Thursday, February 25, 2010

keep it fresh!

It's not easy to come up with fresh ideas day after day, meal after meal. There are great websites available to get ideas from. Not all of them use the ingredients that I am trying to impletement into our new food plan, but with a little creativity and a lot of patience, it's possible to mock a recipe and make it your own. The times when I've done this are usually the dishes that my family goes crazy over. Sometimes all I need is a fresh idea, or a seed planted and I can run with it. One of my favorite sites is:

When it comes to food, fresh is definitely best! We enjoy fresh fruits and veggies regularly. I had heard many years ago from someone who worked at a vegetable packing plant, "don't buy canned don't even want to know...". I never forgot that, but honestly, haven't always bought into it. My feelings on this were renewed recently by an article in Eat This Not That...canned foods have been linked to cancer and heart disease. While it may still be controversial as to whether or not the foods inside the can are still good for you (preservatives, high tempurature cooking, etc) it has been reported that man made products in the can linings contain chemicals that can eventually adversely affect our health. Eating fresh food seems to be an easy alternative to me. always tastes better!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

fruit is always good

One of the staples of our diet is fruit. We love all kinds of fruit. Jeremy is coming around, though it's been a little tougher with him still. The rest of us enjoy strawberries, melons, grapes, apples, pears, mangoes, bananas, you name it. If it's a berry, I want it. If I don't have enough variety to make a fruit salad, then I'll throw what I have in the juicer with some carrots and wala...instant fruit medley. Fruit is naturally high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants and energy boosters, and are low in calories. You can eat fruit anytime, with any meal or as a meal itself. It's always good to have fruit on hand.

As I consider the wonder of all the fruits that God created (and there are so many I don't even know about) my mind continues to stray to Galatians 5 where we are taught about the Fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faitfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Wow! God lays out right here what right living is. Although self-control is last on the list, it the one that comes to mind first when it comes to our eating habits. Self-control is essential when it comes to the food choices offered to us in the world. There are so many enticing, mouth-watering options, it's easy to give in to our carnal cravings. I, like Paul, have not mastered this yet, but I will tell you that it is something that I work very hard on. I greatly admire the person who can avoid the tantalizing treats for the sake of their health, or the sake of a fast or what have you. Self-control in any area of your life helps you "beat your body into submission" and train yourself to run the race in a smoother, more focused way.

Paul also lays out very plainly that the opposite of the Fruits of the Spirit are the works of the flesh, two in particular I easily relate to this topic; impurity and selfish ambition. In other words; serving self. When we overeat, or eat foods that are not glorifying to God simply for the sake of self's like being impure, gorging or indulging the flesh and it's desires. Sometimes I want what I want when I want it. But it's at those times that I struggle the most. Just because my body craves it, does not mean it is a good idea to have it. Oh...this principal is seen throughout Scripture and can be applied to every area of our lives, but for the sake of this blog...I'm referring to food.

The good news is this: When you opt for God's food, one of them being fresh fruit, your sweet-tooth cravings and appetites are satisfied. The overall digestive system is improved and you don't have to feel guilty later!

Over the last week I've impletemented some new or newly improved recipes. Oh the joy I find in providing healthy, delicious meals for my family!

Chicken Noodle Soup - free range chicken, organic broth, fresh veggies and no yolk pasta - big hit!

Spaghetti and Sausage - made my own spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, etc., omega 3 rich whole grain pasta, turkey sweet italian sausage - another hit!

Egg sandwhiches - on multigrain, high fiber english muffins, free range brown eggs, all natural cheese - Yes!

Chicken and Veggies stir fry - with squash, zucchini, onions, free range chicken, served over brown rice - not bad, needs tweaking.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the choices we make

I have a tendency to connect one action to another. I tend to see the big picture of how one action will affect another action. I tend to draw a relational diagram in my mind and connect actions to results, results to change, change to improvement, improvement to a better, overall way. Perhaps it's the line of work I'm in...perhaps it's intuition, not sure it matters. What this helps me see though are possibilities. Possibilities for growth, possiblities for something better, whatever the case may be.

I've never been content with status quo. While I have great contentment in life when it comes to materialism and worldly things as my quest for those things has waned as my walk with Christ grows, still I am not content or maybe the better word is complacent. I do not like the image of stagnating. I do not like the idea of not growing as a person. I have a personal, spiritual responsibility to grow to be more like Christ, less like myself. Not a process that happens overnight.

