June’s Food-of-the-Month: To the Land of Milk and Honey!

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 in Food and Fitness | 69 comments

After the week we’ve had here in Colorado Springs, I’m tired!  In the aftermath of the wildfires that burned down almost 350 homes and 17,000 acres, I think it’s time for some “comfort food” for our heart, mind, body and soul.  The following Scripture seems especially appropriate:  “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people…. I have heard them crying out… and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them… and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey….’” (Exodus 3:7-8).  Mmm… sounds wonderful!

To the evacuees temporarily living in cramped quarters I imagine “good and spacious” sounds sublime.  But to all of us–even those who haven’t spent much time in the Bible–“a land flowing with milk and honey” conjures up something utterly delightful in every way.  Pleasing to all of our senses, the land is fertile, abundantly alive and overflowing with blessings… a reward of complete comfort and satisfaction after an arduous journey.  For those who have suffered this week, I pray peace and joy will be found in this land in a personal relationship with God.  And on a much smaller scale, I hope that as we look at some of the foods in “the land of milk and honey,” we will find not only comfort but strength.

The Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health, David Zinczenko, says, “There’s a reason why milk gets big play in magazine ads and billboards:  it’s one of the best sources of bone-building calcium.  As you age, your body depletes calcium from your bones, leaving your skeleton deprived and more prone to thinning.  Calcium–also found in other dairy products… is the main mineral that helps build and maintain your skeletal structure” (The Abs Diet for Women).  In addition to nonfat milk, my favorite dairy products are nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and other cheeses.  Both women and men need 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium a day; if you don’t already, start reading labels on your dairy products!  For people who are lactose intolerant–lacking the enzyme to break down milk sugar–yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.  One of my favorite combinations is nonfat, plain Greek yogurt with agave nectar and blueberries, pictured above–a delicious form of “milk and honey!”

But calcium alone is not enough to build bone strength… our body needs Vitamin D to help absorb the calcium.  Interestingly, recent blood tests revealed a Vitamin D deficiency in me.  I admit I was surprised since I consciously maintain a healthy diet.  But in my research for this blog post I learned that “Vitamin D deficiency is a major, largely unrecognized epidemic in adult men and women in the United States today” (SuperFoods Rx by Steven Pratt, M.D.).  And it shouldn’t be taken lightly as “there seems to be an inverse risk of dying from breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers with a decreased presence of Vitamin D” (SuperFoods Rx).

I now take a Vitamin D supplement daily (as prescribed by a physician).  But I also take more seriously that “The most important source of Vitamin D is the skin’s synthesis of the vitamin from sunlight exposure” (SuperFoods Rx).  For those of us who wear sunscreen–wanting to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays–we need to find “a happy medium” so we’re also benefitting from its helpful rays!  Dr. Pratt advises getting about 15 minutes of sun exposure to our arms and face at least three times a week, before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m., when the ultraviolet rays are not as damaging to the skin.

One more quick note about building bone strength:  I’d be remiss not to say resistance training is a KEY component.  “Studies have repeatedly shown that you need to include resistance training… to help prevent bone loss.  Penn State researchers even found that exercise is four times as effective as calcium for creating bone mass” (The Abs Diet for Women).  So get to the gym!  If you need some help in this area, read my blog post entitled “2012 Workout Tips for Gals & Guys… STARTING NOW!”

Enjoy your cottage cheese with berries or tomatoes, and as I’ve mentioned before, use plain, nonfat Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream.  If you’re not a huge fan of milk, add chocolate (or your favorite flavor) protein powder–that’s how I first started drinking protein shakes.  Most importantly, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *