Tiger Nut Flour Chocolate Cupcakes

These are also sugar-free and low carb, depending on your definitions. 

Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes

An allergy friendly cupcake. No dairy, no coconut, no nuts.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: allergy sensitive, dairy free, keto, low carb, sugar-free
Servings: 24

Equipment

  • 2 muffin/cupcake pans
  • 24 cupcake liners

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 cups tigernut flour sifted, then measured
  • 2/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cups cassava flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T instant coffee

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup monkfruit erythritol blend or preferred sugar substitute
  • 1 cup melted butter 2 sticks
  • 1 cup water Milk, coconut milk, almond milk, etc. can be used here.
  • 1 T vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Sift tiger nut flour before measuring, then sift all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  • Add all wet ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix with a blender or stand mixer whisk attachment until sweetener is dissolved.
  • Add one cup at a time of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, blending thoroughly before adding the next cup.
  • If the mixture isn't quite thin enough to resemble cake batter, also add more water by the tablespoon as you go. Tiger nut flour is inconsistent, in my experience, so liquid measurements are approximate.
  • Spoon or pour cake batter into lined cupcake pans.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Sugar-free Chocolate Butter Frosting

A sugar free chocolate butter frosting
Prep Time5 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 24

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered monkfruit erythritol blend sweetener or desired sugar substitute
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 T avocado oil approximate

Instructions

  • Blend all ingredients together except the avocado oil, until homogenous.
  • Add avocado oil a little at a time, as needed, to reach a spreadable consistency.

We made these cupcakes for a birthday treat recently, and they went over well enough that I thought I’d share it. Since we have both dairy allergies and coconut allergies, and I’m just opposed to almond milk on principle, I used water for the liquid. You would probably get a better result with real milk or even fake milk.

I can’t eat even the tiniest bite of chocolate, as I confirmed again recently at a friends’ child’s birthday party. I ate a few chocolate covered banana slices (to be polite, and not at all because I love chocolate covered bananas), and six weeks later, I am finally starting to dry up the resulting acne from my face. I remember during a health class in high school, the school nurse said it was a myth that chocolate causes acne. Well, it might be a myth for some people. It is not a myth for me.

Consequently, I can’t personally tell you whether this cake is any good at all, but the kids loved it!

 

A Palm Sunday Thought

I was teaching Sunday school this morning. I hadn’t prepared a lesson, but it’s Palm Sunday, so we went first to Mark ch. 10, and then to Psalm 118, which is the scripture the people were singing from as their King entered Jerusalem.
This is also the Psalm that names Him as “the stone that the builders rejected” that “has become the head of the corner”. The very next verse after “blessed is He who comes” says:
” The Lord is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!”
All of those people, under the power of the Holy Spirit, were singing of the sacrifice coming to be killed for their sins. I doubt a single one of them had any inkling that He was the sacrifice. They were just singing the song of their Conquering King. Since it was the Passover, they would have expected Him to perhaps preside over the sacrifices, not be the sacrifice.
The chief priests must have been shaking in their boots.
The King was coming.

Book Recommendation: Atomic Habits

Lest anybody think my sudden return to blogging, even if it’s only five minutes a day, has anything at all to do with any sticktoitiveness within myself, I must recommend the book that got me back on the straight and narrow.

 

I’ve always been fairly organized, and pretty motivated to get things done, and I found a lot of stuff in this book that I had intuitively been doing already in those areas I’m doing well at. But I also found some ways of looking at things that really kicked me in the pants and made me realize that I’ve been wasting a LOT of time letting bad habits, procrastination, and fear pull me away from things that I really want to do, and am capable of at least to some extent, like playing piano and getting actual blog posts in the hopper on a regular basis.

Atomic Habits is well-written and full of practical and philosophical advice. Just don’t pay any attention to examples of healthy habits like getting vaccinated and eating vegetables, and you’ll be fine.

Do I Have the Guts?

To run this 7-mile race?

I’ve been running between five and fifteen kilometers a week for about three years now. I never really think of myself as a runner, since I only do it because I enjoy that freedom of movement and that much-vaunted runner’s high. But a young girl asked me the other day, while we were talking about some stuff “You’re a runner, aren’t you?”

And you know what? I realized that I kinda am. I don’t just run. I am a runner. I wouldn’t give it up for love or money at this point.

So, why don’t I raise the stakes a little?

I’m about to enter my first race. It would be, like every run I take, a race against myself. I have no expectation of beating any other human. I don’t wonder so much if I can finish it, or how fast–I think I can predict these things–but whether I have the guts to let other people see me possibly fail. Or wear the “wrong” socks. Or look all red in the face and frazzled at the end. And, most likely, “lose”. Even though, for me, just to show up would be a win.

To be honest, my times are abysmal. I’m nowhere near what I wish I was. Seven miles is about twice my usual run, which is habitually 5-6k. That’s all I have time for most days. The top females my age last year did it in about an hour, and I’m pretty sure I can do close to that, anyway.

I’ve never competed, except with myself. I don’t do things for spectators. Is my social phobia so deeply buried (carnivore did that) that I will actually make it out on the big day? And actually do it? Just showing up would be a win.

I’ll let you know if I’m a winner or a loser when the day comes. I just hit “submit registration”.

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work For You, Part 6: You Didn’t Know Your Reason

Why are you doing this, anyway?

