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The Frugal Catholic: “The Cheap and Easy Way to Lose WEIGHT by Eating Small, Rich and Real” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.— March 2016

Before I start this article, I want to make it very clear I am NOT a nutritionist or an expert in the field of health. What I am is a 67 year old mother of five adult children who has recently lost about 15 pounds rather effortlessly, and I thought you might be interested in knowing how. So do your own due diligence on the internet and you will see that this method is being touted by various nutritional folks.

Portion size took a big hit in the past century.
Portion size took a big hit in the past century.

Let’s start with a little history. In the 1960’s the fat consumption of the average person was about 45% and obesity was about 12%. Now in 2016, the fat consumption of the average person is about 33% and the obesity rate in America is around 50%. What has happened and why?

Nothing like the "real thing"
Nothing like the “real thing”

Since I can look back at my life and the eating trends, I can say that before fast and packaged foods came into being, people generally made everything from scratch. They used real ingredients versus names you can’t pronounce. We used whole milk, real butter (not margarine), full-fat or home-made mayonnaise, real cream, full-fat cheese, good natural unprocessed non-nitrate meats, and other whole foods which had not been processed. Milk didn’t come in 1% or 2% fat. It was just regular whole milk.   And cheese and all of the other aforementioned foods were generally pretty simple. People were thinner; furniture was smaller; and people just didn’t eat the massive size portions which are now served now in American restaurants. We didn’t have the amounts of obesity in children which we see now and the challenges which come from being overweight. We ate SMALL, RICH and REAL in our portion sizes and food choices because that is what was available.

Avocados provide a rich source of natural fat
Avocados provide a rich source of natural fat.

Now days, if one goes to a restaurant in America, the portion sizes are just massive.  Simply view the movie “Super Size Me” if you want to see how big!

Thus, this past summer of 2015, my dear husband, Michael, of 36 years stated, “We need to start eating smaller portion sizes.” He said that out of the blue, but I knew he was right. The only challenge with that concept of “eating small” is that I figured I would starve to death, for he was preparing the dinners, and they would be ½ a chicken breast with some salad and dressing. That was it for dinner. I acted like I really liked his cooking, but, in truth, I was in rebellion. I knew I just couldn’t go around hungry if I could avoid it, so I decided to start eating RICH and REAL (and SMALL) and see what happened. That was in July 2015. By Thanksgiving 2015, I had lost about 10 pounds by eating  SMALL, RICH, and REAL and by February 2016, I was down about 15 pounds and Michael was down 10 pounds—all without any additional exercise. I was shocked at our results. We both needed new (used) clothing since everything was falling off including my underwear.

Since then, I have done some research on the web, and I’ve found that SMALL, RICH, and REAL is even being advised by many in nutritional research. So to give you the full scoop, this is what my eating habits look like.

Morning Coffee– with Sugar in the Raw and lactose-free half and half
Breakfast— gluten-free cereal, whole milk with dried fruit and nut mix, or eggs and toast and butter, or a corn muffin with butter and lactose-free cream cheese

My fruit and nut mix
My fruit and nut mix.  Combine nuts and fruits that you have in your pantry to start with.  This gives you an easy way to use up what you have.

Lunch— one piece of gluten free bread, real cheese, non-hormone/ non-nitrate meats, pickles, fruit, carrots
Afternoon Snack— fruit with peanut butter,  or whole milk Greek Yogurt with a bit of jam or honey, or a hard boiled egg, or several slices of cheese along with green tea for weight loss, pu*erh tea for hunger fighting, or yerba mate tea for blasting fat  (tea ideas from Woman’s World)
Dinner— a Scotch with seltzer water or a glass of wine, grass feed meat or organic meat if possible, organic salad with as many interesting vegetables and fruits in it along with some more “fruit and nut mix” thrown in if desired, whole-fat home-made salad dressing or a good natural full-fat dressing such as Newman’s Own, and a small amount of starch (1/4 to 1/2 cup) like a potato, brown rice, or gluten free pasta.

Dessert—organic fruit, or more of the fruit and nut mix with some chocolate chips, or 2 or 3 Hershey Kisses and maybe a Pepsi Next if I still need sweets

To help keep hunger at bay, I drink six to eight glasses of filtered water a day or have a cup or two of the aforementioned tea. It is easiest to just carry around a water bottle each day and fill and drink it twice. That is pretty much about it. And it is about that simple. The real and rich foods keep me full; and when I dish up a portion for myself, I try to eat about half of what I used to; or if we ever eat out, Michael and I split a meal–2/3 for him and 1/3 for me. And I have noticed that I no longer seem to crave sweets like before.  Odd but true.

Try to use organic fruits and vegetables, if possible
Try to use organic fruits and vegetables, if possible.

I have not been at this weight for decades, and I want to mention that I am a Weight Watcher’s Lifetime Member and still haven’t been able to get to this 127 pound goal. And I am staying at my 15 pound loss rather effortlessly.  If  the weight does creep up on the scale, as it did last week, I refocus on SMALL, RICH, and REAL more thoroughly, and it starts to go back down to my 127 ideal weight.  I will add too that I take a pro-biotic pill once a day for good digestion along with a daily multiple vitamin, and we use lactose-free and gluten-free products since I have  lactose and  gluten intolerance.

This is a “diet” I can really live with for the long term.  It makes me wonder too that if the brain needs “fat” to function, what are we doing to our thought processes by avoiding it?  Personally I think I am thinking more clearly too.  In addition,  if I have to compare this food plan  to another country’s eating habits, I would view it as the way most French and Mediterranean people eat– SMALL,  RICH and REAL– as natural and wholesome to the earth as possible which makes these food choices a viable long-term alternative to “low fat” eating.

So give it a try if you want, and let me know what your exciting results.
God Bless Your Efforts!

A Lenten Small and Rich Friday Meal
Give this  Lenten Small and Rich and REAL Friday Meal a try.

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EASY “SMALL ,RICH, and REAL” CHILI—serves about 6

2 cans of chili with beans (read ingredients and make sure you know what each one is–Annie’s Chili is a good choice)
1 can of kidney beans—drained and rinsed
1 cup of brown rice prepared according to directions with about 2 tablespoons of butter
spices of your choice optional

Cook the brown rice and heat up the contents of the three cans. Serve the chili over the rice along with a nice salad. It rates as a #10 with my husband!

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QUICK RANCH- STYLE SALAD DRESSING

This keeps well in the refrigerator and is a thick dressing.  It can be thinned with a little whole milk,  if desired.

1/2  cup real mayonnaise                      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup full-fat sour cream                 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon garlic powder                   freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.  Great for dipping vegetables.

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The Frugal Catholic: “The Frugal Wedding” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–May 2015

                                   WHY FRUGAL AND WHY CATHOLIC

Years ago, while attending a charming wedding of a daughter of one of my high school friends, I remarked to another high school friend, Laura, that someday I wanted to stage “a frugal wedding” for my offspring. Laura was horrified at that thought for she knew me well enough to know what I meant by “frugal.” I just couldn’t justify in my mind that the family of the bride (my best friend Kathy) would have to shell out $25,200 and upwards for the average American wedding. Well November of 2014, I finally got my chance and staged a wedding for my first born son and his wife for $953. And you can do the same at probably an even lower cost.

This year my husband and I have been married for 35 years, and we reaffirmed our marriage five years ago within the Church when we both became Catholic. Thus, as we have seen over these 35 years, marriage is what God intended to help couples grow in faith, love, and fidelity; and of course, it is one of the Seven Sacraments within our Catholic Church for good reason. In a speech Pope Francis made to young Italians on October 4, 2013 in Assisi Italy, The Holy Father stated, “Don’t be afraid to take definitive steps such as that of marriage; deepen your love, respecting the times and expressions, pray, prepare yourselves well, but then trust that the Lord doesn’t leave you alone! Make him come into your home as one of the family. He will always support you.”

He also added, “Two Christians who marry have recognized in their history of love the call of the Lord, the vocation of two, male and female, to become only one flesh, only one life. And the Sacrament of Matrimony envelopes this love with the Grace of God, it roots it in God himself. With this gift, with the certainty of this call, one can begin with certainty, there is no fear of anything, and everything can be faced together.”

Another interesting point I discovered about a Catholic marriage statistically confirms what Pope Francis so beautifully stated:

According to a study by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research, Catholics have a lower divorce rate than couples of other faiths. Mixed faith marriages are more prone to failure. Catholics who marry Protestants or non-religious spouses have a divorce rate of 49% and 48% respectively. Catholics who marry someone of the Jewish faith have a 35% divorce rate, while Catholics who marry other Catholics have a 27% divorce rate.

                                       HOW TO START PLANNING

 My expedition into wedding planning began four days before the actual ceremony. Although our planning period was exceptionally brief, I believe that length made decisions definitive and kept down all the costs. The journey began when my daughter-in-law to be, Caroline, called on Wednesday night to say that she and David, who were engaged, had found an open day in their work schedules to get married–Sunday 23 November 2014. Since neither are Catholics, they needed to find an official to marry them. After locating one in Seattle  who was willing to marry them on the ferry to Bainbridge Island where they had met a year before called shotgunweddings.com , and after clearing it through the ferry system, Caroline and I started preparing. Well, we had the place, but we just needed the guests. So I composed an email, cleared it with Caroline, and then sent it to all of our friends and family and Caroline did the same. Thus within two days, we had about 40 guests reply that they would be attending. That major step in motion made it time to start on some of the finer details.

                                   WHAT THE BRIDE NEEDED

 It was now time to start a list of first things first. To begin, I asked, “What would the bride wear?” Well she had a dress which she had purchased from a vintage thrift store which fit the bill. I went and purchased a veil from Bargain Boutique (a local thrift store) on our Island for $10. Next I found a blue garter since a bride must have “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a penny for her shoe,” according to American tradition. We covered that custom with her old veil, her “new” dress, a borrowed antique handkerchief, a blue garter, and a 2014 penny for her shoe.

