Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for September, 2012

Everything old is new again

flapjacks aka pancakes

I made sourdough flapjacks this morning, reinforcing two ideas. First, that our modern cooking methods are totally lacking flavor. Second, that healthy eating can be really, really good eating.

image of the sourdough starter

aren’t the babies cute?

There is a certain gross out factor to sourdough. You begin with sourdough starter, which is a flour/water or flour/milk or flour/beer mixture that you inculcate with yeast or yogurt. You could just leave it out, but I think that is leaving too much to chance. I did the flour/milk/yogurt this time, and the results are amazing. You put this mixture in a warm place and let it grow.This is a fermented product just as yogurt is.

Picture the smell of bacon, sourdough flapjacks and coffee, all we need is the smell of leather, horses and cows, and an open fire to be in the old west. I don’t mind forgoing the other smells, but trust me, my house smelled really good this morning.

Does God Care What we Eat?

Alert! For those for whom Christian conversation is offensive, quit reading or be prepared to be offended

From time to time, when I talk about nutrition, I get a backlash of “But who would want to  eat that stuff” or “But I hate vegetables.” I think this is sad. As I am a Christian, I believe food is from God, and how we eat directly is correlated to how God would like us to live. My purpose of this post is to demonstrate that, and to possibly persuade the anti-health food crowd to reconsider.

To begin, God has told us what to eat in His word:

pretty veggiesGe 1:29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

We were not given meat to eat until after the flood:

Ge 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.

3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

frighttened lynx

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth.

I would take this to mean that vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains were our original food, later, we added meat. Thus, I would say that the modern injunction to eat mostly plants, but not necessarily to be vegetarian, would be in line with God’s word.

Daniel reemphasizes this with his reluctance to eat the rich food of the king’s court:

Da 1:5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

8 ¶ But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Da 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Mmm-mmm-love that “pulse”. (Actually translated as grain.)

What have we done with this?

We have taken the food God created, and replaced it with ersatz food, fake food. Some packages you read have no real food items in them. God gave us the intelligence to do this. He also gave us the intelligence to realize that this is harmful. If we know something is harmful and we do it anyway, what are we saying to the One who created us.

Ro 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Ro 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

What is the purpose of the food you eat?

Yes, there is a social aspect, and food is tied to culture and emotion. But foods primary purpose is to nourish our bodies, to give us strength and health. If your food isn’t doing that, try doing it God’s way. All the most popular diets that work come back to the same principles- eat real, whole food. Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit and grain, less of milk and meat. If you truly hate vegetables, try some of the smoothie recipes out there. Grind them up and add them to your meatloaf, add more to your soups, or casseroles. Choose foods based on their health benefits

If you are at the doctor’s office, and he is saying: 1. You need to lose weight. 2. Your blood pressure is too high. 3. You have type II diabetes. 4. You have metabolic syndrome. 5. You suffer from constipation or other bowel issues, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you are eating and why. Look at all the plants God put on this earth, and try to fit more of them into your diet, without smothering them in oil, or deep fat frying them. Do you have trouble with heart burn? How many food related medicines are you taking?

Php 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose god is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, whose minds are fixed on the things of the earth.

If taste is the overriding factor in your choices, ignoring the health effects of those choices, maybe it’s time to ask “Is this really how God wants me to live?”

BTW, the answer to the question “Does God care what we eat?” is yes and no. Yes, he wants us to treat our bodies with respect, and eat the food he gave us. No:

Mt 6:25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Lu 12:22 ¶ And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

C’mon People, it’s Only Winter.

winter word artIt’s time to stop treating winter like an unexpected house guest:

couple arguing

“I thought she was your friend.”

“I didn’t invite her, but how could I say no?”

“How long is she staying?”

“I don’t know, it seemed rude to ask.”

 

wintery bridge

It comes every year. If you live in the northern climes, it is no surprise. But everyone acts like they weren’t expecting it and wish it would go away. This isn’t the 12th century, you can choose where you live, and you have a pretty good idea of what the weather in those places are. If you choose to live here, you are tacitly accepting winter.

beautiful winter day

So, embrace the 6 months that are winter. I know, according to the calendar it is only three, but everyone knows that’s a lie. I always said I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that has worse winters than us, and when I see it has snowed in the Dakota’s, Montana and places like that in June, I decided those weren’t the places I wanted to live.

 

How to embrace it? Ski, snowshoe, hike, make snow angels. Enjoy hearty soups and stews. Cook things in the slow cooker. Enjoy the rough challenge of driving in bad weather. Buy a warm sweater. I was looking for pictures and I found this link to Montreal Winter activities! Looks great.

car off the road in winter.I realize that it is a challenge for many people. If you are elderly or in poor health, the uneven surfaces might cause you to fall, not to mention the ice. In those cases, I would say moving isn’t a bad option, many of our older friends have happily fled. If moving south isn’t an option, it might be a good time to think about moving somewhere where the shoveling and ice clearing either isn’t as daunting, or is taken care of for you. On the plus side, there are a plethora of gyms out there to join, to walk in heated comfort, or walk the mall.

