Cravings and Cleansings

Refreshing Veggie Smoothie

Back in December 2013, I mentioned a veggie smoothie pictured with our Thanksgiving meal. I promised to share the recipe eventually and now I finally will! We have a friend who works full time, and has special dietary restrictions that are different from her husband’s specific dietary restrictions. This means that preparing food that will work for them takes a lot of her limited time.

Sometime ago, she had shared with us how she was enjoying a veggie smoothie every morning. Her goal was to get some good nutrients into her diet early each day in case she became so busy that she couldn’t eat a nutritious midday salad. I listened to her basic recipe and then added some other ideas of mine.

Later, when shopping at our local Mother’s Market and Kitchen, I received a flier about Spring Cleaning (Daily Detox) which was based on an article from Delicious Living Magazine. Now my current recipe includes some of my friend’s ideas as well as some ideas from the Delicious Living Magazine article which was summarized by Mother’s on their flier.

The first time I made this smoothie, I was not at all sure I could convince Brody that it was edible. Many of our friends initially have wondered if it could be tolerable, and I admit that it sounds and looks weird, but actually it is tasty and we think it’s helping us! At the least, it is a refreshing snack that does not give me the sugar crash and cravings that a sweet drink (popular among most of the population) may give me on a hot day. Sometimes, eating a small serving of veggie smoothie is a great way to finish a meal instead of eating a dessert and other times, we start a meal with veggie smoothie as an appetizer.

Whether or not a person likes a specific food may be more dependent on how he/she views food rather than on whether or not the food actually tastes or feels a certain way. For example, some people eat in order to live and some people live for the pleasure of the next snack or meal. Many live somewhere in between the two extremes. From my experience, I can focus on eating in order to function the best I can or I can eat because I want the pleasure of a certain taste or texture. I sometimes ask myself if I am craving something merely for the pleasure of the taste or if the dish or snack reasonably can be expected to nourish, and not harm, my body.

Interestingly, when I eat fewer of the foods that do not help me, for example, fast food or sugary snacks or drinks, my taste buds adjust and more healthful food tastes better than before. After this adjustment, I can taste the fillers, additives and preservatives which I couldn’t taste before in the processed, packaged foods, and simple fresh fruit tastes sweet enough to be dessert.

Initially, you may think this smoothie tastes weird, but if you continue to eat it and also decrease your intake of sodas, sugars, processed, packaged foods and fast foods, likely, you will experience a change in your taste buds and actually begin to enjoy the smoothie. If you have been struggling with your health in some way, you may also enjoy some healthier days if you are willing to develop some new tastes and choose to cut back or give up the items you currently love which may or may not deserve the title “food!” 🙂

So, here’s the current recipe for our veggie smoothie….

Veggie Smoothie Ingredients

The only two items I currently use which I forgot to include in the photo are apple cider vinegar and daikon radish. The Daikon radish is white and has a peppery taste.

Veggie Smoothie

1 bunch of kale, without the woody, end portions of the stems or a head of lettuce or a bunch of spinach

1 bunch of celery

2-3 carrots, skinned

2-3 cloves of garlic

a chunk of a small beet, perhaps 1/4 of the beet

roughly 4″ of Daikon radish

1 small apple, seeds included

1-2 cucumbers

a splash of apple cider vinegar (I think this lengthens the life of the smoothie in our refrigerator)

a splash of water to help the smoothie out of the Vitamix

Sometimes, I’ll include some cabbage and/or Brussels Sprouts

Sometimes, I remember to include parsley from my very determined little plant! It survives even though I neglect my potted herbs on a regular basis.

I often prepare the smoothie in two steps since my Vitamix can’t hold all of the ingredients. Hence the two colors!

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I use a spoon for the final mixing in the container. Many friends and relatives have remarked that this tastes better than they had anticipated!

As I was writing this, I remembered some other analogies I’ve heard drawn between our physical appetites and our spiritual appetites. When I have become “too busy” to read my Bible on a daily basis, my appetite for reading it diminishes over time. This reflects the physical world… I have heard that if a person stops eating, eventually, he will lose his appetite. That’s an extreme scenario which I have not tested, but intentionally making changes in what I eat has changed my tastes as I’ve detailed above.

That also happens with my spiritual tastes. If I neglect my Bible reading, I lose my spiritual appetite for my spiritual food. As I pick it back up and continue reading and memorizing Scripture, my appreciation of the Bible increases and my desire to read and memorize it grows.

Here’s a Bible reading program I’ve enjoyed for a few years now. I like it because I can keep the Old and New Testaments fresh in my mind. When I used to read from Genesis to Revelation, I would go for months without reading some portions of the Bible.

