Paleo and Vegan: Curried Pumpkin Coconut Soup

If you’re like me and you need to eat Paleo for digestive reasons, Advent fasting can be fairly challenging.  Advent is that six week period prior to Christmas in which Christians prepare for the nativity of Christ.  Orthodox Christians keep a vegan fast during the weeks of Advent to prepare the heart and body for the coming of the Christ child.  My problem is that I react to many foods on the Advent diet like beans, wheat, barley, chic peas, and lentils.  So, during this season I attempt to eat  foods that can be both Paleo and Vegan.

During these next few weeks, I’m going to share the Paleo friendly vegan foods we are eating.  Curried Pumpkin Coconut Soup is what’s on the menu tonight.

We’ve been eating pumpkin soup the week of Thanksgiving for years and years.  I discovered this truly vegan rendition several years ago and everyone at the house loves it, young and old.

Here is a link to the recipe for Curried Pumpkin Coconut Soup: https://www.everydayeasyeats.com/curried-pumpkin-coconut-soup/

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The grown kids are home for Thanksgiving so I’ve put them to work sauteing onions and celery in avocado oil.  I’ve been purchasing our avocado oil from two places, Trader Joes and Costco.  Avocado oil is literally my new favorite staple.  I use it in everything from salads to sauteing to baking.  The flavor is so mild and the best part is it has a high smoke temperature so you can saute veggies or fish with it and you won’t smoke up the house.

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We usually have a can or two of pumpkin in the pantry, but we’ve been known to use fresh roasted pumpkin in this soup as well.  Tonight, we had a can of pumpkin to use, so in the soup pot it went!

The two major modifications I made to this dish were these:  1. I didn’t have curry.  So, I just skipped it. 2. I used sauteed freshly chopped apple in its place.   So, basically, what we did was peel and chop one apple (although two apples would make it even more fruity) and sauteed it in the avocado oil, then dumped the apple into the pot with the broth, onions, celery and pumpkin mixture.  After we cooked it down with the added coconut milk, we strained out the chunks of apple, onion and celery and put them into the blender for processing.  Then, we dumped all the smoothly processed stuff back into the soup mixture to make a gloriously creamy and hearty textured soup.  The avocado gave it that extra umph of fat, so satisfying and delicious.

The best part… it digests well and all the kids love it and there were left overs for tomorrow’s lunch.

A win all the way around.

I would love for you to try this recipe and post your comments here.  Let me know what modifications you use to make it at your house.

A blessed Advent to you and yours!

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Choosing Margin

Picture this scene… You’re driving home from work and you cruise into your neighborhood.  Once you turn the corner and pull onto your street, you see half a dozen teenagers riding bikes, rip sticks and skateboards.  They’re talking and enjoying some downtime after school.  As you turn right into your driveway, you spy Mr. and Mrs. Murphy sitting on their front porch having a glass of iced tea.  You stop the car halfway down the drive and roll down your window,

“Hey Maggie.  How are the grands today?”

She puts down her tea and says,  “Just got ’em down for a nap. This is the first peace me and Ed’s had all day.”  You look over at Ed and he’s reading on his Pop Science Magazine.

“Maggie, you should come over while the boys are napping and see the chair I’m reupholstering.  Got it at an estate sale for $30.  I had some  green fabric left over from another project.  Sure could use your opinion on the piping,” you say as you finger the garage door opener.

Maggie nods and you roll up the window and slowly drive into your garage.

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This transaction, the kids on the street, the rolling down of the window, the conversation with neighbors, all of it takes time.  It takes time to interact with neighbors, to know a little about their lives and even more time to invite them over for a visit.

I’m not saying that everyone has friendly neighbors and I’m not saying that teenagers should always hang out on the streets riding skateboards.  What I am saying is that if we want to have meaningful relationships and down time for our kids and space in our schedule to help people, we need to be available.  We need margin.

Margin is that space in our lives where we have the freedom to deviate from our everyday routines.   Margin is that amount which is available beyond what is actually necessary (dictionary.com).

I’m speaking out of regret for my own lack of margin.  I’ve not had it.  Having five kids, homeschooling, working part time, being involved at church, making time for my husband… my schedule is maxed.  So, when one more thing is thrown on top, like a niece who wants to talk about a bad relationship or a child who needs a little table manners training, there’s no latitude for this activity.  There’s nothing left. And, my kid’s schedules, when they are so busy with sports and Scouts and music lessons,  there is no down time for causal friendships, serving others or even creative boredom.

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So, why plan for margin? The answer can be found by looking at the English student and how she interacts with her novel.  In her novel there is a space around the printed material on a page.  This student, when reading her text, uses the  margin to jot down observations, make connections, refine meanings of words, etc. so that when the test comes around she is prepared. All of the little connections, observations and definitions added up to a more meaningful interaction with the novel.  Similarly, when we have margin in our lives, we have time to make connections with others and we have the space in our day to reflect and react lovingly to life’s little moments.

This all makes sense.  So, why don’t we have margin?  Where did it go?  I’m not sure.  But, somewhere along the way we decided we had to be productive all the time, When we aren’t working at our job, raising children, or cooking and cleaning our homes, we are working our side hustles, our social media accounts, and our Netflix queues.  We multitask and teach our kids to multitask so that we can accomplish even more in a day. There are days when I’m driving a child to practice, talking on the phone, eating lunch and helping my teen passenger with a math question all at the same time.  At home, you can find me some days folding laundry, directing  a science lesson and prepping dinner simultaneously.  Essentially, super mom.

