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Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 1 Thoughts - Recipe Reviews, Sweetener Ideas, and Random Musings

We made several soups this week from Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live Cookbook.  This isn't an in-depth review, but I just wanted to share my opinions.

1. Brocolli Mushroom Stew- I thought this one was great.  Mackenzie wasn't thrilled with it, but she had two servings.

2. Dr. Fuhrman's Anticancer Soup - There are rave reviews for this soup, and it is the one he most often promotes.  It is packed with the GBOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds), less the berries.  But it really didn't have much flavor to me.  So, you can really add any spice you prefer and that is how it will taste.  I liked adding dried Red Peppers and I loved adding lemon juice.  I don't think it will be my "go to" soup, but if I'm going for the health benefits, this is 2.5 cups of Nutritarian gold!

As a side note, the directions include putting whole zucchinis in a pot to soften, and then dumping pureed veggies over it, then pulling the zucchinis out to chop them.  The zucchinis were gross and hard to work with this way. Next time I will put the zucchinis in the pot, continue pureeing other veggies and put them into a large bowl, adding them to the pot AFTER I pull out the zucchinis!

2. Very Veggie Stew - also good - this one has the strange flavor of cinnamon with veggies....which reminds me of those Mexican chilis that have cocoa.  Odd, but not bad.  I think next time I'll leave out the cinnamon and just enjoy vegetable stew.

4. Tomato Bisque - Absolutely loved the flavor of this one.  I could eat it every day.  Mackenzie didn't like how chunky it was - she thought it should be blended and creamy, so we'll make it that way next time.  

We made it through the week with plenty of groceries - we could easily go two more days before going back to the store, and we probably will. Our little kids normally have cereal for breakfast with way too many scoops of sugar on it, but when I made my oatmeal every morning, they would ask for it instead.  A much healthier alternative! (whole grain oats, sunflower seeds, frozen blueberries or raspberries, a fresh banana, and some walnuts)

Mackenzie slept over at a friend's house, so she packed up her meals:
1. A baked potato with salsa
2. Almonds, oats, and frozen berries in a baggie
3. A container of soup
4. Acorn squash and Dark Karo Syrup for dessert

She is really excited to be prepared to resist pizza and doughnuts!

Why Dark Karo syrup??
Dr. Fuhrman wants absolutely no sweeteners because they are "empty calories", but that doesn't match our lifestyle quite yet.  Our palettes are looking for the sweet sometimes.  So, we are choosing to avoid artificial sweeteners completely, as I believe they are poisonous to the body and mind, and also to avoid sweeteners with fructose, which is not used by the body, but is filtered by the liver, adding strain to it, as well as spiking insulin.  Karo and Dark Karo syrups, however, are made with pure glucose.  The body recognizes this as a source of energy and uses it to power the body, and none of it goes to the liver.  


Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Long Coffee

Oh how I love coffee!  Let me count the ways!!

...yeah...we don't even have room for that.  

Dr. Fuhrman says coffee is addictive.  Yes.  Yes, it is. 

I think I've tried to quit coffee at least once a year for the last 10.  

But this time is for real, and I'll tell you why.

I am really trying to follow Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live Diet 100%.  So, I put the coffee away on Day 1, but then I pulled it out again on Day 4....for the totally logical reason that I have creamer in the fridge, and I'd hate for it to go to waste!  

When talking about food addiction, Dr. F says we lie to ourselves so that we can indulge in our addiction.  So, I told myself I had to finish of the gallon of creamer. 

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings I made my 2 Cups of coffee, and drank my coffee...and skipped breakfast.  My hunger level is so low right now, that I didn't feel hungry at all for breakfast. The problem with this became evident later when I was thinking about what I had eaten during the day, and all three days had only 0 or 1 piece of fruit.  Dr. F wants us eating 2-4 pieces of fruit.  

So, I have a choice - 

Eat fruit for nutrients, drink coffee because I love it....and be about 300 calories over every day


Drink coffee because I just can't say no, skip the fruit....and be short on the immune boosting and cancer fighting nutrients I know I need. 


Say goodbye to coffee.  When my friends are drinking coffee, pull out a yummy piece of fruit and enjoy the fellowship.  Be healthy. Lose weight. Feel amazing.

