🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

Have you noticed that “the truths” of nutrition and health seem to change every day? Coffee’s good for you again. Eggs are in. No, wait, they’re out. Just kidding, we don’t know. And has anyone figured out coconut oil? It’s either magical, or it’s poison.

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Consider trends in lifestyle diets and weight-loss diets as well. High-protein, low-carb diets were quite popular in recent years (Atkins, South Beach, Zone, etc.); then high-fat, moderate protein, and even-lower-carb took the stage (Keto), and then high-carb (some forms of Vegan, Vegetarian) came into the spotlight again. People seem to have attained their best bodies or best lives on all of these types of diets, never to look back. None of these ways of eating are “bad” (though dietitians do generally advise a diet high in veggies and fruits, that provides a good balance of all 3 macronutrients, and you should definitely supplement correctly if you cut out any food groups) – but none of these are the only healthy way to eat, either. Scientists’ “unbiased research” and personal success stories surrounding certain restrictive diets can be so convincing – and so often it makes folks just wanna jump on the bandwagon real quick. I’ve been there.

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However… most dietitians will agree that one-size-fits-all diets shouldn’t be a thing, because we all legitimately have different needs. Nutritional genomics is really up-and-coming, and we’re just now discovering the magnitude of the impact that genetics has on the dietary patterns each body will thrive off of. Every single body functions a little bit differently – we may react differently to the same foods, and digest food at different speeds. We also have different goals, likes and dislikes, schedules, budgets, and lives. We can each find our healthy diet that works for us. It may even evolve and change over time, as our bodies and our lives do. So, it’s hard to pin ourselves to a diet named by one or two words, because there’s so much more to it than that.

We as humans love to have something to belong to and to follow – we were created that way. We also love to feel like we’re doing life right. Eating food that makes us feel good and good about ourselves can be a real positive – but we should certainly never feel that diet is a moral issue or something to take sides on, because according to my God, it’s not. As for Christians, diet should also never become a cause we champion more than Christ’s.

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you, but what comes out – from your heart. (Mark 7:15)

Don’t worry about what you eat, drink, or wear, says the Lord, for he is your good Father who knows everything you need. (Matthew 6:31)

“I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy affected by what you eat or how you look, you might have trouble believing that these statements are as true for you as they are for others. I’m telling you firsthand that they’re absolutely as true, real, and powerful as every other word of the Lord. He cares less about what you eat, and more about how you act. It matters more how much Jesus you take in daily – how much we worship, look for Him in our daily lives and the Bible, and give our hearts to Him in prayer – than how many grams and what type of protein we ingest. Though nutrition has the power to affect us, spiritual things are infinitely more important.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered this timeless foundation of dietary advice that has been there for us in God’s word for centuries. Though the world’s thoughts may waver, and though the science of nutrition is always evolving, some things can remain the same. If we can nail these down, we’ll have a filter to use on any new ideas that come at us.

If you’re not into what you’ve read so far, you’re still gonna want to hang with me. I’m serious. These truths are reassuring and helpful, no matter what you believe. They have the power to change the way you view nourishment. I’ve experienced the benefits of this advice to such an extent that I’m sure I’ll never again rely on a restrictive dietary pattern.

