Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

I never thought I would feel this way about kale A quick and easy kale chip recipe inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I was starting to think that the purchase of my food dehydrator was a mistake. One can only eat so many raisins and banana chips.

That was until kale chips entered my life.  Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for inspiring me to eat my greens (we are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in our reading group right now and we would love for you to join us).

 

And it’s no secret this book has sent me into a bit of a health food kick  ( I tend to go to extremes so watch out for the chocolate binge that will come in a few months).

I’ve been devouring books and lectures on nutrition and natural medicine.  And while opinions vary on a lot of subjects the place that everyone can agree is that we need to eat more greens.

 

Not only do American’s have a diet astounding low in vegetables we also grow in nutrient depleted soil so that even when we eat our veggies we aren’t getting the nutrition that our grandparents would have eating the same plate 50 years ago.

 

It turns out that there is a simple remedy to a variety of health problems,  cut out the junk food and eat more green. And of the greens Kale stands out for having a rich range of vitamins and anti-oxidants and being relatively easy to grow making it reasonably affordable.  This recipe is a simple way to cut out snack foods (often an area where we tend to pile in extra sugar) and replace with one of the healthiest foods available at our local grocery store or farmers market.

 

These chips are easy to make and we enjoy them as much as popcorn or potato chips (okay so my husband may not totally agree with that statement but he does like the Kale Chips and my daughter and I can’t even wait to get them off the dehydrator before we start munching).

A quick not about baking these in the oven. You totally can do it, just set your oven down as low as it will go and check them regularly. This will work though I find that they don’t cook as evenly, some parts were burnt others too soggy and you miss out on the real crisp and crunch that makes this an irresistible snack.

I have this food dehydrator, it has served me well and is less expensive than buying a pound of of organic kale chips on amazon, if you had any intention of making kale chips a part of your regular life (I know I’m sure this is something you have been dreaming about for months) than it will definitely save you money.

 

Quick and Easy Dehydrator Kale Chips

You will need:

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Food Dehydrator (or oven, baking sheets, parchment paper)

Kale (I buy the organic bags already washed and chopped, this is part of what makes this such a simple go to recipe for me)

Olive oil

Salt

Directions:

Wash and dry kale if needed. If not already chopped remove the stems at this point, chop if desired.

Toss with oil. Just enough to very lightly coat the leaves.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Sprinkle with salt. Start with a  pinch or two, toss and taste. Remember it will taste saltier as it dehydrates.

I spend a few minutes tossing the kale, working the oil and salt into the leaves.  At this point I pick through my pre-chopped kale and remove big stems.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Spread kale into food dehydrator or baking sheet.  Follow your dehydrator’s instructions or bake at your oven’s lowest setting. My dehydrator puts veggies at 135 degrees. These take between 2-4 hours. I’ve never had them burn even when I’ve left them on a little longer. Cooking time will depend on your temperature and humidity.

 

Remove once they are crispy. Store in air tight container (though we usually eat most of ours before we can put them away.)

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Celtic-Cross-Sunset

Barbara Kingsolver Meets St. Benedict Creating a Rule of Life for Yourself and Your Family

I wipe the grease from my hands, pop the last of my daughter’s Chick-fil-a nuggets into my mouth and open up to my recent read, Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. This book is a memoir of Kingsolver’s family as they set out to eat only foods produced in their own county of Southern Appalachia for a full year. I confess the first time I heard the concept it sounded both boring and baffling. Why would would someone go to the trouble let alone write a book about it?

Kingsolver responds with a decent answer,

“We were going to spend a year integrating our food choices with our family values. . .”

She goes on to explain these values as, “love they neighbor,” and “not wreck every blooming thing on the planet,” along with the deeper desire to foster patience and restraint in herself and her family.

It was beginning to sound interesting. Not only that it sounded familiar.

A year or so ago when I first began this reading group we tackled, The Rule of St. Benedict, written 1500 years ago by, you guessed it, St. Benedict.  I don’t know if Kingsolver would put it this way, but like Benedict she had also set out to create a Rule of Life.

Barbara Kingsolver Meets St. Benedict. Creating a Rule of Life

If you aren’t familiar with it, a Rule of Life may sound domineering, but “rule” here as more to do with one of those wooden sticks that teachers use to swat the hands of unruly children than it does with laws or dictators.  Creating a Rule is about setting a standard by which you can measure progress.

We all do this naturally to some degree. Somewhere in us we have a set of values and everyday we make decisions that are either true to those values or not.  Some of our deepest frustrations, whether we realize it or not, come when our actions are inconsistent with what we believe.  When we can’t mange to act according to our rules the tyranny of life gets the best of us and we find ourselves reacting rather than living intentionally.

While Benedict’s Rule didn’t talk about local food he does include guidelines on meals and fasting and even specifics on how much wine a monk should drink.  After all, Our relationship with food is deeply embedded in our Christian history. Sin entered the world when Eve ate the forbidden apple. At Passover the Jews slaughtered and ate a lamb. Animal and grain sacrifices were integral in the worship of God. Jesus spent His final hours with his disciples eating a meal and we continue to receive Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Food is our most basic means of interacting with God’s Creation.

Benedict doesn’t talk about local food because he doesn’t have to.  In his day nearly all foods were already local. Only recently has technology developed that has made it cost effective for us to eat apples from Argentina and lambs from New Zealand.  But this access to exotic food comes at a cost.  When we eat foods without knowing their history we make room for abuse of farm workers and child labor.  Our disconnect allows for the heavy use of hazardous chemicals in food production.   When we allow processed foods to become part of our routine (ahem Chick-fil-a play-date every Friday) we consume empty calories which, in part, has lead to epic rates of obesity, heart disease, and cancer in our nation.  The easiest way to combat all of this is to know the history of our food, to buy local and cook for ourselves.

All of a sudden Kingsolver’s book doesn’t seem so odd. We find her and St. Benedict telling us the same story. That values without action are meaningless and that most of us need a plan to get us to where we want to go. 

Establishing a Rule of Life is something that anyone can do.  It simply requires sitting down and reflecting on our values  and then setting standards to keep our lives consistent with them.  (If this sounds like something you want to do check out this simple resource guide. P.S. this is a ministry  created by my husband, and is a resource we use everyday in our family we hope it will be helpful in yours).  And maybe the hardest part in all of this is that it might just lead us to eat a little less Chick-fil-a.
This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Choosing the Path of Life: Thoughts on St Benedict

 

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Marriage, Our Wedding

How to Keep Your Head Above Water Cultivating a Marriage, Our first 9 years

My husband and I married 9 years ago today in the dusty border town of Piedras Negras, Mexico. We made our vows at sunset in an old Spanish Mission and then celebrated with Greek dancing, a live donkey and bottomless margaritas.

The weekend ended and I found myself back in the lecture hall instead of on a honeymoon.  Over a few short months my husband watched the fun loving, easy going girl he married quickly dissolve into a irrational medical student who could not even begin to unwind on a weekend get-away. He who had once been considered a bit of free spirit found his creativity quickly confined by the lifestyle required by his medical student wife.

It probably didn’t help that we dated for only six months before we married and even during that time we were living in two different countries.

We had neither a blissful first year nor a wretched one.  We got along and enjoyed each other, it was just that being together took a lot of work.  We both did our best to be supportive and kind but it took every last drop of our emotional energy to keep the wheels of our marriage turning.  Overtime we moved onto residency, a home remodel, a church plant and a baby. We came to see our patterns, our weaknesses, our unrealistic expectations and all that helped. We continued to grow, but we had to agree with all the premarital advice we had been given, marriage was hard.

I finished residency and then worked for another year which kept me busy and kept his options for work pretty limited.

Finally two years ago we did an about face, he took a job which moved us onto a 7,000 acre ranch, an hour from the nearest grocery store and shortly afterwards I stopped working entirely.

It took a while for me to unwind, as in it took the better part of a year.  But somewhere in there our tense and tearful discussions which had been part of our routine for years disappeared. And we began finding common ground where we never expected it.  After 8 years of striving we woke up and realized that we had a great marriage, one that was far easier than I had ever imagined.

I share this story as a celebration. Marrying my husband is undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made. But I also share it knowing that some of you are struggling. Nearly half of marriages end in divorce and I can’t help but think that some of them are people just like us who wore out before they got to the other side of the struggle.

