The Why: Food Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot about why we do the things we do. Why do we eat a certain way? Why do we homeschool? Why do we spend our time the way we do?

Some of this stems from comments made by others implying that they don’t approve of the way I spend my time and energy. Other times friends and family give us confused looks about our eating choices. I’m definitely not what you’d call a people pleaser. Like most people, however, I want people to think I’m making wise choices. I mean, if they have a valid reason I should do something differently, it would be silly to ignore their advice, right?

So, being an over thinker (my friends in high school used to say I was overanalyticalizationing, just to make me twitch), it’s helpful for me to have gone through all of the reasons I believe I’ve made the best Biblical and healthy choice. This way, when someone makes a comment or gives a look I don’t feel tossed to and fro. It’s easier to evaluate whether their differing opinion is helpful or not if I know exactly why I made mine.

Issue number one: Food.

We eat mostly organic (or foods produces in a similar manner). The goal is basically not to eat it unless it grows. Out of the ground, walking, swimming: grows. Not something that did grow but has been put in a box or a bag or a can. Not something modified to grow kind of like a super hero food. Because a super hero is really mutant (except batman of course!) And mutant food doesn’t really sound appetizing to me!

Of course this isn’t always how it works out. For instance, I don’t have the resources, time or energy to make all my own tomato sauce. Another one for us is tortilla chips, and tortillas for that matter. I have made our own tortillas, but I have a hard time getting a corn shell right and with two glutards in the house that’s an absolute must. We eat quesadillas, nachos, chips and salsa, tacos (you get the idea) almost daily. They’re all so easy that they make perfect go-to quick lunches! Obviously there are good things that don’t fall into the “grow”category such as minerals, but it’s been a helpful way to explain it to people.

I try to bake all of our own gluten free bread, but my husband likes to buy a good sprouted loaf for himself. We also prefer raw dairy products to pasteurized, homogenized “milk” that half of my family can barely drink (hence the dairy cow).

So the why: I didn’t jump on the organic fad when it started. It actually began with my celiac diagnosis. When I started paying very close attention to what I ate, I began to notice exactly what made me feel well and not-so-well. It obviously began with glutenful items as well as dairy while I was still healing. Then, because it takes a good chunk of time to figure out how to eat out when you have Celiac disease, I noticed when I returned to restaurants that I didn’t feel so well. Add a move that put us a 20 minute drive to the nearest restaurant and 30 to the nearest fast-food joint and let’s just say my menu planning skills got a work-out.

By this time, it wasn’t just me. The rest of my family had aching tummies, weird gas and let’s not mention the cranky kiddos. That’s when I became fixed on the issue: Our bodies were not made to process all of this “stuff” in our food. Stuff that’s not food. Stuff we can barely pronounce. Stuff that the FDA has deemed “safe”. Our digestive system has the amazing ability to break down organic (living) material and other things that God has given to keep us healthy and moving. But I believe that it doesn’t have the ability to break down pesticides, preservatives and other things that takes a laboratory to get into our food without negative repercussions on the body. Also by the time many great foods get to the shelf, much of the nutrient content has been either destroyed or made unavailable for our bodies to absorb.

Cranberry Granola

Homemade Cereal

I started with this one because it’s easy for me. We eat “naturally” (as if that word has much meaning anymore) because we’ve experienced both sides of that fence. The grass is totally greener over here. :) I also think that the long term benefits will be great as well. I recognize that maybe everyone doesn’t agree with me or think it’s worth the effort. I don’t expect to convince any one of anything. (Although sometimes it does get difficult to listen to other people’s list of maladies while they slather margarine on their bread. I just pray for grace while they talk and ask God to help by brain-mouth filter to work properly.)

Anyways, I’ll leave you with one last video my husband found on hydrogenized oil. Whenever we wonder about something, I try to say, “look it up”. This one comes to mind every time I look at an ingredient and wonder what it is. I think about this video and just figure that it might have been engineered to taste good but I’m sure it won’t slide down my arteries nice and smooth. I’ll pass!

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Happy New Year!

I don’t make resolutions. Even as a child, I thought they were pretty silly. ‘Why now?’ I used to think. If you’re doing something you shouldn’t, quit as soon as you realize it. If you get lazy and give up, start again! If you think you should be doing something, chances are Jan 1st isn’t the first time you thought of it.

Well, I was a different kid. An old soul they used to call me. It’s ironic considering how much of my life revolves around the very young: children of my own, teaching within the church, oh and that youth pastor I’m married to keeps my house perfectly populated with young people.

