I miss my home church back in Illinois while I winter in Florida. It's a great, nondenominational relevant church I found in the early 80's. It started in a movie theater, a bunch of 20-somethings who felt a calling to establish a new church, and grew to a megachurch on a megacampus. I was immediately drawn to it, because it was contemporary and the pastors quoted from books on psychology and relationships and personal growth that I was reading for my Masters in Counseling. It wasn't all the "religious mumbo-jumbo" from my youth. They made Christianity real for real people in the real world. If you have any interest in seeing it, click here: http://www.willowcreek.org/ And here is part of their Christmas Eve service (watch out....someone needs to teach this guy how to pan so the viewer doesn't need Dramamine!)
There is nothing that compares to it in size or format here in the Panhandle, but when I visit my son's family in Atlanta every month or so, I am treated to a similar spiritual experience at a smaller, but very Willow-like formatted church called North Point Community Church. It isn't nearly as large as Willow Creek (although it does have several different campuses in different cities like Willow does) and I like Willow's Promiseland facilities and activities for the grandchildren better, but I have to say that although Willow does have a sense of humor, North Point's seems even better! At the Thanksgiving service, they did a "pre-Christmas" message and started with three young men singing the Alvin and the Chipmunks song that includes the refrain, "Alvin wants a hoola-hoop"....you know the one. Well, they sang the first verse in their normal voices, but then the second in chipmunk voices and they sounded exactly like the original recording! We laughed so hard we cried!
Here's what they did at their Christmas service a couple of weeks ago (it gets really cute, so watch the whole thing):
I just love how happy they are every time I've been there and how they get us all to laughing and loving one another's company!
Ok, here's what my Vegan KickOff email suggested I cook for today:
Breakfast: Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes and Facon Bacon
Lunch: Spinach Salad with Orange Sesame Dressing
Snack: Edamame (what the heck is that?!)
Dinner: Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara Sauce
And after my trip to the grocery store to get ingredients for the vegan recipes, I've come to the bottom line. (Oh oh, have we arrived here so soon?)
I've spent hours researching soy, the benefits and dangers, fermented soy products versus nonfermented, the soy industry's claims and how much soy the Asian culture really has historically consumed. (Not that I have ever consumed that much anyway....but I do have my Lite Chocolate Soy/Banana shake most days. And I like marinated tofu, but haven't eaten much of it.) Since I signed onto the Vegan KickOff initiative, I've had second thoughts.
All this talk about diet and health. I'm sure you, like me, are tired of thinking one food is healthy one day only to read the next that it isn't. There have been many examples of this over the few decades I've walked the earth, eggs for one example. (At this point, it's the egg yolk with the fat and cholesterol, but the whites are considered excellent protein.) Then there are the pesticides, the contaminents in our soil and water, the lower percentage of vitamins in foods as compared to a century ago, mercury in the fish, growth hormones in dairy, corn-fed beef versus grass-fed, carcinogens in bar-b-q'ed meats, nitrates in processed meats like bacon, salami, pepperoni, etc.
So....I have decided to modify my vegan kickoff to follow what I, myself, think is healthy. And that is to increase my fruits and vegetables, buying organic or locally grown whenever possible. I love vegetables, so this won't be hard. Fruits I've never been too fond of, but am learning to be. And I intend to try many of the vegan and vegetarian recipes in the books I just bought, as well as those recipes offered daily by the Vegan Kickoff email communications....the ones that don't have a lot of soy or tofu....occasional soy or tofu, okay, but I'm not going to go overboard.
I already eat whole wheat, not white, bread and use whole wheat pasta. I need to include more beans and legumes, so that will become a priority. I love nuts, but will confine that to an ounce or so a day, just for calories' sake. And I prefer wild rice any day to white.
I'll continue using olive oil for cooking and having occasional glasses of red wine. (Very occasional simply because I'd rather chew my calories.)
But I will continue to eat wild salmon, which I adore, water-packed light tuna (not albacore, as I've read there is more mercury contamination in it), egg whites and occasional chicken breasts or turkey.
I have cut my consumption of cheese by like 90% and drink skim milk when I drink milk at all, so I'll have to monitor my calcium in foods. I wish I could learn to like yogurt. The smell of it nauseates me. Even if someone else has just eaten it and I detect it on them (so please keep your distance from me if you've just imbibed.)
I will just incorporate "moderation", focus on healthy, whole foods, and experiment with a new recipe a day from the cookbooks. That's what I'll report here.
(Hey, seems to me I recall a saying about a woman and her mind-changing prerogative!)
After all, if Julie Child can live until 91 consuming all that butter-rich French cooking, how can we say with certainty that we have all of the definitive answers on the food-health relationship?
Atlanta and Chicago, Georgia and Illinois, United States
I was born a reader. My first real "grown-up" book came from a school book fair when I was in the fourth grade -- Little Women. I still have it, 58 years later. As I became acquainted with the March girls, I came to identify with one more than the others. It certainly wasn't shy, timid Beth or proper Meg. Amy's love of art resonated with me, but at last, because she loved literature and writing and because of her independent nature -- although often awkward and outspoken -- it was decidedly Jo.