Monday, April 15, 2013

More with Less

 "Dear Claire, Your dad and I started our marriage off with this cookbook with many happy and healthy results! May you find joy in cooking this way too. I love you, Mom." -Christmas 2007

The "More-with-less" cookbook by Doris Janzon Longacre became the foundation of my parents behaviors and habits based around food. Just like with all things that parents model, these habits have become my own and it is only as an adult that I realize what a rare and wonderful gift they have given me. 

"More-with-less" was born in the Mennonite tradition which promotes eating habits that reflect one's faith in God.  
This is what mine looks like.
This idea goes far beyond "you are what you eat" but in a way, that is a great place to start. The values of this community are centered in one's faith becoming something that is practiced in ALL areas of your life including something as basic as eating. As human beings created by God, we should look to eating as a spiritual practice that encompasses our body, mind and soul which is intended to bring us closer to our creator.

Legumes and grains
The practice of eating should be rooted in the ways of Christ through simplicity, nutrition, gratitude, celebration and stewardship. Just think about what you have eaten today. Were you painfully full when you left the table? Did you grab a meal while you were driving to work? Do you know what was in your food or where it came from?

Fresh Veggies and Fruits

I believe that what you eat and how you eat it affects your spiritual life. Jesus commands us to break bread together and remember him. This command was spoken over a meal with friends. Even after Jesus was resurrected he still returned to the table and ate with his Disciples. Scripture shows us over and over again the importance of eating as a spiritual discipline. The way we consume is reflective of our spiritual state. Food is an integral part of our lives and as such we should honor it in the name of the creator who established it. 

On an outing to buy locally made cheese and dairy products at Ashe County Cheese
 Joel and I both have felt the affects of living out the intentions of "More-with-less". We look better, we keep weight off, our skin is brighter and clearer, we have more energy, we save a lot of money, and we create less waste. Most diets or nutritional fads can boast the same thing but could they declare that they make you feel closer to the earth, connected to the human race of the past, present and future, at peace with your own being and closer to God in every single creative bite? The practice of making food from scratch with healthy, organic ingredients that I can share with friends and family has filled me up with a peace and wholeness like nothing I have experienced before. I truly believe that I am literally feeding my faith with each meal that I ingest. 

If you too are intentionally invested in your spiritual journey and still feel like something is missing, I urge you to consider the very basics of your human existence. Begin with how you care for yourself:eating, sleeping, bathing, dressing. How can you allow these daily functions to turn into spiritual practices? Are you a human being or a human doing?

In the spirit of communion, I would like to share the practices that I keep involving food that have vastly transformed my life.

  • Joining a Co-Op to order our dried goods for the pantry. We are part of a group of people who make a monthly bulk order of basic dried goods from a organization called "Something Better Natural Foods." We can order organic, local foods for wholesale prices which cuts our food bill drastically in addition to our packaging waste (think about all the packaging that is part of your shopping list right now).
  • Eating more vegetables, legumes and grains (fresh or dried, not canned).
    • buy a rice cooker and a pressure cooker.
  • Buying vegetables at the farmer's market and sharing the harvest from friend's and family with gardens. 
  • Freeze fresh fruit and veggies we are given or purchase so that we can eat them year round. 
  • Shop at the Asian grocery store and the Latin market over mainline grocery stores.
  • Invest in herbs and spices but purchase them from international markets for better prices.
  • Cook Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes. They are so tasty, fast and nutritious.
  • Use Olive Oil over vegetable oil.
  • Make food from scratch. It doesn't take that much longer and it is worth it.
  • Bake your own bread. It is easy. You can do it!
  • Do not use low-fat, high fructose, processed, sugar substitutes, etc. Eat REAL food.
  • Don't get a second helping unless you are still hungry.
  • Research where the expensive, organic grocery stores are getting their products and weigh your options. 
  • Be a good steward of God's provisions (money, time, food) and use them wisely.
  • Sit down and eat our meals at the table. Don't eat and run. Break bread with someone, share our food if we made too much. STOP and eat your food. Chew, taste, be grateful, give thanks. Slow down. This practice alone with change your life.
  • Pack our leftovers for lunch.
  • Drink green tea, real brewed green tea.
  • Make our own peanut butter ( 2 cups of dry roasted peanuts+food processor+6 mins= perfect peanut butter)
  • Carry a water bottle and drink half your body weight in ounces.
  • Make our own salad dressing (olive oil, vinegars, herbs)
  • Anytime we eat processed foods, meats, dairy, heavy meals, follow them with lots of water and green tea to help our livers filter out the toxins and stomachs to digest.
  • Save meat dishes for celebrations (eating out, having friend's over, holidays, as a guest in someone's home).
  • Save alcohol for celebrations.
  • Eat dairy products less frequently. Choose Gouda and goat cheese over orange cheddar. Real cheese is white.
  • Consider eating meats that friends who hunt can provide like venison or rabbit.
  • When we prepare our food we try to pour goodness and love into it. Imagine your prayers being added to your food and witness the difference in those who consume it.
Photos courtesy of the internet.