Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Diet of the Gods, Part1

I don't know about anyone else, but I do not like the idea of diets, because I think most of them are unsustainable, and many are downright unhealthy in the long run. It also really bugs me how much completely contradictory information is out there; certain you combine certain carbs in the right way, it doesn't matter how you combine carbs...eggs are the perfect food, eggs have too much cholesterol...meat is good, meat is bad...microwaving your food is the best way to preserve nutrients, do not microwave your food because the nutrients will be destroyed...dairy is good, dairy is is good, coffee is bad...olive oil is good, avoid olive oil, etc.  (Sometime I may post the actual list I compiled!) Anyhow, you get the picture.  It is nigh impossible to wade through all the information that is out there to find out what truly is the best way to eat!

That being said, I have no idea why I picked up a copy of Robyn Openshaw's "Green Smoothie Diet" at Curtis' aunts house and read it between sessions of conference last April, but I have to say, this book and Robyn's personal story started me on a journey that has become a fascinating passion for me--the journey to a plant based lifestyle.  Not a diet, but a complete lifestyle change.  I would like to invite you along for the ride of your life!

View Robyn's Story Here

Let me tell you why I get so excited about this amazing lifestyle that seems like it is sweeping the nation;  The results of  people actually following this diet are, in a word, incredible.  Prevention, or even reversals of heart disease (the number one killer in the U.S.), reversal of many cancers (the number 2 killer in the U.S.), increased energy, diabetics being able to go off diabetes medications, reversal of almost every disease or illness people have--acne, asthma, allergies, thyroid problems, ear infections...the list goes on.  Wow!

I guess I had always just taken it as a matter of course that one just takes medication for those kinds of things, or chemo, or radiation, or whatever, but someone pointed out to me recently that medications do not generally treat the actual problem, they treat the symptoms! That was a real eye opener for me, and the more I think about it, the more it makes so much sense that one would go to the root of the problem and take care of it at a cellular level--with the very food you eat that comprise the cells your body is made of!

Diet of the Gods, Part 2

Several months ago, when I was still relatively new to this idea of a plant based diet, I posted an article I had come across from a guy who had decided to switch to this plant based way of eating.  More on that later.  In response, one of my sweet sisters-in-law (who also happens to be a nurse) suggested I watch a documentary entitled "Forks over Knives."  (Free on Amazon Instant Play as well as Netflix)  This documentary primarily featured the groundbreaking research of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a world renowned heart surgeon, and Dr. Colin Cambell, a Cornell University educated biochemist, who specializes in nutrition, and is co-author of The China Study, which is one of the most comprehensive studies in the world on nutrition and the effects of dietary protein. This documentary was a huge eye-opener for me, as it addressed the amazing medical benefits of this lifestyle, based on well researched studies and experiments. The documentary also followed several real-life people and their experiences with changing over to this way of eating, and the amazing transformation in their health.

Check out the trailer below, and then please, please, take the time to watch the movie.  It could literally change your life, as it has mine.  Also, if you, like myself, know of anyone who has/has had cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or other significant health challenges, please share these things you are learning!   They truly are incredible, as people all across the country are beginning to discover!      

Diet of the Gods, Part 3

I am currently in the middle of an outstanding book I bought entitled Disease-Proof Your Child by a Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who is a father of four, and a practicing family doctor.  (He also authored the national bestseller Eat to Live.) This fellow is the doctor people come to or bring their kids to after they have tried every other doctor/medication without the results they were hoping for.  Guess what?  He is also the one who is able to get to the root of the problem and actually fix it!  What is the secret to his remarkable success?  It is incredibly simple.  He has the whole family come in to the initial consultation for the person who is to be treated and prescribes a plant based diet for the entire family.  In nearly every instance, the problem is able to be cured.  He writes that thus far in his 15+ (I think!) year practice, it has been rare that he has had to pick up his prescription pad and write out a prescription.  He has treated and cured hundreds of ADD/ADHD kids with this method, with predictable results, (meaning within a certain time frame) as well as asthma, allergies, recurring ear infections, severe acne, and a host of other maladies.  I think I have every page of his book that I have read so far marked!  This is just so cool to me, and so incredibly simple I can hardly believe it.
I would highly recommend that anyone with kids purchase this book. Although his recommendations are simple, he goes through the science behind each of the illnesses he treats, and explains what causes it, and why and how his recommendation to eat a plant based diet works. This is just fascinating to me!

 I think I should have been a dietician.

Diet of the Gods, Part 4

So what exactly is it about meat (and dairy) that is so bad for us?  I was always under the belief growing up that we had to eat a lot of protein to be healthy, and that is what the government taught.  Same with dairy--we need calcium!  Calcium comes from milk!  Drink lots of milk for strong bones!

Um, yeah.

So we do need protein, and we do need calcium, but wanna hear something cool that I have learned?  Plants have protein!  And calcium!  In fact, the perfect amount!  Dr. Furhman, in his book I am reading, states; Vegetables are very rich in protein and calcium.  Most vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat, and more calcium per calorie then milk."  When we eat a wide variety of plants--when we have a plant based diet, we get exactly the amount of protein (and type of protein) and calcium our bodies need, and they are more bioavailable, meaning, they are absorbed more readily.  Isn't that amazing?  Nuts, grains, seeds, veggies, fruits, and especially greens are fantastic for providing your body with just what it needs.  Plants (particularly if you are eating from your home garden, or organically) have the added benefit of not having some of the deadly problems that have caused so many health issues that plague America. (More on that in another post.)

For those concerned they are not getting enough protein in their diet, Rip Esselstyn, the son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who used to be a professional athlete and is now a firefighter, did a little video where he went to people's houses and helped them clean up their eating.

He basically said that when you are breathing, you know you are getting enough oxygen.  Same with protein.  When you are eating (at least in America), you can be pretty darn sure you are getting enough protein.  That is not something we need to worry about! This way of eating is even suitable for professional athletes, because while they indeed have higher protein requirements, they will be consuming a much larger amount of calories from plants, and therefore more of the essential nutrients needed by their bodies.  

Now, I get that not everyone is as excited about this stuff as I am, but stick with me here.  This represents many, many hours of research I have personally done, which I will attempt to condense for your benefit.  Why?  Well, if 50% of Americans die from heart disease, and 35% die of cancers (most of which are preventable), chances are very high that some of you,  my loved ones and friends, will have some of these problems, and some already have.  If any of that suffering can be avoided, well, I want to do every bit I can by sharing these amazing things I am learning.

What Irritates Me--This knowledge has been around for decades!  Why is it not more well known?
Although the evidence linking diet to cancer is strong, for some reason the fundamental lessons learned over the last 40 years through scientific research have not filtered down to the public or created significant dietary modifications in our population.  Cancer incidence has changed little.  The economic power of big business to advertise, lobby government, and exert political clout, combined with social forces that favor the status quo, have blunted the message.  Food advertisements, food industry press releases, and the favored status that money buys in the media and government have worked.  Modern societies have headed down the path to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
~again, from Dr. Furhman, MD (although I have seen this same thing reflected in book after book I have read, documentary after documentary)

Do you feel violated?  You should!  Cursed money.  On to my next post...stay tuned for my beef about...beef: what everyone should know.

Diet of the Gods, Part 5

O.K., here's where it gets good.  First of all, let me preface this by saying that I do not believe in vegetarianism. After reading the following post, you may be skeptical of that statement, but I will explain why in the next post.  Sit tight, and wade through all of this first.  (To my side of the family--I know there are sure to be some snarky remarks about herbivores this Thanksgiving, and I am always up for a good debate, but be forewarned!  Read this post and be a bit educated before you get me going on this, cuz I get so excited about plants that I could go on for hours!  And I promise, if you eat turkey, I am NOT judging you! I may even admit to recently being overcome by an In-n-Out burger that was intended for Curtis...)  By the way, stay tuned for a posting of my brother's rendition of "tofurkey rap," which I am hoping to capture on film this Thanksgiving!

So, what exactly is the big deal about meat and dairy?  Why should one avoid the status quo and opt for plant based foods instead?

Ready for this wild ride?  Hang on, cuz' here you go, in a nutshell!  The long and short of it is that the meat we eat now ain't the meat our grandparents et!  Nor are the quantities and portion sizes the same!  Besides that, it contains a cancer causing protein, excess meat consumption leads to heart disease, it ODs people on dangerous hormones and antibiotics, has gross stuff and chemicals in it, is not really suited to our 20 ft. long digestive tract (yeah, you know what happens when you have meat sitting in your 98.6 degree intestine for three days while it is being digested?  No wonder people feel bloated and gassy after eating it!), and frankly, I think we could be doing a lot better with the stewardship God has given us over his creations, in this case, livestock.  As an aside, there is a reason that livestock raised for food is exempt from the animal abuse law.  It is really appalling.  But my focus here is on health, so moving on....

Now that I have offended all my carnivorous relatives, let me give some detail as to why I make the above claims.

First of all, I think there is the obvious problem that most people are already aware of;  that eating meat raises cholesterol, and the saturated fat in meats clog your arteries. (Again reminding you that heart disease causes approximately 50% of deaths in America!  Scary!)  I don't know if this is an accurate description of what happens when your arteries become clogged, but I kind of think of it like this:  Have you ever tried washing out a measuring cup that has had Crisco in it?  If you have, you know that it is nearly impossible, unless you are using boiling water.  I kind of imagine our arteries to be like that.  All that saturated fat builds up, and over time, blocks the flow of blood, leading to a heart attack.  Dr. Furman states that "Over that last 50 years, this causal relationship between saturated fat and heart disease has been observed and documented by thousands of studies."

In another book I read, "The Crazy Sexy Diet," which incidentally was written by a lady who had cancer, she writes that in the 1970s, after seeing the results of study after study, Congress was going to revise the dietary guidelines for America.  The original recommendations were to be for Americans to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy.  As you can imagine, the meat and dairy industries (multi-billion dollar industries, both of them) were none to pleased with this, and heads started rolling!  The recommendations were revised to a very vague encouragement for Americans to "reduce saturated fat" in their diets.
In that vain, interestingly, a lawsuit was recently filed by the Physicians Group for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA is responsible for giving dietary recommendations to the American public based on the most current medical research. School lunches across America, as well as soldiers' meals all over the world are based upon these guidelines.  The lawsuit in essence complained that the USDA had a serious conflict of interest, and as a result, was not providing these meals based on what thousands of studies have shown provides superior nutrition.  Here is a clip from one of the articles I read:

Those conflicts of interest include the Secretary of Agriculture's statutory duty to foster "new or expanded markets" and move "larger quantities of agricultural products through the private marketing system to consumers." And the lawsuit points to the fact that the advisory committee members for the dietary guidelines have ties to meat and dairy food-product industries, such as Dannon, Kraft Foods, and MacDonald's, which creates direct conflicts of interest.
"The Secretary of Agriculture has an impossible job when it comes to health," said Barnard, "because his job is simply to make agribusiness richer."

Read the full article

In other words, what is recommended to Americans by the USDA and what is provided in school lunches is not what the PCRM believes is healthiest for Americans, based on literally thousands of studies.

Moving on to a second problem with meat (and diary).   Most of the meat we consume is full of hormones and routinely administered antibiotics.  Those get passed on to us, and here is my understanding of why this is a problem:

According to Dr. Furman, antibiotics are WAY overperscribed in his opinion, because most common illnesses are actually viral. (Sorry, you get a lot of information from him, just because his is the book I am currently reading!)  He informs us that in past decades, the overprescription of antibiotics "has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of deadly bacteria."   In a nut shell, his conclusion was that the more antibiotics are given, the more likely future bacterial infections will occur.  There is a lot more he has to say about this, but just read the book--it is too much for a blog!

