A Clean Eating Thanksgiving Tradition

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

cranberry sauce

Since I’ve only been really cooking a few years, I have yet to build a huge arsenal of clean holiday foods. This recipe for Lemon Cranberry Sauce is the exception to that rule. I found the recipe in Clean Eating, and I’ve made it for at least the last three Thanksgivings. I’m making it again this year for both my work and my family Thanksgiving. I found Sucanat at Whole Foods, but I’m sure it’s available in other healthy food stores.

LEMON CRANBERRY SAUCE

Serves: 10

Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes (plus chilling time)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from half of the lemon. (NOTE: Remove colored part only, avoid the white pith.) Cut peel crosswire into thin slices. Save remaining lemon for another use.

Set aside 1/2 tsp lemon peel. In a medium saucepan on medium, combine remaining lemon peel, cranberries, Sucanat, 3/4 cup water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a resealable container or serving dish and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. Before serving, garnish with reserved 1/2 tsp lemon peel.

Nutrients per serving (3 tbsp Lemon Cranberry Sauce): Calories: 73, Total Fat: 0 g, Sat. Fat: 0 g, Carbs: 18 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 57 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Thirty-Three Years and Counting

By: Leah Prescott

MarriageOver the last few months, my parents have been going through some major health challenges that are testing their faith and endurance.  I worry a lot about them, but I know that they will rely on the Lord to get them through, just as they always have. I wrote this letter a few years ago, but it is even more true today than it was before. Please be encouraged and remember that the best example you can give to your children is to love your spouse each day with conviction and commitment.

My parents have been married, happily, for thirty-three years.

They have given us their four children, the best possible gift. Growing up we had love, security, and the constant knowledge that our parents loved us, and, more importantly, loved each other. In a world of failing unions and disposable marriages, we were blessed to grow up on a rock-solid foundation of biblical commitment. What a treasure!

Our home was a place of love. We saw that Mom and Dad loved each other, and we could see it when Mom worried about Dad’s diet or when Dad worked on a home project just to make life easier for Mom. They behaved like a team, which, incidentally, made it more difficult to break down their united front of discipline. We knew they were on the same page, and that gave them strength and resiliency. It was hard to find a crack in that armor.

My parents are, and have always been, a hard-working couple. It’s hard to imagine someone working harder than my mother. She raised the four of us, kept house, and educated us from beginning to end. She was constantly working on one or the other and often both. I know she feels she is never finished, but if you look at the results in the four of us, I think she deserves a break.

At the same time, Dad worked so hard to take care of Mom and the rest of us, putting his own needs aside. He often worked two or three jobs to provide for the best home life we could have. He worked so that we could experience the best stay-at-home mother in the world. He loved to be home with us, I know, but he was willing to do what it took to take care of our well being. When he was at home, he was always doing projects around the house, working to make our lives a little richer, a touch easier, or a bit more fun.

My parents love each other and here is how I know: They talk, truly talk, all the time. When they are apart, they spend much of their time on the phone together. Even after my dad has spent an endless day of talking to clients, he still picks up the phone and calls my mom, clearly happy to hear her voice.

They laugh together. They both have a great sense of humor and that’s a good thing with raising four children. I know there are many times that we made them want to cry (or maybe scream?) so it’s fortunate that they could always come back and laugh about the challenges they faced. They passed a love of laughter on to us kids.

Mom and Dad are a balanced team. They are such a strong mix of cautious and optimistic, pragmatic and visionary. I am proud to see them surviving difficult situations like illness and unemployment with a bit of that well-seasoned humor. I also know that even though they are not swimming in earthly wealth, they believe in storing up heavenly treasures instead. I know that they consider their family to be their greatest asset here on earth. I am so happy to be their daughter, and to have observed a godly marriage in action all of these years.

Mom and Dad, thank you for giving us such a wonderful experience as children and a beautiful example as adults, of what a truly godly marriage looks like. We love you. Your union is what created the four of us, who we are and how we live. And all four of us love the Lord more than anything, and want to honor Him with all of our hearts. We want to love our families as Christ loved the church. I would say that your marriage has been an incredible success.

Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to each other and to us. I can’t wait to observe the next decades of marriage and to watch the two of you enter a new stage. Hopefully one that involves a little less work and worry and even more laughter and love. I know that your faith and commitment will see you through the challenges and continue to inspire the rest of us. Your marriage has reflected Jesus in this dark world. It lights the way for a second generation of families to follow, just praying we can emulate the success we see in you each day.

Thank You

By: Katie Austin 

Veterans Day is a day set aside each year to honor our armed forces for the sacrifices they make to keep our country safe. These brave men and women give up their personal freedom to take the ultimate pledge to serve and sacrifice for our country.

On Veterans Day there will be parades, events, television specials, and news stories. Many retailers will show their appreciation to veterans by the way of free meals or discounts. Those brave men and women deserve at least that! They give up so much to ensure that we are all kept safe! But then, what happens after today? Do we wait until this time next year to be thankful for their service?

In my opinion, our appreciation should be shown more often. If these men and women are taking time to defend our country every day, then shouldn’t we take the time more than once a year to let them know how much their service means to us?

