Friday, January 29, 2016

A Week of Healthy Eats for CHEAP!

When I talk to people about eating healthy, I often get complaints about cost and time.  I get it.  I used to think that eating healthy was expensive and took forever also.  I just finished my grocery shopping for the week though and I spent less than $100.  Did I mention that I will be working 6 of the next 8 evenings (12pm to 8pm) and my husband doesn't cook if he's alone with all three kids?  Today I'm going to share with you how I do it.

As a note, all of my meats are grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic free, hormone free meats from Aldi's.  All of my canned ingredients are organic and are from Aldi's or Wal-Mart.  To save time, try prepping all your veggies over the weekend.  Clean, cut, chop, slice, etc.  You can also go ahead and combine some of your spices in zip lock bags so you don't have to measure out all your ingredients during the week.

Friday (today) - Taco Salad - We'll build ours with Organic Blue Corn chips from Sam's, grass-fed ground beef browned with taco seasoning and with a can of rinsed organic black beans, organic mixed salad greens, salsa, and a homemade guacamole.

Guacamole recipe - Combine 3 avocados peeled, pitted, and mashed with 2 diced roma tomatoes, juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp of minced garlic, and 3T fresh cilantro.  You can add some diced red onion if you like more of a bite to your guacamole.

Saturday - Turkey Chile - heat 1.5 tsp coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Place 1lb ground turkey in the pot and brown.  Stir in 1 chopped onion and cook until tender.  Add 2 cups water.  Mix in 28oz can crushed tomatoes, 16oz can drained and rinsed kidney beans, and 1T minced garlic.  Season with 2T chili powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Top with sliced avocados.  I'll make this one in the morning and let it cool.  Then refrigerate.  Jonathan will just have to warm it up for dinner.

Sunday - crockpot chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans.  I'll chop the sweet potatoes and a little onion and place in the bottom of the crockpot and season with a little sea salt.  I'll top with about a pound of chicken breasts that I'll drizzle with olive oil and season with poultry seasoning.  I'll cook on low for about 6 hours.  We'll warm up a can of green beans to eat on the side.

Monday - breakfast - Jonathan and I will have some scrambled eggs with pinto beans (drained, rinsed, and warmed up) and salsa maybe with a few slices of avocado.  The girls will have scrambled eggs with toast.

Tuesday - quinoa enchilada casserole - Julia said she would like to try this, so we'll give it a go.  This is a new one for me, but looks pretty tasty.  You'd have to leave the cheese off to make this detox friendly, but we aren't detoxing in February, so we'll probably go ahead and use the cheese.  I'll make this in the morning and Jonathan will just have to throw it in the oven long enough to warm it up and melt the cheeses when he gets home from work.

Wednesday - Moroccan Shepherds Pie - I've made this one once before and it is so good.  I'll assemble this in the morning and have my babysitter (a.k.a. Mom) throw it in the oven about an hour before dinner time.

Thursday - Fat Flush Soup - I hate the name of this, but my family likes the taste.  I'll prepare it in the morning and Jonathan will just warm it up when he gets home from work.

Friday - this will be a left-over day.  Most of these meals will make enough for some sort of left-overs with the exception of the breakfast.  In addition to eating these left overs on Friday, we will also eat some of them during the week for lunch.

What's your favorite healthy week night meal?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Comfort in the Darkness - Wrap Up

Spiritual Warfare
Genetic Predisposition

It hurts those that know it intimately as well as the people that love them.

Change in appetite
Change in sleep pattern
Loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable
Withdrawing from people
Thoughts of hopelessness
Thoughts that it would be better if you were dead

If you know someone with any of the above signs of depression, please talk to them.  It can be very difficult to recognize that you are depressed when you are in it.  And often, there is no motivation to deal with it.

I never sought psychological or psychiatric help for my depression, but I was far closer to ending my life than you ever want yourself or your loved one to be.  I also suffered for longer than is necessary.  Studies show that there is a significantly faster recovery time when counseling and medication are combined.

As a Physician Assistant that recently left a busy primary care practice, I can tell you that depression is far more common than we like to think.  If you aren't personally affected by it, I can guarantee that you know someone that is.

Father God, You asked me to share my story and I have done so.  Now I pray that You use it to touch those that need it.  I pray that You show those in crisis that there is light in the darkness.  That if they ask, You will save them just like You save me over and over and over again.

Comfort in the Darkness - Part 5

Life was good again.  I got a job at my church.  I started volunteering with the youth group.  I started dating the man that would become my husband in November of 2005.  We were married in August of 2006.  In October of 2007, we received shocking news.  I was pregnant with twins.

