Power Salad and Power Prayers

Maybe Santa will bring me some salad scissors.

Maybe Santa will bring me some salad scissors.

“She drinks seven sodas a day,” my friend told me, shaking his head at this overindulgence. He had recently decided to eat more healthy foods and less sugar, fat, and salt. He had educated himself on the dangers of too much sugar which now he saw was so prevalent in the diets of the people around him. What was really great was that once my friend decided to change his eating habits, he never looked back. That’s the way it was for me, too.

A great way to combat unhealthy food addictions is to start filling up on healthy foods instead. It is important to eat regularly so that we don’t grow so hungry that we have no time to prepare healthy food and begin grazing through our kitchen pantries for snack foods. If this sounds familiar, try stocking your pantry with nuts and healthy whole grain crackers. Get rid of the chips and cookies. Another great trick to avoiding hunger grazing is to have a salad in the fridge already made. My husband and I prepare a large salad every week that lasts for five days. That way it is always available for lunch. I often make extra cooked greens and roasted vegetables to have something in the fridge that will serve as a quick hot meal too, and every week I buy several kinds of fruit for snacks and smoothies. Replacing healthy foods for unhealthy foods is the first step in beating food addictions.

I love the new salad I am making and I want to share the recipe with you. It starts with coarsely chopped kale, somewhat smaller than bite-size. Kale is a fabulous green. It gets the highest ANDI rating, 1000, and is packed with energy-supporting phytonutrients. Kale is probably one of the best foods to eat and recently  I discovered how great raw kale is. Kale has a tough leaf so that most recipes call for cooking it to soften the leaf, but chopped small enough, Kale is very tasty and palatable raw. To the kale I add arugula. Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable and as such has cancer-fighting properties. I put arugula in all my salads. It is slightly bitter but I like the taste. I often think that the healthy foods we crave are the ones our bodies need and arugula is like that for me. After I have those two greens mixed, I add cilantro, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, olives, sweet red peppers, and red lentils with bulgur that I buy ready-made. Really, whatever foods you like can be added to your taste. The real secret to the deliciousness of this salad is that I use lemon humus as a dressing. I also add a tablespoon of ground flax seed and some sesame seeds. Nuts and seeds give a salad some healthy fats and flax seed is a powerful antioxidant. Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating a tablespoon a day of either flax seeds or chia seeds.

Indulging in sugary foods and drinks can be a response to emotional upheaval. Emotional eating is quite common. Comfort foods are eaten as a way of pampering ourselves when we are downhearted.  Because of their addictive nature, however, they can quickly become habitual. For example, My husband and I became empty-nesters this year. I found myself recalling the past when my kids were young and how happy I was with them, but I know that joy of being a young mother is gone now. My sweet dog also died last March and the joy I received from her is also gone and I will never get to pet and hold her again no matter how many times I dream of her. Wandering around the house with these sad thoughts usually leads me to the pantry.

The struggle to readjust to this new more solitary lifestyle has given me a lot more time for prayer. In my longing for the happiness of days gone by, God has shown me His desire to fill that empty time in my life. Practicing the presence of God brings a better comfort than food, and helps me to notice the beauty of each moment. If you find that you are downhearted and need some comfort, God can fill that need as nothing else can. Go to Him without words, without formality, come just as you are as the song says, and be still and know that He is God. He has plan for each stage of our lives. He does not leave us as children must, or die like our beloved pets who live such short lives. Emmanuel, God With Us, is available 24/7 and rather than add extra pounds or cause headaches like comfort does, God reveals in us a glorious nature like His own. Just spending time with God is a powerful way of praying that can bring us peace and comfort, and hope for new joys to come.

 Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! –Psalm 139:23-24

Cauliflower Prayers

Romanesco Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower

“It looks like something out of the sea,” my husband picked up the vegetable displayed on the farmer’s stand. I had seen romanesco cauliflower only once before when my daughter brought one home from Mom’s Market. “Yeah, like coral.” The green spiral cone shapes of the romanesco cauliflower make it beautiful to look at as well as eat.

Even though my cauliflower mash recipe completely smashes out the fractal beauty of the vegetable, at least it keeps its pretty Chartreuse color. It’s delicious. In fact, I think it will be on my Thanksgiving Day table. Here’s how you cook it: cut off a whole head of cauliflower buds. Throw away the core center. Dump the buds in a steamer with sliced onions or shallots and cook till soft. (Use your own judgement on how much onion or shallots you want–I put in just one shallot bulb.) Mash it up with a potato masher and some roasted garlic cloves (I added about four cloves), about an 1/8th cup of cashew butter, and 1/4 C coconut manna. That simple and incredibly delicious.

