Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tea, God's Healing Drink

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one."
~Ancient Chinese Proverb

Outside the window snowflakes are falling, the temperature is dropping and you hold a warm cup of tea between your hands. The gentle steam rises to warm your face and the aroma soothes the tension in your neck. What could be better on a cold winter day?

But tea is more than comforting. More and more studies are showing the health benefits of tea.

In her book, Healthy Healing, Linda Pages says this about tea: "Both green and black tea have enzymes that promote digestion and help our bodies resist harmful bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus. High flavonoids in both teas reduce harmful blood clotting linked to heart attacks. Both contain polyphenols (not tannins as commonly believed) that act as antioxidants, yet do not interfere with iron or protein absorption. The natural, bioactive caffeine contained in both black tea (50 to 80mg per cup) and green tea (about 30mg per cup) helps combat mental fatigue."

Black and Green tea come from the same plant, thea sinensis, which is grown from the Middle East to the Orient. Green tea is picked from the first tender leaves of Spring. Black tea is fermented for three hours, then often scented with spices to strengthen aroma and reduce bitterness.

Page goes on to explain the extra benefits of Green Tea. "[Green Tea] contains larger amounts of healing nutrients, including twice as much vitamin C, more than twice the amount of bioflavonoid activity and six times the antioxidant properties of black tea."

Page notes that milk should not be added to Green Tea as it inhibits absorption of the protective polyphenols. (I've heard that adding milk to chocolate also inhibits the absorption of the antioxidants).

The health benefits of tea have been known since close to 2300BC in China.

What I love about natural things used for healing is that one plant has so many applications, can usually be used in conjunction with other plants without fear, and they're available to average people who don't have a PhD!

Besides the benefits already mentioned, green tea is highly enzyme-active for weight-loss. It is a good fasting tea, providing energy support and clearer thinking. It helps bronchial dialation against asthma. Green tea is anti-carcinogenic (fights against cancer), antibacterial (the Chinese used it to purify water), and antimicrobial which means it's great for the skin. It may hinder some causes of high blood pressure. It promotes fat-burning, regulates blood sugar and insulin and keeps hunger at bay. And these are just a few more of its many benefits.

Of course, as with anything good that God created, there is a point of diminishing returns. A few cups of green tea per day can be a great boost to your health, but a cup or two every hour--especially if you add 1-8 tsp of sugar to it--will no longer benefit your health.

All things in moderation. Didn't Paul say something about that?

Bless the Lord who has made all things good and good for us. Then go ahead and drink that cup of tea in your hands.  Enjoy the health benefits as well as the comfort it brings.

Try this recipe:

Orange Green Tea, created by Me :-)

1+ Tbsp Loose Green Tea (Gunpowder, for a robust flavor; Sencha for a lighter flavor; or any other to your taste)
1 Pot (6-8 cups) almost boiling water (Do not bring it to the point of boiling)
1/2 organic Orange Peel
1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)

Let steep for five minutes or more. Pour into cups and add Honey or Agave to taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Contrary to Nature

This week I've been pondering a spiritual principle that is contrary to nature. That's right. I always focus on aspects in nature that point to God or illustrate a spiritual principle, but this week I see a spiritual principle that defies nature.

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

If you want something or someone to flee from you in the natural, physical realm, you usually lash out. Attack another person and they'll probably flee. If two armies face each other in battle, each wants to make the other side flee. They do it by aggression, bigger weapons, more ammunition, a larger army.

Not so in the spirit realm. Our enemy, the devil, comes at us with lies, doubts, fears of every kind and accusations. His attacks are in our minds to defeat us before we get started. We can try to fight with words in return. "You no good, lousy fallen angel! I hate you. . . " But that only pleases him.

"Ah-Ha, I've got them on the defensive," he says to himself.

Or we can take a real sword and swing it in the air, hoping to slice that sneaky, back-stabbing, Air-Prince. But we won't hit our mark that way either.

Nope, all we need to do is resist. Resist the thoughts he plants in our minds as soon as they float through our grey matter.


We know the truth. And we know Him who is Truth.

If Satan attacks with a barrage of thoughts that demonstrate our worthlessness. We remember our absolute worth to Christ. We are so valuable to him, that he laid down his life for ours. He lived, taught, suffered persecution and ridicule because he valued us!