Just a few short weeks later, a simple urinary tract infection caused me to dilate and I was forced into bed rest until the babies were 36 weeks along.  God was faithful and provided for us through donated meals and good health.  At my 37 week ultrasound, I watched my babies move from the ideal vertex-vertex position to the oblique position.  The natural birth I planned was being scrapped for a c-section.  I imagined my OB smirking in satisfaction, as she had been pushing for a c-section since she found out there were twins.

The morning of March 3, 2008 the cesarean section went without complication.  My babies were whisked away with my husband trailing behind to get weighed and cleaned.  The two obstetricians chatted about their vacation plans as they put my body back together.  I was wheeled to a recovery room where a lactation consultant had to manipulate my still numb arms to help me hold these wrinkly little creatures so they could nurse.

I was so afraid of losing my babies to a complication, that I hadn't bonded with them while pregnant.  Rather than the immediate love a new mom feels for her new children, I felt as though I had undergone a major surgical procedure and then someone had just handed me these two screaming babies and told me to take good care of them.  They didn't feel like mine.  I still couldn't even grasp that there were two of them.

The next year was dark.  I thought I would be returning to work, but the reality was that we couldn't afford daycare for two babies on my meager income.  None of this happened the way I planned it out.  I didn't know how to talk to these babies.  I didn't know how to love these babies.  They cried and I cried.  I told God in the middle of the night when I was up with the babies that He had made a mistake.  He wasn't supposed to give me more than I could handle and I couldn't handle two babies.

I was increasingly bitter and hostile.  I didn't think about suicide.  I knew these two babies needed me.  I mostly just dwelling on how much I resented the fact that I didn't get to enjoy my babies because there was always another one there screaming at me and I felt robbed of the natural birth experience that I had dreamed about.

My husband was a trooper.  Every night he came home, even though I gave him plenty of reason to not want to.  Every day he told me he loved me and gave me a kiss.  As that first year drew to a close, I was finally able to draw a little closer to my girls.  I gave God the silent treatment when I wasn't yelling at Him.  I knew I couldn't keep going on like this.  My husband would eventually break and it wasn't fair to my kids.

One day when I was taking the girls for a walk - we did that a lot because they didn't cry when we were walking - I finally humbled myself before the Lord.

I love these girls, God, and would never want to lose them.  I know there is a reason you gave them both to me at the same time.  But, I don't like it and I have been very angry that you chose me to do this.  I'm sorry for the way I've behaved.  I'm sorry for not trusting you.  Most of all I'm sorry for the way I've treated everyone who loves me most - You, my children, my husband, my parents.

Once again, a weight was lifted.  Once again, I was freed.  Once again, it wasn't until the very end that I was able to put a name to what I had been going through.  This was yet a different Depression.  Postpartum Depression.

Comfort in the Darkness - Part 4

Things went pretty well for about 3 years.  I was connected to a great group of Christians.  I was pushing myself to learn and grow.  In that third year, God called me to a longer short-term trip.  I said yes to leading high school and college students in short-term trips to Philadelphia where they prayed for and volunteered with various people groups and organizations in the city.  It was an incredible experience with amazing people.  And even though I was surrounded by amazing people every day, I felt very alone.  I prayed daily, asking God to give me the words to lead the nightly debrief sessions.  Silence.  I couldn't understand what was happening.  This didn't seem like the Depression that I was so accustomed to.  And yet there were elements of it that were so similar.

At the end of the trip, my closest friend flew to Philadelphia and we drove back together.  We had been inseparable before I left, but were completely unable to get along on the way back.  When we finally made it home, I sat in my apartment with shards of broken friendship and loneliness lying at my feet.  There was a twisted comfort in the familiarity of the feelings I was having.  But, when I started to imagine myself walking into a lake to drown, I became certain of what this was.  I looked back in my blog to see when this had begun.  It had been going on for months and coincided with the start of a birth control pill.  I immediately discontinued the medication and begged God once again to pull me back up from the depths of the darkness.  Once again, He was faithful.  Once again, I was free from Depression.

Comfort in the Darkness - Part 3

It was the summer between my two senior years that I went to Colorado for Kaleo.  This was essentially missionary training.  We were taught and expected to share the Word of God with complete strangers in a tourist area.  This was way outside of my introverted comfort zone, but I said yes and Depression got scared.  It was probably about half way through my time that I realized what the roar was.  I had been through this before.  The last time I heard this roar, it was almost the end of me.  This time I knew what it was and I knew that I had a powerful weapon that could destroy the oppressive darkness.  I dropped to my knees and I prayed.

God the last time I tried to fight this by myself it nearly killed me.  I know I can't fight this on my own again and I don't have to.  God take this depression from me and replace it with peace!

