Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Gladness and Simplicity of Heart + Garlic & Almond Green Beans Recipe

"And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together...and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved."
Acts 2:46-47

        My church's new sermon series is on the book of Acts in the Bible.  Our pastor suggested that we read Acts at home as we're going along in the series.  I decided to read one chapter per day, and although I'm only on chapter 2, it has already spoken to me so much. Sunday's sermon was on hospitality.  Our pastor asked the congregation to describe hospitality.  Various answers were called out: "openness," "welcoming," "sharing," etc...  Although these words define "hospitality," our pastor said he believes our biggest hindrance to being hospitable is time.

        As I was reading Acts chapter 2 this morning,  I came to the verses at the end of the chapter (46 and 47- quoted above.) After Jesus had ascended into Heaven, the followers of Jesus began meeting together in each others' homes ("broke bread from house to house") It says, "They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people."  This really reminded me of the importance of taking time to "break bread" with friends and family.  How often do we take time to eat our food with gladness?

       This got me thinking about why I love this blog so much.  I think it gives us all a chance to be hospitable in a way.  We live in all different parts of the world, yet we share pictures and recipes "from house to house", and come around this "table," and get a chance to "talk."  It really does bring me gladness to share healthy recipes, and to receive them from you.

       I especially love sharing recipes in the summer, when everything is fresh and there are so many possibilities. Last night, I gathered my farmers' market purchases and made some Garlic and Almond Green Beans.  This was an easy vegan recipe, so I thought I'd share!

Garlic and Almond Green Beans

  • Enough green beans for your family
  • A few small red potatoes (I used 3 for 2 people.)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • A handful of almond slices
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 3 tbsp.vegan butter (Earth Balance brand)
  • Salt and pepper
Step 1: After cleaning your beans and cutting your potatoes into chunks, put them in a pot of salty boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are done. Don't cook the green beans completely.  They should still be slightly crisp.

Step 2: Meanwhile, on another burner, melt some vegan butter on low heat in a large pan, and saute the garlic and green onions.

Step 3: Once the potatoes and green beans finish cooking, drain them, and add them to the pan of garlicky butter.  Saute for a few minutes on medium heat until the green beans are cooked through.

Step 4: Sprinkle with almond slices, salt and pepper, and serve!

I hope you like them! We sure did!

Thank you for gathering around this "table" with me.  I was looking back at Acts chapter 2, verse 46 and was thinking, "What does 'simplicity of heart' mean?"  I interpreted it to mean that they gathered to eat without an agenda, just simply to enjoy each others' company. But, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

Had a few snow days to do some reading.

"Wild" was at the top of my stack to finish!

I decided to pick up this book to read with an online book club. I thought it sounded exciting! "Wild" is about a young woman who sets out to find herself after the series of tragic events that have happened in her life.  She does this by hiking alone along the Pacific Crest Trail.

There were some things I had to look past to get through this book.  It contains a lot of drugs, sex, vulgar language, and is just plain raunchy at times.  The f word is used so many times throughout the book, that it, frankly, becomes annoying.  Definitely not my normal read!  You're probably wondering why I continued to read it.  This is a young woman, who had an abusive early childhood, and absolutely no spiritual or religious upbringing.  Her mother has just died, her marriage is ending, and she has no reason to have hope. I imagine that this is what life is really like without God.  I wanted to follow her journey and watch her find light in the darkness.

Reading "Wild" was a journey in itself.  It is exciting like I expected.  It is also heart-breaking, depressing, shocking, and terrifying. We all experience obstacles in life, such as loss, failure, heartache, but Strayed experiences more than her fair share before and during her hike! The constant adversity became depressing, and at times, I had to put the book away for awhile. 

One of the things I like most about this book is how vividly Strayed describes the beauty around her.  Chapter 14 was my favorite chapter, where she describes the shades of pink and orange azaleas, and calls them a gift. This is also the chapter where she first cries because she feels fullness.

There were situations throughout her hike that I don't think I could have handled, particularly the ones involving creatures.  But there is an encounter she has with two men, that absolutely terrified me.  My heart was racing, wondering what was going to happen to her!

There were several times when she could have given up, but she continues speaking life into herself, telling herself she isn't afraid.  I think that's what I found most inspiring about "Wild." We are all so much stronger than we think we are.  No matter what the circumstances, we can have resiliency, and keep going. Fear doesn't have to overtake our journey.

If you've read "Wild," or watched the movie, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Don't forget that you can follow me on Instagram!
Some food for thought:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Dairy Free

If you've read some of my recent posts, you know that I've been trying to get healthy by cutting out gluten, dairy, processed foods, and added sugar from my diet.  Cutting out sugar has been the hardest for me.  I've definitely had sugar cravings and headaches.  I've realized that this is going to take time.

It's been so cold and snowy, and we're expecting freezing rain in the morning.  Cold weather always puts me in the mood for cookies!  I decided to make some gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate chip cookies today.  While the chocolate chips do have cane sugar, the dough itself does not have any added sugar at all.  I think this is a step in the right direction.

If you're like me, and you want to settle in and watch the Oscars tonight with a healthy cookie, I'll post the recipe below.

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free | Dairy Free

Makes approximately 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 3 over-ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup applesauce with no added sugar 
  • 2 cups of gluten-free oats
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup "Enjoy Life" brand Mini Chips (These are dairy, nut, soy, and gluten-free.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Step 1:
Pulverize your oats in a food processor until they're a flour-like consistency.

Step 2:
Mash your over-ripe bananas in a bowl with a fork, or you can pulse them in a food processor.

Step 3:
Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Step 4:
Spoon rounded tablespoon fulls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet, or one lined with silpat.  Press them down to form a cookie shape.

Step 5:
Bake on 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cookies will be chewy and slightly sweet.

Next time, I might add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough!

Side note: Oats are naturally gluten-free.  However, some are processed on equipment that also processes wheat/gluten, and therefore cannot be labeled "gluten-free."  So, unless you have Celiac Disease, any oats are fine.

If you make these, or other healthy cookies, I would love for you to tag me on Instagram or Twitter.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Week of Meals to Keep Me Warm!

I hope you're having a great Presidents' Day!  I'm bundled up because we're having our first snow storm of the year in Virginia Beach.  I'm hoping that means a snow day tomorrow, but we'll see!

Last weekend, I shared my weekly menu.  I knew this was going to be a cold week, in the 20s and 30s, so I planned a few spicy dinners to keep me warm!  If you're interested in gluten-free or plant-based meal ideas, maybe some of these will work for you, too!

Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella
Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella

I went out with my husband and our friends to a Mexican restaurant for Valentine's Day.  I had the most delicious tacos, so I thought I'd recreate them at home. The ingredients I'm putting on my tacos are pico de gallo, guacamole, seasoned rice, sauteed onions and peppers, seasoned pinto beans, and Mexican slaw.  Mexican food is my favorite, so I can't wait for this one! 
Photo Credit: Virtually Homemade

Szechuan Vegetables Served on Rice Noodles
This is something I make often.  I cook a bag of frozen stir-fry with some fresh bok choy, add some Szechuan sauce, and serve on rice noodles.  This is very spicy, and I love spicy food!  If you don't, you might want to try an Orange or Terriyaki sauce instead.

This is another meal that I have regularly.  It's so good!  
I'll be using a gluten-free pasta, and will skip the cheese.
Photo Credit: Ready Set Eat

Roasted Corn and Poblano Soup inspired by How Sweet It Is
I make something similar to this recipe. I use a vegan vegetable stock.  Instead of using half and half, I thicken the soup with pureed gold potatoes.  I also add in some potato cubes.  I only use one Poblano pepper, and I'd say the spicy level is mild. 
This is one of my favorite soups to have on a cold day!
Photo Credit: How Sweet It Is
I headed for the grocery store early this morning, to get what I needed for these meals before the snow started.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know what my kitchen counter looked like when I got home.

Instagram pic

Instagram pic
I would love for you to tag me if you make any of these meals, or if you make any other warm weather meals I might like to try.  I will definitely give them a thumbs up!

Enjoy the rest of your week, and stay warm! 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Getting Healthy! My Weekly Menu.

At some point over the past few months, I think most of us have had nasty coughs and runny noses.  But, boy has cold and flu season been rough on me! There may have been two weeks somewhere between mid-October and mid-January, when I actually felt healthy.  I caught one virus after another, and even ended up in the emergency room. 

While I think I'm a fairly healthy eater, I have let some processed foods slip into my diet.  To be honest, I haven't even felt like cooking.  And then there was Christmas, and a trip to London, where I loaded up on Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars.

I'm finally feeling better and have my energy back.  I've decided that it's time to cleanse my body, and significantly reduce the amount of processed foods, dairy, and sugar in my diet. Although it takes time and preparation, I like to plan my weekly meals.

