Grace Makes Me Brave

Grace. That’s my word for this year, this season. Grace. It’s a word that I thought I knew the meaning of, but only knew the surface of before this season. Grace, I’ve found, gives me strength. Grace, I’ve found, provides joy. Grace, I’ve found, makes me brave. Grace is a firm foundation I can stand on.

This season has been one of rocky, wavy, stormy waters. It has been one of trial after trial after trial. And it has been one where multiple times I’ve had no idea how I could continue on. I’ve shed more tears than I have in a long time. I’ve wondered if I could handle anything else, right as another storm was blowing in. And I feel like my day to day life has been a dream because so much has been going on.

As I sit here in the room that I’ve called mine for over 3 years for my last Sunday morning in it, I’m feeling a lot of different emotions. Thursday I opened my e-mail to find the copy of the announcement of the person’s who’s place I’m taking’s departure and my arrival with a bio about me. And it hit me. This is really happening and this is a really big job (and a job that I was wanted for). In some ways, this move has been a pipe dream for many years. In other ways, this has been something I thought may never happen, because the door had been shut so many times.

But as I sat in the HR office on Friday and kept hearing “the team is so, so excited to have you!” And as I walked around the apartment that I would be calling home in less than 1 week – I realized, this is really happening.

Grace and faith in those moments – I grabbed and clung onto them.

And I sat there and reflected on and I clung to the moments a few days prior where I looked at my little brother and gripped onto truth that he is a walking miracle right now. You see, a few weeks ago as I hopped in my car to head to the interviews that would potentially bring me closer to family,  I was teetering, because leaving the place I’ve called home for 5 years wasn’t going to be an easy decision. I had heard that morning that there was an increase in 20-30 year old having strokes. I’m medical, so this caught my attention, but little did I think that night my family would become part of that statistic that very night.

As I was driving down the highway to these interviews and heard my brother couldn’t move and was having severe dizziness and was in the E.D. with a new diagnosis of something I had never heard of, but knew it didn’t sound good. I started to cry. Full on sobbing as I’m driving down the highway screaming at God “I get it, I’m supposed to move, just let him be ok.”

You see, I learned, that sometimes my life has to fall apart from all directions for God to catch my attention. Sometimes I get so comfortable, that He has to allow things to get uncomfortable to get me where He is leading me. I’ve learned just how He can use things of pain and hurt for His glory. Because without those many hurts and deep deep pains, I wouldn’t be headed where I am right now. And as my stubborn bull headed self got in the way throughout this process, He gave me grace upon grace upon grace. When I slammed a door shut, He gently re-opened it and whispered “I’m opening this, don’t close it”. I learned the freedom in true forgiveness. I learned who will be there for me in the storms and who won’t. I learned once again, just how important family is, no matter how much they drive you nuts.

I’ve learned that I will cling to the grace from above to make me brave in the toughest moments of life. And here I am, diving head first into facing the immensity. I’m headed towards dreams that were not developed by me, but by the life God has dreamt up for me. And those are the sweetest dreams of all.

Ready or not, here this goes.

But Don’t Let That Burn You Down

Ben Rector is one of my favorite artists. The first time I heard his song “Wildfire”, I was jumping head first into a relationship I knew was a major risk. It was one of those songs that put into words what  I couldn’t.

“I am learned that you’re not perfect,
And that sometimes the one you love can burn you…

When you love someone
They’re gonna hurt you,
When you love someone
They’re gonna burn you,
But don’t let that burn you down.”

-Ben Rector

Recently that relationship ended, and the lyrics above have stood to be true. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve felt a lot of pain and anger, and I’ve come out a stronger person  – because it won’t burn me down. The hard part about any relationship, especially dating, is that we have to learn we are the only part of the relationship we truly have a say in. We cannot control what another person says, does, or feels. We cannot force someone to live up to their potential. We can’t instill strength where someone doesn’t want strength to be instilled. I’ve learned that I cannot carry a relationship all on my own, especially if the other person doesn’t want to be carried.

