Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19,20 NLT

So today was the final day of the fruit-and-veggie cleanse that I have been on. It’s gone surprisingly well. For a week I have cut out dairy, wheat, and sugar. I have been eating vegetables and fruit, a small packet of almonds and in the last 3 days of the cleanse, a small portion of lean protein in the evening.

I thought this would be a really difficult thing to do and to maintain. But it turned out fairly easy. What I have noticed is that I have been sleeping really well on this cleanse. I drop off to sleep so quickly and I haven’t had any of those nights where I just couldn’t turn off my brain.

Also, as one of my friends who has given up wheat and sugar says, I just feel “clean”…like generally…internally and externally. So my plan, going forward, is to only eat sugar once a week, and to keep wheat to an “only on special occasions” frequency (ie, less than once a month).

In the above quote, Paul is teaching the church in Corinth about sexual morality. And I don’t doubt that we have our fair share of that in today’s society. But I think a bigger issue is how we eat. We eat what is fake and that is bad for us. (There is a whole eating program called “Just Eat Real Food.”) And yet, we sanction this. We treat our bodies horribly by taking in chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and then we complain when we get sick. It is socially acceptable to eat poorly. Some people even brag about it.

But I wonder how that affects our spirit. I believe everything in life also has a spiritual component to it. So if we eat poorly, if we nourish our bodies poorly, are we also failing in our spirituality? God gave us these bodies and we are meant to treat them with respect, to keep them clean.

I do not mean this as a rant or a condemnation against anyone. I am only beginning to make this connection in my own life, after two years of striving for healthier eating patterns. I am not judging what others do, I am simply asking questions as they occur to me and as I grapple with them.

I have come to the belief that I must treat the environment with love and respect, because it is God’s creation. I have long held the belief that I must treat others with love and respect because they are God’s children. I think I am finally beginning to understand that I must also treat my body with love and respect because I am God’s child and God’s creation.

It’s good to know there is always something new to learn.

Derailed and delighted…

Early in my Photo-a-day experiment, I found myself derailed. The assignment of the day was “bright” and I just couldn’t decide on a photo that represented bright to me. I had a few ideas, but I didn’t settle on any of them. Instead, I avoided the assignment for that day. And the next day. And the next day. And…Well, you see where this is going.

For at least a week now I’ve been pondering whether to try to catch up (3 photos a day until I make up the deficit? One humung-oid post to cover all the missed days?) or give up. Today I decided to declare the project derailed. There will be other photo-a-day assignments, and I will give that a go in the future. For now, I just want to blog again and not stress about it.

So that is the derailed part of this post. Now what about the delighted part? There are many things that are delighting me right now (gorgeous September weather, great classes at my gym, fitting back into clothing I’d stopped fitting into over the Spring/Summer, a new colleague at St. A’s, a great bday weekend…), but the one that has caught my attention is a food discovery. It won’t be new to most people, but to me it was a new experience: Spaghetti Squash.

Growing up, I was not a fan of squash. But since joining Weight Watchers about 20 months ago, many of my tastes have changed. I love butternut squash, and had been encouraged by friends to try out Spaghetti Squash. Especially as an alternative to pasta. Today I was doing some grocery shopping and I stopped dead in my tracks with the thought: Oh, wow – I really want pasta sauce. This is always a bit of a challenge for me, because pasta is so high-carb which means high-in-points. Sure, there are the low-carb Shiritaki noodles, which are a pretty good alternative, but I haven’t found them in the grocery store where I was shopping. Then I remembered Spaghetti Squash. I decided to give it a go, and I’m SO glad I did. I know I will be buying and roasting this squash again in the future, whenever I want some pasta sauce.