I will occasionally come across somebody online who says that they tried carnivore, even though they didn’t have any particular reason to do so. By that person’s estimate, she had already been in perfect health and everything she was doing was working just fine. But she wanted to see if the carnivore way of eating would improve anything. And she usually finds that, in fact, she had been a lot less healthy than she thought she was. Her libido roars back to life, or the joint pain that she thought was due to “getting older” goes away, or the ringing in her ears stopped. All sorts of unanticipated pleasant things happen to people who eliminate plants from their diets. It’s almost magical!

But there are, for the first few weeks of shifting to a carnivorous diet, often some unpleasant things to be gotten through. Most of these difficulties can be mitigated by reading the rest of this series: Why Carnivore Didn’t Work For You, and taking that advice. If you hadn’t read these posts of mine, though, or gotten advice from someone else who has been there, you might have jumped into the carnivore diet feet first, with no idea why, except that the Meat Life™ sounds like a pretty cool bandwagon, and you didn’t want to miss out.

So you got a few days or weeks in, and stuff started to happen.

You felt lethargic and depressed. You started to feel like you were hypoglycemic. You got explosive diarrhea, or stopped going to the bathroom altogether. It got so bad you just gave up and had the spaghetti one day, et voila, you felt better. Back to your old self. Man, you missed that bread! I mean, the tinnitus came back, and you’re looking a little puffy again, but at least you feel happy!

My friend, carnivore works, even for you. It really does. But because you didn’t have a very strong reason to stick through and troubleshoot whatever was going wrong, you didn’t get to a place where you could experience that. I truly believe that there is nobody whose health or mood is so good that carnivore couldn’t make it better. But without something driving you to eat better, all of the potential pitfalls of the adaptation phase–sugar cravings, social needs, bowel upheavals, or doubts about the medical safety of it–you will quit.

If you’re making a change so drastic as this with no good idea why, it’s going to be, for all but the most stubborn of people, an unsustainable change. If you want to give the carnivore diet a go, know why you’re doing it first. Maybe it is something as simple as “better overall health”. But if you don’t name the result you’re looking for, you’ll likely lose sight of your progress when faced with difficulties. Go ahead and let your reason be “just” tinnitus. But hold on to your reason, friend. You’re going to need it when you’re at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and your family is chowing down on muffins and waffles, while you’re stuck with the bacon and eggs.

It won’t be enough that you’re just trying out a new way of eating. You will need sweet reason to get you through. After a while, you’ll start to notice other little reasons that you can add to the list. Your psoriasis went away. You’re no longer anxious. You made it through a menstrual cycle without anybody having to call the cops on you. Write all that stuff down. Add every small victory to your list of reasons to stick with it.

And stick with it, friend. Carnivore works.

 

It’s Just Five Minutes

I can do five minutes!

There was a time when blogging was habitual to me. Somebody would say something, and I’d be discontent with the conversation, and I’d turn it into a blog post. Or I’d have an idea that seemed shareable, and even though I doubted anybody was even going to read it, I would post it. It was fun! I fell out of the habit; what with all the children running around, and having to school them, run the household, tend to dogs and chickens, I just ran out of time.

I thought. I thought I ran out of time. What I really ran out of, was the habit. So I’m going to try to do five minutes a day of blogging from now on, talking about whatever stupid thing happens to be on my mind at that moment. You don’t have to be here to read it, friend. It might be a while before anything worthwhile flows again. I miss my little corner of the internet, and this is me scratching up the straw and making a nice nest to settle back down in.

There. Five minutes. I did it.

What neglected joy could you be spending five minutes on today?

You Have to Stop Doing Carnivore

You’ll waste away!

Every time I see somebody I haven’t seen in a while, they tell me how great I look. Well, that’s nice of them, isn’t it? It also happens to be true. I look about as good as I am capable of looking. Not gonna be winning any beauty contests, sadly, but I’m doing OK! And then, at least half the time, that same someone will say with concern–or, I’m not above suspecting, envy–something to the effect that one can take this thing too far, and I should really reincorporate something sweet into my meals at some point.

There was a time when it would have been a fair observation that I was becoming too skinny. Back when I was doing keto and there were a bunch of vegetables taking up space I should have been using for protein and fat, I was getting to be a little bit on the stringy side. I got down to just 100 lbs, and I hated the way I looked. I still hadn’t lost all the visible fat in my belly, but everything just hung off of me. I was wasting muscle, not just fat. I knew I couldn’t go back to the way of eating that had made me sick to begin with, but I certainly couldn’t continue with keto. All of my research convinced me that removing even more kinds of foods from my diet, rather than adding anything else back, was the best way to make myself truly healthy, and not just not fat.

When I went carnivore, I put back on fifteen pounds or so, and most of that was muscle and bone. I wish I’d had a before and after dexa scan to prove it, but common sense and a good look in the mirror are really enough. I’m definitely bigger than I was, and I’m definitely not fat.

Now, most of the time, when somebody tells me I’m going to get sick from all this meat, I just show my skeptic a nice, firm bicep, or tell them how fast I can run or how much weight I can lift these days. I am well-built at this point, with a healthy layer of muscle everywhere it ought to be. I even get comments about my good build from strangers in public. Nobody thinks I’m skinny. Feels good, man!

I do still have a little bit of mommy-belly, an inch or so of dangly skin that’s pretty easily hidden under my clothes. I’ve carried eight babies and had 5 c-sections. It’s not perfect, and I don’t know if it ever will be. But that’s ok, because a perfect little tummy is not what I’m going for. It would be nice, but it’s not my goal. That’s what I really want you to understand: I’m not doing this diet so I can look small. I want to be appropriately sized, strong and fast enough to do anything I need to do, and sharp and quick enough to stay alive in an increasingly tricky world. (Have you seen the traffic around here lately?)

I can’t do this if I’m eating the way 98% of the people around me are eating. Sorry. It just won’t work. It’s not working for you, either, friend.

Beauty is a sign of health, and health is what I’m chasing. I won’t say I don’t care how I look, because I’m as vain as any woman. I like to look just as good as I can. Happily, when I chase health, I’m bound to catch a little beauty, as well! I can’t lose eating this way!

Carnivore is not a weight loss diet. If you are fat, you will lose weight on carnivore. Your body will no longer be receiving the signal from your food to store extra fat. But if you are too skinny, you can fix that with carnivore, too! Doesn’t that just blow your mind? How is that even possible? But it’s true. You can stimulate muscle and put on healthy fat with this diet. I did it myself, and I haven’t dropped below 115 pounds in a few years. In fact, I’m still slowly gaining a little muscle. It ain’t easy to gain at 40-something, but if you lift consistently, and eat enough MEAT, it is doable.

I never have to eat more than I want to, but I do get to eat until I’m full. And then I can stop eating until I’m hungry again. Now, my concerned friend, does that sound like an eating disorder to you?

People actually heal their eating disorders and get back to a healthy weight by eating only meat. The carnivore way of eating will recompose your body to its best advantage. It does not simply force weight loss until you die. It is not anorexia. It is not a weird cultish fear of food. It is not something people do just to shock the current culture and stick a finger in the globalist all-seeing eye. (Although I do see that last as an upside.)

Carnivore is simply optimal.

For everybody, though? Well, like I’ve said before, I don’t think everybody has to go carnivore. Most people who think they’re doing ok would see improvements in problems they never even thought were food-related, if they’d just give it 30 days. I do think absolutely everybody can thrive on it. There is nobody who absolutely has to have plants. They are non-essential. Plants, especially grains, are survival food, hibernation food, slave food. As long as I have a choice, I want to thrive, not just survive.

There are sometimes some bumps in the road for some as they become accustomed to the Meat Life™, but all of the difficulties I’ve coached people through are caused not by eating meat, but by the severe damage they’ve already done to their bodies with standard American fare. See my “Why Carnivore Didn’t Work For You” series, for a few ways things can go wrong. If you need any help getting through the transition to a diet (not necessarily carnivore) that will work best for you, get in touch with me by email (cindy at getalonghome dot com) or on social media. I’d love to help!

Dear friends and family, I cannot possibly take this lifestyle too far, because it is not weight loss that I’m pursuing. It is health that I am after, and I’m getting better all the time. Join me!

Want to chat? Catch me on Gab, MeWe, or Social Galactic.

 

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 5: You Went Too Fast

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

So you heard about this awesome, extreme way of eating. You saw the news that people were reversing diabetes, healing auto-immune diseases, lowering blood pressure, losing weight, getting ripped, and feeling incredible. You decided to jump into the lifestyle, went straight to the pantry, and threw out everything that never had a face. You went from eating all the things, to eating only beef, salt, and water on the first day.

And good for you! You knew what you needed to do, and you decided to just rip that band-aid right off and get on with it. That works beautifully sometimes! Probably about half of the people I’ve talked to personally about carnivore make this transition smoothly, with no trouble at all. Other times, unfortunately, a person will meet with so many trials in that first few weeks that they will give up. One of the things we carnivores often forget to mention is that we usually have a slower introduction to the Meat Life than this. Probably 95% of the successful Carnivorists started their search for health with keto, paleo, or something else a little off the beaten path, and only eventually pared it down to the bare necessities.

I was on a ketogenic diet for about 6 months before I decided to try it without plants. Because I transitioned slowly to this way of eating, I avoided all of the potential pitfalls of rushing right in.

I changed my relationship with food slowly.

I did not intentionally transition slowly to carnivore, as I had never even considered carnivore until about a day before I started it. As with many carnivores, it just sorta happened. I fell out of love with carbs. For me, there was no traumatic divorce from my Standard American Diet. Food is an emotional thing for most people. You have a relationship with it, even if you’re not a carb addict. It’s there for you when you feel bad or bored. It’s part of the social atmosphere, especially at holidays. You can’t just quit eating, so every meal is fraught with the stress of choice-making. So rather than changing everything about your food all at once, you need to change the way you relate to food first.

My only goal at first was to lose weight, so I started with a “dirty” ketogenic diet. The thinking behind it made sense–cut carbs, eat more fat–so that’s what I did. I did the keto desserts, the butter in my coffee, the intermittent fasting to get my ketones up. I baked all kinds of keto treats and made fat bombs. I even ate Atkins and Quest bars. Those things do not provide adequate nutrition. They’re junk food! But I think they’re also just fine while starting out. While I was weaning off of the real granola bars and candies, they provided a crutch so that all of the rest of my eating could be good, low-carb, whole foods. They are still worlds better than the carbohydrate-full kind! I began to feel better and lose weight immediately.

After a few months of getting used to running on fat instead of sugar, I cut out all sweet treats and bread substitutes, keeping the vegetables and berries and low-carb dairy. I did that because I knew that the sweet treats were still giving me more total carbs than I was able to handle. My weight loss had stalled.

I then moved to a “clean” ketogenic diet, and I lost more weight. Most of the problems that I had had with my skin, my mental health, my asthma all went away with a clean, unprocessed ketogenic diet. But I still had milder problems at times. One day, I was talking with a friend about veganism, and I said without thinking much about it “I’d rather give up all plants than all meat.” And the idea was born. I had not yet realized that you don’t have to have plants to be healthy, but I had made the connection between plants and many of my symptoms. It was a couple of days later that I happened upon some carnivore on YouTube (probably Shawn Baker or Paul Saladino), and only after looking into it more deeply, to see if this actually makes sense, did I decide to eliminate plants entirely.

Changing my relationship with food wasn’t enough. I also had to change my gut flora. The gut micro-biome is one of most-studied and least-understood aspects of human health, so a lot of what I’m about to say is conjecture. The more we study it the less we seem to know, and I am absolutely not going to claim any expertise. Even the experts have no real idea what they’re doing, according to the experts themselves! But what I do know, and have seen many times, is that changing your food too quickly can lead to some awful symptoms.

Anybody who has brought a new puppy home knows that you have to mix some of their old type of food with the new food over several days to allow their microbiome to adapt.  I had to do the same with my dog when I switched him to an appropriate diet (aka: meat) for dogs. The kibble you get in the stores is not the right food for an animal. We went too fast with our daughter’s new dog, due to only having a handful of his old food to work with, and he had a horrible diarrhea requiring veterinarian care. The very same thing happens when humans change their diets too quickly.

You might not be in love with carbs anymore, but I guarantee you some of your critters still are! In addition to the gastrointestinal distress of the bacteria die-off and replacement, I often see people anywhere from two to six weeks into a no-sugar diet–whether carnivore, keto, or just lower carb–begin to have depression, brain fog, and lack of willpower to resist carbs, even though they were doing fine for the first few weeks. I have a theory, completely untested by Science™, that when certain microbes and parasites are being fed, namely those that thrive on carbohydrates, they send soporific signals to your brain, letting you know that all is right with their world. And when they’re not being fed? Look out. They get mad, and mean, and start to beg for sugar. Like a rampaging toddler who wants his toy NOW, they will make you unhappy until they get what they want.

AI rendering of “angry toddler who wants his toy”

That’s just my theory, for what it’s worth. What is not just a theory, because I’ve seen it happen time and time again, is that if you power through these difficult times, get back on the diet no matter how many times you fall off, you will get past this!

Moving more slowly in weaning off of the plant matter will help you succeed. Don’t add back sugar when you feel like you’re not going to be able to stick to this way of eating. Just add back some green vegetables or some low-carb berries. These kinds of foods will help calm that urge to really hurt yourself on the sweet stuff, and you will be able to move on into carnivore bliss in a few days.

 

 

 

 

Poor People Should Not Have Children

And other stupid things smart people think.

Got into a little bit of a discussion with “the smartest man in the world” on Gab, whose childhood was miserable, he thinks, because he was poor. He wishes poor people wouldn’t even have children.

Of course, since I’m a Christian, I have a different take on it: Blessed are the poor.

Since I don’t have a lot of time to write a new post, and I already addressed this more than a decade ago, I thought I’d just drop a chapter from my book, ConDeceived, which was really just a collection of blog posts on the same topic, to do the rest of my arguing for me. Self-plagiarism FTW! Here you go:

Lie: Children are too Expensive

Those darn kids sure are expensive, aren’t they? Too expensive to have!

This comic from xkcd just happened to come to my attention the day after I found out I was carrying our fifth child, who at the time was about the size of a sesame seed, and for whose prenatal care and delivery costs we appeared to be woefully short. How that shortfall came to be is a long story. Suffice it to say that we were not feeling flush.

After rearranging some priorities, working to earn a little extra money, and eating a few more meals of beans and rice to bulk up our savings against the day of delivery, we found that God didn’t even need our help. The money was there, and then some! If we’d made a “decision” based on whether our bank account looked flush, we’d be short one very energetic bundle of hazel-eyed joy. And we’d probably still have less money, because we wouldn’t have gone into emergency mode to cover the looming (imaginary) financial difficulty.

The financial burden that children impose upon their parents is a lie our culture continually tells, and even Christians fall for it, hook, line, and sinker. I’m not going to pretend that it costs nothing to feed our children, but I will say that the financial costs aren’t anywhere near what “experts” tell us. In fact, chances are that you’re going to end up about as wealthy as you were going to be whether you add kids into the mix or not. Wealth, especially in a country like ours, has less to do with how many mouths you’re feeding and more to do with your willingness to work, your skill-set, and your ability to save rather than spend. In fact, a quick search of the web reveals several studies that have shown that men tend to earn more once they’ve added children to the home. Nothing lights a fire under a man’s behind like having to feed a houseful of people. I can add from personal experience that stay-at-home motherhood can be quite a spur to frugality, as well. 

Practically everybody is familiar with the Duggars—Jim Bob and Michelle, and their 19 kids—through their reality television show “19 Kids and Counting.” I’ve only watched a few episodes, so I don’t know very much about them. But you know what? They don’t look poor to me. Of the large Christian families that I know personally, some are wealthy, and some are decidedly not. They are all, however, fed, clothed, and lacking nothing essential. Maybe they don’t have anything fancy, or their shoes are a bit scuffed, but they are taken care of. I also know families with two kids, or none, who are in dire financial straits.

Financial peace in the home has more to do with a couple’s relationship with money than it does with the number of people requiring new shoes at any given moment. Knowing this, and having lived it, I really don’t see how we can blame our children for our financial situations. Family size has very little to do with the long-term wealth of a family.

But what if it did?

Let’s stipulate that having children does, in fact, mean you’re going to be less wealthy. Pretend that every child you add to your family really does remove hundreds of thousands of dollars from your future purse. Does that mean preventing them from even coming into existence is the best way to secure your future?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (and, I might add, where the Fed does not inflate away–ed.). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

–Matthew 6:19-21 

Christians, these are the only treasures you can take with you!

Our culture sets parents against children, and present children against future ones, telling us that they’re a money-suck, and the only thing standing between us and a comfortable retirement. (And isn’t comfort the real purpose of living?) Even in the church, financially strapped parents are led to believe that their money troubles are partly due to the existence of their children and advised against having more…unless the money is there.

Is this how God thinks of children? Does He think of them as consumer goods, to be “bought” only if we can afford to “pay for” them?

In God’s economy, children are wealth! Look at just a few of the things the Bible has to say about children:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

—Psalm 127:3-5 

You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock.. —Deuteronomy 7:14

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,

    who walks in his ways!

You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;

    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

    within your house;

your children will be like olive shoots

    around your table.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed

    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!

    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

    all the days of your life!

May you see your children’s children!

    Peace be upon Israel!

 —Psalm 128:1-6

And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

—Genesis 33:5 

Children are not consumer goods. They are people made in the image of God, and a heritage from the Lord. 

We Christians should allow the World to go ahead and worry about how much it “costs” to have kids. What they have on this Earth is all they’ll ever have, so it’s natural for them to plan accordingly. We who know better ought to look forward to rejoicing in the fruits of our labor when we are old—a living legacy of Godly children.

At the end of my life, if God wills that I should live to old age (which, given my driving abilities, seems like a longshot), I will probably die in somewhat less well-appointed circumstances than I would have if I’d focused more on storing up treasures here on earth. That could be in part because of the amount of money I’ve “wasted” raising my children–people whose existence I could have prevented with just a quick visit to the doctor.

It is vaguely possible that the cost of my kids’ education, clothing, and healthcare would have been put into a savings account if those little people just didn’t exist. But those people will be there when I’m old, and when I die they’ll be sorry I’m gone. I doubt whatever is left of my retirement fund will feel so strongly about my passing.

Who is your provider?

Of course, we do have to pay for things like food, shelter, and clothing for all these new bodies we keep adding to the census every 20 months or so, don’t we? Have you ever worried about how you’re going to feed your next baby? Or maybe it’s your neighbor whose family size has you worried. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. 

An older lady—the greeter at Walmart, actually—once stopped me and asked me how “all these young mothers” thought they were going to pay for “all these” kids. (I’d have borne the insult gracefully if I’d thought she meant I looked too young to know what I was getting into. Alas, she didn’t seem to be including me in her definition of “young mothers.”)

If it were just one lady whose age appeared not to have fostered wisdom, I probably wouldn’t bother writing about it. But it’s not just her. Daily, internet searchers come to my website wondering why Christian families are having children they can’t afford, along with Christians who are wondering how they’re going to afford the blessings God is sending their way. Strangers on the street tell me that they don’t understand how I can afford my kids. My own grandmother wants me to stop having kids because they cost too much! (And they have never cost her a dime!)

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.–Proverbs 15:17

What these questioners overlook is the fact that we’re talking about Christian families.

Christianity is the key. Searchers who ask why Christian families think they can afford so many children answer their own question. I propose that the reason that they can afford the large family lifestyle is because they are Christians.

Stay with me for a moment. I am not saying that Christians are wealthier, smarter, or somehow less expensive to feed and clothe than non-Christians. We come from all walks of life, after all. However, the Bible does provide a great deal of financial wisdom for those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take advantage of it. The rest of the world kinda-sorta knows these things, as the large number of secular personal finance blogs indicates, but Christians often literally take their faith to the bank.

People who take God’s word seriously concerning family structure and His love for their offspring are equally likely to believe biblical truths about earning, spending, borrowing, giving, and saving. Believing these things, they are more likely to live by them, however imperfectly, than those who haven’t heard the word of God. Not every large family has the best grasp on these principles, it’s true, but it has been my experience that larger Christian families are much more likely to be debt-free and financially independent than even most smaller Christian families or childless couples.

In fact, what looks like scarcity to our credit-driven culture is often just a different set of values. My shoes aren’t always in the best condition, we live in a less well-appointed home than many would think acceptable, and our cars are never new, but we’re debt free and building our savings. And yet, our neighbors seem to think we must be broke!

Some of my large-family friends are (by my lights, anyway) filthy rich, and others are struggling to keep the lights on, but none of them show any bitterness toward their children when the bills come due. This is because they know that the mere presence of children hasn’t done anything to change their financial situation. Even if their children’s needs were breaking the bank, they don’t measure people in dollars and cents.

God provides. For all Christian families, whether large or small, it always comes down to this: God provides for His children.

My father often used to talk in his sermons about a time when his daughters had no shoes, and he had no work boots. He cried out to God for help, and what do you know? My grandmother dropped by with shoes for both kids (note that our family was a “manageable” size, and yet we were poor), and he found by the side of the road a new, unworn pair of boots that were the size he needed. My father was working as hard as he could, but it was a bad economy, and he came from a poor family himself. He was doing his part in trying to provide, and it still wasn’t enough for our family’s needs at the time.

But God had enough for us!

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.—Psalm 37:25

So how are we doing it? How can we hope to keep this up, baby after baby, in an uncertain world? God certainly does provide, and He gives us the ability to do many things to help ourselves.

As I said before, despite the frightening numbers that “experts” in the media are constantly pushing on an ever more gullible public, children are not expensive. It’s lifestyle and material expectations that cost so much. In this wealthy nation, many of the things that we deem essential to a happy and productive existence are really just icing on the cake. 

Our cake has less icing.

We can afford to raise our kids, but there are a lot of other things we can’t afford:

  • A housing-bubble priced house. Our family has been priced out of buying our first home for the last ten years, thanks to all the geniuses buying and selling houses as if they were some of those new-fangled tulip flowers. We never felt comfortable with the prices, so we just didn’t bother. Thanks to that big POP! you heard a while back when reality hit the real estate market, we’ll be able to buy a modest home soon. We hope. In the meantime, we rent.
  • A room for each child. Our kids share bedrooms. Small ones. This is unthinkable in a society where everybody has not only his own bedroom, but his own TV to keep him in it. I grew up that way, my dad grew up that way, and I don’t see any reason my kids shouldn’t grow up that way. I find that my kids like each other more because of the close proximity.
  • Nice, new cars. A beat up 2006 mini-van and the little Kia to get Jesse to work will do just fine. We’ll need a bigger family vehicle soon, but we’ll still be buying used and, most likely, ugly.
  • Expensive clothing, food, etc. I do most of the shopping, and I have to admit, I’m not the best bargain shopper. I usually miss the best deals, forget something on my list, or pay too much for something. I minimize the impact of my inability to shop well by shopping as little as possible, eating plain food, and buying the good-enough-for-the-likes-of-us brands instead of name brands.
  • Cable television. Honestly, we wouldn’t pay for that anyway. We have the internet and Netflix. That’s plenty.
  • Dates, live entertainment, eating out. For fun, we look for free and cheap things to do. Mostly, though, we just hang out at home and with our extended families. It’s OK. We like each other. I budget for a couple of nights of take-out a month, also, but that’s something we could do without if we had to.
  • Vacations We cheat a little bit on this one. My in-laws take us to the beach with them sometimes. If we had to do it for ourselves, we’d do without.
  • College funds. Judging from the comments I’ve seen about this elsewhere, not sending your child to college is tantamount to child abuse. If my children want to go to college, they’ll have to do it on their own dime. My plan is to pay for all of their living expenses as long as they need to in order to save enough money (starting with their jobs as teenagers) to attend college. It is my hope that they can do it debt free with community colleges, scholarships, and hard work. I don’t consider college to be necessary to happiness or success, though. There are lots of ways make an honest living. 
  • Debt. We absolutely cannot afford to pay banks or individuals for the use of their money.
  • The admiration of more materialistic people. No names (obviously), but there are people who have treated us rather poorly because we wear the wrong clothes, drive the wrong cars, and eat the wrong foods. Frankly, this makes me glad we don’t have much in the way of material goods. It weeds out the insincere. We can’t afford those kinds of friends.

It could be that if we didn’t have our children, we’d have more of these things I’ve listed. We might have a fatter savings account, less financial stress, fewer grey hairs. It is also possible that, lacking the frugal mindset our children give us, we’d be squandering our money on all of the above things and would look and feel wealthier, but our bank accounts would remain essentially the same.

It is my belief that children, in the long run, have a pretty small effect on a family’s finances. Our financial habits and earning potential seem to me to have a great deal more influence on our net worth than the number of mouths we have to feed.

While the math (not to mention my stress level) sometimes goes a little bit wonky, I’ve found that there is always a way to stretch the budget to feed one more—whether it’s one more child in our family, or one more family coming over for dinner. The One who provides for our family does so abundantly, even when the bank account doesn’t look so good.

My husband and I (before we had kids) spent some time in penury, so I’m not saying bad things can’t happen. I am saying that no matter how lean or fat the times are, it’s not my job to try to predict the cost of the children God places in our care. Nor is it my place to complain if our material circumstances aren’t precisely what I wished for. It is my place to work, pray, be realistic in my expectations, and trust God to provide.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

–Matthew 6:25-32 (NIV)

You Keep Using that Verse…

I do not think it means what you think it means.

Within the space of about a month, I’ve had three different people tell me that there is a Bible verse that not only justifies the use of birth control within a Christian marriage, but that actually seems to demand it in certain circumstances. That verse? 1 Timothy 5:8: 

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Since that verse has come up three times, through three different people, who appear to have three different agendas, a more superstitious person might take all those threes to mean that Triune God Himself is on the line, and trying to get through with a very important message. And I admit that I considered that possibility, albeit briefly.

The first two times I’d been read this verse in this way, it came from commenters on my blog, Get Along Home. The third time, it came from a preacher on the radio while I was on my way to Atlanta for a weekend retreat for Christian homeschooling moms. The preacher said, essentially “Yes, the Bible says that children are blessings, but it also says (1 Timothy 5:8), so we should consider that very carefully when making our reproductive choices.”

Well, I thought I had the answer all worked out, but here’s a real minister who says differently! I was perturbed. What if I’ve been steering people wrong with all my talk of the blessing of children? This certainly seems like a pretty strong sign, doesn’t it? Suddenly lacking the surety I thought I’d reached, I prayed for guidance, right there in my car. The answer I got was, as usual, silence. God doesn’t normally speak audibly, after all. 

After my initial panic, I remembered that the Holy Bible knows nothing of numerology and personal signs from Heaven for hillbilly mommy bloggers. Given that fact, I thought it might be more reasonable to take a look at the actual context of the verse than to attempt to intuit what God was trying to tell me while I was careening down the interstate, desperately searching for signs of an available restroom.

