Memorial Day is a time to remember those who sacrificed their life for our freedoms and comforts. As we all know, many of us enjoy getting together with friends and family on this day to celebrate. Had COVID-19 locked us all in our homes, many of us would be with friends and family grilling our favorites. The truth is, much of what we grill isn’t the healthiest for us.
What if I told you that you could enjoy grilling amazing food? Or, what if I said you could grill everything from vegetables to fruit and it taste amazing? Better yet, what if your Memorial Day grill menu didn’t have to have any meat on it? Would you believe me?
Check out the video below to learn how to grill an amazing Memorial Day feast using absolutely no meat!
#WhatsTheMessage EP 012: God Moving in Tanzania and Beyond
In this episode Carmela and Claudia talk with Dr. Carlton Byrd, Lead Pastor of Oakwood University Church and the Lead Speaker and Director of The Breath of Life TV Broadcast, sharing with us about the over 16,000 souls saved in their revival in Tanzania as well as their recent Easter broadcast “The Awakening.” We’re excited to discuss the powerful moments the Holy Spirit has moved oversees and here in the states, as well as tackle the times we’re living in and our own prophetic moment. But we’re also excited to talk with Donna Green-Goodman about her recent article where she pleads with African Americans to take their health into their own hands. She writes about how African Americans cannot look to the system to save or heal them and they must do it themselves. We’ll about about this with and more on preventive and prescriptive measures people take in dealing with coronavirus COVID-19.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Message1898
The Best Kept Secret
One of the truly “best kept secrets in town” is that you don’t have to be sick. In America, nine out of ten deaths that occur are what Dr. C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General under President Ronald Reagan called, “preventable or premature deaths.” These are deaths that could have been avoided or delayed if the individual would have followed a different lifestyle.
When we speak of needless deaths in this country, it is nowhere more evident than in African American communities. African Americans have the shortest life expectancy of any group in America, and this is especially true for the African American male. Whether it is Heart Disease, Cancer, Strokes, Diabetes, Kidney Failure, HIV/AIDS or Homicide, African Americans are number one when it comes to these causes of death. But the “Good News” is that it doesn’t have to remain that way.
Choice Not Genetics
As we celebrate Black History Month, we can create a new legacy or history for ourselves. We can again start seeing ourselves as the head and not the tail. The issue as to whether or not we become a victim of one of these diseases is “Choice not Genetics”. Even today, if you look across the waters and examine the health of our African kinship, you would find that most of the chronic diseases that plague our communities are almost non-existent on the continent, especially in rural countries and villages where many ancient lifestyle habits are still practiced.
A study of a prominent hospital in Kenya, for instance, examined admissions over a 2-year period of time and found that in the 1800 admissions there was not a single case of hypertension. Hypertension, which is called the silent killer, is an epidemic in our community and serves as a feeder for Heart Disease, Strokes and Chronic Kidney Failure. In addition, in that same study they found not a single case of Heart Disease, the number one killer in African American and Caucasian communities across the United States.
The Truth About Hypertension
Dr. Dennis Burkett, the Nobel prize winning physician who showed the relationship between viruses and cancer, found in his 24 years of practice in Uganda not one case of Colon Cancer.* How could this be? Many scientists and researchers that have looked at this phenomenon have concluded that, in Uganda, it is their plant-based diet that is the single most important contributor to their low cases of colon cancer and many of the other chronic diseases so familiar to our community.
In fact, we have, in many cases, come to think of diseases like hypertension and diabetes to be enviable. Many churches and institutions are at the point that they don’t even try to prevent them or have blood pressure screenings for them anymore. Blood pressure screenings used to be commonplace as healthcare professionals attempted to at least detect this monster. This was important because at least one article has called Hypertension the number one risk factor in death and disability in the world. But in our community, if you are 40 and are not on blood pressure meds it is seen as uncommon because everyone else is on them.
The Myth About Sickness
There are a lot of false narratives when it comes to why are we so sick. It is often alleged that it is because of the poor standard of health care in our community. Well, I am certainly not going to be a mouthpiece on behalf of the health industrial complex in this country, nor sugar-coat their sometimes racist policies when it comes to their treatment of patients from our communities. But let’s not give them more power or control over our communities than they should have.
I believe that we are sick not because of a lack of insurance or health care facilities. Those factors are especially critical for the more acute injuries and illnesses. But for the chronic illnesses that we are facing, we need to start looking in the mirror and recognize that there are some things that we can do to stop the flow of sickness and death. Illnesses that we have grown to expect can be prevented, and in some cases even reversed.
The Myth About Genetics
Another myth that I would like to briefly address is that we are sick because of our poor genetics. The truth is, the main source of our genes come from our African ancestors. And their genes have stood the test of time resisting many of diseases like these for centuries. The common denominator with all these chronic illnesses that remains is lifestyle.
