Oh, summer!  How we cherish your long and beautiful days.  Free from school and schedules, how grand it is to simply be alive!  As I read Dr. Gardners Meridian article this week on sugar, my spirit wanted to stand up and shout about how much more alive I feel nine months after breaking free from sugars vise-like grip, much of which I have already shared here at Meridian in past articles. What I have not shared, however, is a scripture that identifies, for me, for why sugar is such a trouble-maker: 

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Isaiah 55:2

While “fatness” of the body is not a delight, “fatness” of the spirit, meaning peace, happiness, emotional health and contentment, most definitely is!

The bread in this scripture is symbolic for the Gospel and salvation, but for me it is also literal in that we easily can spend our money (and calories) on junk foods that leave us physically depleted, overweight and emotionally out of sorts.

Simply put, it “satisfieth not.”  No matter how much sugar I consumed, it was never “enough.”

(For more information on  the chemistry for why this is so and how our diets have changed in the last 50 years to create an American epidemic of obesity and disease, I highly recommend “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering The Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness” by Douglas Lisle Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer.  Briefly stated, simple sugars from refined foods and sugar-based foods cause a quick rise in the blood sugar, followed by a quick drop, which demands MORE sugar to get the sugar raised again.  Simply stated, refined sugars will never satisfy the human body, as those of us who cannot manage a sweet tooth on our own can readily testify.)

What does satisfy and provide a “fatness” that is positive?  For my husband and me, its the whole food plant-based eating based on the Word of Wisdom presented here at Meridian in Jane Birchs articles. I have never been so genuinely satisfied and satiated in all my life!   Nor has my weight and cholesterol been at a better, steadier place.  Meridian readers are reporting the same thing, losing 10-15 pounds in a month, saying goodbye to migraines, improving cholesterol levels and more all by eating better and eliminating sugar! 

Though its much easier and quickly becoming second nature as the months go by, it was not easy at first and demanded many conscious choices.  In a similar direction, how easy it is to unconsciously allow equally unsatisfying entertainment into our lives, especially during the summer when there may be long hours at home with others. Though programs and movies may be rated G and have nothing offensive, without careful choices, it doesnt provide any nourishment either. Too much of it creates moodiness and an out-of-sort household.  Shallow entertainment also “satisfieth not.”

Everybody needs, deserves and thrives with the fun and relaxation of entertainment that nourishes the spirit with powerful stories to delight, teach, and lift.  Though important year round, its especially important to capitalize on this during the long hours and days of summer.  And of course, its a need to have something fun and yummy to munch on at the same time!  Here are some of our familys personal favorites, (both snacks and entertainment) that I hope will bring true satisfaction to your family and life this summer!

Soul Satisfying Treats
Popcorn (We like ours air-popped, but whatever you choose, no need for butter.  Its fun and easy to enjoy popcorn with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, seasoned salt, Old Bay seasoning, etc.

Fresh summer fruit! Any and all!  With a whole food plant based diet, eat as much as you want!
Popsicles made of pureed fruit, frozen into popsicle molds
Banana Creamies (frozen bananas and almond milk mixed in the mini-food processor with a little vanilla and some walnuts, then eaten with a spoon),
Banana milkshakes (also made with frozen banana chunks and almond milk, but whizzed in the blender.)
Sugarless Gum
Green Smoothies made with any frozen fruit and almond milk whizzed in the blender
Cut up vegetables and humus!
Steamed corn on the cob!  No need for it to have butter or salt, just a paper napkin or plate

Soul Satisfying Entertainment  Theres no end to excellent material here!  In particular, we have been spellbound for hours by the fascinating series “Inspiring Lives” at  This week we viewed an exceptional documentary about Kim Ryan, a 38″ LDS woman, entitled “Vertically Challenged.”  Here is the link to the Inspiring Lives series: CLICK HERE
Soul Satisfying Movies.  These movies, though delightfully entertaining, have a deeper element and message that makes for a rich, bonding experience.  While most of them are older and our familys favorite from the days our children were young 15-20 years ago, all are well worth watching again and available at Netflix or Amazon.

Iron Will:  After his dad perishes in a tragic dog-sledding accident, it’s up to young Will Stoneman to pay off the mortgage. Will wants to enter a 500-mile dogsled race with a $10,000 prize, but promoter J.P. thinks Will’s too young to undertake the journey.

Netlix Viewer Review: t has become increasingly difficult to find a good family film, but this definitely was a good one! The language was clean, themes were not adult oriented, and providing for an exciting visual experience for the whole family. I would highly recommend this for a family movie night.  The action might be too intense for some children under 5, but other than that, it is acceptable for the whole family.

Carolyn says:  What a thrilling movie.  The old-time trains in the winter mountains, the dog racing, the dogs themselves, and the truly winning portrayal of young Will make this an exceptional treat.

Babe:  Precocious piglet Babe’s struggle to fit in and become a champion sheepherder won the hearts of audiences and critics. Nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Babe won the Visual Effects Oscar, and everything from farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) to the multitude of farm animals to the humble, edgy script is remarkably appealing for kids and adults alike.

Babe, Pig In The City:  After winning the sheepherding contest, Babe (voiced by Elizabeth Daily) comes home to the reality that Farmer and Mrs. Hoggett (James Cromwell and Magda Szubanski) may lose their land. The prize porker and Mrs. Hoggett go to the big city in a desperate attempt to save the farm but become separated. On his own, Babe performs with the circus, is chased by stray dogs and becomes a leader among animals in director George Miller’s Oscar-nominated sequel.