Goodbye Coffee!  


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Week 1 results and First Shopping Trip

Today is Saturday and we have been following the Nutritarian diet wholeheartedly for 8 days.  Well...wholeheartedly except I pulled out my coffee pot on Wednesday and had 3 days of morning coffee and cream...and there was that one Binge on Pizza night.  

But, you know.  

Other than that.

My leg pains went away on Day 5.  And now I'm on to the other weird Detox symptom that I have....insomnia and euphoria.  That's right...I feel SO good that I can't sleep!  This happened last time I followed the Nutritarian diet and it took me a while to realize it wasn't just the "new normal," but a Detox symptom.  I lay in bed and my brain just races and races.  

Another symptom I'm having is what I'm going to call bloating.....I feel SO full...all the time.  I'm never hungry.  Today I had my breakfast (about 300 calories), lunch at 2pm (300 calories) and now it is 9pm and I'm still not hungry.  In fact, I don't think I could force myself to eat.  Dr. Fuhrman says the Eat to Live Diet is a high fat diet during the weightloss period, because you are eating low-fat, nutrient dense food, and your body is pulling fat from your waist and hips to supplement your calories.  That must be true, because I am SO not hungry.

As of Sunday morning, (end of Day 9) I have lost 3.7 pounds.  Now don't get too excited...that is all NEW weight.  Weight I gained in October!  ACK!  But it's nice to fit back into my FAT CLOTHES!  

Mackenzie was very surprised to find she lost 4 pounds!  I asked her if she felt deprived or "on a diet" and she said "No, not at all. Well, except when my family is eating something I can't have, like pizza or eggrolls."

I'm feeling great.  3 people in the family have been sick, but not me.  But that does include Mack with a mild stomach virus.

Shopping Trip

We went on our first Nutritarian shopping trip of this adventure.  Remember, only Mackenzie and I are eating this way..the rest of the family is eating our normal food.  

Here is the one week menu plan, recipes found in Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live Cookbook:

Breakfast Choices
Blueberry Nut Oatmeal
Quick Banana and Blueberry Breakfast
Tuscan Tofu Scramble
Apple Supreme

Lunches will be large salads or leftover soups

Dinner Choices
Brocolli Mushroom Stew
Anticancer Soup
Very Veggie Stew
Tomato Bisque

Here was our shopping list, and it doesn't include things we already had in our house like spices...but we didn't have much in the way of food.  This is a great list to use if you are wanting to fill your house with nutrient-rich foods:


Pine Nuts- (Holy Cow, these are expensive! If you have a cheaper source of Pine Nuts, let me know!)

Navy Beans
Sunflower Seeds (kernels only, raw)
Green Split Peas

Onions (green, red, yellow)

Mrs. Dash
Fresh cilantro
Fresh parsley
Frozen Blueberries
Carrot Juice

We shop at WINCO Foods, which we have found to have a much better selection in the produce department than any other grocery store, and the prices are comparable or even better than Costco or Grocery Outlet.  WINCO rocks.

Is it more expensive to follow a Nutritarian Diet?

The total for our Nutritarian Menu, which I suspect will stretch to 8 or 9 days rather than just the 7 I designed it for, was $94.06 for 2 people.  That would make this lifestyle of eating cost about $200 per person, per month.  For our family of 9, even when we are being as frugal as possible, we average $120 per person per month. And when we are eating that "tight" we end up splurging on pizza or KFC eventually, because we are just so tired of the mundane potatoes and rice meals we are eating.  The Nutritarian diet, on the other hand, is diverse, exciting, and spicy!

This is Dr. Fuhrman's Three Bean Pumpkin Chili. Doesn't it look hearty and amazing!  It was!

In the next few months however, we would need to replace our herbs and spices, and our tofu, which we had in the freezer.  I also didn't include any desserts in my meal plan. So, in the long run, maybe $230 per person is more likely.

You might think that sounds expensive, but remember, this is for 21 meals every expense from eating out, no Starbucks category in the budget.  Hopefully, this Nutritarian lifestyle would also see an immediate savings on medicine such as...

