Myth #1 Eating Healthy is Too Expensive

Nancy Drew

The first post for our Myth Busting series! Just to review, Nancy Drew solves mysteries but myths are kind of like mysteries. They have the same prefix. Also, we will be busting common myths in regards to diet and wellness. In tackling common “myths” and answering FAQ-U (frequently asked questions of the Umbles), I want to begin with one of the most common . . . “healthy eating is too expensive” and/or “how much do you actually spend?” I believe this question stems from a couple of different issues and/or misconceptions.  I will do my best to cover our practical choices but even more so the theory behind our practical choices.

If you were to come up to me (which many people have done) and ask, “isn’t eating paleo (or whatever you want to call eating whole foods) expensive?” I would answer both with both a “yes” AND a “no”.

YES, it is. Quality raised animal meat is more expensive than Oscar Meyer. A cart or basket full of produce costs more than a cart full of graham crackers and Kraft cheese. Stocking up on coconut oil and almond meal isn’t as convenient as grabbing generic olive oil and boxed cake mix. A freezer full of beef patties and chicken thighs is worth more than a freezer full of frozen meals. That’s just fact. BUT!!! Here’s the kicker. . .

Out of all of our expenses, shouldn’t that which we put into our homes and physical, living, breathing bodies be near the top of our list? Shouldn’t what we put into our bodies matter more than what we put on our bodies? The building blocks that make up our muscles . . . the fat that nourishes and strengthens our skin, clothing our beautiful bones, shouldn’t that matter? The body that gives birth. The body that welcomes guests into their home with a hug. The body that runs and sweats. The body that laughs ,cries and sings. Your body matters.

I think the “isn’t that expensive?” question stems from a wonky paradigm and it needs a shift. For us personally, quality food is a priority because our bodies and health are a priority. We see our bodies and livelihood as a gift from a very kind Giver. We wouldn’t put crap gasoline into a Ferrari. We wouldn’t carry our iphones without a protective case. Our thought process is, “how could we not take care of the very bodies we run, play, hug and simply do life with?”

Yes. Eating whole foods isn’t always cheap . . . but neither is disease. I don’t think we can guarantee ourselves from all sickness, at all. I don’t think we can keep ourselves from dying or suffering. But I do think we can keep ourselves from a lot of common sickness and ailments. We believe nourishing our bodies with real food is preventative care. It’s the tire rotation, oil change and break tune up . . . but for your living, breathing self.

So, yes. With all that said, our grocery bill is one of our bigger monthly bills.
But remember, I also said I would answer this question with “AND no.” Here are my “and no’s.” Eating healthy DOES NOT have to break the bank.

1. Elimination. We aren’t spending $5 on caramel frappucinos (we never were, let’s be honest). We aren’t eating out, grabbing drinks or driving through anywhere and “sadly” we don’t go out for frozen yogurt or slurpees (as much as I love Menchies). You might not think random monthly expenditures and outings cost much but when eliminated, you’re saving quite a bit of dough that can now be put towards weekly groceries. Think about it, if you spend $3.00 (average) on coffee or a treat twice a week, that’s $3.00 x 2 times a week = $6.00 x 4 weeks in a month = $24.00 a month! That’s at least 4 pounds of grass fed beef or 50 ounces of quality cooking fats.

2. Reasearch. Research! Find local co-ops in your area such as my current favorite, Bountiful Baskets (http://www.bountifulbaskets.org/). Ask a friend or family to split a hog or cow. Find a local farmer to support near you. Look for sales, sign up for newsletters, cut coupons, put reminders in your phone to remind you of upcoming markets or promotions. Take the time to research, plan and make it happen.

3. Cut Corners. I shared about this a little bit earlier (https://weirdamphibians.wordpress.com/category/diy/) . Look for ways to cut corners that don’t affect your food quality. Maybe buy a cheaper brand of toilet paper. Learn to coupon for toothpaste and shaving cream orrrr get really crazy and learn to make your own. Recyle zip lock baggies (crazy, I know. But hey, you do what you gotta do.) Get better at turning off bedroom lights. We don’t use the “drying” cycle on our dish washer and let them air dry overnight. We keep our change in a jar (it’s a pig acutally) and visit Coinstar often. We use the Groupon app frequently. Sometimes I have to choose between buying almond butter and amino acids. Big deal.

5. Peruse your local Dollar Tree. Rubber gloves. Trash bags. Floss. Masking tape. Batteries. Shower curtain liners. I even have bought coffee mugs. Yikes.

