Vegan Black Bean Soup

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, March 26, 2012 - 17:01

vegan black bean soup

This soup is, by far, our family’s new favorite. My children request it, and they were thrilled the other day when I was making it again! I mentioned it a couple months ago, but here’s the recipe with all the modifications we’ve made. The inspiration came from the recipe here.

Vegan Black Bean Soup

2 medium onions, diced
6-8 garlic cloves, pressed
14 ounces vegetable broth
2 14 oz. cans organic diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. Bragg’s aminos
1 tsp. vinegar
pinch of cloves
½ tbsp. chili powder
4 (15 ½ oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ tsp. sea salt or celtic salt
12 twists of freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch cilantro, chopped with thick stems discarded (or saved for juicing!)

Directions:

In large heavy pot, “saute” onions in small amount of water or vegetable broth. Cook about 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook about 1 minute. Add broth, tomatoes, ketchup, aminos, vinegar, cloves, and chili powder. Stir in beans, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While soup is cooking, pick off the thick stems from the cilantro. Chop coarsely, and then stir into soup after it has simmered. Cook another 5 minutes.

May serve with thinly sliced green onions for garnish.

Ingredient notes:

  • Instead of buying vegetable broth, I purchase Better than Bouillion Organic Vegetable Base from Whole Foods. It’s so simple to use and to store! One of these days maybe I'll get around to making my own.
  • I get my organic diced tomatoes from Costco, but you could also use fresh tomatoes here.
  • If you have Worcestershire sauce (without any “bad” ingredients, you could use 2 tsp. in place of the aminos, vinegar and cloves).
  • Although they’re not organic, I recently discovered that Aldi has black beans for $0.55/can.
  • The cilantro really makes this soup shine! Between juicing and cooking with cilantro, I’ve found myself going through about 3-4 bunches every week. Lovin’ it!

Quinoa

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 21:59

Quinoa. You've seen it in the stores, and (if you're like me) wondered how to pronounce it, let alone prepare it. Wonder no more. KEEN-wah. Simple. Delicious. Highly nutritious. And did you know you can buy it for a great price at Costco? Yes, ma'am!

I made my first batch a few years ago and had a hard time adjusting to the taste. A couple months ago, I tried this Quinoa salad here and loved it. Now that dairy is a thing of the past, I was in search for another quinoa recipe.

I was more than amply satisfied. Perfecto! So here you go, adapted from the recipe here.

Quinoa and Black Bean Pilaf

1-3 Tbsp. water
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth 
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup organic frozen corn kernels
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Add a thin layer of water to a medium sized pot. Stir in onions and garlic. "Saute" about 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.
  2. Add quinoa to the pan and cover with vegetable broth. Add cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn heat off. Add corn, beans, and cilantro.
You'll love how versatile this recipe is. It tastes great hot or cold. So whip up a batch and pack it in your lunch tomorrow! You won't be disappointed.

Rest Secure

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 23:48

I sat down at the piano tonight, leafing through the hymnal in my parents' living room. It was a funeral that brought me back to Wisconsin. The funeral of the dear man who was my school administrator from kindergarten through ninth grade, and pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin: Pastor Glen H. Teasdale.

As I type those words, my mind recalls the clear, calm teaching voice heard each Saturday night on WVCY 107.7 FM during the Faith Baptist Bible Study Hour. Certainly his life and ministry exemplify a focus on furthering God's kingdom through Christian education and faithful proclamation of the Word. Now He is enjoying the presence of Christ.

At the piano, my eyes rested on "More Secure is No One Ever," a Swedish hymn written by Lina Sandell Berg (1832-1903). Although I've pondered these words in depth many times, it wasn't until this evening that I looked up some information on the author's life.

Born in Sweden, Lina's life was touched by the revivals that spread through the Scandinavian countries. She was considered "the foremost hymnist" of Sweden, and her life was not without its share of trials.

As a young child, she was struck with paralysis and confined to bed for many years. Her parents were convinced that one day she would be healed. God miraculously answered that prayer when Lina was 12 years old. Her parents were at church, and she spent some time in extended prayer and Bible reading. Upon their return, Lina was dressed and walking. She began writing verses expressing her gratitude to God.

At 26 years of age, she endured a tragic experience while on a ship with her father. The ship gave a sudden lurch, her father was thrown overboard, and she watched him drown.

At 35 years of age, she married a wealthy businessman, C.O. Berg. Their first son died at birth. I can think of no deeper earthly pain than to see one's own child suffer.

To some, including Lina Berg, God has allowed a seemingly large share of trials and difficulties. Maybe you are enduring some deep waters at this season of your life. It would do us all good to take a few moments to ponder the hymn here, considered the finest of the 650 hymns Berg wrote.

More secure is no one ever
Than the loved ones of the Savior--
Not yon star on high abiding
Nor the bird in home nest hiding.

God His own doth tend and nourish,
In His holy courts they flourish;
Like a father kind He spares them,
In His loving arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death can ever
From the Lord His children sever,
For His love and deep compassion
Comforts them in tribulation.

Little flock, to joy then yield thee!
Jacob's God will ever shield thee;
Rest secure with this Defender--
At His will all foes surrender.

What He takes or what He gives us
Shows the Father's love so precious;
We may trust His purpose wholly--
'Tis His children's welfare solely.

What a privilege to rest secure in the care of our Creator! Nothing in life or death can separate us from this care!

Progress!

Submitted by Melissa on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 00:02

vegetables

I want to squeeze three updates into one brief blog entry, and I'd say "progress" fits all three: blood work, brain workout, and blogging.

Blood Work

I was thrilled to get the results from my latest blood work. My doctor ordered a number of different tests, but the four that I am most interested in are the tumor markers as well as the CEA level. Three are in the normal range, and one is only 1/10 of a point above normal.