 Decongestants-boosted immune system, reduced dairy lowers mucous production
Pain Relievers - lowered inflammatory response, quicker recovery from exercise or exertion, fewer headaches
Allergy medicine - lowered inflammatory response or reduced allergic reaction (documented in Eat to Live)
Asthma medicine - some participants have had asthma go away from this lifestyle!!  

And, of course, you need to consider future medical costs: Diabetes, Heart Surgery, Cancer Treatment...these are all VERY expensive future medical costs, and by eating according to the Nutritarian lifestyle we will dramatically lower our risk.  

Just to take one ridiculous example...a few years ago Brian got a blister on his toe.  It became infected with MRSA, and after several ER visits we were able to save his toe and his life. (Yes, it could have been that bad, but it turned out fine.)  But cost $5000, after insurance.  
If the day he got the blister he had been following the Nutritarian lifestyle and had a boosted immune system, maybe he never would have gotten the infection. 
(Boy...I could really use that $5000 right now!)  
But if we extrapolate that over our lifetimes and for each of our 7 children....this "expensive" way of eating is actually going to save us ALOT of money.

So, for me, even with my very tight Single-Income, Family of Nine grocery budget...this is not a more expensive way of eating.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What IS Detox anyway?

I'm halfway through my first week on Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Nutritarian Diet.  The goal of this diet is longevity...not weightloss.  However, according to Dr. Fuhrman, even our scales of "normal" are skewed too high, so if you eat according to his plan you should be somewhat underweight.  Yeah.  We'll see.

During the first 2 to 6 weeks of eating according to his plan, most people experience detox.  Detox is when your body uses all of the great nutrients you are eating to go repair your cells.  The nutrients go into the cells, and the junk comes out.  Detox is good!  But it feels awful.

In order to accomplish the goal of detox, you must:
1. Eat a diet very high in plant-based nutrients, and
2. Only eat 3 meals per day.  

This gives your body time to 1.Digest then 2.Repair.  Most Americans are consuming calories all day long, so the body is in constant digestion, and never moves on to repair. (Which is why we are getting sick and feeling lousy)

However, this first 6 weeks of Detox can also feel lousy, because your bloodstream is being flooded with all of the junk from your cells.  You have to embrace the lousy feeling, knowing that it is working in your favor.

So far, my Detox Symptoms have been:
-Cramps in legs, back, and neck
-Arthritis in my hands
-Feeling bloated

The cramps have been so bad I thought I'm might have a touch of the flu.  I slept very poorly for two nights, so last night I took a Tylenol PM for the pain and slept like a rock!  All that said, this detox was not as bad as the one I did 2 years ago.

What's in my Kitchen?

I want to start eating Nutritarian right now. Right. Now.  

But our family has migrated back to the Standard American Diet over the past few months, so I needed to do a quick survey of the kitchen.  Here are the results:

Not too bad, all things considered.  Obviously not enough greens for a truly Fuhrman-approved meal plan, but I think I can make it work until our next shopping day, which will be next Thursday (today is Friday).  We might be able to pick up some mixed greens or spinach before then.  Ooh, and I totally forgot to add the acorn squash!  The kids have been looking forward to that as a dessert (slathered in butter and brown sugar), but I might have to steal it from them to use in our healthier menu.

(Just 2 of our 9 person family wants to eat Nutritarian.  But I know I'll be serving more salads because that's what I'll be making. Otherwise, this time, I'm not going to force them into it.  I'd rather they just be happy and let me eat in peace.)

Tonight I made the Brocolli Mushroom Bisque from the Eat To Live Cookbook.  I had to make a few substitutions, but on the whole it wasn't bad. I added a little white pepper to give it a bit more pop. And thus, my planned dinner: BBQ pork, cheddar cheese, tortilla...became brocolli, mushroom, carrot, onion, zero salt.  MUCH better!

Since this is the start...again...let's talk about the State of the Lindsey.  Not good right now.  My hands are hurting regularly with "arthritis."  My weight is the highest it has ever been outside of pregnancy.  And I've had ZERO energy and lots of brain fog.  On the plus side, I really haven't had illnesses lately.  

Mackenzie's brain is very foggy...extreme difficulty concentrating.  She's certainly not fat, but I think she'd love to slim down in the tummy.  She's very very eager to eat healthy and is already avoiding foods at school - she really wants to eat a "no artificial flavor" diet, and that can't be done with school food.  So, the challenge will be getting healthy food to school.  She loves salads, so maybe we can find some Fuhrman-approved dressings that she likes.

