Day 11 of Real Food: Mexican Fiesta Quinoa

I had a taste of the world today.

The missions fair at our church is always an exciting time to meet people from all over the globe and hear their stories of what God is doing.

I am reminded that in this big big world, I am very small. But this is actually a hopeful thought — God is at work in ways I can’t see. And the knowledge that He chooses to use my little prayers as tools for eternal purposes.

It is already Day 11 of my challenge to eat only unprocessed, natural foods for 40 days. Read the story here! So far, it is going well. The daily devotionals from A Place at the Table have been great inspiration to keep up the challenge.

There are times when the sweets and chips come a-calling and I really want to give in. That’s when I realize how spoiled I am to even have food I can turn down. By saying no to processed and packaged foods — foods that large parts of the world have no access to — I’m hoping to grow my understanding of what my body really needs vs. what just sounds good at the moment.

One helpful tactic I’ve been utilizing the past few days is to focus my thoughts and prayers on the country whose cuisine I’m eating. I research a little about the country — their daily staples, their economic status, their everyday personal, social and political needs — so while I am cooking, while I am eating, while I am not eating other foods, I am consciously able to identify with people across the world in my prayers. It has made the whole process of eating so purposeful. I’d love for this to become a habit even when the 40 days are over.

Today was Mexico. It is going to be difficult to not just do Latin cuisine because lately I’ve been craving tortillas and guacamole like no one’s business.

Staples of nearly ever Mexican meal are corn (tortillas!) and beans. Other common ingredients are squash, peppers, rice, honey, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, garlic, cinnamon, and cocoa.

I found an excellent information and prayer resource at Operation World. Here are just a few of the listed “challenges for prayer”:

a) The poor, both the impoverished rural poor and the exploited slum-dwellers — Poverty affects 60% of the Mexican population

b) The marginalized native Amerindians — This group of people have no official social status and live in greater poverty and political upheaval

c) Corruption in politics and the police. 

d) The massive drug trade and gang violence that accompanies it — including over 5000,000 addicts, the power-hungry cartels who control the “industry”, the government and law enforcement fighting against the corruption and violence of gangs.

These heavy concerns need contemplated over a light meal. This bowl has it all — grain, protein, healthy fat, vegetables, spicy and colorful — Mexico in a dish, all natural and delicious. Enough to keep my taste-buds and tummy happy and preoccupied from the snack cupboard and to keep my mind focused on more important things.

Mexican Fiesta Quinoa 

Inspired by Daily Garnish and Oh She Glows ~ serves 10 as a side, 6 as a main

  • 2 c. dry quinoa
  • 1 large can black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  1 c. diced tomatoes
  • 2 small avocados, chopped
  • 1 c. corn kernels
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/2 t. garlic salt
  • 3 T. fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 T. lime juice

Directions

  • Prepare quinoa by package directions (4 c. water for 2 c. dry quinoa). Cook till water is absorbed and quinoa is soft and fluffy.
  • Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and stir in spices: chili powder, paprika, and garlic salt
  • Meanwhile, chop pepper, tomatoes, and avocados
  • Add beans, corn, pepper, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro to quinoa and stir to combine.
  • Pour lime juice over mixture and toss to combine.
  • For best flavor results, refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

I could definitely eat like this for a while. If someone would send me a link for foolproof tortillas, I’d be set for life.

Healthy Living Inspiration

It was a fun weekend. Swag bags, oats and yogurt galore, granola giveaways, conversations about running, blogging, and spinach smoothies, meeting my cyberspace inspirations in real life. Yes, for this wannabe blogger, wannabe Dietitian and absolute health nut, the Healthy Living Summit in Philadelphia was my definition of fun.

(picture source)

I could go on an on about the yummy meals we ate (what other conference has an oatmeal bar for breakfast or an entire vegetarian lunch??), the healthy living blog heroines I finally got to see and meet, or the bottomless Mary-Poppins swag bag of yummy treats (I’ll never need to buy granola bars again!), but I’ll spare you words and let the pictures do the talking.

New friends (picture source)

What I will do is let you in on a couple of notes from the sessions. The sessions were all great, geared at both healthy living and blogging. I attended “Budgeting for a Healthy Lifestyle”, “Rising Above Negativity”, “Blogger Safety”, and “Maintaining Healthy Habits While Traveling” and came back with so much food thought (pun totally intended).

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Living healthfully does cost more, so it takes planning and creativity to eat well. Meal plan, make grocery store lists, use coupons, buy in season, and shop around.
  • When choosing organic produce, keep in mind the “dirty dozen”, which foods are most contaminated by pesticides.

Progress in healthy living isn’t a one time big decision, but is made up of small, daily, and achievable changes.

  • A flexitarian diet begins every day intending to be more vegetarian and is pro-plant instead of focusing on restricting meat.
  • Three ways to transition into a more plant-based diet are to Reportion your plate to a 25% grains, 25% lean protein and 50% vegetables, Reinvent old favorites, and Refresh your diet to try new recipes.
  • While traveling, learn to be flexible with your meals, hit up the grocery store for staples and snacks, eat like a local instead of frequenting chains and fast food, sight-see by foot, and pack workout gear.

Living healthfully is so much more than a one day conference. It’s loving food, not for food’s sake alone, but for the way it strengthens and nourishes my body to be active and strong. The end goal isn’t perfect health or a fit body, but having the energy to life life to the fullest. It’s about spending time outside in nature, whether it be walking leisurely with friends, biking with family, or sweating up a run. Soak up God’s creation. Eat oats. And spinach. Be active. Enjoy the sweetness and savoriness of each day. Count your blessings!

Summer Reading

“Farmers’ markets are growing and so are organic food companies. While each might have a different approach, or even philosophy, the same consumer is shopping at both venues. Small farmers provide the heart and soul of the movement. The larger outlets provide the distribution muscle to bring the food to a bigger audience. The two camps often are at odds, but they need each other too” (Source).

“This is not scary. I’m not encouraging or dictating to people what they should eat. I’m not encouraging people to completely become vegans or anything like that. I’m simply asking people to look at the proportions of food that they eat. If they feel their diet is high in animal products and highly-processed foods but low in plants, they should really just swap those proportions” (Source).

“The abundance of food in the United States—enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over—has a downside. Our overefficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more—more food, more often, and in larger portions—no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being” (Source)

What’s on your summer eating reading list?