Restraint in Eating

“Restraint” isn’t a word any of us like much. But it does have some good effects. Since the seat-belt law was introduced it has saved hundreds, probably thousands of lives. Now, to be clear, this isn’t a debate about seat-belts or laws about them. It is merely an example to show how restraint can be a good thing.

A few days back, my sister, Kathleen and I, were having a conversation about our new-found liberty in eating and how it has affected our lives, attitude and health. I was exclaiming with renewed passion how exciting it was for me to be able to indulge in one of my favorite foods… the fun, greasy, fat-filled corn-dog. I love them! But we had to acknowledge, eating what you want doesn’t mean eating ALL you want.

As a kid, I’d plead with mom to make corn-dogs every now and then. As memory serves, there were only 2 times I can recall convincing her to drag out the deep fryer and make them. It was usually on the heals of seeing this gadget used in frying donuts (which we had nearly as infrequently).

So I entered young adulthood with a corn-dog deficiency. At least, I acted like I did. By this time in my life, diet laws ruled, so I was reduced in my mind to having this treat only by stealth… 2 or 3 at a time. Once my taste buds were indulged, the ruler of my appetite kingdom stepped in to crack the whip over my waywardness and once more I was firmly under the control of guilt. This has been the commanding ruler of my eating world until just last year–2014.

Imagine how I felt with this new ruler called “Liberty” newly elected to the realm! It was sort of like a kid in a candy store. Or a teenager at an all-you-can-eat buffet that never ended. Fear and exhilaration at the same time! I wasn’t certain I could do it. It was a one-day-at-a-time process.

It took hardly any time to realize when Liberty rules, Restraint had to become the Vice President. Allowing myself to have the corn-dog… but just 1 until hunger came again. Eating dessert, in moderation. It was ok to have that casserole AND balance it with a great leafy salad.

This is where taking time to learn the calories involved in the object of your liberty comes in. Yep, I can have that corn-dog because I know how many calories are involved and how many calories my body needs per day AND I know also, I can burn up some calorie energy by getting my behind on top of my feet and moving… FAST!

When I look around at my fellow Americans, many have issues in knowing how to eat. Perhaps what we should have learned from our parents and maybe did, has been unlearned or superseded in the hundred different ways our culture presents foods to our consciousness. TV shows, magazines, restaurants, fast foods, coffee houses, etc., all compete for our attention and dollar. From super-gooey to super-sized, it’s all targeted to get you to part with your money at the expense of your health & well-being. And it is all perfectly formulated by science with fats, sugars, and salt to create cravings designed to make you want and buy it again and again. I know, because like everyone else… I am still tempted even though I changed my eating habits several months ago.

With Liberty and Restraint as my new rulers of the diet realm, these foods still tempt but I know I can have them at anytime so appeal no longer has the upper hand.

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Eating Liberty

**My sister pointed out my formula for women was a bit off. Slim pickin’s she called it! It’s been corrected.

It has been some time since I last talked about my weight loss. So in this volume, besides giving an update, I want to tackle a discussion on freedom in eating. It is something most overweight people or chronic dieters don’t have. I may be wrong but it does seem the trimmer and fitter you are, the more liberty is expressed in your eating habits.

So an update: I have been on this trip now for nearly 10 months. In that time I have lost an amazing 50 lbs. and depending on the day I am somewhere around 185. When I realized I had reached this significant goal, it dawned on me that beyond a few weeks at the beginning, it all happened in relative ease. Losing weight has never been this easy.

Advertisements by many weight loss programs make claim to be easy, no stress, etc. but no program I tried in the past has ever been easy. The mental hula-hoop is always falling to the ground and I am constantly needing energy to pick it back up and get grooving again. (If you haven’t read my earlier epistles on my weight journey you’ll need to read them for this to make sense.)

In my last entry I mention the bad habit of “sneaking food”. As an adult, sneaking food seems entirely ridiculous. Why don’t we have liberty to eat whatever we want? As a child we had adults looking out for our welfare that may have instilled a feeling of lack in us that compels sneaking food, but as adults we are the captain of our own Good Ship Lollypop.

statue-of-liberty

But still, I sneak food. Don’t we all? There is an innate feeling in us for anonymity and eating ranks right up there on that list. After all, occasionally we desire something we wish to escape the scrutiny of those closest to us because We THINK we know what they will think or say. But when do we get to the point of “who cares what others think” and switch to, “what do I think”?