For those that don’t fit in the above categories, get out there, fast. I see too many people making themselves invalids by allowing themselves to get so out of shape that they cannot handle what winter brings. Of course you are risking a heart attack if shoveling snow is the most exercise you’ve gotten in the last year. Of course it will give you a bad back if you don’t know how to lift properly, and haven’t practiced those motions on a regular basis. So, if you needed any more motivation to get to the gym, then picture yourself out there shoveling. If you don’t think you can do that- start now. Cable twists, wood choppers and hay bailers will strengthen those muscles. Dead lifts will strengthen your back. Lunges will strengthen your legs for those unexpected slides on the ice. Step ups will strengthen all your leg muscles to avoid twisting ankles. Finish up with the elliptical and you will be all set to cross country ski.

Food, food, food and AT&T

I’ve put the disclaimer on here before that I am not a foodie. I am not devoted to the hedonistic enjoyment of food. However, if health and fitness are a passion, food has to be front and center of that passion. You literally are what you eat, so that has to be the focus of much of your fitness regime. With all of the concerns swirling around commercially grown and packaged food, the logical step is to produce your own as much as possible. I thought I would throw a couple of ideas at you, especially since most of us don’t have the luxury of time for doing all this if we don’t take advantage of every trick we can come up with..

Roast several chickens, winter squashes, whatever, and process all at once.

I roast a chicken, cut most of the meat off, then throw the carcass in a pot for soup. I then freeze the stock in plastic bowls, then transfer them to freezer bags. If you do 2 at once, you cut the energy cost, and freeze the meat as well as the broth. Each bag of frozen meat is one dinner ingredient you don’t have to prepare that day. If you don’t have a good size freezer, I would say it is the best investment for your families health. That and one of those vacuum sealers. Buy the bags online, it’s much cheaper.

frozen chicken broth

First I freeze it in bowls, then pop them into vacuum seal bags.

Squashes are best roasted whole, at least easiest, then you can scoop the flesh out and freeze that in individual portions. If you roast squash, chicken, sweet potatoes and other things at once, you only turn the oven on once for all of it.

sourdough starter

Isn’t the baby cute? It’s alive!

Speaking of ovens, mine is cooking sourdough starter. The lightbulb is providing the heat. I’m using the recipe from “More Bread Machine Magic.” I’ve done it before with another method, one that I can’t recall at the moment. This one uses yogurt. Is Lacto Bacillus related to yeast? I’m not sure. Isn’t yeast it’s own organism? If you use sourdough, you don’t have to keep buying yeast all the time. I don’t eat nearly the amount of bread I used to, but it is still a favorite food. I’m going to try freezing the sourdough starter to see if that works.

Salad Mania

I’ve never been overly crazy for standard lettuce salads, but I love mayonnaise salads and interesting ones. How can you resist this:

beet salad

shredded beets, carrots, apples mixed with some mayonnaise, a dab of rice vinegar and dried cranberries walnuts and pecans. MMMMmmm.

It’s sweet enough for my sweet tooth, and pretty too boot.

The next one wasn’t so good in my book, it started with all my favorite ingredients, Kale, nuts, cheese, quinoa, but the dressing called for three tablespoons of lemon juice. Too much of a good thing.

Kale salad

I don’t think I like too much lemon in my salad. Meh.

Maybe fall is bringing the foodie out in me!

AT&T

If I have a notable experience with a company, I’ll post it here. Public information and opinion are what blogs are all about.I’m trying to not think too badly of AT&T, but they appear slow witted. They sold my husband the package that includes tethering. That means we can use our phones for our computers. However, you need 3g. We don’t get that at our house. When my husband called to complain, they said-“Oh, we’ll sell you a “mini cell”, which boosts your signal”. EXCEPT- it requires high speed internet to use, which we don’t have, which is WHY we wanted the tethering in the first place! My husband was telling them about wanting the tethering to combat the unreliability of satellite service. Do they not know anything about the products they push? I know, don’t answer that.