                                  WHAT THE GUESTS NEEDED

 Next the guests had to be considered. The reception would be held in our home which would cost nothing for the venue. I had found two wedding crystal goblets when I had purchased the veil. We needed, however, some simple wedding decorations which I purchased from the The Dollar Store: heart candles, purple ribbons, purple napkins, purple paper plates, plastic silverware, and a bride and groom ceramic decoration. I then took the ribbons and some battery powered lights and made a centerpiece in a glass vase thus negating the need for flowers which would have added to the expense.

As it turned out, Caroline’s Mom flew in from out of state and also provided a bouquet for her daughter as well as a lovely floral arrangement, two corsages the Mom’s, and boutonnieres for the groom and best man. For their guest book, I simply used a family one we use whenever people come over for dinner. Photographs would be taken by attendees with cameras and then compiled into a photo manual at Walmart. The rings were purchased from another local thrift store for two dollars each. And shortly after their engagement, I had found a $12 lavender long dress for myself, the mother of the groom, from Goodwill with its original $89 tags so I was set for a fancy dress. Now it was time for the food considerations.

Since Caroline and David live in another city in Washington State, I went to Costco and shopped for the reception food. They had decided on pulled pork, rolls, baked beans, chopped salad, wine, beer, sodas, and sparking apple cider for the wedding toast. With that procured, I began to prepare the meal totally in a Crock-Pot. The pork shoulder went into a Crock-Pot on Friday night, and on Saturday morning I shredded it and added barbeque sauce. Michael and I went to Mass on Saturday evening to observe the Sabbath.

And then on Sunday, their wedding day, before all of the wedding party and guests got on the 12:20 PM ferry to Seattle for the 1:10 PM ceremony heading back towards Bainbridge, I simply put the cooked BBQ in one Crock-Pot, the canned baked beans in another, and the rolls in a low temperature oven. The salad was already prepared so we tossed it together after the reception. Caroline had picked up donuts for the wedding cake, and I had purchased ferry post cards at her request to hand out to the guests along with bird seed to throw at the bride and groom as they left. The drinks were chilled, and we were ready.

                                 WHAT THE ATTENDEES THOUGHT

 We got so many compliments on The Frugal Wedding. Everyone enjoyed the simplicity and the lovely ferry ride. My sister, Becky, and her husband summed it up best when she said:

“We loved their wedding. We have shared their wedding details with a lot of people. It was quirky and original. Very expressive of the two of them. The norm these days is over the top. A wedding planner walking around the wedding site talking on her ear bud. Staged gag-me quality photographs. And how many of those weddings that you attend really stand out? I was impressed by how quickly they (with your help) threw it together. When David proudly told me that they did it for around 700 dollars, I thought they deserved a medal. I took a great photo of the two of them on the deck of the ferry with Mount Rainier and Puget Sound as the backdrop. There are very few venues where that kind of view is possible. The donut cake, however, was the piece de resistance. It summed it all up. ‘ Keep it simple and within your means and by all means put your mark on it.’

                              The price break down is as follows:

Official who married them————————————————————————-$275

Two wedding picture books, 279 developed photos, and 35 postcards for thank you notes all from Walmart——————————————————————————$55

Postcards of the Bainbridge Island ferry to hand out to the guests as a favor——-$30

2 ferry Christmas ornaments to use on the donut wedding cake————————$9

Boxed wine, beer, sodas, and sparkling cider————————————————$95

Veil, toasting glasses, and blue garter———————————————————-$15

The brides dress ————————————————————————————-$40

Mother-In-Law’s dress——————————————————————————$12

Donuts for wedding cake—————————————————————————$56

Flowers, (an estimate,) which her mother contributed————————————–$120

Dollar Store decorations—————————————————————————-$18

Paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, silverware———————————————–$19

Two two dollar wedding rings which fell apart soon afterwards—————————$4

Replacement costs of both two dollar wedding rings which fell apart——————-$80

Cost of food from Costco—————————————————————————$125

Cost of where to hold the reception————————————————————–$0

Cost of holding the marriage ceremony on the ferry—————————————–$0

Cost of invitations by sending out an email—————————————————–$0

Cost of their honeymoon (we let them use our time share in Canada)——————$0

Total cost of David and Caroline King’s Frugal Wedding—————————–$953

                          HOW TO FURTHER REDUCE THE COST

 As stated, we did not have Caroline and David’s wedding in a Catholic Church which would have cost nothing have cost nothing for the priest or deacon (or for the venue. (-$275) We also had a ton of food and drink left over so I could have made about half of the food and purchased about half of the beverages; but I felt better to be safe than sorry. (-$50) Thus those two changes would have brought the total cost down (-$325) or around $630 to put on a beautiful ceremony.

                                             FINAL THOUGHTS

According to my Catholic daughter-in-law, Emily King, who married my second son in 2009, “The average American wedding is driven by societal standards and not by the couple’s desires. Emily added, “If the two of them don’t want to spend that much money, they simply don’t have to.” Emily knows what she is talking about for their gorgeous Catholic nuptials cost about $1000. Now that’s keeping frugal thinking soundly in our Catholic family!!

David and Caroline's wedding Nov 2014                David Byron King and Caroline Avant King  23 November 2014