Here are some things I’ll be working on this year, but for the record most of them have been in the works for several months:

  • My husband and I have been trying writing in cursive. PenMANship he calls it. Pending him making the first move, I think we’re going to write letters to each other, thereby improving our penmanship AND our relationship!
  • I’ve trying to be diligent about making my own bread, yogurt and kimchi regularly. Maybe the “resolution” spirit running around will even inspire me to add meats and cheeses to the mix. We’ll see :)
  • A thought occurred to me today that it might be helpful for me to record each day. This way, I can remain accountable to myself for what I accomplished each day, keeping me from idleness or simply doing things that are not worth my time. I doubt I could keep up with food to, but maybe recording what I ate would help prevent the accidental gluten exposure that keeps ruining several days at a time.

So there you have it, resolutions from someone who hates resolutions.

What bandwagon(s) are you jumping on? Anti-resolution? I want to hear about that too!

Our Honest Thanksgiving Menu: Real Food & Otherwise

Update: I highlighted our actual menu in orange where there were choices given. It was a delicious day!

There has been a lot of talk about holiday dining on the blogosphere these days. When it comes to entertaining and guests and being one ourselves, where do we compromise? So I decided to honestly share how we will be handling our Thanksgiving menu. Honestly, I would love to be able to prepare a huge 100% real food meal with sprouted buns, wild turkey, home grown beets – the whole nine yards, not only for my immediate family but as a service to the extended friends and family who will be joining us.

Maybe next year I’ll set a holiday food budget and save in advance (as well as pay a babysitter) so I can do it all, but this year here’s what it will look like. You’ll see that the biggest area in which I’m caving is homemade soaked baked goods. Being over 7 months pregnant and doing all of that on top of normal commitments is one unrealistic expectation I am with-it enough to dodge.

  • Organic Spinach Salad topped with walnuts, organic pears, dried cranberries
    • (Store-bought) Raspberry Vinaigrette or (Homemade) Italian Dressing
  • Rolls (will ask Mother-in-law to pitch in here so ingredients might be organic, definitely not soaked, but she will bring gluten free as my father-in-law in on a GAPS type diet)
  • Main Course Options ( I need to decide on one or two)
    • Turkey – local, free range organic ♥ –
    • Two Chickens – Local, free range – yummy, healthy, but not turkey!
    • Venison/Elk Roast – I read today that the Wampanoag Indians brought five freshly hunted deer to the first thanksgiving. I think it would be plenty festive if we used some of the wild game in our freezer!
  • Trimming – Homemade stuffing from gluten free bread – if I have time to make the bread I will, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not above buying a (hard as a rock I might add) frozen Ezekiel Loaf or other bread (food for life) to make it.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Homemade from homegrown potatoes
  • Gravy – Homemade, thickened with xanthan gum or one of my many GF flours
  • Creamy Corn – canned corn (i know BPA…once in a while I just have to) simmered with organic cream and unprocessed sweetener of choice)
  • Dessert – My husbands grandmother will probably want to bring something, usually an interesting jello number or a boxed pie. (Pumpkin pie…from a box)
    • Also, I will make a homemade pie (either pumpkin or butternut-maple with real maple syrup) my cheat: Gluten Free Mama’s Pie & Pastry Mix
    • My Mother-in-law was kind enough to make both gluten free blueberry pie and apple crisp – not organic, but edible for me which doesn’t happen very often. Woohoo!

Ok, so there’s the bulk of it. As you can see, my normal standards have been lowered. I find fellowship and hospitality more important than being inflexible in our diet. We have chosen to eat natural foods prepared healthily for good reasons. But taking care of the body God gave us is not near as important as showing others love (Isaiah 58, 1 John, the whole life of Christ).

When it comes to large events, do you lower your standards (wherever you’re at in your real food journey)? If so in what ways? If not, how do you manage it all?!

Diet Dilemma: When the Processed Foods Are Free

As many of you know, my husband and I recently moved to a “new” community. (In actuality my husband to a job at one of the churches I attended as a child; you can read more about that here.)

image by Feasting At Home

Being the kind of folks they are, the church threw a pantry party for us to get us started. They had mentioned my gluten allergy in the church bulletin announcement, so most of what we received was gluten free!

The dilemma: Very little of the food could be classified as “real food”…

My question: What to do?! What to do?!

We are all at different places when it comes to the food we choose to eat. For those of us on a real food journey, we have become concerned with the quality of our food and what we’re actually putting in our bodies. Considering this, many non-perishable goods can be a nightmare!

