I love the Christmas season. I love the music, the preparations, the gift-giving, and the exciting anticipation of the birth of our Lord. However, the stress of all the preparations, the financial strain of the buying of gifts, and the near constant hustle-and-bustle leading up to Christmas Day can be overwhelming, stressful, and just plain distracting from the real joys of the season. Every year, I find myself swept up in the stress of preparation. Because I am such a dang type-A perfectionist, I obsess over every detail of every meal, every cookie recipe, and every gift simply because I want it to be perfect. However, a lot of the joy is taken out of these things because I get so anal and usually end up having some type of emotional breakdown...and that is a lot worse than having one less type of cookie on the dessert platter come Christmas Eve.
Our pastor gave a remarkable homily on the first Sunday of Advent regarding the stress and headache of Christmas preparation. He challenged each member of the congregation to really work on approaching this season with joy and to enjoy the process of preparing for the Lord's birth. This really struck a cord with me because almost every year I have ended up an emotional mess shortly before Christmas Day, bogged down and utterly exhausted from the stress of preparation. Inevitably, more poor husband has had to literally peel me off the floor and tell me that he would rather have me not stress than make the baguettes for the crab dip from scratch (the reason for last year's meltdown...the rising baguettes would not fit in our refrigerator). Plus, I have been pregnant every Christmas since we've been married and have never felt well enough or energetic enough to tackle my ginormous to-do list. So, this year, I decided to majorly downsize my preparation list. We decided to make only five varieties of cookies (as compared to 14 last year) and two different types of breads (not six). And all baking, with the exception of the breads, is to be done together. We agreed to buy simple necessities for our gifts to one another and only spend within a very limited budget. We also have decided to incorporate a lot more prayer and reflection time into the Advent season as a way to keep the focus of Christmas on the nativity. So far, this has been one of the most pleasant Advents I have ever had.
In the spirit of keeping things simple this Advent season, I have been preparing super easy, quick, healthful meals. We are going to be eating some pretty rich foods between Christmas and New Years so I want to be sure to serve some healthier meals before the pigging out begins! Quinoa is a favorite ingredient and this recipe I found at Annie's Eats has been made no less than four times since the middle of November. However, I have majorly streamlined this already quick-and-easy recipe to make it something even my husband (whose specialties include egg salad sandwiches and quick oats) can fix for me if I am feeling too lazy to cook (and, as always, I'll toss in the pregnancy card and blame my laziness on the exhausting task of growing a person). Topped with a dollop of sour cream (a must) and a sprinkling of cheese, it's a quick, hearty, healthy meal. Enjoy it warm, cold, straight out of a bowl, wrapped in a burrito, or over a bed of lettuce!
adapted from Annie's Eats
1 16 oz. Jar of Salsa (My favorite is Garlic and Lime)
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sour Cream, Cheese, Sliced Green Onions (for garnish)