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)

A Main Meal Salad and Side Salad Religion

Salad as the main dish

Salad as the main dish

“Make the salad,” my mother ordered.  I chopped up iceberg lettuce and added tomatoes, sliced a hard-boiled egg and added onions.  One summer night, my father’s friend added the task of making blue cheese dressing . “Start with a half cup of sour cream, add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, juice from half of a lemon, a few shakes of  garlic powder, and crumbled blue cheese.” My father loved the dressing so much that from then on I had to make it every night along with the salad. I can make this salad and dressing with my eyes closed.

This little iceberg salad was not the main dish, only a side, and for many years it was the only salad I ever ate. My mother made dinner for us every night under the same scenario: a protein (meat, chicken or fish), a starch (potatoes or corn), a vegetable, and the salad. I continued this tradition well into my adult years for my own family until my daughter decided to become a vegetarian.

Salads are probably the easiest meal to make for a vegetarian. Nowadays, most people who plan to feed a large group will include a salad for those who prefer not to eat the common meat and potatoes meals. At many of these gatherings I still run into the old-fashioned iceberg lettuce salad which seems so dreary to me now I can barely eat it. There are tons of salad recipes on the Internet, but my favorite is the cancer-fighting one I often make for myself.

I mix a couple types of greens: kale, arugula, endive, romaine, collards, or dandelion greens. In a dab of oil or a little broth, I fry onions and corn. In  another frying pan I cook mushrooms in Bragg’s Amino Acids sauce or low salt soy sauce. This gives the mushrooms a distinct flavor. When these cool, I mix them in with the greens. I add chopped broccoli (or broccoli sprouts) and cauliflower, peppers , sliced avocado, sliced carrots, black beans, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. If you like some sweets in your salad, chopped figs or dates go nicely with the seeds. Served with a whole grain bread, this salad is a hardy meal in itself. It also contains the food groups my mother lived by: a protein (beans and seeds), a starch (corn and whole grain bread), a vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, and mushrooms), and a salad (all the greens listed). The salad dressing often is what makes a salad, but this one is so full of flavor it barely needs a dressing. Try a tablespoon of humus with it or one of the nut butter dressing on my recipe page for added protein.

We often grow up with a standard recipe for religion, a sort of side salad that never changes. Later, we begin to ask questions and doubt what our elders taught us. Many of us give up on religion entirely finding it to be ostracizing, oppressive, and dogmatic. Like my dreary iceberg lettuce salad, religion can seem boring with the same set of instructions to follow. As we walk away from faith, religion can seem purposeless and even more in line with fantasy than reality, but a walk away from faith is a lonely walk.

The best way to return to faith is to read about the person of Jesus Christ who is well-described in the New Testament.  His life, the concepts he taught, his actions, and the stories he told can nurture our faith back to Him. The life of Jesus can illuminate our thinking and give us discernment about what is real and what is not. The life of Christ is an amazing story and filled with encouraging news about God’s true plan for us that can vanquish our worries, our loneliness, and our sense of dread and fear.

Reading what Jesus said and did is often puzzling, strange, and shocking. The friends of Jesus, his disciples, are always so surprised by Jesus. They don’t understand him and are often asking him questions about what Jesus said or did. Then, after Jesus dies, these same guys are completely different. They know, they understand, they discern, and they create the very thing Jesus wanted: a group of people who believe in him, have faith in what he promised, and who worship Him through adoration and prayer. What happened to make these very same friends of Jesus that were so bewildered during his lifetime, such experts later?

I believe God happened. He revealed His truth after the sacrificial death of Christ. He shined His light in the hearts of  men and women and gave his greatest gift, God’s love finally understood and accepted. He continues to shine light into the darkness of our thoughts and fill us with His own love through the writings in the New Testament. The New Testament is written by the friends of Jesus, those known as his disciples who followed him around while he was alive, and worshiped him and preached about him after Jesus died. The New Testament writings give us a chance to sit at the feet of Jesus’ friends and listen to them tell about Jesus. Mark, Matthew, Luke and John all have stories about Jesus that they wrote down and are ours now to read. The other writings in the New Testament are actual letters these men wrote along with Paul’s letters, a man who persecuted the friends of Jesus until God shined his light and truth into his heart in a most miraculous way.  These writings about Christ bring light into our dark world even today, and give us faith in His promise of a new world to come where Jesus will be ruler of all people.  The Bible is God’s word and it never comes back to us void because it is not mere words we read, but power. So, don’t settle for a side salad religion, dig into the word of God and find a real meal.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard ? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  …So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.– Romans 10:14-17

Habits that Hurt and A God that Heals

My girlfriend gave me this Chia Pudding recipe.

Chia Pudding

“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. There’s something inside me that keeps me going back to the same old bad foods, the same old over-eating, the same old indulgences. I hate it and how will I stop?” A bad habit can live inside us like a bad friend who shows up at our doorstep each day. We groan, “How can I get rid of this guy?”

Fats, sugar, and salt are addictive and if we keep going back to eating food that is not good for us, we know that we are in the habit of it. To break it, replace it with good food that is really tasty. The key word is “tasty”. Laying out a bowl of celery and carrot sticks is not going to kick it unless you are a rabbit.

Eating well takes time and planning. We have to really get into it and prepare for those times when we want to indulge ourselves. For me, this seems to be every weekend. I can get through the week without much of a problem. I am busy working and have evening plans but when the weekend comes, I want to relax and enjoy my time off. Eating delicious fun food is a big part of what I enjoy over the weekend.

Popcorn has always been my go-to snack food but there are lots of other snack foods that won’t break the diet bank. Use lettuce or collard leaves to hold chopped vegetables mixed with good fats like guacamole and seasoned with herbs and spices, or rice and beans topped with a spicy sauce.  Collard greens can be split and rolled up like cigars. Lettuce leaves are more like cups.

If you like soda, try replacing it with a fruit smoothie made with juiced watermelon. If you are into cakes and pies, indulge in this  delicious chia pudding recipe my girlfriend gave me. Take a small custard cup and line the bottom with banana slices. Sprinkle about three tablespoons of chia seeds over the bananas, add a few raisins, and fill it with almond milk. Let it set over night to thicken, then stir, and enjoy. Frozen peeled bananas is another great treat for the sweet tooth in you. Peel and cut into thick slices to freeze them. Eat them like candy.

Taking a little time and effort to plan healthy snacks can be fun, a lot more fun than grabbing the nearest bag of taste-sensation foods like chips and dip. Bags of snack foods might be quick and easy but they are made to give your mouth a burst of flavor not nutrition, they easily cause over-eating (“You can’t eat just one,” as they say), and add extra pounds. Eating stuff like this can give you a nighttime stomach ache.

Bad habits need to be dealt with, especially negative habitual thoughts. Thinking the same negative thoughts over and over again can have an effect on our overall well-being. We can be our own worst critics. As my husband often points out, we can think and say things to ourselves that no one else would ever dare say. How cruel we are in our own thoughts. How will we ever break free?

Thank goodness for Jesus Christ! From Him we have the keys to the Kingdom of God that is within us. His promises and the hope he gives in the New Testament is water for the thirsty soul dragged down by the disappointments in life and a mind full of constant criticism. The New Testament is not just words but power for the mind and hope for the heart. He loves us just as we are and He will lead us out of the darkness of our thoughts and into the light of His. Jesus promises us this transformation, and it can happen quickly.

Do you have repeating thoughts that trouble you? Give them to Christ, tell Him what you are thinking. They are only thoughts, not reality. Do you have an image in your mind that frightens or shames you? God has given you an imagination to imagine Him, not these evil things, so show it to Christ and let Him take it from you. It is only an image, it is not real. These thoughts and images are common to most people and are like poisoned arrows flung at us to bring us down. Put up the shield of faith against them. Read Christ’s words of life in the New Testament, and think on His words of love and hope instead.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.–Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:29)

A Green Smoothie with God

Green Smoothie. Easy to make!

Green Smoothie. Easy to make!

