Dining Out, Readin Mail

When I’m out at the doctor’s office, I usually eat out. I have a few favorite haunts, like most folks. That Cesar Salad is a killer if you let the staff dress it for you. That little tub in the photo is 240 calories but 660 mg of sodium (almost 45% of my 1500 mg of daily recommendation due to my high blood pressure). I use half of it. It’s enough. 

I had the lunch steak and baked sweet potato. It’s a double portion, but I’m going swimming and not eating again for hours. It’s a treat to eat big sometimes. We just can’t do this all the time. I do it about once a month now. I used to do it two or three times a week. I’m going onto perfection, as we say!

As I was reading a response to a paper written against the American Heart Association’s recommendation to replace saturated animal fats with heart healthy unsaturated plant oils and fats, I came across this wonderful response. While some people carped about “who can you trust?” And “my facts are as good as your facts,” this person had good wisdom to impart. I want to share it!

WISDOM: IMPROVE YOUR DIET

One should focus on improving dietary patterns in a positive way, and, contrary to what is believed, this can be done avoiding controversial and emotional arguments entirely.

EAT MORE FIBER 

De-emphasize individual ingredients. For instance, on a population basis, Increasing fiber intake a few grams daily (currently we eat 15g, and the optimum is about double that) would produce significant benefits. 

EAT SALAD DAILY 

Similarly, eating one medium-large fresh salad (without destroying it with add-ons) daily would do the same. Add one medium fresh fruit salad daily (without added sugar), and three or more portions of beans or lentils per week, and fresh cherry tomatoes as snacks. This is positive dietary advice, not negative. 

EAT WHOLE FOODS MADE AT HOME

Another principle that has universal acceptance–eat fresh, home-made, real food, which also has social benefits. 

PROCESSED FOODS ARE UNHEALTHY 

Processed food is unhealthy for many reasons, and 60% of what Americans eat is ultra-processed. 

DRINK MORE WATER

The preferred beverages might be water (unflavored) or home-made green tea. 

EAT POSITIVELY FOR HEALTH 

There is sufficient flexibility in such a “eat positively for health” philosophy to meet most needs. The major barrier, as in the past, is that people do not accept good advice, blaming others for their own unhealthy choices. Yes, this is hard in our current environment–but possible.

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY–THE JOURNEY OF A 1,000 STEPS BEGINS WITH ONE.

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COFFEE IN A CRACKED CUP

Goodbye to one of my favorite coffee cups, the mermaid Starbucks cup. I’ve knocked it about often enough in my early morning stupor to cause the glaze at the handle to get a small crack at the seam. My coffee leaketh out, so to speak. Can’t have that! 

As for our faith in Christ, if we keep it all contained so it never escapes into the world, but only feeds us alone, what good is it? Maybe we need to be more of a leaky vessel, or a cracked cup, to share the goodness of God with those who need a pick me up. Coffee for Christ! Christ for the World!

2 Corinthians 4:7–“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”

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CARING FOR OURSELVES 

“Home again, home again, jiggety jog.” My daddy always said this phrase from the old Mother Goose rhyme when we pulled into the driveway after a road trip. Even though I wasn’t gone long, I’m always glad to return, just as I’m always glad to leave! Food away from home seems to taste better when someone else cooks it for you, just as coming back home gives you a new appreciation for the efforts others put into your meals. 

Having a great chef like Susan Jett cook for our Spiritual Formation Academy Retreat at Mount Eagle reminds me of the gift of hospitality and service. This is a gift we can give to our own selves and to our families also, and not just to those who visit us. 

When I take the time to be mindful of my ingredient selection, my food choices, my food preparation, and my food portions, I find I eat more healthy and have less hunger. When I race about, throw the first thing into my mouth or grab an instant gratification, I over consume both calories and carbohydrates (I’m supposed to limit these for my pre-diabetes). 

Most of us would treat our guests as if they were Christ, but we often forget to do the same for our own selves. Yet we too carry the image of Christ, who “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). If we cooked for the Christ who lived in us, or cleaned house for the Christ who visited daily, we might offer more hospitality and grace to ourselves.

Posted in disease, emotional eating, family, Food, Health, hunger, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, Ministry, Prediabetes, Spirituality, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ART, SCIENCE, AND THE UNIVERSE 

If anyone knows, THE UNIVERSE knows. Some folks can’t believe in a god or personal diety, but can attribute all the same attributes to the Universe. Others assign these powers to Fate or to Luck or Chance. 

