While I know that the majority of our readership is in Louisiana, the snow here in upstate New York has made me hanker for warm, hearty, put-ya-to-sleep meals at the end of the day. I would say, in fact, that eating warm things is essential to enjoying this cold, dark, part of the year. Wondering what recipes have to do with spirituality? Well, the truth is that human beings have to eat to survive. We are called to be frugal so we have money left over to tithe and be charitable. We also are called to treat our bodies like temples of the Holy Spirit, making it imperative to respect our bodies by eating food that makes us strong, healthy and sustained. The following recipes are all budget-friendly and respectful of your temple!
1. Crockpot Chicken Tacos: Toss four to six chicken breasts in a crockpot, cover them with a jar of salsa and cook on low for six hours. Voila, you have yummy chicken, a delicious smelling kitchen and a lean protein source! Add tortillas, sliced green peppers (antioxidants), avocados (basically packed with vitamins) and onions and you’ve got my favorite night of the week: TACO NIGHT!! Bonus, there’s usually lots of chicken left over, which my husband likes to put in his omelets in the morning or in sandwiches for lunch.
2. Salmon, Brown Rice, and Asparagus: We all know that salmon is ridiculously good for you. So, cook it on top of slices of lemon and the amount of butter you think your arteries can work with and cook at 350 degrees for twenty minutes or so. Brown rice is better for you than white rice and if you don’t like asparagus, then for goodness sake eat something else green!! The more colorful your plate is, the more variety of nutrients your temple gets!
3. Paninis (The Fancy Pants Grilled Cheese): These “hot sandwiches” are my husband’s favorite. Wheat bread (coat one side with butter and the other side with pesto sauce and put on the frying pan butter side down), two slices of mozzarella, and two slices of tomato make a delicious, warm, melty delight.
4. Peasant Soup (Pasta n’ Bean): This is my mom’s recipe that she used to make all the time when we were little and made us quote various lines of Oliver Twist to get a second helping. This is essentially the same recipe, but I don’t add any of the seasonings, spinach, celery and use pinto beans instead of white kidneys. Super yummy, a real crowd pleaser and straight-forward to make.
5. The Walker Special (Pasta with pesto sauce and shrimp): I love pesto sauce and would eat it on pretty much anything. John and I, after trying numerous recipes with it, have deemed it best paired with pasta and shrimp. Dice up a tomato and toss it in if you’re feeling particularly crazy.
Some additional (related) lessons I’ve learned lately:
1. Never ever underestimate the good that water does for your body. In the winter, everything is dry, so your body needs hydration. Unless you want to deal with dandruff, stop buying soda and sugary juices and indulge in the good stuff that comes right out of your tap.
2. Whole grains and brown rice are basically always better for you than white sugars. It takes your body longer to digest the whole wheat, so your body goes through less dramatic spikes of sugar. I’ve been reading a book called The Fertility Diet, which explains it much better, if you’re interested.
3. Americans, as a whole, do not get enough fruits and vegetables. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re absolutely essential to making us feel and be healthy. Don’t skimp on the natural stuff.
Do you have a favorite, easy, nutritious recipe you make on a somewhat regular basis? Post it in the comment section so we can all reap the benefits of your culinary genius!!