Taco Soup

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While it is technically spring, this week has been cooler and rainy here in the Midwest, and I don’t know about you, but cool, rainy weather always makes me want a big bowl of soup!

This soup is very flavorful and easy to throw together. As I mentioned last week, during my Daniel Fast, I typically made a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and then ate it along with a salad for lunch throughout the week. This was one of the soups I made and it was delicious!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

1 tablespoon Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
3-4 cups vegetable broth (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe, or just use water)
1 can black beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (14.5 oz), drained
1/2 can fat free vegetarian refried beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe to make your own)
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add vegetable broth (use more or less broth depending on how thick you want your soup), black beans, tomatoes, corn and seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and refried beans and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the refried beans have dissolved into the broth and the rice is heated through.

Recipe Notes:

  • For a non-vegetarian dish, use chicken broth in place of vegetable broth and add 1-2 cups cooked shredded chicken when you add the rice and refried beans
  • For a non-Daniel Fast meal, consider adding the following toppings: sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese, diced avocado, and/or crushed tortilla chips
  • Can use regular diced tomatoes if you can’t tolerate spicy food
  • Can substitute 1/2 cup dried polenta for the brown rice

Servings: Approximately 8 (1-cup servings)

Adapted from (Ultimate Daniel Fast)


Tips for Doing a Daniel Fast

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Last Saturday marked the final day of my 21-day Daniel Fast. It has been an exciting time of spiritual growth and renewal, and today I’d like to share a few practical things I learned along the way, in case you are interested in doing a Daniel Fast for yourself!

Here are a few tips and ideas:

  • Begin your fast knowing that the ultimate focus and outcome is spiritual, rather than physical. If you just want to eat more healthy or lose some weight, then you’re really just dieting, not fasting. A true fast should include a spiritual element of prayer, confession, and Bible study, asking God to speak to you as you focus on spiritual nourishment, rather than physical nourishment.
  • Have a spiritual goal in mind while fasting. Maybe you need wisdom before making a big decision, maybe you need direction in some area of your life, maybe you want to begin to have more consistent time in the Word, maybe, like me, you want to use the time leading up to Christmas or Easter as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation. Set a goal or focus, but also be prepared for God to show you new things along the way!
  • Find a devotional plan to use during the time of fasting and get a journal to write down what you’re learning, your prayer requests, etc. The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast has daily devotionals to use during your fast, or use another book or Bible study method of your choosing. I read through the devotionals in the book, but I also did the Easter study from Good Morning Girls. She Reads Truth is another good source of Bible study plans.
  • Figure out your menu ahead of time and shop for necessary ingredients. While I had some of the ingredients I needed, because I couldn’t use things with added sugar or leavening agents, refined flour, etc. I had to go to the store to buy a number of ingredients, and making a meal plan ahead of time helped me to make sure I didn’t make unnecessary trips to the store because I didn’t have one or two ingredients.
  • Decide ahead of time how to fit your fast in with your family’s meals. This is a hard one if your family doesn’t want to participate in your fast or if they are not used to eating lots of unprocessed, whole grain products. When I made up my meal plan, I tried to find ways that I could make things easier by making dishes we normally eat, and just modifying them a bit for myself. That way I didn’t have to make two separate meals every night. For example, our family likes tacos and nachos. I was able to make those once a week and just have them without the chicken for myself (just beans and brown rice with lettuce, tomato, avocado, cilantro, etc.), or I made spaghetti and meatballs, but used whole grain spaghetti (which we eat normally), and just skipped the meatballs for myself, and made sure the tomato sauce didn’t have sugar. The kids were happy for the most part, and my husband was really supportive and decided to just eat whatever I was eating for dinner, rather than asking me to make a separate meat for him.
  • Make things as easy as possible so you’re not tempted to “cheat.” Make sure you have a good variety of things available, especially fresh fruits and veggies. Cut things up ahead of time so they are readily available with minimal work. At the beginning of each week I made a big batch of soup for lunch, and then I would just reheat a bowl every day along with a salad for lunch. That way I knew exactly what I was going to eat, it was easy and quick, and it allowed me to focus on other things.
  • If you have any special dietary needs, you are pregnant, or you are nursing, check with your doctor before beginning your fast, or adjust the fast as necessary. For example, because I was nursing and needed extra calories (and didn’t want to risk any “supply” issues as baby is only a few months old), I chose to include seafood in my fast as an extra source of calories and protein.

That’s all I can think of for now! If you’re planning a Daniel Fast soon, please leave a comment and let us know!

Daniel Fast Part 3: A Right View of God

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So this week is the last week of my Daniel Fast. After today, I have just 3 days to go, and I am excited to share with you some of the things I’ve been learning along the way!

