Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PTGW Part Four: Learning To Cook (Healthfully)

Proverbs 31:15 says "She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household"
Of course, Proverbs 31 is a guideline for what a man should look for in a wife, not a list of what it means to be a godly woman. However, it does give us girls a pretty good idea of some of the practical and useful skills needed to run a home well.
Today I'm going to be focusing on the very practical and needed skill of cooking healthfully. (And, really, eating is one of the most basic needs of every human, so whether you learn to cook or not, someday you will have to feed your children and you can either keep them healthy or give them quick and easy garbage.)
I know that there are a lot of people who believe that there is one all perfect diet, whether it is the south beach diet, the 'why Christians get sick' diet, or the average American diet. I believe that we should stay as close as we can to "God's diet" that He gave us in Leviticus and other places. Aside from religious reasons, there are very good, scientifically proven reasons to follow His food laws.
So the best thing would be to completely avoid things like white flour, sugar, ham, and stuff like that, right? (That is a rhetorical question, don't bother answering it)
But are most of us going to be able (or willing) to do the best thing all the time? No. We are going to want our chocolate-covered-cherries, cheesecake, pizza, bacon, pepperoni, etc. (at least once in a while)
But you know what? That's ok. It's alright to have a treat once in a while. We just shouldn't have our regular diet be freezer pizza and milky-way bars. So we need to find a good healthy balance between the best and what we can actually do.
The first thing, of course, is to learn how to cook. If you don't know anything about cooking, you can either get a home economics course (like one that we have from Christian Light Education called "Cooking, Sewing, and More..."), or you can ask your Mom or some other lady to teach you to cook.
Of course, each family has to decide for themselves what is the right balance for them, but here are a couple of good basic ideas.

1. Cut down the white flour. If you can't handle the taste of whole wheat, do half and half or something and then work your way up to using all whole wheat. And if you have a hard time with the bitter taste of whole wheat, than look for "White whole wheat" which is simply made from a golden wheat instead of a red wheat and has less of a bitter taste.

2. Instead of having dessert every night, have it once a week. (The rest of the time you can make yummy treats like German Apple Pancake with no sugar... you'd be surprised how good it can taste with no sugar) Or if you need to have dessert every day make something like Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps (simply use whole wheat flour... you won't be able to tell the difference).

3. Try to have more than one vegetable a day. We usually have something like baby carrots (quick and easy! Just wash them and they're ready) and broccoli or spinach.

4. Don't have ginger ale or sprite or any other soda for that matter. Just don't have it. Instead go to your healthfood store and look for a healthy alternative (around here we have "spritzers" and "izzies" which are made with fruit juice and sparkling water instead of sugar syrup).

5. Fruit makes a very appealing alternative to a candy bar as a midmorning snack.

6. Try to avoid processed foods. A good guide is that if you can't read the ingredients, just don't eat it.

7. NEVER eat artificial sweeteners. Things like Aspartame not only prevent you from losing weight (contrary to what we have heard about 'diet' sodas and stuff that are sweetened with it), but they also have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's. If you do not want to use regular white sugar, try something like Sucanat, Stevia, Honey, or maple syrup.

So that's a good start. But don't take my word for all of this, go look it up for yourself. Just make sure that what you are reading is based on facts, not on opinions.
Now, what if your father or husband still wants his white bread and brownies? Well, God has put you under the man that He wants you under, and you have to honor and obey that man. But as long as he approves, there is nothing wrong with feeding the children whole-wheat bread during the day when he is not home wanting white bread. :-)

At least for now I do not eat sugar or white flour (I haven't for six months) because of my health. It wasn't until I went off of sugar that my health truly started improving. Our family cooks with all whole wheat flour (not the red whole wheat, we don't like that bitter taste), and we use Sucanat (sugar cane natural) or honey in our baking.

Ok, well, I guess that's about it for now. Have a good day! :-)

(If you are interested in organic food, but don't have enough money to buy all organic, Amanda Dixon did a really good post a while back and I thought it was very helpful.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

PTGW Part Three B: Brothers

Yes, the last post was on brothers in Christ, and this one is on brothers. Of course, provided that your brother is a Christian too, he is not only your biological brother, he is your brother in Christ just like any other man. But as his biological sister (and as you live in the same household with him), you should know that you can 'make or break' your brother. And you should be careful because the way you treat your brother is often the way that you will treat your future husband (at least, judging from my observations of married couples that seems to be the case).
The "Golden Rule" (Matthew 7:12) is an excellent place to begin for any relationship. You don't want your siblings to be rude to you, do you? Or call you names? Or laugh at you? Or take your things? Or order you around? Well then, start with not doing that to them.
Here are a few particular things that we need to make sure to avoid as sisters.

1. Never call him a sissy or a girly-boy or anything like that. In most cases boys will let you know that it hurts them (i.e. they will yell at you or stomp off), but some boys simply laugh it off or just get a little red and shrug (especially if there is company present). Even if they don't react, this is a very serious thing that will and does hurt them. You don't want your brother to grow up to be a great big over-grown boy, do you? You want him to grow up to be a real man (at least I hope you do). Well, start off by not treating him like a sissy.

2. Don't laugh or scoff at his plans. Even if they involve making a real boat out of tin foil and hoping that it will float with him in it next year.

3. Let your parents be the 'bad guys'. Unless you are the one in charge, or your brother is seriously endangering himself or another person, let your parents tell him to stop sticking his fingers in that tempting soft wax on the top of the candle. If you become 'motherly' about that, it's just bossing him because you aren't his mother. (And if your mother does not tell him to stop, leave the room if it really bothers you. *or you can whisper to your mom, just don't make it look like you are tattling because that builds resentment*) Remember: you are not the police. You are his sister, someone who is supposed to encourage, not discourage or boss.

4. If he starts to tell you that he is having a really hard day, don't tell him not to complain or role your eyes and tell him not to be a baby. He shouldn't complain, but I know that sometimes I need to get a little comfort if I am having a bad day and really feel rotten about myself and everyone else. Nothing makes a person feel less loved than when you won't listen to them.

5. Act respectfully to your brother (and everyone else in your family for that matter). Now I know that this is an odd thing to say or do, especially if your brother is younger than you (like mine is). If you don't know how to respect him, than start by simply treating him with the same courtesy you would show a stranger. If you had a guest over and they told you of this great idea they had, would you smirk and say how stupid it was? Well I hope not! And I sure hope that you wouldn't do that to your brother (or sister for that matter) either.

6. Try to think of something good about him. This might be a challenge at first. A couple of years ago, I was having a very hard time with my siblings and decided that I would make a list of 10 things that I liked about each of them (for me that was 3 lists of 10 since I have 3 siblings). It took me an extremely long time, but it was worth it and it helped me to see them as people and to focus on their good points. It doesn't have to be anything personal. The first thing I thought of for my brother was that he is good at building things, from Legos to tree houses. The next thing that came to mind was that when I was upset he would come and give me a hug (he was only 5 or 6 at the time, but he still does it even to this day). So wrack your mind and come up with something, at least 2 things, good about each of your siblings.

7. Pray for him... pray for all of your siblings, making sure to give thanks for something about them. This is what a sister is for!

Well, that is just the beginning, but I hope that it made sense and was helpful. :-) As always, if you have any other tips just leave them in the comment section (and remember to read in the comments to see any tips left by other girls).

Oh yes, and by the way, Hannah L. brought up a very important point that I forgot...

8. Allow your brother to open doors or carry things for you... My relationship with my brother improved dramatically when I started appreciating his efforts to help in that way. It is interesting to me how cut down he felt when I would just jump out of the car and run to the door instead of waiting for him to get me an umbrella.