My Son Has Cancer

I was hoping to write this post after getting a good report next week but I feel like I can’t wait.

If you’ve been here for a while you may know that last summer my son started having pain in his feet. During fall, the pain got worse until he couldn’t stand or walk. Even after a hospital stay we didn’t know what caused it.

Last month we learned that he has leukemia. He was handling treatment well until this weekend. We had to rush him to the ER and he is still in ICU.

As you can imagine this is really hard. We are exhausted and spend every moment trying to take care of our son. We’ve had a lot of people reach out and help and we are forever grateful.

I don’t know when I’ll return to creating recipes. My weekly newsletter is on a bit of a break too. You are welcome to follow along on our journey on my sons Facebook page. I’ll get a website up soon so I can update there.

If you want to help you can pray! We need it! A friend set up a fundraising page too if you’d like to help with the finances. We’ve missed weeks of work and will appreciate anything you feel led to do.

Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

You know I love my Instant Pot! I do more cooking in my Instant Pot than my stove and oven combined. It’s such an easy way to cook because it’s mostly hands off. You get it going then walk away.

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes and they are all plant-based!

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I bought my Instant Pot 3 years ago when I went back to work full time after being a stay at home mom and blogger. I knew that our life was about to get crazy and I would not be able to prep foods throughout the day or simmer a pot of beans all afternoon.

I bought the 6 quart 7 in 1 Instant Pot because it was the only one (at the time) that made yogurt. Now there are a bunch of choices when it comes to choosing an Instant Pot but I’ll cover that a different day.

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

I like to cook single ingredients foods a lot, beans, rice, potatoes, are my top three. We have a lot of other favorites too!

Enjoy restaurant style refried beans without sacrificing your health. These oil-free, plant-based refried beans are made in the Instant Pot.

Refried Beans

I’ve been making what I like to call unfried beans for years. Since no one knew what unfried beans were, I call my Instant Pot version Oil-Free Refried Beans. These are perfect on nachos, bean burritos or with your favorite taco recipe. I like Instant Pot Lentil Tacos.

Instant Pot Minestrone Soup may just be the perfect plant-based soup! Veggies, beans, broth and pasta create a hearty and healthy soup!

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup is my favorite soup but it’s also labor intensive. All that chopping! Well, being able to  toss it all in my Instant Pot makes up for it. We love this soup and this version has some short cuts to make it easier. I think you’ll love this Instant Pot Minestrone Soup as much as I do!

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

I’ve made this recipe for years! First in my oven, then I created a stove top version, then a Crock Pot version. Finally my Instant Pot Mexican Casserole was born. This easy recipe allows you to use uncooked rice and beans. Pay attention to the tips in the recipe, old beans can give you trouble. If you use something other than black beans you’ll need to adjust the cooking time.

Instant Pot Chickpea and Rice Soup

Chickpea and Rice Soup

Even though this recipe provides stove top directions also, the Instant Pot Chickpea and Rice Soup is my favorite version! This recipe gives a nod back to the chicken and rice soup my husband used to love but cleans it up for a plant-based version.

Instant Pot Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oats

Yes, you can cook delicious steel cut oats while you get ready in the morning. Make this easy Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats recipe then add your favoirite toppings. Mine are cinnamon and diced apples but fresh berries are amazing too.  You can also try my Banana Nut version.

Try this Busy Night Pasta recipe! It's simple and fast! Make a pasta dinner tonight in the Instant Pot!

Pasta

Yes, I’ve successfully made pasta in the Instant Pot. It’s a bit trickier and I haven’t had success with gluten-free pasta, only wheat pasta. Short, sturdy noodle shapes are important for getting great pasta, I like spirals, riggitoni, or penne as favorites. Check out my recipe for Instant Pot Pasta.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to see made in the Instant Pot? Let me know and I’ll work on converting it. I’ve got more great Instant Pot recipes and I plan to add more favorite Instant Pot recipes soon!

One Day Only!

I’m so excited about this deal I’m sending you a bonus email! Whether you are new to plant-based eating or not, the biggest obstacles are planning and actually preparing healthy food. That is why I have to share this deal!

Meal Mentor One Day Sale

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Today only, you can get the New Year’s Day Detox Bundle from Meal Mentor!