“Have you ever had a green smoothie?” I could’ve asked numerous folks in the audience that day, in fact anyone who was laughing at the actress who had just walked on stage with a kale smoothie, a prop to emphasize how differnt she was from “normal”. It wasn’t that funny to me. I thought the girl was smart to choose a kale smoothie over a chocolate milkshake. She was only playing a nerdy character but the truth is a green smoothie, when done right, has it all over a milkshake of any flavor.

First, you will need a blender. The base ingredient is a banana. Bananas make the smoothie sweet and thicken it. If you want your smoothie on the creamy side, the next ingredient is almond milk (or any nut milk). If you like it juicy rather than milky, add coconut water or throw in juicy fruits like oranges or watermelon and add a little water. Next, add some more fruit. Whatever you like, to give it a new taste. I like berries in mine. Some berries can make your green smoothie brown, so add a teaspoon of Matcha powder if you want a really green one. Next, give your smoothie some added nutrients with a tablespoon or more of flaxseed. Add a nut butter (tahini and cashew are great) for protein and healthy fats if you are going for a creamy smoothie. Last, throw in the greens. Kale is terrific but it is kind of tough and unless you have a super-speedy mixer like a Vitamix, you are going to get little kale pieces in your smoothie–not a bad thing really. I prefer swiss chard or spinach, or even a handful of mixed greens in mine. Anything will do though, even romaine. Blend it all together. I like to add a piece of ginger, some turmeric, and a few dashes of pepper for added antioxidant power.

Now, drink it! It is delicious and way better for your health than a milkshake. Here’s why. Bananas have potassium, berries are loaded with antioxidants, flaxseed contains magnesium, and almond milk has more calcium than milk. (Don’t shy away from these nut milks thinking they are only substitutes for the real thing: milk. Not true!) And the green stuff, most of them score 1000 points on the ANDI nutrient scale, the highest score a food can receive for nutrient content. Blending food like this helps your body get more nutrients. A smoothie is a meal, especially the creamy ones with the nut butters in them. If you want it as a dessert, using less almond milk and frozen fruit will render something more solid and cold like ice cream.

The best part of a green smoothie is after you eat one. There’s no holding your stomach with that uncomfortably full feeling. Instead, it energizes you. Your body jumps for joy and you are ready to tackle the day. Fatty cream from a fatty cow is not going to make anyone feel good except a calf. Now energize your spirit. Take a minute to thank God for the bounty of food He provides. Forgo that cut of red meat and if you miss the taste of it, eat it only occasionally or use only a small portion for the flavor. Enjoy the many types of beans and whole grains God gives to us. Don’t settle for milk and sugar, look to His grand variety of fruit and nut milks. Make your main dish at every meal a vegetable dish. The abundance of greens and other vegetables is a testimony to the love God has for us. Enjoy eating healthfully and don’t let anyone who laughs at your green smoothie put you off. You are the smart one, my friend, you have chosen the better way.

Look to your Bible to fill your hunger for spiritual contentment. Savor God’s great promises and the beauty and depth of His love for you that is written in the words of the New Testament and in the Psalms. So many things in this world fill our thoughts with anger, fear, and despair but these are not from God. We rush around checking off the tasks on our list. We imagine awful scenarios and bring ourselves to a point of anxiousness and hopelessness that makes God weep. Much of the sickness, poverty, war, violence and hatred of this world are of our own making; they are not the promises of God. Choose a better way by spending time contemplating God’s words to us because even with these difficulties that abound around us, God is able to reach out and calm our spirit with His excellent love. And lastly, choose the hope for a better life provided by Christ since He is the greatest of God’s gifts to mankind.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;  there is need of only one thing.Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Meatless Monday and Daniel

Meatless Monday is a global movement that supports vegetarian cuisine. Eating less meat and animal products is good for our health, our planet, and our animals. Much of our reluctance to eat vegetarian dishes comes from not knowing how to cook them and not tasting them. Vegetarian cuisine is new to me and I had to relearn how to cook when I decided to reduce meat and animal products from my diet. Learning how to make one new recipe a week is a good way to increase our cooking inventory and our health. Meatless Monday aims to do just that. Visit their website for a host of recipes and meatless meal ideas.

