Categories
Recommendations

Choose Foods That Will Make You Feel Better

Hello, my precious friends! I hope you’re feeling sunny and bright on this wonderful day. But even if not, I’m so glad you’re here!

What I have to share might help with some physical, mental, and emotional angst we’re carrying. Much of it is likely linked to what we’re eating. Why not choose foods that will make us feel better?

I want to choose better foods to address three specific areas of interest

1. Brain Cognition

If you read my last post, you know I have been dealing with brain fog. It has been interesting. You all have been so supportive and kind. I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers! I have been doing some research and reading up on things that can help with clarity of thought. I’ve been specifically focusing on which foods I should choose for better brain cognition.

2. Lower Cholesterol

I conducted a similar study awhile back when I received lab results indicating unexpectedly high cholesterol. I wanted to do better. I discovered that I could choose foods which would lower the numbers.

It was a chaotic time in my life and instead of making the necessary changes, I put my research in a file for a later date. My most recent lab tests revealed that my cholesterol is still a problem. No surprise there since I never really addressed it.

3. Gut Health

Another interest (just pure fascination), which has caused me to study food choice, is gut health. I’m learning about foods in both probiotic and prebiotic categories. By maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, we can counter much of the inflammation from which we suffer. I’m not an expert, by any means. I’ve just done some digging and saved the information I’ve gathered into my growing file of findings.

microbiome: noun / the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body).

Dictionary.com

An overlap in the research results?

Was there a significant overlap in the suggested diets for these three areas of interest, or was it my imagination? This week, I finally sat down and opened my fat file to pull my research together. I charted it into a concise cheat sheet with the goal of centering my diet on these healing foods. I also wanted to share it with you because life is beautiful, and we enjoy it most when we are feeling our best!

A chart illustrating the overlap of suggested foods to eat for enhancing cholesterol levels, brain cognition, and gut health
Choose foods that will help you feel better! Here is a cheat sheet.

I put the foods which I read could help lower dangerous LDL cholesterol into the blue circle. (Some of them can also boost the helpful HDL cholesterol while they’re at it!) The teal ring encapsulates foods which have been found to assist with brain cognition. The foods in the purple circle are said to improve gut health.

There really is a large overlap! The foods that are known to be good for all three areas of interest are nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, green tea, fruits, and soy products. These are in the center where the circles converge. Choosing these over other things can help you feel relief from several ailments at once!

The graph also logs foods which have been shown to help with one area of concern or overlap on two of them. Around the edges of the illustration, I have listed the specific items I found mentioned under some broader category headings. For instance, “whole grains” are widely touted, but specifically, I saw oats, bran, quinoa, and brown rice repeated in my research.

A few disclosures

I cannot certify that these findings are proven or complete. This is just a compilation of what I read, from sources I consider to be reputable. I plan to use it as a tool for my own meal planning and thought you might be interested as well.

Full disclosure – One of my granddaughters is visiting for a couple weeks and my grandson will arrive just after she leaves. Summers and grandkids pretty much require ice cream dates and other treats which are not on this list. They yield a different kind of wonderful feeling and I’m all here for it while I can be! I will embrace these ingredients completely in my daily menus next month.

But I’m looking forward to mid-July to see if I begin to feel better. I will eat with intention and keep you posted. There, now I’ve said it “out loud” and I welcome the accountability!

Use the cheat sheet in any way that is helpful

How about you? Have you noticed a correlation between your quality of life, sense of wellness, and your diet? Do you choose foods based on what will make you feel better? Are you interested in any of the categories I’ve studied? If so, please feel free to save, print, share, or do whatever you like with this chart I’ve made. Here’s to better health for us all!

One more thing…

P.S. one last thought. I called these foods “healing” because of the benefits they offer to our physical bodies. But they are only so because they were designed and given to us by an All-Powerful God who is Jehovah Rapha, our Great Physician. He is our Creator, Healer, Life Giver, and Sustainer.

Never do I want to elevate the created thing above the Creator. My faith is in God. He is the Good Father who gives good gifts. Healthy food is one of those gifts, given for our enjoyment and benefit. So is the gift of taste. I’m incredibly thankful for the creativity in His provision, aren’t you? All glory to God by Whom we are enabled to live well, eat well, and be well!

Categories
Celebrations Conversations

One Father’s Day Post Remarkably Limited by Brain Fog

Pssst, friend, do you have a second? I’m so glad you dropped by! I want to talk to you about something. It’s kind of personal, but I’m hoping for your insight and grace.

My issue

I’ve been experiencing remarkable brain fog. It is frustrating, maybe, but honestly my mind is too murky to feel the frustration. It’s a strange sort of apathy. I have thoughts and ideas which lack cohesion and disappear before I can take decisive action.

Do you know what I mean? Have you encountered this type of thing? I’m sharing mine for two reasons.

  1. An explanation. I have been trying to only write as God blesses me with clarity. Admittedly, my blogs have been fewer.
  2. A request. If you have endured brain fog and obtained insight on how to overcome it, I’d love to learn. What worked for you?

My ideas

I have a few ideas as to why this may be happening:

  1. Age. I’m at that middle-age stage where hormones (or decrease of them) wreak havoc. I know brain fog can be part of the deal.
  2. Altitude. I’ve recently moved from sea-level to 7000 feet. I returned, last month, for a week-long visit to the town from which I moved. I’ve noticed my brain fog has been especially thick since I’ve come back to high altitude.
  3. Spiritual Warfare. I feel like there are spiritual truths I’m not quite grasping. A train of thought starts chugging and gains momentum for an intriguing minute but then it fades before the end of the track. It could be that the enemy is using spiritual warfare to run interference.
  4. Exercise and Nutrition. I finished a metabolic reset about a month ago. It was a set menu and exercise regimen. The workouts would have been extreme for me at sea-level, but they were really hard without time for proper adjustment to the altitude. I told myself I would either end up in the best shape of my life or dead… but maybe I ended up foggy. The nutrition was excellent during that two weeks, but not sustainable for my lifestyle or budget, so it’s possible the inconsistency is affecting my mind.
  5. Covid. I had Covid at the beginning of the year. One of the symptoms I experienced was brain fog and it was similar to what I’m noticing now. I’ve heard that, for some people, it persists for months. This could be my plight.
  6. Answered prayer. Ever since I decided to make SEO Someone Else’s Obsession, I have asked God not to let me write anything that isn’t worthwhile. Maybe my ideas haven’t fit His definition of meaningful and He has simply hazed them over in my brain. If that is it, then I’m thankful for the answered prayer.

My apology

So this is where I offer an apology. I really wanted to write a post of encouragement and appreciation to dads in anticipation of Father’s Day. Maybe I still will. But so far, I haven’t been able to hold onto any of my ideas long enough get a post done.

I had a moment of clarity yesterday while I was out on the trail and wrote an entire article in my head. When I got home and tried to type it out, I lost it. Chalk up another point to brain fog.

My thanks

For now, I hope a simple THANK YOU will suffice. Dads have it rough in today’s world. I know, I know – we’re told they have privilege because they’re men and we’re pressured to lend our support elsewhere. I say, hogwash!

I think dads who do what it takes to protect and provide for their families deserve more respect and appreciation than we could possibly muster. This world is trying to steal the leadership role that God gave to fathers in their households. A Godly man must work tirelessly to simply stand his ground, not allowing a godless society to envelop his family. And then he has to go above and beyond to model and instill a legacy of lasting faith for the coming generations.

If you’re this kind of dad, wow! You deserve great honor. If you have this kind of dad, celebrate him – not just on Father’s Day, but especially then.

And that is all God has helped me to put together for now. Tell me, have you been limited by prolonged brain fog? What was the cause? How did you overcome it? Do you have any suggestions for me?

What can you tell me about your dad? Do you have a favorite memory with him? If you’d like to honor him in the comments, it would be my privilege to celebrate him with you this Father’s Day week.

Related post: 5 Things You’d Have to Endure from Me if I Were Like My Father

Categories
Recommendations Reflections

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Do you struggle to sleep at night? Maybe you have difficulty falling asleep or even full-blown insomnia. My issue is that I often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. There could be a million reasons why relaxing rest eludes us and an equal number of suggestions for resolution. Today, I want to share 5 habits I have been working to hone, which seem to be making a difference for me.

I am going to add the caveat right here that I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that when I accepted Him as my Savior, He gave me His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me. Read more on that here. I genuinely do not believe satisfying sleep is a reasonable expectation outside of the peace that comes from knowing God.

But even with the assurance that He has the chaos under control and cradles me in the palm of His hand, I sometimes find myself awake when I want to be asleep. As I’ve prayed for the wisdom to address it, I’ve adopted five habits which have been highly effective for me. I’m sharing them in hopes they might resonate with you as well.

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Tune out

Life is hectic! My brain doesn’t have time to take a break. Or so it likes to think. (Pun intended.) After all, if I stopped controlling things, it would all come crashing down, right? Not even close to right! In fact, if I don’t stop trying to control things, and let my mind rest, I’m much more likely to make mistakes and missteps that will cause everything to come crashing down.