Cauliflower is a pretty bland vegetable but boy can it fight. It is a powerhouse of vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals. Sometimes our prayers for others can seem pretty bland, too. Not every prayer is a spirit-filled literary masterpiece but  they sure do have a lot of power. Praying for people is a good way of loving them from afar. Many times people’s names just pop into my thoughts while I am praying, and later on I find that the impulse to pray for that person was a timely one. So many times this has happened to me, that if I think of someone who I haven’t thought of for a long time, I take it as clue to pray for them. I think many of the people I have known throughout my life will be surprised in heaven when they find out how often I have prayed for them. In my own opinion, I think that God knows who has feelings of true love for whom, and that He uses the powerful love we feel for those special people in our lives to bring blessings to them. In this way we can truly say, no love is lost.

I have a friend who was actually awakened from her sleep with the urge to pray for her son! The next morning she got news of his perilous situation and that he had thankfully, survived it. We don’t have to say a lot of words, or even any words. All we have to do is lift the person up to God, thanking Christ for His amazing love and for that love to surround him/her. How great and grand is our glorious God who counts the prayers of people like us worthy to be received by Him. We are honored and privileged above all to be included in His loving blessings to other people. Nothing makes me feel more like a child of God than to hear that my bland cauliflower prayers have been received and answered by the almighty God. God takes our simple prayers and adds the beauty and flavors of His blessings to pour out upon those for whom we have prayed.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. — James 5:16(b)

Local Produce & Close Encounters

Did you ever look at the location label on produce?  Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand produce comes to the US via plane and lots of air pollution. Buying local produce is so much better for ourselves and our earth. My daughter supports local farms by buying local produce for our family, and she offers the following points to consider.

We often think of cars and power plants as large contributors but shipping produce can add a great deal of pollution, as much as 40,000 cars and 263 power plants, just so we can buy our favorite fruits and vegetables year round (National Resources Defense Council).

Not only is foreign produce causing air pollution but it also robs us of the nutrients found in fresh and local produce. It takes a lot of travel time to ship produce and each day it takes, our food looses precious nutrients. Some of the food we buy from overseas may have been picked weeks, even months earlier, not to mention how long it is stored in our own houses.

Eating local produce year round helps our bodies to enjoy a diverse amount of food. A diet of many varieties of foods offered throughout the seasons is healthy. Local food also provides genetic diversity because smaller local farms often grow many different varieties of crops so that they have a longer harvest time.  Smaller, local farms that plant a variety of crops conserve fertile soil and protect water sources by including meadows, woods, and ponds on their farms which also  improves air quality.

Supporting local farms by buying their produce is helpful to our communities. Shopping at local farmers’ markets provides a connection between eater and grower, and gives us insight into the seasons of foods, our precious land resources, and the food we eat.

Attending a local church, reading commentaries and books about God, and listening to Christian radio can give us a daily or weekly dose of spirituality but they are much less powerful than our own close encounters with God through His holy scripture. Reading the Bible everyday is the best way to encounter the God that loves us, The Bible is a living and active tool of God that the Holy Spirit uses to communicate God’s love for us and for our salvation. God is willing and able to reveal Himself through His holy word and wants us to know Him personally. Unlike produce that begins to decay after a few days, God’s word is fresh and alive every time we read it. The truth revealed through Jesus Christ, and through the other men and women of the Bible centuries ago is still relevant today. This is the power of God and He is never very far from any of us.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Alternative to Fish Oil and The Calling

Men and fish: a long relationship

Men and fish: a long relationship

Fish oil is getting a second look these days in the form of a scowl. A recent study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center claims a man with high levels (taking daily supplements or eating fatty fish three times a week) of Omega-3 fatty fish oils is 2/3 more likely to develop the fatal type of prostate cancer. More studies will be need to confirm the association with fish oil and prostate cancer because this study did not take into account other risk factors. However, the news out there is disturbing for all those men who are taking the supplement, my husband included.

There is a plant-based alternative to fish oil in the form of marine algae. Plant-based omega-3 supplements are not the same as fish oil supplements and do not contain the fatty acids associated with prostate cancer. Plant-based omega 3 is a different type of omega 3, not nearly as strong as fish oil, but a diet high in flax seeds and oil, green leafy vegetables (my favorite), walnuts, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, soybeans, and other omega 3 foods while staying clear of foods high in Omega 6 (vegetable oils, grain-fed meats, egg yolks, and most processed foods) should keep us covered in health.  If you are a fish, meat and dairy eater, grass-fed beef and dairy products made from grass-fed cows is a great choice over the conventional grain fed products. The grass-fed products retain a healthy omega 3 to 6 balance which benefits the consumer as well. And, wild-caught salmon is still the omega-3 heavyweight champion.

