cooking · faith · family · food · homemaking · Lent · motherhood

Thursday’s Health Report- Consumerism

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Much of what the defenders of the status quo believe to be following a healthy lifestyle is punitive in nature, brilliantly constructed for markets that are driven by profits. This is especially true in the health food market. As a result, we restrict, inflict, prod, poke, examine, analyze, correct, eat this and not that, and chain ourselves to labels.  We pay emotional damages for how uneducated we are, how undisciplined we are, how sick we are, how weak we are…and we believe we deserve it.

The punitive approach to health weighs most heavily on moms (women in general really) who struggle with being enough.  It is very hard to be all things at all times, to do all the right things for our family’s health and happiness.  Women, and especially moms, are brainwashed in a sense.  It’s a false- image of womanhood that includes EVERYTHING- everything we are conditioned to believe is healthy.

As I have struggled with unhealthy habits and the extreme pendulum swings I think will correct unhealthy habits I have discovered a few things.  The first being that I must mistrust the image of womanhood that is constructed by the advertising monopoly if I am to understand the true nature health.  I am convinced that our health has been monetized and re-engineered. We have abandoned age old traditions in favor of supposed advancements and innovation, resulting in a health crisis created by consumerism gone mad.

Sit with that idea for a moment.  Just acknowledging this relieves stress.  It brings back a sense of power.  It detaches us from the frenzy, and our eyes are opened to a lie.

Monetized health does not have to be the norm for me and my family.  I can choose to take a different approach to health, and this approach does not cost a lot of money, it does not require a degree in molecular biology, it does not demand too much energy, and it is NOT punitive. In fact, it’s not really an approach at all.  It is not ideological, exclusive, or secret.

Nothing concerning true health is new-quite the contrary.  It is as old as it gets.  What I want to share, and hopefully work through as I journal, is the journey of living a truly healthy life, the life I was created to live.  Health is about being.  No gimmicks, no tricks, no new revelations, no cutting edge expert advise.

My first Thursday’s Health Report begins in a funny spot, however I think it hits the bullseye. If we as women want to begin to live, and live fully, we might consider getting off the conveyor belt of monetized health. We can choose to unsubscribe to the polls, the statistics, the clicks, the next miracle, the headlines, and the health drama. We can become UN-consumers.  This detox is hard, because we are conditioned to follow the advise of experts.  For reasons that are evident, yet hard to understand, women have willingly forfeited our God-given genius concerning food and health.  We think health is too complicated, too scientific, too much for us to take on ourselves.  This is true in cases of illness, when we truly need the expertise of trained physicians and healers. However, this is not true when it comes to everyday living and living well.

A Country Christmas

I truly believe women have a built in sense about food.  It is a knowing- knowing what to cook, how to cook it, and how to serve it.  The clues we need to Hansel and Gretel our way back to health are present in our food traditions, cultures, and families.  It does not take too many paces for a woman to retrace her steps and find the old country ways. My own Texas farm heritage has wonderfully healthy food traditions; garden fresh vegetables, hearty beef, and lingering conversations at the supper table are three of my favorites.

Women have traditionally been the keepers of food traditions and the preservers of culture. There is something to discover in this- it is a blueprint of health that has preserved generations, and it is a beautiful part of womanhood. This unseen gift gets high-jacked by experts who through science and technology undermine the spiritual nature of the kitchen.  This loss of power, tradition, and confidence is where I want to begin my musings on Thursday’s Health Report.

Try this little exercise:

Go to your kitchen and stand in the middle of the room. Feel the space you take up, feel your weight, feel your body, connect with it.  Stay put for about three minutes.  Stay still until you feel something, anything. 

What did you feel?  Keep trying this exercise until your heart and kitchen connect.  Until you can pray with thankfulness for the opportunity to feed and nurture yourself and others. Often times when I do this, I feel a great sensation of warmth right in the center of my chest near my heart.  It is here that I pray to God.  It is our Creator that is the true source of health. True and deep prayer is also the protocol for a consumerism detox, and a rejuvenation of our food gift.   We have to give up our false- image and turn to the true Image. In this we experience joy, relief, healing, gentleness, mercy, and love- the very opposite of the punitive and rigorous nature of monetized health.

Thursday’s Health Report 3 Weekly Challenges

  1. Archive all the gimmicks and expert advise.
    This will be hard for me, however I know it is necessary.  Often times, I am distracted from being healthy by reading and studying about being healthy.  I want to fill up this extra time and head space with prayer, my duties, long walks, and cooking yummy healthy food!
  2. Don’t buy anything that has a health promise stamped on it. 
    This does not include prescribed medicines and supplements.  Otherwise, I am going to eat real food.  Nothing that has been over-processed, over-rated, or over-advertised.  This means I will do most of my shopping around the outside edges of the grocery store.
  3. Pray and wholeheartedly give thanks for the food that I eat.
    This might seem simplistic, but I wonder how often I do not connect with the Eucharistic nature of mealtime and food. I want to slow down and cultivate a heart of gratitude when it comes to food.  Food is so precious, and wonderful, and life giving. Glory be to God.