6. Meal plan. Seriously. Take 10 minutes out of your week to plan out what you are going to eat the upcoming week. Make a list of what you will need and stick to it. Set a maximum limit and stay beaneath. Try to buy things you can use more than once (for instance, if you’re going to buy BBQ sauce for dinner on Tuesday, try to use it again a few days later for lunch and get more bang for your buck). Also, learn to shop the sales. Peruse the adds . . . if pork chops are on sale, make pork chops. If tomatoes are on sale but you really wanted eggplant, suck it up and go with tomatoes.

7. Do the best you can. Oh my . . . please, please, if anything, do not “leave here” thinking that you have to spend tons of money. Do not let this be a burden. That isn’t healthy! Feeling weighed down by some pressure to eat organic and organic only is exactly not the point. That is not my goal in this post or this entire blogging thing. Whatever financial situation you are in, you simply do the best you can. Some months, that meant we ate ground beef and sweet potatoes all day, every day. You simply do the best you can with what you have and be thankful, be so thankful for what you have. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”

CONCLUSION: Maybe your priorities regarding health and food need to shift, maybe they don’t. Maybe you need to start making a weekly/monthly food budget to see where your money is acutally going. Maybe you need to cut down to one Starbucks a week. I don’t know! This isn’t about rules or regulations or what I think! This is an underlying principle regarding priorities and the value of the human body . . . it’s going to look different for each and every person.
Also, don’t be a freak. Don’t hate on others for splurging on a fancy meal. Don’t feel less cool for buying Charmin Ultra. One of the best (best!) things I have learned (Thank you Lizz Wolfe) is “eyes on your own plate” and at my yoga studio “eyes on your own mat.” What does that mean? It means stop being a freak . . . at both ends of the spectrum. Stop criticizing others (whether that is verbally or internally) for what they eat or don’t eat. It also means, don’t feel as though you need to justify your Ben and Jerry’s or new outfit. Both criticizing others and over-criticizing yourself is simply fear of man. This is caring more what people think rather than what God thinks. You have an audience of One, my friend.

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Wise Words Wednesday

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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

I read this quote a year or two ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. On our most recent museum trip, Picasso’s words followed me as I stood in awe of the sculptures in particular. I don’t have a picture . . . honestly, they were too beautiful. It almost seemed insulting to take pull out my handy iphone. I didn’t need to tweet, instagram or blab to everyone about the “cool” things I was seeing. I just needed to soak it in . . . to experience. Dorothy Sayers has some choice words for the American tourist who walks around London and Paris snapping photos in succession without truly experiencing their surroundings. I was too afraid Sayers would pop out from behind a corner and snap at me. We’re all about the photos. We’re all about the image without the content. Picasso is on to something. When was the last time we allowed art (a good song, book, poem, movie, sculpture, painting, a delicious meal, a baby laughing, sun kissed faces, a sunset) to wash our souls of the mundane? To let it remind us of the awesome Creator? To let it remind us how small we really are? To just be without telling everyone. To just taste Him. To let our souls be washed of everyday miniutiae.

* photo above is A Mother and Child and Four Studies of Her Hand // Picasso // 1904

Blueberry Orange Scones

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These are very easy and delicious. They have become regular visitors. Note, the recipe below only makes 4-6 medium scones so I normally double it.

Here’s what you will need,

2 C Almond flour

1 Whole egg

1 Egg white

3/4 t. Baking soda

1 T. Orange zest . . . don’t skip this. If you refuse to take the time to zest (which seriously takes maybe 15 seconds), add 1/2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice

3 T. Honey or grade B maple syrup

A sprinkle of turbinado/date/palm sugar (optional)

Blueberries! As many as you want. I’m guessing half cup? Just feel it out. I’ve used both fresh and frozen. Obviously, fresh just tastes better but frozen is cool.

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
2. Combine wet ingredients in small bowl and mix into dry ingredients
3. Gently fold in blueberries, your hands are best.
4. With your hands, pat circle shape(s) onto un-greased baking sheet. The circles should be no more than 3/4 of an inch. You can make lots of little cirles, some medium circles or one giant circle. It’s really depends on how you want to cut your scones (square? round? pizza slice?) when they are cooled and how big you want them to be. Parchment paper is super helpful here but I have been known to not use it and just eat the parts of the scones that stick to the pan.
5. Brush scone circles with egg white and sprinkle tops with sugar
6. Bake scones for 12-15 minutes. You want them to be golden (not burnt, but “close” to it) and firm in the middle. Scones are not like muffins. They are more like a biscuit . . . not dry but not really super moist either.

7. Let them cool all the way! I’m saying that more to myself. Then cut however you desire. . . I love both the pizza slice look and the rustic square look.