Here is my favorite dish to keep my husband heart-healthy in omega 3s: saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a small amount of canola or olive oil on low heat for about 30 minutes. Add piles of green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, etc.) and cook until wilted. Serve over brown rice sprinkled with sesame seeds and tossed in Flax oil and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Just like eating what we think is healthy one day and finding out it is not healthy the next day, some worldly things can seem fine one day, and very disappointing the next. As Christians grow older, we see we are different from others in our thoughts and in our habits. Things we did in our youth can set like well-rooted weeds later on that we want to get rid of.  These weeds can take the form of something perfectly fine for others to do, and yet we know that God is calling us to a higher ground.  We may even struggle and pray about how different we feel from others, sometimes we stray away because the calling seems impossible, but it is not impossible for God, and the benefit is to experience a greater sense of the peace of His Kingdom, that is, His presence in our lives. This struggle to grow increasingly closer to the Kingdom each day is a strong one and is pleasing to God, but His calling can also be very challenging and cause a lack of peace in our lives if we try to ignore it. It is a good thing that God is pleased even with a weak repentance when it is sincere.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45 & 46

Living Food and My Best Friend

My Best Friend

My Best Friend

Raw food enthusiasts will tell you that eating raw vegetables and fruits is like eating a life force that energizes and renews your physical well-being. Juicing advocates praise vegetable juice because it provides a super concentrated amount of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Alkaline proponents believe most fruits and vegetables are alkaline and are the best food you can give yourself. Everyone agrees that fruits and vegetables does the body good.

Nutritarians seek nutrients which can be gotten easily through fruits and vegetables whether they are raw or cooked. Some nutrients, like the lycopene in tomatoes  is more easily absorbed with a little cooking and some olive oil. Other nutrients, like Vitamin C, are completely destroyed by cooking.  Many nutritionists will tell you only to eat cooked mushrooms, never raw ones, because they carry toxins which are killed only by cooking. However, most fruits and vegetables are wonderful just as they are without any cooking. Recently, I ate raw collards and found them to be delicious without cooking.

Dog food is probably the worst food on earth. Much of it is made from animal parts, even diseased animal parts that cannot be used for anything else. I tried to make homemade dog food once but my dog did not like my cooking. She is my best friend, but lately she has taken a serious dive. I have had several dogs and I have seen this behavior in all of them at the end, perhaps this is why I am crying so much over this one: I know what it means.

The tragic position of animals under our supervision makes me cringe. If anyone is the least bit interested in seeing first hand how we “take care” of our food animals, there are videos and photos available via the Internet that will make you weep. My dog is under my care and even with my best efforts, I have failed her.

More than anything I want Christ to come back and restore our world to us. We are miserable caretakers. Disease, climate change, the food industry, the medical/pharmaceutical industries, and our own denial is enough to convince me of our wretchedness, not to mention our tendency to make war and the chaos and evil that erupts through that.

A few days ago, my son sent me a check with a note of apology for something he had done a long time ago. I had long forgotten but he had not, and was making amends. As I drove up to the drive-through bank teller, I looked down at his note written on white stationary and thought how clean it looked, how “clean” my son wanted to be,  how “clean” he was in my eyes, and how “clean” we all are when we come to Christ with a repentant heart. God must love us so very much.

Some very grievous sins are a part of our culture, part of where we are as the human race, part of what we have got ourselves caught up in because we live in a world with other human beings. It can be a disappointment for a young person to grow up and find the world as it is. Or we can be blind to these sins unless God in His kindness, opens our eyes. When I find myself in a state of heavy-hearted repentance because despite my best efforts, I cannot seem to do what is right in this confused and convoluted world, I turn to Jesus Christ because there is no one else, and no other answer. He is the final sacrifice given for sin. He is our only hope. If not Him, to whom would we go? He has the words that give eternal life.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Promise of Jesus Christ in John 6:51

Nutritarian Quest for High Nutrition and The Color Purple

I recently read an article in the New York Times regarding the amount of nutrition in various types of vegetables. Evidently since the 19th C, “we’ve reduced the nutrients and increased the sugar and starch content of hundreds of fruits and vegetables.”

The first genetically modified food was corn and it was produced to decreased the sharp yellow color and increase the sugar content, hence the sweet white corn we find in the grocery stores today. In fact, most of the conventional white corn found in stores today is 70% less nutritious than yellow corn, and 99% less nutritious than blue corn. Who has blue corn? I’ve never seen it but for in the fall with Indian Corn and it is dry. I have found it to pop but I’m not sure if the popping process doesn’t destroy some nutrients.