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    Will you join me, join the conversation, join me in a few real life challenges, join me in prayer?  This Lent I am hoping to regain health in my home, body, and soul.  I want to return and repent.  I want to regain power- the power that comes from a life that is centered in the right place.  Check back next Thursday for another report about where I am at in this journey. Thank you for reading.  Mandy

 

cooking · Lent · Orthodoxy

Curried Lentils with Basmati Rice

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Lentils are healthy, economic, and yummy which make them a lenten favorite at our house.  They also cook up quickly and freeze beautifully- double batch anyone? I also love how Lentils take on bold flavors which is what Curried Lentils are all about- easy and tasty!

Who doesn’t love curry?  I have loved it since I was a kid thanks to my mom and Mrs. Kermani.  She taught my mom how to cook with it many years ago, and our family owes Ms. Jane a debt of gratitude!  My Curried Lentils recipe is a adaptation of a dish Ms. Jane taught us to make called Keema.   Keema is normally made with lamb or beef, but for fasting we make our own version with lentils.  It’s so very yummy and a real win when fasting gets tough.

I hope you enjoy this recipe…happy fasting!

Curried Lentils with Basmati Rice

Brown lentils (16- ounce)
1 large yellow onion, chopped into medium dices (save your onion skins for Red Eggs)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
2 large Golden potatoes, diced (optional)
1 can (14.5- ounce) diced tomatoes
Spices:
Any Curry you like- 2-3 tablespoons (your preference)
Dhana Jeera powder- 1 tablespoon (optional)
Cumin- 1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil, enough to fully emulsify the spices, 4-5 tbs. maybe more?

Condiments:
Basmati Rice
Mango Pickles
Coriander Chutney
Naan Bread or Tortillas

In a large frying pan heat oil to medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook until the onions begin to soften.  Add the spices and stir until the spices are fully emulsified in the oil. If you need more oil to do this add more.  Stir and cook the mixture  for about 2 minutes.  Add the Lentils and stir until all of the lentils are coated with the spice mixture.  Add enough water to fully cover the lentils.  Bring this mixture to a rapid boil.  Reduce to low heat and let the lentils cook slowly.  Let cook for about 15 minutes then add potatoes.  When the lentils and potatoes are at the desired texture add the canned tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.  This will help the Lentils not break open or become too mushy.

When finished serve over Basmati rice.  (Or any rice you have on hand.)

I also serve this dish with a tomato and coriander relish which is essentially a pico de gallo.  We also eat it with warm Naan bread or tortillas and mango and lime pickles.  The pickles can be purchased where Arab and Indian food items are sold.

 

 

 

Christmas · cooking · family · food · homemaking · Nativity · winter

Christmas Dinner

I made a centerpiece for the Christmas table.  Just a simple arrangement of greenery in a vintage camping coffee pot.  This afternoon I am going shopping to purchase a new tablecloth.  My dining room doubles as our schoolroom which makes decorating and creating ambiance a bit of a challenge.  However, after some cleaning and rearranging I think I have it ready for feasting.  Looking forward to cooking and eating together around the table.

Dinner
Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Almond Green Beans
Wilted Spinach Salad
Yeast Rolls
Desserts
Chess Pie
Christmas Candy
Cookies
cleaning · cooking · fall · family · homemaking · motherhood · poetry

Housework

No scouring for pride
Spare kettle whole side
Though scouring be needful, yet scouring too much
Is pride without profit, and robbeth thine hutch.
-Thomas Tusser
cooking · food · homemaking · nutrition

Pie for Dinner

I curled up on my bed with a blanket on Saturday afternoon and read the new Bon Appetit that came in the mail.  This issue featured some great savory pie recipes…great for winter comfort.  The pretty pictures inspired me to make a homemade chicken pot pie with the chicken breasts I thawed for dinner. Is there anything better than buttery flaky pie crust with creamy gravy and warm vegetables?  
I love working with a vinegar pie crust.  The dough is so forgiving and best when it has been refrigerated overnight.
Vinegar Crust 

2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in a food processor and mix for just a second or two.  Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly with a few of the butter chunks still visible.  In a small bowl combine water and vinegar.  Pour liquid into the crumbly mixture a little at a time and pulse until all ingredients are moistened.

Form into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for two hours.  Overnight is better.  Divide ball and roll two large pie crusts on a floured surface.  Before baking brush the crust with an egg wash.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.       

