Finding purpose in eating well

This was initially posted February 2007.  I am reposting it to celebrate the beginning of Manna, our healthy eating support group at church! 

Yes, I like the way I feel when I’m eating well.  Yes, I’d like to fit into those clothes in the back of my closet.  Yes, I’d love to be svelte for my husband. Yes, I’d like to be able to wear a bathing suit without being embarrassed.  But beyond those reasons (and others) for wanting to eat well, I’ve also been motivated to be a good steward of the body God has lent me.  

At one point last year (2006) when I was considering the fact that I had surrendered all to God, I realized that all means more than just my heart.  It also means my time, my family, my home, my money, my body, everything. 

So just as I desire to nourish my spirit with His Word, I would desire to nourish and take care of my body, which is a gift lent to me from God.  I don’t recall the exact moment that thought occurred to me, but it shifted the way I look at something as simple and everyday as eating.

I feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically when I’m nourishing my body with healthy foods and getting enough sleep. When I’m nourished in those areas, I’m more readily available to do the Lord’s work with clear mind and strength. 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not eating well, not sleeping enough, or generally not taking care of myself, I get what I call “fog head.”  I lose motivation and slip into a slump of discouragement.  If it goes too long unchecked, depression follows.  I struggled with that for several years while juggling the responsibilities of taking care of two infants back to back (you moms know what I’m talking about).  Now that my children are sleeping through the night for the most part, I have no excuse for not taking care of this body that belongs to God.

I felt convicted last year to move with purpose toward a healthier lifestyle, not in a legalistic way, but out of gratitude.  I love God and I’m grateful for His creation, including my own body and person.  He has created us for His own good pleasure and has wonderful things in mind for us.  I’d like to be a good steward.  I’d like to be readily available to Him mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

Eating well and taking care of my body when it’s in my power to do so is a way of respecting God’s creation and honoring Him with it.  That’s a pleasant motivation that beats the guilt-ridden feelings I had before when trying to diet.

Do I think God is looking down and frowning and shaking His finger at me when He sees I’m not eating well?  No, I don’t.  But I do think He delights in our desire to please Him by being good stewards of His gifts.  And He loves for us to be readily available to Him, prepared and open to Him in every way we know to be.

A Few Local Food Sources for Middle TN

Farmers’ Markets

Commercial Stores & Services Providing Healthy, Fresh Food

Online Research for Local Food

Fresh From the Farm

Near Lebanon / Mt. Juliet / Further East:

Near Murfreesboro / LaVergne:

  • Jones Mill Farm (organic) – Lavergne, TN (peaches, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, plums produce, breads, spreads)
  • The Blueberry Patch (no pesticides for 5 yrs) – Murfreesboro, TN (blueberries) Read article

Near Franklin / Serving Franklin / Further South:
*Attends Franklin Farmers’ Market

Near Nashville / Serving Nashville:
* Attends Nashville Farmers’ Market

Who says salad has to be boring?

A repost from July 4, 2007.  Inspiration for heading into the holidays!

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Who says salad has to be boring?  Here are some ideas for dressing up your salads so you enjoy eating those healthy greens.

I make one huge salad every week and store it in this large Tupperware container.  The salad stays fresh all week and sometimes longer.  What’s in the salad varies from week to week based on what we pick up from the Franklin Farmers’ Market

For each serving, I change up dressings (still exploring homemade recipes) and add a few goodies.  With options like fresh strawberries, avocados, sliced apples, oranges, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, pineapple, diced summer squash, and sunflower seeds, it’s never boring. 

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Adding fresh salsa on top makes a surprisingly good salad!  I’m looking forward to trying a new recipe — pineapple salsa — as a topping on my salad this week.

You can always add leftover chicken, steak, salmon, or tuna.  Or try topping your greens with chicken salad or tuna salad.

Perhaps when your kids see fun toppings on your salad, they’ll be curious and want to try it themselves!  At least, that’s what I’m banking on.  :-)  It has worked a few times so far.  And I’m having fun and eating well in the process.

Homemade Ginger Tea

Most of my friends know I have a love affair with Yogi Ginger Tea

I love ginger in general: gingerbread, chewy ginger cookies, Thai ginger beef, Gingered Butternut Squash & Apple Soup, Ginger Chicken on a Stick, Watermelon Soup with ginger and mango … I could go on and on.

So when Tonia posted a recipe for homemade ginger tea, I was enthralled.  If only I had had the recipe two weeks ago when I was terribly sick with the sinus crud (and packing and moving at the same time)! 

I’m adding gingerroot to the shopping list right now.

Here’s the recipe Tonia shared:

ginger is great for colds and for upset stomachs.  this tea is strong, but it really relieves cold symptoms.

2-inches fresh gingerroot

2 cups water

freshly squeezed lemon juice

honey or maple syrup to taste

Peel and slice 1″ of ginger thinly.  Place in pan with two cups of water and simmer about 15 minutes.  Peel the other bit of ginger, grate it, and squeeze the pieces over a bowl to collect the juice.  Set aside.  Strain and pour simmered liquid into cup.  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a few drops of ginger juice.  Sweeten to taste.

2 cups. 

from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair  

Sweet Potato, Squash, & Apple Soup

I’ve been enjoying new recipes and raw food inspiration from Happy Foody!  (Thanks to Tonia for sending me her way.)

We are currently living with my inlaws while we wait for our new-to-us (18-year-old) house on 17 acres right across the road to become available.  Hopefully, it’ll be only another couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I tried out this recipe on my inlaws. 

They loved it … and I loved it!  Definitely a soup I’ll add to our list of “regulars.”  I’ll double it next time so we have leftovers for a few days.

Sweet Potato, Squash, & Apple Soup
1 medium onion
1 T olive oil
2 cups veggie stock*
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 cups sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and diced*
2-3 medium apples, cored and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional – it was spicy w/o it, so add it slowly)

*I added an extra cup of these ingredients to stretch the soup since there were six of us eating it as a main dish.  It was just right for six with not a lick left over.

In a large soup pot, saute the onions in oil on medium high heat until translucent. Add the stock, squash, potatoes, apples, and salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer). Take 2 ladles’ worth of veggies and 1 ladle of stock and blend in the blender or food processor until smooth. Return to soup pot and stir together before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Italian Dressing Mix

I had lunch with a friend yesterday.  Mary whipped up a salad of baby greens, avocadoes, tomatoes, and sliced red onions.  Her homemade Italian dressing and a couple of slices of bakery bread with a little dab of organic butter made for a heavenly meal. 

The homemade Italian dressing was simply delish.  Mary says she keeps a large batch of the spices mixed in a jar then makes up enough dressing for a week at a time. 

Italian dressing mix can be used in so many ways — for a meat marinade, to sprinkle on your popcorn, or mixed with olive oil as a seasoning on Roasted New Potatoes.  The mix would make a nice hospitality thank you or housewarming gift, too.  We’re all looking for ways to eat well! 

Here’s the dressing recipe (based on an AllRecipes.com recipe):

  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoons salt

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.

To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.

Roasted New Potatoes

adapted from AllRecipes.com 

  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (cold-pressed, extra virgin)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (crush it in your hand before adding to release its flavor) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
  • Combine all ingredients in a 9″x13″ glass baking dish; toss to coat. Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees F for 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Toss every 10 minutes or so to ensure the potatoes don’t stick or burn.