we decided to go paleo, normal granola went out the window. You don't understand the granola counseling we've had... withdrawal is a killer for some.

So I worked and tested and here, my friends, is the result and we were very, very pleased! Have you ever had Count Chocula?? Yea, it's like that, but a thousand times healthier for you.

This recipe is a tad "labor intensive" but it makes a good amount and oh, so worth it!

Paleo Chocolate Granola

1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup raw pepitas plus 1/4 cup additional later
2 cup toasted coconut flakes
3 T coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t coconut extract
1/4 t sea salt
1 oz dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)
raisins or dried cranberries

1. Soak the nuts (reserving the second 1/4 cup of pepitas for adding in later) in filtered water for at least an hour or overnight. Drain and dry on paper towels.
2. When completely dry, process the nut in a food process until they resemble uniformed-size oats.
3. When nuts are ready, put nuts in a large bowl.
4. Set oven at 350. Line baking sheet with foil and cover with cooking spray.
5. In a saucepan, add the oil, maple syrup, extract, spice and salt. Bring to a gentle boil then set aside and let cool slightly.
6. Pour sauce over prepared nuts and stir well. Spread mixture onto foiled pan.
7. Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes. Checking every 15 minutes and stirring. Nuts should be golden in color when done.
8. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
9. Process the chocolate in a food processor until it resembles large coffee grounds.
10. When nut mixture is slightly cooled and crunchy, add chocolate and mix. It will melt into the nut mixture. Let cool completely for 20 minutes.
11. Lightly toss in toasted coconut and raisins.



Chasing After Unseen Glories

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I have claimed him as my Lord and Savior. So if I acknowledge this truth to the world, shouldn't it be shown ... a lot? Not just on those good days when things are running seamlessly. No. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Goodness, it's hard, I can tell you. We live in a sinful, "me-centered world" and yet we're expected to be blameless? Well, yes.


The word "humility" has been a repeating thought in my mind. It is the opposite of pride. So many times pride is the origin of many sins. It makes me think about the first act of sin, Eve wanting to be like God (pride) so she acted on it. Isn't this exactly what we do in a sense? Disobey to satisfy? Dishonor Him for our honor? What are our actions portraying? Humility or pride?

Sin is satisfying our inner-most desires and wants. It can also be seen as using all our energy to pull the world's attention on ourselves or accomplishments more than directing them all to Christ. I am guilty of this. 

Humility is different. If we can just turn our attention on God, fully, we begin to shrink. And ultimately, if we continue in this pattern, our sin will shrink too. Where's your focus these days?

Humility sees God as our everything. 

Humility fills us up with the goodness of Christ until there is nothing left of me. 

Humility opens the door to the hearts of others and to the heart of God. 

Humility places God first and everything else in its proper place. 

Humility is the awareness of my complete brokenness. I have nothing to give and God has everything to offer. 

Humility is chasing after unseen and insurmountable glories of heaven instead of temporary accolades on earth. 

Humility is knowing I have nothing to prove to this world, but Christ crucified. 

My prayer for you and me is that humility defines us. Day in and out. Each moment. Each circumstance. Each tear, struggle, ache and wound will result in a beautiful act of humility through you and me. 

I want to change my little corner of the world. I want to make my life count for Him.

God blesses those who are humble,     
for they will inherit the whole earth.


My Job, Learning Curves and How I Almost Quit...

Recently I returned to work as a nurse after staying home for over a decade to raise our boys. My brain has been on constant "learning mode" the last several months as I have had to refresh my nursing skills and medical knowledge. "Learning curve" is a word I have used almost daily when I talk about my new job.

But ironically there is another job I'm working at lately. It's not a new one, but one with a learning curve that goes far beyond the nursing one. Many days I am frustrated and clueless of how it works... and I'm not catching on very well. A couple times I have just wanted to quit.

Today I stumbled on this quote from Francis Chan and it has broken me. Ultimately, I have allowed the stresses of life and even silly circumstances to dictate my behavior, in a negative way. Some days I could even say my love for others and God appears like it has dwindled down to not much of anything. This quote started as a blog post that was intended for my readers to get a "lesson"... but through many edits, tears and confessions... I know God placed this quote before me, for me.

