Bruschetta Recipe

My sister and I have started a new Thursday night tradition. We have each other and our hubs over at each other’s homes, alternating weeks. It’s become a coveted time of laughter and good food! The perfect way to break up the week.

When they came over to our place, I made bruschetta as an appetizer and they enjoyed it so immensely! What I love about bruschetta is it’s delightfully light, looks impressive, but is deceptively easy to make! So I thought I’d share my recipe with you all–because that’s what friends are for!

Speaking of bruschetta, I must confess a pet peeve of mine—when people call it “broo-shetta.” Being the little Italian girl that I am, hearing bruschetta mispronounced is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Haha. “Broo-sketta” sounds far more beautiful, don’t you agree?

Bruschetta

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, petite diced and seeded
  • 1/2 onion, petite diced
  • A few leaves of basil, chopped
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 TB of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baguette

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  2. Refrigerator mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic powder and toast in even for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or until desired crispiness.)
  5. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it bubbles and reduces in volume. It will continue to thicken as it cools and will form a glaze. Set aside.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture on each slice of bread and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
  7. Enjoy!

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

http://www.theyouthful.me

I love how light and refreshing this appetizer is! The perfect cheese board pairing! May this recipe delight your tummy and wow your guests.

Ciao!

Youthful Confidence

Recently, my heart has been stirred towards the topic of confidence.  I feel it is a topic of vital importance this day and age.  So let’s get this conversation started, shall we?

Youthful Confidence


Our society tells us, there’s one way to look. One body type. One type of nose. One height. One beautiful. Then society tells us–“It’s okay if you don’t fit that one mold! There’s a surgery for that.” Basically–you’re not normal if you don’t look a certain way, but you can “fix” these things.

Um, no.

I’m so thankful I have the Lord in my life.  God is a Master Artist. The Creator. And He LOVES His creation. Through His strength and love, I can have confidence. Youthful confidence. A kick off your shoes, run around a field, kind of confidence. A joyful confidence that radiates from the inside, out! He made me and He loves me.

I asked 3 darling women, “How do you embrace confidence?”I know it to be so encouraging hearing Godly insight and wisdom, taken from people’s lives and stories. So here are their answers.


Priska 

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I didn’t steal this from Pinterest, but it may sound like it at first:

The way I embrace confidence is by embracing God.

Something I feel God has been downloading on me lately is that godly confidence is so much greater than self-confidence.  The struggle of “Am I pretty enough?” and “Am I worthy enough?” and “Are my body dimensions ‘right’?” are all cultural questions because culture believes self reigns supreme.

But from a godly perspective, God reigns supreme, so the place we put our confidence should be in Him.

There’s a verse that has been so present in my life lately.  Here’s the summary:

In my weakness, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So rather than “I’m confident that I’m good enough to enjoy life, be blessed, be a blessing”, instead I want to say, “I’m confident that GOD is good enough for me to enjoy life, be blessed, and be a blessing.”  I’m confident in His power at work through me that even in my weakness, He is strong.  Even on days I don’t like what I see in the mirror, He is good.  Even on days I look in the mirror and think, “I’m allllll that!”, He is good.  Just as good as days I don’t like my image.  THAT, to me, is a stable confidence.  It isn’t swayed by emotions or body dysmorphia or my own performance.  It’s a strong and steady confidence.

Personally, my waist line has grown and shrunk…several times over.  A few years ago, I was obsessed with working out – I spent 8 hours each week at the gym.  I was the skinniest, fittest, strongest I’d ever been.  But when I looked in the mirror, I was the least confident I’d ever been.  I was obsessed with my physicality because I was so ill confident that I was worthy of love.  Nowadays, I work out a healthy amount, and I’m also heavier than I was back then.  But when I look in the mirror, I see someone that God gave His Son to die for.  I see someone worthy of love.  I see someone who should be confident that my worth will never fade with time, age, wrinkles or cellulite.  I’m confident I’m worthy, because God called me worthy.