** recipe adapted to the Umble kitchen from http://www.elanaspantry.com/orange-dark-chocolate-chip-scones/ (YES. These are amazing with orange and dark chocolate . . . and blueberries too if you dare)

Faux Doctor Series (part 2)

apothecary

Have you ever played with Legos? Your stomach is very much like legos, small pieces bound together creating a secure wall. This wall (aka lining) is not meant to be penetratable. In fact, God designed your stomach lining to be an act of defense. It even contains part of your immune system! Just like ancient cities were protected by immense walls and gates, your body and well being is protected by your defensive stomach lining.

Like legos, this wall of defense is somewhat fragile. It can be fortified and made stronger but it is none the less very perceptible to invaders and harm. Like guards who ran to the city walls to defend their homes and families, you must protect and strengthen your stomach lining. It is a gift and you are a steward. It can make or break your health but the responsibility to keep it functioning as such relies in your hands.

Now, before you know how to fortify and protect your wall of defense, let’s talk about what you should be protecting it from. You need to know the difference between a friendly visitor and a not-so-friendly visitor (aka enemy). In this post we will be talking about our vicious enemy Number One, stressDo not scroll down or “skip” this. I wanted to tackle stress first, for a very specific reason. Reason being, we tend to poo poo and underestimate the harm regular stress can cause. We (or at least myself up until this past year) roll our eyes at every article on how stress hurts us. We simply see our physical problems in one basket and our spiritual or emotional problems in another basket. Wrong! The two are very much interlinked. Eye twitching. Stomach aches. Headaches. Blood pressure. “Butterflies.” Bad dreams. We don’t realize that are souls are in fact intertwined with our bodies.

You can eat so very well, so very conciously and YET wreck havoc within your gut. If you are a worrier, tense/high strung individual, or generally feel overwhelmed, your body is very much aware. Enter . . . science lesson.

SCIENCE LESSON : On top of both kidneys are little, priceless guys known as the “adrenal glands.” These glands secrete the hormones our bodies need to function properly. Cortisol is one of these hormones and is secreted in times of stress. These times of stress can range anywhere from jogging, lifting weights, playing tag in the park, spilling a glass of red wine on your white carpet, receiveing a tragic phone call etc. In other words, you could be happy as a clam or angry as a bear.

Cortisol itself is a good thing, a specifically designed steroid.. Cortisol itself isn’t our gut’s enemy, too much cortisol is our gut’s enemy. Obviously, in a perfect world with perfect bodies, too much cortisol wouldn’t be “a thing”. However we are in a far from perfect world with far from perfect health and far from perfect circumstancse. In result, too much coritsol is indeed “a thing.”

Our bodies were not designed to handle high amounts of cortisol. As a result, something within the body has to give. This would be the protective mucous lining that coats the gut’s wall. Not only does this lining contain pieces of your immune system, it’s also thick and slimy (ie mucous). It’s the perfect protective agent! It can withstand the acidic nature of the stomach, cling the gut wall and defend the wall from invaders with it’s thick and gel-like nature. An overproduction of cortisol however, decreases the production of our mucous membrane, leading to an unprotected stomach wall. It’s like taking the pads off your elbows before a wipe out. It’s like telling the guards to kick back while the city wall is being attacked.

What happens to our stomachs when the lining is compromised? You name it . . . ulcers, bloating, food sensitivities, and leaky gut (where the contents of your gut actually leak into your blood stream) which ultimately leads to autoimmune disease or an autoimmune response (hair loss, lupus, chronic inflammation, “IBS,” etc.)

So . . . now that you’ve been dumped with a depressing reality that is in fact, reality, what do you do? Stress isn’t always a choice. When a loved one passes away or you lost your job, stress is a reality. When your kid comes crying to you with a broken arm, leaning back in your chair and explaining that stress will compromise your health isn’t an appropriate response. Stress is a part of life. The answer doesn’t lie in escaping stress but rather managing stress. So. What do we do? How to we manage stress, the regular hussle and bustle of life? The regular traffic and the infrequent tragic? Stay tuned and we will tackle this funky tension in part 3.

“S” is for Saturday

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“S” is also for “spur” as in, “to spur on” or “I was spurred by.” Here are some people and words that have spurred me recently. I pray they spur you on as well. Photo above from Lark and Linen.

“You are living art, you are. But sometimes, you forget.” http://www.chattingatthesky.com/2014/01/14/will-make-art-one-another/

One of those life altering moments when you stumble upon words so “chewy” http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/letter-to-an-incomplete-insecure-teenager

Emily’s words never ceases to encourage, cut, and heal  http://www.emilywierenga.com/dear-mothers/

Jordan’s creativity never ceases to make me smile http://ohhappyday.com/2014/01/my-new-cards-how-to-edge-paint-stripes/

Edie might be the coolest mom AND I won the bid for one of her cardigans. Solid. http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/

Ina May Gaskin . . . she oozes bodily wisdom and stillness http://inamay.com/

Because I’m a loser and automatically withdraw from that which is overplayed or over-hyped, I hadn’t listen to Mumford and Sons in a very (very) long time . . . until two days ago on my way home from work. These words have haunted me since.