I recently came across a blog, called Deliciously Ella, where she talks about how food healed her of a nearly 6-month illness.  I do believe that food is our medicine, and that putting the right things in our bodies makes a huge difference.  Ella's meals are plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free.  So, the majority of the meals I have planned for this week come from her blog.  She also has some great video tutorials of these recipes on YouTube.

I thought I'd share my weekly menu, in case you're in need some inspiration, too!

Note: I'm using quinoa pasta and I'm not topping the soup with cheese.

Photo Credit: Two Peas and Their Pod

Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella

Note: I don't have a vegetable spiralizer, so I'm just going to cut my zucchini into tiny strips.
I'm not using eggs or Panko in the burgers, and I'm not serving them on a bun.

Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella
Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma


Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella



I know for a fact that I'm going to have cravings for something sweet.  So, I'm planning to make some Raw Brownies and Banana Bread from Deliciously Ella to have around the house.

Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella

Photo Credit: Deliciously Ella

Planning a week's worth of healthy meals can be overwhelming.  Hopefully this is helpful to you, or gives you a little inspiration.  I'm praying for the will power to stick with it, because I know it's best for my health.  Please let me know if you have other healthy meal ideas!

If you try something healthy and new this week and post a photo on twitter, facebook, or instagram, give it the hashtag #gettinghealthywithjess, so I can give it a like!

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Red Apple Lipstick Brand Review

Boy was I excited to come home and find a package from Red Apple Lipstick in my mailbox!  I have been wanting to try these products because they are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and paraben-free.  These products were sent to me to try and review.  This company not only sells lipsticks, but eyeshadows, and other cosmetics, too!

The first product I received was a lipstick.  Being that I love Audrey Hepburn, I just had to try the color, "Audrey," that they named after her.  It is a warm neutral pink.  It is a little warmer than the picture that appears on their website. But, it's still very pretty.  It's actually very close to my natural lip color.  I would like to try a cooler and brighter pink for the summer, maybe the color "Sugar Sugar."  I love how creamy, shiny, and moisturizing this lipstick is!  And, it smells so good and fruity! I would love to try a lip gloss, too!

The second product I received was a Z-Palette, containing the colors "Champagne" and "Dirty Girl."
I was especially excited to receive the "Champagne" color.  It was at the top of my wish list!  It applied a little darker than I expected, but it's still a nice, light neutral.  It applies so smoothly, and it has a pretty sheen to it.  It's not glittery, but has a nice shine.  

Maybe I forgot to read the description, but I was surprised that "Dirty Girl" was so green in the package!  However, when I applied it, it ended up being a mushroomy neutral, that I applied in the crease of my eyes with the "Champagne."  I don't think I would purchase that particular color again, but I love the consistency of these eyeshadows.  I definitely have a wishlist of more colors I would like to try!

My Eyeshadow Wishlist
- Buttercream
- Porcelain
- Violet Vintage
- Graphite Glam
- Silver Lining
- Iced Mocha
- Espresso
- Blue Jay

These products are beautiful, but unfortunately out of my price range.  However, if you're able to afford them, or need gluten-free cosmetics, they are well worth the price!

Thank you, Red Apple Lipstick!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vegan 2-Ingredient Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

I promise...you really only need two ingredients to make this amazing vegan Strawberry Banana Ice Cream!  My friends couldn't believe it the first time I posted a picture of my Ice Cream made from just bananas. They had to try it for themselves!  Then we started brainstorming the endless possibilities of flavors!  I thought I'd share this one with you, because it's a quick and easy way to have a special treat without the dairy!

All you need is two *over ripe* frozen bananas and three or four frozen strawberries.  I just peel the bananas, wash and hull the strawberries, throw them in a plastic bag, and freeze them overnight.  The bananas need to be over ripe or your ice cream won't be as sweet and creamy. I know this from experience.

Then, you throw them all in a food processor (I used my Ninja.) and blend until it becomes a nice creamy consistency, without chunks.

Serve and enjoy! This serves 2-3 people. When you think about it, you could actually have this for breakfast.  It's just strawberries and bananas.  I'll bet your kids would award you "Parent of the Year" for serving them "ice cream" for breakfast. ;)

Are you brainstorming flavor ideas, too?  I'm thinking Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Banana Bread flavors are next on my list.  I would love to hear your flavor ideas in the comments below!

Don't miss a post! You can have Little Miss Vegetarian blog updates sent directly to your email inbox.  Just type your email address in the box on the right sidebar of my blog page.

You can also follow me (and your other favorite bloggers) on Bloglovin.  I personally use Bloglovin to keep up with all my favorite blogs.  New posts show up in a feed, and I have my own personal reading list.  I love it!