Hodgepodge Thursday

Today I have several topics, from the class warfare of fitness to arsenic in rice, and my own personal fight to be fit.

people exercisingThe 1%

In the realm of fitness, I am seeing a larger gap than the economic gap that has everyone in such a tizzy. The people in the gym work hard to outdo each other for levels of fitness and “cleaness” of eating, while the much of the world languishes in ill health. It seems that there is a dichotomy of those who try their utmost and those who don’t do much of anything, with a very small “middle class” of those who are moderately fit. Is it that once you head down the fitness path, you want to keep going? Is there some sort of all or nothing mentality at work? Then I heard about this study showing that, unless we change our ways, we will become heavier and heavier as time goes on. Two obese peopleWhat is it? Why is it? I think it is simply the abundance of tasty food. Ask most people “Would you like oatmeal for breakfast, or a doughnut?” Unless they are attuned to the effect on their bodies of that choice, they will pick the doughnut. There are so many obstacles to overcome- treats brought into work, meals eaten in restaurants, the lack of everyday exercise, portion creep. All of it adds up. To get it off requires diligence and commitment. So unless something drastic happens, the same gap that has occurred economically will continue to grow between thick and thin.

bowl of rice

Arsenic in Rice

Rice is one of my favorite foods. I checked out the reports on Arsenic in rice, wondering if it  was as serious as it sounded. Apparently it is. Both inorganic and organic arsenic have been found in rice. Why rice? Apparently it needs silica to grow, and arsenic is chemically similar enough that the rice absorbs that instead.

What Have I been telling you?scroll showing the law of unintended consequences Let me quote from Consumer Reports: “When the rice initially planted in some of those former cotton fields produced little grain due to that pesticide residue, farmers solved that problem by breeding a type of rice specifically designed to produce high yields on arsenic-contaminated soil, according to Andrew Meharg, a professor of biogeochemistry at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.”

Wh-wh-what!?!?!? Do I need to say more? What did they think would happen if they got something to grow in arsenic?

Here is my answer:

my jars of picklesGrow your own, can your own, freeze your own. Granted, we can’t do that with everything, I’m not going to put rice paddies in my back yard. I will limit my rice consumption, and rinse it thoroughly before cooking. I do try my best to know where my food is coming from and how it is grown. What about you? Any thoughts on how to not bump yourself off before it’s time?

Why I Won’t Become Vegan any Time Soon.

As I talked about in my last blog article, the Law of Unintended Consequences is one of the overriding philosophies of my life. We just don’t know what our actions will do until it is too late. It isn’t always bad, it’s just what we think is going to happen may not always be what does. Which brings me to my topic of veganism.

vegan emblem

Veganism will lead to fewer animals

One of my friends is a vegan, and she sends me articles with her reasoning. One of the pushes for veganism is animal welfare. If no one eats animals, there won’t be any inhumane farming practices. Which is true. There would be no reason to keep cows, chickens, pigs, goats or sheep if you are a vegan. On the downside, there would then be almost no cows, sheep, pigs or chickens. And that is the unintended consequence. If you are  a vegan for animal welfare, than you must think it is better for there to be less of them. Lets face it, raising cows is hard. No one will keep them as pets. They won’t revert to the wild easily. So, there just won’t be many. Pigs of course, will fare better. They revert quite easily, to become a menace and a nuisance. Sheep and goats might be kept as pets by some, but the numbers will dwindle mightily. And chickens? Yes, they have their devoted fans, but unless you eat eggs, they aren’t that fun as pets. Also, as I can attest to, they are extremely easy prey for any predator, making keeping them alive a challenge.

bull dozer

Hunters spend lots of money to avoid this.

What is the monetary value of wild animals?

If you believe that it is better to have fewer animals than to have them in captivity, than your veganism is realistic so far. But how about wild animals? There is the logic out there, based on the truth that we have hunted many animals to extinction or near extinction, that hunting and eating animals is always bad for them. That would be true if no other factors involved. However, unless your concern for animals goes to the extreme of wanting to bump off humans, the opposite proves to be true today. Today the biggest threat to animals is loss of habitat and overcrowding. If there is not enough food for the wild animals they starve, and if there is not enough room for them, then there isn’t enough food and disease can easily spread. How land is allocated depends on money. There is a LOT of money to be made in developing land for housing and businesses. Both farmland and wilderness are being eaten up by this factor. We all want our little piece of turf, if we can afford it. While millions do live in cities, millions more move to the ‘burbs, turning the ‘burbs into smaller cities and creating their own outlying suburbs. It is cheaper to build on empty land than to tear something down and build over, not to mention all the people who kick up a fuss when you tear the old thing down. So, all that “empty land” that was home to deer, grouse, turkey, fox, skunk, opossum, bluebirds, yellow jackets, etc., etc., now becomes someone’s house and they don’t want the deer eating their bushes.