If he attacks with temptation, for example, "You know how much you need that new Kitchen Aid. You'd use it more than most people who own one. Sure, it's over $500.00 and you can't afford it, but it will be worth every penny." We quickly respond with, "God will supply my every need, so I must not need that, at least not now or God would've provided for it by now." Or we could respond by saying, "Patience is a fruit of the Spirit God must want me to learn right now."  Go to the root of the temptation and remember that God doesn't tempt.

Knowing God's character and knowing the truth demonstrated in Scripture gives us firm ground to stand on when we resist Satan's lies.

How different from the natural world. But what a powerful principle in the spiritual world.

Don't accept the junk he feeds your mind.

Resist and watch him flee!

Hmm, what kind of recipe goes along with this lesson??

Why don't you give me suggestions this time? Just post a recipe or link to a recipe in the comments section. Try to make it delicious and natural. Thanks!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Rest

"There is an appointed time for everything." 
Ecclesiates 3:1

How about a time for warmth and a time for cold? Solomon didn't mention it, but I'm sure he meant to. Times for sleep and times for action? Of course. Our body would defy us if we stayed in action-mode continuously.

Outside my window, all of nature is covered in a thick blanket of white. It's barren and still.

Have you ever noticed how loud sound is when there's snow on the ground? Or how people tend to whisper just after a new snow? Shhhhh . . . Listen.

Winter is a season that lends itself to rest. Plants sleep away the long, cold months as do some animals. I catch myself gazing at my couch longingly some afternoons. Mornings and evenings are so dark, sleep seems the perfect remedy. And although I still have a full schedule, my body craves more rest.

My spirit, too, needs a respite from activity. Time to be still in the presence of the Lord and know Him. Refresh the spirit to be ready for whatever God intends for us in the coming moments of the coming year. 

Nature demonstrates the wisdom of rest during these barren months. Seeds don't sprout, plants don't grow, they don't photosynthesize. These simply sleep, silent and barren as if dead. But in a few months they will be renewed!

Let us also take some time during this quiet season to rest. Go ahead, plan a few extra hours of sleep--write it in to you schedule if need be. And let's not forget to guard those quiet moments with our Heavenly Father.

"Be still and know that I am God." 
Psalm 46:10

Be restored and be refreshed.

**Note: Our small group has just started a series on the character of God by Chip Ingram. It has already challenged me to get to know Him better. Our understanding of God dictates our theology and our way of living. A great way to renew the spirit is to get to know God.Check out this link to hear Chip talk about God's goodness.

More veggies for simplifying and cleansing your diet:

1 Potato, cut into thick slices
1/2 head Broccoli, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Some Cabbage, preferably purple, cut into 2-3 inch strips

Steam all ingredients in a small amount of water until not hard (not too soft).
Put the mixture on a plate and top with butter (if you're not fasting that), salt and pepper.
It's delicious!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Foodie Fasting

Mind you, I'm not doing a complete fast, but I'm limiting my diet for a week to fruit and veggies with some whole grains (not flour). But I have to confess that any type of fasting is hard. So much of my time is spent planning for, buying for and cooking meals, not to mention eating, that I forget I'm fasting several times throughout each day and start to eat something I shouldn't. I also get a little grouchy when I can't please my palate. But I guess this is the reason I'm fasting.

Celebrating is important. There are more celebrations in the Bible than fasts. But fasting is important too. How easy it is to satisfy the flesh! For example, my son has birthday cake and pie (that his friend made and gave him) sitting around in my kitchen. I've almost taken a bite out of one or the other three times while preparing meals in the last 24 hours. And these aren't even something I'd normally eat--at least not a lot--but when I'm fasting my flesh screams, "UNFAIR!"

I feel sorry for my flesh as it squirms and screams, but you see, like a small child, it must be put back in its proper place. If I never discipline my flesh, deprive it, or make it uncomfortable, then it gets out of hand. It starts to believe it's my god and should control all of my decisions. Worst of all, it becomes more and more difficult to please, like most deities of our own making. The most delicious delicacies become mundane. Like a spoiled child, my flesh whines unable to be satisfied.

