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Grace & Gratitude in the Seasons of Life

There are seasons in life where the days keep pressing forward and you find yourself struggling to keep up. Perhaps it’s just me who sometimes feels angered for the consistency of the daily routine’s ability to not quit. I kindly ask it to stop so I can catch up, breathe or just take a break for a moment, but life continues and I go through the motions waiting for this season to pass and welcome another, where I live fully engaged and quite possibly one step ahead of our day. 

There are days, many in fact, where I simply don’t feel like doing the things life asks of me. A sink lays crowded with yet another round of dishes, the laundry must be done before the pile topples and swallows one of the children and dinner must be served whether I’m inclined to prepare it or not. But I press in and take it, dirty dish by dirty dish, one load after the other. And I prepare a simple dinner that nourishes even when I’m feeling emotionally malnourished and simply exhausted.
 
If I allow it, these seasons don’t pass without lessons to be learned. In the midst of my routine that refuses to quit, rather than lament it and be bothered by it, I overwhelm it with my thankfulness. Finding joy in life’s daily struggles is a job that requires a lot of you, but the reward is a changed attitude and a new perspective on these otherwise mundane tasks. 
I’m thankful for those dirty dishes, for they signify the blessing of food and of a meal shared together. The laundry overwhelms, but it’s piled high with taekwondo uniforms, grass-stained jeans and jam-stained dresses that inform of healthy bodies and a well-played day.
 
What I’ve also learned is to give myself grace in those days that overwhelm—even in the kitchen. As summer approaches, it really is the perfect time to be a bit of a lazy cook. In this season of continuous bounty, much of the work is done for you by the soil, sun and the farmer. With fresh produce, there is very little action needed on our part to put together an incredibly satisfying meal. 
 
Shaved raw corn tossed with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and salt—perhaps some fresh herbs too if they are around—makes a perfect side salad or a meal if tossed with pasta. Any number of vegetables can be shaved with a vegetable peeler and turned into a quick salad with a simple vinaigrette and perhaps a bit of cheese. I do this all the time with asparagus, carrots and zucchini. 
 
In my recipe (below), a lime-spiked vinaigrette both flavors and tenderizes dark kale. Dinner is ready in no time, as very little cooking is needed to throw together this tostada. Yet, it satisfies both nutritionally and just by the sheer fact that it tastes so fresh and delicious, leaving you with so much to be thankful for. 
 

Photo Credit: notwithoutsalt.com

Jalapeno & Lime Marinated Kale Tostada

Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 less hungry onesith the aid of our juicer and this recipe we’ve been going through kale faster than we can remove those hearty stems. After a lazy soak in lime juice and spice the kale surrenders a bit of its heft while retaining a freshness that is so often lacking in food this time of year.

If you don’t care about skimping on some calories and mess you can fry the tortillas in a shallow pan and a bit of oil around 360°F until golden brown. Or you could also use a small pile of tortilla chips as the base making this recipe even simpler.

Tortillas

Brush 4 tortillas with butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt, then bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes or until completely crisp.

Kale Marinade

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 T olive oil

½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

4 cups kale, washed, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped

Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chopped kale and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.

 

Black Beans

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 T shallot, finely chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Sauté garlic and shallots in oil over medium heat until just fragrant. Add beans and simmer about 5-7 minutes, until soft and warmed through.

Place baked tortilla on plate, top with warm beans, marinated kale, chunks of avocado and about 1 Tablespoon crumbled Cotija cheese.

 
by Ashley Rodriguez