Staring Down The Sun bio picture
  • WELCOME!

    We were wondering if you were wondering what we were wondering........
    So this is us wondering and having fun doing it. My name is Zak. Her name is Karey. Married three ish years ago and living in sunny San Clemente California, we spend our time trying to enjoy our baby Johnny, friends, family, food and the occasional rousing night of Karaoke. Along the way we like to share the things we enJOY, so stick around and we will give you some primal recipes, favorite local spots or home projects that we have tried.

    Zak it up a notch and get Karey'd away...

    enJOY.

7 Series: Food // Days 2-4

I have a confession to make. I’ve already technically broken a rule and had some chicken that was perfectly seasoned with paprika and garlic salt… when all I should have used was just an oil and a little salt and pepper. On Day TWO, people. Here is my story: last week I baked some chicken thighs for a paleo pad thai dish and the recipe called for that seasoning and so I saved the extra for this week, not thinking it through quite enough. I found myself at what felt like an impasse, of choosing between breaking a rule or being wasteful (it would not have kept until the end of the fast or frozen well and therefore needed to be tossed if not eaten, dang it). I’ve read through the whole book already and knowing that part of my mutiny will be against waste, I went ahead and just ate it… legalism be on your way. And uh, I really enjoyed my chicken.

I noticed something funny, that I didn’t feel the guilt that I expected to run after me all day afterwards. It was a matter-of-fact thing that I went to the Lord with, and came back with a decision that added to my experience of this fast, which was a greater appreciation for flavor and spices and especially an awareness of how much freaking food we have to be thankful for. I mean, I’m asking myself if I need to throw away some perfectly good food in order to follow the letter of the law. Yet the spirit of the law didn’t match throwing it out. It feels silly to be writing this out, but hey, this is where I found myself. (Anyone else do this type of thing in their head??) Later in the day I was eating an avocado with some salt and pepper, and the flavor was amazing, and I just savored it bite by bite, thinking about how much nutrition can be packed into one tiny piece of produce. This fast is making me slow down with my food and think it through and I’ve needed that. My taste buds are more alive, and so is my heart. There are some growing pains, but I’m kind of past the point of caring about that. Pain is just fine with me if I know there will be some good to come, kind of like going through labor. There is something good on the horizon that makes that level of pain worth it… but please Lord, let that good come soon… you know that prayer? Giving up food options down to only 7 is no where near that level of pain and I’m not even starving for goodness sakes, and there are children of God in this world who are literally dying because they don’t have the same access to food that I do. Now my question to myself is, what am I going to do about that?

 

7 Series: Food // Day 1

This week I am joining with my Thursday night Bible study girls to do a week by week challenge of the fasts presented in Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. You can catch my review of the book here, but my summary is, read it. After I finished the book I didn’t want it to be over and I wanted to start every month of fasting yesterday, but the wiser ladies suggested we focus on one category at a time spending three weeks on each chapter, with one of those weeks put in practice. This is our week of practice, of fasting from our food indulgences and only eating 7 items of food over 7 days. Last week was our prep, and next week will be our review discussion. I am so excited to be doing this with my people I could burst. When I come across something that impacts me on such a deep level I crave those heart to heart discussions of what stood out to each one of us, of how they were hit with something I might not have even picked up on, of having someone else’s head in the same space as mine so we can say, “me too!’

Yesterday was my Day 1. I found myself feeling a bit resentful of the idea at first and not wanting to fully participate which I think is hysterical since I was so gung-ho about it. Zak and I have been on a Whole 30 train (no sugar, no grain, no dairy, no legumes) for most of the summer, and right now are actually on Day 38 out of our 60 day goal right now. Transitioning to that food lifestyle and cutting out every grain of sugar and processed food out of our diet was hard at first but now it feels really good. I finally don’t feel deprived anymore, so I find the timing of starting this food fast kinda funny, that it is time for another round of deprivation. I found such thoughts running my mind like, “I’ve already been fasting this whole time…” or “But I’m finally eating so healthy!” or “Don’t make me give up my coconut milk already! I just started liking it!” Ha. Clearly this fast is good timing. I thought I would have such an easy time, and here I am complaining more than my 8 month old.