So, I need to tune out. Shut down. Let go. I do this nightly by watching a Hallmark movie or something equivalent. There is science to show that the brain slows significantly when we watch TV, and I am pretty sure a Hallmark movie requires the least mindfulness of anything out there. It is completely predictable with idyllic settings and… I’m getting sleepy just talking about it.

Some people tell me to pray before bed – to give it all to Jesus and walk away. I would never tell anyone not to pray. I know this is a tried-and-true method for many. It does not work for me because praying engages my mind and my emotions. I have to say my ‘bedtime prayers’ before I tune out. My goal is to not be thinking about anything important when my head hits the pillow.

Exercise

I toyed with the order in which I wanted to present these 5 habits to you. I obviously did not choose to put them in chronological order. But stay with me as I work a bit backwards here.

My biggest hurdle is getting my mind to rest. When I have tuned out and my head has hit the pillow, it needs to have a few things neatly wrapped and tucked away. One of those things is the knowledge that my body is tired.

I sit quite a bit at work and writing does not get me moving either. I need to be intentional about exercise. This is a habit I must commit to accomplish early in the day. I’ve mentioned that I’m a distance walker and that I’ve curiously started running again.

If I am physically tired, my mind will be at ease about my body’s cooperation to sleep. It is always worth it – not just for sleep but for overall health as well.

Food

This one has taken some experimentation. I have discovered that carbohydrates at night do not agree with me. They make me feel bloated and uncomfortable and are not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I have basically cut out all carbs, even healthy ones, after 4pm. I have also lightened up on my protein in the evening. Don’t worry – I eat plenty of both, earlier in the day.

Kale salad: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Kale salad, a frequent dinner menu item.

Dinner for me is comprised of mostly vegetables and healthy fats. I eat early so I can go to bed early because I get up early. Eating foods which agree with my digestive system, and timing it so those processes have time to work before I lay down, has been game-changing for me.

This may seem obvious, but I stopped consuming caffeine late in the day. I used to feel immune to the caffeine because I could drink a cup and still fall asleep. But I do think it hampered my ability to fall back to sleep if I awoke in the middle of the night. And any beverage consumed late increases the chances of needing to get up in the middle of the night. I’m better off without it.

Conscience

Ah this! When I have tuned out, worked out, and cut out, but still wake up at 2am unable to go back to sleep, it can be due to a guilty conscience. Sometimes it is legit and other times it is not. I have tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. My only way around the obstacle of my conscience is to engage.

Fox with ears alert: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Petr Ganaj on Pexels.com
When God speaks, even in the middle of the night, I want to listen.

It seems counterintuitive to purposely start my mind thinking, but remember, the one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. There is no peace in a guilty conscience. If the conviction I feel is legitimate, I need to confess it to God and repent. I need to receive His forgiveness and resolve to make it right with anyone to whom I may owe restitution. Then, my peace returns. When I feel that harmony with God, I can sleep again.

If the shame I feel is not legit, I need to preach truth to myself and let it go. A good dose of truth brings a rush of peace.

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”

2 John 2:3

Pray

I know some of you are wondering why a Christian would leave prayer for the last bullet point. Is prayer a last resort for me? NOT AT ALL! I rely on constant communication with God to guide my steps and steer my decisions.

Prayer gets its own section because there are still times, when I’ve done everything I’ve learned to do for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, but I still wake up.

Alarm clock: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sometimes I’m supposed to be awake at 2am.

In these instances, I know God has purposed that I should be awake to pray. I have a list of people who get prayed for every time I am awake in the middle of the night. Maybe one of them is in trouble and I have been awakened specifically because I will pray for them. Prayer releases the power of Heaven and if sacrificing a few minutes of sleep will send that assistance to a loved one who needs it, I’m in!

If I go through my usual list of people and I’m still awake, I start praying for anyone else whose name or face pops into my head. Eventually, I figure I’ve covered everyone for whom I was tasked to pray, because I fall back to sleep.

Even if I’m wrong – if nobody needed my prayers at 2am, my efforts have covered them with God’s presence and that can never be a bad thing. But I honestly believe it is a ministry. The Holy Spirit knows I am available and willing to serve in this capacity in the middle of the night.

Ironically, my habit of intentionally clearing my mind so I can fall asleep and stay asleep makes me a ripe prayer warrior to call upon in the wee hours. And there is a reward. The sleep that comes after being awoken for this purpose and fulfilling it, is the most satisfying of all sleeps!

Kitten asleep: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sleep induced by prayer for others is oh-so sweet!

Well, there they are. Those are the 5 habits to hone for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. At least, they are the tricks that have been the most beneficial for me lately. There are others, and if you’d like me to post about them, let me know.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it a struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or both? Have you found any helpful hints that you’d be willing to share? Do any of mine ring true for you?

