A Banquet Beckons
By Connie Pshigoda
Let’s go shopping! When given that invitation, what image enters your mind? A large shopping mall? A quaint boutique or eclectic fashion mart? Are you seeking bargains at a yard sale? Or is a flea market more your style?
Today, especially in the United States, our shopping opportunities are limitless. In spite of all these choices, my favorite shopping spree is the open-air farmer’s market. Perhaps that exposes my farm-girl roots, but I love to stroll through the maze of booths boasting their field-fresh produce. I truly feel close to God’s creation and the growers who share their harvest.
Wouldn’t it be grand if the indoor shopping malls fused this wholesome food idea into their food courts? Can you envision it? Instead of fast-food cubicles surrounding noisy eating areas, the shopping mall would provide a true dining experience in an environment of respite. Busy shoppers could enter for an interval of calm and nutritional nourishment.
That’s the picture my mind creates when I think of Heaven’s Storehouse. If there were such a heavenly place on this earth, shoppers would discover products or services to enhance, empower, embellish, or even entertain––not only in the material realm, but in their physical, spiritual, and intellectual beings as well. This great dining hall would hold beautifully adorned and expansive tables laden with natural, wholesome foods from God’s garden––true, pure, and delicious nourishment. The tantalizing aroma from fresh foods, warm-from-the-oven breads, savory spices, colorful fruits, and garden produce would greet all who enter. There would be no man- made imitation foods on this table! The precious time and effort that produced this lavish feast would not go unnoticed. All who enter would sense a serene comfort.
Our Creator Father has indeed invited us to dine at His table in the midst of life’s full and hectic schedules. I’m reminded and reassured of this when I read Isaiah 25:6: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich foods for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine––the best of meats and the finest of wines” (NIV).
“Setting” the Table
I believe that one of the many desires of our feminine hearts is to follow that holy example to bring nourishment, health, and harmony to our families’ dining experiences. Oftentimes, the pressures of the day make this desire more of a struggle than a pleasant effort. The concerns of too little time, money, or energy augment the confusion around factory-produced-foods and limit knowledge about life-giving foods. And, of course, having a picky eater in the family keeps mealtime interesting!
So how can we bring healthy, nourishing meals to the table? My advice is to explore simple ways to recreate our Lord’s table in our homes. Here are some tips:
Visit your pantry. How many processed edible food products does it contain?
Assess the contents of your refrigerator. Is it filled with pre-packaged, calorie-laden meals or nutritionally-balanced, homemade meals for your family?
Select foods that are fresh, local, and in season for greater health benefits. This is simpler than you may think.
When we allow the peace of our Provider to guide our food choices, we make wiser decisions for our nutritional well-being, so that both our bodies and souls are fed. These decisions begin before we shop. With a little planning, our food-for-a-feast shopping excursions will fill our pantries with whole food nutrition:
Include a variety of beans, grains, nuts and seeds in your menus. Lentils, whole grain rice, quinoa, millet, and chia are good choices. Oatmeal (not the instant type) is still a great heart- healthy breakfast. Walnuts and almonds pack a punch with nutrition and energy.
If you don’t make your own broths, choose no-sodium-added store-bought varieties such as chicken, beef, mushroom, and vegetable.
Spice up your spice inventory! This is a great and tasty way to enrich and vary flavors without adding chemical flavor enhancers. Turmeric is an excellent spice for flavoring. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and a liver and cardiovascular protector.
Choose whole grain pastas. There are several non-wheat (gluten-free) grain pasta choices.
Try dried fruits (figs, dates, cherries, apricots, cranberries) for a quick snack or to add to cookie or rice pudding recipes.
Include canned or dried meats such as tuna, salmon, chicken, or sardines for quick protein.
Stock your freezer with fruits and vegetables (in season), then store to supplement your winter diet and for quick meal preparation.
Change your oils to healthy essential fats including coconut, avocado, flax, fish, or extra-virgin olive oils, and yes, butter. Lard and bacon drippings––always in moderation––are much healthier than the industrial seed and vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, and sesame).
Complete your shopping list with fresh seasonal produce, eggs, dark chocolate, green tea, plain Greek yogurt, lean meats, and minimally processed cheeses.
With a grocery cart filled with nature’s foods, you’ll have ingredients for many flavorful and healthful recipes for a deliciously diversified menu. Your family and guests will feel like they’ve entered a well-planned, well-prepared, and well-presented banquet. Your culinary gift will be a feast for the eyes, as well as the body and soul. A banquet beckons. “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8 NIV).