I personally would love to see all those numbers go a bit lower still, but I'm thankful that they are not on an upward trend.

Brain Workout Smile

I've been rather silent the last week or so regarding our vegetarian diet. I think my brain is a bit on overload gulping down all this wonderful knowledge. I'm reading so many amazing books that contain a mix of both familiar and unfamiliar information. But, the funny thing about it is now that I'm committed to eating this way, I see the loads of information in a new light. It is definitely exciting, but sometimes my brain feels like it's about to explode.

When one of my doctors told me a few months ago that my diet needed to be gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free, I tried to convince myself the key was moderation. Well, that might be the case for non-cancer patients and even some cancer patients. I'm not making that call. But deep down, I knew she was talking about being extreme, and I really didn't want to go there.

Now that we've been at this for over 6 weeks, the goal doesn't seem so crazy or wacky. I love how I feel when I eat these live, nutritious, refreshing foods. That's not to say I haven't cheated once in a while; but the cool thing is the temptations aren't staring at me from my cupboards, pantry, or refrigerator! (I don't miss the meat one bit for some reason. Haven't cheated at all there.) And did I mention my cravings are different? A big salad or that deep green juice fresh from the juicer are the things that taste delicious. Amazing how this all works!!

Blogging

You don't have to look hard to find a variety of information and opinions on health and food (and please remember my disclaimer here). However, I've come across some amazing resources for the cancer patient and actually for anyone interested in healthy eating.

So I created some links on the sides of the pages here that show some of the resources that are invaluable to me. These include books, DVDs (some available for instant viewing through Amazon), kitchen tools, and various products helpful for eating healthfully. I also signed up to become an Amazon Affiliate so any purchases you make through this site can further the cause of Still in the Storm.

Thank you for all your encouraging notes and conversations! You continue to inspire me!

Week Five of Eating Vegetarian

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 22:34

lentil soup
Above: Lentil Soup (my quick snack one afternoon last week)

I am happy to report I have completed over four weeks of eating vegetarian. Notice I say "happy," and I'm not joking. My taste buds are definitely adjusting, and my food cravings are completely different. They say that once you start eating very healthfully, you start craving healthy foods.

Hard for you to believe? Well, you could try and see! Smile

Some people look at me with sympathy, thinking I'm missing out on so much yummy food. But I can assure you, we've been able to find great food and even delicious treats along the way. 

One of the keys for us to stick with our plan is to have good food readily available. Some of our options on hand include:

  • Fruit basket on the table, usually stocked with bananas, apples, pears, tangerines
  • Celery sticks, cut up and ready to be dipped in peanut butter
  • Mini cucumbers 
  • Clif Bars (for when you're on the go and need something more substantial)
  • Trail mix
  • Nuts
  • Berries (good for treats for the kiddos)
  • Hummus for crackers or veggies
  • A batch of individually wrapped homemade treats (see below).

At least once each week, I've made a large pot of soup. This makes a great dinner, lunch, or even snack. The addition of lentils along with all the veggies makes the nutritional value sky rocket. (I have to confess: I had never used lentils before!) So I usually add lentils or beans to the soups, and everyone loves them.

Another weekly "must" is having some individually wrapped treats on hand. Here are some of our favorites:

Many of you have sent me emails or talked to me about steps you're taking to make your diet more healthy. Thank you! Your notes, calls, texts, and conversations inspire me! I'm in this for the long haul, and I want to be here for you when you're taking whatever steps you choose to improve your health.

What new things have you been incorporating lately into your eating plan? I'd LOVE to hear about them!

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 14:46

If you knew this were the very last month of your life, how would you live it? What would your regrets be?

I was fascinated by the article I just read here. Bronnie Ware, a lady who cared for patients at the end of their lives, wrote a book and a blog about her experiences. 

Here are the regrets that surfaced over and over in the lives of the dying:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
- Every male patient had this regret.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

If you're thinking these are secular, well, you may have a point. But stop and look at these regrets from a practical perspective. No doubt many Christians would have these same regrets.

Many Christians live their lives fearing what people think (#1 & 3) instead of making sure the heart is in tune with God.

Working so hard (#2) that time with family is neglected? I've seen that more times than I'd like to count.

Keeping in touch with friends (#4) seems to be easier in the day and age of internet, facebook, cell phones, and email, but far too often, corresponding with those we love goes neglected as we are consumed with our "to do lists."

Happiness (#5)...some Christians are so filled with complaints that the joy that is supposed to constantly fill their faces is only seen on rare occasions.

No matter how long we have left on this earth, we can make our life count. A huge part of making our lives count is investing in the lives of those we love--spending time with them, having fun, talking, praying together, listening, giving, writing notes of encouragement, taking a few minutes to make a phone call... (I'm not mentioning "work" here because since work is a major part of our existence, we don't seem to struggle working together!)

If you are in full-time ministry, you are not exempt. Please don't let your vocation get you sidetracked from the ministry to your family. Your acts of love towards your children and relatives will have an eternal impact on their lives and will speak volumes to your congregation about what love really looks like.

May our lives be filled with joy and love, overflowing with Christ-likeness. Then we will truly have no regrets when that last day comes.

Reset your Gaze

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:49

Love these words from a song I heard yesterday. They've been running through my mind the past 16 hours.

Though in the race of faith you seek relief,
Reset your gaze on Him who knows your grief. 
Rejected by the ones He came to save, 
Without complaint, His sacred life He gave.

Consider Him who chose a lonely cross,
Consider Him, and marvel at His loss.
Despising shame, Christ suffered in your place. 
Consider Him, sufficient is His grace.

"Consider Him" words by Andy Gleiser