Reality

Day two of any habitual change brings an emptying of the body and soul.  Novelty is out the window and reality sets in.  Wait, aren’t these are the same vegetables I ate yesterday attempting to appear in new form?!

Short and sweet analysis of food:  Tea, Purple Power Juice (otherwise known as Violet Beauregarde), Great Green Fruity Juice (chard, apple, pear, coconut water, strawberries), carrot & dill salad, banana, stir-fry veggies, tangerine, tea.

Thoughts on this process:

*Cold the entirety of day two.
*No cravings yet – probably due to the slow transition.
*Swiss chard is the most beautiful green.
*Radish is good in salad.  I remember this vegetable as a child, but where has it gone?  The humble radish has returned for me.
*Day three will bring less attention to food, and more to the reason behind the fast.
*Dill makes salads taste like pickles.  This is a good thing.
*When the cravings and empty feelings set in, promptings to pray and reflect skyrocket.
*Feeling strangely more dehydrated although I’m drinking more water.
*Sleep is heavy.
*Waking up isn’t sluggish.
*Remembering the hungry worldwide.
*Reflecting on Jesus’ and Moses’ forty day fast.  One word – whew.

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Honeymoon

Living a vegetarian lifestyle makes this portion of the fast seem like no change.  Toward the evening, I said to my husband, “This isn’t so bad!  I feel like I’ve eaten a lot today.”

Something like daggers were thrown from his look back to me.  Like, Seriously, woman?! You’re stomach isn’t every moment consuming itself and groaning in agony?

We sat to dinner and began listing every different fruit or vegetable we had eaten throughout the day.  It was astonishing.  Apple, pear, cabbage, ginger, lemon, lime, spinach, arugula, tangerine, celery, carrot, radish, broccoli, sweet potato, parsnip, onion and garlic.

First thing in the morning
This fast has you begin and end your day with either tea or water.  My son and I have decided we don’t drink enough water, so we recently developed a new morning ritual called Chug-A-Lug.  We each fill a cup full of warm water (cold hurts our throats), after which we make toasts to whatever comes in our minds.  Yesterday it went something like this:  Me:  To rainy days!  Him:  To slugs!  We clink our glasses and then gulp about a third of the glass.  Clinking and drinking continues until it’s gone.

My son also discovered a most peculiar herbal tea – Licorice Spice.  Granted, I am one of those who picks out black licorice Jelly Bellies, because they overpower the taste of the next ten you eat.  So, I was skeptical.  But something strange happened with the first taste…

It was not as heavy on the anise/licorice flavor as expected.  Then, a weird sensation.  Sweetness burst out of it and sank into my taste buds.  It was like they sifted through the licorice flavor and found a pot of sugary gold at the end of the rainbow.  We passed it to my husband, also a skeptic, and he had the same reaction.  He waited a few seconds, then sat up straight and got a big smile on his face.  We’re converted.

Breakfast
The most important meal that we rarely eat.  Perhaps this fast will get us into a better routine.  Cherry Cinnamon Apple Bake today.  Pretty much exactly what it sounds like, apples, cherries, craisins, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg baked.  It was crazy sweet and tart, but delicious.

Juice
Lemon Lime – 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 apple, 1 pear, bit o’ ginger, 2 carrots, and some purple cabbage.  You had me until purple cabbage (husband’s reaction).  First off, the dreaded cabbage had the most brilliant purple color.  I enjoyed it, because lemon and lime always remind me of 7-Up.  Question – why do I feel really thirsty after drinking juice?  Isn’t that contradictory? One final thing – if you can afford a masticating juicer, do it.  Lots of foam on this juice.

Lunch
Spinach, orange, carrot, radish, celery, and broccoli salad.  We went to the Portland State University Farmer’s Market on Saturday and came away with two items:  cherry habanero jelly and pear ginger vinegar.  We made our own dressing for this salad with the pear ginger vinegar and olive oil.  I’m used to salads with feta, seeds, and nuts.  This salad felt extremely bland, but for the dressing and orange.

Snack
Sweet Potato chips.  Thinly sliced sweet potatoes seasoned with either sea salt or cinnamon.  These dudes were difficult to make, because you had to keep an eye on them at all times.  There were many burns and some floppy attempts before I got it right.  Words of wisdom – eat immediately.  Even the crispiest became soggy on the way to deliver them to my husband at work.

Dinner
Roasted carrots, onion, ginger, parsnip, celery, and zucchini with olive oil, dried thyme and oregano.  REALLY tasty.  A nice warm food to end the day.

Disclaimer
We ate some fruit strips as well as apple chips after dinner before bed.  We decided it was like dessert.

This was a LOT of work.  Not a maintainable lifestyle.  I was peeling, slicing, juicing, chopping, and baking all day long.  Plus, I think my husband was drooling when I cooked chicken for my son at dinner…

Great Fast

In this case, great means 9 days of fruits and vegetables in solid and juiced form. Tomorrow begins for us the Great Fast portion of Lent.