Prof. G Horner's Bible Reading System

The other benefit of Prof. G Horner’s reading program is that I enjoy reading the account of something in the Old Testament on the same day that I read a Psalm about that account and possibly read an allusion to it in Acts or one of the epistles.

For example, I may read Genesis 12 on the same day that I read Acts 7. Or I may read Numbers 11 on the same day that I read I Corinthians 10. Or, on one day, I may read Psalm 34 and I Samuel 21. Psalm 34 is the song David composed after he pretended to be mad in order to be set free from his captors. Since I don’t always read all 10 chapters each day, I don’t have the same exact reading plan as shown at Bible Study Tools. But, I like to continually progress through 10 different sections of the Bible regularly.

If you are on Facebook, you may try searching for Prof. G Horner’s Bible Reading System. When Brody accessed it there a few years ago, he was able to print out 10 book marks showing which books of the Bible were in each of the 10 lists.

Just as our smoothie is designed to nourish our bodies and cleanse us from toxins, reading my Bible nourishes and cleanses me spiritually.

Are you willing to try the veggie smoothie? I’d be curious to know if anyone takes the challenge and experiences a change in his/her tastebuds just as Brody and I have.

How about starting a Bible reading program (if that is new to you)? Maybe you’ll experience a change in tastes there, too!

One of Prof. G Horner's 10 Lists

Celebrating the Sweet with the Sour

The Lord supplied our every need in June as we faced some very busy days while helping Grandma prepare for and recover from back surgery. We are thankful for all those who supported us through prayer, and we praise the Lord for His grace to us. I was particularly amazed that I didn’t miss any work and also didn’t get any of my horrible headaches. We were very thankful that my aunt and uncle were here and able to assist Grandma quite a bit. We were also thankful for the many doctors, nurses, aides and others who served Grandma and who continue to serve her in her rehab stage.

So, we made it through June and then my neighbors heard the unfamiliar sounds of my dusting and vacuuming, and a day or so later, our company arrived! We enjoyed a week with Brody’s parents.

Since we had more hands available, I was able to take some photos I usually can’t take on my own. For example, here’s an action shot! 🙂

Our Special Gluten-free breakfast

On one of the mornings, Brody prepared our Pancakes from page 86 of A Recipe for Survival.

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We discovered a gluten-free chicken sausage at Costco recently, so he added that to the special breakfast. On most of the other mornings, we enjoyed Quinoa Cereal from page 87 in A Recipe for Survival. Lately, I’ve been enjoying it with ground flaxseed, rice bran, cinnamon, raisins, chia seeds and goat milk. This morning, I skipped the ground flaxseed since we had run out and I didn’t want to take the time to grind it.

A gluten-free breakfast

One day, we packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed some time at the beach.

Beach time

Brody found some shells to add to his mom’s collection.

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Mom graciously allowed us to use her head as pedestal for the food for this photo of our Crackers, Chicken Broccoli Kale Slaw, and Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Lemon icing. We still have a few paper plates from our wedding reception, so we used them for our picnic.

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Here’s a shot of the first time I made the lemon cake with strawberries some months ago:

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To make the cake, simply follow the directions for Chocolate Cake on page  174 of A Recipe for Survival, but omit the chocolate and substitute hot lemon juice for the hot water. To make the Lemon Icing, put roughly 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl and then add powdered sugar until it’s the consistency you prefer.

We love the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly sour! It reminds me of June this year for us … we had some difficult days, but the way the Lord gave us all that we needed at every moment added sweetness to the sour moments.

Blessed be the Lord,

Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;

Therefore my heart exults,

And with my song I shall thank Him.

Psalm 28:6-7

Mother’s Day Musings and Cinco de Mayo Salad

Recently, I heard a pastor say that a Mother’s Day sermon was the hardest one for him to preach. Then he explained why.

First, he said he realized that many in his congregation were men, and therefore, would not ever be mothers, and he wanted his sermon to be applicable to all of his congregation. That is a great point.

Second, the pastor said that he recognized that many women in the congregation were unmarried and still were honoring the Lord in their lives even if they were not mothers. That is another great point.

Third, the pastor mentioned that some married women were not mothers for a variety of reasons, and that some women may experience grief for not having children. He said he realized that women are sensitive and he indicated that he wanted to be careful not to add to anyone’s pain. That’s another wonderful point.

Those are all excellent observations. However, I think there’s a more important reason a pastor (and other church leaders) should seriously reconsider their tradition of celebrating a secular holiday as part of Sunday morning services. The Scripture teaches that the purpose of the church is to evangelize the lost and equip the saved to worship the Lord. In other words, the main reason believers participate in the life of the church is to grow in their sanctification as they more frequently choose to obey Scripture rather than choose their own sinful desires. Whenever the church loses focus on helping believers to mature in their walk with the Lord, stagnation is at hand, and those church leaders have abdicated their responsibility as shepherds who will give an account for the souls of the people they are leading and guiding.

Whenever church leaders choose to celebrate a secular holiday on Sunday, they are demonstrating that the American culture has influenced the church. The reverse should be true: the church should be salt and light in the culture. Sadly, this is only one example that I’ve observed as I’ve watched the American culture creep into the church.

In my experience, the most striking example of the culture influencing the church is the elevation of entertainment throughout the entire morning service. In some churches, the desire to lead the congregation in laughter during announcements, throughout the sermon, and before the collection of the offering takes precedence over the desire to lead the congregation in revering and worshipping the Almighty. Or, those leading the music behave as if they were rock stars performing at a live concert.

Back to the specific question of church leaders celebrating Mother’s Day at church, I wonder how often the leaders consider what message they are sending to the rest of the congregation who are not mothers? If a church devotes an entire Sunday morning to addressing mothers, how is the church fulfilling its obligation to minister to all the believers in the congregation that morning? Some ladies who wanted to be mothers are not moms due to circumstances beyond their control. Is it reasonable to expect such women to return to church next year if they learned this year that the entire service was focused on how to be a better mother?

I used to think that only women might be hurt by Mother’s Day celebrations at church, but recently, a gentleman mentioned to me that he had skipped church on Father’s Day some years because he had felt inferior at church for not being a father. I hadn’t realized that men could be hurt, too, by how church leaders allow the secular culture to dictate the agenda for Sunday morning worship.

Honoring our parents is good and right. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. However, on Sunday morning at church, nothing should preempt the preaching of the Word for the edification of the entire congregation. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided.

I think that fathers should lead their children to honor their mothers in their family setting and mothers should lead in honoring the father in the family. I don’t think it’s the role of the church leaders to set aside valuable time for edifying the entire congregation on Sunday morning in order to do something the parents should be doing in their homes.

If a pastor feels absolutely compelled to preach something about mothers on the second Sunday of May, perhaps he should draw the congregation’s attention to the example of the Proverbs 31 Wife’s Children in verse 28. If the pastor spoke to the offspring in the congregation, he would be addressing 100% of his audience since everyone has a mom. Even if a person’s mom has passed away, a person can thank God for the one who gave him life and praise God for the one who shared Christ with him. If a person’s mom did not lead an exemplary life, a person could still thank God that He graciously protected him even in the midst of the trials he endured at the hand of his mom. And we can all recognize that others have influenced us as well and we can bless them for their impact in our lives. A sermon directed to children (whatever our ages) will include the entire congregation since we are all someone’s child.

With that as food for thought, let me share a recipe that Brody and I enjoyed on another day we like to celebrate in May… Cinco de Mayo!!!! We really enjoy Mexican food, so one day, I decided to imitate a green sauce we really liked. Friends of ours had drawn our attention to it, and while it was gluten-free, it still had other ingredients Brody prefers to avoid, so I developed my own Brody-safe version.

Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce

10 tomatillos without the paper-thin skins, washed, and cut into quarters

1 jalapeno pepper, without the stem, and washed

roughly ½ cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp crushed dried red peppers if you want more heat

1. Add all the ingredients to your Vitamix or other blender and process them until well-blended.

2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is the thickness you like.

3. The sauce can be used to cook chicken or simply to add flavor to a Mexican chicken dish.

Sometimes we cook the chicken in the sauce….

 Chicken in our Gluten-Free Green Sauce

But I like the taste of the sauce better when we simply pour it over cooked chicken in our Mexican concoction:

 Our Gluten-Free Cinco de Mayo

To simplify our meal preparation, we usually maintain a supply of cooked rice, beans and chicken in the fridge and then flavor them in different ways throughout the week.

One of the yummy ways we combine the chicken, beans and rice is to rewarm the ingredients and then:

1. Spread a thin layer of cooked rice on a plate.

2. Add some black beans.

3. Add some cooked chicken and the Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce.

4. Sprinkle on some cheese.

5. Add some Taco Sauce (page 159 from A Recipe for Survival) or Sister’s Salsa (page 155 from A Recipe for Survival.)

6. Add some fresh, chopped cilantro and lettuce, along with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

7. Sometimes, we include a batch of chips, made from the Tortilla recipe on page 115 of A Recipe for Survival.