Pasta with Spinach & Quinoa

Background Story for Pasta with Spinach & Quinoa

It is amazing how we are all are wired up differently, and with this wiring, we all have different things that take us back to childhood. For the last few nights, I have been taking a quick five minute walk in the neighborhood in order to get a whisp of the slightly cool, fresh air and to hear the sound of the crickets. These two things have been my favorite since I was a kid. They remind me of visiting my relatives in Memphis and hearing the calming effect of the crickets at night.

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Photo by Katina Horton

About a week ago, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. My mind landed on the box of pasta that was still in the cabinet. I decided to jazz it up with my two favorite ingredients for most meals: spinach and diced tomatoes.

Here is the recipe:

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:

45 minutes


  • 1 box of penne pasta
  • 2 jars of tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of cut-leaf spinach
  • 1/3 cup of quinoa
  • 1/4 cup of oil


  • Boil a pot of water, adding the oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  • Add the pasta and the quinoa once the water has started boiling.
  • While the pasta and quinoa are cooking, saute the spinach and diced tomatoes.
  • Drain the pasta and quinoa in a colander and dump them back into the pot.
  • Dump all the rest of the ingredients into the pot and stir.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Food for thought:

What foods do you eat, or activities do you participate in that take you back to your childhood? Would love to hear your comments!

Black Bean Mishmash

Background on Black Bean Fun

With the way that the weather has been within the last few days, it makes one want to snuggle up with a throw and a book, or perhaps a movie, and just relax. Before we get into the black bean recipe, I would like to share a little bit of my reading adventure from the last few months.

I have been reading so many different books within the last few weeks that it’s a wonder that I can keep up with what’s going on in each book.

One book that I am currently reading is entitled, “The Sharper the Knife, The Less You Cry”. Because of taking four years of french in high school, and enjoying every minute of it, I decided to purchase this book at a rummage sale a few months ago. The main character, Kathleen, decides to leave the corporate world, move to Paris, and attend Le Cordon Bleu to pursue her dreams.

There are several different adventures that she has along the way. Some of which involve the relationships between her and her colleagues, her and her boyfriend, and her and her instructors whom she grows to love. This book is filled with French recipes and tons of laughter. Kathleen quickly finds out that life and recipes have a lot in common. As Christians, we are all too familiar with that as well.

Life Analysis

When it comes to recipes, we can have all the ingredients, make the dish exactly as described, and then everything comes out perfect. And such is the Christian life. But then, there are other times that we follow the recipe to a tee, and it turns out a disaster. Perhaps the oil got too brown, we overcooked the rice, or we ended up with meat that was too dry.

God is driving the bus. And we often forget that. Life isn’t a recipe or a secret formula. And although we think we have it all under control, things may fall apart just like the recipe that we knew we followed the directions to a tee. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us: 
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

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Here is the the recipe:

Activity: Making Black Bean Mishmash

Total Prepping and Cooking Time: 35 Minutes


1 onion

1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

1 can of mixed vegetables

2 cans of organic black beans

1 box of Quinoa w/brown rice & Rosemary

1/4 cup of oil

onion powder -2 tablespoons

garlic powder -2 tablespoons

cumin -2 tablespoons


Boil the box of quinoa w/brown rice mixture.

While the quinoa mix is boiling, do the following:

  • Cut up and saute the onion in a skillet.
  • Boil the mixed vegetables.
  • Heat up the organic black beans.
  • Dump all the cooked ingredients into the skillet with the onion, adding the seasonings and nutritional yeast as well.
  • Enjoy!

Here are other bean recipes in case you’re interested:

Simple Beans and Zucchini Soup

Everything Chili

God bless!


God is driving the bus. And we often forget that. Life isn’t a recipe or a secret formula. And although we think we have it all under control, things may fall apart just like the recipe that we knew we followed the directions to a tee. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Digestion Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

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In our Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series, I dissect issues and symptoms of PTSD/trauma. This is in hopes of letting people know that they are not alone, as well as giving people the freedom to comment, and talk about how PTSD/trauma has affected their lives in these areas. The last post in the Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series was one dealing with the Holiday Aspect of trauma. You can find that post here. Today’s post will focus on the Digestion Aspect.