We’ve been anticipating this coming week for many reasons: our new worship community launches officially on Sunday, Holy Week is just around the corner, and the Great Fast.

Attached is our semi-official Reboot schedule.  It was important to be detailed in its creation for the sake of commitment.  If we wanted to really do this, we wanted to choose juices and food that appealed to us.  The concept is three days of fruits, veggies, and juice, followed by three days of juice only, finishing with another round of fruits, veggies and juice.  This leaves Holy Saturday as a buffer day before Easter.  It’s a bummer to fast all the way up to Easter and then not be able to gorge chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies all day.

Tuesday was my husband’s first and my second intimate venture through Winco’s produce section.  We found most of our list and will supplement with the higher end stores.  We couldn’t find fresh blueberries or cherries, so we went with frozen.  We’ll have to thaw before juicing.  Otherwise, it’s all fresh!

Nervous about keeping up with it all.  SO glad to have practiced these past few weeks.  Let it begin…

Down

Fasting has revealed raw parts of my being.  Aspects that have been carefully concealed and pushed down.

Now that I am taking time to reflect, what surfaces is sometimes difficult to process.

I am prone to bouts of melancholy.  Moments of blah.  Days of down.

Different than just being sad.  It’s not usually full of tears.  My filter shifts to emotionless.  The day before, I may perceive the routine of life as energizing and normal, the next day it is fruitless and meaningless.  Maybe it lasts one afternoon.  Maybe a few days.

As a rational life-processor, I could list many reasons why: weird hormone changes, moved to a new city where it rains a lot, not in a professional working environment, infertility…textbook.

Here’s the deal, I don’t want to repress these emotions or try to just cover them up with manufactured happiness. I mean, I’m part of a generation that values ugly honesty. When they happen, they happen.

But I don’t want these moments to define me as well.  And I don’t want to assume they will always be part of my existence.

My biggest reflection in this process is how these moments of unprompted loneliness and hopelessness can leave me frantically seeking peace.  Longing for balance and sustenance.  Wondering why my basic life needs are met, but feeling so empty.  Wanting what I can’t provide.

And yet, just praying for peace doesn’t always mean immediate uplift in spirits.   Often I’m still down after seeking God.

But here’s what I know for sure; in my moments of dark where I seek God, I’m always met.  He is always there.  In fact, sometimes I see Him more clearly in the pit.  I don’t always feel better, but He’s there.

I heard a song yesterday about Job. His wealth was lost.  His family died.  He had skin disease and sickness.  Everything terrible that could happen to a person happened to Job.  But he still didn’t deny his faith in God.

All I have is Yours
All these ashes and these sores
All that I am living for
I will follow you to shore

There’s a perception that when life is hard and we seek God, he will carry us.  Or he will soar over the stormy seas with us.  I have no doubt that God could do this.  But I’ve never experienced it.

When I seek God in tough moments, I find him in the storm with me.  He doesn’t transport me to my happy place (which would be London if you were wondering), but is with me in the struggle.  Therefore, my response is to follow him to shore.  He helps me find a way through and goes with me.

This struggle is good.  It’s real.  It’s ok.  It reminds me of who I am and who I’m to be.

I’m human.  I don’t have to be perfect.  I’m loved by a Creator who came in human form to die for the sin of the world.  He was restored to life after three days and seeks to restore his creation. I’m part of this restoration story.

I choose to journey with Jesus to the cross again this year.  Even though it’s difficult and overwhelming.  Even though I know it leads to death.  There is still hope.

Pear-lery & Strawberry Lemonade

Pear-lery
Yesterday, I made one juice for my husband to take to work and one for me at home.  He got Pear and Celery Root.  Never heard of celery root (or celeriac) before.  But it smelled just like celery and looked like a little round root.  When I smelled and tasted the juice initially, I thought it tasted just like pear and was really excited.  My husband only smelled and tasted the celery.

It was light and frothy.  That’s one downer about the type of juicer we have.  It juices quickly and leaves a foam almost every time.  But, much of the foam blends after stirring.

It is rich in electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.  This makes it a good juice alternative for runners.

Strawberry Lemonade
Once again, I strayed from recipes and created my own Frankenstein.  This juice had swiss chard, lemon, apple, cucumber, and five strawberries.  Artistic minds will quickly deduce my mistake when they all blended together.  Apparently green vegetables and red fruit make brown juice.  Duh.

Honestly, it looked awful.  It smelled a lot like chard.  And could the namers of chard have come up with something more phonetically unappetizing?

But, there’s a silver lining.  I may have to eat my words about juice always tasting like its original form.  For some reason, the lemon and strawberry greatly overwhelmed the chard in flavor.  The brown juice tasted like strawberry lemonade.  It was really good.  I kept drinking and thinking, When’s the chard gonna kick in?

