From Scratch to Fail

In the spirit of eating healthier, saving money, and avoiding adverse reactions to additives in foods, I enjoy making my beef vegetable and chicken soups and almond butter from scratch. Cooking from scratch is a lot of work, but worth the effort.

I recently attempted to make my own hummus, with less than favorable results. First, I did not cook the garbanzo beans long enough; they were soft, but not creamy. Secondly, to get really smooth hummus and the ability to digest the dip more easily, the beans should be peeled. By the way, garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas. After squeezing the beans out of their shells for 30 minutes (and getting only half-way through the bowl), I realized that peeling them would be like trying to peel a pea, or milk a cat. For whatever reason, that idea came into my numb mind. I think it was a reference to the movie, “Meet the Parents.” Anyway, I had taken all I could and dumped them in the trash. Is there some secret to quickly and easily peeling these little gems?

Running in a Blizzard

I got up early this morning to get in a run before the blizzard started. There was no snow at 4:35 a.m., but I also did not feel like running. I changed the alarm and crawled back under the covers. At 5:45 a.m., there was a dusting of snow on the ground. I decided that there might be some slick spots at this point, and it was still dark outside, so back to bed. At 7:45 a.m., there was a little more snow cover. I thought maybe I would wave the white flag and run on the eighth-mile indoor track at the fitness center, but it was on the closed business list.

Hmmm… Today is a run day. Fitness center is closed. There are a couple of inches of snow on the ground, heavy snow coming down, and a strong N/NE wind. What is a girl to do? Pull on the trail running shoes, face mask, gloves, and head out for a run, of course! Running on a couple of inches of fresh snow is a great workout; just don’t expect to keep a normal pace. Stay on the fresh powder and out of tire tracks, though; they are slippery.

I am glad I didn’t wimp out, because the snowy scenery made for a beautiful run, when the snowflakes were not poking me in the eyeballs, that is. And I was not the only crazy runner out there; there was a guy running in long sleeves and shorts! By the time I neared home, my outgoing footprints were almost filled up. It was getting a little more difficult to run with good form, at that point.

I got home, blew out the driveway, went inside, and took off my shoes. My feet were warm and dry, thanks to my Brooks trail running shoes! They were dry until I stepped in a lump of slush with my socks, that is. One cup of hot chocolate (made with vanilla almond milk) later, and I was a happy runner.

So far, I have run in freezing rain, the leading edge of a severe thunderstorm, extreme heat, and now a blizzard. I don’t plan on running in a tornado or flood, so I think I have met all the severe weather running challenges for my lifetime.

When We Can’t Laugh

It is better to laugh, to have joy, but there are times when our joy is temporarily lost. The tragedy in Connecticut is an example. Many are left with questions in the aftermath: Why did this happen? Why children? Where was God? How could God allow this to happen?

Some will say there is no God, for a loving God would not let this happen. Some will say this happened because we do not allow God in our schools, but God is everywhere; we just choose not to acknowledge his presence. My faith tells me that things like this happen because of man’s free will and sin in the world. Our loving God grieves when we turn away from him and innocents are harmed, but the more we turn from Him, ignore His sovereignty, and keep Him separate from any part our lives, the more hate, violence, and despair we will experience.

Some will say, “Look at the Crusades, violence was committed in the name of God!” There is a difference between a man-made religious agenda and truly knowing the will of God through sincere prayer and study of the Bible.

Another argument is the violence of the Old Testament. This is an example of God’s judgment on earth under the old covenant, and at times innocent lives were lost; however, with Christ comes forgiveness, and judgment for the unbeliever is reserved for the afterlife. We do not escape judgment.

As human beings, we experience grief at the loss of any life, but it helps to remember that this world is temporary. The greatest tragedy is not death in this realm, but eternal separation from God in the next. I cannot justly explain faith in God in one post, but I leave you with this: If we truly sought to follow the two greatest commandments of the Bible, there would be a lot fewer tragedies like the one in Connecticut.

Heavenly Run

Last Friday night, I had one of my best running experiences, ever. The night was dark and quiet, the air was still, and the Christmas lights were shining cheerily. The bells at the Catholic church next to our neighborhood let me know the time, as usual. Then, the real magic started. The bells continued to ring, but they were playing Christmas hymns. The bells played for the rest of my run and cool-down walk; the beauty of the evening overwhelmed me. My thoughts turned toward God, his power, his beautiful creation, and his love. I started to get choked up at the thought of God sending his son to earth as a baby, only to have him grow up and save us from our sins by dying on the cross. Near the end of my cool down walk, I found myself in front of a house with a large, wood nativity scene. I stood there for a few minutes, praying, as hymns floated through the air around me. On a planet inhabited by billions of people, I felt God’s presence right there on Village Drive.

I eventually finished my cool-down, but I came away with a refreshed sense of wonder at the true meaning of Christmas. Have you experienced a magical moment this season that brought you back to the true meaning of Christmas?

It’s Been Awhile!

The final medical opinion is in on my mysterious body reactions to food. I have been to several specialists, stuck with needles enough times to have a tattoo inside my elbow, scanned, had a couple of procedures performed, and made diet changes. So, what did all of this time and money spent finally tell me?

The final results have to do with the aging body. What a slap in the face. We lose flexibility, elasticity, and memory, and as if that isn’t enough, our bodies stop processing what we eat efficiently. Our immune systems do not work as well, either. For me, that means eating minimally processed, whole foods. Snack cakes, candy, sauces, canned foods, frozen meals, pizza, dairy products, breads, corn products, sugar or sugar substitutes (except stevia), onions, and processed meats are examples of the foods no longer on my menu. Eating out at restaurants is taboo. Some fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, minimally processed meat (no broth injected chicken, hot dogs, lunchmeat, etc.), almond milk, and plain shredded wheat now make up my grocery list. I try to make everything from scratch (broth, soups, etc.), and I try to buy organic whenever possible. If you look up the mold free, yeast free diets, you basically have my new eating regimen. I also looked up the blood type diet (0 negative), and it is surprisingly similar to these diets.

Do I ever cheat? I live in the United States, meaning it is hard to get away from processed food, so I do give in once in a while. Because I don’t feel well afterward when I give in (bloating, gassy, itchy skin, etc.), I actually prefer to stick to my new diet. I gave in on our last camping trip and had two s’mores and birthday cake. I was miserable for a couple of days, but once I got back on track, I started to feel better.

Being restricted to this new way of eating is not all bad. Some of the perks are more energy, fewer muscle aches, less bloating and gas, and a healthy body weight. If I had chosen to eat this way all of my life, I could have avoided the ill effects of processed foods so much sooner. Really, our bodies were created to be fueled this way. Oh well, I am enjoying the sweet life now, just not sweetened foods.