soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness


What I learned from my lean pantry challenge

Alleluia! It’s Easter now and people have been asking how my lean pantry Lent went. Let me tell you what I’ve learned.

I live a life of food excess.

My pantry remains full by most standards at the end of 40+ days of only allowing myself the purchase of eggs, milk, carrots, bananas, and Shakeology*. Sure, I’m out of a few of my favorite ingredients (butter!) or staples that I use often (quinoa, cumin, black beans), but I’m not even out of vegetables or fruit yet.  I still have meat, pasta, a sweet potato, flour, all the spices you could need and more.
lean pantry challenge
You see, I freeze and can from each summer’s harvest.  Despite having rows of colorful jars filled with the summer’s best, at times I stop myself and think, no, don’t use that jar, you’ll run out before the summer crop begins! But that has never been the case in the years that I’ve canned. The exact purpose of me having canned food is so that I can taste their summery goodness during the bleak midwinter.  The end point? I’m still eating through the peppers, peaches, tomatoes, and zucchini that I preserved last summer.  And they taste good!

I also discovered I eat out a lot. Not at restaurants mind you, but out. Away from my home. I’ve been away from Cincinnati many of the weekends this Lent so I ate what was served or been given the choice of what to order in the case of actual eating out at restaurants.  Or when I am in Cincinnati, I’ve eaten with friends in their homes and been given a share in their abundance.  As a result of my fridge’s lean offerings during Lent, I am more grateful for what is given me. In almost every case of being offered a meal, it included fresh ingredients of some kind and I tasted their goodness rather than hardly noticing them –  had I had those vegetables waiting at home in my own fridge I would have paid no heed.
7: a mutiny against excess
And for the kicker…I started reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Introduced to it by my best friend, she warned me that picking it up invited conviction and scrutiny of my own excess.  Boy was she right (for the record, she usually is).  I made it trough the first chapter where Jen fasts on 7 foods for 30 days and captures her reaction to each day.  I see so much of myself in her experience. Certainly, I had access to a lot more ingredients than she did during her fast, but my babyish, entitled reactions have been the same as her reactions in the first few days of her fast. Only she matures through that experience.  May the Lord help me mature through this too and come out the other side with a clearer view of my blessings and how to be a good steward of the resources I’ve been given. And may it be a sustained difference so I don’t immediately return to my tendency to be a food hoarder.


*I originally mentioned allowing myself the purchase of 4 things, but it occurred to me as I write this that my Shakeology home direct order arrived during Lent, so I did buy it as well.



Learnings from Lent: A lean pantry

One of the practices I’ve undertaken this Lent is to refrain from purchasing groceries (except for 4 basic ingredients I’m allowing myself).  Since cooking is a major hobby and stress reliever of mine, I thought at the outset this would be a good challenge for me.  I knew it would be easier at the beginning because I had fresh produce on my shelf, but that as the weeks would pass it would be more challenging as I am required to look into the back of my freezer and see what I’ve stored there.

My goal is to cut some of the excess out of my life and a lean pantry is a concrete way for me to begin.  I always have an abundance of food in my pantry and I haven’t faced lasting hunger.  And never was it more noticeable to me than during my last trip to Guatemala.

We visited the home of a young student in CoEd’s Culture of Reading Program.  She walked us from the school to her house, taking the dirt path leading to a cluster of small buildings with mud brick walls, dirt floors, a single windowless opening for light, and a tin roof. The group squeezed into the tiny building meant to be a kitchen and spoke with the mother about their life.  There wasn’t quite enough room for me to fit, so standing just outside the door I asked, “What does an average day look like?” Knowing already what the basic answer would be, I only half listened to her answer as she talked about waking and first thanking God for the gift of a new day then beginning the prepare the meals for the day, hand wash laundry – never mind carrying water from the town well to do it – and tidying up the house after her nine children.
“What kind of meals do you prepare for your family?” someone continued.

“I make tortillas. And we gather herbs and eat whatever God gives us.”

Tortillas.  3 meals a day for their entire existence. Continue reading


Nike and Fiat: My Lenten Brands + Lenten Wallpapers

Nike and Fiat: They don’t exactly seems like brands you would associate with Lent, right? I wouldn’t have thought so either until last week.

During a small group discussion with the teenage girls in Kenosis, we decided upon two slogans that we can keep in mind for our Lenten journeys.  Two slogans that don’t quite seem to go together, but I promise they do.  


You see, we were discussing how love must be a combination of the objective and the subjective—how feelings cannot outweigh reason in our relationships.  A key point we came to (thanks to Dr. Edward Sri) is how discipline helps in the  balance of objective versus subjective when it comes to love. As the girls threw out ideas of how different Lenten sacrifices can build discipline, other core team members stepped in to encourage us make sure our Lenten sacrifices hard, but attainable. Just do it!

Just Do it Continue reading