We’re all created in the image of God, yet each one of us is unique down to the swirls of our fingerprints. We’re both the same and different. I can make my rainy day soup by the same recipe every time, but it tastes different each time. It’s because the low carb veggies change, so the texture and taste change. I also use different pastas, and this makes a difference also. Finally, my choice of cheese will make a difference. Before I forget, I tend to just throw that basil, parsley, and my “all purpose mix” spice in until it looks right! This makes the biggest change of all. 
I suppose this is why we say cooking is an art, not a science. As folks say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” I like food with complicated tastes, but that’s how I like my people and my environment also. Did I mention this recipe has no added salt beyond what is in the food itself? Yet it’s plenty tasty because of the herbs! It’s an art, or maybe science, or maybe the Universe knows. Or maybe it’s a mystery of God. 
Step out and try some different recipes, or vary your own recipes. Your palette will thank you and you won’t experience food boredom. You might make a new discovery if you step out of your comfort zone. Just a tippy toe into the ocean of excitement is all you have to begin with. After all, “the journey to Rome begins with a single step!” (Or swimming stroke!)

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WEEKEND WEATHER REPORT 

Welcome to the weekend! I’m drinking coffee on a rainy morning. Folks say if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait a day or so. It’s going to be different, no matter what the weather gurus say. 

Our sunny high of 82F for yesterday never panned out, for the westerly front raced in and brought the clouds and cold rain at noon instead. The thunderstorms at midnight with brilliant lightning flashes shot down any chance of seeing the famous Lyrid Meteor showers which happen every year around this time. 
Today I might have to say goodbye to Mr. Air Conditioner and say hello to Mr. Heater, since our anticipated weather will be wet and cold: 61 and 47F. We’re back to an earlier spring scenario. Nevertheless, I’ve learned the hard way from my experience in my adopted home, “Don’t put all your out of season clothes away.” In any event, drinking coffee in the morning can always bring a rainbow into my day. 
If we can’t control the weather, we can always adjust to it. If we only realized people were more like the weather, subject to storm fronts or barometric highs and lows, then we might understand why trying to control them is so difficult. At most we can guide human beings, for unlike nature, we creatures have a mind and a will. We can offer them a better way, provide consequences for poor choices and rewards for good ones, and we can be positive role models for them. 

At some point, we have to let go and let God take over the work we’re not able to effect in a contrary person. If that person is our own self, and it sometimes is–don’t get mad, I’ve been unable to let go of my own bad habits from time to time–we have to ask, “Who is the god of my life? Is it Me? Or is it the God of all creation? To whom do I answer? How can I best serve my family and the world in the this body of flesh?”

Sometimes the person we need to work on is our self. I always find drinking another cup of coffee helps my mind access the deeper levels of consciousness, or as we say in Cornie’s Kitchen, “Gosh! I think I’m coming to life now!”

Posted in Coffee, coffee, Environment, family, Health, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Relationships, Self improvement, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Food, Medicine and Time

Hippocrates was one smart dude.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is this healer’s complete quote. He cared for the sick in Greece in the early 4th century BCE. Of course, he didn’t have access to the modern science of our doctors today, but our best physicians still offer this advice to prediabetics: eat healthy food and exercise daily, and bring down the weight.

Amazingly, Hippocrates’ wisdom, “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance,” still applies. We stick to our opinions, “My doc would like me to lose weight, but…(eye roll)…”I’m so busy, it’s too hard, I don’t have time, my family won’t eat it, etc.” We  wait for the magic bullet, the pill or the shot, only to find out it doesn’t work unless we change the habits our science trained healer suggested was the best treatment in the first place.

This is the food as medicine and medicine as food concept, or as I call it, Whole Food for Whole People. Many “health fads” toss out entire food groups: nothing white, no carbs, no grains, or nothing a male cro-magnon couldn’t kill with a spear. Other plans rely on processed meal replacement drinks and bars which are mostly sugars and oils mixed with a protein supplement. Don’t get me started on “clean eating,” unless it means you wash your veggies before you eat them and wash your hands before food prep or eating. The same goes if you’re restricting your calories below 1,500 per day, except under a doctor’s supervision, because you’re setting your metabolism to starvation mode. As soon as you begin to eat normally, you’ll begin to gain serious amounts of weight. Your body’s deprivation senses the feast and goes into beast mode. All you do is set up a yoyo effect, gaining and losing the same weight over and over. I have a drawer full of these T-shirts.

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“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” My dad and uncle were both physicians, so healing and caring for people are in my family’s DNA. I’m retired clergy, so my healing and caring has been for people’s spiritual lives. I have diabetes in my family and I’ve been prediabetic for eleven years. I have a supportive doc and I put my mind onto living my best life, not everyone else’s life.

When time is an issue, what we really mean is we’re too tired to take care of our bodies well. We don’t value ourselves as much as we value the others in our lives. As a pastor, one of the most difficult obstacles to my ministry was my own need to please others. Someone was always sick, needy, broken, or otherwise seeking my help 24/7/365. Parents understand this, adult children of invalid parents understand this, and so do the self employed. If we don’t take time off and we don’t do the necessary caregiving to ourselves, we won’t be there to care for others. As one who left full time ministry on disability leave, I can vouch for that. I have other friends who have destroyed their health doing good for others. The pain of not being able to do what you love and what God calls you to do is all to real. It’s a form of death.

