“What are little boys made of, made of? Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails… What are young men made of? Sighs and leers and crocodile tears… What are all folks made of? Fighting a spot and loving a lot.” -Southey
Daniel and I have 7 children. You read that right- 7! Yes, we know how they are made, for those of you who have asked that cheeky question, thinking we’ve somehow blundered into this, like a whale in a plastic blow up pool in the front garden. No, we didn’t calculate what it would cost to raise them. No, we had no clue about the amount of laundry or the driving I would have to do. And, yes, it is a glorious disaster most of the time, with a schedule that a military general would struggle to maintain, details and needs roughly 3.5 times the average American family, crazy conflicts and messes, that can happen faster than you can say Spicey Molasses BBQ Sauce, BUT a whole lot of love, meaning, and joy too!
This week, I want to introduce you to my boys- Joab, Isaak, Elias and Joseph. Aren’t they handsome young men? My life feels like one big locker room. I was actually put into headlock in the middle of Bass Pro today! Something about all those bows, knives and hunting equipment sent my sons into some sort of hormone induced state of delirium. In between the end cap of Big League Chewing gum and the aisle display of elk urine, things got harried. I usually love to wrestle but the timing of this match brought out the “Mama don’t play that” stare and pointer finger wagging in the air. This makes the boys laugh and then stop; since they clearly aren’t intimidated, I can only assume it is because of some form of respect they have for me. Or, maybe it’s because as I stand there feeling tough, their father is behind me, like a giant grizzly that whispers without saying a word, “Oh yeah? Go ahead and try it.” Dang it, it’s probably that.
In all seriousness for a moment, parenting isn’t for the faint hearted. The reality for us all is that, as we grow and learn, we can have seasons of being more difficult. My goals in this area are to stay the course, love them in every way I can think of, hug, kiss and tell them the good I see in them, even when they are pushing every last button of mine (I quite literally won’t drive them places unless they privately give me a kiss goodbye and say they love me), speak frankly with them but try to regularly remind myself not to fight every battle, because perspectives are developing in the teen years (it’s normal), I intentionally go after humor and laughter and I have to decide on the standards that really matter versus the ones that are just my preferences. Keep going. Love with abandon. They will come back and deeply appreciate you; I did with my parents and I was a difficult college student.
Spicy Boy-Worthy BBQ Chicken Skewers
So, one of the things I’ve been itching to start is what I’m calling “Companion Meals.” No, this does not mean I will companionably eat with you and chat endlessly about politics, which hair product eliminates dry scalp and what to do about your Aunt Hildegard who must be watched because she has almost lit her kitchen on fire twice, mysteriously and repetitively says, “Is that so,” no matter what the topic, and has really gone quite batty. What I mean by that term is recipes that allow for you to make one recipe for your family and a very similar companion meal for yourself that follows the rules of The Vibrant Life Diet, because who has margin for double the creativity, effort and time?! I hope you enjoy this bbq meal which my boys love because the bbq meat and potatoes make it hearty and tasty!
COMPANION MEAL MENU #1 – serves 9 (8 regular and 1 Vibrant Life)
Start preparing the potato side dishes first, then the items to be grilled and, last, the fruit salad.
- Chicken and Veggie Skewers (bbq sauce for the family and naked for us)
- Cubed roast potatoes (family)/ sweet potatoes (us)
- Strawberry, Pineapple and Cinnamon fruit salad for all
Step 1: Soak the bamboo skewers for a half hour to avoid blackening and fire; also, peel, cut into 2 inch lengths and parboil the carrots listed below for 5 minutes, set aside.
Step 2: Make Sides. Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
Roasted Potato Side
- 25 Medium potatoes
- 1 large sweet potato (I eat half)
- Light olive oil for drizzling
- 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil to brush on
- Spices: red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, pepper, chives, onion powder or a mixed seasoning used for chicken
- Organic No-Salt Seasoning (Costco)
1. Rinse and cube potatoes, place in a large baking dish, drizzle lightly with light olive oil, flavor with sparing use of red pepper flakes, light sprinkling of each of the following: garlic powder, ground pepper, sea salt, chives and onion powder.
2. Mix well and place into a 410 degree oven. Set timer for 30 minutes and check regularly after that. These usually take 45 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven. If you have a coil heated oven, place in the middle to upper part of the oven and check regularly. They are done when they reach a golden, crispy brown (I always taste test too). You can serve these as they are or with a high fructose free ketchup, which I haven’t shopped for yet. My family likes them plain.
Vibrant Life Followers: Cube sweet potatoes, brush sparingly with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil and lightly season with a no salt seasoning, such as the one listed above.
Fruit Salad for All
- 1 very large pineapple
- 4 Pounds of Strawberries
- Cinnamon for lightly sprinkling
Chop a fresh pineapple into small wedges using the tougher center as well, cut 4 pounds of strawberries into slices (I prefer to cut large ones in fours- down the middle both ways and smaller ones in half). Gently mix fruit together and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. The natural sugars in the pineapple make the cinnamon delicious without sugar. Everyone may enjoy this fruit salad!
Step 3: Make Chicken Skewers and Vegetable Kebabs
Spicy BBQ Chicken Skewers and Vegetable Kebabs
Amount is for 8 servings for the main meal (2 vegetable kebabs and 1 chicken thigh skewer with 3 thighs per person) and 1 serving for the Vibrant Life companion meal (2 combined cubed chicken and vegetable kebabs).
- 26 Wooden or metal kabob skewers, pre- soaked
- Light olive oil (Perhaps, 1/3 Cup to brush on vegetables)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Coconut Oil to brush on Vibrant Life Kebabs
- Organic No-Salt Seasoning (Costco)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Cubed chicken breast
- 24 Whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I usually use 3 thighs each per adult)
- 24 oz. Whole mushrooms
- 32 oz. Bag of baby squash, leave whole (Costco)
- 3 Very large onions, cut in large 1.5-2 inch wedges or chunks (sweet or red)
- 2 lbs. Baby tomatoes, leave whole (you won’t use this whole amount)
- 3 Orange and yellow bell peppers, cut in large 2 inch pieces
- 9 large and fat carrots, prepared earlier- 5 minute parboiled and cut into 2 inch lengths
1. Place all veggies, including parboiled carrots, in a mixed pattern on 16 of the bamboo skewers. Lightly brush on a light olive oil.
2. On 8 skewers, place 3 whole chicken thighs on each, giving a little room between them.
3. On two skewers, place veggies and cubed chicken breast in an alternating pattern. Brush 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil on these two skewers.
4. When the potatoes have 20 minutes left, begin grilling the chicken thigh skewers on medium high. Cook until the chicken juice runs clear when cut and they look a golden brown color, about 20 minutes. The last five minutes of grilling, brush the chicken in a non high fructose corn syrup bbq sauce. We tried a new one sold at Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers called The Rib House, Medium, All Natural Gluten Free, A full Bodied, Tangy BBQ Sauce; it had a spicy smokey taste and my boys approved!
5. When the potatoes have 15 minutes left, the x2 Vibrant Life combo chicken breast and vegetable skewers can go on too, lightly seasoned in the last 10 minutes with Organic No-Salt Seasoning
6. When the potatoes have 8 minutes left, the vegetable skewers can go on and be cooked and watched carefully.
Vibrant Life Followers: 2 cubed chicken and vegetable grilled kebabs
Enjoy! And tell me about your boys. I’d love to hear from you!