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

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Nutritarian Lifestyle and The Power Behind It

A Great BookToday is close to the two-year mark of my nutritarian lifestyle, the turning away from processed foods and embracing a plant-based diet. I had been looking for a healthier diet for a long time, recognizing that the fatigue and general malaise I was feeling had something to do with my diet. I remember taking a walk with my son who was ten at the time, and fearing that I would not make it back home because my body was so tired. I was not overweight and was even jogging every day but my body was lagging, my thoughts hazy, and my energy level low. I could not seem to make the energy I felt in the morning last all day.

This is what I was eating: coffee with milk and sugar and a Pop Tart for breakfast, skipping lunch while drinking more coffee with sugar and milk and eating sugar candy lifesavers, and then eating pasta-based animal protein dinners at night.  My kids were not eating any better either: Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch for breakfast, processed meats or Lunchables for lunch, and the same pasta-based animal protein dinners. We ate a lot of fruit, but we were all running on sugar, starving our bodies of vitamins and nutrients. Is it any wonder I was feeling fatigue?

Trying to eat for health was mind-boggling. I prayed for wisdom and discernment every day. For ten years I floundered in a sea of diet advice. Some advocated high amounts of animal protein and some advocated whole grains with a heavy emphasis on brown rice. Then I ran into the Hallelujah diet that promotes raw foods, lots of juicing, and some religion. While riding this funny merry-go-round, I constantly fell off the wagon, continued to feel fatigued, and I knew that I hadn’t quite gotten it right. Finally, while flipping through the channels of my TV one night, I landed on Dr. Fuhrman’s PBS show and immediately bought his book, Eat for Health. Reading his book was like taking all the parts of these health diets and fitting them together. I knew right away that his was truly the answer to the health I was seeking. The book changed my life, my health, and my fatigue and other symptoms were clearly explained to me as symptoms of addiction to sugar, fat, and oil, that is, processed foods, and the consumption of too much animal protein. Those symptoms are gone now that I am eating better, and my prayers are less centered on myself and more on His Kingdom.

Jesus once said, ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find,  knock and the door will be opened. The most powerful tool we have against the darkness of this world is our faithful prayers to the God of Abraham, knowing that Jesus Christ has made a clear path through the darkness of this world, straight to God’s Holy throne and his listening ear.  St. John says that we have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will. He hears us whenever we ask him and since we know this is true, we know also that he gives us what we ask from him.

It makes sense to me that our diets have become a source of ill-health that produces fatigue, hazy thinking, and disease, because a state of mind and body like this produces dulled prayers and a sense of hopelessness, and isn’t that what the dark powers of this world want? We should have courage then that when we start a diet of healthful foods, that the God of Light and Power is calling us and he will make us strong, for that is his will, and since we know that, we can ask him for help to eat well, and he will give it to us. We can pray for all our brothers and sisters that they might come to eat well too, because alertness of mind and spirit, overcoming the addiction to processed foods, and embracing God’s great harvest of healthful ones is, I believe, what he wants.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Ephesians 6:10

Easy Diet and An Open Door to God

The Mediterranean diet is one of easiest and healthiest diets to follow. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts are the basis of the diet with fish replacing meat and olive oil replacing butter. It is fun and easy to cook this way.

Start with a whole grain like pasta or rice and toss in some seasonal vegetables, nuts and beans. Use spices to flavor the meal rather than salt and add fish two or three times a week. Serve with a whole grain bread dipped in olive oil rather than butter. It is that easy.

Trouble comes when we take the healthy meal above and put a layer of cheese on it to melt in the oven for a few minutes. Or, we take our healthy fish and coat it with buttery bread crumbs or some sort of batter and fry it. These additions sure do taste great but they add calories and fats, and well, ruin the healthy meal.

Loving God is pretty simple, too: just spend some time with Him. We can pray by talking with Him as we go through our day, by giving Him praise through music, and by thanking Him for our blessings. Keeping God in the “now” by focusing on His presence in our lives is a healthy way to keep calm, lessen the anxiety in our lives, and feel the joy that is key to overall health.

Trouble comes when we take our natural way of experiencing God and coat it with rules. God already knows we are not perfect but somehow we forget that. We start thinking we must be perfect by following this or that rule or God will not be pleased. We must go to church every Sunday, we must read our Bible every day, we must not swear, we must not drink, we must not…you fill in the blank.