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  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you eat, drink, or do – do it all to the Glory of God. Food can easily become an attention-thief if we give it too much importance. My best tips are to enjoy food, enjoy how it enhances fellowship with others, and do your best to eat amounts that fuel you well without holding you back. Let go a bit on worrying about types of foods, and eat with a thankful and positive spirit. Food or the lack of food shouldn’t be an excuse to be grumpy or upset – not at yourself, not at the waitress, not at life.
  • Romans 14:15 – Be considerate of others by not making diet a big issue. In the early church, they worried about whether or not to take food from others because they might not know if it had been offered to idol gods. This is rarely our problem today, however, the guidance Paul gives to those struggling with that issue is still helpful for us. Don’t let something as trivial as food choices negatively affect your relationships, or your witness. Whether this means relaxing your diet a bit on certain occasions and enjoying whatever’s offered at a restaurant or somebody’s home, or, on the flipside, not indulging in a drink if dining with someone who alcohol presents a struggle for, or simply skipping the complaints about feeling fat or full – our friends/family deserve more concern than our food. You never know what others are dealing with – disordered eating, insecurity, depression, addiction – or how your hesitancy toward or overvaluing of food might affect them. By all means, treat yourself well – but consider others, too. Nothing we do is done in a vacuum.
  • Luke 12:16-21 – Don’t spend your life storing up grain (in our terms, this might relate to building up the perfect diet or body). Don’t get me wrong, preparation is good. Bettering ourselves is good. We just need to keep in mind that we never know when our last day will come. We don’t wanna have wasted our life on storing up things that’ll be gone! Focus more on the eternal. 💪🏼
  • Genesis 3:6 – Don’t let the temptation of food or drink keep you from something better. Remember that apple? She couldn’t look past it. When we become fixated on one thing, and that thing’s not God, it can really hurt us.
  • Luke 22:19 – When we eat, remember Him. Jesus refers to bread and wine here, but honestly every meal is an opportunity to remember what he did for us and who he is in our lives. So, let’s eat with gratitude! Remember that God sanctifies all foods that are received with thanksgiving.
  • Philippians 4:12 – We can find contentment in Christ whether full or hungry. 🙌🏼
  • Matthew 4:4 – Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that God speaks. God nurtures our souls through his word, which contains an invisible sort of provision for us. When Jesus said that we don’t live on bread alone, he was 40 days fasted. Sort of makes it a little more believable, right?
  • In regard to food restrictions on moral terms – Honey, meat, cheese, fish, bread, and wine (in moderation) were all consumed and positively noted in the bible, in too many verses for me list – try Proverbs 24:13, 1 Kings, 17:6, and John 21:13 to start. If Jesus wasn’t too good for ’em… neither am I.

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And my personal favorite verses on this subject:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. Ps. 18:16

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. Ps. 18:19

If you have ever worried yourself to death about what you ate – because you couldn’t control it and felt guilty, or because you became obsessed about it and controlled it too much, God can set you free from that. It’s not for us to stress over. When we stress over it, our world gets small – and He wants it to be big! I can personally say that God has drawn me out of deep waters of anxiety and worry concerning many things, including what I eat. He continually brings me out into a spacious place where he reorders priorities in my mind – giving me freedom and the ability to make better choices for myself. He also reaches down from on high on the regular and takes hold of me when I need it. And it just so happens that I need it a lot, so I get a lot of love and “hugs.”

And you can too. All you have to do is ask.

xoxo 😘

Rae

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Doubt-free French Toast

Doubt-free French Toast

“Dorm Baking, pt. 1”

Breakfast, at any time of the day, tends to be my favorite meal. It’s easy, satisfying, and usually… sweet. I read an article this week on, after Breakfast for Dinner at the dining hall, that led to some real soul-searching on the subject. The evolution of the modern American breakfast seems to have been one towards, well, dessert.

The article included an infographic comparing many commercial breakfast foods to their dessert counterparts – e.g., a muffin to a cupcake, granola to oreos, etc… and the dessert foods won out almost every time, having less sugar and calories than the breakfast items. Sobering. (Read it here at vox.com).

However, just because a Dunkin’ Donuts muffin contains “x” amount of sugar, fat, and calories, doesn’t mean that all muffins have to be this way.

One of the breakfast favorites at our campus dining hall is french toast – and we all agree that the toppings are what blow it out of the water. French toast is really just bread and egg, a fairly balanced combo of carbs and protein. I decided to create a really yummy version that can be made in any space, with minimal equipment, and that tastes fabulous without inducing a sugar-coma.

One of our team slogans is “Leave No Doubt” – we try to do this on the track, giving every run, workout, and race our best effort. We like to avoid doubt in our lifestyles as well – neglecting our sleep, studies, hydration, and nutrition isn’t going to make us a better team.

Without further ado, here’s my “Doubt-Free French Toast.”

You’ll need: 

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or whatever milk you like)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 small-to-medium slices whole grain bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread)
  • Toppings (I used almond butter and blueberries)

 

Now, for the easy part. Mix together egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, beating the egg yolk with a fork. Tear up the bread into small, bite-sized pieces and drop into the mixture. Stir well to coat. Transfer to microwave safe mug or bowl.

