Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Week 18

Be still and listen, listen carefully.

This is actually the hardest challenge yet, so please take it very seriously.  Walking alone along a beach reminds me of this challenge, thus the photo taken on a beach in Florida.  Hearing the waves crashing on shore and the seagulls calling and the wind whistling awakens my senses and I listen, listen carefully.  Do the same this week with your body.  So much is going on inside of you and so many clues are being given to you, but you must learn to listen to them.  How is your body functioning?  Do you have any aches and pains?  When?  Where?  How often?

Not all aches and pains are related to diet, of course.  But even those that come from other sources can be relieved or exacerbated by the foods we eat.

Listen this week very carefully to your body.  At first, this may seem impossible to you, but as you still your thoughts and scan your body - taking in all the clues being given to you, you will soon be in tune and able to respond to your body's nutritional needs.

There are many nuances associated with this challenge - let me describe a few.

1.  Be quiet and still and notice how you feel.  God gave us a wonderful system of nerves to tell us when we are out of balance or when something is wrong.  You must stop and listen and use these clues to help you heal.

2.  Be aware of how you feel throughout the day.  Be especially aware of how you feel before and after meals.  Learn to key into the clues your body is giving you about the foods that you are eating.  Just as Renee has now seen that she gets headaches from sugar, and Jennifer knows she gets a migraine if she eats something with hidden MSG, you too pay attention.  You may not have this level of sensitivity yet, but try to notice how you feel after eating a meal of 100% good quality foods and then after eating a meal of man-made foods, either at home or out.  Keep in mind that some effects are immediate, such as a stomachache, and some may not hit you for a day or two, such as an infection.

3.  Don't be quick to take something to appease an ache or pain.  In today's world, we have learned to go for quick fixes and to ignore what our body is telling us.  If you are really tired, then rest.  Don't grab some food containing caffeine or sugar.  If you have a headache, don't take an aspirin type medication, drink water and try to determine why you have the headache.  If you have a stomachache, don't grab an antacid or other remedy.  See if you can link what you are eating with when you experience discomfort or pain.  See if you can start to notice the negative effects of man-made foods in your diet on how you feel.  This is so important for you to begin to know how to heal yourself with your food.  If you live with the ache or pain, and then try to decide what sounds good to eat, your body will begin to tell you.  If you have a stomachache, pizza is probably not going to sound very good to you.  If you have a migraine headache, eating out is probably not going to sound very good to you.  If you are having allergy problems, a heavy meal of meat and potatoes is probably not going to sound very good.

4.  If you are addicted to some food(s), this is a good time to identify your addictions: sugar, caffeine, junk food of some sort which contains addictive substances perhaps.  It is extremely hard to know what good nutrients your body is craving if you are addicted to foods/additives that control you.  If you cannot give up something easily for a week without severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms, then you are addicted.  Be still and identify what foods are controlling you - this is the first step to mastering and overcoming them.

5.  Most importantly, don't get discouraged.  The first step is listening.  It can take a long, long time to establish the cause and effect relationships since the effects of your diet can be immediate but usually are not.  We will continue to discuss over time how to better understand what your body is telling you that you need, but for this week, start with the first baby step of listening and awareness.

6.  Listen and be aware, but don't dwell on your aches and pains.  This is not helpful for healing.  Once you have become still and evaluated how you feel, get moving and active doing something again.  Let this awareness help you change what you are eating, not make you grumble or sink into depression.  If you are trapped in that scenario, give it to God.  Ask Him in prayer to take that attitude from you and to help you make the necessary diet changes that you need. "Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you." 1Peter 5:7

Advanced challenge for those who have already learned to pay attention to the signals their bodies are giving them:

This can become SO fun.  When cooking or preparing food, don't blindly follow recipes.  Stock up your pantry with spices and herbs and adjust your usage based on how you feel.  Learn to listen to your insight.  Use your sense of smell to help you determine what spices to add and how much of each.

Also adjust your meals based on how you or someone in your family feels.  For example, when you feeling like you are coming down with a cold, dairy products typically don't sound good - probably because dairy causes more mucus.  However, healing chicken soup is soothing and satisfying.  If you are feeling bloated from hormones, light cool foods like fresh fruits and salads may sound good.