This is what I did:
-1 Spaghetti Squash
-1 Jar reduced sodium Tomato and Basil sauce
-1 tin no salt added tomatoes
-a couple of big scoops of diced garlic
-a generous sprinkle of dried oregano
-1 pkg frozen diced spinach
-1 pkg of ground turkey
-3 cooking onions

In a large wok (what I use to cook all soups and sauces), cook turkey until brown, add sauce, tomatoes, garlic and oregano and bring to boil. Add frozen package of spinach and allow to slowly melt in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Suddenly realize you had onions you wanted to use up, chop them furiously and throw them in, allow sauce to simmer for a good half hour. Turn off heat and let sit for a while

Meanwhile, cut Spag Sq in half (this is no easy thing, but worth the effort), scoop out seeds, place cut-side-down on cookie sheet in 350degree oven. Cook for 10 min, flip squash over, cook for another 25min, then leave in hot (but turned off) oven while you rush off to a meeting that is beginning in 5 min.

Return home after meeting, and check on Spag Squash. Be relieved and thrilled to find it done and ready to be ‘forked’. Using fork, scrape out spaghetti-like strands of squash. Put in bottom of various freezer-safe dishes (I use Glass Lock). Spoon a couple of healthy ladles of sauce over squash, attach lids. Store some in freezer for easy-to-grab dinners and some in fridge for immediate future.

I had my first portion for dinner tonight and it was phenomenal! I loved the spinach in the sauce (just a little extra veg without TASTING the extra veg, or having to go to great lengths to prepare it).

I love discovering new foods that I enjoy. I love that there are still new experiences to be had in life…or maybe old experiences to be had in new ways? (I know I gave my Mom major grief over Spaghetti Squash the last time I ate it, but this time I loved every bite.)

The Bible is the story of God doing something new among us. The story of faith has always been on of seeing with new eyes, of hearing with new ears, of living life anew. Maybe that’s why I am so delighted by new experiences: they are a glimpse into the life of faith itself.

The Bean Ladies

So I discovered something exciting. I have posted before about my new found love of beans (black beans are my favorite).

They are just so versatile – you can use them in stew, soup, dips, salsa, chili, salads. They are high in protein and fibre. They are low in WW points. They fill you up and keep you feeling full. I was singing the praises of the bean even before I discovered that you can use them to make dessert.

I had heard about black bean brownies and was even considering making some from a recipe I had found online. Then one night my Mom called me to tell me she had the most amazing gluten-free dessert at a friend’s house. You guessed it – black bean brownies. Since my Mom is gluten intolerant, any new discovery of gluten free desserts is exciting to us.

Turns out her friend had been at the One of a Kind craft show and had come across this little business called The Bean Ladies. Even better – they have a store right here in Brampton. So while my folks were in town last week, we went to The Bean Ladies store. We sampled their gluten free muffins (yummy!), we tried a number of their roasted bean snacks (I especially enjoy Canadian Maple, eh? and Hot Chicks) and we bought a lot of their stuff.

Check them out – they have wonderful products. Right now I am completely obsessed with their roasted soy bean and roasted chick pea snacks. I have made the brownies and they are great, too (though I am going to experiment in my next batch to see if I can use less oil and substitute maple syrup for refined sugar). I have a mix for black bean salsa that I haven’t tried yet, but I am sure it will be great, just as all their other stuff has been.

I love new discoveries!

Deep breath….

It is Holy Week. For my minister friends and I this is our second-most-busy time of the year. Christmas being the first. The funny thing is that tonite I had nothing on. Not a single meeting or practice or anything to be done for the church. I am spending tonite taking a deep breath, because the rest of the week there won’t be time to breathe.

That is the way church goes – it’s kind of feast or famine. You’re either insanely busy, or things are kind of quiet and easy. At a big church like the one where I serve, it tends to be more insanely busy than quiet most of the time.

This week we will: have our regular Wednesday night (community dinner, and classes), have a Christian Seder on Thursday night (followed by choir practice, of course), have a Good Friday service (I am very much looking forward to it!) and then have 2 services on Easter Sunday morning (one of which I am preaching). Also, on the Saturday night (not without some controversy) we will have our Mystery Dinner wrap-up party.

In all of this, Jesus will be present (yes, I believe he will be there even at the Mystery Dinner party). And my deep hope is that all who gather will notice him and draw near to him. That in the services, the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the meals we share, we will find Jesus. We will be touched again by his life and death and resurrection.

It will be a full week. And a good one, I expect. But I am blessed to begin this week by a quietly contemplative evening at home.



Food with Friends….

