Delicious Zucchini Pasta


This has become one of our favorite dishes! Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

Since March, I have made a commitment to juice and eat more fruits and vegetables. My body was sick and I had no energy. I visited the website and started to "reboot" my system. I lost weight, my headaches disappeared and I've had more energy than I have had in years! As I prepared my body for juice fasting, I incorporated more plant-based meals into my diet. This zucchini pasta immediately became one of my favorites! My friend Christina asked for the recipe and this was her response....

That was amazing!!! Pretty sure it's going to be a once a week meal. I could've eaten the whole pan and it was really good with chicken."


There are many different vegetable spiralizers. For this I used the Oxo Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer. Purchase one



  1. First, spiralize the zucchini into noodles and set aside.


I used red bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and spinach but feel free to use what you like!

2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add fresh basil, oregano, mushrooms, chopped red pepper and spinach.


3. Add cherry tomatoes cut in half (optional) and spiralized zucchini noodles.


I added feta cheese (or I might have used goat cheese) because I love cheese! But if you are cutting out dairy, it's still great without it.

4. Optional--Add feta, goat (or your favorite crumbly cheese :)


5. Add parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best :)


Enjoy! You could also add chicken, shrimp or veggie balls. Let me know if you try this and what you think!

Here's the recipe again:

Ingredients: 1-2 zucchini (spiralized or shredded), 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 cup red bell pepper, 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved), handful of mushrooms, 1 1/2 to 2 t. each of fresh basil and oregano ( can also use italian seasoning but wow--the fresh basil and oregano is so fragrant and tasty!), 1-2 handfuls of spinach, salt and pepper to taste

  1. Spiralize or grate zucchini into "noodles".

  2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add fresh basil, oregano, mushrooms, chopped red pepper and spinach.

  3. Add cherry tomatoes cut in half (optional) and zucchini noodles.(Cook zucchini noodles until they are desired consistency. I prefer mine a little firm so I only sauté them for a few minutes but you may want them to be softer.)

  4. Add feta or goat cheese (optional)

  5. Add freshly grated parmesan cheese.

My 60-Day Juicing Reboot

juice image by Astrid Smith

juice image by Astrid Smith

Why do a reboot?

I am on day 21 of a juicing "reboot". In March, I got sick with a sinus infection, then ear infection, then bronchitis and multiple rounds of antibiotics seemed only to make me feel worse. Lab tests revealed I was low in iron and vitamin D, and an ultrasound showed cysts on my ovaries that were causing pain in my stomach. I was often exhausted and no matter how early I went to bed, I felt I could not sleep enough. After I slept for nearly 20 hours straight one weekend, Jeff said, "There has to be something wrong."

How did I get here?

In 2010 I had a partial thyroidectomy after discovering a nodule and before that, I never realized how many things the thyroid affects. It produces hormones that affects your body's energy and metabolism. An under-active thyroid can affect many different systems in the body, including the mind. I used to work as a sign language interpreter in the mental health field and was startled to walk by a poster one day that said problems with the thyroid are often similar to and confused with many bipolar symptoms! Since that surgery, my health has not been the same and though I take medication, I know that I can improve my diet.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

I remembered watching the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" several years ago and was struck how a juicing fast helped a guy named Joe Cross to heal from a debilitating auto-immune disease. I looked up his website and found some great resources and an online community. I ordered his books with lots of recipes and connected with others who were juicing to regain their health. After much prayer, I decided to start on March 30, 2019.


I found amazing juice recipes and help with my reboot at

You can also watch his documentaries that inspired me.

Reboot = To Restart by loading the operating system; boot again; to produce a distinctly new version of; to make a change in (something) in order to establish a new beginning.

Prepare Your Body Before Juice Fasting

I started with a Daniel-type fast, eating fruits and vegetables and cutting out meat, bread and dairy. Some of my favorite dishes to make during this time of preparing my body included sweet potato and carrot fries (tossed with cumin and olive oil and roasted at 425 degrees), Caprese salad made with avocados, olive oil, basil and tomatoes, spaghetti squash and acorn squash stuffed with garlic, onion and mushrooms.


One of my favorite dishes during the week I prepared my body for juice fasting


Roasted acorn squash stuffed with onions, garlic and Bella mushrooms.

Uhhhhh..... Yes, I know. I WAY overdid it on the onions!

Why Do We Feel So Bad?

The standard American diet is literally killing us. It's so convenient to pick up fast food and because my dad was a basketball coach, we were accustomed to eating out often when I was growing up. My physical activity (basketball) helped to keep my weight under control, but since the thyroid surgery, I have constantly struggled with my health. We no longer eat out as often, but our diet still includes far too many carbs and not nearly enough fruits and vegetables. I am determined during this reboot to learn new recipes and try new things. I recognize that I won't like everything. Case in point.....


I was trying to make quinoa with almond milk and berries. As you can see, it was a huge "fail". I apparently did not cook the quinoa right. It was like eating birdseed.