Categories
Recommendations

How an Outrageous Act of Kindness Led to This Magnificent Muffin Recipe!

The house was gorgeous! It sat on a corner lot and had tons of natural light. There were huge bay windows and extra-large sliding glass doors. Each room had several windows, and the cross breezes were heavenly. It was more than my husband and I had imagined when we decided to move with 5 small children between the ages of 1 and 8. We moved in, all giddy-like and wonder-eyed.

And then night fell. None of those incredible windows had any blinds or window coverings. We felt like fish in a very clear fishbowl, visible to everyone. And we didn’t know what to do. My husband’s aunty came to our rescue with an outrageous act of kindness. I had no way to repay her, but to feed her. The following is the story that led to this magnificent muffin recipe.

Plate of muffins next to a Bible: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Bible study and magnificent muffins? Yes please!

Aunt Jenny lived an airplane ride away. But she is a talented seamstress, and when she heard about our dilemma, she came. She stayed in our guestroom for weeks. She advised us and gave us style options. Whatever we could want, she could create. She took me to the fabric store and was extremely patient while I perused, touched and envisioned each pattern. She helped me to calculate and stay within budget.

She was a Godsend! Aunt Jenny made a total of 3 trips to help us. That was three round-trip flights just to come sew all day, every day. If she took a break, it was to accompany me to the fabric or hardware stores.

She crafted curtains for all our windows and even created sheer drape panels to hang from my girls’ three canopy beds. She made custom window seat cushions and throw pillows to match for each couch and bed. She didn’t stop until there was nothing more we could think to sew.

I tried to repay her with treats whenever possible. I noticed how much she enjoyed the bran muffins at Starbucks. One day, while she was busy sewing, I busied myself where I had a bit of creative talent – in the kitchen. I recreated the Starbucks muffins and received Aunt Jenny’s heartfelt stamp of approval.

I made other meals and goodies to spoil Aunt Jenny, but I think these muffins were her favorite. I made them by the dozens, and we ate them for more than just breakfast. In fact, even after her outrageous act of kindness was complete, she said she’d do it all again for these magnificent muffins!

Muffin with wheat on a fall table: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Magnificent muffins make good use of Autumn’s outrageous and bountiful flavors

If you enjoy the satisfying textures of wheat and bran, the soothing spiciness of cinnamon, and the hearty sweetness of pineapple, raisins and carrots, this recipe is for you! I think they are best in the fall, warm from the oven. But truth be told, they are a wonderful treat any month of the year. And they smell absolutely heavenly as they bake!

Mamalava’s Magnificent Muffins

Servings: 24 – Prep time, 1 hour and 10 minutes – Oven temp. 400 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1and 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
    (or 1 and 1/4 cups bran flakes and 1/4 cup raisins)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable (or preferred) oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 pound carrots, grated
  • 2/3 cup pineapple (chopped, drained and patted dry)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Stir together flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine raisin bran, milk, and carrots. Let stand about 3 minutes or until cereal softens.
4. Add eggs and oil and mix well.
5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring only until combined.
6. Stir in pineapple, and nuts if desired.
7. Portion batter evenly into 2 and 1/2 inch muffin cups. (Can use silicone cups or tins coated with cooking spray or lined with paper.)
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Serve warm!
I prefer to eat these just as they are. They are also amazing sliced and spread with butter and honey, or cream cheese, peanut butter – however you like!

Notes:

1. If you would rather make a cake or loaf shape instead of muffins, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Exact baking time will vary according to size of pan. Cakes will need to cool for about 45 minutes and loaves for approximately an hour before slicing.
2. You can change the pineapple or raisins for blueberries, cranberries or other fruit of your liking. This recipe was to mimic the muffins Starbucks was offering at the time, but it is customizable to suit your tastes.
3. I imagine you can swap the sugar and flours for alternatives too, but I’m not an expert at those conversions.
4. If you like seeds, they can be sprinkled on top of each muffin just before baking. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are my most frequent choices. I’ve also been known to sprinkle these muffins with a pinch of raw sugar crystals for sparkle and crunch.
5. This batter can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I like to double (or triple) the recipe in advance and quickly bake fresh batches just before serving. If you’re baking cold batter, add 2-5 minutes to the baking time.


Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Do you know someone who would benefit from an act of kindness? Is there someone you’d like to spoil? Maybe it’s you! This recipe is well worth your consideration. A basket of magnificent muffins is sweet to the taste, the appetite, and the heart.

Make gifts meaningful by putting the time in creating them, whether baking and cooking, or in making arts and craft. It will all have more meaning for the giver and receiver.

Lidia Bastianich

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23a, 24