Reducing all meat and animal products from our diets can be intimidating. Especially if we are accustomed to having it at every meal. So, for motivation, consider these facts. According to a well-known European study of 300,000 people, eating the same amount of calories, those who eat meat will steadily gain weight.  The only weight loss plan that has worked for more than a year is a high nutrient  vegetarian diet and a vegan diet is even better. Beware of the high protein, meat-eating diets. They do not work for more than a year and are terrible for our health. Eating meat is linked to obesity and a host of diseases while eating a high-nutrient plant-based diet is linked to an increase in health and well-being.

Lastly, but even more important than our personal health is  that the impact of all this meat-eating is slowly killing our planet. There is no more grazing room for our cattle and so grass-fed is available for only a small portion of our farm animals. Meanwhile, in other less developed countries, forests are being cut down for more pasture to raise animals for meat consumption. While here in our own country, our animals are fed a corn meal diet which is bad for them and dangerous for us. The conditions in which these animals live and die is heartbreaking. Grass-fed and cage-free can be a panacea for daily meat-eaters who think these animals are better off. Even in the best conditions, their end is all the same and the torture that goes on behind the slaughterhouse doors is our generation’s biggest secret.

What will our children’s children know us best for? Our incredible advances in technology? Our medical and pharmaceutical strides? Perhaps, but they will also know us for our daily habit of feeding ourselves way too much and how it negatively affected the planet and how cruel we were to her animals. Do not be a party to it. Consider what God would have us do. This week my husband related the story of Daniel to me. Daniel  was captured by the Babylonians as a youth and immersed in their alien culture. He was required to eat the royal diet which was heavy on rich sweet meat. Daniel refused the diet knowing that his God would not be pleased. When Daniel asked the guard to give him and his friends only vegetables, the guard became afraid that Daniel and his friends by eating only vegetables and no meat would wither away and become physically feeble. The guard greatly feared the king would kill him for not feeding the captives the royal diet. But Daniel insisted and told the guard to test him and his friends by feeding them only vegetables for ten days and then see if they looked worse than the others who were eating the rich meats. And so the guard agreed and after ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier than any of those eating the royal meat-filled diet.

Resisting meat, chicken, pork, lamb and all dairy products may seem like swimming upstream but we do not have to live as strictly as Daniel. As Christians we are free to eat anything so long as it does not hurt our brothers and sisters. Since daily meat-eating does have a negative impact, it would be wise to refrain from eating so much meat and dairy. Instead, start by joining Meatless Monday and learn how to cook a high nutrient vegetarian dish once per week. Or try to follow the Mediterranean diet which provides for small amounts of chicken and fish, a little cheese and yogurt and only a bit of meat every once in a while. You will feel better and you will rest easier.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

Daniel 1:15 & 16

Lose Weight Fast and Save The Earth

Eat More Beans

Eat More Beans

Eating smaller portions of animal protein (beef, chicken, and pork) can  result in a slow and arduous weight loss. To quicken the pace, try exchanging animal proteins for plant proteins. Reserve animal proteins for special occasions, dinners out, or just once or twice a week. Eating meat twice a day is a detrimental habit and our taste for it will fade if we cut down on its consumption.

Beans are an excellent replacement for animal protein. Beans are low-calorie and high in protein. Some beans have twice the protein of animal products, and are more satisfying because protein relieves hunger.  We will save ourselves a lot of calories, fat, and money. And don’t think beans can’t be tasty. Throw in some of your favorite herbs and spices. Beans are delicious served with cooked greens and when coupled with rice, they are a complete protein equal to any animal protein. There are many varieties of beans and as an added bonus, none that I know of are genetically modified.

My favorite bean dish is red curry lentils. Rinse a cup of lentils and let drain. (Lentils do not need pre-soaking.) Cook garlic and onions until tender in  1/4 cup of organic chicken or vegetable broth. Add another 1/4 cup of broth, a can of coconut milk, and a cup of red lentils. Stir in half a jar of red curry paste and about 1 tablespoon of  red chili paste. Stir until mixed while waiting to simmer, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle a teaspoon of garam masala for flavor. The beans are done when they are tender.