Benefits of Juice Fasting

The idea behind juice fasting is to give your body and organs a complete rest, which allows them to "reboot" or reset while you flood your system with micronutrients in the fresh pressed juices. It gives your body a chance to get used to fruits and vegetables and when you are done with the reboot, you will even crave healthier foods! Anyone can benefit from a 3-day, 5-day or 10-day reboot but because my body is so toxic and unhealthy right now, I know I have to do something drastic, so I'm doing a 60-day Reboot. I am now on just juices (4-6 per day) and am feeling great! I have more energy that I have had in years, my skin is clear and my headaches are gone. I've lost 18 pounds which is great, but my main goal is to restore my body to health. I will continue to post progress and insights throughout the reboot. Let me know if you've ever done a juice fast or reboot before and if you have suggestions or tips. With love and much HOPE....


Write a Career Manifesto

Teacher manifesto image

Teacher manifesto image

Recently, I shared about how writing a personal manifesto for my life helped to clarify my values and vision for how I want to live in 2019. The word "manifesto" is described as "a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group." While the previous manifesto focused on my personal life as a whole, this one reflects how I want to carry myself as a teacher. Feel free to modify your manifesto to your own career! Here is my "Teaching Manifesto":

  1. Where there is no honor, there is no glory.

  2. Warm greetings and farewells

  3. Embrace silence

  4. Connect before you correct

  5. Under-react to problems. Over-react to solutions.

  6. Assume positive intention

  7. Raise the bar. Have Great Expectations.

  8. Iron sharpens iron

  9. Teach them to fish

  10. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”—Maya Angelou

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Where there is no honor, there is no gloryIn Hebrew, the word translated as "honor" (kabed) derives from a root word meaning "weighty" (in terms of impressiveness or importance) and is often used to refer to the glory of God. We could also say that where there is no honor, there is no blessing. By promoting a culture of honor in my classroom, I open the door for the anointing, for God's "weighty" presence to fill the room, bringing peace and joy.Warm greetings and farewellsI meet my students at the door, and often they can see how excited I am to see them as I smile and wave from all the way down the hall. They have the option to hug, high-five or handshake as they are walking into the room. I realize that this would not work for many public schools, but I am at a private Christian school, and this positive interaction often sets the tone for the rest of the class. It shows the student that "I see you" and am looking forward to spending time with them. Often students who have moved on to a different grade level will show up randomly at my door to say, "I just really needed a hug today."Embrace silenceSeveral years ago, I was sharing Isaiah 30:15 " quietness and confidence is your strength..." with a group of junior high age students. One of them said, "I know what confidence means, but what is that other word?" I stared at him for a long moment. "Quietness?" I have never forgotten it because it highlighted a focus for prayer for this generation. So often consumed with their electronic devices and a desire to be continuously entertained, we have lost the ability to just sit in silence and be still. In my middle school Bible classes, I decided to introduce "centering prayer"--silent, contemplative prayer focused on a single word or thought. I was not sure my students would even be able to sit in silence for that long. I gave some instruction ("close your eyes or fix your gaze...when  you get distracted, go back to your breathing and your centering word...") and set the timer for 5 minutes. Some fidgeted for minute or so (okay, three or four) at first, but at the end of the five minutes, they were calm and focused. "Can we do this every day?" someone asked and the others nodded enthusiastically. There are lots of great meditation and mindfulness apps, but my favorite is called "Centering Prayer". Check it out!Connect before you correctBefore giving a tardy slip or dress code violation, I try to connect with the student. "How was your volleyball game last night?" "How is the new puppy?" This shows students that I care about them and am not just looking for something they've done wrong.Under-react to problems. Overreact to solutions.I tend to be a little "tightly wound", and do not like to deviate from the plan. So when the projector is not working or a lesson takes longer than I intended or someone forgets their part of a group project, my stress level rises and I start to lose my patience and my peace. I have to take a deep breath and remember one of my favorite quotes from Julian of Norwich, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well...." When a student poses a solution to a problem, however, I like to make a big fuss. "What a fantastic idea! We could change the order of the group presentations... I would love for you to invite the guest speaker who is an expert in the field..." etc.Assume positive intentionWhy is this so hard for us? I often assume that questions undermine my authority or cast doubt on my ability to lead, when they may simply be for the purpose of clarification. Once during our morning chapel service, I saw two male students get up and walk toward the back of the room. I am ashamed to say that my first thought was that they were going to the hall or to the restroom to goof off or avoid chapel. Instead, they walked over to our principal and asked if they could pray for her. Sigh. Lord, help me.Raise the bar. Have great expectations.My dad was a school administrator in public and Native American boarding schools, and a phrase I remember him saying often was "students will rise to the level of expectation you set for them." In my classes, this looks like challenging them to memorize more than just one verse at a time or teaching middle schoolers to look up cross references and the original Hebrew and Greek words in their Bible reading. What would "raising the bar" look like in your classroom? I'd love to hear it!Iron sharpens ironProverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." Similar to socratic circle seminars, we have "Iron Circle" discussions in my classes. The inner circle begins the discussion while the outer circle listens and takes notes. Then they switch places, giving the outer circle an opportunity to build or expand on points previously discussed. We also go on silent meditative prayer walks around the school building. We often have a theme or verse we are mulling over or praying from, but the point is to listen to what God might speak through the verse or even nature. Students share their personal revelations at the end of the walk, and I am always amazed at the depth of their epiphanies!Teach them to fishWhen I first started teaching at Forerunner Christian Academy in Kansas City, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "Teach them to fish." I was reminded of the saying "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." So rather than just teaching what a passage means (giving a fish), I teach simple Bible study methods and how to use reference tools so they can "fish" for themselves. I love hearing the stories of fifth and sixth graders reading through the Bible and doing their own in-depth studies!How do I make them feel?“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”—Maya AngelouThis one needs no explanation. I want my students and those around me to feel loved, honored, seen and heard. Known.Write your own manifestoSo, what about you? Are you a teacher or office manager? A waitress or nurse? A stay-at-home mom or barista? What would your career manifesto look like? I'd love to see it! with love and much HOPE,\m/,--Vanessa