NetFlix Review:  Miller directed Mad Max, Witches of Eastwick…and Babe 1&2 ?!? Fantastic, effortlessly beautiful film that washes away all the urban darkness it churns with the sweep of a strong spirit at its end. Both Babe films are a family affair and relate the same tone. However, once removed from the bucolic country, the deeper themes tend to come shining through with a palpable sense of dread. The movie ends on positive note…the only people who think this film is dark and inappropriate for children have issues thinking more deeply than a Disney tune.

This is a film to watch with your kids, then talk about afterwards…far different from most children’s fare. And, I guess, not palatable to the video sedatives usually provided for our kids.

Carolyn says:  This was my favorite of the two, and one of my top 10 all time favorite movies. I try to see it annually. I cry just thinking about the message of true friendship and loyalty that this movie so endearingly portrays.

Akeelah and The Bee:  Eleven-year-old Akeelah Anderson is determined to spell her way out of South Los Angeles and make it to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Netflix Viewer Review:  In a time when it is almost impossible to find a family film that is really enjoyable for everyone (adults, a 13-yr old, and an 11-yr old), this is it. This movie has a wonderful message encouraging kids to stand up to be the best individual they can be and to celebrate their uniqueness. It had us all cheering. Unlike many movies today with their cookie cutter stories and then sequel after sequel, Akeela is a real original .  The acting is very good by the entire cast. Its good to see stereotypes about inner city kids shown as just that … stereotypes. Thanks to all of those who took a chance to bring some truly innovative drama to the screen. This is a “Must see.”

My Dog Skip:  Lonely, 9-year-old Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz) lives in the flea-bitten town of Yazoo, Miss. He stinks at sports and has no playmates. So, over the strenuous objections of his hardnosed father (Kevin Bacon), Willie’s mother (Diane Lane) buys him a dog that he promptly dubs “Skip.” Before you know it, Skip transforms Willie’s life: He makes friends, plays sports and develops an unbreakable bond with the spunky terrier. Based on a true story.

Netflix Viewer Review: Wow!  Talk about a beautiful, magical little film!  “My Dog Skip” is one of the rare ones, a wonderful family film that paints a portrait of childhood capturing all the little details of a boys life with vivid realism.  As others have already confessed, I too cant help crying every time I watch it.  Frankie Muniz has a real chemistry with the dog, an essential reason the emotion is real.  Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane are also excellent.  If this isnt a perfect film, it comes awfully close.  Yes, “My Dog Skip” is a small masterpiece.  A must-see, the whole family can view together.”

Carolyn says:  I totally agree.  This one came and went from the theatres without us knowing about it, and how we wished wed seen it on the big screen, and once again the professional reviews were so-so. Very soul-satisfying and Ill always remember the first time our family watched it together.

North:  An eleven-year-old boy, ignored by his parents, goes to court to obtain free agency, leading to an amazing adventure around the world as he searches for a new family. 

Carolyn says: Elijah Wood, long before the Lord of The Rings, stars as young North.  Though the professional movie critics ripped this movie apart, we disagreed (as we often do) and found , it has a number of things that make it worthwhile. There are some classic entertaining moments, life lessons about family life and expectations, as well as a satisfying conclusion that in the end theres no place like home with your own family.

Jumanji:  When two recently orphaned siblings discover an enchanted board game that opens the door to a magical world, they unwittingly invite into their living room a man who’s been trapped inside the game for 26 years — and whose only hope for freedom is to finish the game.

Netflix Viewer Review: It’s a great, fun, entertaining film with no intellectual pretense. The kids and you will love it, and it gets better on the 2nd screening! Yes … the digital imaging was less spectacular than today’s but who cares?  Great family movie! Kids ages (9&7) loved it!!! We enjoyed it also.   We had a great time together as a family on the rainy Sunday afternoon.

Carolyn says:  Though this movie is now a generation old and the cinematography dated, it will still be exciting and even scary (in a good way.)  It will give you an opportunity to talk about families, the roles and value of parents, and the joy of finding genuine friends.  Not for under 5.

Our Favorite TV Shows:
Andy Griffith and The Wonder Years: Though they are older than old, we have gotten a great deal of soul-satisfying family bonding and entertainment in the past year with the “Andy Griffith:” series and “The Wonder Years.”  Twenty minutes without commercials, thanks to Netflix streaming, is the perfect end to a day!  There is something to laugh out loud about in almost every episode, yet leave a quiet sense of satisfaction regarding joy in the value and beauty of daily life and the gift of life itself.  Now that Im 20 years older, I personally value the excellent performances and characterizations in both of these show that to me, is seriously lacking in any current family TV serials.   

Books and Recorded Books on CD or Downloaded to Your Device:

Though the popular way of whiling away the miles in the car is now on video with movies, our family shared many recorded books, and we still do!  This is free entertainment, and can be enjoyed not only in the car, but on a starry night while laying outside, or on a summer afternoon when everyone needs some downtime, but NOT another video.  Ask your librarian for help on age appropriate books.  We especially enjoyed all the Roald Dahl books (especially “Matilda” which we listed to before it was a movie.)  We have just concluded the CD recording of “Cold Sassy Tree” by Olive Ann Burns, which is very appropriate for middle schoolers on up.

Of course, theres nothing better than reading outloud yourself!  Around the table, stretched out on the rug, or outdoors on a blanket.  Its easy to find choice book lists for all age groups, and summer is a wonderful time to make the most of extra time to read together.

So cut up the watermelon! Get out the hot-air popcorn popper.  Gather the family, your roommates, or curl up in a cozy chair by yourself.  Summer is meant to satisfy and with a little effort its yours for the taking.

Jane Birchs Articles on The Word of Wisdom and Whole Food Plant Based Eating

Our Word of Wisdom Summer Health Challenge

Carolyn Allen Becoming Sugar Free Blog

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website.

She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.

She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where she is the Primary chorister and they team-teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program. 

Learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian!