Last week I was on the hunt for a really, really simple meal that would take little to no prep time.
I'm 36 weeks pregnant and the baby has already dropped. Just to give you an idea as to how large I am, when people see me they ask, "WHEN are you due?", "Are you having twins...again?", or "Have you passed your due date?" - Well, I actually haven't gotten that one, but the eyes can be very telling.
People have even told me, "You look great! You don't even look pregnant from the back", trying to make me feel better of course. The funny thing is that none of the comments or questions bother me. I agree with them! I'm feeling mighty heavy and know that I look like I could be carrying a set of twins, except I KNOW what I looked like when I actually carried twins 39 weeks (to the day) over 6 years ago and I was MUCH bigger than this! Ha!
So you're probably wondering what on earth this has to do with the crock pot meal that was a hit in my book last week. The point is, I was desperate to find something we could eat that was nutritious, but wouldn't have me on my feet prepping for long. Oh, and I knew it needed to be a crock pot meal, so I could prep and forget it for a few hours. Plus I have two crock pots and they hadn't had a workout in a while. So, you can imagine how elated I was when I stumbled up on a recipe that fit the bill thanks to sweetpeasandsaffron.com.
When you read the recipe you'll understand why I say it's out of season, but it worked out and met the criteria I had. My husband enjoyed it and one of my 6 year olds did too. The other said she wasn't a fan of the maple syrup sauce. Hey, 3 out of 4 isn't bad!
You definitely want to make sure that you include the pecans if no one is allergic. I think this is the kind of dish that needs some sort of crunch. We added them to our own plates after serving since pecans make one daughter's mouth itch.
Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Pecans, and Butternut Squash
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
4 cups Brussels sprouts, Halved (14 oz)
4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes (21 oz)
1 red onion
Maple Cinnamon Sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
10 minutes before serving:
1 cup fresh cranberries (I used frozen)
1/2 cup pecans
Toss together the Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and red onion and place in the base of a 5 quart crock pot. I greased my pot with coconut oil beforehand.
Cook on high for 2-2.5 hours, stirring once at one hour. Start checking for doneness at 2 hours. Brussels sprouts should be softened but still have some chew to them. Butternut squash should be tender and not mushy. Next time I prepare this I think I'll let it go for 2 hours rather than the 2.5 to ensure the veggies a bit firmer than what we experienced.
Just Before Serving add fresh cranberries and cook for an additional 5 minutes. In a small pot, stir together the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce head and simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. sauce will reduce and become thickened. Pour over the veggies and toss. Sprinkle with pecans serve and enjoy!
Well, I'm back home in Kansas after three weeks of Army Reserve duty in Virginia. People keep asking if I'm glad to be home and I end up hesitating before I answer...sounds like a bad sign doesn't it? Well, I'm just being honest. Let me share why I hesitate. I hesitate to answer because I'm naturally glad to be home, however, it is also means back to reality. Three weeks of only having to be responsible for me and the baby growing inside of me was kind of nice. No mounds of laundry to wash, dry and fold, no trying to figure out what prepare for dinner, no lunches to pack for school, no trying to get small people in bed who'd rather implement stalling tactics, no 18 stairs to climb to get from our downstairs to our upstairs (which gets tougher the bigger the baby gets)...all of those things I enjoyed having a break from. Oh, and I can't forget, my husband has had to travel quite a bit this year, and keeping the household running solo can be exhausting. In fact, he came home from three weeks away just two days before I left for Virginia; I really needed a break. My hat is off to single parents and parents who have a spouse deployed serving our country abroad.
You're probably wondering, so what does any of this have to do with healthy living. Are you familiar with Brene Brown? She's a scholar, researcher, and speaker who studies shame and vulnerability and I came to know of her by her TED Talk on those same subjects. Anyhow, while I was away from home I began listening to The Power of Vulnerability Teachings on : Authenticity, Connection, and Courage on Audible. I've still got about 3 hours left until I finish, but as I listened today I was reminded of one of the chief reasons I started to keep a gratitude journal a year ago or so. Here's what Dr. Brown said:
"I have never, in 12 years, interviewed a single person who described themselves as joyful, their lives as joyous, or described the ability to lean into joy who did not actively practice gratitude. Across the board, the one difference they had from the rest of us is they actively practice gratitude."
Each day, I do my best to write down three things I am grateful for. Have a missed some days here or there? Of course I have, but I get back on track and resume journaling what I am grateful for.
Based on other reading I've done, the research shows that people who practice gratitude benefit over and over again from:
- stronger immune systems (seriously, who would turn one of those down??)
- acting with more generosity and compassion
- feeling less lonely
- more JOY, optimism, and happiness
(Check out studies by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough)
So, how can you get started? It's simple! Grab an empty notebook, it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, and commit to starting with capture 3 things you are grateful for at least 3 days a week. Begin each day with capturing them with a grateful heart. If you're like me, and have some Thank You notes to write and put in the mail, knock those out before the week is over! Placing our focus on the positives in life doesn't allow us much time for the negative! So, give it a shot! Why not?!?
What I'm thankful for today:
1. That my parents have always been supportive of my siblings and me. My mom came and cared for our children while I was away and my husband was working and my dad supported her efforts even though it took her away from home for about a month.
2. That I got an important call back today which is paving the way for a prayer that's been on my request list for some time now.
3. That my husband graduates from his program and comes home tomorrow!
* My bonus gratitude today is for being blessed with ALL of the things I got to take a short break from. I'm thankful that my family has clothes that turn into mounds of washing and folding. I am thankful for the 18 stairs in our house because it means we are able to live in the house we selected to buy. I am thankful for the ability to buy the food required to prepare dinner and lunches. I am thankful for our health.
1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Allison Marschean is a wife and mother of 7 year old twins girls and a 15 month old baby girl who is kicking an autoimmune disorder to the curb with food and fitness, all while living her dimensions!