The purpose of this fast is to make room for God to move in my life. It is when I get out of His way that He does his work, as He is always waiting so patiently for my invitation, He respects us all so much that way. So this fast is my invitation for Him to do what He wants with me, come what may. All I know is that I am done with the status-quo and keeping up with the Jones’s and after losing Lauren everything seems so frivolous now. This part of the food chapter struck me: “I am pierced by Ghandi’s astute observation: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Would Jesus overindulge on garbage food while climbing out of a debt hole from buying things He couldn’t afford to keep up with the neighbors He couldn’t impress? In so many ways I am the opposite of Jesus’ lifestyle. This keeps me up at night. I can’t have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings He begged me to avoid… He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified. He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him. It is as simple as that.”

The foods I’ve chosen are chicken, sweet potato, avocado, bell peppers, eggs, peaches, and coffee. Yes, I added coffee on my list, I figure since we are only doing 7 days it would take that long for me to go through the caffeine withdrawal (which might I add that Johns Hopkins has declared as a disorder.. so there!) and I would prefer to be mindfully present during this practice instead of the hot mess I would be in a constant fog and migraine headache. The good news is everything is still Whole 30 compliant so I won’t have to start over to achieve my 60 day goal, and Zak is fully supporting me and even made me dinner last night with just chicken and sweet potato fries. Part of the fast is you can’t add anything besides oil and salt and pepper so any doctoring the meal up is out of the question.

My breakfast was sauteed bell peppers in my scrambled eggs, topped with avocado and of course my black coffee. I had some peaches for my snack, some baked chicken thighs with bell peppers and mashed avocado for a dip, and then the dinner Zak made, all washed down with water. I felt satisfied and I didn’t think I was going to die of deprivation, so there’s that. The hardest part was starting it and looking at all of the food we’ve been prepping that is in our fridge that will have to wait and be frozen or sent to work with Zak. The spaghetti squash I baked that is ready to go, the pork that Zak slow roasted, the cucumbers and carrots and olives and pickles I love to snack on, the coconut milk I love to put in my coffee, all of it staring at me, challenging my commitment to this fast. What I’ve found though is that just making that first decision of the day to start is the hardest part, and then the rest of it is just staying on course. After doing Whole 30 for so long, it feels like flexing a muscle that is getting stronger and stronger, the discipline of staying the course and keeping the eye on the prize. Doing it isn’t the hard part right now. I say that on the off chance someone reading this is thinking of doing this, but scared of how hard it might be, so I am here to offer the encouragement that if I can do it, you can do it. I am not a disciplined person by nature so this is saying a lot! I’m sure that as the week drags on there will be some more hard parts, but I am okay with that, I need them and the awareness they will bring.

7 // Book Review

This book pretty much wrecked me. It is a follow-up to Jen Hatmaker’s “Interrupted” and so far everyone I have talked with has said her first book was a game changer for their faith and I have yet to finish it, but this sequel book just needed to be read first for me for some reason. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is her family’s story of identifying seven areas of excess in their lives and how they “made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress.“ (Amazon, synopsis.) Those are the areas that are focused on each month, and she shares her experience in a day by day journalistic format that is easy to pick up and put down even if you only have small chunks of time to read. (Hey Mamas, I’m talkin’ to you!) She is really funny, vulnerable, and warm, just how I like all my friends.

I am simply so inspired by her and her writing and this book lit a fire in me somehow. As you may know, this has been a hard season for our family and its easy to get stuck feeling like I’m going nowhere as grief takes its course and we do the hard work of the soul. I found it interesting when she shared that she was approaching this project as if it were a fast, an “intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said, “It’s exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the sprit.” … She later adds, “According to Scripture, fasting was commanded or initiated during one of six extreme circumstances: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.

OMG. Mourning. Number one on the list. I find it really interesting that a fast feels like the perfect place to go in the midst of grief… I don’t know why, but it makes a lot of sense. Maybe it is something tangible to do while feeling at the same time like there isn’t anything I can really produce, but regardless, I’m ready for a mutiny one way or another. I’m ready for a fight against indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste. This life isn’t about getting as comfortable as I can, but about making a difference in the world and leaving a legacy for my kid(s) to do the same. Before we lost Lauren I remember being a little too focused on what kind of coffee table to get and which new rug would look best in our living room. That’s not a bad thing in itself but my focus was off, and I feel like this book helped me to find what I’ve been missing, as if I can see the road ahead for me a little clearer now. So, that said, read this book from where you sit now even if you aren’t ready to fast with her, it will do your heart and your head so very well. I’m going to use a cliche here and call it a MUST READ. For real.