One surprising revelation for me was realizing that PTSD/trauma actually affects your digestion. I stumbled upon this realization in June of 2014, a couple of months after getting divorced. There are three things that I noticed when it comes to trauma and digestion:

Trauma and grief will come out in the form of regurgitation.

I am not trying to sound gross here, so please bear with me. Due to complications with my ex-husband’s health, as well as the fact that I had stuffed my emotions for so long, my grief was delayed. Grieving my divorce, and all the events surrounding it, were delayed. Alleviating some of the symptoms that I was experiencing seemed downright frightening because of stuffing for so long.

This caused me to be in a vicious cycle of stuffing and feeling like my face and chest was going to explode, with very little relief. Trauma is in the tissues, and so I discovered, along with reading information on my own, that movement, grief, and massaging helped to release it. The problem came into play when I finally felt like I could release the trauma. However, the underlying feeling was that if I started crying, there would be no bottoming out. Subconsciously, I knew it was going to be a bad release.

Instead of my system waiting any longer, it released the trauma and grief in the form of regurgitation. Initially, I thought that it was just that maybe something upset my stomach. However, after four rounds of this, and feeling grief in between each round, I knew that wasn’t the case at all. It didn’t take long to put two and two together.

I felt very vulnerable, and my son kept asking me, “What did you eat?” I told him that it had nothing to do with the food. It was physiological.

Trauma will cause your system to get confused about hunger and fullness.

Another weird discovery that I made is that every now and then, stored trauma and unreleased grief will make your system confused as far as satiety is concerned. There are times when I have felt like I could keep eating forever. Then, there are other times that I feel hungry, and then attempt to eat, but will all of a sudden feel full.

Lastly, there are times when I can literally feel my emotions trapped in my midsection, causing my body to try to figure out whether it is satisfied, or it needs more food. It is the weirdest thing. It doesn’t happen as much anymore. However, when it happens, it can be very frustrating.

When doing research, one of the explanations that I found is that because of PTSD/trauma, at times, the blood that should flow into the stomach, moves away from it, going to other areas like the arms.

Trauma will cause you to become hypersensitive to certain foods, causing severe panic attacks when consumed in normal portions.

The last issue that I would like to discuss is how trauma causes hypersensitivity to foods. These foods vary from person to person. For me, it was sugar. I first discovered this when I decided to eat a glazed donut in 2015.

Within five minutes, a severe panic attack came on, I felt like I was going to hit the roof. The only thing that would help my system to calm down was drinking an excess amount of water, and then deep breathing, and a lot of prayer. Taking multivitamins has helped , but it is still not the same.

My system has improved a little. However, it can’t handle what it once was able to. Sometimes, I get frustrated with this fact. It is what it is. I have learned to accept the fact that a few moments of pleasure for an hour or more of panic just isn’t worth it.

How has PTSD/trauma affected your digestion? What are some of the ways that you use to cope with it?

God bless,


Simple Beans and Zucchini Soup

Background on the Simple Beans and Zucchini Soup

I had a busy weekend.  However, it was a good kind of busy.  I got a chance to enjoy my mom and niece who were visiting.  I did plenty of cooking.  However, I also had a lot of down time.  Yesterday, I ended up watching a Hallmark movie that had a really good story line.

The main character’s sister, Alice, had died suddenly from heart issues.  Alice’s death prompted Lois to go back to her hometown first for the funeral, and then secondly, to take care of the affairs of her estate.  Instead of taking care of these things, and then going right back to her high-powered attorney job, she decided to stay for a while.

This visit was more than what she had bargained for.  All the memories from her sister’s car accident came to the forefront.  She also had to deal with the fact that she had become estranged from her sister over the years.  Alice’s friends knew more about her life than Lois did.

It took her awhile to reconcile the fact that the car accident that Alice was involved in was indeed not her fault, nor Peter’s.  Lois kept thinking that if she hadn’t been out with Peter, her boyfriend, then her sister wouldn’t have ended up disabled.

Towards the end of the movie, Lois discovered that Alice had birthed a child during her college years.  She was finally able to meet her niece and the adoptive parents, and find true forgiveness for herself and Peter.