As a person who struggles with weight, I ALWAYS tended to care about others opinions of me. That very-well may be a human tendency, but it was more than this for me. I let those opinions be my guide, my master. You all know what I’m talking about! Stopping for 3 donuts that were quickly consumed before arriving home so my eating always appeared to be in control to my family.

I can’t say I have completely conquered this, but I have made a huge leap in the past 10 months. Learning liberty in your eating habits shows a love for your own self, your mind and your body. When you care about yourself, you look for nutritious foods that will support good health and interlace it with other things you enjoy and like. This is what makes daily eating choices so much fun. I’ll also say this… liberty in eating comes from knowing what your body needs for calories & nutrition and not overdoing it the majority of the time. Now I know I can have a donut if I want because knowing the calorie count of a glazed donut is what it’s all about!

***

Here is an example from my daily regime:

I love hamburgers but they can be quite calorie intensive. To fit them into my daily calorie allotment I do the following:

  • Use a thin roll or bun (100 calories)
  • Substitute a Veggie, Bean or Mushroom burger (110 calories)
  • Condiments: ketchup, mustard, pickles & onions & sometimes I use sweet pickle relish (adds about 15-40 calories)
  • Pile with baby lettuce leaves

Total < 250 calories

Notice what is missing. Cheese & Mayo – these two very calorie dense foods are easy to banish since the burger is already full of flavor. If you want to add cheese, make it an overpowering cheese, one you can taste so you don’t use as much (like parmesan or bleu). As for Mayo, using a low-fat cream cheese or greek yogurt cream cheese as a substitute will fill in for both.

For the taste of beef, I double the calories of the burger part and make the required adjustments to my calorie allocation for the day.

***

My daily calorie needs will differ from yours but to determine them is the same. Decide what weight you’d like to maintain. Then decide how many calories you need to make that happen. I use a formula I found online and it works for me:

**women:  desired weight x 11 = ## x .9 = calories your body requires
(example: 150 x 11 = 1650 x .9 = 1485)

men:  desired weight x 11 = calories your body requires

Note: This is for a sedentary lifestyle. Adding exercise will increase your intake by adding calories burned. Please check with your physician if you have any questions. I am not an authority on health or fitness as much as I am conquering my own health & weight.

If you are someone who struggles with weight issues I’d love to hear from you. If you have questions concerning my success that I’ve not answered, please let me know and I’ll try my best to address them.

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Emmanuel ~ God With Us

We enjoyed this article about the magic, the mystery, the marvel of Emmanuel and why we persist in celebrating his birth year after year.   ~Kevin & Sherlene

by Frederick Buechner 

The following Christmas article, entitled “Emmanuel,” was originally solicited then turned down by The New York Times Magazine for being “too theological.” The article was originally published in A Room Called Remember and later in Secrets in the Dark. Here it is for your enjoyment:

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). – MATTHEW 1:23

“We preach Christ crucified,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23). He could as well have written, “We preach Christ born” or “We preach Christmas,” because the birth presents no fewer problems than the death does both to religious people – “the Jews” – and to everybody else – “the Gentiles.” Christmas is not just Mr. Pickwick dancing a reel with the old lady at Dingley Dell or Scrooge waking up the next morning a changed man. It is not just the spirit of giving abroad in the land with a white beard and reindeer. It is not just the most famous birthday of them all and not just the annual reaffirmation of “Peace on Earth” that it is often reduced to so that people of many faiths or no faith can exchange Christmas cards without a qualm. On the contrary, if you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is. Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell, which is Hebrew for “God with us.” Who is this God? How is he with us? That’s where the problem lies.

God is “the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity,” says the prophet Isaiah (57: 15), and by and large, though they would use different language and symbols to express it, all the major faiths of the world would tend to agree. Judaism calls him Yahweh. Islam calls him Allah. Buddhism and Hinduism use terms like Brahman-Atman or the Void or the One. But whatever they call him, all of them point to the ultimate spiritual Ground of existence as transcendent and totally other. The reality of God is so radically different from anything we know as real that in the last analysis we can say nothing about him except what he is not. Neti neti is the Upanishad’s famous definition: “He is not this, he is not that.” “The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao,” says the Tao Te Ching of Taoism. The Old Testament says it in characteristically concrete form as a narrative. When Moses asks to see God, God answers by saying, “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live” (Exod. 33:20). As a mark of special favor, he hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and only after he has passed by in his glory takes his hand away so that Moses can see his back. According to the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, you cannot even say that God exists in the same sense that you say a person exists, or a mountain or an idea. God is not a thing among other things. He does not take his place in a prior reality. He is that out of which reality itself arises, and to say that “he is” as we say that “we are” is to use language that is at best crudely metaphoric.