The habit of eating meat twice a day has become a hazard to our earth and to ourselves. As we grow older and if we continue to eat so much animal protein, our bodies will gain weight. As our world populates and if we continue to give cattle the grain we grow instead of eating it ourselves, we are choosing partiality, choosing to feed ourselves meat while others go without the grain they could have. Cattle were never meant to eat corn but to graze on grass. Unfortunately, grazing land is scarce and so we force these beasts to  gorge on corn and they grow sick with gas and E. coli and other dangerous bacteria that infest them because their bodies were never meant to digest corn. Dangerous strains of E. coli and other harmful bacteria can come from beef sources. In order to feed enough animals to satisfy our appetite for meat, we grow corn at an alarming rate, using GMO seeds to achieve high volume yields.

Conventional farming requires fungicides that kill off an important carbon dioxide-loving fungus that grows within the soil.  Cutting down forests for agricultural use has also increased the level of carbon dioxide in the air because trees are like sponges that soak up harmful carbon dioxide. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in our air increases the green house affect, warms our earth, and causes disastrous weather patterns. In addition, the runoff from our chemical-using farms drains into our water supply, and this too can make us and the creatures and plants living in these waters sick and weak. If all this is not sad enough to make us stop eating so much meat, a simple trip to the slaughterhouse where all our lovely farm animals end up will be a testimony to this generation’s ignorance and cruelty.

But God is gently drawing us into Him, revealing the evils of this world with a gentle whisper in our ears, opening our eyes to see what we don’t want to look at. Despite our crude stewardship of His earth, He is still faithful. This land is ours, given to us by Him to care for. We are like toddlers in a garden, grabbing and pulling at whatever attracts our eye. He is calling us into maturity and gently correcting us. Those who love the Lord, Allah, and Yahweh must take the lead and give glory to God by taking a stand against this madness because the light has come and darkness will not prevail over it. Even though reaching for a can of organic beans instead of a can of corned beef seems simplistic, a combined effort will reduce demand and yes, it will save our earth.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:28-30

The Secrets of Juicing and God’s Hidden Secret Revealed

$200 or about the cost of five trips to the nail salon

$200 or about the cost of five trips to the nail salon

I was sitting in a church meeting one day when I notice my nails were growing away from the nail bed. Agh! I freaked out. With a lot of research I found that nails that grow away from the nail bed can be a result of chemotherapy, including letrozole which is the cancer drug I have to take. I spent long hours trying to learn what I could do to stop this from getting worse (nail fungus can grow in nails like these creating hard, thick, yellow nails) and finally found a small study of four people with the same problem who found that drinking carrot juice fixed it. It was a small group but all four were cured. I decided to pull out my juicer and give it a try. It worked!

Evidentially, carrot juice is good for nails, hair and skin. I started drinking it and lo and behold, the nail problem went away. It also stopped my nails from being so brittle. Now I try to drink a couple of glasses of carrot juice per week for my nails, hair, and skin. Carrot juice is a great soup base too. It’s really amazing how quickly it improved my nails.

Juicing requires a juicer. There are some very simple ones for orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit juice that work fine. But for carrots, celery, and other hard vegetables a more powerful juicer is necessary. I settled on the wide mouth Omega centrifugal juicer since I don’t juice very often, usually drink it right away, and do not juice leafy vegetables. The wide mouth was important to me because I don’t have to cut my carrots into little pieces. It is just so much easier this way. Keep in mind that juicing takes out all the fiber that slows the absorption of sugar. It also contains no fat or protein and is not a complete meal so it adds calories, and it requires buying a lot of vegetables.

Finding this cure for my nails was a great relief. I had to scour the Internet to find it but finding a cure for our human weaknesses is much easier. That cure is written in the New Testament of the Bible. All through the Old Testament we read how God’s beloved Israel could not keep God’s law. It is sometimes disappointing to read how often our heroes mess up. Why did Eve eat that apple? Why did David stay home from the battle and fall for the wife of a soldier loyal to him? Why do we all make mistakes? God says that even if we follow all the laws He has demanded and break only one, we are condemned. The only cure we have is in Jesus Christ whom God has chosen to be our Savior. There is no other answer in heaven or on earth.