Today was a day full of meals with friends. First was lunch at a favorite Thai place with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. We talked about ministry and dreams.

Then I had supper with my chosen family in Oshawa. It was a fun dinner, too. We did finger foods (sweet potatoe baked fries, sandwiches with great deli meats, raw veggies and laughing cow cheese) and ate in the livingroom while we watched Disney’s Wall-e. It was a great, fun way to fit in dinner and a movie and still let me hit the road early. I’ve been fighting a sore throat this week, so I wanted an early night.

I left both meals feeling full. Full in stomach, of course, but also full in spirit. It is such a good thing to share good nourishing food with friends. Jesus totally understood this and had a pattern of having meals with people. I know I’ve said that before on this blog, but it bears repeating. It’s one of the things I love about Jesus – he understood how to nourish the body and the soul at the same time.

Blank screen…

I have been staring at a blank screen for at least half an hour now, trying to figure out what to blog about. Several ideas have occurred to me and been discarded. It has also occurred to me to simply declare tonight a second Sabbath (why? Because I can!) and not blog at all. But I have found myself dissatisfied with that idea as well.

Tonight I am having what I call a hollow day. My energy is low, I cannot seem to get to the point of feeling full when it comes to food (I have eaten 8 extra points on the day, which for me is quite extraordinary, and if I weren’t on WW, I would be in the kitchen right now snarfing more food). My brain feels similarly hollow. No matter how I try to come up with a good idea for a blog, I don’t seem to have the brain power to make it happen. Or when I do come up with an idea, I don’t seem to have the power to flesh it out.

Some days are just like this. Some days it is a tough struggle to control my eating. Other days it comes fairly naturally. Some days it is really difficult to write a blog entry. Other days the entry seems almost to write itself.

That’s the way it is with the presence of God, too. Some days it is just like he is walking beside me whispering to me all day long. Other days I feel as though he is absent, as though I am left to my own devices. In my sermon today, I talked about the letters Mother Theresa wrote which were published after her death and which spoke quite clearly about her sometimes agonizing struggle with faith.

I am somehow comforted to know that such an influential woman of faith knew what t was to have hollow days when it came to her spirit. And I am inspired that she did not give up the work she did in Christ’s name and that she did not leave the church. Sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is to simply keep on, when they are not feeling it.

Hollow days happen. But God is constant and constantly with us. Just as I know there will be days this week – maybe as soon as tomorrow – in which the struggle with food and with writing will go easier, so I know the same is true of my relationship with God. So now I will put this hollow day to rest with a prayer for an easier time of it tomorrow.


I have posted my recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup recently, and I mentioned in that post that I wanted to make the switch to dried beans rather than canned. Today I made my first batch of no-soak beans in the slow cooker.

I picked over the beans, put them in the slow cooker, added 3/4 of a box of no-fat, low sodium beef broth. I added about 4 cups of water. Then I added a bunch of cumin (I didn’t measure, just sprinkled a fair amount over the top of the liquid), some dried red chipotle pepper, and a couple of tbsps of diced garlic. I turned the slow cooker on high. The beans were done after about 5hrs, though I let them cook for a couple more, to really seal in the flavors. I added a few more cups of water after the first 3hrs of cooking (the liquid level was low when I checked on them).

The beans came out great! They are flavorful and I can really sense the difference in texture as compared with the canned variety. Best of all, I know they are not loaded with unnecessary sodium.

Tomorrow I will make black bean soup and black bean dip out of the beans I made today.

Here is the recipe for the black bean dip, which is great with fresh veggies, crackers or as a topper on salad. this is based on a Weight Watchers recipe, and is about 1 PointPlus per 1/4 cup of dip.

2 cups black beans
1 cup fresh chopped Cilantro (or 1/3 cup of cilantro paste)
3/4 cup Salsa
1 tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Fabulous Friday!