Tomorrow we are going to brainstorm our meals using the food in the house, and also start re-reading Eat to Live - probably jumping around and not going straight through.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Starting again, again

There is a research group doing a 10 year study on Women & the Nutritarian diet, and cancer.  I would love to be a part of it!  How cool to have my own blood tested for propensity for cancer.  How cool to have my weight and overall health tracked, and maybe to have Mackenzie join me in this ...and what if my own compliance to this not only helped my own health and taught my family healthy eating habits, but was part of the publication of data 10 years from now that prompts others to choose to eat their veggies??  

Yes, It would be so cool.

But it would also mean embracing the Nutritarian lifestyle, which I have only successfully done for about 3 months....for 10 years.                              


I don't know the parameters of the study, but I do know that Nutritarians don't:

Drink coffee - it is addictive and harmful to epithelial cells.

Eat any sugar - Also addictive.  Also harmful in ridiculous ways.

Eat chocolate - See above.

These three.  They just kill me. And also, I know that once I get out from under their grips, the Nutritarian lifestyle becomes so much easier. 

So.  I'm starting right now.  I don't have much fresh food in the house, but I have beans, lentils, frozen spinach, tomatoes, oatmeal....enough to make it till payday at least.

And Mackenzie is on board too!  We can make this our challenge!

I'll blog about it just for grins, and we'll see if I make it more than one meal.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Day/Week/Year of No Sugar

I just finished reading Eve Schaub's A Year of No Sugar.

It's kind of funny, because she brings the full-full-full circle with all the health stuff I've learned in the last 2 years. 

First I watched Dr. Lustig's Sugar: A Bitter Truth

Then read Potatoes over Prozac, which pushed me toward a high protien diet as opposed to a sugar-filled diet.

Then I saw Forks over Knives then Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead and then read China Study and Eat to Live...which of course totally reversed the high protein diet and went toward the no animal food diet...which is high in sugar.

Here's what I know about myself:

I'm a sugar addict.
I'm an overeater.
I have no self control.

I think the overeater piece may be related to the sugar addiction. And I think the self -control piece is related to the cravings I have due to the sugar addiction.

So, here's my idea.

I want to combine all of the "cooking with no sugar" knoweldge I've gained over the last year and a half and really cut it out totally.

In the process, I'll probably add back some of the cheese and milk I've cut out...partly because soy milk has added sugar.

Don't know how long I will do this.  My current goal is a day, but if I make it to 3 days or a week...then I will want to keep going.  Because I've got to kick this addiction.

Also not sure how strict I want to be when I'm out to night tomorrow!

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Banana and Berries
Lunch: Something with lentils and lots of spices
Dinner: Spinach salad with salsa and avocado

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Balancing Act: Healthy Meals in My Home - It's been a Long, Rocky Road, Part 2

20 Meals a Week for a Family of 9!
June 2009-present

There have been several stages in this part of the journey, even though I was making meals "from scratch."

Bulk R Us
After those 5 months in the boarding house, we found a reasonably priced duplex that seemed the perfect fit for our family.  Armed with Meaghan's recipes and the knowledge I had gained, we started filling our home with ingredients and I started cooking from scratch every meal.  

Hallelujah!!  I thought I had "arrived"! I had finally learned how to feed my family!  

But God had more for me to learn.
During this stage, we bought the cheapest food possible, but cut our ties to Costco and packaged food.  

Instead, we went to our local restaurant supply store and bought 25 pound bags of rice, flour, brown sugar, sugar, oats, dry beans and cornmeal.  We bought spices in bulk. YES! We still do this!  Restaurant supply stores have spices for a mere fraction of the price of your regular grocery store.  DO NOT get spices at your regular grocery store unless you have a very small family.

The Feingold Revelation
Oct 2009

By this time in our lives we had a 8 year old daughter, 6 year old daughter (Annie) , 4 year old son (Logan) , and almost 2 year old son.  Annie's and Logan's behavior were terrible.  Really, really terrible. 

We thought we were reasonably good parents.  People told us we were good parents, but at home they were just awful.