You can buy 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker here.

 

{links are affiliate}

September 16, 2014 - 7:21 am

amy - All the books you’ve ever recommended have been my new favorite. Can’t wait to check it out!

September 16, 2014 - 8:11 pm

carla - Love your blog Karey. Love you!

Fasts in whatever format can be game changers. You are certainly leaning into your grief and that alone is powerful my dear. Lauren sees clearer than us all and don’t we know how she is smiling as together we lean in.

Bread & Wine // Book Review

You guys. This book. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I could not put it down. I haven’t felt so refreshed after reading a book in a long time, and I dare to say it was a healing read for me. I felt a flicker of my old self come back to life while reading through each chapter, reminding me of my love of gathering our friends and family around our table and the spirituality of food and why it matters so much. She writes,

“Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another. It’s no accident that when a loved one dies, the family is deluged with food. The impulse to feed is innate. Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say. And food is what we offer in celebration–at weddings, at anniversaries, at happy events of every kind. It’s the thing that connects us, that bears our traditions, our sense of home and family, our deepest memories, and, on a practical level, our ability to live and breathe each day. Food matters.”

A couple of weeks ago I was in Minneapolis visiting my sister and brother-in-law and we were on our way to their family cabin in Wisconsin for the weekend. I had just finished the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker (review to follow) and read a post on her blog about her list of favorite books and found one on there by Shauna Niequist that I hadn’t read yet. I LOVED her other two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, so I knew I would love this one even if it was a food memoir. I’ve never read a food memoir before and now I think I might have a new favorite genre after reading it, just saying. The second I saw the book I went to download it on my Kindle so I could have something to read for my time in the hammock at the cabin on the lake… can you imagine a better reading spot? It was the perfect getaway for me.

The book is true to her style, with her thoughtful prose and patience to paint a beautiful picture you can connect with and find yourself in. After each chapter is a recipe and tips for preparing each one. It isn’t very paleo as much as it is gluten-free friendly, but I’m looking forward to playing around with them to see if I can make them work for us. I also loved her take on how to throw a party and how she approaches it.

It’s a book as much about hospitality as it is about food and that was the part that spoke to my heart the most. She shares, “I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.” Also, that “the heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment. Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in the ways they need to be fed.”

It was just so good. I was sad when I finished it today, but I don’t know if I will ever be really finished with it since I am sure I will re-read it over and over again. It’s also a great read for anyone who has struggled with infertility since she shares a bit of her story in there on that too. Borrow, buy, or download this one, I can’t recommend it enough.

 

Spaghetti Squash Coconut Chicken {Whole 30}

Spaghetti Squash Coconut Chicken

These first two steps can be done ahead of time. We do a lot of baking and chopping prep on Sunday before the week starts, and it makes throwing the recipe together really fast. A paleo/primal (or Whole 30 in this case, as long as the ingredients in the canned food complies) meal can be ready in less than 20 minutes on a weeknight this way.

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb of organic chicken thighs
  • Fat of choice (ghee + avocado oil)
  • Olive oil
  • Pasta sprinkle spices
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper


First, bake spaghetti squash:

Heat oven to 375, pierce squash with a knife or fork all around it a few times and put on a cookie sheet with a little bit of water. Depending on the size of your squash, it will take about an hour-ish until you can cut it easily in half without resistance with a knife. Let it cool, then slice open and scrape out the seeds. Then use your fork and scrape away. It should be really easy. If it is hard to scrape the strands out then you will want to put the squash back in the oven for another 10 min or so. It should not be mushy but have a nice little crunch to it.

Second, bake the chicken thighs:

Bake chicken thighs with olive oil and salt and pepper, in oven at 350, check at around 30 min, should be done by 35 or 40 min. Let chicken rest at least 10 min and then dice up and set aside to be mixed in with the squash later.

Third, saute the scraped spaghetti squash:

Sauté baked squash in a cast iron skillet in fat of choice (we used ghee and avocado oil) and season with pasta sprinkle (I like Penzy’s Spices best) and some salt and pepper, until all mixed together and heated through. The squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy).

Fourth, prepare sauce:

In a separate sauce pot over medium-high heat, combine 1 can organic tomato sauce, 1 can organic diced tomatoes, and 1 can of coconut milk. Mix in spaghetti squash and diced up chicken. Once everything is heated through it is ready to serve and enjoy right away!

Serves 3-4

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