Meal Mentor is the meal planning membership by Happy Herbivore founder Lindsay S. Nixon. She helps you by planning all your vegan meals for the week. Each week, we give you 16 recipes and a shopping list. Most recipes each week can be made in 15 minutes or less. They always use simple and affordable ingredients.

You choose which recipes you want to eat. The shopping list makes getting groceries easy. That way you can skip a recipe if it you aren’t a fan. I know! I really need to learn to like kale.

You don’t have to spend your nights and weekends figuring out what’s for dinner. Take advantage of the Meal Mentor’s bundle and make 2018 the healthiest year yet!

Meal Mentor one day sale

What’s in Meal Mentor’s bundle?
  • 2018 Detox Plan
  • 1-year Annual Membership to Meal Mentor
  • Best of 2017 cookbook
  • Weight-loss Booklet
When you take advantage of the Meal Mentor’s Annual Meal Plan Membership Sale you get a year’s worth of meal plans 75% off! That’s 52 weeks, 52 meal plans, new recipes each week for only $179! (retail $728!)

Got Questions?

Every recipe is vegan (no eggs, no dairy)!

Every recipe is oil-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free! (And no hard-to-find ingredients. Ultra easy and fuss-free!)

Worried you won’t enjoy it? Get a 30 day money back guarantee if you are disappointed!

My son is in a wheelchair

Life has been crazy! You may have noticed that I haven’t been updating this website much over the last few months. I’ve been diligent to keep the weekly newsletter and Facebook going but it’s been pretty quiet here.

Photo from this summer.

I’ve written about my youngest son before. He is the one who had a bunch of food intolerances and a peanut allergy. Thankfully, a few years ago when we went for his annual allergy visit we were amazed to discover he was no long allergic to peanuts. His food intolerances were better too.

Now that same cute kid is in a wheelchair.

We still don’t know what exactly is wrong. He started having foot and ankle pain this summer. Sometimes he would limp and other times he was fine. We figured it was growing pains.

After school started this fall it got worse. He got to where he hobbled around. I got calls from the school nurse almost every day.

We saw specialists and got a lot of testing, no one could figure it out. Of course, all of that took weeks. Wait a couple of weeks for an appointment, then a week for the test, then a week for the reslults. Then one week he couldn’t put weight on one of his feet. Then next week, the other foot followed.

He is a seemingly healthy 6 year old who can’t stand. After hearing our referral to a neurologist would take months we went to the ER. They were wonderful and ran every test they could imagine. After 3 days they sent us home because they couldn’t figure it out.

That was a month and a half ago.

Before we got foot rests for the wheelchair.

We are thankful to have a great family friend and chiropractor who is helping us work with our family doctor to get answers. They are kind and patient and want to help our son and us deal with this crazy situation.

We are hopeful that the next few weeks will reveal some answers. I won’t share indepth medical information about my son online because he isn’t old enough to consent to that but I wanted you all to know why I’ve been absent.

My son has missed a lot of school, and continues to do so because of multiple appointments for physical therapy, doctor visits and tests. My husband and I have missed a lot of work too.

We are so thankful for all of you who come to this blog looking for recipes and meal plans. Every time you visit it helps my family because of the ads on this site that generate revenue. Even though you didn’t know it, your visit helped meet a need. Thank you!

Some of you saw my posts on Instagram and offered to pray. We thank you! We know that are thousands of people praying for him, many are people we’ve never met.

Friends and family have asked how our son is doing. Most of the time he is doing really well. He instinctively took to his wheelchair immediately and that made things easier. Other times he struggles, as we do, to deal with this. Just imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t stand or walk and didn’t know why or how to fix it. It’s a lot to deal with.

It may be a while before I’m back consistently. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and I’ll continue to share recipes, tips and updates. You can get plant-based tips every Saturday morning by signing up for my weekly email.

Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie

This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Have you noticed how most of our holidays are food focused? And, it’s not just holidays, during big moments, both good and bad, we gather around food. I still remember sharing meals with my family as a child.

Our older children who are now adults reminisce about their favorite childhood meals. The meals we share with our kids will have a lasting impact on them. I believe creating healthy meals and enjoying them together will make your family stronger, both physically and relationally.

