Friday, March 26, 2010

But is it the end? > Mom

We have come to the end of our Gambian diet. Exact amount saved to be calculated yet, but it is roughly $200 as predicted. We have eaten mostly rice and bread we baked from the wheat we bought in bulk this year. We had a few very good meals that we will most certainly make again. We have learned some valuable lessons as a family;

>We can live on less
>We eat way more than we actually need to
>We have amazing kids
>Our lifestyle isn't as socially conscious as we thought
>Instant gratification isn't nearly as satisfying as endurance
>Flavor is less important to nourishment than family
>ANYBODY can adjust a little bit to make room in their life for generosity.

Levi was frustrated on Tues night when we went to a potluck and there were very few things on the menu that fit our criteria. It seems flavor is directly related to our enjoyment of social events. We talked it out and he came to realize that we were so close to the end that he would be very disappointed if he gave up now. He really wanted some dessert, and fried perogies with sour cream and bacon bits, but he wanted to finish our commitment more. I think it was an awesome lesson about the downside to instant gratification. In our culture we so often sacrifice end goals for pleasure right now. It was awesome to have an opportunity to so clearly learn that together.

It's not just that the kids learned these things. I have always known I am an emotional eater, but these last two weeks have really been a revelation to me. I run instantly to food to ease discomfort and hurt. I had to deliberately choose other ways to handle stress and hurt. I have prayed more and read more and shared with my husband more than normal these last two weeks. Not surprisingly, I have found that the effects of these comforts far outlast double fudge ice cream. I have probably lost a couple pounds too! :)

All in all, I am grateful for husband's ridiculous, hair-brained ideas. At their worst, they force me to grow in character and patience. At their best, they take our whole family on adventures that stretch us, teach us and unite us in new ways.

We will post some recipes as well as the official math soon. It's been a very busy week so it may not be until next week.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 23

I have to admit, we are eating better than I thought we would be. There are some incredible recipes on this website Steven sent us. We adjust some of them for cost or food availability, but at least one meal a day is very delicious.

However, rice is getting really old. Really, really old. As is rice flour fou fou and tapa lapa bread. I am really looking forward to the Turkey dinner we are planning on having next week.

The kids are getting tired too. They are looking forward to ice cream and a even having a glass of milk. Although it was pretty cool to watch them get excited over an avacado like it's candy. They have also been eating all their food and not complaining about what's in it. My children have eaten onions without complaint this week. This is a big deal. The older ones are even sharing things they've learned about Africa with the younger ones. It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

night 3 of hunger - Dad

We are 3 days into our Gambian diet. Sarah and I have been giving ourselves similar food portions as we give our kids. I figure we should take the brunt of the sacrifice, they are having a hard enough time stomaching some of the food as it is.
So it's Saturday night right now, the kids are all asleep, and Sarah is at work. I'm at home alone finishing up the last of the details for my message tomorrow and all I can think about is the icecream in the fridge freezer 8 feet from my couch. Most of the time it's not a problem. I've been snacking on my lunches at work over the course of the day, as long as I'm active and nibbling on something the hunger isn't so bad.
I think the only thing to do is move the icecream to the big freezer downstairs and go to bed. Maybe if it's less convenient it'll be less tempting.....maybe....

Day 17

Today is the third day of our Gambian diet. We have been eating mostly rice. For breakfast, Alex has made a rice flour porridge that is better cold than hot. We have been snacking on carrots and a heavy whole wheat bread that I have been making. The one very tastey meal we have had is the domada (recipe below). With a small amount of beef (probably half of what we would normally have) it is very, very yummy. If we can hold out and really stretch the food we have already bought, I am pretty sure that by the end of two weeks we will have saved $200 in comparison to the two weeks before including when we had eaten out. That's $200 that one family was able to come up with to help out another country in just two weeks! Imagine if we did this more often or made smaller changes, but made them all year. What a difference we could make!

One more thing I just have to mention because I am so ridiculously proud of my kids. Yesterday, Selah, who is four and much too young to really understand what we are doing, woke up and, with a teary little face, asked for normal food. After our rice porridge breakfast, we gave her an apple. We also told the other kids that they could choose for themselves if they wanted an apple without fear of any judgment from the rest. All three of them (6, 9, and 10 years old) said they were sticking to our new diet because they really want to know what it like. They have gulped down more rice porridge than I would have thought they could manage and haven't complained. No one has asked for juice or treats or even fruit. They have been talking about Africa when I am not in the room and the big kids have even been reading to the younger ones about it. I am so grateful to have such a cool little pile of kids.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 15 > so it begins

This morning we had a french-like bread with peanut butter and tea. The kids were excited to begin this adventure until they started asking "what's for lunch?" "rice" "what's for dinner?" "rice" "what's for breakfast tomorrow?" "probably the same as we had today."

Alex's lunch is breakfast over again, since we didn't think far enough ahead to make something different. I think that will be the first challenge. Rice takes awhile to cook and I am going to have to think ahead. The other challenge will be trying to keep the budget down. We have big eaters here. I will have to get imaginative about stretching what we have.

Here is another blog we found of a woman who chose to live in Gambia for a year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 14 > The last day

Today is our last day for regular food. It has been interesting to be super aware of what we eat. To be honest, I am certain we have missed a lot of snacks, because my fridge has less celery and carrots in it than it should. Our friends who do missions to Gambia sent us this email:

Hmmm, Gambian menu (from what I observed at work anyhow)
wake up and drink tea
eat either porridge ("cous" or pounded rice) or tapa lapa with some sort of meat on it at about 9:30 am
more tapa lapa with meat at around 2pm or fou-fou or rice with meat
more rice and meat at about 7 or 8 pm

snack on random nuts and things in bags all day long if hungry.


  • 6 T Peanut Butter
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 C water
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 cube soup broth (knorr, oxo or maggi, chicken or veggie)
  • 1 squirt lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  1. Boil water. Mix-in broth.
  2. Mix-in Peanut Butter until smooth.
  3. Mix in tomato paste.
  4. Add garlic, cayenne.
  5. cook until oil is rising to the top
  6. Add lime juice in last 5 minutes of cooking.
  7. add cooked chicken or beef at last minute and stir in

tapa lapa is like a dense white flour french bread (hand made, always has bits of dirt and whatnot baked into it, taste is awesome yummy)
foufou is rice flour made into a glue like ball
meat options are goat, sheep, fish, horse
and like I said, not a lot of veggies, sorry bout that.
there is a significant gap between poor and rich there, so just adjust meat and total food intake to match the income level you want to try.

There are a few things we will need to adjust. For instance, I am fairly certain I have never seen horse at the grocery store. Our friends have also told us that in the poorer population of Gambia there is such a level of malnutrition that their hair turns red. As this is meant to teach and not harm our children we will be supplementing some veggies. However, in keeping with the incredible sameness of the meals everyday, those veggies will be carrots and broccoli. The veggies are going to replace the nuts which are expensive here. The only other adjustment is that we will only have one meal with meat per day and that meat may also be beef since it is often less expensive than sheep or fish. Bargain hunting will be the thing. Today is shopping day!

day 14 > food consumption

Breakfast- 4 bowls granola, 2 bowls rice crispies

Lunch- turkey with cranberry, 4 cheeseburger kids meals and big mac meal from McD's, 1 lrg choco milkshake (we were having one last food hurrah before our two weeks started.

Snack- 5 chocolate peanut chews, 2 apples

Dinner- mashed potatoes, yummy buns, apple juice, milk, chicken paprikash, mixed beans and carrots, ice cream, tarts, tea