One day last week I stopped by Food Lion on the way home. As I walked through the entranceway, I passed by a man in uniform who had just checked out. I turned around to see him organizing his bags so that he could leave the cart behind. As he picked up the first bag, I walked up to him and extended my hand. As he shook my hand with his free hand, I said “Thank you very much for your service. I appreciate all that you do for our country.” He was shocked. I am not sure if I was the first to do that, but either way he veterans daydidn’t know what to say. He just smiled and said, “You are welcome and it is my honor.” Wow! I was blown away that he said it was his honor to serve our country, and all I could think was that it was an honor to have met one of the many heroes in the armed services. I smiled, and as I walked past the registers, several people just stared at me. Not sure if it was my hair sticking up out of place or if they couldn’t get over what I had just done. I smiled again, as I hoped my act would move them to do the same. This man had been shopping in their store and I am sure I wasn’t the only person to notice that he was in uniform.

Shouldn’t this be commonplace? When we see someone in uniform, shouldn’t it be common to simply extend our hand and thank them for their service? Or have we all just gotten so busy that we don’t have time to stop for a few minutes to appreciate the bravery of others, their patriotism, their sacrifice?

It’s a simple gesture that only takes only a few minutes of time to show that we appreciate all that they have sacrificed for us, our families, and our country. When you see someone today or any day in uniform, take a few minutes to thank them for their service. It’s the least we can do after everything they have done for us.

Thank you to all those that have served or are serving our country!! God bless each of you!

For a list of retailers offering free meals or discounts for veterans on Veterans Day, visit: http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/.

Tone Deaf

By: Lara Winburn

tone deafAt the risk of this being used against me in the family court of my living room, I have a confession: Sometimes I am a little tone deaf. Not the kind of tone deaf where I can’t do an awesome rendition of Taylor Swift, but a different kind of tone. My husband has so generously pointed out to me on a few occasions (a few being 7,456,987 times) that most of the time it is not what you say, but the tone of voice you use when you say it. I am guilty of many tones at our house, some helpful and some more hurtful.

With the kids, I have my second grade teacher tone, which can be used for good and not evil. My family knows when we are getting down to business or when I have given my last warning. There are other pleasant tones- playful, silly and even the occasional profound tone. My struggle is not to be tone deaf to a particular tone.

There are two not-so-pleasant tones I am guilty of using. I really do struggle to improve their pitch. These tones do not have names, but they definitely have characteristics.

One is a more combative, normally a rhetorical question tone…you know the one. “Are you going to leave those shoes there?” Translation: MOVE THOSE BOATS, I HAVE TRIPPED ON THEM A MILLION TIMES AND I ALREADY STRUGGLE WITH BEING MISS GRACE. Or another example is, “What do you think we should have for dinner?” Translation: haven’t we talked about how making these decisions is exhausting? (See Please Pass the Magic Eight Ball.) I know this tone is hard on the ears and the heart so I try (really, I do!) to use it as little as possible.

Then there is my husband’s least favorite tone of all. He describes it like this: “You make a statement or ask a question in a way that you can always add “you dummy” to the end of it. For example, “Are you going to dress the baby in that?” becomes, “Are you doing to dress the baby in that, you dummy?” Or “Tomorrow is dance class.” With a certain tone, this simple statement can sound a lot like, “Tomorrow is dance class, you dummy.”

I know, throw the book at me. This is wrong. The tone you use is just as important, if not more important, as the words you say. (I just said that with my desperate, you-are-right, apologetic tone)

As the many, many words I say each day fall out of my mouth, I pledge to really hear them – not the letters, but the tone. I am the victim as well as a perpetrator…just ask my three-year-old who has now mastered the art of the word “fine,” with the tone of a 16-year-old.

Halloween Themed Weddings

By: Shannon Shull

I have attended many weddings; more than I can count. But until about two years ago, I had never attended a Halloween-themed wedding.

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

Courtesy of David R. Walters Photography

My sister, Jordan, had a traditional ceremony but a Halloween-themed reception. She got married close to Halloween and she and her man love the holiday. I have to admit that when I first heard she was going all-out with a Halloween theme, I did not know what to expect! Needless to say, I was blown away with the cool and classy nature of the spooky themed reception. It was so cool and a lot of fun, too! I was really impressed, to say the least. The incredible skull cake from my sister’s wedding was made by Vicki Dooley using my sister Jordan’s design. The skulls around the bottom of the layers are lace made in Japan that was special ordered.

Fall wedding

Halloween wedding

Cake by Vicki Dooley, using my sister Jordan’s design.

Halloween wedding

Cake by Vicki Dooley, using my sister Jordan’s design.

Halloween wedding

Halloween wedding

Halloween wedding

A year later, I just had the privilege of attending another Halloween-themed wedding on October 19th. My dear friend and hair stylist, Cara Sullivan Branham, really impressed her guests with a classy Halloween-themed wedding that I will never forget.