Many of these “rules” are good ones to follow, but they are not what God looks at. God looks at our heart and discerns if we are following these rules out of love for Him and His people, or if we are doing them out of pride. If God is pleased with a broken and contrite heart, then our posture must be to continually try to improve our spiritual strength and realize that a few steps in the wrong direction will not keep us from Him. Knowing where we stand with God is the first step in experiencing His presence.

Let’s face it, we are in a battle down here and we are going to get hurt by life, but the Lord of Life knows us through and through. Christ has opened the door to us to experience God first hand. We no longer need a priest to make sacrifices for our shortcomings, instead, Jesus himself, was and is our sacrifice. So we invite Him into our lives with full awareness that we are going to mess up, repeatedly, even habitually, but through His grace He will transform our hearts and help us to become His glory. He will do this individually and in union with others as His church.

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

Nutritarian Eating and A More Abundant Life

Read can labels for sugar and salt (sodium) content.

Read can labels for sugar and salt (sodium) content.

Eating is not just about satisfying the stomach or pleasing the tongue. For the nutritarian, food is a means to an end and that end is health. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you that when you begin the nutritarian life, it will not please the tongue at first, but it will fill the stomach. He has a nifty diagram of a stomach full of greens compared with a stomach empty but for a small amount of oil (fat) at the bottom, an amount that is in equal caloric measure to the stomach full of greens. Yes, you will fill your stomach but your tongue will be shouting for fats, salt, and sugar.

But not for long. When I first cut down on salt, before I became a nutritarian, I tasted a donut only a few weeks into my salt ban, and I could not believe how salty it was. This is true, and other foods as well surprised me by their salt content. Foods I never related with salt had a salty taste to them that I had never tasted before. This will happen if you quit salt. Sugar I am certain is the same though this is a much more difficult taste to tame for me.

Taming the tongue of its driving demands for salt, sugar, and fats, brings us to a place where fruits and vegetables are so much more delicious. When the tongue is free from its bondage to addictive additives that are in processed foods, the tongue can  taste the subtle flavors in natural foods. Processed foods are infamous for adding salt which is a preservative and sugar for taste. So, in your striving to become a nutritarian, try to stay clear of processed foods, including bakeries, fast food restaurants, and the grocery store’s “middle” isles where cans and boxes of processed food are located.

Our religion is often the same as our addictive eating habits in wanting to satisfy our cravings for God by performing rote acts of faith as if these acts of faith are the ends in themselves. Acts of faith like prayer, church services, meditation, praise, singing and other creative pursuits (like writing 🙂 ) are not the ends we seek.  What we seek is to draw closer to the Lord and we use these acts of faith to pursue Him. We fall short when we fail to wait upon the Lord for his response to our acts of faith. Our God can communicate to us through scripture, nature, other people, even animals. He can come into our thoughts through meditation, prayer, exercise, song, and anytime we are open to Him, but we must believe that He exists. No one can please God without faith for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Our world is deceptive and some people do not seek or believe in the spiritual or metaphysical world, and yet the Bible clearly states that there is a spiritual world we cannot see. For those who believe in Christ, we are a new creation and we are reborn into that spiritual world. God brings all things into Himself, that is, He brings us into Him where He is in the spiritual world. He does this through the Holy Spirit who lives in us if we believe in Christ. He shows us glimpses of this spiritual world if we will just wait for the Lord’s response to our acts of faith. Do not give up hope and do not despair by performing acts of faith that seem to have no response from God. In this world and its “tangible only” doctrine of science that counts spirituality as foolishness, we often fall prey to doubt, but the truth is that we who are reborn into this spiritual world are like stars of light in the darkness.

So let’s have faith that he will answer and respond to us. For the Lord our God is pleased to reveal himself to us and he is eager to show us wonderful and marvelous things that we know nothing about. (Jeremiah 3:33) We do not put our faith in the tangible world. Instead, we reach into the light and power of Jesus Christ who is our savior, and through our acts of faith, we draw closer to him that we might know and believe in His great power to transform us and our world.

Happy New Year Resolutions: Making each year better one year at a time

This year I resolve to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables because the larger the variety of these foods, the better. Combinations of vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli, garlic and onions, and greens with calcium rich foods are healthier than eating any of these separately. There are some specific health issues in my house that call for specific foods. For example, the cruciferous vegetables have strong anti-oxidant qualities that help fight cancer cells and tomatoes are good for heart health so we will be eating more of these.