I’ve also learned that a relationship that actually wasn’t a bad relationship at all, tough – yes, bad – no, can end terribly. I’ve learned that someone who actually has a really good heart, can make decisions that can rip your heart out. I’ve learned that you can stare in the eyes of someone and see just how much they care about you, and learn that they do not have the strength or capacity to carry out the actions to prove it. I’ve learned a lot, and for that I am thankful.

As the details started to come out and all the sudden things I couldn’t make sense of before, now started to make sense. As the realization that the whole truth had not been told to me settled in, and my heart began to break, I chose to walk through the pain. I got mad, I got angry, and for someone who doesn’t cuss, I cussed up a storm. As yet another downpour started in this, what feels like never ending, stormy season of my life, I sat there in the pain. I let the reality and truth of what happened settle in. I don’t know all the details, but I don’t want to, I know enough.

And as I sit here on the other side of {most of} the pain, I can reflect back. I’m thankful for the good times, because there were a lot of them. I will cherish the memories. The pain lessens each day. I don’t regret the relationship, because any relationship is a risk, and every relationship will hurt at some point or another if it is real. I choose grace and forgiveness. And I choose to hope and pray for his future. My prayers are that he some day lives up to the man I know he can be. That he heals from his past. And that he forgives himself. I pray for happiness, joy, strength, and wisdom to abound in  his life.

And as I step into life stronger and with more wisdom as a result of this relationship, I choose hope. I choose grace. I choose to believe that letting go of the anger and bitterness will be better for everyone involved.  And I cling to the promise that my God is with me, and for me, and that He has a plan in all of this for each of His children. He doesn’t waste the pain or hurt. I will cling to the fact that “Sometimes God does not change the circumstance but instead changes us in the circumstances.” (Meredith Andrews) That pain is part of my purpose on this earth and that I need to be “more brave tomorrow than I am today”. (Shauna Niequiest) Because as Brene Brown says in the image below, “The broken-hearted are the bravest among us. They had the courage to love.” I choose to continue to risk my heart for love of all kinds. I choose to not let the hurt and pain define me.

I choose HOPE.

I choose JOY.

I choose FAITH.

I choose FORGIVENESS.

I forgive you.

The Year of 30 – Fear Facing

This morning I was sitting at my desk going through the stacks of cards I received for my birthday.

I hate my birthday, bad things happen, and this year was no different. As I reflected on this stack of cards, but more importantly who they came from and the words inside, I’m thankful. Often, when things are imploding around us, we tend to forget that we matter to people.

I had a really, really hard time turning 30. It felt like I was no longer “young”. I felt like I had accomplished so much between 20-25 and not so much between 26-30. I mean when you graduate 3 times in a 3 year span, it is kind of hard to beat such accomplishments again. 

So as I was turning 30, I reflected on the goals/aspirations I had that had not yet been obtained. My dream of being a nurse practitioner (yes, more school), has not yet been obtained. My dream of being a wife and mother has not yet come to fruition. I hadn’t traveled as much as I had planned. In many ways I still felt unsettled, a lack of stability. I also reflected on what the last half of my 20’s was, and what it was surprised me. It was a lot of healing from damaging relationship of all kinds in my early 20’s. It was also a lot of making a career for myself, which included surviving the night shift and the endless hours of anxiety a new nurse goes through. They were years of self discovery and self reflection. They were years that have brought me to where I am today, and for that I am thankful.

So last week as I faced turning 31 and parts of my life were in shambles around me, I actually didn’t struggle. Because if I’m honest, my 30’s have been off to a great start with loads of adventure. Also, I trust that my dreams will come to be when the time is ready, and with the right people and the right school programs. I have a peace about trusting in the timing to be right, and less of a need to get everything accomplished NOW.

Over the past year I went to Costa Rica and faced my fear of heights by jumping of the side of mountains to go zip-lining  and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I dated guys that are completely out of my normal and learned a great deal and have great memories as a result.

“Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”

After a great deal of wrestling over the decision and praying, I took on a management position at work. It hasn’t been easy, actually far from it, but as my wise little brother told me “Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”. And everyday, I am learning this more and more. But, I have to say, when someone says “my boss” in reference toe me, my immediate response is “that’s not me!”… and then I realize, actually technically, yes it is.

