New Experiences For March

*10 Days 10 Foods

*Serving in the Soup Kitchen

When I began thinking about new experiences, the idea of looking at food in a new way came to mind. For 10 days (March 2-11), I decided to limit myself to 10 ingredients.   My purpose with ten foods over ten days was to be intentional, and very mindful about my food. I was excited to see if I could discipline myself to follow such a strict eating program.  I also looked forward to seeing how creative I could be with only a few choices. I live with such excess. There are so many choices. Recently, I have realized that I am starting to suffer from  decision fatigue. I liked the idea that for 10 days, I would only need to think about 10 ingredients. Shopping, cooking and what eat would get a whole lot easier. While, I have been gluten free since 1999,  what used to be a very limiting diet, now thanks to many manufacturers as well as restaurants, is quite easy to follow.

While I was ready to jump in head first, the rest of my family was not quite as excited to challenge themselves in this way.  So this was a challenge that I was taking on solo.

Here are the things I chose:

10 ingredients:


  • Salt
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Coffee
  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans
  • Olive Oil
  • Red wine


Food journal-      Day 1  March 2:  It is exciting!  I have never done this type of challenge.  I am wondering what it will be like by day 4 or 5.  However, I am committed to seeing this through until March 11.  I decided to start the morning with a cup of coffee. Usually I would have added my favorite creamer, but after trying Whole 30 a few years ago, I got used to black coffee. I love the taste of coffee, and the smell of the beans are amazing.  Creamer is not necessary.

Oatmeal-sprinkled in a pinch of salt.  It was actually pretty good!


Bummed that I did not have an avocado in the fridge

Black beans with a touch of olive oil and salt

Interestingly, I am already feeling better and drinking more water. I think I was a little frustrated this morning not being able to eat peanut butter, or something else. This might honestly be boredom.  

Lunch was a sweet potato.  Sweet potatoes are truly amazing and full of rich flavor.

I went to the movies with the kids- at first I was bummed I did not put Diet Coke on the list.  Then, as I sat there surrounded by everyone with their popcorn, it took me back to movies a long time ago, when I did not get anything to eat or drink. I was okay, and still enjoyed the movie.  

When I got home I was so excited to make rice.  I ate a lot of rice!

As I was making the rice I got frustrated and felt like quitting. I wished I could eat something like Peanut butter.  My oldest son Nathan asked me why I was punishing myself. I figured I needed to last at least a day!

After yoga that evening,  in a skillet I cut up sweet potatoes, apples, sprinkled in oatmeal, and seasoned with salt. I used a little olive oil to cook it.  It was actually pretty good. And very filling.

I did indulge the treat of a glass of red wine as the day came to an end.

Saturday 3/3

Day 2

I got up early as I planned to go for a 13 mile run.

I ate a bowl of oatmeal and made black coffee.  

Excitement for Rice after my run

Two sweet potatoes

An avocado

Multiple apples

Red wine at the Voyager event.  I was nervous about what I would eat.  I did not succumb to the temptation…and was able to leave feeling victorious.  Discipline accomplished.

Sunday 3/4

Day 3

Ran 6 miles

I have to say after two days, I feel lighter and faster.  I have had two amazing days!

Oatmeal for breakfast

Spent the day at various practices after church.

I ate a lot of rice, beans, and sweet potatoes.

We went over to Mom and Jim’s for pizza afterwards.  I did have to pass on pizza that smelled really good, a gorgeous looking salad (good news is that I don’t think I could have eaten it due to the noodles), and apple crisp.  Apple crisp!

I did bring my beans and rice which was pretty good. So good, that Graham (my two year old nephew) asked for some of my beans.  I also ate an avocado, although was not necessary- and red wine.

When I got home, I felt hungry, or was it just habit of eating. I made a sweet potato, but it was not very good since I really was not hungry.  

Day 4

Monday 3/5

Coffee in the morning

Looking forward to my oatmeal.  