In yesterday’s Bible reading (I am currently going through the Good Morning Girl’s study called “Why Easter Matters”), I was meditating on 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 which says:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)

And as I read that passage, I was struck by the first line “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have a wrong view of God. When we think of Jesus, we think of a gentle savior, the one who took the children upon his knee saying “let the little children come to me.” This is the one we see on the cover of the children’s Bibles, with long hair and a soft smile, who preached love and turning the other cheek. On the other hand, when we think of the Father, we think of a stern judge who is holy, just, and unapproachable. He is the voice from the clouds in The Ten Commandments (you know the scene where Charlton Heston is on the mountain talking to God – I know I’ll be watching it again this weekend!).

But both of these views are missing the bigger picture and often give us a very wrong view of God. God is not at war with himself. There is not part of God that wants to crush us like bugs the next time we sin and part that wants to skip with us through fields of wildflowers for all eternity. Jesus isn’t having to stand in front of us to shield us from a beating, like a son standing up to an abusive father. Not at all!

Notice in this passage it is God the Father who gives us the victory over sin and death, and that victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father and the Son are working together in perfect unity and love to save us. The Father isn’t waiting in the wings to strike us down; he loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son for our deliverance. Way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey and rebel against God, he didn’t abandon them or strike them down and start over with people who had no free will, even though he could have done so. In his great love, he didn’t leave us in this sin-cursed, death-filled world without hope. Even knowing we would rebel and reject him, God still desired to save us from our own sin.

In Genesis 3 God says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Here God is pointing forward to the virgin’s offspring, Jesus, the God-man, who would crush the power of sin and death and take the penalty upon himself, in accordance with the Father’s will. Jesus loved people, yes, but he hated sin. He calls the hypocritical religious leaders a “brood of vipers” and he overturns the tables of the money changers, saying they have turned his Father’s house into a den of robbers. All you need to do is read Revelation 1 and you will see that Jesus does not fit the images we have of him from children’s Bibles. 

As we meditate on the significance of Easter, let us see God for who he is – both loving and just, strong and kind, holy and merciful.

Thank you Father for loving us so much that you would send your only Son to pay the penalty for our sins and reconcile us to yourself. Thank you Lord Jesus for taking on our sin, though you committed no sin yourself, that by confessing and believing we might be called sons and daughters of God.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

creamy split pea soup

As I mentioned last week, I have been having to “tweak” some of my usual recipes to use as part of my Daniel Fast, where I cannot eat meat (though because I am nursing and need extra calories, I have been eating some seafood), dairy, added sweeteners, leavened bread, or processed foods. To make things a little easier, I have been making a big batch of soup at the beginning of each week and eating a bowl of that soup, along with a salad, for lunch every day. This week I used my mother’s recipe for split pea soup, and tweaked it to make a vegetarian version. It was still really good, and I even served it to my mom when she came by for lunch one day and she and the boys enjoyed it with some oyster crackers as you can see from the picture! (I can’t have the crackers as part of the fast, but it was still good without them Smile)

Creamy Split Pea Soup

4 cups vegetable broth (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe, or just use water)
6 cups water
1 lb. package split peas
1 1/4 cup chopped carrots
1 sliced onion
1 cup sliced celery
4 whole allspice (or 1/4 tsp. ground)
4 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Combine water and broth in large pot and bring to a boil. Put spices in a tea ball or coffee filter tied with string and add to pot. Add remaining vegetables, reduce heat and simmer 45-60 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. Blend thoroughly and enjoy!

Servings: Approximately 8-10 (1 cup servings)

For a non-vegetarian version, add a ham bone to the water/broth (can use chicken broth in place of vegetable broth) before boiling, then skim the fat from the surface before adding the other ingredients.

Daniel Fast Part 2: Confession is Good for the Soul

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Last week I shared that I am doing a partial fast, or “Daniel Fast,” in preparation for Easter.
This week I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve been learning. It has now been 10 days since I started this 21 day journey, and God has been showing me a lot throughout this time. As I mentioned before, doing a fast is about taking away food (either partially or fully) in order to seek the Lord during prayer and Bible study. I started this fast 21 days before Easter so that I could take this time to meditate on the true meaning of Easter and prepare my heart for worship during this time.

But ladies, God has been showing me so much more than I expected during this time! One of the studies I have been doing during this time is the “Why Easter Matters” study from Good Morning Girls. Week 1 was about “Why the Last Supper Matters.” Week 2 is “Why the Crucifixion Matters.”

As I’ve read and studied these passages, I’ve been seeing more clearly my own sin as well as the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for me.

When I started this study I wasn’t thinking much about my own sin. I mean I knew I sinned from time to time (um, can you say sin of pride right there? Yikes!), but I wasn’t expecting the kind of conviction I came under as I began to examine my own heart, especially in light of what Christ did on the cross for me. I began to see the angry, critical spirit I have sometimes used when dealing with my children and husband, my desire for personal recognition when all the glory is due to God, and my anxious attitude, which revealed a lack of trust in God.