“Roll Away Your Stone”

Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside’Cause you told me that I would find a hole
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see

Stars hide your fires
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I’ll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

Hide your fires
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I’ll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

But you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

Myth Busting

Buster?? No. He went to Army. 

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Myth Busters? Yikes. The girl on the show was really cool though.

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Or . . . working hard to re-educate yourself, challenge The Man and taking charge of your own health. I like to think Nancy Drew was like this. I’m not sure how health and wellness fits into her story(ies) but let’s just pretend it does. 

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Anyways, this is a teaser for an upcoming “series” on debunking myths and shedding light on the cultural norms such as calcium deficiency, arthritis, anti-acids, fat phobia, “cardio” etc . . . grab your friends Beth and George and a magnifying glass as we search for answers amid the ruins of a calorie rich, nutrient poor society. Stay tuned!

Fat is Phat

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Did you know that fat actually helps you burn fat? Thanks to the 80’s, our thought process has been greatly affected, for the worst. It has also led to an increase in neurological disorders and disease. Why? When broken down into percentage, the brain (your brain) is 60% fat. Your brain NEEDS fat. Your skin needs fat. Your hair and nails need fat. Your tummy needs fat. Avocados. Olives. Coconut oil. Grass fed butter and or ghee. Lard . . yes lard. Sardines. Almonds. Duck fat. Tallow. Palm oil and cocoa butter! But, doesn’t fat make you, well, fat? Let’s take a look.

Fat is a long lasting fuel source. It keeps the body satiated and energized for a long period of time, unlike carbohydrates (carbs are NOT bad. Please do not leave “here” thinking you need to go “low carb.” It all depends on your personal needs, no one size fits all approach will ever be found “here.” Sorry for the air quotes, I even think in air quotes). Instead of running on quick amounts of energy found in carbohydrates, your body can run on long, enduring sources of fat. You can actually train your body to burn fat without “dieting.” The best way to train your body to burn fat, is to eat fat!

By nourishing your body with quality sources of fat instead of sugar (or savory foods that turn into sugar), your body learns to use the fats you are eating AND the fat you are storing. Just like you can train yourself for a marathon, you can train yourself to burn your stored resources (for those of you trying to lose weight) and/or you can train yourself to keep from storing resources (for those of you trying to maintain weight). It begins with ditching the nutrient POOR carbs and providing your body with quality meats (also fatty), fats and nutrient RICH carbs (as in vegetables, complete starches and fruit).

So. In conclusion, I introduce you to “fat bombs.” Fat bombs are not something I made up. You can find 1000000s of recipes. I am on a really low carb protocol for bacterial reasons (again, NOT because carbs are bad) and really wanted to make something I could eat. Believe it or not, I actually don’t eat most of the recipes I post. Rick does. And I love him dearly for it. Anyways, these are a fatty (very fatty) desert or pick me up. Because I eat high amounts of protein and fat, I don’t get hungry very often and don’t really need “pick me ups” like I used to. The virtue found in eating small meals throughout the day, is a lie. It’s a big, “fat” lie.

Enough talking. Here’s the recipe! I was able to make a dozen with the ingredients below.

1 bag of dark chocolate pieces or chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/ but there are some higher quality chocolates out there for sure)

12 oz coconut oil

2 T of grass fed butter or ghee

1. Place ingredients in sauce pan or double boiler and stir till combined and all the way melted.

2. Pour into un-greased, unlined muffin tin. I filled the cups 1/3-1/2 way full. It’s entirely up to you. You can make thin little wafers or giant monsters.

3. Place in freezer for 20ish minutes, stirring half way through with a toothpick to make sure the mixture doesn’t separate or get funky.

4. Pop them out (I used a butter knife) and keep airtight in freezer or fridge. Note: given the coconut oil, these are not easy to bite. Let them sit a few minutes at room temp.

These are so smooth and rich, they remind me of chocolate rabbits during Easter. I added a drop or two of peppermint extract to a few cups and swirled with a toothpick, making chocolaty, minty goodness. You could throw nut butter into the mixture, lavender, espresso or crushed espresso beans, candied ginger . . . the sky is the limit. I’ve been brain storming all day on new ways to make them.

*** If you are not into dark chocolate or are looking for a less sugar option, use unsweetened cocoa powder and honey or maple syrup. I don’t have exact measurements for you, but start small and work your way till you find a consistency/flavor you like.