Things I have loved about today:

-getting a new hair cut
-visiting a friend I haven’t seen for a while (had lunch and played word games)
-great warm weather
-wore a skirt and no socks (yay!!! I love leaving behind sock weather!)
-visiting with friends I see regularly
-going for walks with both friends that I visited
-being able to leave Koski on her own for a bit (crated) without the cone of shame
-having BBQ for dinner
-all the kind things that friends on FB have said about my hair
-watching movies with friends
-got two pairs of crapris at Value Village….one pair is from the Gap and it still shocks me that a size 12 fits me now – even a Gap size 12!!

Definitely a great day!

Child of God…

Tonite I spent the evening with two wonderful women who are my colleagues in ministry and who have begun the WeightWatchers journey. It was wonderful to gather at the table and share laughter and faith and food.

Sometimes, I am so blessed by the people that God brings into my life, it is ridiculous. Who am I to deserve such good gifts?

Most of the time I am selfish, cranky, short sighted, lazy, judgmental, and fear-filled. I react in anger more quickly than in love. I doubt easier than I believe. I struggle more than I live in thanks.

So who am I to deserve such good gifts?

I am a child of God.

And somehow – through his grace and mercy and unfailing love – God sees that as enough of a reason to give me such unbelievably good gifts.

And I am thankful.

Processed isn’t good…

In my on-going quest to live healthier and lose weight, I have found myself drawn more and more to whole foods. I posted a while back about my granola bar recipe. It’s not that you can’t buy good granola bars at the store, but I am finding that I just don’t trust food that I didn’t make myself. If I don’t know what went into it, I’m less likely to want to eat it. (Which is such an about-face from this time last year!)

That is not an across-the-board kind of statement. I fully admit that I eat mini chocolate bars and chocolate cheerios and some other things that fit in the processed-food category. But I am slowly taking steps away from that. Once my stash of mini chocolate bars are gone (which will take a while because I don’t eat more than one a day), I will be doing my best to make the switch to 70% cocoa dark chocolate for snacking. I am not sure how that will go, but I will make the effort to develop a taste for it.

Because I have been ill all week, I haven’t been cooking. So when I was at the store for Imodium and soda crackers the other day, I decided to pick up a couple of boxes of the Gardennay boxed soups. I used to love these. I used to eat them all the time, and they were on sale, so I picked up two flavours. Yesterday, when my appetite began to make an appearance again, I decided to have one of these boxed soups. All I could think was: Wow, I make a much better black bean soup. Mine is so much more flavorful.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my own black bean soup after having this disappointing processed black bean soup. So, I thought I would make some today. I went to bed thinking about picking up some canned beans this morning in order to make the soup. But as I lay there, another thought occurred to me: I have some dried beans that I could use. Using the dried beans meant two things: 1) a break to the budget (not having to buy beans when I already have some) and 2) I wouldn’t be consuming the salt and preservatives that are typically found in canned beans. So I found myself tromping downstairs in the middle of the night to put the beans to soak (dried beans typically need to be soaked for about 8hrs before cooking).

Now – I won’t say that the soup turned out perfectly. I didn’t adjust my recipe to account for the fact that I was using dried beans instead of canned and I had a tough time getting the beans to actually cook. I think all I needed was to make the soup in the slow cooker with the lid on instead of in the large wok without a lid. That is what I will do next time. In any case, I’m glad to have taken one more step towards whole foods with this bean adventure. I will definitely be using dried beans from now on.

(Here’s the recipe I use – revised for dried beans, using a slow cooker – ust in case you’d like to give it a go! This is adapted from the Spicy Black Bean Soup recipe found on the Weight Watchers website.)

2 medium uncooked onion
2 sweet red peppers
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp dried chipotle pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp dried cumin
2.5 c dried black beans
1 box fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes


  • THE NIGHT BEFORE making your soup, take 2.5 cups dried beans and immerse them in 8c room temperature water for at least 8 hrs
  • when ready to make soup, drain and rinse the beans and set them aside
  • Chop onions and peppers, place in frying pan on medium heat and cook until soft (I don’t use any oil to cook them in, I don’t find it necessary)
  • Place onions, peppers, beans, tomatoes, cumin, chipotle and chicken broth in slow cooker and cook covered on high for 4 hrs or until beans are tender.
  • Once beans are tender and soup is done, scoop batches of soup into blender and blend until smooth.
  • Eat and enjoy!