Basically, if I am understanding what Dr. Furman is saying, increased exposure to hormones (bovine growth hormone, and a host of others) from milk, dairy, and meat, especially when young,  leads to increased risk of developing cancer.  More on this later.

Moving beyond the obvious a little (and this next is probably the most significant, so pay attention!), if you watched that documentary, "Forks over Knives," you will know that there is a protein in meat and dairy called "casein," which essentially turns on and off cancer cells. In Dr. Furman''s book, he informs us that after WWII, the emphasis on human nutrition shifted from focusing on vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and turned to the link between diet, and chronic diseases and cancer.  Additionally, the World Health Organization concluded that the majority of human cancers are preventable.  Read on.

Casein Consumption, Dr. Campbell

The China Study which Dr. T. Colin Campbell was heavily involved in, and which I referenced earlier, was reported by the New York Times as being "The Grand Prix of all epidemiologic studies" and "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease."  It involved hundreds of researchers from Cornell and Oxford Universities, thousands of Chinese people who were specially trained to administer tests and questionairres throughout China, and took about 10 years to complete.  It would take too long to write down all the awesome coolness gleaned from this study, but again, if you watched Forks Over Knives, it tells quite a bit about this study and its significance.  Suffice it to say, the conclusions from the study were that;
"The more animal products in the diet, the greater the cancer occurance.  
The more fruits and vegetables in the diet, the less cancer they found."

Just a note, Dr. Furman also points out that even naturally raised meats (without hormones and antiobiotics) still have this dangerous protein (as does dairy), so basically, even if you are eating organic meats, you are still increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease.

If all of this is not incentive enough to switch to a whole foods diet, wanna hear some of the lovely things in your meat?  I am guessing probably not, but please, don't claim ignorance is bliss!  In the case of what you are eating, ignorance is just plain disgusting!

Check out this video:
Just watch it.  The guy is funny.

So yeah, pink slime.  In 70% of our ground beef.  Up tp 15% can be in ground beef products without the FDA requiring it to be labeled.  Ewww.

What else is in our meat?

Toxic chemicals: Nitrates and Nitrates that have been proven to be most lunch meats and hot dogs.
Acrylamides:  Cause genetic mutations and cancer in lab animals...frequently found in processed and fast foods...
Trans fats and other additives:  clogs arteries, causes many kinds of cancer...
Another interesting one I found in reading Dr. Furman's book yesterday; Dioxins, which are toxic compounds that accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals.  They remain in an animal's tissues for life, and are released (into our bodies!) when we consume animal products.  They are linked to a broad range of diseases including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and endometriosis.

Really quick, milk (and cheese, which is essentially concentrated milk): again, contains casein, hormones, and  antibiotics...even claims that farmers "have pledged to not use growth hormones" are not third party verified and, well, money is a powerful incentive.  My friend from church, who has also done a lot of research on nutrition because she has an autistic child, informed me last week that the FDA approved 20% of the content of milk to be pus.  Yup.  Gross, huh?!  I had to Google it to verify, and sure enough.  Look it up for yourself.  Sure, white blood cells are everywhere, but 20% seems really excessive.  Mostly a result of cows being way overmilked (up to 40 gallons a day--per cow!), and developing mastitis, if I understood correctly.  It made me really glad we switched to nut milks several months ago! (The switch wasn't as hard as I thought it would be--we started off with lots of chocolate almond milk and weaned ourselves from there--really delicious!)

The long and short of it is, your liver can only clean out so much junk before it becomes sluggish and ceases to function properly, and the results of that are seen in the general health of Americans consuming what is affectionately referred to as the "Standard American Diet."  (I thought I was so clever when I noticed the acronym!  (-;)

After reading all this stuff, my thoughts are that it is just plain simpler to adopt the plant strong way of life!  Why even worry about all the problems meat and dairy cause when there are so many awesome plant based foods we can eat?  I kind of look at it like music or movies...although there may be lots great songs or movies out there with catchy tunes, or cool story lines, if there are bad words or other bad things in them, why even bother when there are so many other great options?!

We are fortunate to live in a time when more and more people are becoming educated about the food they consume.  There is a vast plethora of great recipes all over the internet that are not only delicious, but that you can also feel great about eating.

A couple of my favorite websites you can google:
and of course, pinterest...(-:

 I LOVE to cook.  I could happily spend all day concocting delicious creations in my kitchen. I have been testing, tweaking, and collecting a lot of these plant based recipes which I am hoping to compile in the near future and make available to any one of you who wants them.  I want to do an "Our Best Bites," plant based version!  Just a note though, although some of my creations can get pretty elaborate, I am finding that my family prefers pretty simple, recognizable fare, as opposed to fancier things such as the vegetable lazagna I slaved over for hours.  And sometimes, a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese for looks goes a long way when switching from our normal comfort foods that we have grown up with to a plant strong way of life.  Just so's you know...

Stay tuned: Why I don't believe in vegetarianism.

Diet of the Gods, Part 6 (Why I Don't Believe in Vegetarianism)

So why don't I believe in vegetarianism?  Simply put, because the Lord clearly states in the scriptures, in D&C 49, vs. 17-18 that beasts of the field and fowls of the air are given to man to use for food and raiment, and "whoso biddeth to abstain from meat, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God..."

Additionally, you can be a vegan or vegetarian and still eat a pretty crummy diet.  So that doesn't really mean much necessarily.