So this week I'm putting the child down for a nap. The flesh needs this discomfort. And afterward I will relish each and everything I choose to put in my mouth, recognizing the Lord's provision. I and my flesh will have a renewed sense of thanksgiving.

So here's to the New Year, as I dedicate it to my Lord and Savior (and not to my flesh).

Invigorating Salad Concoction:

Good for a refreshing side dish on a normal winter day or a main dish during a fruit & veggie fast.

Nappa cabbage, thinly sliced
Shredded Carrots
Red Pepper, thinly sliced
Bean Sprouts
Lemon Juice

Mix the cabbage and carrots. Top with a few slices of red pepper and bean sprouts. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top.

Even the flesh can't deny it's great taste!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Inspiration and Resolutions

I've had new inspiration to begin to blog again. I am a naturalist and a part-time foodie. Recently my husband and I watched the movie, Julie and Julia--instant inspiration! Julie in the movie is a writer who's written half of a novel--Oh, can I relate to that, I've written several halves of novels--she's also a foodie, someone who's interested in gourmet food and cooking. She begins blogging about cooking all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I'm tempted to take up the same challenge, but I'd rather continue cooking healthy, natural food, which is also tasty (not to say that Child's book doesn't include natural recipes, because French cooking uses natural ingredients) and blog about food, nature and the One who made them both.

My goal is to blog at least once a week, more if possible.

Speaking of goals, everyone in my office is on a diet. It being January 6th, I guess it's expected. I too would like to loose a few pounds, but how is the all consuming question.

I've heard that health clubs get hundreds of people joining beginning in January. They come faithfully and the gym is full for weeks until about March by which time the majority have lost interest. I'm sure the health clubs don't mind at all, they still get the year-long membership fees.

And what about diets? The number diets out there is mind-boggling.

Here's my suggestion for a natural, healthy plan to lose weight: Cut out white flour and sugar. Of course there will be some exceptions and special days, but it is possible on a regular day. Now, if you already eat this way, you'll have to get more strict, or just exercise more, but if you don't, this is a great way to lose weight without counting calories or following a strict, complicated diet plan.

Don't forget to exercise regularly. Exercise burns calories--allowing you to eat more ;-) -- and it increases energy. But if you join the gym keep it up throughout the year if only to get your money's worth or else your resolution for 2011 will be a better financial plan.

In this new year I pray you enjoy food, enjoy good health and enjoy the Creator who delights in you and made these for you to enjoy!

View Julie Powell's current blog.

Here's a delicious recipe without flour or sugar:

Polenta w/Veggies and Mushroom Ragout
Lund's & Byerly's Real Food Winter 2008, page 56
1 C Instant Polenta or Cornmeal
2 C Milk
1 C Water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, shredded

8 ounces White Mushrooms, quartered
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 small Onion, sliced into strips
2 Tbspn Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
1 Tbspn Thyme, chopped
1 15-oz can Kidney Beans, drained
2 Tbspn Tomato Paste
1/2 C Creme Fraiche or Cream
1/2 tsp Salt

Prepare a pie pan by lightly rubbing it with olive oil. Ina 2-qt saucepan, bring themilk and water to a simmer. Whisk in polenta in steady stream and add salt. Reduce heat to med-low and stir the mixture until thick, about 3-5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in Parmesan then transfer to the prepared pie pan and smooth the top. Chill. Prepare the veggies and reserve. Heat a large saute pan over med-high heat and add oil*; then add vegetables and cook, stirring. When mushrooms are browned and seared, and peppers and onions are tender, add garlic and thyme and stir for 2 minutes. Add beans and stir to heat through. In a cup, stir tomato paste with cream; then add to the pan and cook until thickened slightly. Take off heat and keep warm. Salt to taste. Preheat broiler. Oil a baking sheet and slice the polenta in 6 wedges. Lightly oil the toops of the wedges and broil them 6 inches from the heat. Watch them carefully and turn when the tops are golden and crisp. When the polenta is hot and crispy on the edges, serve with ragout.

*Taking the idea from Julie Powell, I browned the mushrooms in butter first, set them aside, then cooked the other veggies in the leftover butter with a little olive oil added. I then added the mushrooms back in when I stirred in the tomato/cream. And, Julie, if you're reading this, I didn't crowd the mushrooms. ;-)