Friday, May 16, 2014

Lunch and a Video

Busy Day Lunch Salad

As I write this blog post, it is a busy day.  I've been to the public library, the post office, and Walmart.  In a few minutes I'll be leaving home again to be with my Bible study gals at the church for our study of Galatians, then stopping at Kohl's to look for a skirt and one more stop at Michaels to look for ribbon. Whew! It's a good thing I have a pork chop for Beloved and a salmon fillet for me thawing in the refrigerator for supper!  I'll bake them in the oven and dinner will be a snap at the end of this hectic day.

Before I had to go gluten-free over six months ago, a lunch for me on a day like this would have been a hastily thrown together peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with some apple slices -- often inhaled on-the-go!

Those days are behind me now (along with 12 pounds and larger jeans). I had to go gluten-free or else I'd still be sick and spending entirely too much time in the "sitting room." The adjustment for me hasn't been all that hard, given the alternative if I didn't give up everything with wheat in it.  

In the process I decided to greatly restrict my intake of most grains, cut back on my meat consumption, and eat as much of my food in its raw state as I can stand. NOT FOR EVERYBODY, I know.  

Anyway, while I'm munching on today's salad (pictured above), I thought I'd peck out a quick post.  For those of my readers who are eating gluten-free, or just desiring healthier menu choices, this article is for you.

This salad may take slightly more time to assemble than scarfing down that PBJ, but the health benefits are great and just maybe we shouldn't be eating our food so fast anyway, right?

Busy Day Lunch Salad 

1 large handful of prepared salad greens with carrots, chopped 
1 fresh avocado, chopped
1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed very well
Oil and Vinegar to taste for the dressing

2-3 rice crackers (to push the last of the salad onto your fork)

Combine all but the crackers together into a salad bowl and then sit down to eat, slowly.  

If you want some refreshing food for  your spirit while you eat, click on this link to watch a 10-minute video by Beth Moore, Christian teacher and author: Thinking About Thinking

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 2014

artwork by Mary Englebreit

I think you almost have to be a  mother to truly understand the depth of this statement that a girl's best friend is her mother. While I realize not every mother-daughter relationship is a happy one, I am blessed to be able to say I know my mother has always had my best interests in mind in her relationship with me.

Feminine relationships can be so tangled, so snitty, so filled with drama and hormones that daughters can easily miss the point that our mother's greatest desire and goal is to point us in the right direction.

It goes far beyond learning how to style our hair, roll out cookie dough, or keeping our room clean. Our mother wants with all her heart to train her daughter how to avoid the pitfalls and how to be successful.  

Oh sure, some of that has to do with making the mother look good, but more deeply than that is the desire to see the offspring thrive.

I am so thankful for the mother God has given to me and also grateful He has given me the privilege of giving birth to my own three children, one of them a daughter. 

As mothers we pour ourselves out for our kids. Then as they launch off on their own, we entrust them to our Heavenly Father. We are comforted with the certainty that they can never get away from the truths we have implanted in their minds.  

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Healthy Energy Bars

Healthy Energy Bars

A food stylist I am not (although I try).  With most of my foodie pictures, you will just have to trust me that the flavor is better than the photo quality. Today's featured recipe is an example of that.

If you examine my photo closely, you will see a dense-pack of nutrition and the list of ingredients in the recipe will prove it.

Nut and fruit bars are always a hit with me because they are not hard to prepare, they make good snacks, they are portable, and every ingredient is super-nutritious. 

I found the original recipe in a raw foods cookbook. Some of the ingredients did not suit me, so I have changed the recipe and come up with the following:

Healthy Energy Bars (makes 12 servings)

1 pound pitted Medjool dates
1/2 cup sprouted* sunflower seeds (buy the seeds raw**, unsalted)
1/2 cup sprouted* cashews (buy the nuts raw**, unsalted)
1 (1-inch) piece peeled, raw ginger root
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut*** 
4 Tablespoons organic coconut oil***
2 Tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey
1 mashed banana

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Cut into 12 bars before serving.

*To sprout the raw sunflower seeds and cashews, combine them both into a canning jar and cover with warm water.  Leave them on the counter for 24 hours, drain and rinse well, and use in the recipe. You may see the beginnings of a sprout nubbin, which indicates they are starting to sprout.  If you continue to rinse and drain them over the next day or so, you will see a stem and leaves appear. But that is not necessary for this recipe. 

**You will probably have to visit  your health foods store to find raw sunflower seeds and raw cashew nuts.  You want them to be raw (not roasted) for the maximum nutritional benefits that come from live foods.

***You will probably have to visit your health foods store to find unsweetened, shredded coconut and organic coconut oil.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Watching Cement Dry

I hope that this post doesn't sound too disjointed.  The last week has been stressful around here and we've lost a little sleep. All sorts of things have been a-poppin'  for us and for many of those I hold dear. In my extended family there was a quick decision to have surgery, a death and funeral for another, and concerns for our people in the flooded areas of the South. A dear friend had emergency heart surgery, and I apparently ate something with wheat in it, because I got a reaction from it and have not felt tip top.  Then there was the matter of a 'home repair,' which is the subject of this post (below) -- all in the last week!!

I am thankful to say that the Lord is holding us close and working all things out for good because we belong to Him and are committed to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

So with that in mind, please read on and maybe find a chuckle or two as I "Watch Cement Dry."

This particular adventure began last Wednesday when contractors hired by our   home builder came to destroy our driveway, which had begun to crack horribly not long after we moved into our brand new house a year ago. 

Colorado has nasty dirt, full of clay and something called Bentonite that expands and contracts wickedly depending if it's wet or dry. Homebuilders go to great measures to prevent cracking concrete but sometimes the dirt wins the battle!

The process of destruction was interesting to watch. What was not so entertaining was to see a water drain pipe and sprinkler lines underneath the driveway get cracked and smashed. They were defenseless as the cement on top of them was broken up.

Those problems got fixed (although not immediately, and I am not posting pictures of that); then the cement truck rolled up.  From my safe vantage point on the porch, I watched every detail of the process.

I do need to point out that all this activity took several days from start to finish, in spite of it looking like just a couple hours of work in my pictures.  It was intriguing to me that an affiliate of Beloved's longtime previous employer delivered the cement. 

As odd as it may sound, this part of the process was the most scary to me.  It's a good thing these guys are professionals!  I mean, they have to make sure enough (and not too much!) cement is poured and that they don't get any extra on the neighboring decorative rocks, grass and bushes.  

That boom from which the cement comes out of the truck swings around very freely. Several times I thought one of the workmen would get knocked on the head by it, but somehow disaster was avoided every time with no patience lost or bad words spoken. Are the guys really that nice or was it because a lady was standing nearby?

While my last paragraph described what I think is the scariest part of the job, this picture shows what is probably the hardest -- getting it smoothed out and beautiful. I don't know if I made the guys nervous as I stood over them, but it's my driveway and I wanted to see how they do things. I stayed out of the way and didn't say anything except the occasional words of appropriate awe and appreciation.

After they were done, the new driveway was truly a work of art.  We stayed off of it for 24 hours and then we could only walk on it.

Now the caution tape and wood stakes have been removed, but we can't park on it until Friday. We are still watching cement dry.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Undercutting Ourselves

Pensacola area road on April 30, 2014 - photo courtesy of a family friend

We have family in the South where the heavy rains this past week resulted in scenes like this, roads undercut, caving in and massive erosion of supporting soil. Beloved and I have been on this very stretch of road a few times, so this is especially shocking for us to see.

On Sundays I like to blog about spiritual things, "Food for the Soul." This picture reminds me of some scriptural principles, and if you are a student of the Bible, you can probably think of some yourself.

What comes to my mind is how we can, by our own behaviors, undercut what is in our best interests.  Sloppy habits, negligence, lack of personal disciplines, overeating, irresponsible spending ...

Oftentimes we can get away with it and no harm appears to be done. But then a storm in life suddenly hits and we quickly discover that we have no firm foundation to support us during the tide of disaster.  

We all have our areas of weakness, some more than others.  If we are smart, we will examine ourselves often and deeply to see where we need to make necessary changes.  

Admittedly, as in the case of the storm that washed out this road, some disasters are so overwhelming that no amount of preparation is enough, but we do ourselves a service to be diligent with wise living and to know the status of all that concerns us.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.

Proverbs 27:23-24

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Collard Smoothie

Collards divided into serving portions and frozen in zipper plastic bags
Over a year ago I began preparing green smoothies to go with breakfast.  Since that time I have greatly increased the amount of green beverage I have first thing in the morning and at the same time significantly reduced any other foods to accompany my breakfast.  The nutrients and volume of my green smoothies fill me up well.

Eating raw foods, such as what I put into my smoothies, enables my digestive system to work efficiently, without stress.  Digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea, or bloating and gas) can be terribly uncomfortable and lead to other health problems.  I put up with these issues for a long time until I realized they really aren't normal and that my body was trying to tell me something was amiss.