HOWEVER, before all you carnivorous folk get all excited, when the Lord says (twice) in D&C 89 that it is pleasing to him that meat be used sparingly, he is pretty specific on what "sparingly" means.  I hasten to add, I was as guilty as the next guy of somehow missing this or skimming over it in my dozens of previous readings of the Word of Wisdom.  More on that in a minute, though.

Backtracking just a bit, I have to say that as I was learning all of these things about the problems with consuming too much meat, I had to turn back to the word of wisdom to double check what the Lord actually said about it, and how a plant based lifestyle fit in with the Lord's dietary plan for us.  I mentioned earlier that I get really bugged about fad diets and contradictory health advice, but I consider the Lord to be a pretty good authority on, well, everything, including diet! As I reread the Word of Wisdom after much of the research I had been doing, I had a whole new perspective on what the Word of Wisdom actually means for me, and the promises at the end all of a sudden were literal!  And yes, the Word of Wisdom, I found, seems to me to indeed advocate a plant based diet.

I would like to re-post a portion of an article I have previously posted by a fellow named Jim Catano, because I think he brings out some interesting points that have really given me pause and made me think more deeply about the word of wisdom and see it in a new light.  Take a second and read his story, if you will.  See what you think.
On an autumn day in 1992, I was stretched out on a sofa in front of the TV set feeling ill. I routinely suffered four or five cold or flu episodes each year and this was one of those times. Television can be an intellectual desert, but on that day a Dr. Marc Sorenson was being interviewed about his book MegaHealth. He was suggesting that a total vegetarian diet could not only reverse obesity and provide immunity against many infections but also drastically reduce the incidence of several degenerative diseases including diabetes, allergies, arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. He was so bold as to suggest that, in many cases, a plant-based diet could actually cure these modern plagues.
I probably would have dismissed his arguments except that what he was saying seemed, at the time, to be vaguely consistent with a health code that is part of my religious experience. That code is known as the Word of Wisdom among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are also called Mormons. The Church is commonly referred to as the LDS Church.
In my opinion (and I repeat that this is not in any way an official policy of the Church), it seems that Latter-day Saints may now be poised to embark on an even higher level of compliance to the principles of the Word of Wisdom. During a semi-annual world conference, the current president and prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, admonished, "We must observe the Word of Wisdom. As we read our newspapers, as we watch the television news, these remarkable words first spoken in 1833 come to life before our very eyes...People are becoming more health conscious. We have a running start on the world, a code so simple and easily understood." (Ensign, November 1997, pg. 69)
President Hinckley went on to show that even the current level of compliance to the Word of Wisdom affords an additional 10 years of life to Mormons who don't smoke or drink alcohol. I note, however, that this still falls far short of the 120 years possible for humans. [You can read his whole article for an explanation of why he thinks a 120 year life span is possible for humans by going to the link provided at the end.] One very disturbing trend is that Latter-day Saints are succumbing to degenerative illnesses like heart disease and cancer in ever increasing numbers (see the graphic in Church News, October 25, 1995, p. 12). I'll grant that other environmental factors also play a part, but Mormons could do much better with the variables that are within their control. President Hinckley had stated previously, "I regret that we as a people do not live [the Word of Wisdom] more fully." (Ensign, May 1990, p. 51)
Mormons believe in seeking individual inspiration to confirm that which is spoken from the pulpit. Therefore, it behooves each Latter-day Saint to prayerfully ask him or herself, "Is President Hinckley suggesting that I pay more attention to verses 10 through 15 of the Word of Wisdom?" Those passages in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 read:
"...all wholesome herbs," or plants as the footnote explains, "God hath ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man--
"Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
"Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I , the Lord, have ordained for the use" and please note--NOT for the constitution, nature and use as was said of the plants but merely for the use "of man with thanksgiving, nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
"and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
"All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
"And these" in repetition of the admonition to limit the eating of animal flesh "God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
My Personal Choice and Testimony
In November of 1992, I decided to take the Word of Wisdom at face value. I gradually gave up eating meat and had just one bite of turkey on the next two Thanksgivings to prove to my grown children that I had not become a "fanatic." Since then, however, I guess I have become a "fanatic" and have given up eating all forms of animal flesh. I try to avoid dairy products and eat eggs only occasionally. Like Joseph F. Smith, I have come to believe that a loving Creator is concerned with the welfare of all his living creations and not just His human spirit-children. I believe that the Lord prefers that we kill and eat animals only to save our lives in true emergencies. If I am ever confronted with famine, I will certainly consider eating animal flesh just as the Word of Wisdom allows.
I don't believe, however, that what I call "the cold weather escape clause" (D&C 89:13) currently applies to me. According to the thermostats on the wall of my home, office, in my car, and everywhere else I go, for all my body knows it lives on a subtropical island year round. I certainly don't have the excuse of the pioneer saints who had below-zero winds blowing through the chinks of their poorly heated cabins. Eating meat for them may have been essential for survival. It certainly is NOT for me.
I am a witness that health improves when one abandons the standard American diet in favor of one based on a more literal reading of the Word of Wisdom. Those four or five yearly colds and bouts of flu don't visit me any more. Occasionally, if I feel symptoms coming on, I take a clove of garlic and a few herbs and in the morning the symptoms are gone. I no longer suffer chronic low-back and neck pain. A case of plantar's warts that plagued me for almost ten years, despite using every medical treatment available, disappeared within three months after changing my diet. People who haven't seen me in some time think I've discovered a reverse-aging process, and those who don't know me are surprised to learn that I'm a grandfather as most think I'm in my mid 30's. I now weigh what I did in high school, the wrinkles around my eyes have lessened, and even my hair texture has improved....

There were several things that stood out to me particularly from this fellow's experience.

89:14: "All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life..."  Again, "staff of life" equals plant based diet, in my interpretation.

...and again repeating verse 10, "all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man..."  To me, "constitution" means "to be primarily composed of."

And check out Abraham 4:29; "Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat."