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween Weddiing

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

IMG_8243-2

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween Wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Fall wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

IMG_8539

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Fall wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

She and her man required all guests to come dressed up in a costume. They warned everyone that if they did not show up dressed up, the Grim Reaper would turn them away. We took the leap and showed up in costume, praying we wouldn’t be the only ones! Lo and behold, all the guests were dressed in costume and we all had a blast milling about striking up conversations left and right about each other’s costumes. This was all part of the bride and grooms’ plan – they wanted their guests to have fun reasons to interact and boy did we ever. And it wasn’t just goofy Halloween fun; they really put a classy spin on the entire event. The décor was like something right out of a magazine and the guests not only had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful wedding ceremony but engaging in a festive, unique celebration of love.

IMG_8387

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography. Cake by Bonnie Brunt Cakes.

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography. Cake by Bonnie Brunt Cakes.

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Halloween wedding

Courtesy of Nikki Morgan Photography

Love and best wishes go to my precious sister and sweet friend – I wish them the very best and I applaud their unique coolness!

Check out the cool classiness of these two Halloween-themed special events, thanks to the amazing photographers that captured the beauty and fun at these special weddings.

A big thank you to David Walters Photography, who took the awesome pictures at my sister’s wedding and to Nikki Morgan, who took the amazing pictures at Cara and Dustin’s wedding.

Feel the Tatas Year Round

By: Chaunte McClure

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has ended, but unfortunately, breast cancer has not. Lumps are still forming in women’s and men’s breasts, patients are still undergoing chemo, families are hurting because their loved ones have been diagnosed, survivors are in remission and holding on to hope, and researchers are still trying to find a cure.

I hesitated to write this blog because I wanted to fit it in last month, but I didn’t want to interrupt the Baby Talk series. I decided to move forward with addressing the topic because I want you to remember to feel your boobies even after Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over.

In October, breast cancer awareness is heightened. But then it fizzles out until it’s promoted again the next year. Ladies, it is our responsibility to do monthly self-breast exams. Don’t wait until your annual doctor’s visit for your gynecologist to examine your breasts. Too often, cancer is detected late because women and men didn’t take time to feel their tatas. Perhaps we don’t think about it or maybe we think it can’t happen to us, but it can.

KeyahThink you’re too young? Keyah Gibson’s college career was interrupted in February because she was experiencing back pain, which was originally diagnosed as muscle spasms. Later in the spring semester, the pain was unbearable and her mom decided to take her to another doctor for a second opinion. There they learned that Keyah’s spine was deteriorating. The doctor told her either she was malnourished or had cancer. To her dismay, the test results showed she had breast cancer, which spread to her bones. Keyah withdrew from college to undergo six months of chemotherapy and last month, she rang the bell in celebration of her final round of chemo treatments. Keyah is doing well and has started a foundation, Fighting Pretty, to educate and bring awareness to other young ladies.

Not everyone survives this aggressive disease. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, more than 40,000 women died of breast cancer in 2011. My family was touched by this disease in 2006 when my aunt was diagnosed at stage four. She lived about six months after the diagnosis. Because of her, I pound the pavement at an annual walk in her memory and in honor and support of survivors and fighters like Keyah.

I’m in my late thirties and I’ve already had two mammograms. In my twenties, I discovered a lump in my breast and scheduled a doctor’s appointment as soon as I could. Fortunately, the lump is benign, but I have to continue monitoring it for changes.

Please don’t let the fact that you don’t have a family history of breast cancer stop you from getting a mammogram or doing self-breast exams. My family didn’t have a history (at least that we were aware of).

In case you still need to be convinced, remember, early detection saves lives. You’re worth it!

Honey Feta Chicken Salad With Grapes and Almonds

By: Brady Evans

We’ve got a couple of friends who are huge proponents of local, homegrown music.  A few times a year they give selflessly to put on a mini music festival of sorts – something that showcases local talent and allows us to see all our favorite local bands in one venue.  These festivals are usually all-day events, and sometimes the Omnivore plays in the bands – sometimes he doesn’t.

Chicken salad recipe

This last go-round he wasn’t playing music, which is nice because being a lonely band wife in the audience isn’t always the most fun thing. I was pretty pumped to create a picnic dinner for us to share but I was totally lacking inspiration. Finally, I remembered this entree and I am so glad I did.

While the sun was setting and people began to eat, hot dogs appeared alongside store bought potato salad and cold fried chicken. As I whipped out my real dinner plates (I have guilt about paper plates), silverware, and this beautiful salad, passers-by definitely took note.

This meal was so perfect. It is served cold or room temperature, has veggies, fruits, and protein all in one. Honey and feta is a wonderful combination. The soft grapes contrasted with the crunchy almonds wonderfully.

Chicken salad

Honey Feta Chicken Salad (adapted from Pinch of Yum via See Aimee Cook)

*This can be made vegetarian by substituting a can of garbanzo beans for the chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cooked as desired and chopped
  • 1 bunch grapes (about 2-3 cups), cut in half
  • 1 cup uncooked wheat berries, cooked according to package directions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup vinaigrette dressing
  • ½ tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • Green onions and roasted almonds for topping

Instructions

  • Whisk together the olive oil, honey, vinaigrette, vinegar, and water. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Combine the cooked chicken, cooked wheat berries, grapes, feta and dressing in a large bowl.
  • Top with green onions and almonds.