Sophie

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Well in my opinion, I don’t feel confident when I rely or depend on myself. The way I feel confident is when I rely on the Lord and know that what I am and who I am is a child of God and that’s where my beauty comes from.

When I look at my outward appearance, I don’t feel confident or beautiful most of the times. But when I am reminded about how I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who created the entire Universe, that’s when I feel confident.

I embrace confidence by embracing myself for who I am and how God created me. The times when I feel the least confident is when I try to be something I’m not.  When I try too hard to fit in or try too hard to look “beautiful” to cater to or impress a guy I like, I don’t end up feeling confident.  But when I embrace who I am (which is an awkward, quirky person who loves Jesus) that’s when I feel the most confident.

There are many prettier pictures of me posing for a camera in good lighting to make me look beautiful, but I chose this picture because this picture was taken when I decided to fully be myself and make a pine tree crown and pose next to a Christmas tree because I love nature and I love Christmas.  It’s a picture that shows off me as who I am and it shows my personality instead of just showing off another posed “pretty” picture.


Meaghan

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Embracing confidence to me is only possible when I truly embrace my identity in Jesus Christ.  It’s who He says that I am – forgiven, worthy, redeemed, wanted, and lovely – that gives me the confidence to face each day with a healthy balance of self-love and humility.  Why both? Because embracing your confidence is not screaming “I AM BEAUTIFUL” at the world; instead, it’s a gentle whisper in the ear of those you encounter saying, “I’m lovely, and so are you.” ❤

 

 

 

 


Thankful for the beautiful wisdom these women have shared, and I pray you are blessed and encouraged!

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5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

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There is something so gratifying about making homemade granola.  It makes you feel like some sort of amazing cook, but in all honesty, this is so simple to make.  Not to mention, the aroma that will fill your kitchen! Think:: toasted oats coated in cinnamon and honey. So. Good.

I recently started enjoying greek yogurt as a daily snack.  (My personal favorite is Fage.) I can’t get enough of its creamy, thick texture. Topped with fresh strawberries, granola, chocolate chunks, and honey–it’s the perfect healthy breakfast. Or dessert.

Yet, store-bought granola can be so pricey. And some contain questionable ingredients.  So began my quest to make simple, clean granola.  After a few tries, I finally settled on the perfect recipe.  And I’m sharing it with all of you!

The best part is–this granola only requires 5 ingredients.  Chances are, they are in your pantry right now! I love saving money wherever I can, and this recipe is the perfect solution to my granola addiction.

Here are ways to enjoy your homemade granola:

  • Topped on plain greek yogurt with fruit and honey
  • As a quick snack to munch on (Billy loves to grab the jar of granola from our pantry after work.)
  • On top of vanilla ice-cream
  • With a splash of milk (kind of like cereal)

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Enjoy! You can add dried fruit once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

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I hope you enjoy this highly requested recipe! It is a new weekly obsession of mine. If you make it, comment below! I’d love to hear all about it.

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Everything (But) Plastic

Disclosure: The products featured in this post were gifted to me by EverythingButPlastic.com. All opinions are my own.

It all started with a conversation.

It was Father’s Day. We were all gathered around the table at an Italian restaurant. When my cousin (Will) and his fiancé (Shaleece) ordered their drinks “with no straw”, I naively chuckled to myself, thinking it was some funny quirk they had.  Their request for “no straw” started a conversation—a conversation I’m really glad we had.

They went on to explain the tragic plastic problem going on in the world. For example, did you know that Americans use 500 million straws each day? Yet, the problem extends far beyond just drinking straws. Plastic bags. Food packaging. Water bottles. Tooth brushes. Cups. Plasticware. The list goes on and on. It’s almost impossible to escape it. Here’s a few facts to help you wrap your mind around this problem:

  • Every piece of plastic that has been created is still on our planet in some capacity.
  • 50% of the plastic we use is single use plastic.
  • 1 million plastic bags are being used every minute.
  • On the surface of the ocean, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

Plastic is killing sea creatures. Dolphins. Whales. Sea turtles. Fish. Seabirds. We love to enjoy God’s beautiful and detailed creation, yet we are hurting the very creatures we love to admire.