You may desire a lot of fruit one day, and something with a lot of basil and garlic another day.  Do you crave a banana or an apple?  Perhaps a bowl of rice and beans, or a hamburger, or an omelette sounds good.  Listen and adjust.  Then pay attention to how you feel after eating your selection.  The more you practice, the more aware you will become of what your body needs to stay healthy, and the more fun you will have cooking and preparing your meals.
"Be still and know that I am God.."  Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Week 17

Eat your fruit first.

This is a very simple challenge; just a matter of retraining.  I grew up eating my fruit at the end of my meal.  It was considered the 'dessert', though we always had some sugary sweet with each meal too.  This is not a good practice.
Fruit is a great dessert option, but eat it first before other food or separate as a snack during the day.  I usually eat a couple servings of fresh fruit throughout the day.  I eat fresh fruit first thing in the morning to break my overnight fast, and then typically more fresh fruit later right before my breakfast.  I often have fruit with lunch or as an afternoon snack.  When you are shopping, remember to chose fruits that are in season and know which organic ones you want to buy based on the dirty dozen list.  Organic strawberries are in season now and we have been enjoying them immensely.
The reason you should eat fruit first before other foods is because it takes very little time or effort to digest fruit compared to proteins and carbohydrates.  If you eat fruit after a meal, it sits on top of the other foods you have eaten and can start to ferment causing indigestion and gas.  If you eat your fruit first, you maximum the absorption of nutrients from the fruit as it is digested first and it is much gentler on your digestive system.
If you are eating a dish that includes fruit, such as the Puffed Pancake, don't mix a lot of other things with it.  For example, don't eat scrambled eggs and sausage with your puffed pancake.  Keep the meal simple so it is easier to digest.
This very simple, easy challenge for the week can make a huge difference in your health, especially if you have problems with an unhealthy gut environment.  And isn't it fun to be able to eat your dessert first!

"Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.'  And it was so.  The land produced vegetation:  plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.  And God saw it was good."  Genesis 1:11-12

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Would you feed these to your children?

Renee sent this photo to me and the following story:

"Hi Mary!  Autumn and I are at Target and came across Easter candy.  I picked up these peeps and asked Autumn if she thought this was God's food.  She replied, "No way, they look disgusting."  Then I asked her if she knew what the first ingredient was.  She said, "Sugar," and then I asked her what the second ingredient was and she said "Corn syrup."  She wasn't even looking at the label!  I was impressed and had to share :).  Thank you for teaching our precious children (and Moms) about God's foods.  Have a great night!  Renee

I thank God that I have been able to teach FoodsbyGod classes to a group of children this semester and have been able to plant some seeds.  They are a perfect age to learn and understand what has happened to our foods and how their choices will affect their health now and in the future.  Hearing this from Renee swelled my heart with praise for God - I love hearing how He has opened Autumn's eyes to His truth about our foods!
Thank you, Renee, for sharing this story.  It reminds me of a comment a mom made to me about 10 years ago.  I was showing her our chickens and my homemade soy-free chicken feed, and she said, "Wow, your chickens eat better than my children. In fact, your chickens eat better than most of the kids in the United States."
How sad is that?  Would you feed these purple 'peeps' to your children?  Not only do they have no nutritional value, they are loaded with toxins (heavily processed and artificial ingredients).
It is doubly sad that children are fed this toxic junk at Easter time, a time to be celebrating Jesus' resurrection - the whole Christian foundation of love and truth has gotten garbled in lies and deception for so many.
Last year I posted the way we have celebrated Easter with the boys over the years.  I pray that God opens your eyes concerning the foods you are feeding yourself and your children and that He helps you make better choices.
May God bless your efforts this Easter season,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Week 16

Drink half your weight (in ounces) of water each day.