Here’s the bigger test…my son tried it and proceeded to drink about half of it with me.  Brown strawberry lemonade!  Woo-hoo!

 

 

 

Seven-Up & Salad

Sweet Lettuce made so much, I was still drinking it yesterday and therefore didn’t create a new one.  So I’ll share another juice I had created last week and hadn’t posted.

This one came from the dusty confines of my own limited creativity, mainly because there were two blackening pears staring at me from the fruit bowl.

Seven-Up (no picture, the pears were…not pretty.)
1 lemon
1 lime
2 pears
1 cup coconut water
1 carrot
1 apple

Seven ingredients – Seven-Up.  Groan, I know.

One word for this guy – tart.  The lemon and lime gave a lot more juice than I expected.  The coconut water and carrot mellowed it out and the apple and pears sweetened it up!  This was more like a reward juice that a terribly healthful juice, I’m afraid.  Not a lot of veggies, but a lot of taste!  If ever a juice came close to a soda, this would be it.

Chipotle Chicken
Our dinner last night has become part of our food rotation, so I wanted to share!  It was one of the highlights of a trip to my sister’s house in Tucson last year.  She whipped it up in no time and we ate it out on her back porch overlooking mountains in perfect Arizona weather.  It was so fresh and delicious, I couldn’t wait to share it with my family.

Here are the basic ingredients; adjust to taste and portion;

Red pepper
Onion
Jalapeno
Chop these to desired size.  I like them pretty small.

Black beans
Add to chopped veggies

Brown rice
Cilantro – minced
Lime
Add cilantro and squeeze lime in cooked brown rice.  Keep separate from veggie mix.  Optional – zest lime into veggie mix.

Grilled chicken breast
Optional for omnivores.  Chop and add to veggies.

Hidden Valley Southwest Chipotle Dressing
Add either a tablespoon or two to the whole veggie mixture or allow each person to add their preferred amount.

This salad is so fresh, simple, and filling.  Plus, it’s a fairly inexpensive, healthy choice for Mexican food!

Hint – I make this into a quesadilla for my four-year old by adding cheese, chicken and the veggie mix with tortillas on the stovetop.  He dips them into sour cream to calm the spicy jalapenos.

 

Produce

My mother is a natural teacher.  She perceives and experiences life as a learner.  She knows the name of every plant on earth, can unravel a plot before a movie is half over, and don’t even think about playing Trivial Pursuit with her.

Throughout my life, she’s passed on many little quips:  Making your bed only takes two minutes.  Clothing is worth the cost if you’ll wear as many days as dollars. Every dinner should have something green.

My love of fruits and vegetables stems (pun intended) from her.  There was always a bowl filled with some type of fruit in our kitchen.  Cantaloupe and blueberries in the summer, apples in the fall, and oranges through the winter.  Vegetables always filled the crisper.  I assumed everyone followed the veggie-at-every-meal rule.

My husband learned quickly of my mother’s requirement for green vegetables.  At one of our family dinners (before we were married), asparagus was being passed.  My mother served herself and quickly put some on his plate.  You should eat something green at every meal. My soon-to-be husband looked at me bewildered. Since then, he often comments that his appreciation for asparagus began with that serving from his mother-in-law.

Now, I realize how lucky I was to be raised with a healthy appreciation for food and it’s variety of textures and colors.

Yesterday, I went produce shopping.  Since we’re getting closer to the reboot portion of our fast, I’ve decided to try out a new juice everyday this week and cooking some unfamiliar veggies.  It was the most exhilarating WinCo trip thus far!  Turnip, parsnip, celeriac, kale, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, honeydew, apples, tangelos, lemons, limes, pears, strawberries, coconut water and even (in honor of my mother) asparagus.  Our crisper has never worked so hard.

Apple-Cantaloupe-Honeydew-Kale-Chard
My first juice was simply called the names of everything it held, but I would rename it Sweet Greens simply because it tasted like lettuce with a lightly sweet aftertaste.  This juice has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

New juicing enlightenment – juicing vegetables with fruit isn’t going to taste like a Capri-Sun or Diet Coke.  It’s going to taste like liquified vegetables and fruit.  For some reason, I expected a chemical change to occur when yummy fruits were mixed with less yummy vegetables to create a tasty new drink.

So, that’s ridiculous and now I have a choice.  I can keep telling my palate that each new creation may be the one that doesn’t taste like it’s original form.  Or I can embrace new flavors.  Give them a chance.  Try them a few times knowing that they come packed with nutritious value.  Imagine them growing, being harvested, and the care it took to create them.  Retrain my taste buds to let go of their obsession with highly sweetened consumption.

Even omnivores could join this movement.  Not a total vegetarian diet, but bulked up in the produce department.  It could be called:  VFE – Vegetable and Fruit Enthusiasts.  Who’s making T-shirts?  Mom?