Every marriage is unique and complex and so I hesitate to give advice after my 9 short years of experience.  But I want to share some habits, some intentional choices you can make no matter the state of your relationship. These alone won’t totally transform your marriage but they can give you some goals to work on and  to help carry you through hard times.

Of course all of these are written assuming there is no abuse or addiction involved. Certainly if you are in danger get somewhere safe, if you find that you or your partner can’t implement some of these it may be a sign that you could benefit from professional help. And please do seek it, the joy of a healthy marriage is so worth it.

Habits for Cultivating a Marriage

1. Be kind. It sounds simple enough. But it is easy in the heat of the moment to resort to name calling or under your breath comments about how much your partner reminds you of their mother. Resist those urges. Much of the damage that comes from disagreeing comes from hurtful words that have nothing to do with the original discussion. Agree to be kind and hold the other accountable to this.   If you can’t argue without saying unkind words it is probably a sign that you need professional help.

2. Stay connected physically. It is natural to want to physically isolate yourself when you feel emotionally alone. It may feel safer but most of the time it does not help build a marriage. Part of marriage is being vulnerable and physical intimacy lets you do this even when you can’t agree on what color to repaint the bathroom.

While in the midst of an argument you may need to retreat and be alone for a bit, always make sure you come back together. Try finishing the discussion holding hands on the couch. Make hugs and kisses part of your daily routine even if you aren’t especially affectionate. Don’t withholding sex until everything is worked out, sometimes physical intimacy is exactly the key to helping you find a connection with your spouse. Of course if you have had past physical or sexual abuse this is going to feel different for you and you may want to get help to work through these issues.

3. Talk it out. At the end of an disagreement you should have both had the opportunity to be heard.  Don’t stop talking it through until you have both expressed how you feel.  You don’t have to agree with each other entirely but you do need to respect each other enough to hear the others’ side.  This process is exhausting but overtime it will give you insight into your own and your partner’s behavior. If you can’t do this go to a counselor who can teach you better communication skills.

4. Don’t underestimate the effects of stress.  At the time I thought we were handling our stress well.  But over the last year I have seen how much we were affected by stress every day.  There was so much about our work that we loved but it wore us out emotionally and we had very little capacity left to deal with each other.

If you aren’t getting along and you have significant stress from work or family recognize that this, rather than your partner, may be what is taxing your marriage.   Often we hold ourselves together for the folks at work or even for our kids but by the time we are alone in the evening we are exhausted and it just takes something minor to have us up in arms with our spouse. Perhaps the most important piece of advice in this whole epic of a blog post is this: Be willing to walk away from just about everything for your marriage.

5. Don’t assume that a weekend away will cure it. For us, during the long stretch of medicals school and residency, a weekend away was certainly going to involve an argument, I just could not decompress the way I needed to in that time-frame.  It took us about a year after we changed our lifestyle to feel like we fully embraced a new way of functioning. Weekends away are great but if you are dealing with significant stress and a challenging relationship you will probably need to make more dramatic changes to see improvement.

6. Don’t complain. While it is important to have mentors and people we can go to for advice (specifically those who have successful marriages).  It is also equally important that we avoid complaining about our spouse.  Depending on your environment this is not always easy. We love to share our misery and in this case we probably make it worse by doing so. If you need help seek it, but refuse to engage in conversations where you end up complaining.

7. Keep Learning. When we first married we made it a routine to read some sort of marriage enrichment book or go to a weekend seminar every year around our anniversary. While I didn’t love every book there was at least some nugget of helpful information in each one and  it gave us a great neutral place to start a conversation about areas that we needed to work on in our own marriage. Scroll to the end of this post for a list of a few books that we found helpful.

8. Pray together. If your spouse is open to it make it a habit to sit down in the morning or evening for a few minutes, be quiet and pray together and for each other. You can do this even when you aren’t getting along. Trying to stay on the same page spiritually is a huge asset to a marriage.

Start by simply reciting something like this together:

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and
light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou
wouldest
have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save
us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see
light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

9. Don’t bottle it up but don’t let it explode. Make a habit of bringing up small issues as they arise. Bottling up feelings can lead to resentment. At the same time be mindful of when and how your bring things up. Use affirmative language not accusatory, “I felt neglected,” not “you neglected me.” And be considerate don’t bring up an issue in the car on the way to a party, right before a big exam, right before bed, or especially in front of other people if you can help it. Talking about issues regularly can be exhausting but trying to ignore them can lead to more hurt feelings and more intense discussions when they finally surface.