Ducks unlimited logo Hunters are good for animals

What was my point with all that? Oh, yeah, hunters. Hunters want places to hunt. They also want those places to be filled with critters to hunt. Hunters spend a lot of money to get that. They either buy land themselves to preserve it, go in on a piece of property together, or give political contributions to organizations to lobby congress to preserve hunting areas and the wildlife therein. Two organizations have been huge in this effort, Wild Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Read this link to  Ducks Unlimited, and this one to the NWTF if you’d like to learn more. Money talks. Without hunters, there would be far less wilderness areas for us to enjoy. Hunters today are an enlightened group, they spend a lot of time talking about the best way to ensure the health and survival of the species they hunt. Sure, there are always going to be a few idiots of the “shoot anything that moves” variety, but there are bozos in any organization. For the most part, hunters are bigger conservationists than any other group, because they are out there in nature and they want it to stay that way. Without hunters, and there would be very few hunters if they didn’t eat the meat, there would be fewer roadblocks to development.national wild turkey federation logo

calf with heart shaped white blaze and blue ribbon on neck.

Where do cute cows come from? Maybe farms?

Farmers are good for animals.

You hear the argument that it takes so many more acres to raise a cow than it does to grow the vegetables that a human could eat to stay alive. That’s great! That is that many more acres that aren’t being paved over or having a high rise  or strip mall put on them. And guess what? Many game animals depend on those farmers fields as part of their habitat. So if you are vegan for animal rights, buy a piece of beef from your local farmer and give it to a meat eating friend. That way, he won’t have to sell his farm to a conglomerate that will either put up a shopping center or add it to a mega factory farm where the conditions are inhumane. If you really care about animals, support humane farming practices and conservation organizations. Then there will be plenty of happy, healthy critters running around and eating the veggies in your garden.

cover for a children's book promoting veganism

Emotionalism, not reality. If you really loved them you’d support the conditions that support their flourishing.

Seriously? Organic isn’t better?

A study was published in the Annals of Internal medicine has everyone talking, since it purports to show that organic isn’t healthier. I found the original article here but it is only the study summary. One thing to note about summaries, is that they are the author’s conclusions. You can draw different conclusions from the same information. every article I’ve read has taken the authors conclusions to heart without any analysis.

rebuttal:

  1. Organic isn’t more nutritious- I never thought it was. All the arguments about “depleted soil” and “our food isn’t as nutritious as what are ancestors ate.” are bunk too. Most of the nutrients we get from plants are created by the plant from sunlight, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and trace amounts of minerals and chemicals in the soil.
  2. Organic isn’t significantly lower in pesticides- I’ll rebutt that in their own words:

Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small.

Less pesticides in your kids isn’t better???

What did they just say? They found less pesticides in the urine of children fed organic food. How is that not better? They found the risk of being contaminated with pesticide residue smaller in organic. However, on the bright side, even your pesticide user has no greater risk of exceeding the maximum allowed limit. So which is better? We have an allowed limit of pesticide contamination, and whether you eat organic or not, you don’t have a high risk of exceeding the allowed limit. If you show me two peaches, one has 5 parts per million of a chemical, and one has 25 parts, I’ll take the lower one, thank you. We also have a government set limit of rat feces in canned food. I’ll take the uncontaminated one, if you please. The government limits are set by politicians, who have to balance the risk to people with the economic needs of farmers and chemical companies. They have to compromise, you and I don’t.
3. Organic didn’t lower rates of allergy symptoms. – Is someone claiming it does?

4. Organic had lower rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria, although no better rate of avoiding bacterial contamination. -Not promoting antibiotic resistant bacteria isn’t a good goal?

Never say never.

I’m a realist, I’m not an ideologue. I may even use some chemicals, at some point, in my own garden. If a farmer is going to lose his whole crop to army caterpillars or some other pest, I can’t always say never, under any circumstances do anything. We have almost 10 billion people to feed, we need to consider that. However, I think avoiding chemicals whenever possible is a good thing. My overriding philosophy is the Law of Unintended Consequences, that we just don’t know the ramifications of everything we do until it is too late. We have been conducting a chemistry experiment on ourselves for the last 100 years, and we won’t know all the ramifications for the next 100. Why not err on the side of caution and proceed slowly? I’ve been hearing so much lately about the rise in autism, how do we know that isn’t a by product of this grand chemical cocktail we’ve been consuming?

spraying pesticides from the air.

It goes where the wind blows.

Not 100% pesticide free.

One last point- the study said that organic produce isn’t guaranteed to be pesticide free. True, If I spray pesticides, they aren’t just going to land in my field. Also, everyone isn’t always honest. However I still say we should at least try. Humans are heard animals- when a trend goes a certain direction, we all head that way. The organic and slow food movements are at least keeping the heard milling about, rather than stampeding towards an unknown future of chemically created foods. Lets think more than once before spraying substances that kill life and then eating those substances. We depend on our gut bacteria for our health and we are eating chemicals that could kill them, or change them into something that is not beneficial. Now there’s a scary thought!

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