Image by lotsawords

So what’s a girl to do? The way I see it, I have 3 choices:

1: Stick up my nose. (Refuse to eat it and find it a new home: food bank, garbage can etc.)

2: Open Wide. (Just eat it)

3: Open my Heart. (Serve everything I can to my family and share as much as possible.)

I personally feel that (trying to stay Biblically minded) being ungrateful enough to reject the food would dishonor the One who provided it more than putting some processed foods into my body. I separated out the gluten-free stuff and narrowed the pile down to mostly canned goods and a few boxed side dishes. The fact is most of the people who step inside my home couldn’t care less what kind of food they get as long as it tastes good.

Do I want to set a higher standard (even for unknowing guests?) YES! Is that an excuse for wastefulness or ungratefulness? Absolutely not.

In the end, I am so blessed to be a par of this community. Their generosity touches my heart! I am thankful for all of the effort they put into welcoming us, even remembering my special dietary needs.

 Where are you at in your real-food journey? Is it even a consideration for you? Or are you at a place where you are tempted to let your high standards trump your duty to love people?

Pros & Cons: A Food Co-op

Some women just love to shop. They love to shop for clothes, housewares and even groceries! I am not one of those women. I’ll admit that I love the occasional antique shopping trip. (I loooove old things!) But I’ve always labelled the mall as an energy-vampire and I dread walking into most super-markets.

Image by destination360

Meal planning, organized lists and experimenting with new recipes have all made my bimonthly grocery trips slightly more enjoyable. But still…there are so many other things I could be doing! Then I discovered this magical thing called (drum roll please)…a food co-op.

My friend Darcy always has this fruit bowl with unique varieties in it. She was also serving interesting greens in her salads and had such a colorful table of foods when I’ve been over for dinner. Finally one day a group of Bible study attendees were trying to figure out exactly what one of her fruits or veggies was and somebody asked, “Where did you get this?” She responded with two words that have changed my life: “It was in my Bountiful Basket.”

Huh? I thought she had gotten a fruit basket gift from someone, so after a few weeks of more cool fruit I asked her what a Bountiful Basket was. She explained that it was a food co-op.

A food co-op is generally a member owned but definitely member-funded grocery “store”. In the case of Bountiful Baskets however, there’s no actual store-front. You pay for a basket of fruits and vegetables. All of the money you pay goes straight to buying the produce. Because of this there is a (very small) processing fee as well. You reserve a basket at a particular pick up place and time.

The Pros and Cons: 

-Unfortunately, you generally don’t know what will be in your basket until you get it. This makes meal planning difficult (or fun if your a glass half-full type :) and unpredictable.

+On the plus side, you can add on whole grain bread, granola or extra veggies.

+You can upgrade to an organic basket. (I love this feature. This way I don’t have to stand in line with my fingers crossed that I don’t end up with a bin full of dirty dozen produce.)

-Odd distribution places and pick-up times. At least in my county, I can’t really line up a regular grocery trip with my basket pick up. the pick up times are early in the morning (I would have to take my basket home to keep it fresh since I live in a rural community) and at places like a hardware store at the (complete opposite) edge of town or the masonic temple.

+I save my self time, energy and lots of money at the grocery store!!!

-You usually have to bring your own basket, but this doesn’t seem like a big deal to me!

Overall, I  think it’s awesome! Check out bountifulbaskets.org or search for other food co-ops serving your area.

Do you have other local initiatives to save people time and money in your community?

Why Engedi?

Upon visiting The Bella Red, fellow blogger Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama noted that she could tell Biblical living is very important to me. While that is the focus of my first blog, living a healthy and natural life is also very important to me. I know that most Bella Red readers are interested in Theology, not homemade household cleaners, cloth diapers or my real food journey so I knew the day was coming soon: a new blog.

In Song of Solomon 1:14, the writer says this: “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.” I want to make sure that my home is like En Gedi, a peaceful oasis that my husband and children can be happy to come home to.

I married my beloved in 2006. Our journey thus far has been littered with blessings, but it has also included many changes and struggles. From miscarriage to Celiac disease, we have become fully aware that God’s creation is not functioning as it was made to.

So here we are, literally counting the days until our little country home is move-ready. I am excited to share with you my journey to return to some of my roots. From chickens to organizing, here I record my attempt to live where the roads of Biblical living an natural living intersect. Through my successes and failures, I hope you will both laugh and learn as I strive to have a joy-filled home where my husband is happy to lead and my children grow in the Lord.

Welcome to my adventures Finding Engedi.