Archive for August 2018

Should you Give up Eating Lean Red Meat?   Leave a comment

A recent study from Purdue and the University of Texas shows that eating lean red meat as part of an otherwise healthy Mediterranean diet does not have major health risks.  An article by Amby Burfoot of the Washington Post stated that the study evaluated risks of consuming red meat, which, as anyone who’s into nutrition knows, has been on the outs for a while when compared to healthy oils, plant-based diets, and chicken and fish.

The diet followed 41 adults who were overweight.  Along with the Mediterranean diet, at different periods in the study the individuals ate either 200 or 500 grams red meat per week.  The diets were the same in calorie value and balances of carbs, protein and fats in order to make sure that the amount of red meat consumed was the only variable.

Not only did the red meat not cause any negative effects to the levels of high-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, insulin or glucose, which is interesting enough, the study noted that greater weight loss occurred during the 500 gram red meat phase of the diet than during the 200 gram phase.  That’s right, greater weight loss with more red meat.

Not only that, during the 500 gram red meat phase, the study participants experienced a greater lowering of “harmful high-density lipoproteins.”  I haven’t looked the study up on PubMed to see if any other significant findings came out of it, so I’m obviously not qualified to evaluate the overall effect of red meat on one’s diet, but the point is–the Post couldn’t list one negative thing about eating red meat.

However, the title of the article was “You might not have to give up (lean) red meat,” and the final sentence stated, “It appears, modest amounts of lean, unprocessed red meat don’t appear to have major health risks.”

Why can’t the author say that eating red meat caused something good to happen?

Maybe it’s because we all know that red meat is bad for you.

So we can’t admit that it might be good for you.

If you haven’t already decided to disregard every fleeting dietary recommendation issued by the nutrition gurus, now might be a good time to start making your own common sense decisions about what to eat.

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Posted August 29, 2018 by swanatbagend in diet

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The Path   Leave a comment

Twenty-three years ago today I stepped into the circle of life.  I had a baby son.

Days, weeks, month become years.

Little ones become big ones.

And here’s what I know.

I can’t control outcomes.  I work now and live now, while looking back occasionally to my past, a past in which I did not know how important living now is.  I didn’t know what my part was to play.  I still don’t.  I just do my part–I carry my leaf section as valiantly and faithfully as I can.  I want to learn to be content, and to acknowledge that all my opportunities are just gifts.

I see myself being ushered in twenty-three years ago to the phase of my life that I am now close to ending.  I had no idea how the path was going to unwind before me then.  I can only see it looking back.

Perhaps what I think about my inability to make things turn out the way I think they should is false–but that’s the view from here, approaching the last several years of my career as a homeschooling mom.  I don’t think I am going to find a way to get more control over the daily events of my life and the behaviors of others and the things that happen to me as I get older.  I really doubt that there is a secret of control I just haven’t discovered yet.

I still have no idea where the path unwinding will lead me.  I just know that I’m going to keep going.  I’m going to do the best I can.  I’m going to live right on.  I’m thankful that I am watching my children grow up, and that I’m still walking beside them, for a few more miles, on this part of the journey.

I just can’t believe that the time has passed so quickly.

Posted August 24, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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Zucchini a la Bacon   Leave a comment

Looking for a new way to enjoy zucchini?  If you like something Italian that does not involve any form of tomato, you will like this.  I adapted a recipe that is in the cookbook Creme de Colorado that was published by the Junior League of Denver.  Yes, good things can come from the Junior League.

Here’s what you do.

 

12 ounces cooked angel hair pasta

15 pieces of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled (or as many pieces as you can fit in the pan!)

1/2 cup butter

4 cloves garlic

3 medium zucchini sliced thin

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups heavy cream

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Cook the pasta as directed.  Don’t use a lot more than 12 ounces because your end result will be too dry.  Melt the butter in a large pan.  I use a Dutch oven for convenience, and saute the garlic and zucchini over medium heat until tender.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the pasta, Parmesan and heavy cream stirring gradually to get them as mixed as possible and warm.  Sprinkle with pepper.

This is just wonderful!  The original didn’t include zucchini and was a bit too rich, but the addition of zucchini helps create a better balance of all the flavors.

If I knew anything about wine, I could tell you whether to go for red or white, but personally, I like this with a salad and some blackberry lemonade.

 

Blackberry Lemonade

 

3 cups fresh blackberries, washed

1 cup sugar

1 cup lemon juice

6 cups cold water

Put the berries through a food processor that can remove seeds, and discard that pulp.  Pour liquid into a large pitcher and stir the sugar, lemon juice and water in gently.  Serve over ice, and taste summer.

Posted August 16, 2018 by swanatbagend in food

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Unsettling   1 comment

My reading over the past several months has brought me to a question.  I read about the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit that legally defends those who have been sentenced to prison without the benefit of a just trial.  Most of them are minorities, many have disabilities, and some are children.  See more on their work here: https://eji.org, or read Just Mercy, written by the founder, Bryan Stephenson.

My reading has also included coverage of world news in The Economist.  Over time, the catalog of acts of injustice, of persecution of minority groups within countries, of country after country led by immoral strongmen adds up.

Then I picked up Generous Justice by Tim Keller.  It’s an exploration of what the Bible teaches and what the Christian church’s understanding should be about the relationship between mercy and justice.  In the course of the book, Keller explores the church’s lack of understanding of what situations individuals face in difficult environments.

For example, Keller describes a situation where a young woman who lived in a housing project was being harassed by a local gang to become a prostitute for suburban white men.  The believer who was meeting with her didn’t comprehend the full situation until she explained that her father was beaten in order to get her compliance.  When he asked why she didn’t involve the police, she responded that the police were those wealthy suburban white males.  She perceived that she was unlikely to get justice from that quarter.