But we also can’t just single out one factor because truthfully there are many. If I were to name a few I would have to of course mention our poor diets in fat and processed rich foods. Foods that we have had the nerve to protect and champion because they are viewed as part of our ethnic heritage. I believe that chitterlings and pigs feet should not be considered heritage, but rather a relic from slavery that we should keep in our past in the same way we have kept slavery, indentured labor, and share chopping.
We Need to Choose Exercise
Another contributor to the disproportionate death rates in our communities is our lack of exercise. As a little boy I grow up seeing sports and exercise as natural. Of course we did a lot of our walking out of necessity and not because we were health conscious. But whatever was our motivation, modern research has come to show that daily exercise is certainly an important tool to have in your arsenal for a healthy, disease free life. Exercise is also one of the things that aids in extending life expectancy.
Some years ago when I first shifted my focus from surgery and entered the area of preventative and alternative medicine, I was impressed to start an exercise program for seniors. It was my belief that if I could help these seniors that were discarded, and in many instances seen as past their usable prime, I could help anyone.
I got permission from a Housing Development to go into some of their senior buildings in Washington DC to put their residents on a progressive exercise program. The research preparation for this project had indicated that seniors could regain up to 20 years of function with 4 to 6 weeks of exercise. I actually thought the possibility of an 80-year-old being able to function as a 60-year-old was highly unlikely, yet I went forward. Well, to my utter shock I was wrong. The transformation I saw in the participants in the program was earth shaking. By choosing exercise, the seniors I worked with chose life.
Don’t Forget About Stress
But diet and exercise are not the only factors that need to be considered. When talking about diseases that plague our communities and what we can do to change such a reality we must also, for a moment, touch on stress. I have said for many years that stress is the number one cause of death in African American communities in particular, and across this country in general. When we look at heart disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and many other chronic illnesses, stress is a consistent component. However, I believe that all too often we misunderstand stress and its origins.
I believe that our stress comes from mainly within not without. In other words, your stress is not because of a racist boss or a nagging spouse. Your stress is actually caused by your response to those stressors. This is not to say that these stressors are ok. We should do everything that we can to eliminate these stressors, but the psychological and physiologic toll that stress produces can be significantly reduced by our taking control of our responses to these unpleasant instances.
I believe that it was our heavenly father that inspired our fore parents to sing much of their troubles away. By taking the same approach we can minimize the detrimental effects of this stress while we are at the same time working to eliminate the stressors.
Healing in a Plant-Based Diet
Lastly, I want to get back to the subject of the plant-based diet. The important fact that I would like to emphasize is that some plant based diets can prevent these chronic diseases like hypertension and colon cancer, but they can also reverse many of these horrendous killers.
When I started my focus on a more natural/wholistic approach to the practice of medicine I found that many of the “quote” terminal patients that came to me could be completely turned around. I’ve seen lives extended, in some cases, for many years free of the diseases that had been predicted to be their demise.
I have found that many people think that cutting out their fatty delights may lead to longer life, but to them what is living long if there is no joy, and eating certain foods definitely supplies us with a lot of joy. But, the belief that a good plant-based diet must taste bad is another one of the myths. A myth that is often fed by the same industry that is supplying us with those awful killers. The proper use of herbs and spices and the purchase of a higher quality of food in the first place can quickly show you, that you can eat well as you “eat well.”
Yes, we are dying prematurely, but I believe the best way we can save our lives and celebrate our heritage is by getting back to some of the dietary and lifestyle practices of our ancestors. By practicing some of those secret traditions that have sustained them we can access the power we need to revive ourselves and our communities.
*Phytates for the Prevention of Cancer – Nutrition in Clinical Practice / Vol. 25, No. 6, December 2010
How to Choose Foods on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet
My husband took a small desk plant to work, and won the scrutiny of a clever co-worker who looked at the plant, and laughingly said: ”So you brought your lunch to work today?”
But isn’t this a common misconception, that all you eat on a plant-based diet is grass?
If not, then what?
A whole food plant-based diet is based on eating unprocessed or minimally processed plant foods. It’s centered on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts, and seeds. It avoids animal products like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, and also excludes highly refined foods, including artificial foods with additives like excitotoxins, food dyes, trans fats, and sugars.
That may have been a lot to take in, but here’s what you should know: a whole food plant-based diet leads to a longer, healthier life. Numerous studies link this lifestyle to an abundance of health benefits, including lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar, while preventing and even reversing chronic diseases.
But if you’re not careful, you could easily fall prey to the many “all-natural”, “vegan” and even “plant-based” food labels that aren’t truly whole-food, plant-based options at all.
For example, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that those who ate high-quality plant-based foods, such as whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits were less likely to gain weight than those who ate less healthful plant-based foods, such as french fries, refined grains, and sugary items.
