Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cleansing the Temple Part 2...with Recipes.

"Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty not riches, but only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." Proverbs 30: 8-9

Well, it's nice and early in the first morning after colonoscopy, and I am getting ready to hit the gym. I thought that while the caffein kicks in I would offer a quick update as to how the whole cleansing of my physical temple is going. I also thought I would throw in some tasty & healthy recipes too. (I am the gift that keeps on giving.)

About three weeks ago I began to take my physical health seriously for the first time in at least 8 years. I began to discipline my diet...mostly just to see if I could. I gave up the regular eating of meat for the most part for at least until the end of this month. (I do eat fish though.) I also began to eat a great deal of high fiber foods and watch how much salt I was putting away. The best part is that I joined a gym once again.

Here is what has happened since all of this began.

#1. I have dropped at least 6lbs in these 3 weeks.

#2. I had forgotten how much fun I had at the gym. I LOVE IT!!!! I think I put it off for so long because I was afraid of the aches & pains you always get from having taken so much time away. (Sure enough, even though I took it easy for the first few days, I did get the muscle aches.) Still, I distinctly remember that the second day of working out on one of the machines, the muscles in my arms woke up and said to me, "Hey, I remember when we used to do this...and we LIKED it!"

God bless Planet Fitness. They recently opened up a gym in the very shopping center where my store is. It was only $1 to join, and only $10 a month. It's a basic gym set up with out all of the fancy fru-fru stuff that I don't use anyway. So it was a steal for me.

I go in there and peddle for at least 20 minutes, hit the whole machine routine for an hour and then finish with another 20 on the bike. All the while I have my Ipod with my sermon podcasts to keep me company. By the time I am done, I am nice & stinky, and my endorphins have put a big smile on my face.

I had no idea how much I had missed doing this. More importantly, I had no idea how much it would improve my overall mood and attitude, not to mention simply feeling physically better. Thank you Jesus, for getting that gym in there.

#3. My diet has made a HUGE difference in multiple ways. Needless to say, what you put in your body will have a huge impact on you in many ways. But what's been interesting is how conscious I have grown of it.

Simply paying attention to the level of salt in the foods we eat is an eye-opener. Just take a look at any given can of basic vegetables on the grocery shelf. On average, those cans will have 15-20% sodium in them...and these veggies are not even cooked. Even the frozen stuff can have high levels. Never mind all of the extra chemicals in any given processed food in a box. Now take a look at what's in a loaf of bread. Your average white bread is so high in bleached-out carbs and preservatives, that any health benefits are negligible.

(For what it's worth, I have kind of slid into the whole Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern Diet thing. Once I'm down to the weight I'm shooting for, and the shape I desire, I'll still treat myself to pizza on the town once in a while and such like that. But it will a treat...not a daily occurrence.)

#4. Needless to say, I have pretty much stopped eating bread that is anything less than whole grain. (Still gotta take a good look at the labels, though.) If you can get a bread with whole grains...and especially FLAX in it (Cereals with flax in it are great too.), you will be in good shape. It honestly tastes better too.

#5. I have begun to prepare even more of my own food...but this time, even at the most basic levels of preparation. I have always liked to cook anyway, so it wasn't much of a challenge. It's just a bit more time consuming.

Any type of bean requires patience if you don't want a mouthful of salt. Instead of using the canned crap, you will have to cook them from their dried state in bags. This requires heating them until they boil, and then waiting probably until the next day for them to soften properly for use. I think it's worth it though. It's certainly much healthier this way.

#6. I never used much salt when I cooked to begin with. Mostly it was in all of the cans and processed foods I ate. Now, I use garlic (The wonder-food) almost exclusively. Garlic is the ideal salt substitute, and is incredible for your it keeps Vampires at bay.

All of that having been said...

Some yummy & healthy recipes for you.

1) Hummus: This stuff is the bomb as far as health goes. I've always loved it since I lived in Israel. I had no idea that chick peas were around 50% of your daily fiber. Don't but the stuff in the store. Make your own. It is so freakin' easy. All you need is a decent blender or food processor. Once you have the basic recipe, you can add what ever other veggies & spices you want to play with the flavor.

- 1lbs of dried chick peas. (Bring them to a boil and let them sit for a day in the water) I Guess you could use the canned stuff if you washed them real good to get rid of as much salt as possible.
- 2/3 cup of Tahini sauce. (That's a paste made out of sesame seeds)
- Olive Oil (NO other kind of oil, you big slacker)
- A couple of Garlic cloves
- A handful of Parsley or Spinach leaves.

- Put the Tahini & oil in the blender first, then the other stuff. Grind away. Yum. (Again, this is the basic recipe. You can add other spices and stuff as you go)

2) Hatzileem: That's as close as you will be able to pronounce it's Israeli. Eggplant is extremely good for you, and this makes a super easy dip or salad dressing.

- 1 Eggplant, pealed & cut up like large french fries.
- Olive Oil
- a couple of Garlic cloves
- about 1/3rd t0 2/3rds cup of fat-free mayo.

- Saute the eggplant chunks in a pan or wok until it is warm and has absorbed the oil. Toss everything in a blender and mix. Boo-ya! (Yeah, you can add other spices to change the flavor.)

3) QUINOA: The Uber-Grain. I learned about this grain from of all people, David Lynch. The director of such weird films as Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Mulholland Drive. This grain is from South America and is amazing. It cooks up just like rice, but is jammed full of protein and VERY high in fiber...especially the red quinoa. (23%) Once it's cooked, you can mix it with anything you want. I use it to stuff my whole wheat pita bread.

Honestly, it feels so good to be getting healthy again. It tastes pretty darn good too. I also think that God is a bit more pleased that I am treating his gift to me with a bit more respect.



P.S. Here is the video of David Lynch cooking Quinoa that I watched that turned me on to the stuff. It was in the "Extras" section of his movie Inland Empire. If you know anything about David Lynch's directing style, you know that he is what can loosely be described as WEIRD! He can creep you out in ways that I never imagined.

At any rate, he is the only guy I know who can turn an episode of cooking into a creepy, suspenseful endeavor. Just listen to the music as he talks. He's a great story teller, and it gets quite hypnotic. (It's best to watch this video in the dark.) :) Enjoy!

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