Plastic is hurting us. BPA and other plastic chemicals are causing major health complications.

What can be done?

While recycling is a good practice to have, it is not a total solution for the massive problem that is plastic. There is simply too much plastic being produced. Recycling can’t keep up.

Make new (plastic free) habits. While plastic seems to be in every direction we look, plastic free living is being made possible. That’s where Shaleece and Will come in.

EverythingButPlastic

Shaleece and Will started a company called EverythingButPlastic.com, where plastic-free products are put all in one place.  Finding non plastic products with no plastic packaging can be extremely difficult. EverythingButPlastic.com serves as a solution. They sell everything from plastic free food wraps to dental floss. You can check out their amazing products here.

I was so stoked to try out a few of their products for myself!

1. Meli Wraps

I’m kind of obsessed with these. Made with organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin, and plant oils, these wraps bend and mold around your food or over a plate. Each package includes a small, medium, and large wrap. They are a reusable solution to plastic wrap. You can wash them and reuse them for up to a year. And they smell like honey. 🍯❤️ Needless to say, I’m sold.

2. Tall Kitchen Bags

The plastic bag is such a huge problem. These plastic-free kitchen bags are a huge game changer. They are made from GMO-free potato starch and are completely compostable.  I found these bags to be strong enough to hold a lot of food waste. Impressed.

3. Brush Naked Bamboo Toothbrush

I am loving this toothbrush. Not only does the bamboo make this toothbrush aesthetically pleasing in your bathroom, it gets the job done. I’ve had bamboo toothbrushes before, but I always felt like they were too harsh on my gums. The plant based bristles on this toothbrush are really gentle.

4. Dental Lace

This floss is yet another great solution. It comes in a glass tube and the floss itself is made from natural mulberry silk. I also liked that it still has the minty flavor that I like. I do typically use floss picks, versus traditional floss, so I’d be very interested in perhaps a bamboo floss pick.

Shaleece and Will recommend watching “A Plastic Ocean”. You can view it on Netflix. I watched it, and it completely opened my eyes to a problem I thought very little about. Ever since I watched it, I haven’t stopped thinking about this issue. It stuck with me, and that’s what starts change.

I encourage you to spread the word. People don’t realize how great the problem at hand is. If they knew that birds and sea creatures were dying from eating plastic, they would be more likely to make a lifestyle change.

If you’d like more information, feel free to reach out in the comments below. Be sure to check out the huge selection of plastic free products at EverythingButPlastic.com.

Let’s take care of God’s creation and the bodies He gave us!

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Summer Priorities 


With long, hot days followed by warm, breezy nights, summer is upon us.

Oh summer, I’m so happy to see you! I am so blessed to have the next two months off for the first time in years. Earlier today, I felt like God laid on my heart to talk about summer.

I could write a poetic ode to it. Something about the salty air and the smell of backyard barbecues. However, I feel more inclined to whisk you in a different direction.

Summertime, whether you are working or off for the next couple months, can sometimes be a busy time. We are so eager to DO. Beach. Pool. Shopping. Travel. Dinner parties. Cleaning. And all that is fine and dandy! By all means, do. But I am here to urge you to prioritize this summer.

Last summer, I was go-go-go. I was burnt out and didn’t take time to rest. It eventually caught up with me.


This summer: new goal. Take care of myself. From the inside, out. My emotional and physical well being need to be prioritized.

What does that look like?

Well for starters, I need to be in the Word more. I do my daily devotions year round, but I really should be digging in deeper. Now that I’m off for the summer, I have zero excuses. (But even when I’m working, I don’t have an excuse.) My goal is to start each morning quietly. Just me and the Lord. No blogging. No Netflix. Just me, Jesus, and a cup of green tea. (If you have kids, encourage them to do the same, and have them respect your quiet time.)

Secondly, fitness. I always eat healthy, but I am not one for working out. I’d like to try to change that this summer. I started a fitness program a week ago, and so far I love it! I don’t have any crazy fitness goals. I’m not trying to reach some sort of “bikini perfection.” I just want to feel a little stronger. I eat well, so I might as well tackle the other half of a healthy lifestyle.

My last thoughts on summer priorities is kind of a hodgepodge: Floss. Read an uplifting book or two. Rest.

Whether your agenda this summer is filled to the brim, or is looking pretty chill, remember to spend time with the Creator, eat healthfully, get up and move a little bit, and rest your body. At the end of this summer, I’ll let you know how I did.

Cheers to a summer invested in peace and joy!

4 Foods to Stop Eating and Why


I’ve always been a healthy eater. Even as a little girl, I was never into sweets and absolutely loved fruits and veggies. 🍇🍅

While I’ve always had good eating habits, in recent years I’ve tried to make GREAT eating habits. This process started with eliminating certain foods from my diet.

1. Soda

I haven’t had any soda for probably 5 years or so. I was never a regular soda drinker, but I did order a coke a lot when I went out to eat. One day, my teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold. Especially cold. Whether this was caused by drinking soda or not, I do not know. But, it really got me thinking about the negative affects of soda on not only my body, but my teeth. This motivated me to give up soda all together.  I stand by this decision and feel great knowing I made a healthy decision a few years ago, that will benefit me for the long haul.

2. Fast Food

I gave up fast food about the same time I gave up soda. I didn’t eat fast food regularly, but I wasn’t opposed to grabbing some McDonald’s on the way to the beach. I used to eat delivery pizza every now and then. Now, I’m so much more conscious of what I am putting in my body. Once you eliminate junk food from your body, your body no longer has any interest in them.  In fact, I’d probably get sick or have a horrible stomach ache if I were to eat McDonald’s after it’s been so long.  Eating healthy isn’t hard.  You have to teach your body what GOOD food is.  Once it’s had the good stuff, it’ll no longer want the bad.  Healthy inside, means happy on the outside. 😄

3. Processed Foods

While I don’t eat 100% clean, I’m getting there.  The goal is to one day eat food with absolutely no (or very few) preservatives.  God gave us everything we need to sustain ourselves.  Delicious veggies and grains. Juicy, sweet fruits. Milk. Meat. Nuts. Wholesome, delicious food.  Food is AWESOME. We shouldn’t be afraid to eat it. We just have to eat the real, natural food. If there’s an ingredient you can’t pronounce on the back label, it’s processed.  If it is not recognizable as something that grows or walks (ahem Cheetos), it’s processed.  This stuff is bad for your body! If you wouldn’t smoke because it’s bad for you, then don’t eat food that is bad for you.

4. Fried Food

I haven’t cut fried food out completely, but I very rarely eat it. In fact, at restaurants I try to opt for a different side other than fries. Fresh fruit. Roasted veggies. There’s so many healthy alternatives.

Remember: All things in moderation. It’s okay to have a dessert or some French fries on occasion, but try to make healthy, natural food apart of your everyday diet.

Another point I’d like to make is, make good habits. I work at an elementary school. I am constantly surrounded by sweets. 9 times out of 10 I will decline. People look at me weird. “You don’t need to be on a diet. You’re thin.” I hate that. I’m not “on a diet.” I just don’t want to make a habit out of eating junk. My metabolism is fast now, but it won’t always be. I want to be able to say no when that day comes. I want to be in control of what foods I eat. I want to have willpower. If I say yes to every cupcake, then when I’m older and my metabolism is slower, I’m not going to be able to say no. Honestly, after eating healthy for so long, processed, high sugar foods look gross and unappealing. And the stomachache afterwards is so not worth it.

Take charge of the food you eat! Be healthy and happy! 🍌