It was when I began to get noticeably sick that I discovered much of my problem was a wheat allergy (gluten intolerance). After my doctor's confirmation it was then up to me to make necessary dietary changes.  There is no medication for gluten intolerance.  One has to learn to live without gluten-containing foods. Eating a primarily raw, mostly vegan, diet has made all the difference for me.  

People have told me they could never give up bread, cookies, pies, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and breaded products.  What I tell them is that if a person is sick enough, the adjustment to a new way of eating is not so bad; it tends to be self-correcting.  

Yes, yes, I know there are gluten-free grain products out there, and I do eat some of them.  But with my avoidance of gluten has come a surprising weight loss.  As the changes were made, I realized just how many bread-related carbs I was eating.  I can honestly say that most of the time, I don't miss the old way.

As a bonus, I have experienced that in eating nutrient-dense foods, I eat less and stay fuller longer because my body is satisfied quickly after I eat and during the digestion process.

Today I am giving you a recipe for a green smoothie made with fresh collard greens. Collards can be ingested raw and no chewing is necessary when they are in a green smoothie.

Green Collard Smoothie in-the-works
This is the smoothie we enjoyed this morning:

Green Collard Smoothie (makes about 3 cups)

2 cups orange juice
1 large handful of fresh collards*
3/4 to 1 cup of frozen mango chunks
1 banana, sliced
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed meal
1-2 Tablespoons raw unfiltered honey
ice cubes are optional

Combine all of the ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

*I include the stems because my blender can handle them. If your blender isn't up to that, omit the stems and just use the leaves.

watching the emerald green liquid
while it's processing is a gorgeous sight

The more high-powered your blender, the more effective it is to release the nutrients out of the leaves of the greens.

sharing my smoothie with Beloved

This recipe makes about 3 cups.  Beloved, who is not as excited about fresh, raw whole foods as I am, does agree to have a small serving of my daily smoothies.  Admittedly, some days the color isn't this vibrant (greens combined with strawberries comes out to an earthy brown).  

I usually add honey to the smoothies for the sake of the unconvinced, a la Mary Poppins philosophy ("just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"). 

I'm also a strong believer in the thought that even small improvements do us good, so if your family will drink even a little of your green smoothie concoctions, be glad.

My daughter (a stronger raw-food advocate than me) pours her smoothie into a large canning jar. I like to do that, too. Then if it's just too much to drink for breakfast (that happens!), I tuck my flexible straw down and put a lid on the jar and refrigerate it for later consumption. 

Do be sure to drink it within 24 hours or it loses its freshness.  If I'm busy at lunchtime, it's a treat to finish up the smoothie on the run.

As you may already know, you can't buy just a small amount of collards, mustard greens, or kale.  When I get them home, I divide them up into handfuls (about 2.5 ounces each) and freeze them in sandwich-size zipper bags.  One 16-ounce bag of these greens from the store will make about 6 zipper bags to freeze. This one step can make the morning breakfast rush much easier.

This smoothie can be made with any greens: kale, mustard greens, spinach, bok choy, and others.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

National Day of Prayer 2014

photo from the Internet

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and the 2014 Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force, has written this beautiful prayer for today:

Lord of the Universe. Lord of this planet.
Lord of the nations. Lord of our hearts.

On this National Day of Prayer, we look to You...
In the darkness, You are our Light. In the storm, You are our Anchor. In our weakness, You are our Strength. In our grief, You are our Comfort. In our despair, You are our Hope. In our confusion, You are our Wisdom. In time of terrorism, You are our Shield. In time of war, You are our Peace. In times of uncertainty, You are the Rock on which we stand.

We make our prayer to You using the words of the prophet Daniel:
O Lord, You are the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments. You are merciful and forgiving. You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame because we have sinned against You, and done wrong. We have turned away from Your commands and principles. We have turned away from You.

Yet, You have promised in 2 Chronicles 7, that if we -- a people identified with You -- would humble ourselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from our wicked ways, then You would hear our prayer, 
forgive our sin and heal our land.

So we choose to stop pointing our finger at the sins of others, and examine our own hearts and lives. We choose to acknowledge our own sin -- our neglect and defiance and ignorance and even rejection of You. 
This day we choose to repent.

In response to our heartfelt repentance, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Father of Jesus Christ, in keeping with all Your righteous acts and according to Your promise, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from the United States of America.  Hear the prayers and petitions offered to You on this National Day of Prayer, as we give You our full attention. Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see. We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.

For the glory of Your Name hear our prayer, 
forgive our sin, and heal our land.

We ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ who offered us salvation from Your judgment, forgiveness for our sin, and reconciliation with You through His own blood shed on the Cross.