Letting Go of the Enemy Within

Letting Go

Letting go of the enemy within allows you to grab onto all the good things in your life.

Sometimes our greatest enemy is ourselves.

Tired of being sick and tired, I’ve been letting go of the negative things that were destroying my health and emotional well-being. Instead, I’ve been trying to embrace the positive things that inspire and rejuvenate me. However, I had an enemy fighting against all the goodness I was discovering. That enemy was myself — because my subconscious wouldn’t stop heckling me.

“Who are you kidding? You’ll always be fat and frumpy.”

Perhaps.

All along this journey of nutrition enlightenment, I’ve fallen off the wagon more than a few times. It makes no sense. It’s not like someone is shoving those McDonald’s french fries into my mouth. (Correction: someone is. Me!) As I entered a drive-thru, I wondered what the heck was I doing? But I ordered them anyway and begin a salted frenzy while the enemy within laughed at my questionable willpower.

But let’s be honest. Was I truly hurting myself by eating those fries? It’s not the smartest thing I could have chosen. But I believe that I was hurting myself more by feeling guilty about eating them. The guilt only led to feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, and more destructive thoughts. And the desire for more french fries.

Once I realized that, I didn’t want fries anymore.

Here’s the thing: As adults, we are in charge of what goes into our mouths. Someone else may do the shopping and/or the cooking, but we’re the masters of our forks. You can either eat healthy food that is nourishing to your body, or you can eat food that destroys your health. Green leafy vegetables = good cholesterol. French fries = bad cholesterol. Whatever you choose, don’t feel guilty about it. Just understand the consequences of it. Do you want to feel good, have energy, and sparkle again? Eat your green leafy vegetables. If you want to feel bloated, constantly fight off colds, and always be exhausted — drink a couple of sodas and eat french fries.

For weeks, the numbers on my scale didn’t moved much. I kept playing around with the same 2.5 lbs. I gained it. I lost it. Then I gained it again. I got caught up in losing weight. I agonized over what I was doing wrong. I read a half dozen books and spent hours on the internet looking up the secrets to breaking a weight-loss plateau. Then it dawned on me. The only thing that I was doing wrong was worrying about it. Because I’m not on a diet.

I forgot that simple point.

I fretted that I won’t reach a specific weight goal by a specific date. The closer that date came (and went), the more I felt like a failure or that I didn’t have willpower. The reality was I shouldn’t have had a weight loss goal and target date in the first place! The day I stopped drinking soda, I never once considered if I would lose any weight. I just wanted to feel better. Weight loss is the by-product of my improved nutrition.

One day in mid-March, I’ll pause to celebrate all the good things that have happened in the past 365 days. I’ve thought about that day for awhile now. Correction: I’ve obsessed about it. Thankfully, I realized that I needed to stop thinking about it and get on with life. After all, it will be just another Thursday. I’ll go to work. I’ll go to yoga class.

So like all the other negative things I’ve let go, I disarmed my enemy within.

I’ve stopped looking at the scales everyday. Same thing goes for the calorie counting app; I deleted it from my phone. In many ways, I blame the scales and the app for giving my enemy within a voice. Because rather than creating awareness, they created a monster who felt guilty about every bite whether it was good or bad. My journey has never been about calories or what the scales said. It’s about how much life I can gain by making smarter choices. And how much health can I restore by healing my body with food and yoga. Not just for a year — but for a lifetime.

Finally, I let go of the enemy within.

By the way, the scales moved in the right direction. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

My Favorite Soup Recipes

Soup is the perfect food as far as I’m concerned.

We love soup, which is a good thing because I make a pot of it just about every week. I’ve shared several of my recipes before. I have my veggie soup; sometimes it has meat, sometimes it doesn’t. Our son loves my chicken noodle soup that includes a few extra veggies. (A mother has to do, what a mother has to do!) My favorites are the hearty, earthy blends of lentils or greens. My Beloved doesn’t care as long as someone else cooks. He’ll eat anything.