These are just a few specific books I have read recently that have caused me to think new and uncomfortable ideas.

I’ve had a really good life.  I’m not saying nothing bad or unjust has ever happened to me–it has, because that is the nature of life in this world.  But I look at the sheer volume of despair out there that is endured by those who don’t have power, and I wonder.

What if some of the circumstances of my life that I have taken to be answered prayer are just class or race privilege?

Posted August 14, 2018 by swanatbagend in justice, reflections

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So Loved   Leave a comment

How could I be so loved?

I know for sure I didn’t deserve it.  I mean, yes, I work hard, I try to be a decent person, but really, I fail at meeting my own goals as well as other people’s expectations.  He couldn’t have been rewarding me for doing well and never being a whiner! because that just doesn’t happen.

He knows what I like and what is most relaxing and peaceful for me, and after months of some stressful times, we went and stayed somewhere we love.  We saw natural beauty and were out in it, hiking to a waterfall among thick forest.  We had brownies and Cokes in the afternoon.  We had a four course dinner.  It was amazing!  It was a true feast, in the best sense of the word, because we were there together, eating some of the most delightful food I’ve had in years, and celebrating all that is good in our lives and all we’ve been given.

Not only that, as a further surprise, he took me to a pottery shop, where we sat down with an instructor and two other women who were there, and made our very own ice cream dishes on the wheel!  We were engaged in freakin’ arts and crafts–together!

My husband insisted that we get away for our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  He arranged it all himself, planning some specifics that he knew I would enjoy, but not over-booking us, so that the prime detail was our companionship.  He wasn’t just tolerating the hike, my talking, and pottery making.  There weren’t any loud, pregnant sighs as there have been in the past when we stayed in a bookstore too long.  I’d have to say from everything I observed and experienced–and at this point, I do know him quite well–that he really just wanted to be with me.

Somewhere along the way, a shift happened, and he isn’t doing these things to get a certain outcome.  His commitment to me has transformed.  He just wants to love the beloved.

This, my friends, is the mystery.

Posted August 10, 2018 by swanatbagend in relationships

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Do You Need Me to Read You a Story?   2 comments

If you’re an adult you’re probably reacting to that question in one of two ways: either you are rather grumpy that I should ask you a question that’s for babies and children, or you are curious and ready to find out where the question leads.

Those of you with analytic minds may be wondering why I chose the word “need” instead of the more traditional “want.”

I love those analytical minds because you are already traveling toward the destination of this blog!

My daughter, almost an adult, has experienced a great deal of angst over the past five years about what she wants to do when she grows up.  What path should she chose?  Our culture demands that you know what you want by the time you are fourteen, and heaven forbid if you don’t have a firm career path mapped out by the time you’re a junior.  Also that career path will involve college; there are no other options.  If you haven’t already been busting your butt studying for the ACT/SAT, it’s too late; you won’t be able to get into a good enough school or pay for it, and then where will you be?  And, if you aren’t choosing a STEM major, what’s the point?  We all know that technology and medicine are where the high paying jobs are.  You’d be an idiot to pursue anything else.

At least, this is the message she’s been taking in.  I’m not 100% sure that’s the main message out there, but I’d agree that it’s pretty strong.

So, she’s graduated and is still feeling her way toward the future, while I remind her that life is what is happening right now, and as Allen Saunders famously remarked, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  As next steps, she’s working on life skills and has enrolled to take several courses at our local community college–a very practical and wise choice.  She’s considering a couple of paths in the liberal arts that involve art, writing and film-making, but has not been certain enough to commit to them yet.  So this is a good place to begin.

But here’s what I want to tell her, as she contemplates the practicalities of life in our society, the realities of someday making her own living, and as she thinks some more about what the interface is between what she loves doing and what our society seems to demand.

There cannot be a society without storytelling.

There cannot be a city, a community, a culture, a civilization.  It’s literally impossible.

No interrelated group of people can create a world together without having a shared story, and of course, having many of them.  We by definition need stories to tell us who we are and where we’re going.  I don’t know how one can get paid for writing a story.  Our culture doesn’t reward storytelling in the same monetary ways it does STEM fields.  However, the entire civilization we have rests on stories.

Stories are a very good place to begin.

Posted August 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in writing

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Parallel Lives   Leave a comment

When your children are little, you live in the illusion that you know their lives completely.  You spend all your time together, most often very near, nursing them, changing their diapers and holding them, sleeping next to them.  It follows that as they grow you are still so near that you know their lives very well.  Or at least you think you do.  Within all of us is the tendency to do what research says babies do–assume that what they feel or perceive is what their mothers also feel and perceive.  And maybe some of that is going on.

As your child gets older, he ventures forth into the world for several hours at a time, and more and more as he grows up.

I don’t know when the moment will come for you.  It probably depends on your life choices and your child’s temperament, and on yours as well. Since I homeschooled all three of mine, we spent most of our time together.  I didn’t have six to eight hours a day where the kids were away.  We weren’t doing things together all the time, not by a long shot, but we shared our space and our lives in a way that you just don’t unless you’re together that much.

So, there will come a point at which you realize that there’s a separate life out there, doing its thing.  And while you will rejoice at that reality, and be thankful for your child’s maturity because, yes, that is the goal–there will be a longing to have it both ways.

I love the companionship we share and I don’t want it to end.  I’m interested in my son’s thoughts, his work, his days.  After years of sharing that with him, I can’t disconnect without wishing there were a way to be both places at the same time.  I long to travel both the arc of my life and the life of my child.

I don’t want to miss anything.

 

Posted August 6, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood

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