Microwave on high for 1:30 – 2 minutes, or until liquid is mostly soaked up and mixture appears “set.” Add toppings, and enjoy!

I used 1 tsp Justin’s maple almond butter, and fresh blueberries. This would also be great with a light drizzle of maple syrup and a pinch of vanilla protein powder.

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Yum.

Hope you enjoy giving this a shot! Cooking better rarely takes longer, just better ingredients, a little more thought, and moderation.

Leave no doubt,

Rae

The Satisfaction Factor

The Satisfaction Factor

There’s something about a good day with friends. Especially sharing good meals and good laughs with people who get you.

Do you ever finish dinner and feel full, yet somewhat unsatisfied? It hits me occasionally, and I’ve even wondered aloud about that feeling. Sometimes a little chocolate will fix it – but sometimes, food isn’t what you’re missing.

Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hatred.” I’d go so far to say I’d rather have salads with love than a steaming hot pizza with indifference. When your relationships are just, well, meh, sometimes you’ll leave the table with something unsatisfied in your heart. It feels like your taste buds, but it might not be. If you’ve ever shared a meal in love, you’ll know what I mean – it’s not about how good it is, but about how warm your heart feels when you leave the table.

Photocreds Jenna Oden (whatsheeatsblog.wordpress.com)

Tonight I started thinking about this idea of satisfaction when I had the greatest healthy chicken nachos with two of my track teammates. We were so proud of our cooking, and it was delicious- but it just felt so relaxing to have a great day with great people, exploring Troy and hanging out at the pool (yes, pool weather in February – thank you Alabama!). A day like this can only be a gift from God.

Shopping at Publix really helped, too, because that just always puts me in a great mood. We managed to make this entire meal for around $5 a person, and then whipped up some yummy mini pumpkin pies for dessert! You can read the full details of our nacho recipe at my friend Jenna’s blog.

Here’s a sneak peak:


Ps – you won’t believe this is vegan cheese. Tastes amazing. I highly recommend Follow Your Heart brand mozzarella and American. I’m not vegan or lactose intolerant, but I think it’s cool to eat dairy-free cheese sometimes and get different nutrients than you would from the same old cheese. This one’s made from coconut, primarily, but you’d never know it. Black beans, shredded chicken, and crushed olives made this recipe to die for. We even made the “chips” homemade from little corn tortillas!

Here’s the final product – a big batch of oven-baked nachos. We all just dug right into the pan, no plates or anything, and it was so epic!


And here’s desert, made from canned pumpkin, cashew milk, spices, and eggs in mini pie crusts.


Those nights where you roll into bed without second thoughts about needing a snack first? Those are good nights! 💕 I love my girls. I challenge you to a share a sweet meal with someone you love today – it really makes a difference.

Be blessed,

Rae

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Breakfast at… McDonalds?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics takes an “all foods can fit” approach to healthful eating, and so do I.

The AND emphasizes that the total diet, or overall pattern of food eaten, is what matters – not any one food or meal. “If consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity,” they say, “all foods can fit into a healthful diet.” It’s true. The value of a food should be determined within the context of the total diet, because labeling items as “good” or “bad” may encourage unhealthy eating behaviors. Here’s another snippet of wisdom from the AND – “Nutrition confusion can be reduced by emphasizing moderation, appropriate portion size, balance and adequacy of the total diet over time, the importance of obtaining nutrients from foods, and physical activity.”

These guys know what they’re talking about. Balance is key to a healthy life. So, we conclude, every choice does not have to be perfect in order for us to eat a total diet we can be proud of. I say, we can make a McDonalds trip every so often fit into our healthy lifestyles, without remorse. Here’s some tips to help you feel proud, not ashamed, when you pull out of the parking lot.

–Breakfast–

(aka, the thing that’s really great here & is served all day)bfast

I went for brunch with some friends on Saturday, and got the Egg White Delight McMuffin, a Fruit ‘n’ Yogurt Parfait, and a hot coffee. These are my favorites, and I’ll discuss a couple of other nice options as well!

