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

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Alkaline Proteins and Visionary Prayer

A plant-based diet that is slightly acidic will require more protein than a plant-based diet that has achieved alkalinity. If we do not eat enough protein, our muscles suffer for it since that is one place our bodies will get needed protein missing from our diets.

Most animal proteins are highly acidic and need alkalizing foods to balance out the net effect of a meal. Low sugar and high water content alkaline vegetables will balance out the acidity of animal proteins. Livestrong.com offers some great choices: celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato and zucchini, broccoli, green cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant and spinach. These vegetables served with a small amount of fish, chicken, or meat can alkalize your meal.

If animal proteins are not an option for you, many vegetables have a protein content with varied amino acids, making it important to eat a large variety of vegetables to get all the amino acids our bodies need. Try roasting a variety of vegetables tossed in olive oil in a low oven (325) for about 20 minutes. Make sure not to blacken any by picking out vegetables done before the rest, like broccoli.

Most beans are acidic but high in protein. They need to be balanced with alkaline foods in the meal. For example, beans with garlic and onions over steamed kale. Beans are a staple protein for vegetarians and Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating them every day.

Glutinous grains have a protein content but are acidic unless they are sprouted. Sprouts are one of the few alkaline proteins. Health food stores sell sprouted grains but sprouts can be made at home. Vegetable and seed sprouts are usually eaten raw; other sprouts should be lightly steamed. Read more about sprouting.

Changing from our acidic, Standard American Diet, to a healthier one can seem overwhelming but don’t give up. Visualizing a new you with a  lifestyle that is energizing and healthy is important. Hold on to the vision you have of what you want to become. Having a vision like this is an important gift to you.

That gift of the new you is God’s grace to you. No matter what your religion or even if you have no religion, God’s grace offers you hope for tomorrow. Envisioning is a powerful tool you can use to reach towards that tomorrow you hope for. For Christians, envisioning can become a prayer exercise, offering to Christ your hopes for becoming the person God created you to be.

Sometimes in prayer we have no words to speak but our emotions reach out to Christ through the Holy Spirit that abides within in us and this Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). Open your conscious to Christ’s holy love that lives within you by envisioning a healthier you (or someone you love). Envision His coming when there will be no more tears, no more death, and no more illness, and you will find that the peace of Christ will dwell richly within you.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20 & 21

Greens are Super Foods

His and her salads.

Eating greens is the number one activity of a nutritarian. Greens are very low in calories but have the highest nutrient content. Most greens are at the top of the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) list and provide more nutrients per calorie than any other food we can eat. On Sunday we make a huge salad to eat the rest of the week. I like arugula because it is part of the cruciferous family and therefore good for fighting cancer. My husband likes romaine and field greens along with peppers, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I add beans, carrots, and cauliflower to mine. It is important to chew the food well so that our bodies can gain as many nutrients as possible from these nutrient-dense foods.

After work I make a green smoothie. I mix fruit and coconut water along with a cup of greens. A cup of spinach is about 10 calories. Spinach is a mild green and nearly tasteless in a fruit smoothie. Pureeing greens like this increases the nutrients our bodies absorb from them.

In the evening I eat cooked greens like Swiss chard, collards, or kale with garlic, onions, and mushrooms over beans and rice. I drizzle flaxseed oil over it and Braggs Aminos. At night I sometimes treat myself to a banana “ice cream”. I have never added all these calories up, but eating like this keeps me at a desirable weight without much trouble. I am rarely hungry. Breakfast is the only time I don’t eat greens. I have coffee, a cup of soymilk, and the original Bear Naked granola.

God is like these greens. We can “chew” on his words every day by meditating to get the most out of them (Psalm 1:1-4). Memorizing verses (I’m really bad at that) and writing them down, reading several interpretations, using a Greek dictionary or chain reference book can help. Often a verse will mean one thing to us and something else when our situations change. God’s word is alive (Hebrews 4:12).

We can sing to Him. I was listening to Christian rock music one Christmas after the Epiphany and was thrilled to realize that they played music like this all year round. Now I listen to praise music several times a day and I consider it a time of communion with God. I feel very fortunate to live in a time and place where I can hear music like this. If you don’t have a station nearby, most stations will stream their music through the Internet.

We can pray with Jesus Christ as our mediator and boldly approach God and He will hear us (Hebrews 9:15). One time when I was particularly troubled, I fell asleep praying and woke hearing God speaking Psalms of love to me. Praying brings joy to my heart. I know my Lord will take care of whatever is troubling me. When I found out I had breast cancer, I heard a song on the radio asking God to light up the sky to show us he was right there with us (The Afters). As I drove, I prayed along with the singer. It was a very cloudy day but God immediately parted the sky for me, and the sun came out and did not go back behind the clouds until I arrived home and went inside. Prayer is an amazing gift. There are so many moments like these in my life when God makes me feel so close to Him, but I would never have that if I didn’t pray. He loves us so much; call on Jesus Christ and speak to Him today. Tell him that you love Him.