Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A balanced diet

I debated whether or not to include these items together in one post, or create two different posts, but decided that soup and cookies really do go well together. It's a big part of what I try to do in my life- not just with food, but in every aspect of my life.
The truth is this, we all know that a 'balanced diet' is the key to a healthy body, but there are so many variables that go into that. It's easy for balance to get out of whack- that whole pyramid food guide can easily get turned upside-down in just one meal! But beyond just diets, the truth is that balance is probably one of the most difficult things to 'achieve' in life...and I have found that even on a day I may feel 'good' about those achievements, tomorrow is a new day and thus I face a whole new set of 24-hours in which to seek balance once again. It is ongoing. It is never-ending, and I am beginning to realize that that is the biggest challenge to finding balance in life.
I write so often of circumstances and choices in life, and I am learning that balance is often the key to our response to whatever comes our way from day to day.
I will not claim to be the most balanced person in life...I have strengths and weaknesses in many areas of my life, as a person, a mom, a woman...but I am beginning to realize a couple of things. For me, balance comes most easily on the days where I keep myself 'centered'. What I mean by that is first and foremeost, I know who I am. My self-worth comes most in understanding that God created and loves me and wants me to be the best me that He designed me to become. (funny...that's a lot of me's in one sentence). It makes a big difference how much I keep that reality tucked into the back of my mind (or forefront on the really tough days!) as I go about the day's activities. It allows messages from media and from the other 'voice inside of me' bounce off a little more quickly, or not stick to me as they did in my past. When I focus on being all I can be, it's like I have a coat of 'Scotch guard' sealant around me, and I am able to go through things without the usual wear and tear. For me, it is absolutely essential that I draw upon my faith and my reality that this world is not "all there is". I live with the reality of Heaven and that someday my soul will leave this earth when I die, and I will become a new eternal being. I have no fears about my eternal future, because I have been given that promise through accepting Jesus into my life and heart. Anyone can do this, and it's the most amazing free gift ever extended to everyone who has ever lived or will live. It's the basis of all I do every single day.
However, it doesn't solve all of life's problems, or guarantee me a perfect life here on earth. That comes later- in Heaven. In the meantime, I struggle just like everybody else with things that come my way. From how to spend money, to the question of love and discipline with my kids; it's a challenge to balance time with work and yet keeping marriage a priority, to establishing rules and yet having lots of time for fun and games as well.
I have a long way to go before I figure it all out, and as I said, it's something that changes sometimes from hour to hour. Anyone with a newborn baby in the house knows exactly how balance can be almost non-existent for that whole first year or more! (Not that I am trying to scare any of you singles or couples who might be thinking of adding a baby to your family.) It's just the way it is. What I do know is that staying centered is the number one factor for me to even have a chance at achieving balance. Number two I think, is being flexible. That may seem contradictory in a sense, but I think it's almost the perfect definition. The more I am willing to roll with the punches, or do things a bit differently than I did the day or week before, or simply step back and give up a bit of control, that is where I find calm and peace. I have been learning this lesson, especially in my kids. Somedays they will do everything I ask of them on the first try. (wait...I remember ONE day they did everything I asked of them on the first try...) Other times I can find myself repeating myself and raising my voice as if the louder I get the more they are going to listen to me. It seems to never work. The counting thing is working much better (you know, "I'll count to three and you better _____. 1-2...") now that my kids can actually all count to three. I think they thought they had much longer when they counted 1-2-5-7-4-6-3!! =)
What does this have to do with soup and cookies? I don't really know that it does, but I made homemade Cream of Broccoli soup a couple of days ago, and then we baked cookies yesterday and I thought I'd share my recipes with you. It's been awhile since I've posted recipes, and I guess that made me start thinking about balance and what am I doing here with this blog, and why do people read this blog, and is it a good use of my time and energy, and I have concluded that it is. It is part of my 'balanced diet' in life at this time. It may change over time, but for now, I enjoy the chance to write and express myself and share my stories, and I am looking back through my archives and I can 'see' myself grow and change in many ways, and I happen to like that.
It's about balance. When life swings too far one way or the other, or if we are putting too much time and energy in one thing and not enough into the rest of the areas of our lives, our whole 'bodies' suffer. You don't have to be a genius to see it in the lives of people all over the world. Take just about any major, politics, sex, violence, sports, entertainment, work, credit cards, name it, and the truth is when someone is so focused on one particular issue or area, or simply allows this part of their life to impact all the other parts too much, bad stuff starts to happen. Sometimes a person doesn't see it at first, and that's a scary reality. I'll choose credit cards, since it's a hot topic these days in American society. A person gets a card and maybe doesn't have a huge spending limit, so it doesn't seem like a big deal. But without first establishing a rule of spending as an individual, or like a lot of young college students often do, this person starts using the card. A few charges on a statement and it seems harmless. But the next month the balance is a little higher and this person can't quite pay it all off, so they pay the minimum. Next month there are more charges, because having a credit card makes services and goods more readily available, and the cycle begins. Not crazy out of control, necessarily, but little by little the debt piles up, the late fees get tacked on, interest adds up...and you see where we're headed. It becomes a crisis...overwhelming even, and sometimes the next choice makes or breaks this person. The opportunity is there every single day, not to make another purchase, or to get another credit card, and to start instead, figuring out how to bring this part of life back into control. It demands creative thinking, giving up things in life, and being intentional about choices.
That's just one example. But, the truth is we all have issues in life that are coming at us from every direction, and sometimes I am learning that the best thing I can do is to stay centered and focused and have goals in life, but also to be flexible and realistic, and simply be aware, that life is about choices. What I put into my mind, body and soul, ultimately affects the overall amount of balance I have/feel each day.
I'm not perfect. Sometimes I eat too many 'cookies' and I skip the healthier stuff, but I know that I'm on the right track.