So how do you choose wisely on this lifestyle and avoid pitfalls? Here are four fail-proof principles I use to guide my food selections that are sure to help you as well.
Principle #1: Stay as close to nature as possible
Stick with whole, unprocessed foods and ingredients. Processed foods generally refers to intentionally altered items. This includes physical changes, chemical additives, and artificial substances not originally present. Whole food, on the other hand, refers to unrefined or lightly processed foods. To gain the most nutritional benefit, the goal is to aim for food as close to its original form as possible.
For example, if you enjoy canned peaches in heavy syrup, eat the actual naturally juicy peach instead.
Principle #2: Fresh is best
The fresher the food, the more nutritious it is. Food picked straight from the farm or your garden gives you the highest amount of nutrients possible. Over time, however, freshly picked food produces enzymes that cause loss of nutrients, color, and flavor. So eat food closest to its harvest time to maximize nutrient benefits.
This may not always be possible, however, and that’s where fresh-frozen food is a win. It’s harvested and frozen when ripe, sealing in nutrients, color, and flavor. Nutrient-destroying enzymes that deplete your fresh food of vitamins and minerals are also deactivated when frozen.
A good tip is to buy a mix of both quality fresh and fresh-frozen food for nutrient-dense options. And take advantage of the summer season to freeze fruit so you can have quality fruit all year-round!
Principle #3: If sourced from an animal, it’s not going in
Animal-sourced refers to meat, dairy (milk & cheese), eggs and other animal by-products. Note, some plant-based munchers occasionally eat honey sourced from bees. This may be the only exception–and a personal choice.
Why avoid animal-sourced foods? While it’s true that meat and dairy consumption provide needed nutrients like protein and calcium, animal products also bring a litany of damaging health effects. Copious studies document links to cancer, heart disease, a shorter lifespan and more. Plant-based options are more than plentiful and still provide needed nutrients without negative side effects. In fact, they increase your life-span and are better for the environment.
Principle #4: If it contains added fats, sugars and ingredients that you can’t pronounce, stay away.
Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health puts it best. “A plant-based diet could include consuming large amounts of sugar, refined starch, hydrogenated oils, and soda, which would be about the worst diet possible.”
Lengthy, hard-to-pronounce ingredients are often chemically derived. Chemical food additives carry consequences that include brain-exciting food addictions and carcinogen-induced diseases. So pay attention to food labels!
A whole food plant-based diet is absolutely doable and enjoyable! Follow these four easy principles to make selecting healthy food easier. Most importantly, let God guide you step-by-step towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. Each step is your declaration that says, I’m choosing my health!
Recipe: Ground Walnut Meat
This nutrient-rich recipe is so versatile! You can use it in burritos, wraps, sandwiches, or on Taco Tuesdays, topped with a rainbow of crisp veggies, drenched in cashew sour cream. You can even enjoy it as a spread or savory crumbles added to your meal to give it extra pizazz. The options are endless.
3 Tbsp of water or sun-dried tomato water (recommended) or more as needed.
Soak sun-dried tomatoes and date in warm water for 5 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until slightly chunky in texture.
Taste and adjust as desired. Add cayenne for extra kick, water for a smoother texture, and salt to personal preference.
Get creative! Stretch the recipe by adding cooked lentils, quinoa, or cauliflower.
Why Memorial Day is Bigger Than the Barbecue
Drill down on the grill out, to find the true meaning of a righteous Memorial Day.
Grills are centers of gravity that pull family and friends together. And as Oakland showed us recently, diffusers of charcoal can be transformed into weapons of resistance.[i] Barbecue and the cook-out has been a part of celebrating freedom since the original Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day.
In 1966, Capitol Hill and the Whitehouse officially recognized Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day. That’s because on May 5, 1866, the town shut down business in order to honor fallen Civil War soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and wreaths. It was a solemn day of prayer and remembrance. Because of the emphasis on decorating the soldiers’ graves, these yearly commemorations were known as Decoration Day. Eventually the day became known as Memorial Day.
Martyrs of the Race Course
However, a year before Waterloo had their city-wide observance, there was a massive gathering in Charleston, SC, for essentially the same purpose. The site of the commemoration was a former horse race track that had been used as an outdoor prison camp by the Confederates. Prior to being driven out by the U.S. Army, the champions of slavery buried over 250 dead union troops in a mass grave on the property. After the area had been pried from the Southern traitors, formerly enslaved men unearthed the ingloriously dumped bodies and gave them honorable, patriotic burials. They built a fence around the new graveyard and whitewashed it. Then, on the archway of the entrance, they inscribed, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
On May 1, 1865, approximately 10,000 recently freed African Americans gathered to honor union troops at what is now known as Hampton Park.[ii] They prayed, read from the Bible, sang songs like “John Brown’s Body” and “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” made speeches, decorated the graves with flowers, infantrymen did marching drills, and yes – they had a cook-out.[iii]
Most people don’t know this part of Memorial Day’s history because the place where Memorial Day began by honoring dead Union troops is named after Wade Hampton. The Martyrs of the Race Course were displaced in favor of a plantation-owning, U.S. general. Hampton defected to wage war against the U.S. to protect his “state’s rights” to own other human beings.
