Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Health and Frugality

I am always amazed by people (mostly Mongolians) who say they would like to eat healthier but could never afford it. In my experience, healthy eating and frugality usually go hand in hand. Now, there are some challenges, as most fruits and vegetables are typically imported into Mongolia and therefore, can be quite expensive. But with some creativity I can usually come up with meals and snacks that not only benefit our health but my kitchen budget as well.

It hasn't been easy and I still have a lot to learn. But here are some ways I keep our family happy, healthy and within our budget.

  • I use whole wheat flour for all our baking- bread, muffins, tortillas, etc. It costs less than the white stuff AND I don't have to buy bran to add to my breads. Total savings of about $10.00 a month.
  • We eat only homemade bread. I make a version of "Ezekiel bread" based on whatever ingredients I can find here. I make and refrigerate a mixture of ground oats, barley, buckwheat, sesame seeds, millet, poppy seeds, pinto beans or split peas, pumpkin seeds, corn and whatever else I can throw in, and use a cup or two of this in my bread recipes ( I make 2 loaves at a time). The results are a wonderfully tasty and healthy bread. And we never get constipated. Too much info? Sorry.
  • We drink water throughout the day and with meals. Seldom do we have juice or sodas around the house. When we do, I don't feel guilty about letting the kids drink them because it's a once in a while treat. =)
  • I make most of the kids' snacks. Every now and then someone gives them candy but we don't spend money on stuff like that. And I have absolutely no qualms about throwing out candy we accumulate over the holidays. Unless it's American candy. =)
  • For almost every recipe I make calling for sugar, I omit 1/4 cup. I have yet to ruin anything.
  • I buy fresh milk and pasteurize it. I also buy homemade yogurt from the same lady. We don't use the packaged stuff, which is almost twice as expensive.
  • We don't buy sweet breakfast cereals. We only buy one box of unsweetened corn flakes a month, so when it's gone it's gone. I try to space it out and save it for busy Sunday mornings but I'm known to sneak a bowl myself late at night. =)
  • I make my own granola. It's really expensive here, and not very tasty. Plus it has peanuts, which Kenny can't have.
  • I use vinegar and baking soda to clean around the house. For extra tough spots I even use sand. These are all much cheaper than cleaning products and they get the job done.
We're still working on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diets. Thankfully, I am married to a health conscious Mongolian (I didn't know they even made those!) who is very supportive of my amateur nutritionist endeavors.

I hope I can inspire those of you who are reading this to make healthier choices, even if it means more time spent in preparation of meals.

Don't aim for perfection. Just try your best and don't sweat the little things!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I just wanted to quickly share a neat phone call I got on Sunday...

It was from a lady who saw me on TV talking about abortion. She got my number from the TV network and called just to encourage me. She's Mongolian, a bit older than me. She cried over the phone when she told me that she didn't know that abortion was wrong and she had an abortion before. I encouraged her and told her that by God's grace she now knew the truth so she would not have to walk in ignorance and sin anymore. This is where she told me that she's not a Christian but she had to believe in God because only God could bring an American girl from the States, teach me Mongolian, and give me a word for the Mongolian women! I got goose bumps because, although I had gotten some feedback before about the program, this was different. Someone had actually come to knowledge of God through the airing of the pro-life program! This was my desire from the beginning-- I didn't just want to tell people that abortion is wrong. I was also praying that souls would be saved through the message as well.

This lady said that she wants to help support Little Hearts. She had been saving up and wanted to know how to give the money. This is the first time a non-Christian (but not for long!) Mongolian woman has wanted to help us financially in getting the pro-life word out.

Many of you pray for and financially support us. I hope this encouraged you as much as it did me!

Mothers' Day (and a few random thoughts...)

Happy belated Mothers' Day to all you mothers out there. I sincerely hope your day was better than mine. =) The night of the 10th we got back from UB and I went to bed with a migraine headache (more like a face ache!)-- my 3rd one ever. It lasted all night and was still sensitive to light and sound in the morning. And I had PMS. grrrrr

That night a pipe cracked in our living room (one of the radiators) and we awoke to a pool of water all over the floor. This is in addition to the leak that already existed in the kids' room. It's been leaking for over a month but we hadn't been able to change the pipe because the city hasn't turned off the hot water yet.

So, Sunday I stayed home with the kids (who all had runny noses, by the way) going back and forth from the living room to the kids' room sopping up water with huge bath towels. And trying to ignore the fact that it was mothers' day.

But I was determined to have a good day, even if it took some creativity. I had made plans to go out to eat with my mom but the pipes, being as they were and Hetee having to preach 2 sermons on Sundays, I decided to just have him bring me some stuff from the store on his way back from the second service and I'd make supper for all of us. It was a challenge, especially since a woman from church showed with her sick baby and stayed for about 4 hours. But in the end, we had a nice meal of beef curry, chapatis and green salad (a delicacy!). I wasn't going to push my luck trying to make a dessert so we had ice cream and canned peaches. =)

Then, we topped our evening off with a game of Scrabble. Thankfully my day ended considerably better than it began. I must have wiped a thousand things that day- from water leaks, to noses, to milk, to poopy bottoms. If anything, it all helped me appreciate my mom better on mothers' day. =)

Back to the migraines, my first one was about a month and a half ago. I was so sick I almost vomited from the pain. We were driving in UB after dark and the oncoming car lights and traffic lights were just unbearable! Then the motion of the car just made it worse. It lasted well into the night but then I felt better in the morning. Since then I had a milder one then the one I got on the night of the 10th was intense and lasted all night. Hetee noticed that they seem to come around the time I get PMS symptoms. I noticed that they only happen in UB or on the way back from UB. One thing I'm sure of, this ain't your typical run-of-the-mill-headache.

The kids' sniffles are getting better. They're still a bit congested but we've been drinking carrot juice and staying away from sweets. There's been an outbreak of the dreaded new strand of foot and mouth disease IN DARKHAN (!!!) so I'm keeping a close eye on them. They've quarantined several places in town and people are being encouraged to not bring small children out. I'm trying not to panic but I ask that you be praying for us to remain peaceful and healthy.

Well, I'm off to finish a batch of chocolate crinkles. The dough has to set in the fridge for 4 hours and I'm as impatient as Nate when it comes to recipes like that.