Perhaps that is why I am on this quest to provide healthier food alternatives for my family. I believe with all of my heart that God has provided everything we need for sustenance and good health in His garden. I feel a strong innate yearning to be pure. To live a life of purity before God, to be presented and blameless on that day. With all of the toxins around us, that is no easy task. And I understand that when God tells us to be "...holy as I am holy" does not mean that I can be physically pure. I understand the message here about being one with Christ - moving ever toward his likeness. However, I also believe that caring for my health and the health of my family is a responsibility all Christians have. We are the temple of God. We house the Holy Spirit in our earthly tents. As with all material, physical blessings, we are to take care of them, keep them in the best working condition that we can - that we might use them to glorify God and fulfill His puposes! God gave me a physical body to honor and worship Him first and foremost! I am blessed to have a husband and children and God expects me to care for them in His name. God prepared "good works in advance" for me to do. If this vessel is run down or broken due to lack of proper maintenance, then it is no one's fault but my own for not fulfilling my purposes in Christ.

I enjoy sweets, sodas and fried foods just as much as the next person. But the question that has been plaguing me for quite some time is this: How do these foods help me glorify God? Have you ever sat at a fast food restaurant with a high fat, high sugar meal and then said "Lord, bless this food to our bodies?" Kind of seems odd to me anymore. Is it right to make a choice to put food into my body that I know will slow it down or impair it's functioning, and then ask God to use bless my choice? Can he use bad choices for good? Of course, but Scripture also reveals that when people continue in their bad choices, ignoring the instructions of God, he "turns them over" to their own desires....he allows the negative results of our poor choices to take over.

God gives us everything we need in pure form. Is it going to take work in this day and age to find those, to adjust our existing habits to new ones? You bet! There are days when I say "I want to injest only God's foods, I want to be pure physically and spiritually inside and out!" and I mean it - and there are times when my schedule gets in the way and I want to cave and take the easy way out. Let's face it! It's easy and quick and usually cheaper to eat fast food, frozen food, or already prepared food. Is it really the best choice? It's not always the easy thing or the popular thing to choose healthy living. Organic foods and fresh foods are expensive. It takes time to find the right ingredients that aren't loaded with preservatives. Yet my choice, my family's choice is to take the time and seek the better way. It's a work in progress, but it's something I can truly ask God to bless! I know that in doing so, the growth and the purity that God wants for me will come.

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

it's all good...or is it?

Scripture teaches us that God declared all foods clean through Peter's fact God told Peter to get up and eat foods that in the past Peter would have been condemned for eating. I often think of this section of scripture when I'm considering eating foods that are full of nitrates and refined sugar and highly processed "foods". I'm really not sure that these were the things that God declared clean. He was specifically referring to certain types of animals that in the past were considered unclean.

To say that all foods are good and can be consumed in moderation is a stretch. Truth be told, there are products that we eat that simply are not natural. They are man made, chemically based products, formed to resemble food items. They may even in fact contain some natural food ingredients, but by and large, are not "created by God". Common sense tells me that Ring Dings and Twinkies didn't grow out of the ground, nor were they raised on a farm for sale later at the food market. They are comprised of chemicals created in labs (kitchens??) by man to entertain our fast and easy, sweet tooth based lifestyles.

I'm not condeming any and all consumption of these products. What I am focusing on here is the fact that moderation may even be too much. Moderation would imply regular, yet slow in pace consumption. Occasional might be a better train of thought.

Look around at the chronic dilemma facing us today in the US. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, neurological disorders...why are these problems (and many more) so rampant? Why do we now have to have a National Health Plan where folks have to be told what you should and should not eat? Because of the foods we eat. Because we package chemicals and fats and sugars and call them "snacks" or even "meals" and it becomes a way of life.

Eat God's food first. Simply put: If it didn't grow out of the ground, or have to be's not God's food. God has provided the best foods in his own pantry. He knows what we need to live out our purposes. Remember how he provided manna for the Israelites? It was all they was His food.


Friday, February 5, 2010

the way i see it

As I figured from the start - this is going to be easier said than done. But surprisingly, it's not the resistance that is going to be the hardest part. I know it's only been a week, but the family is quite cooperative and supportive at this point. The problem is going to be finding the food that works on this plan and will fit into the types of meals we enjoy and I want to prepare. It will be an adjustment in many ways.

It's also going to be difficult to determine which foods are actually WHAT they say they are. Remembering that at the center of this whole endeavor is to eat fresher, less chemically altered foods, it's going to take effort to determine which ingredients are acceptable and which are not. I don't see this as a fanatical type effort, completely wiping out anything except fresh and homegrown (unless I start a farm, lol), but there are certain things that I would really like to eliminate. Trying to cut down on wheat and bleached white flour products is another effort that will take time. The key here as I see it, is commitment. It's not going to happen over night as I research and shop to find the suitable alternatives to these products we use.

Last night I made French Onion Soup. Being that a crusty bread is one of the key ingredients to the meal, I looked for a whole grain alternative. Rushing to get the shopping done, I caved and bought French Bread. A revelation today; Ezekial Bread! There are many varieties of this whole grain bread - I'm going to pick some up this weekend. We've used it before, it's great toasted with pesto!

Today was a flop. Started out good with fruit and oatmeal bread toast for breakfast. Packed everyone's lunches with the good stuff. Well, those didn't work out for a couple of reasons. We have 3 extra kids tonight, so pizza was the dinner of choice. In the future, I hope to be able to have the ingredients on hand for a Friday night pizza party that is wholesome and fresh.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

it's all about balance

I keep thinking about the vicious circle that sometimes ensnares us into the need for convenience foods. We work too much, play too much, we are away from our homes and our families at times way too much. I realized years ago that I could only be in one place at a time. I am reminded of it still every single day when my schedule gets out of balance and I don't have "time" to cook a good meal. God revealed to me in Scripture that after my relationship with him, my husband and children are my first responsibility. I have the obligation, the blessing and the privilege to care for their needs to the best of my ability. We all get out of balance at times, but the important thing to remember here is to work to getting back in balance. If you stay out of balance too long, the results may be unsavory. I evaluate my priorities on a regular basis. If I don't have time to care for the home and the family I am blessed with, then I need to cut out whatever it is that is taking me away from it.

It's ok to have a really busy day and need to do a quickie meal now and again. I hope that I use my time wisely enough when I have extra to prepare for those times instead of swinging through a drive thru. Good food can be prepared in advance and frozen and heated up without much effort on a busy day. Honestly, my kids don't care, they just want to eat when they are hungry. In the past for fun, we've even made homemade Happy Meals. That was a big hit - and I got to decide what went in the bag!

Last night was fun. I made french toast using oatmeal bread, organic eggs and fat free milk (sweetened with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg). I served it with scrambled organic eggs and turkey sausage. I was surprised when Jeremy asked for seconds. I had seconds myself! This morning we enjoyed egg (or egg whites) muffin sandwhiches using whole grain english muffins with organic cheese and the leftover turkey sausage.

Will there be a time and a place to "grab and go" at mealtime? Sure...but it's not going to be a lifestyle anymore.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


It's been said over and over again that eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day is better for your metabolism and over all health. The more I research the more I am convinced that this is the better way to eat, as opposed to 3 standard meals. I've tried over the last few years to adopt this method for myself, but it's not so easy with the rest of the family. Taking control of the "all day" eating plan takes effort. The boys are at school all day and Greg is working. Packing fruits and veggies hasn't always been popular, it's easier and more fun to have chips and cookies - and let's face it...cheaper. But I'm determined to find things everyone likes that we can graze on all day that are nutritious and filling. So far so good! I'm trying to make it fun for the kids calling the tidbits in their lunchboxes "snacks", rather than lunch. Funny how the idea of eating "snacks" for lunch makes it more exciting.

Good snacks we've found to replace our traditional favorites; organic butter flavored popcorn; found it at the healthfood store, has been a big hit! All natural tortilla chips and organic salsa was really good too, didn't last two days. We also replaced our regular cheese sticks with the all natural or organic mozzarella, you can't tell the difference. Almonds, carrots and organic dip (yum!), strawberries, apple slices and bananas are regulars. My personal favorite is raw sweet potato with a creamy organic dip. I'll eat a whole one at one sitting!!

Last night I made chili for Greg and me and ground meat over mashed red potatoes for the boys, all topped with a little all natural shredded cheese. The best part was, I used venison (thanks LC). It was really good. The boys didn't know (yeah...I play like that) until after they had eaten it all. Success!

The boys are really getting into the idea of eating better. They help me shop and pick out the more healthy foods. This makes mommy very happy!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

not bad for a monday...

Despite my usual Monday blunders (regardless how much I think I've prepared for the day) we had a pretty good day - foodwise. The kids had fruit for breakfast, they didn't want anything else, which is enlightening to me. The increased fiber is supposed to help suppress your a good way! You feel fuller and your body is digesting the good foods not the bad. How great is that?

Anyway...the boys both brought packed lunches to school. Jacob loves to pack his lunch, but Jeremy has been eating from the school cafeteria - hmmmm? Another possible link? They ate peanut butter and low sugar jelly on whole grain bread (Pepperidge Farms - yummy!), almonds and fresh strawberries (no...not Jeremy, not yet). Jeremy LOVED the almonds though - huge success!

Dinner was fun. I made BLTS on the whole grain bread with red lettuce. Jeremy wasn't happy, but he ate it. Jacob ate his and half of surprise there! Greg and I also enjoyed a red lettuce/spinach salad with all of the veggies I could pack in.

I kept thinking "yay...a good food day" smiling inside and out. All was not grand though. Jeremy was still itching like crazy come bed time and the cream for his eczema caused him a lot of pain. Enough. The food journey is going to take a while and this rash is making his life miserable. Took him to the ER Tuesday morning. More on that later....


Monday, February 1, 2010

so what's this all about anyway?

I'll have to admit - the concept of cleaning up our eating habits is happening a lot faster in my mind than in reality. After all, i've got 4 people in the house (and one off in college) to consider when planning meals. But maybe if i divulge a little more into the background and motivation for doing so - I can begin to pace myself day by day to achieve the greater goal!

First and foremost! It's a no brainer that junk food is bad for you. even in moderation, when you stop and really think about it, what good does a cupcake or a bag of skittles do for you? When was the last time you heard of the "Doritos Diet" or read "drink more soda...your body will thank you...". 'Nuff said. And while my family is not exclusively on a junk food diet, we can certainly do better! As my husband and I approach middle age, of course health concerns are on the rise. The body doesn't bounce back like it used to and aging occurs at a much faster rate when you don't take care of yourself. As for the kiddos, well, it's never too late to get those good eating habits in place. It may take some time and with Jeremy, might be tough, but so far he's been cooperating. Which leads me to my next motivation...

It seems that Jeremy has had a rash since he was six weeks old. At eleven and a half now, it's gone beyond chronic. We've tried it all and seen several different doctors over the years. Always the same thing, and nothing ever really takes care of it. Jeremy also has horrible allergies. Circles under the eyes, runny nose, chronic inflammation, the list goes on. So I had a revelation last week, maybe it's FOOD! I've been much better at cooking healthy meals for a quite a while, but Jeremy is not one to try new stuff. He loves mac n cheese, french fries and bagels. You get the picture...starch, starch, starch! It hit me that he could have some food allergies going on, and hey we need to get serious about getting into shape! Hence this rush into changing our family food plan.

The goal is simply this: increase our fiber intake to 35grams per day, increase our water intake, eliminate as much as possible processed foods and fast foods. Don't miss it...AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I realize that there is no way to transform this family into a completely organic, fresh foods only lifestyle, as much as I would love to, it's not going to happen. So my goal is to re-direct my menus and cooking by using as much fresh food and non processed ingredients as possible. Most of what I will be using is available at our local grocer and really does not require a regular health food store visit (except for our vitamins and supplements, which we already take). I tried a couple of recipes this weekend, one success and one failure. Buckwheat dumplings...YUCK! Ruined a perfectly delicious pot of homemade chicken soup!

My purpose for blogging is really two fold; 1, to journal our daily progress and 2, to share with those who may be interested in pursuing the same goals. It's not for everyone, especially those faint in willpower when it comes to food! But I believe that it's a godly purpose to provide the healthiest food I can for my family, to help them be all they can be!

I'll try not to be too serious and maybe even share a recipe or two. Maybe one day (can you tell I'm a big picture thinker??) I can compile this for my kids - a great book for your library Michele!