Yet, when I am operating at this break neck speed, there is no margin.  I get snappy and there’s no joy in it.  Heaven forbid if I were to be called upon to make a dinner for a new mom or have a meaningful conversation with a family member who needed advice. Does anyone else struggle with this need to accomplish and the need to be available?

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Here are the hard facts, as I see it, about getting margin back into our lives.  Choosing margin means you are choosing not to do or have something, like power or things.  Choosing margin means you say NO more and speak less.  Choosing margin means you let go of your expectations about what it means to be productive.  These are hard choices for some of  us.  But, the benefits are significant and the payout lasts a long time with a more peaceful home and deeper relationships.  Having margin enables us to bless others and to enjoy the gifts God has given us, two things that are not valued very highly in our consumer driven society.

If we don’t choose this space, here’s one possible way the scenario above can play out:  You’re driving home from work and you cruise into your neighborhood. Once you turn the corner and pull onto your street, you notice all the garage doors are closed and the sidewalks are empty.  You see a boy leaning against his family’s SUV, ear plugs in, eyes glued to a screen while the older sister wearing leotard and tights with ballet bag in hand, loads into the back seat.  No one looked up to say hello. As you turn into your driveway, you spy Mr. and Mrs. Murphy drinking a glass of tea on their front porch.  You gently lift your hand from the stirring wheel to wave hello and exchange a smile.  You notice that Mr. Murphy seems a bit older today.  Then you look toward your house and drive slowly into your garage.

Unfortunately, I see this depressing scenario more often than not.  Thankfully, by choosing to be available and slowing down the pace each day, I can be more oriented toward loving and helping the people around me.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”    –Matthew 6:21

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Pouring Paint

 

Last spring, while browsing through a craft store, I saw an end cap display on paint pouring.  The display highlighted a nifty scene of marbleized paint swirled and set firmly onto a canvas.  When I touched the canvas, the paint felt hard like plastic.  The color combinations were so vivid and attractive; the finished surface was so smooth. I noticed the craft store was selling pouring medium and acrylic paints and canvasses to complete the project.  After looking over the display and what was involved, I decided, “I can do this.”

So, over the next couple of months, I rounded up all the materials to pour paint:  an old disposable aluminum serving dish, some left over paints from a room décor project, some canvasses I’d been holding onto for a couple of years and a pair of latex gloves.  Every day, I said to myself, “this is a good day to try the paint pouring.”  And, every day ended up NOT being a good day to do the project.  I invited a friend over to do it with me and that didn’t work either.  At one point, I had everything out on the counter, paints, canvasses, cups and then the Kavanaugh hearings came on.  I figured I could make the art and watch the hearings at the same time.  Not!  Instead, I was riveted to the screen.  A fire could’ve been burning in the other room and I wouldn’t have noticed.  So, the art project sat a couple more weeks.

Finally, on a whim, I decided to put all the paint pouring materials into my truck. “Maybe, I’ll have time to do this while I’m waiting on a kid to finish baseball or jazz practice or something,” I thought.  I put everything into the aluminum tray and it sat in the back of my truck for another week.  Then, while my trombone player was at an evening practice across town, a free moment emerged.

“Oh my gosh!  I have a spare 20 minutes.  I think I’ll try that paint pouring project right now.” I seriously said this.

Out came the paints, a canvas, plastic cups, some paper towels and the medium right in the parking lot. Thankfully, there was a small plot of grass near the truck. Gabe was busy walking around taking photographs of cars.  So, with Gabe busy and a few extra minutes for myself, this parking lot is the place I first discovered my new art obsession.

Paint pouring is absolutely the most satisfying art experience in the world.  You get to pour paints (previously mixed with pouring medium) into a cup just like a kid at camp.  You pour the paints from a distance of about 6 – 8 inches; the higher the better co-mingling that occurs in the cup.  Once you have all the colors in your cup, you lift the cup and slightly flick your hand so as to merge the paints without actually blending the colors.

Now for the pouring magic! Once you have the mixed cup of paint, the canvas ready in hand, and some paper towels nearby, you pour the contents of the cup right onto the canvas, preferably in the center of the surface.

The paint mixture is very thick at this point because it has been blended with the pouring medium and is beginning to set.  Tilting the canvas down, will help the paint to envelope the canvas.  Once one side is completely covered, then you tilt the canvas in the other direction until the whole surface is coated.

In just a few short hours, the canvas dries, and…Wallah!!  You have a marvelous abstract of coalescent colors.

The next day, after I completed my parking lot paint pour, I recruited a few folks around the house to try out the technique.  Of course, we were home on the picnic table, which made this a lot quieter.

You can tell these recruits enjoyed combining paints and tilting their canvasses to create beautiful masterpieces.

I’ve completed this project a few times now and still, my best pour painting occurred right out in the parking lot.  I guess there’s a certain artistic benefit that is derived from spontaneity.

If you want to give paint pouring a try, go to this link for detailed instructions:  https://acrylicpouring.com/beginners-acrylic-pouring-tips/