A few years after we married, my father-in-law, Earl, had open heart surgery. Afterwards, he said nothing tasted right. However the one thing he wanted during his recovery was soup. So each weekend, we’d take a stockpot full of soup to him and Vince’s stepmother. The next day, he would call and tell me that whatever I made was their favorite. It didn’t matter what it was. My semi-truck-driving, bearded, rough-and-tumble father-in-law loved my cooking. And I loved him for eating whatever I put in front of him. He used to say that after eating at truck stops across the country, anything that was home-cooked was delicious. Because of him, I developed several good recipes and gained enough confidence to experiment beyond my mother’s most excellent chili recipe. I know if he were with us now, he’d snicker at my turnip greens, but he’d eat every bite.

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There’s nothing better on a cold, rainy day than a bowl of chili.

Mother’s Most Excellent Chili
When we were growing up, we knew that if it snowed, Mother would make chili. There would be plenty of leftovers, so we’d eat chili for days. There was always a warm bowl of chili waiting for us when we finished sledding or building snow forts. Even today, I can guarantee that if there’s snow in the forecast , that same stock pot is bubbling on my sister’s stove. And it’s full of chili, just like Mother used to make. Nowadays, I substitute organic black beans for the Bush Mild Chili Beans and add a bit more chili powder.

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 quart of canned tomatoes
1 quart canned tomato juice
2 cups beef broth (or you can use 1 16-ounce beef broth)
3 cans of Bush Mild Chili Beans (or you can use dried organic beans that are soaked overnight)
1 medium onion
3T chili powder
2 garlic cloves

Saute garlic cloves and onion in an seasoned iron skillet. Add ground beef. Drain fat from skillet. In a heavy stock pot, place canned tomatoes, tomato juice, beef broth, and chili beans. Add browned beef, onions, and garlic. Stir well. Add 2T of chili powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook slowly on stove for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture reduces by 1/3. Add the last remaining 1T of chili pepper. Serve warm.

Meatball Soup

I love hearty soups like meatball soup that features  turnip greens and mushrooms. It has a earthy taste that is perfect on a cold day.

Meatball Soup with Greens and Mushrooms
I make several dozen meatballs at a time and keep them in the freezer. My favorite soup these days is meatball soup that features turnip greens and mushrooms. A few weeks ago, I served brunch for several friends and family members. I served a couple different soups, including my meatball soup. Everyone was intrigued, and bless their hearts, a few hearty souls even tried it after I explained the turnip greens. To my delight, those who tried it went back for seconds and thirds. You can use homemade beef broth or boxed beef broth.

Prep time: 30 minutes, serves 6

18 cooked meatballs (you can use frozen meatballs or leftovers)
2 cups of cooked turnip greens (or kale!)
2 cups beef broth (or you can use 1 16-ounce box of beef broth)
2 carrots
1 cup mushrooms (can be fresh or dried mushrooms)
1 medium onion (or leeks)
2 cloves garlic
2 T butter
1/2 cup water
1 cup dumpling noodles

If frozen, cook meatballs in oven on a roasting pan. In a heavy stockpot, brown a couple cloves of garlic in butter. Add turnip greens, mushrooms, onions, and carrot. Cook until crispy. Add 1/2 cup water and one box of beef broth. Add meatballs. Then add noodles, salt, and pepper. When noodles are cooked, it’s ready. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bean Bowl o Soupin

A tender blend of dried lentils along with a few leftovers creates a twist for hearty soup.

Bean Bowl o’ Soupin’
When my Beloved was a little boy, he loved lentils. He would beg his mother to make Bean Bowl o’Soupin’, which she’d gladly do.  Here is my version of his favorite childhood soup.

1 cup of 9 Variety Dried Beans
2 cups beef broth (or you can use 1 16-ounce box of beef broth)
2 cups cooked ham
2 cups turnip greens
2 carrots
1 medium onion
1 cup barley
2 T summer savory
1 T oregano

Soak beans overnight (at least 12 hours). Drain and rinse. In a heavy stockpot, cook beans in water for 45 minutes. Add cooked ham, turnip greens, carrots, and onion. Add beef broth. Cook slowly for 1 hour. Add summer savory and oregano along with salt and pepper to taste.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Happy Birthday 2

We’re celebrating our blog’s first birthday!

It seems unbelievable that a year has passed since we posted our first story about making homemade stock.

As I said in that first post, launching a blog during the early days of January was hardly inventive, but it seemed a good time to put perspective into the way we live our life. For the past year, we’ve shared our successes and our failures. It didn’t seem to matter what we wrote about, you faithfully read our adventures. You will never know how much we appreciate it!

I believe this blog is perhaps one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. It made me evaluate who I was unlike anything else and finally convinced me to make changes I so desperately needed to make. Weekly photo sessions forced me to look at myself realistically. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t a happy fat chick, as I often described myself. Instead, I was exhausted, bloated, sick, and a depressed woman.

But because of this blog, I finally confronted all the junk I was putting into my body in addition to our healthy meals. The snacking, the grazing, the late-night calorie consumption that fed a chronic sugar addiction starving my body’s ability to heal itself or have a healthy lifestyle is nearly gone. Writing has lead to changes that I couldn’t have believed possible.

If you had told me a year ago that today I would be 50 pounds lighter and wearing skirts again, I would have laughed in your face. There is no doubt that this has been a year of transformation as I said goodbye to soda, eliminated processed sugar, and gathered enough courage to take a yoga class. Thank goodness, I am not the same woman that I was a year ago.

My passion about whole food, healthy living, canning, and sustainability is still there. Only now, it is ignited by my passion that good nutrition can cure almost anything. You just have to be willing to let go of the myths we’ve spun. And you have to be brave enough to discover the truth about nutrition, such as choosing not to eat anything green is childish. Choosing to believe that manufactured food is better than what is grown a in a garden is ridiculous. The truth is, we are what we eat. When you eat processed food, your body will become a toxic wasteland where you have no resistance to stress nor ability to fight off whatever is going around.

Medical professionals won’t tell you this, nor will they consider nutrition as the first defense against illness. Could it be that we’d rather have a pill rather than a plate of greens? Or a procedure rather than give up sweet tea or pizza? Possibly. Could it be that if Americans became better educated about nutrition the first industry to suffer would be pharmaceutical? Frankly, I believe its because medical professionals know that most people won’t listen. And that they are just as disillusioned and cynical as anyone.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s easy to implement change. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this blog into a continued discussion about weight loss and turnip greens. Despite Everything is about discovering food and life again. I’m not an expert, nor am I a nutritionist. But for me, weight loss is the by-product of healthy nutrition, not starvation.

What will 2013 bring to Despite Everything? We’ll do our best to be inventive and entertaining. You’ll see more recipe development that teaches basic nutrition. You’ll see more posts about our garden. We’ve already begun planning what we’ll grow this year. And, you’ll see more stories about our critters and life here at Chez Medlock.

One of our most poplar features was Other Voices, where guest writers participated in Tomatopalozza, my annual tomato canning bonanza. I loved reading stories from my friends about their canning adventures. From the number of hits we had during Tomatopalozza, you loved reading their stories too. There will be more opportunities for guest writers in 2013. Many of my friends are beginning paths toward better nutrition, and I’m hoping they’ll share their journeys. And we’ll take peeks into other people’s gardens to see that urban farmers are everywhere.

I was once asked why I didn’t release stories on a regular basis. The thing is, I never know when the need to write will overwhelm me. Or where the next blog post will come from. Sometimes the best posts come from the smallest inspirations. Believe it or not, I have refrained from making everything I do a blog post. After all, nobody really needs to know that I’ve cleaned out my closet or organized my herbs.

Backbends

He cooks, he gardens, and he does back bends to install under-cabinet lighting.

So how does a blog celebrate a birthday? I don’t really know, so we’re celebrating by finally installing under-cabinet lighting. When we built our new kitchen, we couldn’t find the type of lighting we wanted. So we decided to be patient and wait. We’ve been working in the dark ever since. It’s a wonder we’ve been able to cook or clean anything for the past year because there isn’t a lot of natural light in the space.  While it’s been frustrating, I’m glad we waited because now we have the exact wireless lighting plan we wanted.

All things come in good time…Despite Everything.