This challenge is a good habit to do year round, but especially in the spring when your body is naturally cleansing.
A few things to think about for this challenge:
1.  To calculate the quantity of water you should drink, use your ideal weight.  For example, if you weigh or should ideally weigh 150 pounds, then drink 75 ounces of water each day.
2.  Measure out your water in the morning.  So many people THINK they drink a lot of water during the day, but when they actually measure it out, they find they are not drinking anywhere near the correct amount.  If you fill up a pitcher in the morning, you can see at the end of the day how much you have consumed.  Another great suggestion someone told me is to use magnets on the refrigerator.  Measure how much your glass holds, for example, 12 ounces.  If you are drinking 75 ounces each day, then put 6 magnets on the refrigerator.  Move to a 'finished' spot to record your water each time you fill up your glass.
3.  You want to store your water in glass and drink out of glass, not plasticJoanna found this great glass pitcher with a white stopper top at Walmart (shown on left in above photo).  It is inexpensive and glass.  Of course, I had to get one too and I use it all the time!  Be sure to follow all of the same rules that were discussed in the Week 1 Challenge (drink room temperature, good quality filtered water).
4.  Drink your water between meals (wait 30 to 60 minutes after eating), not with your meals.  Try to drink no more than 2 - 4 ounces of liquid with your meal for best digestion.
5.  If you have not been drinking this much, expect to initially get up during the night once or twice to go to the bathroom.  This should subside in a few days unless you forget to drink your water during the day and try to drink it all in the evening.  If you follow the breakfast routine, you will start your day with at least 8 to 12 ounces of water, perhaps even as much as 20 ounces before you even eat your breakfast.  This is a great way to start your day - cleansing out your body with water after giving your body a chance to clean, repair and heal overnight.
6.  Keep a glass cup of water with you throughout the day and sip on it frequently.  Put it by your computer or work desk, or keep it handy in the kitchen or area of the house where you are busy.  We have no plastic cups to choose from in our cabinet above our sink and we each grab a clean glass in the morning that we then use throughout the day.  Having different styles and sizes of glasses helps to identity which glass belongs to which family member.  If you are using ceramic mugs, be sure they have been fired to the proper temperature.  Elements, such as lead, cadmium or cobalt, can leach out of glazes that are used on hand-made ceramic glass and dishware that you might obtain at craft fairs. 

7.  Whenever you leave the house, take a glass water bottle with you.  There are lots of great options that are now available for reasonable prices in stores and on-line.  Here are some of the ones we use when out and about.  Since we reuse these bottles, we take the cap off and clean them right away when we get home with hot soapy water to keep them from getting smelly.
8.  If you are working out in the heat or exercising, it is fine to drink more than your measured amount if you are thirsty.  However, if you are excessively thirsty, this might be a sign of diabetes.  Diabetes is rampant in our society due to the excessive amount of sugar and processed grained used in our foods.  Don't be a victim; change your diet.
With so many toxins in our world all around us, it is extremely important to drink plenty of clean water throughout the day.  Keep in mind also that we often overeat because we are dehydrated, so drinking more water can help you eat less if you are trying to lose weight.  If you don't like water, especially room temperature water, just do this anyway.  You will adjust - I know, I have been there.  I remember when the only thing that tasted good to me was a Dr. Pepper soda in a glass filled to the brim with ice!  But now I love water and the thought of the soda gags me.  Give it a try; it is very important for healing and maintaining good health.
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb..."  Revelations 22:1

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Making Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt is extremely easy to make, once you figure out a good place to make it.  If you have an oven that can maintain a yeast proofing temperature, you are in good shape.  I have a small oven with an analog dial (versus my large oven that has a digital controller with the lowest temperature setting of 170 °F, which is too hot).  I make my yogurt in my small oven, which can hold 16 jars at a time - thus I make 16 pints of plain yogurt per batch about every 2 to 3 weeks.
My method of making yogurt is unconventional.  Most people (particularly businesses) heat up the milk to at least 180 °F, thus pasteurizing it, prior to adding their yogurt culture.  This allows for a very consistent product in terms of flavor and texture, which customers in today's society expect. 

I do not heat my milk first because I want raw milk yogurt; I do not want to harm any of the beneficial aspects of the raw milk in making my yogurt.  Of course, each batch turns out a bit differently, typically the texture, but it is always delicious unless I get it too hot and kill the bacteria.  Very mild and smooth, thus I usually eat my yogurt topped with just fresh/frozen fruit, though adding raw unfiltered honey is fine too.


