Eat those Carbs

3/9/2015 - 9:31:06 AM

Ever wonder how some people eat so many carbs and it never seems to bother them? As new research comes out we see that carbs are a good thing in moderation, but the key word here is moderation.  
Kauffman’s has a Mennonite/Amish upbringing and growing up we ate on average 50% more carbs than the average person. This means approximately 3-8 in each meal, and sometimes more including every variety of carbohydrate you can think of to include. Sunday meals from childhood typically included a menu very much like this - though not always this much in one - because that was reserved for really special occasions like weddings.

  • 1-2 different types of meat (roast beef and meatballs come to mind first)

  • potatoes

  • noodles (noodles, not pasta - pasta as a word was foreign to us)

  • vegetable (typically cooked)

  • bread & butter with strawberry or grape jam

  • pickles

  • olives (Spanish)

  • crackers and cheese

  • red beet eggs or deviled eggs

  • cornstarch pudding with marshmallows

  • cake

  • fruit salad

  • maybe cookies or pie

  • coffee

  • mints

Mouth watering? Well yes, but think of digesting all that, and then imagine a “simple” Sunday evening supper recently eaten at a conservative Old Order’s house recently.

  • Cheesy Potato soup

  • crackers

  • cheese

  • ham and cheese sliders

  • bread and butter

  • popcorn

  • juice

  • apple dumplings

  • ice cream

  • + another dessert

I hope you are impressed, because looking back I am. As we all grew older and started to learn about nutrition with all the different trends and fads we would sometimes wonder where this dairy and grain heavy eating lifestyle originated? The bad effects were starting to show because as everyone’s lifestyle got more sedentary and people farmed less signs of obesity started creeping into the plain-people churches. Still, in the older generation and rural communities there were signs of people that had eaten that way and were healthy people living to a ripe old age. How they did that and maintained health well until later was a mystery, not to mention that few of them suffered from obesity.

A look towards the past

In the past few years I had the chance to talk to a young women who had spent close to six months in Switzerland and she mentioned that she had some trouble with gaining weight while working at a resort in the Alps because of all the carbs they ate there. You can imagine I paid attention, because I’d often wondered about where all this carb-loading came from and why. The why and how seemed simple enough after hearing more about Switzerland, because farming folk have the most access to dairy and grains, potatoes and meat and the Swiss countryside is especially lush for that type of production. How it worked made sense too, because for centuries people had to work really, really hard to stay alive and needed all that energy simply to get through each day. Considering that their food sources were pure and wholesome, and they worked hard everyday definitely made 2+2 add up to 4.

Keeping it simple

This is the same why and how that works against us today, because all our lifestyles have changed to a lot of sitting since computers came around. Plain folk aren’t as affected by the advent of technology, but as the world around us changed it makes sense that it had to change the amount and type of work we would do as well. People rode bikes less and hired drivers, and used their buggies less and hired van drivers. We worked more in factories, shops and stores.

Another reason obesity and disease rates really changed for our generations is that when we were no longer farming good farm food wasn’t available anymore. They still ate all the dairy, carbs, meat and potatoes meals but started adding foods like cream cheese, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, bought ice cream, processed grains and sugars, hormone-injected meats, homogenized milk, etc etc. They ate less fresh fruits and vegetables and instead added processed junk and sugary canned foods.

Meals on my grandparents farm were often simple and some of the best food I have ever tasted. After running around with the chickens and dogs, and staying away from the mean old turkey Mammi affectionately referred to the “the old gobber” we got wholesome food that left you feeling better afterward. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it actually feels healing in comparison to the rich casseroles, sweet desserts and fatty junk food the rest of the world eats today. Nothing was taken out, nothing was added except for whole ingredients you could find right there. Of course because it was Pennsylvania there were always pretzels, but even those were relatively low on the rich and processed meter compared to many foods. (Anyone identify with the pretzel thing?)

Learn your lesson

Plain or not there is something that we should learn, and that is that regardless of what we can do we have to make choices for what’s best for us. Growing up we kids heard this saying at least a couple of times each week.

“If your friends are jumping off the cliff, does that mean you will too?”

That one was used on us kids plenty, and ties in strongly with traditions in plain communities. It’s what the Mennonites and Amish are famous for, their ability to distance themselves from something and consider what ought to be done with it. Sometimes this works against them, but it would be well for everyone, plain or otherwise, to take a step back and figure out how to simplify their food intake and up exercise rates. It would save us all from a pretty big fall to clean up our food intake, and simplify life by eating a more minimal diet. Lots of good food, yes, but less richness and processed stuff.

Mammi’s Chicken Pot Pie



  • 1 qt. water

  • 15 oz can chicken broth (or the broth you get from cooking the chicken)

  • 16 oz. bag Pot Pie Squares

  • 2 cups deboned chicken

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. parsley


  1. Bring water and chicken broth to a boil.

  2. Add pot pie squares and boil for 5 minutes.

  3. Put in crockpot, add deboned chicken, salt and parsley.

  4. Cook for 4-5 hours in crock pot. May need to add extra water.

Eat with as many carbs as you can possibly think of. Enjoy.

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