I faced a lot of fears this past year both personally and professionally. I feel like my word(s) for the year of 30 was fear facing and as I enter 31, grace is what resonates. Grace for others. Grace for myself. Grace for where I’ve been and where I’m going. But most importantly sitting in the beauty of the grace from my Heavenly Father – knowing that I will never be enough but through His grace, He is enough for me. There is a freedom in knowing I can’t reach the state of perfection I’ve longed to reach for so long, but in Him I am fulfilled. My job is simply to walk in His grace and be the best me I can be. So 31, let’s do this.

 

 

From grouch to grateful – a nurse’s attitude adjustment

I woke up this morning feel defeated. The last few weeks things have been a bit rough. On top of that, I woke up at 4:30 for no reason and couldn’t fall back asleep. I got up eventually, got ready for work, and went there frustrated and grouchy. If I was being completely honest, I wanted to crawl into a hole and not talk to people. We all know those days, right?

Grateful Heart

Before I even got to work it was clear that things were not going as planned for the day.  Commence tiny violins playing in my head and the desire to crawl into a hole growing even bigger. Throughout the day I’m holding back sassy and sarcastic comments and trying to adjust my attitude.

In the middle of the day I was doing a dressing change on one of my young adult patients. This patient is younger than me and has had an extremely rough year. We’re talking about a lot of different things and out of no where she dives into a short spiel that went something like this…. “Erica just in case you’re wondering you make a difference in people’s lives every day, don’t every doubt that. You’re one of my angels.”

With tears in my eyes I told her thank you and that some days I do wonder. Some days I wonder if everything I’m doing really does matter. And some days, even though I know and witness plenty of people who have it far worse than me, I wonder why some things happen to me. And one of those some days was today.

So as I reflect on this Thanksgiving week, I’m reminded of one main thing, patients may claim I’m their angel, but in so many cases, these patients (and their loved ones) are my angels. Thanksgiving this year just got a whole lost sweeter.

 

Letting Go When it Wasn’t Bad

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on dating or singleness, but I feel like I want to share my current struggle just in case there is someone else out there wondering if they’re alone in this struggle. Online dating is hard. Really hard. For every 1000 messages you get, maybe 1 of those is good. There is a lot of comic relief in there and plenty ones you read one or two words and you delete it and need to wash out your eyes. Dating is hard. Singleness is hard. Life is hard.

For every 1000 messages you get, maybe one of those is good.

There are plenty of people out there that date for the one night stands or are okay with little to no substance in the relationship. I’m not one of those. I’m also one of those people that can get an idea pretty quickly of whether or not the guy I’m on a date with is a good match or not. I’ve been told I don’t give guys enough of a chance, and maybe I don’t, but I think I’m just able to read people pretty quickly.

Timing is everything

Last May I told God I would message every guy on Bumble (it was my first week on this app) that I matched with and if nothing worked out with any of them I was done with online dating for a while. During this week I met the guy who I’ve been dating for the last 3 months. Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually. And let me tell you, the three months were really good. I was pretty scared, because I actually liked the guy and he seemed to like me back – which isn’t always the case when I finally think a guy is worth my time.

Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually.

So for 3 months we dated, we talked, we had great discussions, we had fun, he pursued me (what a concept), and he was part of a season of extreme healing. It’s been a season of walking through past hurts and pains and truly digging deep and healing. A lot of this healing I couldn’t have done without this really good dating relationship showing me something different form the past.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing. Then late Saturday night it ended. Some differences he couldn’t get past. He wants to be friends and I’m not certain I can be. The main reason? Because he really is a good match for me. It really was a good relationship. I still really like him. And the differences he couldn’t get past do not make him a bad guy. The struggles he’s walking through do not make him a bad guy. The core of who he really is is a really good guy.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing.