       I am simply to love.

Love should illuminate from every word I speak, every action I take. And not just when the moment feels right or when things are going my way. Not just when bank accounts are full or when life is in perfect order... not only then. But in times of hurt and disorder and despair. When I'm completely lonely, misunderstood or wrongfully accused. When no one cares to think of me or when I'm the one left out and unnoticed. Yes, even then, I'm suppose to be about love. Showing and doing it.

It's a full time, divine occupation.

This job of loving needs to be done when it feels uncomfortable and messy inside. You may know what I'm talking about. When things aren't done our way, we start to get that weird feeling that we know isn't right, but something in us doesn't want to stop it's momentum and we end up saying what feels perfectly justified - to us - regardless who gets hurt. That's pride and selfishness winning. Not love.

Clocking-out shouldn't be a choice with this job. Signing up for a quick get-away and retirement aren't healthy options.

But I'm slowly learning. Slowly.

I'm learning that real love isn't dependent on the circumstances going on around it. It supernaturally rises above. It stays on track regardless of the turbulent winds whipping all around it.

And it goes even deeper.

In 1 John 4:18 it says... 
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
When I do things opposite of love it is tied to fear. If I can get to the point of understanding where I stand in God's view -- I am His daughter and am completely loved by Him -- I have nothing to fear. Those things that brought me fear, then anger or pain are seen differently now because when I am in Christ, all fears are gone. And when I can grasp and grow from that, I can then shrug off my angst and start to be love and do love.

Practicing real love starts from truly knowing Jesus and what He is about. His character is grace, mercy and abiding love for us, his children. We need to let this truth steep long into our souls. Once we understand how much he loves us regardless of our messes and inadequacies, we can turn around and do the same to the world around us.

This job of loving is continuous and will always be a learning curve for me. I'm grateful for a God who not only erases my sins, but also helps me erase the fears that blind me to what real love is.

Do you have fears that are hindering you to truly love like Christ? Ask God to help you identify and confess them and then move to a place of grace, mercy, and pure love.


Pacific Beach Peanut Butter Review

I absolutely love peanut butter. Not only do I love the taste, but I love getting a nice amount of protein from a "non" animal source... LOVE!

So I was naturally overjoyed when I was asked to do a review on not one, but three kinds of peanut butter from Pacific Beach Peanut Butter company. I was asked to pick two "flavors" (yes, they have flavors!) of their 8 kinds of peanut butter and also was sent the organic unsalted to try as well. The two flavors I picked were a Touch of Caramel and White Chocolate.

{Organic, Unsalted}
This was not my favorite. It was nice and the texture was fine, but I do prefer salted peanut butter over unsalted... so that was my only issue with this particular peanut butter. And no artificial ingredients... that's always a plus! It spread nicely and wasn't too dry, but again, give me a little salt. Although I don't give this a great review, I do believe this particular one would be a great option for a recipe that calls for a nut butter or would absolutely fabulous in my Apple Pie Smoothie. 

{Touch of Caramel}
I love the idea of caramel married to peanuts. This flavor was my first, hands down pick. Caramel is one of my favorite flavors. But before I even tasted this, I peeked on the back for the list of ingredients and found the dreaded word... "artificial". BOO. I went ahead and tasted it and must say the beginning "notes" were nice, but my taste buds can usually detect artificial anything... and the end "notes" detected it. Maybe it was mental. I don't know, but I was a tad disappointed.

{White Chocolate}
Now this was fun! Everything I thought it could be. Creamy, sweet and definitely has a nice taste of white chocolate. I did enjoy this one. But again, I cringed when I saw more "artificial" stuff on the back *insert sad face*.

My advice? Choose the organic salted! It would be perfect on bananas, apples, swirled in Greek yogurt or with just a spoon. I love simple and natural ingredients and that's what this kind will have. If you want to use it in baking recipes or my preference, smoothies, go for the unsalted. The other flavors that I would also recommend and without artificial ingredients are:
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Raspberry Peanut Butter
  • CinnaYum Peanut Butter

Pacific Beach would like to offer you, my readers, a chance to try their peanut butter for free when you purchase one. From now until 4/15 if you purchase a jar you get one free. Add your chosen FREE jar to the cart along with the rest of your order for the discount to apply. Use OFFER CODE: blogger03 at check out to redeem your special offer.



Natural Remedy for Croup {Plus an Easy Chest Rub Recipe}

I have been blessed with four, very healthy sons. Aside from the occasional, short-lived low-grade temp or common headache, my boys are rarely sick. Seriously... (knock-on-wood) we don't get the flu, strep or even the common cold. But there is one thing that all four of my children have gotten a time or two, usually at the change of seasons... CROUP.

For my kids, they can be completely fine and out of nowhere, the horrid barking sound comes in the wee hours of the night. It truly is a terrible thing to experience to see your child straining for a breath. Being a nurse still never prepares me for dealing with a croupy child.

In years past I did the "mainstream" treatments recommended by many. Take the child into a bathroom with hot shower running to breath in the moist air. If that doesn't work, take the child outside. If those don't work, a trip to the emergency room is usually needed. We've done that a time or two!

But thankfully as I've grown in my knowledge of all-natural health and wellness, I now have discovered "the best" remedy for croup... finish reading here.


Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Squash has never appealed to me. Summer, acorn, butternut. It just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's from the mission's trip I took to Africa the summer of '95 where we at a huge squash casserole for dinner one night. I'm sure the goat's milk mixed in didn't help things, but still. Not a fan.


A friend of mine from college posted a picture on Instagram of a butternut squash soup... and it looked pretty good. She sent me the recipe and on to the weekly meal plan it went. In the produce section I tried to figure out which of the squashes looked best... well, actually all of the large, gangly nude-colored fruit didn't look the least bit attractive to me. But as I placed it in my cart, a feeling of pride rushed over me. Like, "Hey, look at me and my squash!"... "I'm making something really healthy this week." No one seemed to care.

The crazy fruit sat on my counter for a little while. I kept looking at it... sometimes touching it, but my excitement for the soup waned. I was intimidated by it. I had cooked with one before, but if I remember, it didn't turn out well. So I didn't have high hopes for this one either.

So the squash soup day came. I still wasn't excited. Even in fancy restaurants when the soup du jour is some kind of squash soup, I immediately dismiss trying it. But I was already committed so onward  I went.

Needless to say, I loved it! This soup is very earthy, sweet, yet salty... just nice. Hope you take a risk and try it too!

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup
adapted from About.com's Savory Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cup carrots, diced
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup almond milk, original (not sweetened)

1. Saute onions in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add carrots and cook another 5 minutes. 

2. Add squash and broth and stir. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes until squash is soft. 

3. With a large slotted spoon, gather the solid parts of the soup and add to food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. (You may add some of the broth if the mixture is too thick).

4. Pour pureed contents back into pot and add almond milk. Stir and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. 

Optional: add plain greek yogurt for extra flavor. 



How To Love Your Husband... Dirty Toilets and All

I remember that day so vividly. It was a day of revelation for me. I was pregnant, homeschooling our two sons with a toddler under toe and trying to keep our house tidy for the sporadic showings we had while our little ranch was for sale. Life was so busy and my temper was unpredictable. You know that phrase, "If Momma ain't happy..."?? You know the rest... that was me.

This day in particular, I was cleaning a mess my hubby made. OK, let me just be honest, it was his toilet. At the time, we had two separate bathrooms. As I was on my knees, working up a sweat with my big belly in the way, my thoughts started down that dangerous spiral: from accusation to anger and from anger to bitterness. If you could take a peek into my mind, it would not have been pretty.
Why am I cleaning his mess? Can't he just do this one little thing? Doesn't he understand all that I do? He is so selfish. I don't deserve this. This is so unfair. I am so unappreciated. 
And then out of the blue, like a gentle tap on the shoulder, I felt the unmistakable whisper of the Holy Spirit...

Finish reading here...