A weight was lifted from me.  I literally felt lighter.  I stood and I knew that God had answered my prayer.  There is nothing like knowing that God loves you so much that He will fight your demons.  He didn't have to.  He doesn't need me.  But, there He was.  One short prayer full of desperation and faith and that nagging voice, that constant companion was gone.

Comfort in the Darkness - Part 2

We moved to Ohio just before I started 7th grade.  We joined a great church where I had a solid group of friends, felt included, and was able to really shine.  People encouraged me in everything I did and I started to see that Christianity was not just for Sunday mornings and holidays.  I went to Young Life camp and accepted Christ as my savior.  I had heard the story of the crucifixion countless times before, but this time it was more than just some historical event.  It was personal.  I was on fire and wanted everyone else to know what I finally knew.

Now that I look back, I can see that the next year was Spiritual warfare.  Depression was being edged out by a relationship with God and he didn't like it.  I continued to try to be active in my church, but those whispered words were back as a constant roar.  I couldn't smile, I couldn't sing, I couldn't think about the future, I couldn't read, I couldn't even get through class without crying.  It was suffocating.

"You are a burden to your family and the people you call your friends.  They are so nice to you, but you know you don't deserve them.  They will be better off without you.  Look at yourself.  You cry all the time.  Nobody wants to be around you."

I started to think about how I could relieve everyone of the burden I thought I was.  I knew that the Bible said that suicide was a one-way ticket to eternal separation.  I decided that I would rather sacrifice my eternal life than continue to hurt those around me.  I didn't want it to be bloody because I didn't want anyone to have to clean up a mess.  I thought that maybe I could take pills, but I knew my mom would find me before I died.  That would lead to a hospital visit and who knows how many doctor visits.  I couldn't think of a way to effectively kill myself that wouldn't cause more problems for the people around me.  And that is the only reason I didn't commit suicide my 9th grade year.

My depression had become so obvious that my friends talked to our health teacher.  She called my parents and they tried to talk to me.  I denied it and they dropped it.  I didn't know how to explain to anyone what was happening to me.  I felt that the only option left was to fake happiness.  When we got the news that we were moving once again, I was genuinely happy.  Another fresh start.  I desperately needed it.

Like every other time, I hoped that Depression would not follow me.  Like every other time, he did follow.  My parents found a church they liked.  I tried to get plugged in with the youth group.  I felt like an outcast.  I wasn't able to plug in the way I had before.  And so, with me being a believer, but my fire just barely flickering, Depression did not feel the need to roar anymore and went back to the gentle whisper that slowly and quietly robbed me of my self-confidence.  We existed like this for many years.

Comfort in the Darkness - Part 1

One Sunday, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in church listening to a sermon that I, regrettably, don't recall.  I was suddenly overcome with the need to share the story of how depression has wound it's black tentacles through the story of my life.  As I walked out of the service, I felt the discontent of knowing that I had not been obedient.  I tried to reassure myself that this was just some weird trick my mind was playing on me and that the tugging at my being would dissipate with time.  Of course it didn't.  I knew it wouldn't.  So the next few posts will be devoted to sharing my story.  My prayer is that God will use this to show someone that light can be found in the darkness that depression casts.

I met Depression as a young child in my insecurity and fears.  He was there like a shadow.  A constant companion who whispered so gently in my ear.

"Those other kids don't really like you.  They only play with you because they are too nice to tell you to leave them alone."

"Stop trying so hard.  You are never going to get it right."

"Those other girls are so much prettier than you are.  No one will ever love you."

"Why do you talk so much?  Nobody cares what you have to say."

 "You aren't really as smart as people think you are.  You will never succeed at anything."

"Your brother.  He's the creative one.  Not you." 

I moved every three years or less.  I always tried to leave him behind, but there he was.  In every new state.  At every new school.

There were hours, days, weeks that he would retreat into the recesses of my mind.  The more I occupied my mind with reading, the longer he stayed at bay.  So I read.  Voraciously.  I was a member of the Baby Sitters Club and spent time in the Secret Garden.  My best friends were Jo March, Sara Crewe, and Anne Shirley.  I had adventures with a mouse named Stuart Little and I cheered for a pig named Wilbur.  I explored the land of Narnia with Susan and the frontier with Laura Ingalls.

You can't escape in literature all the time though and in the night, when the house was quite and I wanted sleep, he would creep back to the forefront of my mind.  He replayed every detail of the day, reminding me of all the times I said or did the wrong thing.  He discounted anything that resembled joy.  He told me that tomorrow would be no better.  And, no matter how much I imagined exactly how the next day would go - what I would wear, what I would say, what I would do - it happened again the next night.  It went on for an hour or more most nights, before my thoughts, his accusations, finally subsided and I was free to sleep.