So I’m faced with the question of how do you get over a guy when it was all really good? When even the bad parts of the relationship weren’t actually bad? How do you find a reason to let go when all you keep thinking about is the stupid ways that they match you?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. But I’m going to try and focus on the fact that there will be a guy out there who matches me just as well,  and maybe even better. A guy who the differences will be able to be worked past. A guy who is ready to date. And until then I’ll cherish the memories and try my best to be thankful that I got to experience something that is hard to figure out how to let go.

And let’s be honest, timing is everything.

So my single ladies, there are good guys out there. We just have to find the good guys who also match us and are in the same stages of life as us. And let’s be honest, timing is everything. So I’ll cling to the promise that I serve a God who loves me and hears the deepest desires of my heart. And I hope you have something to cling to as well. Because when life doesn’t make sense, we all need something to cling to.

Of This I’m Sure

You know when you find that one song that speaks to you for where you are at in life and it is on repeat so much you wonder when the people in your life are going to threaten you if you don’t turn it off? Well, I found that song recently in an unlikely place and it has been the soundtrack through my present season.

the past doesn't own us anymore

I was shopping one night a little over a month ago for family pictures (and I HATE shopping) when I walked into my favorite store Altar’d State in not the best mood. I recently discovered this store with my sister-in-law and it was love at first sight. There is something about the combination of amazingly cute clothes, ridiculously awesome house decorations (with a bunch of inspirational sayings which warm my heart), and the fact that I always find new music when I walk in there.

On this particular night blaring through their speakers were the artists Jenny and Tyler and they’ve been speaking truth and grace into my soul since that first moment I heard their lyrics. I love their whole album “Of this I’m sure”, but most of all I love that song in particular. In these lyrics -“Of this I’m sure, the past don’t own us anymore”, the whole present season of my life is summed up.

This season of my life has been one of working through past mistakes, ghosts, and hurts. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Kidding. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but also one of the most rewarding seasons. A season full of sitting in my pains and anxiety and allowing myself to truly feel it. It has been full of not only letting myself see myself for who I really am, but also letting people in my life both new and old see me for who I am.

The past doesn’t own me anymore.

All the mistakes, ghosts, and hurts of my past, I’m releasing them of their control.

I don’t know about you, but so often I’ve let things from my past hold me back. It has nothing to do with the questioning of the validity of whether or not the wounds hurt or the mistakes were, well, stupid, it has to do with the control they still have over me.  A few months ago I began going to see a counselor – something I should have done a long time ago. There is such a stigma behind counseling, and it needs to be gone.

In these times of seeing this counselor I’ve been walking through things I’ve blocked out. I’ve been sitting in the emotions I’ve been afraid to feel.  And when I’ve said “I haven’t dealt with this” instead of moving on, she’s looked me square in the face and with no where for me to go she’s said “so let’s deal with it now”.

Through this one of the hardest things I’ve been challenged with is to not be afraid to let people see who I really am. It was time I let go of my need for perfection and looking like I always have it together on the outside go. And you want to know the most amazing thing? People are loving me for who I am, faults and all.

So just in case no one has ever told you, who you are  at the core of you is beautiful, wonderful, and perfectly okay – great in fact.

One night in a conversation I was having with one of the people I’ve been making a point to 100% be myself with I said “That’s just who I have always been”. In response they said to me “that’s okay there is nothing the matter with being who you are”. And in that moment a healing took place. A healing of wounds so deep that I didn’t even know were there until truth was spoken into them. So just in case no one has ever told you, who you are  at the core of you is beautiful, wonderful, and perfectly okay – great in fact.

And who you are at this very moment is lovable.

So I guess in all my ramblings I want to get this point across. The past does NOT define you. Allow it to shape you, to guide you, to lead you to better decisions, and develop your character, but not define who you are and where you are headed. Don’t be afraid to feel the emotions, because in feeling the bad emotions, it allows healing, and in the healing it allows for the good emotions to be that much more present and real.

And the most important lesson I’ve learned? Who I am, at this very moment even with all my junk and imperfections is lovable. And who you are at this very moment is lovable. One of the best things we can do is to allow the people who truly love us to see who we really are and love us where we are at. So my friends, with this in mind, I challenge you to be you – all of you. And remember, the past doesn’t own you anymore. 