My lovely daughter likes to work the produce section of her store and often comes home with some very interesting foods. I am surprised to see purple potatoes and carrots. These have more than twice the amount of nutrients than our white and orange brands. Have you ever eaten a crab apple? I have not but they contain thousands of phytonutrients that our conventional apples do not.

Foods found in the wild have more phytonutrients than the pampered plants of today’s corporate farmer. These less popular brands still contain the disease-fighting nutrients that allow them to grow in natural conditions. Try eating dandelion leaves and arugula. These greens have more antioxidants than the more popular greens like iceberg lettuce and even spinach. Select blue corn meal, blue or purple carrots, and scallions instead of yellow onions. Use lots of herbs since these have not been “domesticated” or modified by modern farming, and eat grass-fed meats. All of these foods still contain the disease-fighting nutrition our bodies need.

Like conventional farming, modern Christianity has put a gloss over the Gospel message to make it easier to “swallow”. This sweet message lacks the passionate love of a man who was fully God and lived among us and died for us when we were weak and filled with evil thoughts. He was our disease/sin fighter, our holy and pure brother that we in our anger and lust for self, crucified. We are hopelessly bent on evil but for the saving grace of the Holy Spirit who comes to reside in us and help transform us into what God created us to be. He is not with us to make our lives sweeter like white corn, but to grow character into us, to temper us as in a refining fire. Trust him because there greater things ahead than just this evil world. The color of Christ is purple for His passion.

“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.“–Romans 5:3-5

A Nutritarian Burger and A Blessing from Your Father

Without the bun

Without the bun

I have had a craving for a burger lately. This is odd because I hardly ever ate burgers even when I was on the SAD diet. I think it is because the weather has become warmer and as I ride my bike through the neighborhood at dinner time, I can smell burgers cooking. Smells can “say” so much.

Since any conventional hamburger I might buy could be old and decayed, heavy on the pro-inflammatory Omega 6, and processed in several places only to be “mixed” together at the final and listed processing plant, I turn to the many and varied recipes for bean burgers, AKA vegetarian hamburgers.

This summer I plan on making a lot of bean burgers. Here’s my plan. Any cooked and mashed up bean will do, along with any seasoning you like. You can even use Grill Master made-for-meat seasoning if that is what you like. My sweet husband loves white beans; I love black beans. Black beans go well with hot spices and sweet veggies like corn, shredded carrots and beets. Peppers tend to override any flavor so I stay away from them, but they can certainly be used for added sweetness. White beans go well with garlic and onions. Garlic and onions cooked mash well; raw garlic and onion allows for more flavor. Red beans are another choice and give the burger a meat-like color. Once you choose your bean and the spice, you will need some glue to hold it all together like whole wheat flour or even oatmeal.

For my first attempt of the season, I fried onions, mushrooms, and garlic in coconut oil, then added cooked black beans, stirred in some corn, and added wakeme sea vegetables and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos  instead of salt. I sprinkled some Italian seasoning and some Garam Masala over it and mashed it with a potato masher. I did a little taste test. It was pretty good so I added the glue: oatmeal and oat bran until it was the consistency of something I could form into patties. I fried the patties in a little more coconut oil and served it on a whole grain english muffin with cilantro, avocado, lettuce, onions, and tomato. I also added some homemade banana pepper sauce as a condiment that a friend gave to me. It was delicious and I have saved the recipie. It is on my food tab.

Like the smells of hamburger cooking, we are often attracted by things that are not particularly good for us. Attractions can lead to desires that are difficult to break. I am certain that God wants to bless us physically. He wants us to be well, to be in good health and looking fit. He wants us to enjoy the gifts our bodies bring us and not to be ashamed of them. Here is a funny thing about me: I believe that when sin entered the world (when Eve ate the apple) our minds became dull and we stopped using our brains as we could have. Do you know that we only use a tenth of our brain power? Isn’t that odd? Why would we have these wonderful brains and not be able to use them to their full potential? So, when Christ returns and the curse of sin is fully removed through Him, I think we will have full use of this wonderful muscle that has been on hold for so long. I look forward to that and eating healthfully has been energizing for my brain! I think better.

I used to live for the next cup of coffee or sugary drink just so I could think better. But not anymore. Christ has shown me what is really good for my brain. He has freed me from those addictive chains. And He will free you too. The Father wants to bless us in this way. We don’t have to give up everything at once. Start eating greens and vegetables as the main food in your diet, before eating any SAD food, and  you will begin to prefer the more healthful foods. It will happen for you. I remember how hard it was to think I would never eat butter on my bread again. I laugh at that because there are so many more things we can put on bread than butter! There is SO much more good food than SAD food. Start exploring it today 🙂

When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. —  Mark 11:24