The saving grace of Jesus Christ is available to us. This is God’s great secret revealed through the life and death of His most favored son. Jesus is the answer to our mess ups and the gateway to eternal life. But there are still more God secrets to be revealed. What will heaven be like? Revelations says there will be no more tears. That’s a big hint. Take some time to imagine it because it will be the greatest adventure yet.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen

Romans 16:25-27

Sugar and God’s Sweet Spot

Have you heard that sugar is bad for us? Of course you have. I’ve heard it was bad for my teeth since, well, since I began having teeth. It is also bad in many other ways, most importantly for me is that tumor cells need sugar to grow. Other bad boy results from sugar are insulin problems, added fat because our bodies convert sugar into fat, and its very acidic, just to name a few.

Fruit has lots of sugar in it but it is served to us in fiber which slows the digestion of the sugar by our bodies, eliminating the sugar spike that raw sugar, honey, and all those other so-called healthy sweeteners cause. Eating fruit is good for us and some of it is very sweet. A ripe persimmon can taste like candy. Dates have lots of sugar with the added benefit of being dense enough to use in dessert crusts, cookies, and yummy gooey fillings. Bananas can be frozen and made into a delicious type of fake ice cream with a little almond milk and nut butter. Dried fruits like raisins, mango, and pineapple can also be a tasty sugary treat that will not harm your body but still satisfy a sugar craving. Be sure that the dried fruit you buy does not have some form of sugar as an additional ingredient in the ingredient list.

Sugar is such a bad boy that it has a variety of names that can fool us. Anything with an “ose” at the end of the word is sugar. Examples are fructose, dextrose, and sucrose. Malts and syrups are sugars. It doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from, it really doesn’t make it any healthier. What is bad is that the fiber has been taken out of it, i.e., it has been processed, and is therefore poisonous to our system because it is coming to us in a highly concentrated form causing a sugar spike that our body needs to “fix” with insulin.

God must have a sweet tooth too because His word talks a lot about a land flowing with milk and honey. God’s own words are described as being sweeter than honey. But unlike honey which can cause illness and promote bacterial growth (eww!), God’s word is “better than” honey. How sweet are the words in the Bible that describe God’s faithful love for us regardless of our actions, sins, and hard-heartedness towards Him. In fact, God’s love is so enduring and so genuine that He has sacrificed the apple of His eye, the very love of His life, for us. But I don’t think Jesus Christ is God’s sweet spot. I think you and I are God’s sweet spot. We are the ones He loves and cares for every day. He listens to our complaints, our grief, our suffering, and He suffers beside us. Give Him your heart today and He will put you in a spiritual land of milk and honey, a very sweet spot, where He is always present to us, and never faraway.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! — Psalm 119:103

Nutritarian Snacking and God Chips

Spicy Seaweed Chips

Spicy Seaweed Chips

Have you noticed kale chips have jumped from the health food aisle to more prominent shelf positions at the grocery store? Many traditional snack foods are coming up with vegetable ingredients like sweet potato chips instead of white potato chips, multigrain and brown rice crackers instead of white flour crackers, and even totally original snacks like roasted seaweed snacks and wasabi coated peas. Are these foods really healthy?

It is important to remember that while these foods contain dehydrated vegetables, they are still processed taste sensations, full of fat, salt, and sugar. Even though a kale chip does start off with a vegetable rather than a flour, it is anyone’s guess how many of the nutrients in the original kale leaf we are getting after all the processing. Homemade kale chips are not hard to make and are likely much better for us. Wash and dry kale leaves, toss lightly with oil, and spread on a baking sheet. Cook in a medium hot oven until crispy. Sprinkle with seasonings. (I often take the pan out of the oven several times to pull out kale leaves as they become crispy.)