Alternate Memorials – Just a pile of rocks aren’t they?
In Joshua chapter 4, Moses’ successor had the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel pick up large stones from the bottom of the Jordan River. Gathering them was made possible by God’s providence in parting the waters of the Jordan so the Israelites could cross on dry land. This miracle was a memorial in itself. It reminded a whole new generation of what God had done 40 years ago by parting the Red Sea when Moses led the multitude out of Egypt.
Once everyone crossed the Jordan and the men gathered their 12 stones, they stacked them up to form a monument. It was a stone memorial to remember the day that God parted the waters. The stones gathered from the bottom were physical evidence of this feat. It wasn’t expensive or ornate, but it accomplished a purpose.
When children saw their parents visiting and rejoicing at the sight of a simple pile of rocks, it prompted questions. What do these stones mean to you? Then parents provided their own documentaries to the next generation. Do you have some simple crafts that you can pass down through the generations to serve as conversation starters?
Alternate Memorials – Are you trying to poison me or what?
While Moses was still alive, God had given the people some other memorials. The yearly Passover meal was a memorial of how God’s angel killed the first born of the Egyptians in order to force pharaoh to finally release the Hebrews. Instead of a cook-out, this feast was a cook-in. Even so, people stood up while they ate. This was a reminder that when God gives the signal you have to be ready to move.
The seasoning was a little strange, though. The meat was purposely marinated in bitter herbs. Why? Exactly. When people (especially the youth) partook of the meal, it prompted the question, “Why is this meat so bitter?” That provided a teaching moment that would be permanently etched into their taste buds. They would have a gustatory (taste perception) trigger to remind them of how bitter the chastening rod had been. The repulsive prompt was meant to renew their vow of “Never Again.”
A similar principle is at work with God’s list of clean and unclean meats in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Don’t worry. No bitter herbs this time. God normally wants us to spice up our lives and enjoy tasty meals, except for times like Passover or fasting for one purpose or another. However, sometimes we act as though we’re being deprived when things are withheld for our own benefit. Although the food is fine, we get bitter and ask why we can’t eat certain things. There’s two short answers for this: 1) Trust Him in this area, since He’s proven Himself in other ways, and 2) Look at the longevity and quality of life of those who follow His plan.
Alternate Memorials – What Can I do?
God also commanded Moses to teach the people to rest every seventh day. The weekly Sabbath rest wasn’t something brand new. God established it in Genesis 2, to cap off creation week. However, just as many African American family trees have been separated from their roots, the Hebrews had been estranged from the concept of rest. In Exodus 20:8-11, the reason for rest is to remember our value comes from being created in the image of God. As we
contemplate His forethought in designing all the interdependent ecosystems of the world, it should develop mindfulness for how we treat each other and our environment.
In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the same command is given for a different reason. This time the reference point for the Sabbath is emancipation from slavery. The application is to extend the liberation that God has blessed you with by doing one simple thing: Give the people in your sphere of influence the day off.
The challenge most children have is when their parents tell them all the stuff they can’t do on the Sabbath, they want to know what they can do. You can help the sick, the injured, the hungry, the lonely, to experience rest by relieving their suffering. Your compassion might be all someone needs to experience to believe there is a God who loves them. Once you get your focus off of your own concerns, you’ll be surprised at how fast the sun goes down and signals the end of another Sabbath.
The Confederates didn’t like the fact that Memorial Day seemed to be geared toward Union soldiers who died in the Civil War and neglected their genteel warriors. Therefore, many Southern states renewed their rebellion by establishing their own Confederate Memorial Days and continue to do so in one form or another.
There are also some counterfeits we have substituted for the Biblical memorials mentioned above. Instead of simple decorations that draw attention to how God has blessed us collectively and wants to do even more to elevate humanity as a whole, we chase after trinkets to display our individual status. How can we witness about a selfless God while exhibiting self-indulgence?
Instead of clean foods recommended by our Lord of liberation, we indulge in some of the most disgusting parts of the most disgusting animals. Sometimes we even say we do this to honor Him. How do you honor the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world by eating the guts of animals that gulp down the refuse of the world?
Instead of accepting the weekly reservation set by God to commune with Him, we change the date and time. How do we get the nerve to tell Him to rendezvous with us after standing Him up the day before?
May we enjoy our food, family, and friends, while we remember that there are bigger things than barbecue on holidays like Memorial Day.