Writing a Personal Manifesto

Writing a Manifesto

Writing a Manifesto

At the beginning of each year, I love to take some time to evaluate my progress in each area and set new goals for the coming year.This year, I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin to write a personal "manifesto". A manifesto is described as “a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government." It is a little more detailed than the personal mission statement and describes things that I want to be true of my life. We all have a "facebook fantasy self", as Gretchen calls it. But the key here is to identify and live out what is true for you. Or at least what you WANT to be true of you. In Joel, God says "Let the weak say 'I am strong." (Joel 3:10) Words have power. So here is a list of things I want to be true of my life in 2019.My Personal Manifesto:

  1. Be Vanessa

  2. One thing is needed

  3. There is only love

  4. Live with margin

  5. It is well

  6. Outer order, Inner calm

  7. Laughter is medicine.

  8. Remember the tapestry

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Be VanessaMy "fantasy self" loves to host family gatherings and dinner parties. The truth is that the mere thought of hosting or cooking for a group of people makes me nearly break out in hives. Hospitality is not my gift. What is true for someone else may not be true for me and that is okay. Be YOU.One Thing is NeededI love the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus commended Mary because she had chosen the “one thing” or the “better” thing--to sit at His feet and spend time with Him. He wasn’t scolding Martha for serving. Jesus Himself came to serve. The problem was Martha’s attitude and the fact that she was preoccupied with doing things He hadn’t asked her to do. What are you doing that God has not called you to do? A good way to measure this is to ask yourself, "what am I doing that I dread each day?" If He has called you to do it, it may not be easy but you will have joy and feel fulfilled.There is Only LoveIt is something I want to be true when someone hurts me or angers or irritates me. I don’t want to let offense or bitterness take root in my heart because “offense” is from the Greek word “skandalon”, meaning “bait or trap”. Don’t take the bait!Grudges are like poison to my body and spirit.Live with MarginIf I am running from thing to thing, I cannot take time to be still and know that He is God. I love Centering (silent) Prayer. There’s a great app if you’re interested in trying it! The goal is to choose a word to focus on in silent contemplation. You breathe deeply and when you are distracted, keep coming back to the word. Sometimes you will have a vision or deeper revelation. Other times you will just feel more peaceful and well, centered. I was amazed recently when I led my middle school classes to try this at Forerunner Christian Academy. They loved it! Embrace the silence and "margin". If you are a creative artist, you will find that often your most creative ideas come during times of idleness!It is WellThe woman from Shunem’s son had just died (2 Kings 4), yet she kept saying in faith “It is well” until she got her breakthrough. The man who wrote “It is well with my soul” had just lost his business and his family yet carried the unshakeable faith that he would see them again.Outer order, Inner CalmI don’t like to admit it, but when my surroundings are in order (and my shoes are put away), I feel more calm. I love the “1 minute rule”—if it takes less than a minute to do (make the bed, put a cup in dishwasher, clear my bathroom vanity…) do it now. Your spouse or roommate will be so proud :)Laughter is MedicineFeeling down or sick? Look up the principal Gerry Brooks or John Crist on YouTube. Stream your favorite comedy or get your funny friends (or family:) together. A merry heart really is like medicine! (Proverbs 17:22)Remember the TapestryIf you look at the back of a tapestry where the artist is stitching, all the strings look like a big mess. But if you could see the other side, you’d see that the artist is making something beautiful. God is the Artist, and your life, a tapestry. It may look like a mess to you right now, because you are in the midst of it. But take time to be still (get the centering prayer app!) and trust Him. He makes all things beautiful in His time.(Ecc. 3:11)Now it's your turn! What will be your personal manifesto? You could also have a job manifesto or a family manifesto. I will share my teaching manifesto here soon. Please share some phrases or quotes from your manifesto! I'd love to hear them!with love and much HOPE,\m/,--Vanessa