If all this sounds hopelessly abstruse, it nonetheless reflects the common experience of human beings as they contemplate the mystery that surrounds them. When a person looks up at the stars and ponders that which either goes on forever or ends at some unthinkably remote point beyond which there is Nothing; when we pray out of our deepest need to a God whom we can know only through faith; when we confront the enigma of our own life and the inevitability of our own death, all we can do is hold our tongues or say with Job, “Behold, I am of small account. I lay my hand on my mouth…. I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (40:4; 42:3).

That is not the end of it, of course. Transcendent as God is – of another quality entirely from the world that he transcends – he nonetheless makes himself known to the world. Many would say that he is known to it because he made it, and from their earliest beginnings people have looked at the world of nature and claimed to see in it the marks of his handicraft. Where nature is beautiful and beneficent, they have seen the love of God, and where it is harsh and terrifying, his wrath. In the orderliness of nature they have seen God as lawgiver, and where this order is interrupted by the unforeseen and beneficent they have seen miracle. And the same holds true for the world of history. The prosperity of nations or individuals suggests God’s favor, and disaster suggests either condemnation or warning. Even the religions of India, which see the world less as the creation of the Ultimate than as a kind of illusory reverberation of it, speak of the law of karma, which as inexorably as the law of gravity rewards the good and punishes the evil. Furthermore, though they do not see the world as a book where humankind can read of the nature and will of God, but rather as an endless cycle of death and rebirth where our only hope is to escape altogether into the ineffable bliss of nirvana, the very fact that such escape is available suggests the presence of something not entirely unlike divine intervention. Indeed, great teaching Buddhas and infinitely compassionate Bodhisattvas keep reappearing throughout the ages to show the way to nirvana, just as in the biblically based religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, God keeps sending forth prophets, saints, and angels.

And in all these traditions, needless to say, God also makes himself known through the mystics. However religions differ in other ways, all of them produce men and women who, by turning their attention inward, encounter him at first hand. As different from one another as Teresa of Avila, Ramakrishna, and Thomas Merton and using language that varies from the Bhagavad Gita to the journals of the Quaker George Fox, they all clearly seem to be trying to express the same ecstatic and inexpressible experience that might best be summarized as, at one and the same time, the total loss and total realization of self in merging with the ultimately Real.

Back then to the essential message of Christmas, which is Emmanuel, God with us, and to the questions it raises: Who is this God and how is he with us? “The high and lofty One who inhabits eternity” is the answer to the first. The One who is with us is the One whom none can look upon because the space-and-time human mind can no more comprehend fully the spaceless, timeless Reality of the One than the eyes of the blind can comprehend light. The One who is with us is the One who has made himself known at most only partially and dimly through the pantomime of nature and history and the eloquent but always abstruse utterance of prophets, saints, and mystics.

It is the answer to the second question that seems “folly to the Gentiles” and “a stumbling block to the Jews,” because the claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.

For those who believe in the transcendence and total otherness of God, it radically diminishes him. For those who do not believe in God, it is the ultimate absurdity. For those who stand somewhere between belief and unbelief, it challenges credulity in a new way. It is not a theory that can be tested rationally because it is beyond reason and because it is not a theory, not something that theologians have thought their way to. The claim is, instead, that it is something that has happened, and reason itself is somehow tested by it, humankind’s whole view of what is possible and real. Year after year the ancient tale of what happened is told – raw, preposterous, holy – and year after year the world in some measure stops to listen.

In the winter of 1947 a great snow fell on New York City. It began slowly, undramatically, like any other snow. The flakes were fine and steady and fell straight, with no wind. Little by little the sidewalks started to whiten. Shopkeepers and doormen were out with their shovels clearing paths to the street. After a while the streets began to fill and the roofs of parked cars were covered. You could no longer tell where the curb was, and even the hydrants disappeared, the melted discs over manhole covers. The plows could not keep up with it, and traffic moved more and more slowly as the drifts piled up. Businesses closed early, and people walked home from work. All evening it continued falling and much of the night. There were skiers on Park Avenue, children up way past their bedtime. By the next morning it was a different city. More striking than anything else about it was the silence. All traffic had stopped. Abandoned cars were buried. Nothing on wheels moved. The only sounds to be heard were church bells and voices. You listened because you could not help yourself.

