Many Blessings!

We have so very much to be thankful for this year. Here are a few of my most treasured blessings!

  • I am thankful for Christ’s unconditional love and faithfulness to our family and myself.
  • I’m thankful for my incredible husband who melts my heart on a daily basis.
  • I’m thankful for our daughter, Myla, who fills our home with much joy and laughter.
  • I’m thankful for the latest addition to our family due to arrive on May 23, 2011. No, we are not finding out if it is a boy or a girl!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for following along with us on our wholesome living journey!

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Catching On

Learning something the hard way is rarely enjoyable. Such was the case last week when I discovered that kale and brussel sprouts are loaded with fiber. Needless to say, as delicious and healthy as kale and brussel sprouts are, I do not recommend eating several helpings a day for two days straight unless your system is used to consuming high amounts of fiber on a regular basis.

Two days after that experience, my order of cacao nibs and gogi berries arrived in the mail. Both are considered superfoods. Cacao nibs are a rich source of magnesium and antioxidants. Gogi berries have 500 times the amount of vitamin C than oranges do (by weight) plus lots of other nutrients. We heard a lot about superfoods and decided to give these two a try. Ryan really liked the gogi berries (organic, raw, shade-dried). I thought they were disgusting. I thought the cacao nibs tasted alright, and decided I could see myself eventually enjoying them. Ryan thought they were too pungent to be enjoyable.

I made a smoothie with the cacao nibs. It turned out well (probably because I couldn’t really taste the nibs when they were blended in the smoothie!). I could probably get over the gogi berries strong taste if they were mixed in a granola or something similar. I’ve got some experimenting to do for sure. I don’t want these superfoods to go to waste just because I don’t like their flavor.

I realized, after staring at the gogi and cacao nutrition labels and mentally willing myself to like these two super-healthy foods, that they are both loaded with…guess what? Fiber! One ounce of cacao nibs has a whopping 36% of our daily recommended amount of fiber in it!

So, here’s what I’m learning (for those of you who are seasoned healthy eaters, you are probably thinking, “duh!”, but please be gracious, I’m new at this…):

From what I can tell, the foods that are healthiest for us are high in fiber. Granted, I don’t have a degree in nutrition, but my mind logically deduces that these foods are so healthy because they effectively flush toxins out of our bodies, which is why many of these foods (kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.) are considered anti-cancer. If our bodies are constantly flushing toxins out, then toxins can’t build up in our bodies and cause long-term health problems.

All of that being said, I’m still not sure how much fiber is too much or if there even is such a thing as too much fiber. I’m wondering if I start eating these two superfoods on a regular basis, “Will my body adjust or will I feel like I’m going through detox again- like I felt the other day when I ate too much brussel sprouts and kale?” I think I’ll start out consuming these superfoods in moderation (as I should have done with the kale and brussel sprouts, but they tasted SOOOO good!) and see how that goes. Of course, I have to figure out how to use them first! Wish me luck!

* This post is shared on Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and on Real Food Wednesday.

More than a Garnish

Summer’s bounty is dwindling at our local farmer’s market. Now instead of the bright and varied colors of the spring and summer crops, we have a large selection of greens to choose from. For our veggies this week I bought brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, parsnips and carrots at our local farmer’s market. I had not intended to purchase kale, but a vendor was munching away on a stalk of it and gave me some to try when he noticed me looking at him like he was from Mars. When I saw what he was eating I admit I was thinking, “Gross! Isn’t kale a garnish?”

I tried the piece he offered and, while it did not revolutionize my prior opinion of kale, it was not awful either. Mostly not to offend the vendor, I bought some kale.

Kale is more bitter-tasting than any other green vegetable I have had. It is especially pungent when raw. I was determined to actually eat the kale I purchased and not let my sympathy purchase rot in the fridge. So, tonight I followed Sally Fallon’s advice in Nourishing Traditions and took the stems off the kale, rinsed it, threw it in a covered pot, cooked on low heat for eight minutes, pressed the water out of it, and topped it with a bit of butter. Much to my surprise, it was delicious. No exaggeration, I had at least five servings of it. Cooking kale helps remove its bitter taste. If you’re looking for a more exciting way of preparing kale, the vendor at the market suggested sauteing it in olive oil or butter for a few minutes and then topping it with a bit of lemon juice.