I have to say that I do feel less stressed about what I will eat.  Packing lunch is easier since I don’t really think about what I will eat, but tougher in some ways as I cannot just grab something.
Day 5 Tuesday-  Nate and I were able to enjoy a night at Tio Gordos.  I looked forward to the beans and rice all day! The food did not disappoint.  Although, the warm basket of chips on the table paired with salsa was tempting, I was strong.  Everything was perfect. The glass of Merlot was tasty. I felt really good, and not stuffed. I think future visits to Tio Gordos might include a side of beans and rice!  During dinner we shared our lists of 5 places we each wanted to travel to in the U.S. as well globally. We had so much fun dreaming and explaining to each other about where we wanted to go.  The best part is that it honestly felt like we would at some point accomplish all of these bucket list places. I have a pretty amazing husband who also wants to travel!

Day 6, 7 and 8-

These days kind of all went together. I made a few different dishes, but overall settled into the routine.  

Day 9-

We had pizza for dinner.  It sounded amazing actually, and my beans and rice did not look as appetizing.  I am starting to feel bored with my food, and wishing that I could eat something different- a salad, sushi, and am starting to think about peanut butter.  

Day 10-

I made it.  The day was difficult at times, but I ate the best avocado. I also enjoyed my favorite recipe (Black beans, rice, and avocado mixed with a little salt and oil). I actually thought about waking up at midnight and eating peanut butter! I started to plan what I would eat the following day, and I described a California sushi roll.  Nate pointed out that it was pretty much what I had been eating (rice avocados). It was then that I wondered if I should have attempted to create a simple piece of sushi!

My experience serving at a Soup Kitchen

Interestingly enough on day 10, I had chosen ahead of time to volunteer to work at a soup kitchen with our church.  I was nervous about what the experience would be like. Part of me could not believe that I had never volunteered for one in my life.  

I was grateful that Tricia, a friend of mine from church suggested we both drive together since we were volunteering on the same day.  I was excited that she had volunteered there before, and had an idea of how this would go.

We started out by making ham and cheese sandwiches.  There was an extremely large pot of soup in the process of cooking.  I was excited to see that there was a bin of cut up fruit. I was thinking that a cold piece of an orange would be an amazing treat.  As we prepared dinner, a few other volunteers from our church arrived. It was exciting to work with people who had such a strong commitment to helping others.  As I stood behind the counter, it reminded me of when I worked in the pharmacy in Guatemala on a mission trip back in high school. I thought a lot about the mission trip I had taken that day, and realized how much I missed being part of that team.  Claudia from our church who is actually planning a future mission team told about the plans to visit Guatemala. I really would like Nate and I to take the kids in the future.

As we neared the opening of the dinner, a man came with his truck packed full of plastic bags.  Tricia and I were asked to go upstairs and help him bring the bags down the basement. I kept wondering why he would be randomly dropping off so many bags.  As we piled them up downstairs I realized that there were loaves of bread and potatoes set out for people to take home. The bags were sure to come in handy.  

As people started to come in, we decided it was time to say a blessing and then proceeded to our stations.  I was serving the soup. The people we served were very thankful. I was curious about where some of these people lived, and wished that there was some way I could sit down with each person and hear his or her story.   There was something profound, simple and ultimately beautiful about the afternoon we spent in a basement serving soup and sandwiches. The food was very simple and nourishing. Preparing and serving the food really slowed me down and helped me to savor our task during an incredibly busy time in my own life.   There was something pretty inspiring about people who seemed so grateful for the food in front of them. I was also reminded of how much we are like other people. I noticed a mom who came up and arranged portions for her children first before asking if she may have another plate for herself. As I watched her care for her children, and make sure that they were comfortable and fed, I knew that I would have acted just like her.  As the evening came to an end, I found her little boy, who looked to be about four or five years old hiding in the coat rack.. We exchanged smiles for a moment, and his big brown eyes reminded me of my own boys. I knew that being there really did matter. It was encouraging to do work that really made a difference in someone’s life. I was grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a great experience. After an incredible evening at the soup kitchen, I couldn’t believe that my 10 days were almost up.  

It’s funny, when I went to Guatemala more than 20 years ago, I lost my luggage and as I experienced the mission trip, I realized I had more in my carry-on than most people owned in the village we were serving.  When I thought about the limited 10 foods I had experienced over the last few days I realized how extravagant my life really was. Even with 10 foods, I was not limited at all, and an abundance of choices within my 10 foods.

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