(Incidentally, bathroom calls are incredibly close together when you’re carrying a nearly full-term baby in your womb, and I-85 doesn’t seem to be built with the expectant mother’s bladder in mind. I really don’t recommend driving from Boone to Atlanta in this condition. Ever.)

Anyway, here’s what we read in 1 Timothy, chapter 5:

3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. –1 Timothy 5:3-8

And it goes on to speak more of how widows should conduct themselves under different circumstances.

Would it be disrespectful of me to joke about hitting a preacher with a clue-bat? Yes? Well, I won’t do that, then. But I do have a hint for The Rt. Rev. Radioman:

Any time you find yourself using the Bible in a way that requires you to say “Yes, God said Abut He said B over here.” where B directly contradicts A, you need to check your premises. You’ve missed something.

The correct way to phrase it is: Yes, God said children are a blessing, and God said 1 Timothy 5.

In 1 Timothy, the apostle Paul is instructing a young preacher (and the young Church) on how to order the Christian community. Concern for widows and orphans is writ large throughout not only this passage, but the entire Bible. This chapter in particular speaks to the responsibility of a man to provide for—wait for it–his widowed relatives. Why? Because if a widow has relations who should be taking care of her, the church’s resources are best spent on widows who are truly widows , i.e. elderly women who have no relatives who can take care of them, nor prospects for remarriage or self-sufficiency.

So who is worse than an unbeliever here? The man who doesn’t provide for his widowed relatives! This chapter says absolutely nothing about whether a financially shaky man should have children with his wife.

What it does say is that he should support not only his own offspring, but his grandmother, mother, and most likely any aunts or nieces who might come along to make a claim on his paycheck. Is that a hard thing to ask of a common man trying to eke out his living by the sweat of his brow? Oh, yes! If you don’t believe me, you can ask my parents, who are right now enduring the trial of caring for my grandmother in her last years, and who are making any number of financial and personal sacrifices to do so. God requires us to work to care for our family members.

Somehow we’ve gone from taking a plain reading of a very straightforward passage about caring for widows to condemning a man as worse than an unbeliever for being foolish enough to impregnate his wife without first having enough money–whatever “enough” means. That’s a pretty harsh judgment to pin on someone just for being numbered among the poor, don’t you think?

I can almost hear the objections now: OK, so this verse doesn’t actually say anything about making babies, but why can’t we use it this way, anyway? Obviously many do! But that isn’t how we use the Bible. Not if we’re interested in taking a faithful read of it, anyway. We need to measure scripture by scripture. Going now to 1 Corinthians 7, written by the very same apostle, and inspired by the very same Holy Spirit, we find this:

“For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” –1 Corinthians 7: 4-5

The only exception to continued marital relations that Paul admits is to allow for times of prayer, and then husband and wife are instructed to come together again and do the thing that makes babies. Abstinence being the only method of contraception at the time (as far as I know), this would seem to imply that the apostle expected married people to procreate without regard to how many gold coins they had hidden away under the rug to pay the midwife. If this weren’t so, you’d think that somewhere in this passage on marriage and family, Paul might have seized an opportunity to let us know that a man should stop sleeping with his wife if he felt too poor to provide for the likely result of their union.

With only a little further thought, we can reasonably conclude that 1 Timothy 5 affirms the opposite of the lesson that some are taking from it. 

I know what you’re thinking. Now who is reading things in that aren’t there? If the passage doesn’t state that a husband shouldn’t father children whom he may end up too poor to support–and which of us can say for a certainty that he will never come to desperate ends?–then it definitely doesn’t say anything about anybody needing to have kids!

But read again:

4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. –1 Timothy 5:4

Answer me this: How can we expect children who don’t exist to provide for us in our old age? It seems to me that the blessing of children is most needed in old age, when it’s too late to figure out whether they would have been a “good idea” or not.  While there is no literal command to procreate in this verse (though the Bible is chock full of them elsewhere), it is showing us a clear advantage in doing so.

In 1 Timothy 5, as elsewhere, the Bible is wonderfully consistent in speaking of children as an asset, not a liability. All this time we thought we were being presented with a dilemma, but God has handed us a solution instead! 

Often, especially in the Proverbs, the scriptures contain conditions for its principals. “Answer not a fool according to his folly,” but “answer a fool according to his folly.” How can we do both? It seems clear that there are times when we’re expected to discern which principle applies. Answer a fool? Don’t answer him? It depends! 

I’ve heard Christians say that we are expected to use our brains when “deciding” whether to have any more children, as if this were simply another situation where “it depends.” I never can get these same Christians to point out where this principle is outlined in the Bible, though. Instead, I notice that there are no times where God has provided a counterpoint to the idea that children are not only a natural, but a desirable consequence of the marriage bed. This passage in 1 Timothy is the closest thing that anyone can dig up, and it is provably incorrect, the widows’ children being the remedy for a dire financial situation, rather than the cause of it.

“Children are a heritage from the LORD.” has no opposing “Children are sometimes not a great idea.” In fact, childlessness is considered a curse for rich and poor alike, and large families are promised as a blessing to the faithful. 

While the Bible says all of these positive things about children, there is absolutely nothing to cancel those blessings out by providing a “balanced” look at the topic of family. The Bible not only assumes marital procreation for both rich and poor, but promotes it as a blessing. It doesn’t speak of babies as a lamentable side effect of sexual pleasure, but as the natural and beautiful result of the union of man and wife. Though there are many, many exhortations to raise our children well, and stern condemnation for parents who don’t raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, there are no instances where it is even hinted that it could be a better choice not to have them–even many of them–at all. 