“Ice splits starwise,” Sir Thomas Browne wrote. A tap of the pick at the right point, and fissures shoot out in all directions, and the solid block falls in two at the star. The child is born, and history itself falls in two at the star. Whether you believe or do not believe, you date your letters and checks and income tax forms with a number representing how many years have gone by since what happened happened. The world of A.D. is one world, and the world of B.C. is another. Whatever the mystery was that widened the gaze of Tutankhamen’s golden head, it was not this mystery. Whatever secret triggered the archaic smiles of Argive marbles or made the Bodhisattvas sit bolt upright at Angkor Wat, it was not our secret. The very voices and bells of our world ring out on a different air, and if most of the time we do not listen, at Christmas it is hard not to.

Business goes on as usual, only more so. Canned carols blast out over shopping-center blacktops before the Thanksgiving turkey is cold on the plate. Salvation Army tambourines rattle, and street-corner Santas stamp their feet against the cold. But if you have an ear for it at all, at the heart of all the hullabaloo you hear a silence, and at the heart of the silence you hear – whatever you hear.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” the prologue to the Gospel of John says (1:14). A dream as old as time of the God descending hesitates on the threshold of coming true in a way to make all other truths seem dreamlike. If it is true, it is the chief of all truths. If it is not true, it is of all truths the one perhaps that people would most have be true if they could make it so. Maybe it is that longing to have it be true that is at the bottom even of the whole vast Christmas industry – the tons of cards and presents and fancy food, the plastic figures kneeling on the floodlit lawns of poorly attended churches. The world speaks of holy things in the only language it knows, which is a worldly language.

Emmanuel. We all must decide for ourselves whether it is true. Certainly the grounds on which to dismiss it are not hard to find. Christmas is commercialism. It is a pain in the neck. It is sentimentality. It is wishful thinking. With its account of the shepherds, the star, the three wise men, it smacks of a make-believe pathetically out of place in a world of energy crisis and space exploration and economic malaise. Yet it is never as easy to get rid of as all this makes it sound, because whereas to dismiss belief in God is to dismiss only an idea, a hypothesis, for which there are many alternatives (such as belief in no god at all or in any of the lesser gods we are always creating for ourselves like science or morality or the inevitability of human progress), to dismiss Christmas is for most of us to dismiss part of ourselves.

For one thing it is to dismiss one of the most fragile yet enduring visions of our own childhood and of the child who continues to exist in all of us. The sense of mystery and wonderment. The sense that on this one day each year two plus two adds up not to four but to a million. The leap of the heart at waking up into a winter morning that for a while at least is as different from all other mornings as the city where the great snow fell was a different city. “Let all mortal flesh keep silence,” the old hymn goes, and there was a time for most of us when it did.

And it is to dismiss a face. Who knows what we would have seen if we had been present there in Quirinius’s time. Whether it happened the way Luke says it did, with the angels and the star, is almost beside the point because the one thing that believer and unbeliever alike can be equally sure happened is an event that changed the course of human history. And it was a profoundly human event – the birth of a human being by whose humanness we measure our own, of a human being with a face that, though none of us has ever seen it, we would all likely recognize because for twenty centuries it has been of all faces the one that our world has been most haunted by.

More than anything else perhaps, to dismiss this particular birth as no different in kind from the birth of Socrates, say, or Moses or Gautama Buddha would be to dismiss the quality of life that it has given birth to in an astonishing variety of people over an astonishing period of time. There have been wise ones and simple ones, sophisticated ones and crude ones, respectable ones and disreputable ones. There have been medieval peasants and eighteenth-century aristocrats, nineteenth-century spinsters and twentieth-century dropouts. They need not be mystics or saints or even unusually religious in any formal, institutional sense, and there may never have been any one dramatic moment of conversion in the past that they would point to. But somewhere along the line something deep in them split starwise and they became not simply followers of Christ but bearers of his life. A birth of grace and truth took place within them scarcely less miraculous in its way than the one the Magi traveled all those miles to kneel before.