Jumping over to Daniel, in the Old Testament. (Daniel 1:12-16)  You recall that when Daniel was first taken to the Babylonian court, as a Jew, he, too, had dietary guidelines.  He prevailed upon his caretaker to allow him and his buddies to undertake a 10 day test, where they would be given pulse (a food made of grain and seeds), and then be compared with those who had partaken of the kings meat.  Remember the results?  At the end of the 10 days, "their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh then all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."  Now look up again at the part I put in bold in the last paragraph of Jim Catano's story.  It gave me pause to think, when I made that connection! To me, it seems to be another indication to me that a plant based diet makes a huge difference on a cellular level, which is where we should be focusing when it comes to our health!

And check this photo out:  Guess what these two ladies have in common?
The photo on the left is of Mimi Kirk, who was recently voted sexiest vegetarian over age 50.  And yes, she is in her 70s.  Again, feed those cells good, baby, and they will be good to you!

Also please consider--when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they ate this way--the plant based way!  And, the Lord has told us in scripture that we will be eating a plant based diet in the Millenium, as well!  Perhaps that should suggest something to us...

And now for the really great stuff.  Remember all those cool promises at the end of the Word of Wisdom?  After reading my other posts in this little "Diet of the God's" series, reread those promises in verses 18-21, and see if they don't have a whole new meaning for you, as they did for me.

For example: when I reread "the destroying angel shall pass you by," I immediately thought of how cancer and heart disease can be actually reversed in many cases, through adhering to a plant based diet.  Not to mention being able to avoid the host of other ailments that accompany the standard American diet so prevalent in our society today.  Is that not the coolest thing ever?! The phrase "run and not be weary, and walk and not faint" equates to me with the new found energy levels those who have switched to this lifestyle claim to have.  And the "wisdom and great treasures of knowledge?" Many of the testimonials I have read of people switching to a plant based diet report being able to think more clearly.  I asked Curtis not too long ago if he noticed a difference at work when he drank the green smoothies I make every morning, and he confirmed that he did indeed feel like he was able to think through things more clearly.  Neat! And finally, "health in their navel and marrow in their bones," to me seemed to equate to the extraordinary health transformations people experience from the inside out when switching to a whole foods diet.

All I can say, is I am totally convinced.   I feel like our family is on a really positive trend in our eating habits, and I feel so good about it.  I hope I have left my readers with some good things to ponder on, and I would like to invite you to join us on this extraordinary journey.  Let's all live to be 120 and hang out together!

And to those who are concerned about the cost of this lifestyle?  I will say, granted, produce is somewhat cheaper here in California, but still, after I cut out the meats and refined foods, and most cheeses, I am able to feed my family of 5 mostly organic produce, nuts, green smoothies every day, nut milks, etc., for roughly $125 a week, and we eat pretty good, in my opinion. I know Robyn Openshaw, who is actually from Utah, has some book out (which I haven't read) that contains sample menus and ideas on how to feed a family of five for roughly this amount, and again, mostly organic, so don't be discouraged by the cost! It can be done, for sure.

In closing this "health series," I want to just leave my readers with one more thought.  Why does Heavenly Father even care about our health anyway?

"Spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices"(Elder Richard G. Scott "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life," April 2012).

God bless.
Cheers to our health!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Nation of Hope, Part 3

Well, I have to admit, I am disappointed in the outcome of the Presidential elections.  I was at mutual on Tuesday night when it became pretty apparent that Obama had won, and I was kind of surprised at the emotions the youth had--there were quite a few teary eyed, kids who expressed fear for the future of our country, and many of them were ready to move to Canada right then and there!

While I will certainly have hope for our country, and will be praying for our elected President, I, too, am fearful in part for this reason:

(~Ezra Taft Benson, President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1985-1994)

Here is why I have hope, though, in the eventual outcome of our country's future:

The part that makes me nervous, though, is what comes between here and there.  As President Benson said in the above clip--"it may yet cost us blood."

However, as John Quincy Adams said, "Duty is ours, result's are God's."  As stated in a previous post, it is my firm belief that God does indeed, have his hand over our nation to the extent that our people honor and believe in Him.  Perhaps whatever happens during the next four years with this presidency will serve to bring people closer to Christ.  And isn't that His ultimate purpose?  To bring people to Him?  In the meantime, I will do my best to do whatever my patriotic duty may be, and teach my children to do the same.

Time will tell...

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Nation of Hope, Pt. 2

...America's greatness has been tied to its citizens' hard work and industry, acceptance of personal responsibility, a sense of community, its free markets and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, and its generosity to those in need both at home and abroad. ~from Seven Miracles that Saved America
Earlier in the evening, before I sat down to finish the book that I drew the above quote from, I thought I would get caught up a little with the news, especially considering there are some pretty significant weather challenges going on on the East Coast, not to mention the upcoming elections. I happened across a posting, I think from MSNBC (sorry, I would post it but I can't find it again!). It basically showed the President over on the East Coast, going around shaking the hands of Red Cross workers, and assuring the American people that FEMA and the Red Cross had everything under control, and all that was really needed was money and blood donations.

 Then the camera switched to the presidential contender, Mitt Romney. There he was in Ohio, where he was scheduled to do a debate or a rally or something, out in his shirt sleeves, working along with the community, and rallying the people for donations of supplies to truck into the areas in need on the East Coast. Building a sense of community...encouraging the generosity of the people, not relying on FEMA or government to do everything, but taking personal responsibility for doing what needs to be done. Because that is what we do as Americans.

 The contrast between the men was so great, I would have decided based on that clip alone, who I wanted to be the next president of the United States.  I almost choked when MSNBC suggested that Mitt Romney was was only doing this for publicity and "going directly against what the Red Cross had said." There's liberal media for you.  Trying to turn a good deed into a political maneuver.

  For one thing, I've read enough about Romney to know that that is just who he is. So many people have come out of the woodwork and shared stories of how he touched their lives in some way, but he is not one to flaunt his own goodness. For another thing, there are so many intangibles to pulling together as a community, and I think Romney understands that. We need to get back to the virtues and values that make us a nation that can be a beacon of hope, love, and peace to other nations around the world.  I have learned that it truly is in service to others that we come to love them.  We need that right now. The more we help, serve, and reach out to each other, the more we will love each other.

Rock on, Romney. You've got my vote.

A Nation of Hope, Pt.1

For some time, I have felt a despondency when I think about the state our country is in. Things just seem to be getting worse; Moral decay rampant all over the place, hidden agendas in the upper reaches of government, blatant lies from those in high office, economic woes, the highest unemployment rates in years, gas prices nearing five dollars a gallon (at least here in California!)...the list goes on. What a legacy to leave to our children. It can be depressing, and it is hard to see a way out of it. Because of these things, when I happened upon this book on Amazon, I was immediately intrigued by the title, and decided to purchase it, in hopes that, well, there really is hope for my beloved United States of America! "
I was not disappointed. There are very few books that move me to tears, because I generally avoid such books, but this was one of them. They were happy tears, tears of gratitude for our country, and for a loving God who cares about America. The book went through seven miracles, indicating that God's hand has, indeed been manifest in the creation and preservation of our country. The stories portrayed were truly...amazing. That's all I can say about them. My favorite part, though, was the conclusion; why we really can have hope. I don't really want to give too much of a spoiler, but this is one of my favorite parts of the conclusion.
A person might ask, by what right do any people claim that God would select a particular people or country for special blessing? It is important to understand that He accomplishes this not my diminishing other nations, but by lifting a nation up. And if He raises up a nation, it is with the expectation that that nation will then lift up others.
In other words, we have a duty and responsibility to be a light to the world, and bring help and hope to those in need. I have many pages turned down at the corners, indicating places of quotes I liked, but one other emphasis I appreciated in the concluding chapter was that on virtue. The authors had quotes from James Madison, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and George Washington, among others, that basically all said the same thing;
Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.
A nation can not live in freedom and liberty unless it is populated by a moral and virtuous people.

I guess to tie this all together, we can have hope, because most of our neighbors, coworkers, and friends, are good, decent, God-fearing people, who are trying to do the right thing.  We can have hope because God still needs our country to be a blessing to other countries throughout the world, and as such, we can pray for and expect his hand to still be in our affairs.  From a gospel perspective, we can have hope because God has promised that his gospel will go throughout all the world, and America still provides the majority of missionaries to do that task.

God bless America!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Of One Good Mother

After yesterday's rant, I wanted to change gears a little and share a story I found to be deeply inspiring about the influence of a woman.
One of the most remarkable examples of the sphere and influence a mother has is the life of Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards, a minister and early colonist. Sarah raised eleven children while her husband busied himself with writing and ecclesiastical duties, becoming the famous one of the family. She stayed in the background as a homemaker--valuing each child's individuality and intelligence, educating both sons and daughters, but also teaching them to work responsibly. A genealogical study later tracked down 1400 of the descendants and compared them to another family who were notorious for criminality and welfare dependency. The Jukes family cost the State of New York a total of $1,250,000 in welfare and custodial charges, while the Edwards descendants boasted the following: 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers and a dean of an outstanding law school, 80 holders of public office, 3 U.S. Senators, mayors of three large cities, governors of three states, a Vice President of the U.S. and a controller of the U.S. Treasury, not to mention the countless numbers who were successful in business and the arts. Only two of these 1,400 were 'black sheep,' which eloquently testifies to the power of one great women." (Elisabeth D. Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man: The "Uncommon Union" of Sarah and Jonathan Edwards)
Talk about validation of a mother! Here's my hats off to all good women out there, who are somehow able to see beyond the endless piles of laundry, who clean mess after mess, cook, manage finances, change diapers, read to and love their children, teach them, and are able to find deep meaning and joy in their role as a mother, despite motherhood often being looked down upon in society. Your contribution is immense, more then you may ever realize in your lifetime. Make no mistake, you good mothers change the world, one poopy diaper at a time. (-; Yeah, I know, way to end on an eloquent note--I just couldn't resist!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Why do I feel like I am about to cry? I'll tell you why. Because I am tired of living in an apartment with (a) stupid nosy neighbor who writes us and all the other neighbors up for any infraction of the HOA rules, our most recent letter in this case being the storing of something other then our car in the garage. (Hello, where, exactly are we supposed to store bikes and strollers if not in our garage?) I am tired of being sent letters from the HOA about how I am not allowed to have my beautiful hanging planters up outside on my deck. I am tired of this same stupid neighbor writing us up for leaving our hose screwed in, especially considering we have no immediate next door neighbor, so NO ONE CARES! Except for said neighbor. I keep trying to talk myself into feeling sorry for her, since she obviously must have a miserable life, and all the rest of the neighbors share my feelings for her, but it is getting REALLY hard. I feel like crying because it just makes no economic sense for us to even move to a different rental. I feel like crying because I really want a house--I want someplace to call my own, and to paint, and plant a garden, and put in the kind of flooring I want...but again, with the outrageous price of housing here, and considering we will likely be here for less then three more years, that doesn't make sense, either. I am getting so tired of trying to be patient for everything. I feel guilty for writing this post, because there are so many in the world that have next to nothing, and here I am complaining. Which makes me feel even worse. I should go to bed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Of Cheese Graters and Choices

"While we are free to use our agency to make our own choices, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions."

Of Sunday Snack Bags

I am constantly trying to come up with fun ideas to make our family just a little better, have a little more fun, and be a little more effective. My latest attempt at family betterment has been to make Sundays just a bit more spiritual and special for the kids.

I bought a bunch of fun little snacks that we don't normally have, and bagged them in "snack kits." We get home from church around noon, so everyone gets a snack kit and heads to their room for an hour, where they are supposed to quietly eat their snacks and read their scriptures. I am not sure how much scripture reading goes on, because I hear a lot of giggling and talking coming from their room, but at least they are contained long enough for the adults to catch a quick snooze. After the hour is up, everyone is allowed out of their rooms, and I have various stations set up around the living room; a Sunday book/magazine reading station, a letter writing station, a journaling station, etc. Eventually I will add a goal setting station, but baby steps, baby steps.

We are still refining this system, but it has great potential, and I like it! One thing we added today, was that Curtis and Arden cooked dinner. While I do love to cook, it was nice to have a little break from it! I spent the time helping the girls paint their nails. It was fun to just chill with them. (-:

Here's to fabulous Sundays, that start the week off right, and are spiritually uplifting for kids and adults alike!
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Forgive S'more

As the young women's president in our ward, I have the privilage of being in with the Laurels (16-17 year olds) most Sundays. I am always so impressed by the wonderful lessons given by the advisors, and the darling handouts they come up with. The one pictured below was actually from a combined lesson taught by our Mia Maids (14-15 year olds) advisor. She was kind enough to give me some of the extra handouts so that I could use them for a family home evening lesson. My kids were delighted!
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Of Toilet Plungers and Torches

I think I managed to capture about five photos of our Nielsen family reunion. What can I say? It was so darn fun that I just plumb forgot to take photos!

One of the highlights of the week was the day we spent down at the lake. Shawn and Heather rented a motorboat that we all took turns riding around in. It was highly entertaining watching the uncles do water acrobatics on the innertube behind the boat!

Here are some of the cousins playing around.

Also pictured here is part one of our family olympics, hosted by Devin and Laura. Yes, for those of you who are wondering, the "torch" is indeed a waterballoon in a toilet plunger. No worries, it was well sanitized! Points to Laura for her creativity there!


We are so blessed to have such wonderful extended families.
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Of Seven Peaks

Sadly, I have been awful at taking pictures this summer, and I feel bad that I have missed documenting some pretty significant events (reunions and such). I think it is because half the time I didn't know where the heck my camera was (thanks to the kids taking up amatuer photography), and the other half of the time I discovered that either my battery was dead or my memory card was full (also courtesy of the kids. I love having kids, by the way. I can blame everything on them!). I did, however, happen to capture a few darling photos at Seven Peaks in Utah this summer. Thanks to Grandma Hardin, the kids were able to participate in the Peaks Reader program, where after accomplishing a particular reading goal they received free passes to Seven Peaks. Luckily, we just so happened to have a trip planned to Utah this summer so they could use them!

Did I mention I have the most awesome brother ever? All my siblings are pretty great, when it comes right down to it!
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Of Tikis and Palms

I figure before it gets too late in the year I'd better document my anniversary with Curtis! Since this was our 10 year anniversary, we actually have been celebrating all year, beginning with a Valentine's Cruise to Mexico, but we did not want to let our actual special day pass without some fun!

Despite a small incident involving our tiki lanterns bursting into roaring flames, we had a delightful dinner in a pavilion by the beach, surrounded by beautiful rose bushes. Then it was off to a play in nearby Oceanside.

Ever since we moved here two years ago, I have wanted to meander around down town and check out some of the cute shops and whatnot, so that is what we did!

I was curious what they sold in a bark shop...various kinds of bark? Maple, or ash, perhaps, anyone?

This was typical of the hours kept at many of the downtown shops. It made me smile! I love how chill Carlsbad seems to be!

In times past, I have harbored this strange fascination with palm trees. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the midwest, where palm trees were nowhere within hundreds of miles of us. Curtis still teases me about an incident that occurred on our honeymoon, as we were overlooking a beautiful, lush valley. In my awe, I remarked on how all the palm trees looked just like fros on sticks!
Anyhow, when we moved here to Carlsbad, I was determined that I would climb to the top of a palm tree, and accordingly added it to my bucket list. I am happy to report that I have now accomplished that goal.

O.K., so maybe it wasn't a very big palm tree...

We had a fabulous breakfast at a delightful little outdoor waffle place downtown.
Many thanks to B and K for taking our little kiddoes for the night, so we could enjoy a delightful and relaxing time!

Here's to another 10 years as amazingly wonderful and full of love as the first! I love you, my darling Curtis!
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Of Spoon Control

This made me laugh!

All is Not Happy and Gay

Funny how on facebook, anyone who posts about gays with a viewpoint favorable towards that lifestyle gets like 28 "likes" on their comment, whereas anyone who has the courage to stick up for traditional marriage gets reamed on, very vehemently, in fact. My hats off to all those who dare to stand up for their moral beliefs, even if they may not be popular or politically correct. Thank you. You give others of us courage to do the same.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Fine and Pleasant Misery

Last week, I had the strange urge to take the kids camping.  I have no idea why...perhaps it was to ensure that my kids enjoyed the same fine and pleasant misery I once enjoyed as a child.  To add to the fun, the only time it would have worked for the next three weeks was a weekday, which meant that I was on my own.  Curtis, fortunately for him, had to stay home and work to pay for all our fun. "Fun" in this case being relative.

It started out fine.  We went to a beautiful wooded area in the mountains near the scenic town of Idyllwild. After we scouted out our spot, we set up the two tents we had brought, one for Maile and the little neighbor gal we had brought along, and one for Arden.  Ever since we bought our van with the cool fold-into-the-floor seats, oh, about three years ago, I have wanted to try sleeping in the van, so that was the plan for Leila and myself.  I decided to be lazy and only fold the front seats down, thinking that if I slept diagonally, I would have sufficient space to stretch out comfortably.  Plus, we had tons of stuff in the back I didn't want to shuffle around.