Dark leafy green vegetables are extremely healthy (lots of iron among other nutrients). They also contain anticancer properties (always a plus in my mind). Most are easy to prepare. We usually steam them and toss them with a pat of butter. There are numerous types of greens. Next week I’m hoping to pick up some swiss chard at the market. It is amazing how many varieties of dark green leafy vegetables there are, and they all taste different from each other. This is a definite perk considering we will probably be eating mostly greens till the spring crops come in at our area farms. Hopefully by the end of the season, I’ll have a nice collection of tried and true, delicious greens recipes to share!

* This post is shared on Real Food Wednesday.

Exceptions

As many wholesome living changes that we’ve made in our home, we do make exceptions- especially while traveling. We are still trying to figure out how to eat wholesome foods while traveling, particularly on long car trips like the one we just got back from. We also don’t want to be food nazis about our wholesome living choices and offend everyone we are visiting by refusing to eat the food they so graciously make or buy for us. We value relationships over our wholesome living ideals. This means when we are visiting others, we accept just about anything set in front of us.

We learned a few new things on our latest trip. It is difficult for us to figure out what to do for a meal when we don’t have time to stop. Our first instinct is to go through a drive thru. Our first night of traveling we stopped at a Wendys. When we pulled up to the drive thru, I was dismayed to see large signs broadcasting the calorie content of each sandwich. I wasn’t upset that they posted the calorie content, rather that the signs completely covered the pictures of the sandwiches. I’m not a frequent fast food customer so I was irked that I couldn’t see the selection. I already know fast food is chocked full of calories. I wanted to see the pictures so I could pick out what type of chicken sandwich to order. It was quite frustrating.  I finally decided on a chicken sandwich and Ryan ordered a cheeseburger. We got our food and got back on the highway. Three miles down the road I tasted my sandwich. It was disgusting. It tasted like chemicals. I ate three bites before deciding I’d rather be hungry than subject my taste buds to such a wretched tasting sandwich. I picked off the veggies and ate those.

The next morning I was starving and excited about the free breakfast at our hotel. I was thrilled to see lots of fresh fruits and promptly ate a banana and gave one to our daughter. I thought yogurt would be delicious and decided on the peach flavor. I opened it up and ate a bite. It was sweet- really sweet. It tasted like I was eating ice-cream, not yogurt. I looked at the ingredients and it contained a ridiculous amount of sugar and, you guessed it, high fructose corn syrup. So, I tried to choke it down reasoning to myself that it was better than the other options on the buffet (like microwavable omelets). I got about half way through the yogurt and decided I was through. I did splurge and have a waffle with syrup. Since we don’t use white flour in our home, I really it enjoy it when we are traveling.

Later on in our trip, I was pleasantly surprised to read this statement on a napkin at Starbucks, “Real food. Simply Delicious. We’ve got good news. We removed the artificial trans fats, artificial flavors, artificial dyes and high-fructose corn syrup. Now your food not only tastes better, it is better. We hope you enjoy the difference.” Good for them! As a former Starbucks employee, I can attest to the ridiculous amount of calories and chemicals their food (and some drink) products contained back in the day. It’s always encouraging to see companies taking steps to make their products more healthy and nutritious.

Finally, here is my most obscene wholesome living exception of the trip. One night after a particularly delicious and nutritious dinner made by my mom, my dad pulls out a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. I scanned the lengthy list of ingredients. My eyes rested on the nutritional values. There it was! One gram of trans fat! Trans fat!!! I thought to myself, “Who even makes anything with trans fat anymore? The dangers of trans fat have been relatively well publicized as of late!” So, I confess I knew there was trans fat in the cheesecake and I still decided to indulge and have a slice! It took me an hour to finish one tiny sliver. It was much richer and sweeter than anything I’d had in several months. It was good, but so rich I really couldn’t handle more than a tiny bite every five to ten minutes.

By the end of our trip I found myself craving foods like raw broccoli. We got pretty good at finding healthy alternatives to fast food. We LOVE Sheetz. I love their cheese, fruit and veggie meals they have ready to grab and go. I love their selection of single serving fruits and veggies. They even sell individually wrapped Cliff bars! Oh how I wish Sheetz would come to New York!

We love visiting family and friends, but it is nice to be home again and eating our own food. I was surprised by how repulsive a lot of the “mainstream” foods taste to me now. I’d expected everything to taste wonderful. Some of it did, but most did not. So, I guess I’m proud of my palate and how discerning it’s become. It’s refreshing (and a little sad) that food that’s bad for me actually tastes bad now, and food that’s good for me tastes like a bit of heaven! My how far I’ve come from my old non-veggie loving self!

*This post is shared on Real Food Wednesday