If you are looking for a meal that will bring a family together, look no further than this Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie. It’s perfect for helpers!

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

I bought these beautiful veggies on a recent trip to the farmers market as part of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign. If you want your family to get interested in eating more veggies, a trip to the farmers market is a great start!

I love that this whole meal (except maybe the lentils and spices) are grown locally! My son is slightly obsessed with wanting to become a gardener to grow all our food. We aren’t anywhere close to that but he does a great job of helping pick out fresh produce.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

If your kids want to help and are old enough to use a knife, cutting veggies is an easy way for them to help. If not, they can wait until it’s time to mash the sweet potatoes. Even toddlers can help with the measuring after you do the cutting.

You can cook some parts of this Shepherd’s Pie in the Instant Pot. I cooked the potatoes in the Instant Pot while the other ingredients cooked on the stove. If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you can bake or boil your potatoes. If baking, just wash your potatoes first, no need to peel them because you’ll be able to scoop the potato out of the skins. If boiling, peel and cut into manageable pieces.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie

Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is perfect for potlucks, especially if you don’t know if there will be healthy options.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 cup onion, diced and divided
  • 4 large sweet potatoes or yams
  • ¼ cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup dry lentils + 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free baking mix (you may substitute flour if you aren’t gluten-free)
  • 1 ½ cups soy milk

Cooking the Veggies

Put 1 cup of water into a large skillet. Add your cut green beans, sliced carrots, sliced celery, half the garlic and half the onion. Cover with the lid.

Cook the veggies for 10-15 minutes until they are tender-crisp or to your desired crispness.

Pour the veggies into a colander and let the extra liquid drip off until time to assemble. Use the skillet to make the sauce.

Cooking the Lentils

While the veggies are cooking, start cooking your lentils in a medium saucepan.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add 1 cup of dry lentils and the remaining garlic and onion. You may season them with salt, pepper and other spices.

The lentils will need to cook for about 15 minutes. Most or all of the water will be absorbed. If not, carefully drain it off.

Cooking the Sweet Potatoes

I like cooking potatoes in the Instant Pot because it’s fast and easy. If you have an Instant Pot, wash the potatoes and place them on the wire rack with one cup of water below. Then cook them on manual for 15 minutes with natural pressure release.

Once done and cooled enough to handle, remove the potatoes from the pot, carefully remove the skin, then mash them with ¼ cup of soy milk and a sprinkle of salt.

Cooking the Sauce

The sauce requires constant attention, don’t start it until you can focus on it. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, onion powder to a bowl. Then add 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast and gluten-free baking mix (or flour if you aren’t gluten-free) and mix them together.

Dump that mixture into your skillet. Add 1 ½ cups soy milk and whisk all together. When the mixture starts to clump, alternate using a silicone spatula to smooth it out and scrape the bottom of the skillet, and a whisk to stir it up. You’ll need to keep stirring and scraping until the sauce is thick.

Assembling the Shepherd’s Pie

In a pie pan or 9×9 casserole dish, pour your cooked lentils. I like to take a fork and press them into the bottom to help them stick together a little.

Then, pour in the veggies that have been draining in the colander. Spread them around so they evenly cover the lentil layer.

Pour the sauce over the veggie layer. Give the casserole dish a little shake so that the sauce settles around the veggies.

Carefully scoop out one spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes at a time and plop it on top of the sauce layer. Repeat this until the whole casserole is covered in mashed sweet potatoes. Then you can use a spoon to smooth out the sweet potato layer.

Pop this in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes while everyone gets washed up for dinner.

Farmers Market Shepherd's Pie


You can adapt this recipe and make it using your favorite veggies too! Take a look at this infographic from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign for more tips on picking fresh produce.

How to Pick Produce

 

Creating healthy meals with your family will make a big impact in their future. Eating healthy meals creates a culture where being healthy is a priority. Using real, whole foods and teaching your kids to prepare them will set them up for healthy eating later in life.

It may not be possible to eat every meal together but making it a part of your family’s routine is worth the effort. Years from now, your kids will tell stories about family traditions and the foods they remember eating, let’s make those good memories!

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