Snacking is a common eating habit. My husband loves crackers and the original Triscuits are one of the few brands that contain simple and healthful ingredients. One of his favorite snacks is to put a slice of avocado on a Triscuit and sprinkle it with caviar. I like humus and often eat it with carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or cherry tomatoes. These snacks can easily serve as a meal. They are quick and easy and will fill us up with nutrients rather than fats and sugars.

Trying to find time to cook and prepare meals is difficult in our fast-paced lives. Snacking is not bad if we choose healthful foods. Even so, a few hours in the kitchen preparing toppings for brown rice and beans or salad greens can save time throughout the week. Preparing black bean veggie burgers or collard leaf wraps, or a hearty soup can also provide an on-the-go meal that will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Throw some veggies, greens, pre-soaked beans, and vegetable broth into a slow cooker for a meal that cooks itself, or use a pressure cooker to speed up cooking time for rice and beans.

Trying to find a quiet time to pray or meditate is just as difficult. Using down time to talk with God can draw us near to Him throughout the day. Driving to work is an excellent time to pray or sing to Him. It can be a great way to exorcise road rage, too :). Using time to talk with God while walking, cooking, or any time we are not actively engaging our thoughts can offer a “God chip”, a quick snack on God who is, after all,  the Bread of Heaven. Bringing God into the now is snacking on Him throughout the day, and have no doubts that He is listening. God hears your every thought.

Cast all your anxious thoughts on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Salt: The Good And The Bad

This vinegar is processed and contains 1050 milligrams of salt per teaspoon.

This vinegar is processed and contains 1050 milligrams of salt per teaspoon.

The recommended cap of 1,500 milligrams of salt a day for those with hypertension is left in the dust with processed foods. Hypertension (high blood pressure) leads to many health problems, but salt is one of the easiest foods to cut back because we quickly grow accustomed to the lower level. The trick to lowering our salt intake and keeping it low is to stop eating processed foods.

Salt contributes tremendous benefits to the processed food industry but is one of the most difficult ingredients for them to lower or eliminate. This is because the abundant effects of adding salt to foods are irreplaceable and salt is cheap. Salt enhances flavors, delays spoiling, and is largely used in the industry for masking bitter flavors. In fact, without salt, no one would buy processed foods because they don’t taste very good when salt is eliminated. Salt is a key ingredient of baked goods because it slows down the reaction of sugar and yeast, making the bread rise more slowly for better baking. Any processed meats will taste like cardboard and develop a rubbery unpleasant texture without a lot of salt. By far the most salt we eat is not from the salt shaker on our tables but from processed foods.

Jesus Christ said, “You are the salt of the earth.” Our Christian lives enhance the lives of those around us in our actions and words. We as Christians are of very little use by ourselves but are useful in many ways around others. Perhaps our words of hope in Christ or our gentle healing touch has “delayed the spoiling” of someone’s heart. Bitterness against the harsh realities of this world are “masked” by the promises of Christ for a new life and even a new world. Just as the processed food industry would end without salt, what would our world be like without Christ? Often we feed off of the effect of Christ in our world so much that we no longer see Him as we should. We forget the ways he changed the world and how great his mercy is to us that we are not the cruel heathens we once were.

Failure from trying to understand God can devastate us so that even our visual awareness is affected: our world looks drab and colorless, and the beauty around us is no longer pleasing. Many of our efforts can be directed at trying to “enhance” our lives to find beauty and pleasure. If we truly understand what Christ’s forgiveness means, we would not seek other things to take His place in our lives.  The kindness of other Christians helps us to understand that Christ Himself will help us to live as we should, and that He covers all our short-comings so that God only sees us as His children. When we live in the light of Christ, pleasure and beauty abound in and around us, but many of us will never forget the loneliness and the drabness of a life without Him.

Two thousand years ago the need for salt was nearly as great as a need for air or water. Salt was so useful that wages were sometimes paid in salt. A life in Christ is such an abundant life that it attracts all those who are seeking Him. To those who seek to know Christ, we are like salt to food and as important as air or water. When we finally find Him, our gratefulness pours out to others and we cannot help but to reach out to them.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Colossians 4:6