How Do You Do it?

How do you do it? It’s a question I get asked all the time about my job. Some days, on days like today, where I mourn the loss of a patient who was near and dear to my heart, I wonder. I wonder how do I continue to do this? But here’s the thing, even when my heart is laced in grief my response is this – how could I not do it? You see, the deeper I dig into the question, the longer I’m an oncology nurse, the older I get – the more aware I become of how things in life aren’t necessarily meant to be easy. Especially the best things in life.

Oncology Nurse

I still remember when I was 17 walking into a hospital and my thought was “this feels like home”. Sounds crazy, right? But there was something that drew me in, and continues to draw me in. The more I thought about and experienced the oncology field, the more I was hooked. I can’t explain it, and I’m not sure that any one of us can. This is what I do know though – you ask any of us who feel called to the oncology field and we can simply answer “I was made to do this”.

So instead of looking for ways for it to be easier, I’m looking for ways to walk through it well.

So as I have thought through and continue to think through the question “how do you do it?” I still keep coming back to, how could I not? I mean, I could not. I could walk away and enter another field of nursing and some day I might. But as for now, this is my calling, and I know this with my whole heart. So instead of looking for ways for it to be easier, I’m looking for ways to walk through it well.

I’m making a conscious decision to every day develop who I am and my coping mechanisms. I’m choosing to surround myself with community that will walk through life with me. I’m digging into who I am, how I was created, and working on making myself the healthiest I can possibly be.

Most importantly though, I’m choosing to focus on the things that make me love my job. I mean, for a science nerd, to be in one of the fastest advancing medical fields is incredible. The amount of new drugs coming out is breathtakingly awesome. Not to mention I work with some of the best doctors, nurses. CNAs, midlevels, and other office staff around. They are like family to me.

I wish that just for a moment you could get a glimpse into the incredible people’s souls who entrust me to walk with them through the hell they are living in.

The best part though? The patients and their loved ones. The fact that because of my job, I have met some of the most amazing people is enough, but it doesn’t stop there. I wish that just for a moment you could get a glimpse into the incredible people’s souls who entrust me to walk with them through the hell they are living in. I have witnessed what true love looks like in all sorts of relationships. It’s in the husband who still finds his wife beautiful, even when all her worldly beauty is gone. It’s in the son who makes his work schedule around when his mom has chemo treatments. It’s in the friend who cancels her plans on spare of the moment to take their very sick friend to treatment. It’s in the adult kids who take care of their dying father in his final days so he can be at home.

So instead of asking me “how do you do it?” Ask me “how can I help you do this?”

These people, the patients and their loved ones, challenge me to be a better person. To love deeper. To live well. To embrace all emotions – both the good and the bad.  To be the best me I can be.

So instead of asking me “how do you do it?” Ask me “how can I help you do this?” Because that is what we need. Any of us in fields that are as emotionally tough as the oncology field need the cheerleaders on our side. Walking with us, crying with us, listening to us. This is the best thing you can do for us, so that we can continue to do what we were made to do, and do it well.

 

 

Quinoa, Lentil, Spinach, and Sweet Potato Bugers

I used to eat a wide variety of vegetarian meals, then I worked in a place where meat was frowned upon and suddenly I wanted to eat more meat. It is like the kid who is told they can’t have candy from the candy jar, so what does he want? ALL the candy in the candy jaw.

vegetarian burgers

Recently I’ve been trying to eat less meat and more vegetable filled meals. I’m a big fan of meat, but I’m also a big fan of vegetables and vegetable proteins. These patties were delicious, nutrient packed, and filling! While these were multi step, they were so worth it! When mixing all the ingredients together, I used my ninja, but a food processor would work as well.

IMG_0052

I saved time by using my rice cooker to cook the lentils and quinoa together. (2 parts water for every 1 part quinoa/lentils) For a time saver on the potatoes, you can microwave. I personally prefer baking them, but when I am crunched for time, I will microwave them.  Due to the stickiness of all the ingredients mixed together, the patties may become an odd shape.

IMG_0058

But they turned out delicious and remained delicious for my lunches throughout the week!

Quinoa, lentil, spinach, and sweet potato bugers
Recipe Type: main course
Author: Erica
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup white quinoa (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup split red lentils (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled)
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup red pepper diced (1/4 red pepper diced for garnish)
  • 1 tsp red cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
Instructions
  1. (refer to blog post for shortcuts)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Combine all the above ingredients into a ninja, food processor, or something similar and blend together until evenly mixed.
  4. Grease metal pan of choice with oil of choice (I used coconut oil) and form 4 patties.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip to the other side. Bake an additional 20 minutes and check for desired crispiness.
  6. Let cool then serve over spinach with red pepper to garnish and sauce of choice. I used ranch and it was delicious!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

 

What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly healthy or unhealthy person. Just middle of the road, good days and bad days. My upbringing, body type, and temperament keep me fairly moderated in this culture of excess. Then I married a guy with a gluten intolerance. That kind of changes the way you think about food and health. When it causes migraines, aches and fatigue, and can be found in so many foods, food becomes the enemy. Health becomes a conscious choice and struggle instead of a natural byproduct of life.

live love health

The thing I am always learning, the choice I always have to make is to listen to my body, and by the nature of marriage, my husband’s as well. Healthy choices mean different things for different people. My husband is very thin, gluten intolerant, gets sick when he doesn’t sleep enough, and introverted. That means I feed him protein and good fats whenever I can, weigh the risk of buying foods that may or may not be exposed to gluten, try not to stay out late with friends so he gets sleep, and help him say no to some social engagements so he doesn’t get mentally drained.

I, on the other hand, try not to eat quite as much fat and protein, don’t have to worry about the foods with gluten but do have to think about lactose, and can go without sleep and spend more time with people. I am always learning that this person I married is different from me, needs different things, and that’s ok.

So healthy choices I learned in 2015 and continue to learn in 2016, because let’s face it, just because you make a choice once doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You’ve got to make it over and over and over again for it to become something you have learned.

What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

Listen to Your Body

Your body is unique and only you know what is normal and abnormal (if you pay attention). I can eat some dairy and be ok, but I can’t eat a ton. Josh can have something with a very small amount of gluten, but he can’t eat a slice a bread. When you’re tired, go to sleep. When my body starts to feel tense and tight, I know it’s time to do yoga. When you’re thirsty, drink water. Your body knows what it needs. Listen to it.

Educate Yourself

I am always learning what Josh can and cannot eat. Food isn’t the enemy anymore because I know my enemy, gluten, not food in general. Ignorance leads us to make decisions based on superstition and whims and makes us feel like it isn’t within our control. But you can learn what it is to be healthy for you. I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety and nausea at odd times without understanding the cause for years. Turns out my blood sugar can drop causing those symptoms and I just need to get some sugar into my system/ To avoid it happening, I have to watch when and how I eat sugar. Ask questions. Get answers. Educate yourself.

Take Breaks

I really struggle with taking breaks from work, projects, errands, anything. I’m learning to get up, take a walk, get some space and come back with a full stomach and fresh eyes. If you don’t take breaks, you burn out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Say No

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve said yes to ice cream at someone’s house because i can’t resist the temptation and don’t want to be considered rude? A million. And how many times I’ve paid for it? Every time. I finally gathered the guts this year to just to say no to ice cream. no. matter. what. This goes for so much more than food. Josh and I are always struggling how and who to say no to of all the people and activities in our lives so that we aren’t constantly exhausted. Don’t be afraid to draw boundaries. You’re worth it (and I’m preaching to myself as much as you).

Challenge Yourself

Early this year, a friend of ours challenged Josh to not eat ANY gluten for as long as he could. She promised him prizes and I joined in. We kept track for about two months and now we don’t have to anymore. He thought it would be impossible but instead he found his body felt so much better that it wasn’t really a temptation anymore. Doesn’t mean he never eats gluten, but the habit was broken. I picked up rock climbing again with some friends and we continue to challenge each other to be active. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Just remember, because you made the choice once, doesn’t mean you learned it. And just because you don’t always make the best choice doesn’t mean you aren’t learning. It’s all part of the process. Who knows what choices I’ll be making in 2016, but I will be learning. So here’s to learning how to be healthier, choice by choice in 2016!