Egg White Delight McMuffin – DELICIOUS. One of my very favorite fast food breakfasts, though I don’t do it as often as I used to. This sandwich rings in at 250 kcal, 8g fat, and boasts 17g protein, 10% DV iron… and 740mg sodium (30% DV). Really, the sodium is the drawback here, because too much sodium is not great for the heart (and can make you feel/ look bloated). Remove either the Canadian bacon or the cheese, and you can take the sodium down to 510mg (21% DV). Other cons are the white flour in the english muffin (too bad they don’t buy whole wheat!) and use of preservatives. You can make an epic version of this at home that’s got an even better nutritional profile, but for McDonalds, and being on the road, this is a nice light choice. Swap the cheese for american if you’d rather, because they are basically the same thing in different colors!

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Egg McMuffin. Let’s compare this classic to its trendier egg white cousin. It’s another nice choice. 290 kcal, 12g fat, 17g protein, 15% DV iron, 710 sodium. Very similar to the Egg white, but a whole egg (therefore slightly higher in fat) and a different color cheese. That’s literally the difference. You can lower sodium to 510 mg by removing either the cheese or Canadian bacon; lower fat by 4g and sandwich by 50 kcal by removing the cheese, or swap for white cheddar for no change in nutrient value.

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. I’d either choose to leave out the brown sugar (you can ask for this, they will make it with or without) or the dried fruit. With 33g sugar, the standard with all the toppings is a little overwhelming for breakfast. By making one of these modifications, you can take it down to 18g. Our modified oatmeal supplies you with 260 Calories, and all the benefits of the stuff you make at home – it supplies 10% of your daily iron needs, 22% of your fiber needs, and is fairly low in sodium (115mg).

Biscuits. Nothing wrong with one every once in a while. One McD’s biscuit has 270 kcal, 12g fat, 5g protein, and 770mg sodium. The toppings – that’s where things get crazy. I recommend one-topping style, with some great choices being egg (it’s a scrambled, folded egg), bacon, or a packet of strawberry jelly or honey. That’s how I would eat a biscuit at home, so I don’t pile on a lot of layers at restaurants, either – simple can be nice!

Hot cakes. You can actually get an order of plain hot cakes for 330 kcal, 9g protein, 8g fat, and 12g sugar. You can lightly coat them with butter, maybe give them a drizzle of syrup, and it’s still really not crazy. They just get a bad rap! Keep in mind it’s refined flour, but this isn’t a perfect world. You could even get a 1% milk on the side to up your meal’s protein content by 8g for 100 kcal.

Fruit and yogurt parfait. 150 kcal, 4g protein, 3g fat, 80mg sodium, and 23g sugar. No live/active cultures, but still yummy and provides calcium (10% daily needs, 110mg). Sugar is a little high, but it’s no milkshake. Together with Egg white delight (I did that combo for brunch) you come to 400 kcal, and it’s a really nice meal. I wouldn’t pair the parfait with something else sweet – oatmeal or sweetened coffee – but it is a nice touch to a more savory meal.

Hash browns are probably the more typical side choice for breakfast. Each patty has 150 kcal, just like the parfait. You aren’t getting any fruit, but then, you aren’t getting added sugar, either. If you’re a sucker for these, go with just one, or even split it with a friend!

Coffee. Here we go.

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  • I actually think McDonald’s brews a great house blend. A hot small cup with 2 or 3 creams is my favorite. I just love it! I couldn’t finish my whole cup at our brunch, so I took it home and drank the rest chilled the next morning. Yum!
  • Iced Coffee – You can get a small vanilla for 100, hazelnut for 110, or caramel for 120 kcal. 15, 17, and 20g of sugar, respectively. I can drink to that – it’s even less of a splurge than Chick-fil-a’s, and we think it might be better. (If you opt for artificial sweetener, the sugar free vanilla is 70 kcal and 1g sugar for a small, but I usually go with the standard vanilla).

And these are all my tips. Note – you can make YUMMIER and healthier versions of most of these things at home, but sometimes it’s just fun to go out with the girls!

Happy smacking,

Rae

Reference

Freeland-Graves, J., & Nitzke, S. (2002). Position of the American Dietetic Association: total diet approach to communicating food and nutrition information. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(1), 100-108.