Day of Industry

Quick and tasty black beans, topped with homemade fresh salsa, my surprisingly successful attempt for lunch today, after a not-so-successful dinner last night.

The day started unpresumingly enough. Kirk had his first day of a new class, but my new class doesn't start until Wednesday. This meant a day of quietness, which is just what I desired in the aftermath of so many rich revelations during Kirsten's visit. I hoped to sit with some of the new thoughts that rose to the surface while she was here, perhaps talk them over with God, see what more He might have to say about all those things, perhaps gain even greater clarity about the many, many questions bubbling up inside of me about my life.

While the morning was slow in its unfolding hours, I did not spend them in the reflective way I thought I would. Instead, I read news clippings, updated my planner with this month's class schedule, began tinkering with iMovie and iPhoto in order to publicly share the very special StoryCorps interview that Kirsten and I recorded while she was here (should have something for you within the next few days!), and played the Yes We Can video repeatedly as I worked.

All I really needed to get done yesterday was a trip to the grocery store, so I was putting it off to the afternoon. And since Kirk decided this weekend that he really wants to try a 28-day detox and fasting regimen this month in an effort to reconnect to a health-first lifestyle, I knew this would simply involve creating a list of lots of healthy legumes and vegetables.

Simple, huh?

As most of you know, I know next to nothing about preparing meals, much less healthy ones. The closest I had gotten were the few meals created while Kirsten was here, inspired out of her own creative mind, and the short-lived attempt at a raw foods life last year.

Thankfully, Kirk had a book in mind for this month-long feat. The book is called Get Healthy Through Detox and Fasting by Dr. Don Colbert, one of the authors I worked with during my time at the publishing house. In short, we are embarking upon something called a modified Daniel diet for 21 days, followed by a 7-day juice fast. This regimen will clean out and detoxify our skin, our cells, our tissues, and our organs, leaving our bodies healthy and whole at the end of it, something Kirk has come to increasingly value as he goes on in life, with me tagging along to bring up the rear. Ha!

I appreciated that Kirk told me that it was completely up to me whether to participate in this eating plan with him or not. As I've shared previously, me and my body have warring issues in the food department. I tend to feel confused, frustrated, scared, and schizophrenic when it comes to eating and taking care of myself. The thought of embarking on a 28-day commitment in this area was nothing short of perplexing. I decided to skim through the book on Monday not only to prepare the grocery list for the foods he would need but also to make my final decision on whether to join on in.

It took just a short skim through the first few chapters for me to remember that this is something my body probably needs. So I kept going, kept scanning the sections on the eating plan and eventually getting to the pages and pages of recipes in the back. Maybe due to having prepared a few healthy meals while Kirsten was here and finding it relatively easy and even fun, I found myself receptive to the idea of this plan. It really helped, too, that the recipes at the back of the book looked positively do-able for me. They were short and utilized a lot of similar ingredients, some of which I'd already become familiar with in my previous shopping expedition for Kirsten's visit.

I began to notice the problem as I worked to prepare the shopping list. Kirk had already begun a list of cruciferous vegetables, not linked to any specific recipe, but now I needed to buy manifold ingredients for 28 recipes for the week: breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner for seven days straight. Yikes!

This became a problem because I had no system. I skimmed recipes that looked pretty good, noticed that many of the ingredients matched many of the ingredients in other recipes, and wrote down the items. I wasn't keeping track of overlapping items on the list or whether the items I wrote down were tied to recipes I actually wanted to try. However, in the hard-headed way that I do sometimes, I just kept blazing ahead.

Until I snapped.

"Arrrgh!!" I sighed, loudly. You might even have called it a harumph. I felt so confused! My eyes were swimming over a sea of ingredients, none of which were arranged in any sensible way. I felt completely taken out of the game by this lame 28-day idea.

Eventually I pulled it together and realized all it took was a bit of order. I turned the list over and created a list of recipes that looked easy to make. Why not go easy on one's self in the first week? Give yourself a chance to succeed and do it well, is what I say. So under the categories of breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner, I selected about five recipes for each to try out this week, figuring we could repeat those which were successful or heat up leftovers, if there were any.

Once the recipe list was compiled, I transferred it to a clean sheet of paper and made it look pretty. (Gotta love the organized pretty; keeps one motivated!)

Then it was time to create the new grocery list. This became easy! I went down the list of my recipes for the week and shuffled to each recipe in the book as I went, writing down the ingredients I needed. When perishable items began to repeat, I added a tally mark to the existing ingredient on the list. And when it came to nonperishable items, such as the numerous spices and oils and other sundry bulk items, I just grinned to myself and thought, "Yeah, that one item will last me for a while."

This entire process took about 4 1/2 hours. I am not kidding you. I know that probably sounds like an exaggeration, but it seriously is no joke. But you can go ahead and laugh anyway, because I know it's pretty funny. Even though it didn't feel funny at the time, in the slightest.

In all, this grocery excursion required trips to three separate grocery stores: Costco, Whole Foods, and Publix. Seeing as how it took the entire afternoon to complete the list, the shopping began right about the time the streets became flooded with cars, everyone coming home from work but also stopping at the store to pick up some last-minute items for dinner. This means the streets and stores were crowded and this already cranky, tired girl became crankier and tired-er.

I could only muster the heart to do Costco and Whole Foods yesterday, saving Publix for this morning, but you should have seen me trying to complete this part of the job, staring at shelves and asking many employees along the way for help repeatedly. Where do I find Ezekiel bread? What about coconut milk? Rice milk? Agave nectar and butternut squash? Barley?

When I finally got home last night, two hours later, I decided to make one of the meals originally planned for Kirsten's visit, knowing I had all the ingredients, whereas many of the freshest ingredients for these new recipes were still on the produce shelves at Publix, waiting for me until morning to pick them up. I selected a Thai dish with homemade peanut sauce for our evening meal, and this took about an hour for my already tired mind and body to prepare. (Seriously, how do people do it??)

I guess the bummer news is that the meal did not turn out. I cooked brown rice for the first time, and for whatever reason the instructions are different than for white rice. I didn't cook it long enough but didn't realize this was the case until it was too late. On top of that, the peanut sauce did not turn out. It ran more watery than expected, even though I had it heating on a slow-burning heat for about 45 minutes. Grr!! This is not the way to end a difficult day of unexpected activity!

Kirk was a good sport, though, insisting on eating my share even as I looked on in disbelief. It really was not good, folks, but perhaps that estimation was more psychological and therefore exaggerated than it was based in reality. Even tonight, Kirk says he wants to heat up its leftovers. Silly boy! (And this picture to the left is his stamp of approval on the black-beans-and-salsa lunch I created today, which I must agree, was quite tasty.)