Friday Favorites 11/08/13

Rice Cake with Peanut Butter and RaisinsFriday favorites is a place where I can talk about and recommend some of my favorite things.  From food to music to technology to great ideas, Friday favorites will feature them all.  If you have feedback on something that’s deserving of a Friday favorite, please don’t hesitate to use the comment section or send me an email at  I want to hear about your favorites too!

For the next few weeks on Friday favorites, I want to highlight the recipes from our recent Daniel Fast that we really thought were delicious and will continue to eat as part of our regular menu.  Today I’m going to start with a snack that you probably have at least some familiarity with, and hopefully show how with just a few tweaks this snack goes from boring to delicious.  In fact, I like these so much that I now eat about one per day and have yet to grow tired of them.  And, being a Daniel Fast item, they are all natural and have no added sugars or preservatives.  Your really can’t get any better than that!

I will also state, for the record, that I very much doubted that I would ever like these when my wife first offered me one.  If you, like me,  find yourself doubting that these could be be any good at all then all I have to say is “try them”.  I completely changed my mind within the first few bites and you might also.

Brown Rice Cakes with Natural Peanut Butter and Raisins

I start with a whole grain brown rice cake.  My local Kroger carried Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes and I found them to be much superior in terms of texture and crunch versus a normal puffed, white rice cake.  In my opinion, the normal white rice cakes have the texture of styrofoam and a similar squeak when broken so I avoid those whenever possible.

Next, add a nice layer of your favorite natural peanut butter.  I’ve used both crunchy and smooth and I like them both equally, so go with whichever you prefer.  This one would be a great choice.  I stress natural peanut butter because the normal stuff has all kinds of additives that you don’t want or need as well as some really unhealthy,  unnatural fats.  All you really want to see on your peanut butter ingredient list is peanuts and maybe salt.  That’s all.

Once you have that done, it’s time for the raisins.  I use a couple of spoonfuls for each rice cake but you can adjust the amount to your liking.  I like my rice cake to be pretty well covered in raisins but not so many that they are stacked on top of one another and falling off.  Make sure each one has some contact with the peanut butter and you’ve likely got it just right.

Why does this snack work so well and why is it so delicious despite being so simple?  The secret lies in the ingredients.  You’ve got the crispy crunch of the rice cake.  You’ve got the creamy richness of the peanut butter.  On top of those you are adding sweet, plump raisins which have an interesting texture all their own.  The resulting combination hits all of the right notes in your mouth: salty, sweet, crunchy, smooth.  It really is delicious!

By the way, bring a napkin and a smile.  You will likely use both of them.

The Daniel Fast – What I Learned

daniel fast,encouragement,

My wife and I completed our Daniel Fast this past weekend.  I was honored when she said she would undertake the fast with me and I truly could not have done it without her love and support.  Having your spouse by our side as you make a major diet change for a period of time is a huge benefit in terms of moral support, encouragement and accountability.  Although we struggled some days with cravings and feelings of being limited in our food choices we also learned a great deal and generally felt more energetic and excited to be undertaking this particular spiritual journey.

“In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.” (Daniel 10:2-3 NASB)  This is the verse that the Daniel Fast is based on.  It comes from a time in Daniel’s life when he was sincerely seeking to hear a word from the Lord and he decided to set himself apart by his dietary choices for three weeks.  Daniel chose only the most healthy and most natural food choices he could and today we understand his choices to be centered around fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, herbs, spices and water for drinking.

I believe wholeheartedly in living and eating in a healthy, wholesome manner.  My wife and I try to stick to a low fat, low cholesterol diet on a daily basis.  In terms of using a lot of fresh, natural ingredients the Daniel fast was not that much different from our normal diet, with a few exceptions.

1. We love breads and crackers, and especially bagels with cream cheese.  Nothing leavened may be consumed on the Daniel fast and animal products like dairy and meat are also given up.

2. I’m a coffee lover and both of us frequently enjoy a cup of hot tea in the evenings.  Only water or natural fruit juices may be consumed on the Daniel fast.

3. Sugar.  Sweeteners.  Honey.  We both have a sweet tooth although we try to keep it reasonable.  This was probably the biggest challenge of the Daniel fast, especially in finding items at the grocery story that did not have some form of sweetener added to it.  It seems like sugar is in everything these days!

4. Additives and Preservatives.  It must be completely natural to be consumed on the Daniel fast and the very great majority of packaged foods that you find in the grocery story have at least 1 (and sometimes many more) additive or preservative.  Seriously, have you read the ingredient list on a taco or burrito shell recently?  It’s a little bit frightening.  Fortunately, Food for Life, the Ezekiel 4:9 company, came through for us there.

With all of that said, the benefits, both spiritual and physical, more than made up for what I gave up during our Daniel fast.  I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve ever been as grateful and as thankful for food as I was during those three weeks.  Something about the process of pairing down our choices for sustenance to the bare essentials really made me think about and appreciate each ingredient and realize just how blessed we were.

God provides.  We say it all the time.  During the three weeks of the Daniel fast I felt it acutely.  I perceived anew that it was only through God’s provision and His blessing that we ever have food to eat and water to drink.  Man may recombine the basic ingredients and build on what God has already provided but he cannot create.  It is God who really does the providing and I am so very thankful.

The last thing I’ll say, and I found this really surprising, is that I really don’t need any added sugar to be satisfied.  Once I had been off of processed sugar for a few days I found myself naturally eating more sweet fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, raisins and watermelons.  “Ice Cream” made out of blended frozen banana and blueberries is very good.  Rice cakes with natural peanut butter and raisins sprinkled on top is delicious and I will keep right on eating them even now, when I could choose something with sugar.  For a guy with a sweet tooth I found out that the sweet things that God provides us naturally really don’t need any additional help to be delicious!

Have you ever fasted or considered fasting?  If so, I would like to hear about your experience!