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 4: You Weren’t Eating Enough

Load up that plate. Don’t be shy!

I’m a small person, but fairly solidly built. I’m five feet tall, and hovering around 115 lbs.. That sounds like a heavy weigh for my height. I’ve known a lot of women my height who think they’re fat at 100, but after a few years of lifting heavy weights, I’ve gained a lot of muscle. In fact, I had gotten down to 100 lbs. doing keto, and despite still having a little more fat than I wanted to have, I was looking downright stringy. I had plenty of food coming in, but the protein macro was lacking.

It took moving to a fully carnivorous diet to get back up to the weight I am now. I have a lot more muscle now, and the fat is still on its way out. It goes slow, y’all. I expect to maintain nearly this same weight, even as my fat percentage goes down, as I don’t think I’ve reached the top of my potential muscle mass yet. This way of eating isn’t just about fat loss. It’s about muscle preservation and, ideally, muscle gain. Even more importantly, it’s about feeling well and healthy. “Hangry” is not a word in the carnivore vocabulary.

You can’t get good results if you don’t eat enough.

It takes more food than many might expect to maintain good energy and muscle mass while still losing fat. While you think you’re trying to lose weight, my friend, you really are not. You may lose weight. That’s fine, if it happens. But you can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, and that sometimes means that not much changes on the scale. Whether you see changes on the scale or not, getting healthy means eating enough food. Enough protein, especially. (We already talked about fat, remember?) When I was doing keto, my fat percentage was good, but I was adding a lot of vegetables, bringing my protein intake too low. When I switched to carnivore, that problem went away entirely, as I simply used more protein to fill up the space on my plate and in my tummy where useless fiber had gone before.

This worked for me the first time I tried it for one reason, and one reason only: I never controlled my portions. I just ate until my body and brain told me I was done. 

I know a man who tried first keto and then carnivore and gave both up for a lost cause because, he said, he was always hungry. After watching him load his plate one day, and comparing what he thought he should eat to what was on my plate at the same meal, it was clear to me that he just didn’t have a good idea how much he should be eating. I had twice as much food on my plate, and he weighs ideally 70-80 pounds more than I do. He probably should have eaten three times as much!

It was easy to see why carnivore wasn’t “working” for him. He had chosen two hamburger patties to my four, plus a hotdog, no butter, no trip back for seconds when he realized that wouldn’t cut it. My friend had a dieting mindset of self-denial. Being a big fella already, and struggling with a food addiction/compulsion as well, I suspect that he was also just plain embarrassed to be seen putting a pound and a half of meat on his plate. Not only that, but memories of binging probably tamped down his enthusiasm about piling up his plate. To eat that much food at one time would be greedy, in his mind. He had the false idea that calorie restriction and portion control are a necessary part of losing fat. He also had the false idea that it is greedy to eat an appropriate amount of food for your appetite.

There is no struggle with the appetite in this diet. If you’re trying to lose weight on a low-fat diet, it is true that you will have to watch your calories and stop eating before you’re satisfied. But you’re not on a low-fat diet. You’re on a protein and fat diet. That means eating until you are satisfied. Provided that you’re eating fatty meat and eggs, and you don’t have any weird goals like getting ripped for a body-building competition, you should never need to weigh, count, or otherwise measure your food again.

This is my lunch today. I already ate one burger before I thought to take the picture. I’m also about to go get some butter. I had a small breakfast, and I may have a snack later, but this is the big meal:

The nerf darts are a condiment.

Am I going to eat all that? I don’t know! I’ll let you know at the end of this post, as I’m having my meal while I write it. I cooked enough so I don’t have to worry about running out before I’m finished. I can save the rest for leftovers. Or doggies.

Carnivore, you need to just eat. Eat like it’s your job. Do not just eat until you think you’ve had a socially acceptable number of calories, or until you’ve had the recommended daily allowance of protein, or until you’re just a little hungry. Eat until you no longer interested in eating even a single bite of food. Then stop.

But that’s too much protein! No, it really isn’t. First of all, the RDA for protein is a sick joke that has been played on us by “scientists” who were trying to figure out the minimum amount of protein a person needs to keep from starving. It’s the floor, not the ceiling. And while there are plenty of quacks (you might be one yourself) going around saying that protein is toxic, ruins your kidneys and digestion, or makes your blood acidic, there is not one shred of evidence to that effect. It’s a bunch of hooey. (Go ahead and try to find the studies. Bring them to me. Good luck!)

We’re all going to have to get over what we’ve been taught about protein and calories, because it just ain’t so!

Earlier, I was comparing my plate with someone else’s. Don’t you do that, Dear Reader. Do not go by my plate to decide what should be on yours, and absolutely do not go by Michelle Obama’s idiotic My Plate. Go by your own appetite, which you are going to get to know intimately over the next few weeks or months. If you’re worried somebody will judge you for eating a ribeye and three eggs, and a can of sardines, and two tablespoons of butter (why yes, that is what I had for lunch yesterday), well…sorry to be harsh, but grow up. Get over that middle school mentality that what other people think or do matters a hill of beans to you. You’re not being greedy. You’re nourishing your body.

What your plate contains or has left on it when you are finished will depend on what your body needs that day. It’s OK to clean your plate, go back for seconds, or leave some food behind. Make a bunch of food. If you find it wasn’t enough, make some more. Your job is to eat until your body has everything it needs. Don’t be a slacker. Do your job.

So, did I finish the plate? Nope. I’ve got two burgers left. I’m sure the kids or dogs will be along shortly to help keep food waste down.