Recipe for Broccoli Soup...
{This one is so easy, really. I made it with 'brocco-flower' in the picture here, and Ava had two helpings in her bowl the other night. At the end of her first little bowl she said to me, "Mmmm, Mommy. This soup is "BE-LICIOUS"! It was so cute.=)}
Cream of Broccoli Soup-
1 10 oz. package of broccoli (thawed) or cut one large head of broccoli and cook til softened (I put mine in the microwave for 5 minutes.)
1/2 cup chopped onion or shallots
1 can cream of chicken soup
Put these three ingredients into a heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and blend in 2 Tbsp. flour. Next add 1 1/2 cups of milk (use any kind...obviously the lower the percent, the healthier the soup) plus 1 cup of half & half cream (I use the fat-free version). Toss in 1 tsp. salt, stirring frequently until you heat mixture to boiling. Simmer for a couple of minutes and then combine with your broccoli mixture. Cook it until it reaches your desired consistency, and adjust flavor for salt. Tastes great warmed the next day or two as well.
As for the cookie recipe, you should be able to read it right off of the card in the picture above. Simply click on the photo to enlarge. Note...this recipe makes a lot of cookies; it's a big batch. I make a half batch and always have enough (about 3-4 dozen). Enjoy!


Cara said...

On the topic of balance, i am finishing up a fun book called "Eat, Pray, Love" but Elizabeth Gilbert. The "disclaimer" part for the many christian readers on this blog is that this is a story of one woman's spiritual journey, but it is not a christian journey. I am very much a christ follower, but i also enjoy reading how others engage their journey, even if it is not my own. However, some people might not appreciate her story or feel comfortable with reading it.

That being said, it is a great little book. The author shares about a year she spend abroad after a very difficult season in her life. She spent the first four months in Italy - learning to resume her ability to enjoy life and find pleasure. She talks alot about Rome, Italian history and culture, and food in this secton. Oh, did I mention food?!!?!? she talks A LOT about food! It is my favorite section of the book.
She goes on to India where she lives in the ashram where her guru teaches. Here, she focuses on discipline and devotion. She prays, serves, lives in community and practices yoga (she describes yoga as a spiritual path . . . not just the poses and breathing like us westerners do at 24 Hour Fitness). This section was a bit of a stretch for me (pun intended). But as a former president of Denver Seminary says . . . (paraphrased) "If there is truth in anything, it is of Christ. Even if that thing or person is not a follower of Christ." and i did find some kernels of truth in this part of her story. Finally, she goes to Indonesia where she pursues BALANCE in her life (see, i do eventually get to the point).

It is not a book for everyone's taste, but I have really enjoyed her stories. She is a fantastic writer and has a unique perspective on life.

Lisa G said...

I think I ALWAYS eat too many cookies and skip the healthy stuff :) I really have to find balance, I have it sometimes and then it totally gets thrown out of wack. Thanks for the visit, it was so nice to see you ;)

2Gulls said...

Quick question, Jody...

I have the Neiman Marcus recipe as one of those emails that float around...

...and it calls for OATS. Poor me, I am highly allergic. Have you ever substituted anything in place of the oats, because I would live to try this cookie!

Or maybe you other ladies have.

But life is kinda like a cookie. Sometimes we don't like the selection we are give, but have many other varieties and choices, eh?

Jill B said...

I thought you might like to know at my local Michael's Craft store today they had all their Chatterbox scrapbook papers for 25 cents each. I'll filled up on a lot thanks to your like to the chatterbox blog. Love the paper.
Maybe they are introducing a new line.
Love your brocolli soup recipe, it's now on my menu plan for next week. Great for cold Nebraska nights.
Jill from Omaha

susan opel said...

Hi Jody!

That soup looks OH SO Yummy! Could I have a bowl, pretty please?

Yup - when I need to focus I get right to GOD! Yay for HIM!

Anonymous said...

My wife (who likes your blog) says that anonymous doesn't work. Just checking it out...

CarolSue said...

Thanks for the recipes! I'm a new reader of your blog, and I actually went back through and found the other recipes you've posted, as well. I love to print out recipe recommendations, take them home, then never make them :) But I have a feeling I'll be making yours. Especially the caramel french toast! It's always good to have recommendations - especially from a busy mom.

Thanks again -
Carol from Minnesota

OH - by the way... I can't believe you used to work at Panino's! I love that place. I just mentioned to my husband the other day that we need to go again - we haven't been there in years (definitely pre-kids.) The "Joey" was my favorite!

lucinda said...

I made your soup tonight!
My oldest daughter (16yo) and I really liked it. And my picky 6 yo DD even ate a few bites...that's a compliment!
Thanks for sharing