*The vinegar makes the crust tender and easy to work with by not allowing the gluten to over develop.

cleaning · cooking · faith · family · homeschooling · kids · learning · marriage · nutrition · organizing · projects

Daily Docket

Special Day– Birthday, Name day, Feast day, Holiday, Saint.
Pace- What speed do I have to go today?  Do I really need to be running like a hare, or can I take it slow like a turtle?  Knowing the pace of the day is good for me.
Priorities- What are the top 5 things I have to get done today?  Did Slade ask me to do something for him?  Do we have appointments?  Do I need to pay a bill or make a phone call?
Parenting- A mommy focus for the day.  A special lunch for Elinor.  A walk with Sophia. Be patient and speak softly today.  Play airplane with Sam.  Talk with Addy late tonight.  Practice piano with Caroline.
Partner- Something sweet, something small, something kind, something for Slade.
The Plan- A skeleton for the day…when I will do what’s on the docket.
Daily Readings- One sentence that captures something inspirational from my readings.
Prayers- Just a reminder, a little circle to remind me to make prayer a priority.
Pantry to Pot- Start dinner at breakfast.  Make meal times intentional and nutritious.
Project- If I have time what is one project I can tackle today?
Professor- What are the school goals for today?
  Water- Remember to stay hydrated.

cooking · faith · family · homeschooling · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · learning · motherhood · Orthodoxy · parenting

Feeling Better

Over the Christmas holiday I have been as sick as I can remember.  Samuel , sadly, has been just as bad and even worse.  We had a virus run through the house, but it hit Samuel and I the hardest.  After one trip to the doctor, two trips to the urgent care, three different antibiotics for secondary infections, and every home remedy we could throw at this bug we are finally feeling a bit like our normal selves.   I am still fighting an ear infection, but it seems to be healing slowly. 

Somewhere around day five of this quarantine I began to relax, and then it hit me.  Maybe my lack of rest in general is why my body is not recovering like the others.  Sam and I have not slept well in months and months…and I think it just finally caught up with us. When I gave in and just let things be what they were going to be I began to see the tight knot that is wound up inside of me.  I am just plain tired, but the adrenaline I am addicted to that makes it possible for me to function is hard to resist.

And when Mamas get this run down we must resist adrenaline.
We must stop pushing through and rest.

Resting has been very good, and I have been eating nourishing food, sleeping late, and going very slow.  This has given me much time to think about my health.  I have also had plenty of time to sit and contemplate ways to better care for myself and my family.

When I look ahead at 2015 I can see some major projects, possibly a move, a heavy work load, and schedule.  And all these things are good.  However, I can also see that my inward state needs some nurturing if I am going to enjoy health and happiness this year.  I need better strategies to help me not feel so overwhelmed.

Here are a few things I am going to try…

Leaving Facebook

One giant step toward health for me is the choice to leave social media, Facebook in particular.  I once left Facebook for seven years, and I did much better with my inner life.  It has taken me a while to understand why I have this love/hate relationship with it.  It is not that Facebook is evil or wrong or anything like that.  I love the interaction and the keeping up with friends and family.  For me it is neurological. Something about the format makes me nervous…the scrolling and how my eyes jump from one thing to the next.  The amount of information is too much for me.  And once I start on this feast of information I get bogged down in it, and I spend way too much time on this site.  I know, I know, I could be more mature and set limits and all that…but I don’t.  I think the site’s design (the actual layout, advertisements, colors, lines, etc.) is very addictive for me.

Redefining my morning routine  

For a year I have been very angry that I cannot have the solitude that I think I need in the mornings. During this illness I came to terms with this and had a sort of funeral for my mornings in my mind…I must let that go and get into the groove of my baby.  That means I will have a new morning routine.  Instead of books and coffee and even lengthy prayers I am going to enjoy Sam.  A friend who had six kids  (I only had three at the time) told me that someday my mornings would be different…she was right.  She told me that she prayed a morning offering prayer before her feet ever hit the ground, and that was the foundation for her day.  She too was a lover of contemplation and books and coffee.  However, her life demanded that she take advantage of her mornings in a different way.  I am going to follow my friend and quiet my soul in this area.  I holler calf-rope, and it feels so good.

Revisiting my menu planning

My grocery budget is insane.  I know that food is expensive, but I could do better in this area.  My menus need to be simplified.  I have a five week menu cycle that I made when I had three kids, none of which ate like adults.  With two teenagers in the house and a tween that eats as much as her sisters, it is time to remake my menus to be more frugal.  What I spend on groceries stresses me, and it should…it’s too much!  I know my lack of planning and organization is the major problem.  Some ideas I have are to make double batches of soups, beans, casseroles, etc. and freeze them.  Also, I need to take advantage of sales and stock up on things we use more often.  Another strategy I have is to grocery shop early Saturday morning when the stores are quiet.  This one change would greatly reduce my stress in this area, and allow me to focus.

Refocusing our homeschool 



I have been in serous homeschool burn out mode this year.  It just feels so tedious and overwhelming.  And the truth is, it is!  Homeschooling this many kids, all at different ages and stages is a hard work.  But, it is my work…it is what I am called to do.  Through the prayers of the Panagia and Righteous Anna I am strengthened…  I do not labor alone or in vain.  I am reorganizing the school room, refreshing books, and working toward a more peaceful atmosphere.

Vespers on Wednesday nights

I would love to have this time of prayer on a weekly basis, but the long drive to the Hermitage or our Parish might makes this unrealistic.  For now I want to attempt once a month.

I told Slade today that the illness during Christmas was a blessing.  It forced me to stop…stop everything and really listen, really see.  I am thankful that we are all on the mend and that the new year has come.  What goals or resolutions do you have for the New Year?  I hope you are feeling the peace of Christ this season and the joy of His abiding love.  He is always with us.

Happy New Year friends!