creative health

The chocolate chip bread went fast. Really fast, so I baked another loaf this afternoon. My heightened interest in cooking from scratch is humorous. It's something I'm just now coming into, in my 30's. When my brother first met Johnny, he tried to embarrass me by saying, "You know Jenni doesn't really cook, right?" There are many reasons why that I won't go into today (like laziness), but a lot has changed within 6 years. The longer I'm married, I try to make our home what it ought to be - peaceful, healthy, creative, beautiful, restful, welcoming, and truthful. And, before and after my health diagnosis, my eyes were gradually opened to the importance of good nutrition and real food - the more basic the better.

Johnny is definitely the grill master - he prepares chicken, fajitas, and steak like you wouldn't believe (maybe he'll blog about his latest feat with steak involving thick layers of sea salt). But I've always loved to bake due to the aromatic ingredients, and my sweet tooth. One of my favorite ways to scent our house is to whip up a batch of cookies or something. When my doctor said that a feisty candida overgrowth called for a strict diet, I thought my dessert days were over, or at least dismal. Thankfully, I was oh so wrong. Let's hear it for God's creation of the coconut and almond (for starters), and man's ingenuity to glean so many products from each nut. I could never have survived this diet 20 years ago.

I think, too, that a slow healing process with many days of discomfort has forced me to unearth beauty wherever I can find it. Our kitchen is lovely, and so is a warm loaf of chocolate chip bread, but it's more than that. Last night, I told my Diet Coke-loving husband that he should drink more water - a very healthy habit in so many ways. Aren't we comprised of 90% water? I know it flushes toxins out of our bodies. The thing is, my husband doesn't like water. It's a discipline for him to drink 8 glasses a day.

As we discussed this, I started to nag him. That's no good at all, so I dropped the subject of H2O. However, I realized the root of that conversation was a desire planted deep in my heart. I'm utterly inspired to cultivate health and wellness in our home due to all I've learned the past year and a half. I long for Johnny to be well, and you better believe our kids will eat real food and take probiotics from day one. But I do not desire a legalistic diet for any of us. I'm also learning the balance of tending to our health and enjoying "treats" from time to time. Like I said, my husband loves Diet Coke (as I adore caffeine-laden coffee & tea), and I gotta trust God with the aspartame. I cannot say that I'll never enjoy a cupcake or French fries again, so there's that, too.

However, finding a healthy recipe like chocolate chip bread that Johnny and I both love is enlightening. It's such an innocent treat. Honeyville blanched almond flour is packed with protein and dietary fiber and tastes amazing. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants. Cinnamon is anti-fungal and balances blood sugar levels. Celtic sea salt has naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals. Sorry to geek out, but all of this is true. To me, health is very creative.

Other than baking, I've been listening to Welcome to the Welcome Wagon by Rev. Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife, Monique - a.k.a. The Welcome Wagon. This album is full of quirky hymns produced by Sufjan Stevens, so of course I love the music. From their bio.:

"Vito was born in Tecumseh, Michigan, and attended Western Michigan University where he developed a love for writing poetry. His first book of poems, Self-Portrait as Jerry Quarry, was published by New Issues Press in 2002. A self-described agnostic, Vito experienced a spiritual conversion at the age of 20 and soon after enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary to study theology and prepare for ordained ministry. Currently he is the senior pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church, a church he planted in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, in 2005.

Raised on a farm, by a gentleman farmer father and choir teacher mother, in the same small town as Vito, Monique moved to New York City after high school to study art, first at the Cooper Union (BFA), then Columbia University (MFA). Since then she has worked as a pre-school teacher, craftmaker for Martha Stewart, and as a mother. She also serves as The Welcome Wagon's resident visual artist.

The Welcome Wagon began as husband and wife singing in the privacy of their home. Having little to no previous musical experience or training, Vito purchased a guitar with the desire to sing hymns with his family. With Monique accompanying on toy glockenspiel or harmonica, the two would amble through old hymnals, psalters and prayer books. Their inability to read music was no big issue; Vito simply made up new tunes to old words.

While their most familiar venue was (and is) their living room, The Welcome Wagon have been periodically coaxed to small stages at bars, parties, and seminaries throughout the New York City area, often joined by friends on upright bass, drums, piano, and banjo. These intimate arrangements preserve the delicate nature of The Welcome Wagon's identity."

Maybe I'm charmed by Vito and Monique because Johnny and I spend a lot of time in our living room, too - J. often strumming a hymn on the guitar. My current favorite Welcome Wagon track is "But for You Who Fear My Name" (based on Malachi 4:2). This hand clap-filled song is lodged in my brain:

But for you who fear My name,
the Sun of righteousness will rise
with healing in His wings.

And you shall go forth again
and skip about like calves
coming from their stalls at last.

You shall be My very own
on the day that I
cause you to be My special home

I suppose there could be worse ear worms. When I hear such songs, I get all inspired in a different way. I'm tempted to keep bugging Johnny to teach this hymn to our Church's musicians. He's partially in charge, so it could happen.

Oh, and for you Moms, Monique posted her play dough and slime recipes, sure to entertain both her kids and yours on a rainy day. Heck, the play dough looks fun to me (age 34).

[The Welcome Wagon. Photo courtesy of Asthmatic Kitty Records.]


Anonymous said...

I knew Monique while we were at Cooper together. She was one of the kindest people I met. It is so cool to hear that her husband planted that church in Brooklyn...erinn

Amanda Mae said...

"I'm utterly inspired to cultivate health and wellness in our home..." - Me too! So great to hear your journey, and I agree it's very creative!

... about Diet Coke... I've always thought it was mysteriously addictive... people who I know that like it, drink it ALL THE TIME.

And the Welcome Wagon... Thank you for that mention, I listened to them... LOVE THEM!

jenni said...

Erinn, I believe you about Monique ~ she seems to be just that kind of lady.

Amanda Mae, coffee has the same effect on me as Diet Coke does on my hubby, so I can't say too much. :)
I actually crave Dr. Pepper now and then, but I also love the very healthy Zevia.

Abbie said...

The first Sufjan Stevens song I ever encountered was "Vito's Ordination."

So I guess this is Vito!