To look at the last great self-portraits of Rembrandt or to read Pascal or hear Bach’s B-minor Mass is to know beyond the need for further evidence that if God is anywhere, he is with them, as he is also with the man behind the meat counter, the woman who scrubs floors at Roosevelt Memorial, the high school math teacher who explains fractions to the bewildered child. And the step from “God with them” to Emmanuel, “God with us,” may not be as great as it seems. What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snowblind longing for him.

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Haunting Comments from Family

“You look gaunt”.

This  was the comment I heard when I reached the weight of 165 back in 2002. I didn’t want to look gaunt. The idea of my face sunken and sallow, like a refugee haunted me. But I was puzzled. At the time, I recall feeling fairly confident with my appearance. I was in a size 10 and thought I look good,  in fact I wanted to get all the way down to 150, something I had never achieved in my adult life. (I don’t remember passing 150 but I’m pretty sure it was around age 10 or 11.)

Recently I weighed in and finally broke the 200 mark. 198.7!!! That was a huge milestone and quite a while in coming. I started this journey in April this year which equates to approximately 5 pounds a month. Now 49 more to go.

Having achieved this milestone the gaunt comment made its way to the forefront of my mind. My psyche was shaped by lots of disagreeable comments received throughout my growing up years and it has taken years to undo a lot of that programming in my head. I’m un-learning bad habits and re-learning good habits. A lot of the past hurts melted away by the time I reached my 20’s. But eating patterns had been tightly woven in the fabric of my life.

The habit of sneaking food was something that took years to overcome. One of my early memories was stashing a can of bean of bacon soup and heading out to the trailer where there was a can opener and utensils and I ate the entire thing cold. How disgusting! To this day I can’t eat that soup.

Another trick would be to get others to eat with me so I would buy goodies for my friends. I learned early that half of guilt could be relieved through having my friends chomping away too (plus it earns some temporary buddies!).

In my 20’s my habits worsened. Once when traveling alone I stopped at Taco Bell for a meal and then crossed the street to McDonald’s for a second. Then I went to the local drug store for Ipecac so I could throw it up after I ate. (This was my only foray into Bulimia. Once was just too horrible to try again.)

My relationship with food was volatile to say the least. I love tasty high-fat fast foods but they were always taboo. There was very little in my understanding about how to eat normal & balanced and healthy foods always meant boring and blah.

How to manage weight was a complete mystery. 

How to manage weight was a complete mystery. As a kid I just ate until I was full or stuffed like a lot of the family/friends did. I watched as others ate what they wanted and still stayed fit and trim. How did they do it? Why couldn’t I be normal. Big-boned was the answer, this is the way I would always be. Sigh…

So now this comment, how do I deal with this? It’s funny how comments from loved ones about weight/appearance weave themselves into the fabric of our identity and like gold shiny threads they really stand out! This one was from mom and I’m certain she had no malice in mind. A face that has always been seen plump does have a startling appearance when thinness replaces it. My mama died this past spring so asking her isn’t an option, so it’s something God and I have to work on.


Notes:

Being a trucker, losing weight is not easy. But learning to keep my caloric intake in check while eating what I want has been key for me. My activity level has increased and I take short walks when time permits. When we get to our terminals I take advantage of the exercise rooms.

Here is a recipe for our breakfast I eat nearly every day. It’s fast, healthy and delicious so I never tire of it.

Truckers Omelet Wrap

  • 1 large mushroom
  • 1 mini sweet pepper
  • 1 slice of onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T Neuchâtel or low-fat cream cheese (I like to use the new Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese)
  • 1 60-80 calorie Tortilla

Mince mushroom, pepper & onion in microwavable bowl and zap for 1 minute. Add the egg and beat into the veggies. Cook for another minute or until egg is firm. Set aside and cut a 2 T wedge of cream cheese onto tortilla. Microwave for 30 seconds. Press sides of tortilla together to spread the cheese evenly. Top with the eggs, fold and enjoy!  (Approx. 200-225 Calories)

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Sunrise in UT

On a trip from LA to Pennsylvania last week we happened to get through on I70 in Utah just at sunrise. It was a perfect time to take pictures. None of the photos have been touched up. The colors are the magic of the sun at dawn.

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Unreliable Scales

eat smart scaleSo in order to keep track of my progress I took our home scales on the road after we sold the house. I knew it was risky. Digital scales are so unpredictable and temperamental. The floor has be super even. There can’t be even so much as lint under one of the little sensitive feet. And then riding around in a semi it is horribly abused by being bounced and battered with the rhythms of the truck.

This morning it let me know, when I took the little beast with me when I went to shower. Hoping for a smooth, even floor… Wouldn’t you know, the floor was comprised of little 2-inch tiles. So carefully making sure each foot pad was on the flat smooth tile and not on a grouted area, I stepped on. It fluctuated wildly like a carnival ride. So I moved it just a little, hoping for a flatter surface (which I couldn’t really see since it is under the scale) that would appease. Not a chance.

funny-picture-dog-on-a-weight-scale-555x785

Finally picking it up just to make certain all was well, I discovered one of the foot pads missing. Well carp! This pretty much assures an incorrect reading every time. Casting around for something that might be the same thickness I found my company badge so put it under for the missing foot. It must have felt a little love because it finally stabilized and spit out a firm weight of 200.8!

But now, with my head lathered, my brain continues to mull over this pronouncement of success. While it felt really awesome to know I was nearly under the 2 mark it was difficult for me to really believe it was true. So now what?

Yep, you probably guessed it, I tried it again! The next 4 readings were from 194.1 all the way up to 198. Never did I see anything over 200. So now I know I really can’t trust this little devil. I decided to stick with it’s first solid answer.

Think it must be time to go to a tape measure.

tape-measure2

 

I have decided to commit my results publicly to provide encouragement for others that battle weight issues, as well as provide built-in accountability for me. It seems an incredibly audacious thing to proclaim my current weight to the world but here I am! Anyone that would like to join me can find me on www.myfitnesspal.com. They have both an online app that works really well for tracking your fitness, everything from food, mood and exercise as well as a great website. You can make as much or little of it as you want. And I would love the company! (This does not mean you have to be as “out there” as I have chosen to be!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Authors Note: I have decided to only cut my calories and add exercise to my daily routine. Tired of diets and dieting, I pretty much eat the kinds of foods I want making sure to get in some fruits and veggies. I do watch the oil/fat consumption. My overall goal is to re-shape my eating patterns with a firm understanding of just how much food this body needs to maintain a weight I am happy with.

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Birdseed Cakes From Scratch (Picture Recipe)

Note: This post has the significance of being the most popular and most read post of our 165+ articles. I am republishing it (with no additions other then this note) with added tagging to make it more widely available to those who might have an interest in the world of our feathered friends.

A few years back we invested in several bird feeders that were designed to hold birdseed cakes. This was good for awhile but when the price of the cakes reached $5.00 each, we decided it was time to figure out a way to make them.

If you don’t have these type of feeders, there are alternative feeder ideas at the bottom of the post. Cakes are nice as the birds take longer to consume them then a conventional platform feeder.

I hunted for recipes online and came up with this very simple process that takes about 5-10 minutes.

List of ingredients: 3/4 cup flour, 3 tablespoons of Karo syrup, 1/2 water, 4 cups birdseed of your choosing. I also started using cayenne powder in my recipe. It deters squirrels but not the birds and it helps keep them warm in the cold. So far I used 1/2 teaspoon but will continue to play around with that one if squirrels are still a problem.

Mix together until lumpiness is gone.

Add birdseed.

Stir in until the seed is thoroughly coated.

Look around your house and see what you can find for a mold. I found a wooden box (from a less then delicious Christmas fruitcake) that I had hung onto. Turned out to be the perfect size for my wire feeders. If you don’t want to make a box or other design, you can use a cake pan or oblong pan and cut the cakes to size. Cut or slide in some kind of divider while they are still moist in the pan.

This box is 7″ square and 2″ deep. I make 1 1/2 recipes to fill this box completely.

Line the pan/box with wax paper and glop in the sticky birdseed mix, carefully keeping the wax paper up on the sides.

Immediately press into the corners and sides and pack tightly to compact it together. You can use another piece of wax paper on top or keep your hands wet or even use a wet spatula.

Cover with a piece of wax paper.

Invert box.

Pull the box off.

While cake is still moist (that would be immediately), pull off the wax paper. There may be some seeds stuck to it. Wet your fingers or spatula and scrap them onto the cake and press them in.

Press the cake on each side to compact it side to side and let it dry for 6-8 hours.

When they are dry, slide into feeder.

If you don’t have a feeder, you can make your own by using string or wire or other hole-y material. Kevin had a thought that if using just string the cake could fall out too easily as the birds ate down the cake. So we used the net from the outside of our turkey and it works great!

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