 

Creamy Gluten-Free Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Yesterday I was in downtown Chicago with some of my best friends. It’s strange, I live right outside Chicago, but I think my friend who lives in Indianapolis spends more time downtown than I do! The plan was to potentially eat together at the Walnut room, but unfortunately the wait was about 4 hours to get in. Needless to say, my friends did not want to experience the “hangry Erica”, so on a food search we went. It’s interesting, when I only had to avoid corn things seemed to be a bit easier. Now that it is gluten and corn, eating out has been brought to a whole other level of complication.

Kale and vegtables

Salads tend to be safe, as long as I am careful of the toppings I put on it. So, the safe route I went. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love salads, but I also sometimes just want to eat something else. Right next to the salads were the soups. I’ve been craving chicken and wild rice soup for weeks, but finding a safe one is incredibly hard. I was super excited when I saw the “Gluten Free” next to the chicken and wild rice soup. I quickly ordered my cup, and then inspected the menu on a closer look. Turns out, that gluten free right by the long awaited and craved after soup was only explaining that when a soup at “GF” next to it, that meant it was gluten free – this soup however was not.

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So today I went on a mission to make this soup. I have to say I’m pretty excited how it turned out and also excited about the fact that I could sneak even more veggies than the normal version of this soup has. I was also overjoyed to find gluten free “rye-less rye bread” (and corn-free!) at Trader Joe’s that could easily be made into garlic bread. The perfect addition for a creamy delicious soup. (see recipe below)

I hope that you find this as comforting and delicious as I do during these dreary winter months. If you need more persuasion to cook up a big batch of this soup, consider the following health facts:

Mushrooms: Did you know they are great at boosting your immune system? They not only increase the function of certain aspects of your immune system, but also reduce inflammation. Different mushrooms types of mushrooms do different things. I used white button mushrooms in this recipe and those in particular boost the part of that fights disease causing pathogens (such as viruses or bacteria).

Kale: Has more than twice the Vitamin C of an orange, which means it is also a great booster for your immune system. Time to kick those cold and flu germs to the curb! Kale (and parsley too) is a significant source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential in helping to get calcium where it should be going – our bones. Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and calcium all work together to make strong bones, keep calcium out of places it shouldn’t be like our blood vessels, and keep help keep our calcium levels in normal limits. So kale not only helps to keep you healthy but also intact!

gluten free chicken and wild rice soup

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Erica S.
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 15 oz chicken broth stock
  • 3/4 – 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups kale
  • 3/4 cup white button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups nut-milk of choice (I used coconut milk here)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
  • 1 stick of butter, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice and add it to a rice cooker with two cups water, or follow the directions on your rice cooker and cook until soft
  2. Add the chicken broth to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and boil until cooked through, 10-15 minutes. When done, remove and allow to cool to the touch
  3. Once chicken is done, remove and let cool
  4. After the chicken is removed, put all the vegetables, garlic, and parsley in the pot on medium heat allow vegetables to soften for 10 minutes
  5. While the vegetables cook, shred the chicken
  6. Once the vegetables are softened, add in shredded chicken, rice, salt and pepper, and coconut milk
  7. Allow to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes
  8. Place the stick of butter in to melt
  9. Once the butter is melted, slowly add in the flour to desired thickness. It will continue to get thicker as it sits, so I suggest making it not quite as thick as you desire.
  10. Continue to stir every 30 seconds while on low heat for about 5 minutes.

To date this is my most requested recipe from friends. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this as much as I do!

Want some garlic bread to go with your soup that is easy and healthier than store bought options? Mix minced garlic and olive oil together. Use a spoon to then spread a thin even layer of the mixture onto each side of your bread of choice. (I used Trader Joe’s “ryeless rye bread” that is gluten free for this dish.) Cook for approximately 15 minutes at 350 on a metal pan flipping halfway through.

healthier garlic bread

 

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