In life, we are a lot like Lois, we think that “if only” we would have done or not done something, then things wouldn’t have turned out as they did.  It is part of the bargaining stage of grief.  However, Satan also uses it as a foothold to keep us stuck in life.  He wants us to pride ourselves into thinking that we are in control of all of life’s details.  The truth of the matter is that we are not.  God is.  We will not know all the reasons that he decides for things to be the way they are.

I love making bean concoctions.  The last one that I made can be found here.  Below is a recipe that I made a little over a week ago.


Activity:  Making Simple Beans and Zucchini Soup

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Total Prepping and Cooking Time:  35 Minutes


  • cumin – 2 tablespoons
  • chili powder – 3 tablespoons
  • onion powder – 2 tablespoons
  • turmeric – 2 tablespoons
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 2 cans of kidney beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons of butter


  • Boil one cup of brown rice.
  • Cut up two zucchinis into chunks.
  • While the brown rice is boiling, saute the zucchini.
  • Heat up the beans in a large pot, along with three cups of water.
  • Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
  • Heat up the mixture for about 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

God bless,



Simple Spaghetti

Background Story on Simple Spaghetti

I have been reading Brene Brown’s new book, Dare to Lead for a couple of weeks now.  If I was just reading that one book, I would be done by now.  However, I am reading about six books at the same time.  What I love is that the Holy Spirit has intertwined several themes across the board with all of these books:  vulnerability, shame, joy, gratitude, dealing with the unexpected, hustling for self-worth, and filling our thirst.

There are several things that stuck out with me so far in this book.  I would like to quote three of them:

Quote #1

“Embodying and practicing gratitude changes everything.  It is not a personal construct, it’s a human construct-a unifying part of our existence-and it’s the antidote to foreboding joy, plain and simple.  It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment, or love, or joy-of really feeling it, of basking in it-by conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity”. (Dare to Lead, Brene Brown, pg. 83)

This reminds of last night.  I got together with a group of friends.  I allowed myself to not dismiss the reality that my life has been filled with lots of drama and trauma within the last six months.  However, my heart was full.  It was so, so full.  I thanked God for my friends, the food, the fellowship, time to decompress, and the laughs from the movie.  I thanked him for all his goodness in spite of what my real life problems were.

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Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Quote #2

“Something as simple as starting or ending meetings with a gratitude check, when everyone shares one thing they’re grateful for, can build trust and connection, serve as container-building, and give your group permission to lean into joy.” (Dare to Lead, Brene Brown, pg. 83)

The second quote was a Holy Spirit moment because just a week ago, I had an accident.  I allowed myself to sink in anger about all the inconveniences, but then quickly gave myself a gratitude check.  That post can be found here.  The funny thing about it is that I titled the post “Gratitude Check” prior to reading page 83 of Dare to Lead.  God knows how to bring all things together.

Quote #3

The last quote is from page 97, which was another Holy Spirit moment.  It reminded me of my IT job from years ago, where I sought to prove that I could sit at the table with others who made a certain salary, instead of being discriminated against.  I didn’t realize that the only table that I needed to have recognition at is the table of Christ.  The “Heavenly Places” blog post can be found here.

“When people don’t understand where they’re strong and where they deliver value for the organization or even for a single effort, they hustle.  The kind that’s hard to be around because we are jumping in everywhere, including where we’re not strong or not needed, to prove that we deserve a seat at the table.” (Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown, page 97)

A few days ago, I decided to try my hands at a simple spaghetti recipe.  There were very few ingredients.  It turned out pretty good.  The only problem was that I put too many red pepper flakes.  I would take a bite to eat, then feel flames at the back of my throat.  This cycle repeated itself until the bowl was empty.  Enjoy!

Here is the recipe:

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Activity:  Making Simple Spaghetti

Total cooking and Prepping Time: 40 minutes

Servings: about 12


  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of basil
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 box of spaghetti
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato soup (low-sodium)
  • basil or spinach leaves (for garnish and eating)

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Valley of Grace Cutting Board-Shopify Store


  • Boil six cups of water with olive oil or butter so that the spaghetti won’t stick.
  • Add the spaghetti to the boiling water.
  • Drain the spaghetti.
  • Dump the pasta sauce and tomato soup into the pot.
  • Add one can of water to the pot.
  • Dump all the seasonings into the pot.
  • Serve in bowls or on plates.
  • Garnish with basil or spinach leaves.
  • Enjoy!


God bless,