The evening was off to a great start.  Once we got our accomodations prepared it was time to get ready for dinner.  After the kids used up half a (250 count) box of matches attempting to start a fire, I decided to get out of my comfortable camping chair and teach them how to make a proper fire.  Dad always taught me as a kid that in order to be a scout worth his salt, one must be able to start a fire with less then three matches.  I am happy to report that I did not disappoint.

We roasted our perfunctory marshmallows, then attempted to use the buddy burners we had previously made to boil water for the freeze dried soup we were going to sample for dinner.  We had used the buddy burners once before, and they had boasted a roaring flame, which I thought would have worked splendidly for our cooking purposes.  Apparently they are a one-use deal, because after being lit, they fizzled out after about five minutes.  So, it was back to primitive cooking over the fire.  With my one good pot. Grrr...  Two hours later, our soup was finally done.  (I had neglected to bring the lid to my pot, hence, the longer-then-anticipated cooking time.)  Dinner was delicious.  (Of course, anything is delicious when you wait 'til two hours after dinnertime to eat it!)  Anyhow, I am definitely a fan of freeze dried, pre made meals, I've decided.

After dinner and a scavenger hunt for the kids, it was off to bed.  That was when the fun began.  Leila began the night by clambering all over me and the van, getting stuck numerous times between seats and van walls as she attempted to go from the front of the van to the trunk.  I finally got annoyed enough that I stuffed her into her sleeping bag, where she wiggled, screeched, and cried unhappily.  Then Arden decided he wanted to sleep in the van, too.  There went my sleeping diagonally plan.  Kay, sleeping curled up in a ball instead.  The girls had kaifed the two sleeping pads I had brought for myself, so the floor was pretty hard to boot.  Screeching and crying from Leila continued.  I had previously envisioned snuggling with Leila and singing her to sleep.  She did not want to be snuggled, or sung to.  She would not stop wiggling.  I was  getting desperate, especially knowing that with the windows I had cracked to let in fresh air, the entire camp could hear her.  In my frustration, I am ashamed to say that I gave Leila a small "love tap." (Did I think that would help her be quiet?!)  Rigghhhhhttttt....

After enduring another two hours of fine and pleasant misery with the kid, she finally drifted off to sleep.  Then began my vigil of waking up approximately every 10 minutes throughout the night to tuck Leila back into her sleeping bag so she wouldn't freeze.

Finally, at about half past five, we all got up, snarfed down some granola (no fire!) and were on our way back to civilization...and a good, long, nap.

I think I will wait until the baby is about 23 before I attempt camping again.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Dead Rat

On a lighter note, I have to share something Maile said today.  I had sent Arden and Maile upstairs with some frosted cupcakes we had made for the neighbors.  Arden came back down and said he just left them by the doorstep since they weren't home.  Somehow it came out that a couple of the cupcakes had fallen over, and I reprimanded Arden for leaving them on the plate to be eaten and told him to run upstairs and recover the plate of goodies.  Maile could tell I was not pleased with Arden and piped up, "Yeah, Arden.  That's like leaving a dead rat for your best friend in the whole wide world!"

Tee hee!
Gah!  America, what have you done???!!!! Seriously?  Do people actually believe this new healthcare law is constitutional?

Guess I'll just go buy some broccolli.  Organic, of course.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Congress Declares National Day of Fasting and Prayer

"Today is the anniversary of Congress's first declared National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, May 17th, 1776. Congress, yes, the United States Congress proclaimed throughout the colonies the need to "confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God's] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Of Killer Dressing

Recently I have become quite interested in RAW foods and the health benefits of that kind of lifestyle.  I have checked out a couple of cookbooks from the library on RAW foods, and it seems that one of the requirements for becoming a raw foodie is that you have long hair that you do not brush, and definite hippie tendencies. (-;

Anyway, hippie or not, I tried out a killer salad dressing today from one of the books I got, and I just could not keep the recipe to myself.  I substituted an ingredient or two, one of which was not raw (gasp!), so I will just put what the original called for and what I used instead, since I didn't have the original.  Seriously, this stuff is so good you could drink it like soup!

Creamy Italian Dressing
3/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves
2 T. fresh lemon juice (no cheating)
1 t. sea salt (again, this actually does make a difference in taste--use the real thing!  Same goes with the...
dash or two fresh ground pepper
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. fresh oregano leaves (I substituted a pinch of dried, since I didn't have fresh)
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. pine nuts (didn't have this, so substituted a few pinches of fresh grated paremesan cheese--YUM!)

Blend this all up in a blender, and douse your greens with it!

My New Love

Oooo, I am so happy. I have a new favorite food--Coconut oil! It is so melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I dare say it even surpasses butter, in my opinion, which for me is saying a lot, since I am a confirmed butter brat! Even better, it is actually super healthy, and has a two year shelf life! I will be buying this by the gallon, and eating it by the spoonful! I have already made homemade lotion with it...lovely!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Times of Winter or Famine

For my LDS associates (or interested others)...I have debated posting this article that I came across several months ago, but I think I will go ahead and do it just the same.  Should we all be doing a few more vegetarian meals and cutting back on our meat dishes?  Read the article and comment...I would love to hear weigh-ins on this.

My Dream House Dos

I love, love this house in Provo. Someday I will get up the guts to ask the owner who the designer is...maybe they will give me a tour of the inside if I am lucky!

(I will post my dream house uno at some future date!)
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Of Hammers and Nails

And yet another great idea from Family Fun!
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I love the little Mormon Ad posters the church puts out for the youth. They are so clever. I especially like the little miniature versions. One friend I know lets her kids use them as trading cards, which they love. In our family, we have "cold cereal Sunday" and I like to tape the little cards to the back of the cereal boxes for the kids to read while they are eating.

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