A second resolution is to eat more beans rather than whole grains because they are good at reducing sugar levels in the blood–this is good news for diabetics. Cancer is fueled by sugar so it is good for me to stay away from it. Dr. Fuhrman’s recent blog encourages the eating of beans, legumes, and lentils over whole grain foods like brown rice and whole grain bread because beans are much more powerful at producing good health. In fact, a cup of beans a day improved health in just three months.

My third resolution is to drink three 4 oz cups of green tea each day. I am reading David Servan-Schreiber’s Anticancer: A new way of Life book. Drinking green tea can reduce my chance of recurrence by 50%.

I hope I can keep these three resolutions and stay away from sugar which is really hard for me. Transforming our diets from cancer-feeding to cancer-fighting requires a lot of change. The standard American diet (SAD) of fast foods, large quantities of protein from animal sources, and sugary staples like white rice and white bread (think pizza) will cause cancer and heart disease to soar in this country. When I first realized I had cancer I was amazed! I thought I was eating pretty well when in fact I was ill-informed and ignorant of some very basic nutritional information. Why? Because it is not taught in schools and in homes where convenience foods have taken the place of healthful meals. Even our government standards for healthful eating are swayed by economic and commercial self-interest. There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there and no one will find the real truth about what is good for their bodies unless they are willing to really investigate.

This is true of religion as well. There are many religions and many truths, many scriptures, and many prophets. Which one is true? Which one pleases God, if there even is a God. We will not know the truth unless we look for it.

Here is a reliable test for truth: The truth will set us free. Free from what, we might ask? Free from condemnation because if we really look at ourselves we will see that we fail to do good. Maybe we can keep up the good work for a short time but eventually all of us fall short of where we should be. To be human is to be flawed. We are not divine but there was one man who was: Jesus and he set us free from having to offer routine sacrifices for our shortcomings. Instead, he is the ultimate sacrifice and we are free to stumble and fall into His arms. He catches us and puts us on solid ground. He gives us a means by which we can transform ourselves, he gives us a truth to live by (the Bible), and he gives us comfort in knowing that he loves us enough to die for us to bring us eternal life.

We can change our diets. We can learn to eat healthfully in the new year. Through prayer and meditation, God can help us to live happy, healthful lives. He does not want us to be sick and overweight. Seek God, and you will find him. Put your life in his hands and let him help you transform your diet, your life, and your purpose this year. We don’t have to “clean up our acts” to come to him. He takes us as we are because he knows us even better than we know ourselves.

A Holiday Treat for Diet and Health

My sister is amazing and my brother-in-law made most of the food vegan.

I enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday food and more tempting treats are sure to follow with everything suddenly Christmas. I have a defense strategy in mind but it doesn’t have much to do with food.

Fasting brings up a lot of different ideas in people’s minds. I have done no food fasts; liquid fasts; and Lenten fasts from specific foods like chocolate, coffee, and wine. We don’t have to be fasting snobs. All fasts dedicated to God are viable fasts and are a powerful way to draw closer to Him. It is between you and God, and no one else (Matthew 6:18).

Prayer and fasting go together, so for the holidays, I hope to do both. This will help me avoid weight gain and also give me the meaningful Christmas season I so desire. You may think this is an odd time to fast but fasting will help me discern Christ in this season of secular and commercial distractions (1 Corinthians 2).

Aside from being very healthy (ask your doctor about it), there are lots of fun things about fasting. For one, we don’t have to spend time considering which holiday treat we can have. It takes mental effort trying to discern whether a couple of Christmas cookies/this brownie/this piece of pie will break the bank, and the pleasure in eating holiday treats is fleeting, often followed by regret (be it ever so slight, it adds up). Another thing is that it is a rare treat to wake up hungry (or for the daylight fast, come to the dinner table hungry). All food tastes better to the hungry eater. Ending the fast is also a lot of fun and makes the Christmas week a special time of celebration. Of course, the best part of fasting is the fact that God is right there with us, our constant help, and our divine guide. He is all we need and being so close helps us to see Him better through all the flashy decorations, the Santa fantasy, and the driving clamour to spend, spend, spend.

So I offer you this Holiday Treat: Fasting. Try a day a week with only a green smoothie for lunch, or everyday, or a no-food fast for 24 hours once a week, or maybe just a fast from all those calorie laden treats. Whatever you decide, know that God will bless it because it is done to honor Him. And don’t forget to ask for a blessing from God during your fast. He is willing to bless those who love Him.