Logan had an awful temper.  I had never seen a child that was SO angry so often.  He would throw things, scream at people, push, kick -- all with very little provocation.  When he was a bit younger I would just put him in a pack n play and let him scream until he was done.  What else could I do? I was nursing a little baby and he was flailing all over the place! But now that he was older, and quite a tank, I was seriously worried that he would injure his brother or older sisters.

Annie was having extreme anxiety.  Biting her arms, pulling her own hair, night terrors, sobbing constantly, perseveration (repeated movements like tapping her lips), crying constantly about clothing being uncomfortable, completely unable to deal with any amount of change, sobbing over simple was bad.

I found myself disciplining and correcting and DEALING WITH CHAOS constantly.  It was exhausting, and embarassing, and totally not working. Finally I fell to my knees and begged The Lord for help.  We had to change something.  I also asked my Sunday School class for prayer because we needed a miracle.

In October of 2009, by happenstance on an online forum I heard about the Feingold Diet.  In summary, some people are sensitive to the chemicals found in salicylates (not us) and artificial ingredients (that's us).  We very rapidly went through our pantry and cleaned out all of the artificial ingredients, and then had to relearn what we could feed our family.  My next blog post will have this entire lifechanging, prayer-answering transformation and some helpful tips.

Nutrient Dense
November 2012 - present

In the Fall of 2012 one of my husband's relatives was diagnosed with cancer.  At Thanksgiving, Brian's mom mentioned that she was avoiding all meat and dairy.  I thought "How can that possibly be healthy?? Isn't dairy good for you? Don't you HAVE to eat meat to live?"

So, I turned to the almighty internet for answers.  I googled "Dairy and cancer" and inadvertently changed my life.  I will also cover this journey in a future blog post.  Or maybe 5.
   A nutrient-dense meal means getting as many nutrients per calorie as possible.  
This is based on a Dr. Joel Furhman has potatoes, brocolli, onions, tomatoes and is very spicy...but no salt, oil, or fat!

Other Future Blog Posts:
Making my children eat my food :)
Travelling as a Feingold Family
Meal Planning and Shopping Tips
School Lunches, Heaven Help Us

The Balancing Act: Healthy Dinners in My Home - It's Been a Long, Rocky Road, Part 1

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I come from a long line of amazing cooks that stopped suddenly one generation short of me.  

Do you remember that Sesame Street song "One of these things is not like the other?"  That's me.  All the women in my family are fabulous cooks...and then there's me.

For whatever reason, I came home from my honeymoon, ready to launch my new household, with 3 skills.  
1. Boiling water
2. Browning meat
3. Opening cans

Seriously.  It was really that bad. 

So, if this is you, and you feel really overwhelmed by the idea of feeding your family homecooked meals, I have good news for you!!  You can learn! 

Here are the stages of my (currently 14 year) journey from "The Kitchen is where we keep the TakeOut Menus" to "20 meals a week for a family of 9."   We still have a pizza night, for all you math people out there.

The Kitchen is where we keep the TakeOut Menus
Dec 30, 1999 - June 2004

In this stage we are eating fast food or restaurants for the majority of our meals, with occassional frozen dinners and frozen one-skillet meals.  

In our first apartment, we had almost no cabinet space for all of our lovely dishes from the wedding, so I kept clean dishes in the dishwasher....and I didn't care!  Because I didn't need a dishwasher!!  Every meal came in it's own styrofoam package or a sack!  I never had to clean a pot, or wash a dish.

I also couldn't figure out why I felt so poor.  Brian and I were both working and we had no children, but the money just evaporated from the checking account.  Weird.

(Funny story from this inlaws came to visit me in my tiny house in Abilene when Brian and I were in college.  Patty had to make the shopping list and cook at MY house.  Please believe me, I really had no idea how to feed people that did not involve a broken drive-thru microphone.)

Everything in my Pantry is Square
July 2004 - Dec 2008

In this stage I realized I needed to start feeding my family food that I bought at the grocery store.

So, I would go get 12 boxes of Hamburger or Chicken Helper, then look on the back and see what I needed.  Hmm.  Eggs, Butter, 12 pounds of meat. Done!!

For real.  I am not exaggerating.  I would call Brian and say "So, Do you want Stroganoff, or Cheezy Lasagna, or TexMex Chicken?"  

In the back of my mind, I still knew this was not normal, or the way I wished I fed my family.  We would go over to other people's houses, and they never fed us Hamburger Helper.  So, I would collect magazines and cookbooks and try to cook out of them, but this is how that would go...

I would choose a recipe.
I would look around my kitchen and realize I was 10 ingredients short.
I would go buy the ingredients.
I would have a heart attack at the $55 grocery bill for one meal!!
I would cook the $55 meal and then go back to Hamburger Helper.

I couldn't figure this out!  Why did people say cooking at home was less expensive than fast food? Why did they say "cooking from scratch" was less expensive than frozen food? 

By this time we had 4 small children, and we would fill our trash can every single day.  Half of it was diapers, LOL!  But the other half was wrappers.  Individually wrapped granola bars, Individually wrapped fruit roll ups, Boxes of macaroni and cheese, Boxes of Hamburger Helper, Boxes of cookie mix, Cans of chili, Cans of Corn, wrappers and wrappers and wrappers.  

We were creating SO MUCH TRASH!  I remember thinking that half of what I brought home from Costco was wrappers and boxes.  And, of course, our grocery bill was still crazy high, because when you buy 24 individually wrapped granola bars, and you have 3 toddlers, they each want 4 granola bars a day...or maybe 6.  So that $250 shopping trip would last us 2 days.  At least that's what it felt like.

(Funny story from this Stage - My fabulous Stepmom Janet gave me a huge crockpot for my birthday, and I was thinking "When will I EVER use this??"  HA!!  She's a really smart woman, and I had no idea what a valuable thing a humongous crockpot is!) 

Here's my growing family - 4th of July 2005. Ages 3,1, and 5 weeks!

Jan 2009-May 2009

God is so good.  He knew I was struggling, and He had an ingenious solution.  

We were way over our heads in debt and my good friend Meaghan (and her husband Chad) ran a boarding house for single women.  She would only charge $400 in rent for a room, and this covered rent, electricity, cable/internet and GROCERIES!!  Seriously!!

We were at the end of our lease, so we prayed about it, gave away as much furniture and stuff as we could, and moved into the boarding house.  Brian and I stayed in one room, and our 4 children stayed in the other, and we reduced our total living expenses to $800 per month!!  We were also living with Chad, Meaghan, their 3 small children, and 2 single our family of 6 makes 13!  In one (large) house.

And for 5 months I got to watch Chad and Meaghan buy groceries and cook meals for 13 people.  

Here's what they did, that I never did....


They did not buy a cookie mix.  They bought flour, and baking powder, and chocolate chips, and butter.

They did not buy frozen one skillet dinners.  They bought celery, and peppers, and chicken, and rice and teriyaki sauce.

They most certainly did not buy granola bars and chips, as they had found these things disappeared FAST.  Instead, they bought fruit to snack on.

This was my epiphany.....  


*Going back to my $55 recipes from the earlier years, I now realize it is because I had no ingredients in my house.  So, if I needed a teaspoon of basil, I had to buy a $10 jar of basil.  In order to cook meals at home, you much have lots of spices, lots of staple items like baking soda and flour, lots of condiments like salsa, soy sauce, and garlic, and it is very helpful to always have at least one onion in the house. ;)

And so, eight and a half years after my wedding, I had finally learned how to cook
20 Meals a Week for a Family of 9....

but the journey wasn't over. To be continued in Part 2!

Summer of 2009. Ages 7,5,4,2

Friday, January 17, 2014

"I am my Beloved's and He is Mine"

 When I see something interesting I put it on hold, and often I do it without much thought, so that when I go to get the book I can't even remember why I was prompted to choose that particular title.

Today I walked into the library and, for whatever reason, noticed how perfectly aligned all of those precious titles were.....each one with a slip of paper sticking out, waiting to be claimed by members of my community who are likewise obsessed.

A wave of joy swept over me, and I realized this sight may be my very favorite in the whole universe....books waiting to be inhaled!

So, I marched up to claim my book, and realized it was THE book.  THE book I had reserved two seasons ago.  THE book that I already loved without yet cracking the cover.