It has been too long since I have taken a good hard look at my own sin, confessed it for what it is, and asked God to create a new heart within me. In her book, The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, Kristen Feola talks about the need for confession at the beginning of a fast. She relates how the children of Israel, in the book of Isaiah, fasted and prayed, but did so without confession, and thus received nothing.

So as I read through the passages in the Good Morning Girls study, I started to become more aware of my own sin and the price that was paid to take away my guilt and give me eternal life. In studying the last supper, I was reminded of the command in 1 Corinthians 11 to examine oneself before partaking. I realized that I needed to take this command more seriously and to examine my heart regularly, not just once in a while. When I fail to do this, I am dismissing God’s holiness and hatred of sin. I take his sacrifice too lightly and fail to use the proper reverence due him.

During Week 2’s readings, I was reminded of the heavy burden Christ endured for that sin. Isaiah 53:5-6 says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

It was my sin that caused him such piercing, crushing, wounding pain. He took the punishment that I deserved, even though he had done nothing wrong.

Never should I forget that I am completely in Christ’s debt and that I can never (and need never) repay it. There is nothing I can do that would be good enough to earn that salvation. Nothing I can do that would make me worthy of such a sacrifice. But I am thankful that I do not have to earn it. I am thankful that in Romans 5 it says Christ died for us while we were still sinners. We don’t have to clean ourselves up or get our acts together to accept Christ’s sacrifice. He died for us just as we are, full of sin, and He is the one who takes our lives and makes us clean. What a humbling thought!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

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I mentioned last week that I am doing a Daniel Fast in preparation for Easter. Because of this, I’ve gotten to try some new recipes, which has actually been kind of fun, since I generally enjoy cooking and I’ve gotten to try some things I’ve always wanted to make but never got around to making. Some, like this recipe, are based on things we already make, but have been modified for the fast.

When I saw a strawberry banana smoothie recipe in The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, I was immediately interested, but when I looked at the ingredient list I saw that it had things like tofu and date honey. Since we often make strawberry banana smoothies for the kids (but using yogurt and milk), I decided to modify our typical smoothie recipe to make it dairy free, and the results were delicious! My boys drank it up and asked for more! I added natural peanut butter to mine and it was really thick. This makes a great, filling breakfast, especially if you’re on the go!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1 ripe banana, broken in pieces
4-5 frozen strawberries
Splash of unsweetened almond milk
1-2 Tbs. Flaxseed meal (optional)

Combine ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly, adding almond milk until it reaches the desired consistency. Alternative, use a handheld stick blender to quickly puree the ingredients (this is my favorite method!).

Add-in options:
– add 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal to make this really filling
– substitute other fresh or frozen fruit, such as blueberries or raspberries for the strawberries
– add 2-3 tbs. of natural peanut butter (use peanut butter without sugar for a Daniel Fast. Smuckers makes this, and so does Target’s store brand)
– for a creamy non-Daniel Fast treat add 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

Servings: 1-2

Daniel Fast Part 1

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At the beginning of the year I was introduced to the idea of a “Daniel Fast.” I had always thought of fasting as being abstaining totally from food, such as when Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. But I didn’t realize that partial fasting is also in the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with fasting, it is basically a time set aside in which a person or group of people stop eating in order to use that time for prayer, repentance, and/or preparation. There are many examples of fasting in the Bible. Here are just a few:

Moses fasted while waiting to receive the 10 commandments (Exodus 34), David fasted while praying for his dying child (2 Samuel 12), Esther and the Jewish people in the city fasted before she went in to talk to the king (Esther 4), and as mentioned earlier, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness where he was also tempted by Satan (Matthew 4).

These fasts lasted various amounts of time, from 3 days of fasting in the book of Esther, to a full 40 days of fasting for Moses and Jesus, in which they neither ate not drank, but were supernaturally sustained.

The prophet Daniel also fasted, saying, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Dan 9:3). In Daniel 10 we find that Daniel fasted by eating “no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks” (Dan. 10:3). So in this case Daniel’s fast was a partial fast, wherein he ate plain food and water, no meat, delicacies or wine, for 21 days.

So during a “Daniel fast” a person does a partial fast, abstaining from things like meat, sugar and sweeteners, bread made with yeast, dairy products, refined or processed foods, etc., and instead eats fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and so on, using the time of fasting to focus not on physical food but spiritual food. Taking time to really seek the Lord in Bible study and prayer, in order to deepen that relationship with Him.

I have decided to participate in a Daniel fast in preparation for Easter, based on the guidelines in The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola. Like the Advent season at Christmas time, I want to spend the weeks leading into Easter focusing on Christ’s sacrifice for me. This is just one way to prepare for Easter, and I will share my experiences with it soon, as well as why I chose this particular kind of fast, but there are lots of other ways to prepare our hearts for Easter too.

What are some things you are doing to get ready for Easter?