9. Create a common life. While we were never able to schedule a regular date night we were intentional about inviting over friends for dinner and trying new hobbies together. In our hectic lifestyle doing something like reading the same book or just making sure to sit down for meals together is a step towards keeping a family unified.

10. Take care of your health.  This is probably the most overlooked area and it is so important. We have been, for the most part, healthy, and have probably always eaten healthier than the average American. But I still look back and realize where we were failing to take care of ourselves.

Most of us need 8 hours of sleep, not just on Saturday but everyday. We need a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, we need to be active during the day. We need to drink water and avoid pesticides. We need sunshine and time outside. We need to limit sweets and starches that affect our blood sugar and we probably need to limit caffeine too.

Chronic stress can deplete many of our essential vitamins and minerals and exacerbate physical and emotional issues.  Taking 400 mg of Magnesium everyday is a simple and valuable start to rebuilding health that has been affected by stress but there is so much more that can be done.  Don’t overlook this.  There are some things in our health that are out of our control but much of it isn’t.

 

For Further Reading

No book, or blog post can really do what it sets out to do, giving meaningful advice on marriage in this format is almost impossible.  Each marriage is so unique that it’s rare to find a book that feels entirely applicable. Still from each of these we gained some insight that helped us along the way.

 

Boundaries in Marriage

Love and Respect

For Men Only

For Women Only

Marriage Takes More than Love

Passages in Marriage

The Five Love Languages

Marriage, Our Wedding

 

For some more of my thoughts on marriage check out:

Why Practicing Hospitality is Good for my Marriage

Marriage and the Long Haul

On Marriage and Mystery Celebrating 8 years of Living Sacramentally (last year’s anniversary post)

 

Marriage

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for occasional updates and emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

Some Questions to Get Us Started Thoughts on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

For those of you who know my earthy ways Animal, Vegetable, Miracle may not seem like an odd choice for this reading group. But for those of us who are just getting acquainted this may seem like an odd choice. Maybe you found this group when you were searching for some spiritual direction, specifically Christian direction and saw that we read books like  The Rule of St. Benedict or The Problem of Pain.

Kingsolver is not unspiritual but she clearly does not write from a Christian perspective.  Still her book offers us a great insight into the Christian world and perhaps in a direction that has been overlooked by mainstream American Christianity.  To begin I’m posting some questions that I’ve been asking myself, simply some ideas to chew on as we read. I’ll try to address some of these subjects over the next few months and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Discussion Questions for the Christian reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 

Is there any spiritual significance in cultivating land? Does it change my relationship with God when I recognize that the same dirt I use to grow plants was used for the creation of man and remains the substance out of which all creatures are made and sustained? Can working this land help me know God better?

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Does what I do with my body have an impact on my soul? Does doing meaningful work affect the way I interact with the world? Is there value in producing something through my own physical labor? Does the process of building, growing or creating with my hands help me to understand God as my Creator?

 

Does experiencing the Creation teach us something about our Creator? How does spending time in nature feel different than being inside in man made structures? Does where we are change how we experience God?

 

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Does meeting our own needs by cultivating God’s Creation teach us anything about meeting the needs of others? Does realizing that all that sustains us comes from God’s Creation help us to develop as sense of gratefulness in our own lives?

 

What is man’s relationship with animals? Is there any spiritual significance in the way we care for animals whether they be pets or for food? What about in the way we slaughter animals? Does the way we care for animals that we use for food have an impact on our physical health? What about on our spirits?

 

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Is there any spiritual significance in gathering at a common table for a meal? How does eating together verses eating alone affect our relationships with one another? What about with our relationship with God? Does anything change when we work together to grow or prepare food together? Does feeding someone else or depending on someone else to feed us teach us anything about the way that we are fed by Christ?

 

Does what I put into my body affect me physically, emotionally or spiritually? Does being well fed affect my sense of gratitude or my energy? Is there a relationship between caring for my physical health and improving my spiritual health?

 

Just some thoughts to get us started. I’d love to hear what questions you have now or as we go through this book. Thanks for reading with us!

.    .    .

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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