Crock Pot Love…and a Weekly Go-to Recipe

It’s no secret that I think a slow cooker/crock pot is a gift from God. 😀 I am slowly learning to use my Instant Pot too, but that’s another post.

I love throwing ingredients in and having a meal just hours later. I love chilis and stews and soups, but Mexican Chicken is something I make almost every week. It’s quick, easy, versatile, and everyone in my house loves it. The recipe is below, and then I will share ways we use it.

1-2# chicken breast or thigh meat

Taco Seasoning (I make my own)

Hidden Valley Ranch Spicy Ranch packet

Salsa

Seriously, that’s it. I need to try making my own salsa but have an organic brand I use that’s low sodium. I spray the slow cooker with olive oil, place the chicken in the bottom, sprinkle with 1/2 ranch packet and taco seasoning, and add salsa to cover. I cook on low 6 hours or high 4. Then I shred the meat with two forks.

We use to top salads, over rice or quinoa, mixed with black beans, in tortillas, to top a baked potato, and lots of other ways. It’s versatile and makes a quick lunch.

Do you use a slow cooker? Share your recipes and let me know your go-to lunches.

Warning: Reading this Blog Post Could Cause You to Nap!

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme diets, extreme exercise, extreme work schedules…which leads to extreme anger and confusion and exhaustion. And frankly, social media is a huge culprit in perpetuating this. I refuse to be one of those bloggers, people, or friends.  I’m all about being well in mind, body, and spirit. So you won’t see the terms “eat clean,”  “go big or go home,” or, my personal favorite, “suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in.” Seriously???

 

In the quest for whole-body health, we need balance. Movement is vital because, anatomy wise, we were made to move! Food is a necessity but should be about so much more than just “fueling your body.” It’s time to slow down, enjoy family or friends, and savor life with your five senses. Work is important so we spend our lives helping others and being productive (and yes, staying at home counts as work)! 🙂 But the vital link so overlooked today is rest.

 

I’m not talking about SLEEP. You’ll see plenty of articles on this necessity~although many are geared toward getting enough sleep to optimize your physical training and results…whatever that means. I’m talking about deep, peaceful relaxation. True soul rest. It’s rare and often confused with laziness.

 

Stick with me while I unravel something for you a bit. I’m sinking into some language arts and foreign language nerd talk…taken from my studies of the Bible. And even if you don’t believe a bit of that is true, hang with me because you will learn something important for living your best life.

 

The Bible is written in several languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These languages are much richer than English as they often have multiple words for what we express in only one. The word rest is one of those. In the first half of the Bible, (the Old Testament before Jesus was born), there is more than one word for rest. The one I want to highlight today was known as nuach.

 

This word means rest, relaxation, stopping work. But it also has a meaning I absolutely love: settle down or settle in. I think of my dog Tucker, pictured above, turning around multiple times to pick just the right spot to relax. He finally lies down, sighing deeply with obvious contentment. Settling down.  Or imagine getting ready for movie night. You get your favorite blanket, snack, family or friends or pet. You get comfortable. You dim the lights. You settle in.

 

We have got to stop and let the dust settle. Regularly. I would argue DAILY, even if it’s just for minutes at a time. If we don’t, we become grumpy, angry, frustrated, and isolate ourselves. Our productivity wanes and we lose our sense of purpose and joy.

So how do we rest? Find something you love to do for the sheer pleasure of it. Throw the list of goals out the window and just think of what makes you feel joy. I find this in looking back at Cheri as a kid. I loved to go outside, to read, to sing and listen to music, to daydream, color, and write in my journal. So daily I try to do one of those things for at least a few minutes. And one day per week, I take the time to do something for several hours that just makes me feel alive.

 

What makes you happy?  Shopping? Hiking? Having coffee with a friend? Drawing or painting?  Promise me you will do it. This week. Today. And drop me a line and tell me how it makes you feel.

 

As for me, I want to color with my favorite pencils and go take a short nap. What will you do?

 

 

 

Great Gluten-Free Finds…and my Go-To Sandwich Recipe

Gluten-free is the new thing, right? I hesitated to even write this blog post because it’s so trendy. But, I am truly allergic to wheat…and corn. (Don’t ask details…it’s not pretty). So finding anything resembling bread or pasta is tough for me. And expensive.

So imagine my joy finding a couple of tasty, healthy alternatives for pasta and bread lately! I decided, what the heck, it’s my blog, so I will share a couple of ideas you might use for a different twist on your regular dishes.

Zoodles. Where were these all of my life? Seriously…spiralized zucchini. And my go-to tool was about $10 on Amazon. It’s called a Vegetti and I included a link to the product. It’s super easy to use, cleaning is a breeze, and makes great noodles. I spin the zucchini in it, let it sit a few minutes with a teaspoon of oil added to it, and it’s ready to go for pasta dishes, pasta salads, etc. You get the vitamins and fiber in the zucchini, plus it’s lower in calories than heavy pasta noodles. Give it a try!

Vegetti Spiralizer

Sweet Potato Rounds

Have you heard about these? I Slice a sweet potato into circular rounds, approximately 1/2″ thick. Then I toast for two rounds in the toaster oven. All done! I love topping mine with avocado for a savory treat, or almond butter (of course) and cinnamon for something sweet. Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins and fiber too so it is a fun break from your regular toast routine.

Red Lentil Pasta


This. Is. Amazing! The only ingredient is red lentil flour. Since it’s made from a bean it’s much higher in protein than regular kinds of pasta. My favorite dish with this is a chicken and pasta soup. Plus, it’s less expensive than brown rice pasta. Win-win!

Bread

But, sometimes you need a sandwich. That is where this amazing bread makes me happy. It’s a Walmart brand bread made with ancient grains and is the best, softest, tastiest gluten-free bread I have tried. Expensive, but worth it for a treat. My favorite sandwich ever follows and I always use this yummy loaf.

Grilled Hummus and Cheese.

  1. 2 slices whole grain bread
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Really good cheese(I love sharp cheddar)
  4. Hummus (my favorite is Sabra Supremely Spicy)
  5. Caramelized onions(you can buy these as frozen cubes now or make them ahead in the slow cooker)

I put hummus on both insides of the bread and add my cheese and onions in. I warm a small skillet with some olive oil and cook away! I have added thinly sliced apples too. So delicious.

Do you have food allergies? What types of alternatives have you found to your favorite dishes to make them work for you? Let me know.