And on THE day I was headed out of town for my first UN-Mommy-Mommy-Mommy weekend in 3 years. What timing!  

This is a gift that I now hold in my hands.  

A gift from my Beloved.  

Who knows me.  Knows what thrills my heart.

And the best part of this gift is that I did nothing to manipulate it into existence - it was His idea.

And it does not expand the Kingdom...It doesn't bless my family...It doesn't enrich my marriage....all things that I ask for from my Heavenly Father...and all things I am thankful for.

But this gift is Just.    For.    Me.  

It has my name on it!  It comes at the perfect time when I can enjoy it most.  And it is just because He loves me, and not to further His own agenda.

Because I am His beloved and He is a Gift Giver.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Balancing Act: Healthy Dinners in my Home - Let's Get a Few Things Straight!

You know the Duggars, right?  That amazing family of 22 who live in harmony and orderliness?

Yeah.  That's not me.

I once had an acquaintance remark: "Oh, I love large families!  They are so organized!!"

I was too stunned to snort my drink out of my nose, so I think I just made a choking sound. But this statement deserved a hearty guffaw.  I should have been literally rolling on the ground with laughter, and then picking daisies out of my hair.

I have tried hard to learn...but it just hasn't happened.

You know how Rachel Ray floats around her kitchen making jokes, sharing recipes, making OOH and AHH noises as well as incredible dishes...and absolutely NO mess.

Yeah.  That's not me either.

I know it can be done.  I've seen it in real life.

I have an amazing friend named Robin who would invite our family over to her home almost every Friday night.  She would likewise float around the kitchen...preparing both dinner AND dessert, telling stories AND doing dishes at the same time.  

A dirty utensil never touches her counter....She loads the dishwasher as she is cooking.

I would watch carefully, taking detailed notes....

Open the can
Put can opener away
Dump can in skillet with spatula
Put can in trash, wiping the trash can clean
Open dishwasher and drop spatula inside
Adjust temp for the stove

Measure powdered sugar into Kitchenaid food processor
Hit pulse
Open dishwasher and drop measuring cup inside.
Realize powdered sugar container is dirty.
Start rinsing it out while telling an entertaining story.
Laugh riotously while drying the canister and refilling it with another package of powdered sugar.
(She already has a new package? How did she know she needed a new package?)
(Her scissor were right where she looked for them the first time.  This place is so strange)
Put the sparkling canister back in the cabinet while giving gentle instructions to the toddler underfoot.

Stir the main dish (open dishwasher, close dishwasher).....Boil more water for veggies.....Laugh riotously at the joke she just told....Turn on the oven for dessert....

By this time I've run out of paper.

She would deliver a perfectly cooked, still hot, attractive and healthy, totally delicious meal to the table.  And the kitchen behind her was spotless.  Like a maid had spent an hour in there.  Every. Single. Time.

No open cans.  No spilled liquids on the range.  No powdered sugar in her hair.  No tomato sauce on the ceiling.  

It was like a magical Mr. Clean vortex.

I know it was a vortex, because I tried to replicate this dance in my kitchen.  

This is the part where you snort your drink out of your nose.

It just ain't happenin.'

I'm not a very good cook.
And my timing is perfectly awful.  
My cooking is mushy or undercooked, burnt or stuck to the pan. 

And my kitchen is not Rachel Ray's or Robin's.

More along the lines of... Elmo?  The Guy on Dirty Jobs?  Mr. Wizard during the volcano episode?

So, why in the world am I starting a series about How I Feed my Family?

Well, it's mostly because I have put a whole lot of thought into making a menu, preparing a shopping list, learning about nutrition, and putting meals in front of very discerning and vocal young palates. 

I have scoured the internet for ways to feed my family tasty food despite myself.  

I have tried every trick to fool my husband into eating something green.

And I've tried to reduce the grocery budget in every way possible.  (Except canning.  See above.)

And every once-in-a-while a friend will ask me to share what works in my family.....and so I end up sending them 47 links and last week's shopping list and she starts to look like a deer in headlights.

So, here is my attempt to put all of those years of research and burning things in one spot, so that this disorganized Mama can answer that question without scaring away any more friends!

(This is not my picture. Note how clean it looks.  Clean enough to eat off of.)