I grocery shop once a week, buying vegetables and fruit in season for the best price. I don’t hit the middle aisles very often except for wild rice, beans, and my favorite whole wheat pastas, which I don’t eat nearly as often as I used to! Some cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, regular cheese, meats and eggs round out the list. I make sure there’s no high fructose corn syrup lurking in these products or other sugars by any other name. I don’t do the fat free items unless the ingredients are the same as the regular offering, except for the fat content. Often the fat free has more sodium or gums to change the texture. Reading labels is important. If you’re pressed for time, use Cornie’s Rule: A smaller ingredient list equals a better and less processed food.

Time in the kitchen is another issue for folks. I happen to be a simple cook. None of that fancy pants saucing and tending of the stove our parents did that got them a star in their crown. Save that for special occasions. None of us are the farm family any more who can tend a stove for hours. Thirty minutes tops for a meal during the week and an hour on the weekend is the most I’m giving to this part of my life and I enjoy my food! Mr. Microwave as guest chef or assistant is a boon in every kitchen for crisp, al dente veggies, or reheating leftovers just so.
Herb Seasonings can change up the tastes every night, even if the same chicken breast is showing up as the main course. Just change out the veggies and potato. This evening I went for corn on the cob instead. Counting carbohydrates is a must for prediabetics and diabetics. These are listed on packaging and your doctor will tell you how many to have per meal.

If you introduce these changes gradually, you’ll retrain your family’s taste buds naturally. All at once, they’ll resist. Slow and easy will help you adjust also. Cold turkey is best saved for sandwiches.

Posted in Disability, Exercise, Fad diets, family, Food, Friendship, Generations, Grief, Grief, Health, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, Ministry, Nutrition guide, Occupation, Prediabetes, processed foods, retirement, Time management, Uncategorized, walking, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WILD CORN DOGS

Warning! Don’t eat everything you find in nature! Just because a food is “natural ” doesn’t mean it’s good for you! These “wild corn dogs,” are actually cattail or bullrush plants, usually found growing near the banks of creeks, streams, lakes, or drainage ditches. 

State fair corn dogs come in a pork/chicken blend and a 100% Beef Corn Dog. The beef is a better choice with lower calorie, lower carb, half the sodium, but less protein. These aren’t your first sources of “whole food for whole people.”

State Fair Corn Dogs come in two types: all Beef and Classic, orPork/chicken/turkey mix. The Classic State Fair Corn Dog has a sodium content which makes this unacceptable for children & any adult with blood pressure issues. 800 mg is over half of 1500 mg sodium limit. The Beef has half the sodium, lower carbs, lower calories, lower sugars, but lower protein. Both contain corn syrup, a cheap way to add calories, but not nutritional value. 


In fact, these corn dogs are processed foods. I use this principle:

  LESS  WORDS

BETTER   FOOD

If the ingredient list has unpronounceable words, chemical words, and a tome written to explain the contents, I look for another product. Another give away is the word “light” or “low fat”–if they take something out of the food, they usually reengineer it to add taste and texture.
Compare the “real food” with the “slenderized” food. The latter often has a higher sodium content or odd stabilizers. 

The worst additive is HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup. This is another word for liquid sugar. It’s cheap, adds calories, and none of us need it. Even fat free half and half creamer has HFCS, carrageenan (seaweed used to bind food), cream, artificial color, disodium phosphate, guar gum (vegetable thickener), and vitamin A palmitate. So why do folks buy this stuff?

“Fat-free half-and-half strikes me as an absolutely unnecessary product,” says Mario Kratz, PhD, a dairy researcher and nutrition scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. It exists, of course, because people want the rich texture and flavor and calcium benefits without the fat or calories. But that dairy phobia is misguided, according to Kratz’s recent review on dairy. “Our work shows that consuming dairy foods in their full-fat form (rather than nonfat or low-fat) is associated with lower weight gain, a lower risk of obesity, and possibly even lower risks for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” he says.

Of course, portion control is important!  I measure out a 1/2 cup of real half and half every morning. Once that’s gone, I either get black coffee or iced tea. Oddly enough, I can drink tea without cream (not the English way!).

You actually need a certain amount of healthy fats to keep hunger at bay. These are vegetable fats, not meat fats. Learn to love olive oil, not too much! And nuts, not buckets, but an ounce a day. 
And if you want to eat a corn dog, wait till the State Fair comes to town. It’ll taste better then, among the tilt-a-whirls and ferries wheels of the great white way of carnies and food stands. I’m going on a road trip soon. I’ll have some fried chicken at least once. It’s my way of portion control. I know a Popeye’s near Hope, Arkansas, that makes a great crispy and extra spicy thigh serving. See y’all on the flip side. 
http://time.com/3814015/fat-free-half-and-half/

Posted in Comfort food, disease, Food, Health, high blood pressure, Nutrition guide, Picnic, processed foods, Travel, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment