Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade [and learning slowness]

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

I don’t really want to go slow. I daydream about slow evenings on a front porch (a front porch I don’t currently have, but would love someday) sipping ice-cold lemonade. But let’s be honest. It makes me anxious. Slow means fewer check marks. It’s unsatisfying and even painful. There’s no instant gratification.

I grew up playing card games like Nertz and Dutch Blitz. Speed is essential in those games. The hustle and the quickness required to win outweighs the importance of accuracy. If you’re fast enough, you can even get away without a few mistakes (or intentional “misdirection”). But that pace is unsustainable.

When I was in eighth grade, my science teacher had us stand on our chairs as we repeated Newton’s laws of motion. There’s something about putting our bodies in a different posture that makes a lesson stick. To this day, I can picture standing up on my chair reciting how an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force (and other science-y things I’ve since forgotten).

I view life a little too much like the laws of motion sometimes. I fear once I stop, I may never start again. If I rest, will I stay there forever? Will I become stagnant? So I keep going. Inertia will do its part, and I’ll be able to keep on keepin’ on, right? Moving feels more comfortable, more satisfying—for a while at least. And then I realize I’m moving in the wrong direction, or I slam headfirst into a wall called burnout or sickness or whatever else. I’ve hit that wall enough times in the past to know I’m bound to smack my face again.

I’ve been thinking on Psalm 131 lately, especially verse 2 that says, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

My soul is more often like a loud, screaming toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed. It’s like a kid who doesn’t want to let go of what their doing even though the slowing and stopping is needed and even enjoyable.

What would it take to quiet my soul?
What does it mean to rest, despite what’s going on around us and all that needs to be done?
What if I didn’t have to go so fast and then slam on the breaks to avoid catastrophe?
What if I lived my life with a soul and body that were slow, calm, quiet, rested, and refueled?
And what if, instead of trying to wriggle free, I found complete comfort, contentment, and peace in the arms of God?

I don’t have a five-step plan or an easy answer. But I’m dwelling on the questions. In our harried and hurried world, I think we’d do well to practice the art of slowness—maybe even stillness. I’m (slowly) learning what it looks like for me, and even that’s bound to change with the seasons of life.

It can be scary practice. As we calm and quiet our bodies, we start to see the unrest of our souls. Slowing down forces us to stop hiding our inner chaos behind a wall of to-dos. But I think that’s when we really start to learn slowness and stillness. Our bodies no longer run like a machine but as a sacred gift that points us to an infinite, tireless, omnipotent Giver. As as we rest in him, our souls become calm, our spirits quiet. And like a weaned child with its mother, we get to know the slowness, stillness, and complete peace that comes from being in the arms of our God.

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade
Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade | Sarah J. Hauser #drinks #summer #lemonade

Ginger + Honey Sparkling Lemonade
Yields about 8 servings

2 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (fresh really does make a difference!)
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger*
6-8+ cups sparkling water**
Ice

To make the base of the lemonade, add the lemon juice, sugar, honey, and ginger to a small saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, and the mix comes to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Strain to remove the pieces of ginger. (If you prefer, you can skip this step so the ginger continues to infuse flavor in the lemonade.)

Refrigerate the lemonade base until cold, up to a couple days in advance.

When you’re ready to serve, transfer the lemonade base to a pitcher or individual glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water to taste, and stir gently. If you’d like to make it a cocktail, add a splash of vodka or top off each glass with prosecco. Enjoy!

*This gives a subtle ginger taste, but feel free to add more if you want it stronger.

**You can adjust the amount of sparkling water to make the lemonade the strength you prefer. I usually prefer a bit more sparkling water, but adjust it to your taste. You can also use regular water for a non-carbonated lemonade.


(Paleo) Summer Broccoli Salad

Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic

My mom made a broccoli salad like this when I was growing up. I still have her hand-written recipe card and used that as inspiration for this version. For some reason, despite broccoli having a reputation of not being the most kid-friendly food, I LOVED her salad. The combination of crunch and creamy, savory bacon and a bit of sweet…it was so good!

I didn’t realize, though, that probably one of the reasons I loved it so much had to do with the crazy amount of sugar added to it. And it wasn’t just my mom’s recipes. I’ve looked up similar versions online, many of them loaded with granulated sugar.

If you look around my website, it’ll quickly become obvious I’m not anti-sugar. I just want it in the right places—like a good shortbread cookie (basically butter, flour, and sugar) or simple syrup (sugar and water) for cocktails. But whenever I can, I decrease the amount of sugar in recipes or use unrefined sugars like honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.

This recipe cuts down on the sweetness and uses honey. The mayo-based dressing gets tossed together with crunchy broccoli, crisp bacon, red onion, raisins, and pine nuts for the perfect combo of flavors. To be honest, I think I love this paleo-fied broccoli salad even more than the one I grew up eating!

Scroll down for the recipe!

Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic
Paleo Summer Broccoli Salad | Sarah J. Hauser #dairyfree #glutenfree #summersalad #potluckrecipe #cookout #picnic

(Paleo) Summer Broccoli Salad
Yields about 8 servings

16 ounces broccoli florets* (about 5.5-6 cups)
12 ounces bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup raisins
½ cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds
¾ cup mayonnaise
2-3 Tablespoons honey (I used 2)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Add the broccoli, cooked bacon, onion, raisins, and pine nuts to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, honey, and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.

You can serve this salad immediately, but it’s best if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours. Just give it a good stir when you’re ready to serve, as the dressing can gather at the bottom.

Enjoy!

*If you’re cutting the florets from a stem (as opposed to buying a bag of florets), don’t throw those stems out! Click here for tips on using them up!


Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans [and learning to rest in the chaos]

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Happy Monday! I don’t always enjoy Mondays, but I’m excited for a fresh start this week. Last week was a doozy: stomach bugs, loads of laundry, a family diet consisting of bananas, applesauce, and rice, and lots of time shampooing carpets. Thankfully, though, everyone’s healthy again, and my carpets are cleaner than they’ve been since we moved in six years ago.

Even more than starting fresh physically, I’m ready to restart emotionally and mentally. I didn’t exactly handle the chaos of last week very well. Come to think of it, I don’t handle chaos in general very well. And in our house, chaos is like the toys on the floor—always there, even when I clean. And then when I clean, when I deal with the chaos, another layer lies beneath the surface—like the toys under the couch that go unnoticed until I pick up the rest of the room.

I too often find myself looking for calm and ease around the corner. It’ll just get easier when we’re healthy or if I can get organized or if I hustle a littler harder. My house will be clean if I pick up the toys, life will feel less chaotic if I get through this week.

That may be true to a degree. Some seasons roll by more smoothly than others. Nights are certainly calmer when not interrupted by sick kids. But I too often put my trust in the idea that “someday it’ll get easier” or “if I just get this done” or “hustle a little harder.” At various points, those phrases may ring true, but they’re not strong enough to put all my weight behind. They’re like trying to grab a leaf when you’re climbing a tree. The leaves are there for a reason, they have their place and their purpose. But they’ll never hold you up.

Psalm 127:1-2 says:

“Unless the LORD builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

I don’t have to hustle and strive and anxiously toil. Instead, I can rest, physically and in every other way. My soul can be at rest. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The Lord is mainly to be rested in...Faith brings calm with it, and banishes the disturbers who both by day and by night murder peace.”

Friends, take a breath. Soak that in. Even in extraordinary messes or mundane chaos, we can know calm, peace, and rest. We can go to bed with unfinished to-do lists. We can live with purpose rather than spinning around on a hamster wheel. We can do the work God has given us to do and no more. He doesn’t ask us to be sovereign. He’s got that one covered.

This week, I’m trying to take a step back from the anxious toil, from the laying in bed awake thinking about all that went undone, from endlessly longing for the elusive “someday when it gets easier.” Because there’s rest to be had now. I don’t want to miss it.

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Back to normal this week also means I’m back in the kitchen, and lately sheet pan dinners have been my jam.

For this recipe, everything except the balsamic glaze gets cooked on one pan, making for easy cleanup. The glaze takes hardly any effort to prepare and can even be made in advance. It’s a great meal when you want something simple, fresh, healthy, and flavorful.

Any favorite sheet pan dinners in your repertoire? I’m always looking to add more to our rotation, so let me know in the comments below!


Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Yields 4 servings

4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-1 ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the cherry tomatoes, green beans, and garlic to the pan.* Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss everything together so the vegetables are evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, in a small saucepan whisk together 1 tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, honey, and mustard. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Set at least half the glaze aside for serving.

Drizzle the final tablespoon of oil onto the salmon fillets, and sprinkle each fillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Lightly brush some of the balsamic glaze onto each piece of salmon.

When the green beans and tomatoes have roasted for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven. Push the vegetables aside to make room for the salmon. Add the salmon to the sheet pan and return the pan to the oven. Bake for about 8-10 more minutes. The salmon should be cooked to medium, the tomatoes should burst, and the green beans should be tender yet slightly crisp.

Transfer the salmon and vegetables to servings dishes or plates. Drizzle on the reserved balsamic glaze, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with fresh parsley. Serve alongside rice or quinoa if desired. Enjoy!

*The sheet pan needs to be large enough for everything to fit in a single layer. If the vegetables get too crowded, divide this recipe onto two pans.


Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles [and they're paleo!]

(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser

My toddlers had their first-ever popsicle a couple weeks ago. It was one of those moments that’s so quintessentially summer. The day was unseasonably hot, we set up their inflatable pool, and I unfolded one of our blue lawn chairs next to it. After another gray Chicago winter, my body craved the warm sun, and I plopped down on that chair ready to soak up every ray I could. The kids ran barefoot around the backyard, stopping occasionally to cool off in their little pool while I “supervised” – a task much more enjoyable with the sun on my face and dessert in hand.

I had just made a batch of these Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles and grabbed a few from the freezer for us to share. We sat in the yard licking up the sweet pineapple flavor. Juice ran down my kids’ faces, and we tried to eat more quickly than the sun could make our treats melt. And everything – and everyone – was sticky.

But isn’t that the way summer is supposed to be? Sunny, sweet, warm…and a bit messy. 

(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser
(Paleo) Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles | Sarah J. Hauser

Pineapple + Coconut Popsicles
Yields about 12-14 popsicles

1 pineapple, rind and core removed
1 (13.5 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
Juice from 2 limes
Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Cut the pineapple into chunks. Add the pineapple, coconut milk, honey, and lime juice to a blender. Blend until smooth. (It should taste a bit sweeter than how you’d normally prefer a smoothie. The sweetness will mellow when frozen.)

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours. If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use ice cube trays or small paper cups. When the mixture is slightly frozen (after about 1 hour), stick a plastic spoon or wooden popsicle stick in each serving and continue to freeze until solid.

To remove the popsicles, I run warm water on the outside of the mold until I can easily pop them out. If you like, you can roll the popsicles in coconut flakes for extra flavor and texture!

Quick Tip: I recently learned a delicious, adult-only trick from Smitten Kitchen. Pour a bit of vodka, rum, or tequila in a glass. Dip the popsicle in the liquor and enjoy! Double dipping encouraged. 


This post was originally featured at Lark + Linen.