1 - 2 gallons raw milk
1 quart good quality plain whole milk yogurt*

A must for making yogurt (unlike kefir), is being able to maintain a constant temperature of 95 °F to 100 °F.  Start to finish it takes about 6 to 12 hours (it takes awhile for the cold refrigerator temperature milk and yogurt to get to incubation temperature so it is not at the incubation temperature that whole time).
First sterilize 12 to 16 pint size glass jars.  I run my dishwasher on a sanitize cycle with heated dry.  Once the jars are ready, line them up on your counter and place 1 - 2 Tbls of plain yogurt into each jar.  I don't measure this, I just drop a blob off the spoon into each jar.  Since I do not heat my milk first, I always start with new yogurt (versus using some of my own yogurt as my starter). 

Next skim the cream off your raw milk (and use the cream to make butter).  Then fill each jar with fresh raw milk.  Gently stir, lifting the yogurt into the milk.  Once stirred, loosely screw the lid onto the jar.  Place the jars in a warm location where you can maintain a temperature of 95 °F to 100 °F for several hours.  I place a electric temperature probe, with a high temperature alarm, in my oven to monitor the temperature.  If the measured temperature of my thermometer exceeds about 108 °F, the yogurt will not thicken.  Using the thermometer probe, I determined the setting (well below the lowest temperature marked on the dial) to place the dial to achieve this low temperature.  I still use the probe for each batch because I sometimes have to tweak the dial a bit depending upon the room temperature and if I am using the stove top.  I have found I cannot use my big oven when making yogurt because it transfers too much heat into the little oven.

Allow the temperature to slowly rise to 95 °F to 100 °F.  I usually start my yogurt late in the afternoon. Then first thing in the morning, about 12 hours later, I screw the lids on tightly and put the jars away in the refrigerator.  Use your plain yogurt to make fruited yogurt, smoothies, yogurt cream cheese, etc.
* I have found that most commercial yogurts found in the store do not have enough live bacteria to use as a starter.  Thus these yogurts are not a good choice, either for making yogurt or to eat for their health benefits.  For years I used Stoneyfield plain whole milk yogurt as my starter (when it was sold as plain whole milk yogurt with cream on top), but I have now switched to a local more natural yogurt as the quality of the Stoneyfield yogurt began to drop.  After Stoneyfield was bought out by Danone, who makes Dannon yogurt, they have changed the yogurt 'recipe', have added pectin, and have added Vitamin D.  Be leery and suspicious when big companies take over small natural foods companies because the quality almost always is reduced as they work to maximize their profits.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week 15

Do some 'body' spring cleaning.

Spring is a very special time of the year - my favorite.  New growth, new birth, new beginnings.  After the cold, dreary days of winter, I love to get outside on sunny, warm days.  I also love to open all the windows and do a bit of spring cleaning around the house.  In the spring, I scrub down our screen porch and we begin to enjoy many hours outdoors.
Spring is a good time of the year to do some 'body' spring cleaning too, better known as cleansing or detoxing.  BE CAREFUL.  Though cleansing, or detoxing, is a good thing for everyone to do each year (except pregnant or nursing women and infants), most detoxing programs are too aggressive and can be very dangerous.
Here are a few tips and suggestions for gentle cleansing.  If you have been following the weekly challenges, you already have several good cleansing habits in place.  Decide what level is best for you depending upon where you are with your diet.   If you are just transitioning this year to eating a diet of real foods, you will probably have lots of toxins stored in your body.  If you release these too quickly, faster than your body can flush them out and process through your liver and kidneys, you can damage your organs.
There are many 'detox' programs available, and I do not generally recommend any of them.  There are a few exceptions, which I will not discuss here because they apply only to persons with special medical conditions who first transition to a strict diet of high quality 'real foods', 100% God's foods.
Instead, using real food and the correct eating style, safely begin to cleanse and heal your body this spring with your food.  A few gentle, safe cleansing possibilities include:
1.  Practice the 'break fast' routine including no food after dinner, if you are not already doing this.  This is a great time to begin.
2.  Add a 1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar or squeeze some fresh lemon into your morning glass of water for 1 to 3 weeks.  Do not do this on a continual basis throughout the year, however, or you will destroy the enamel on your teeth.  Instead, if you wish to receive the health benefits of raw apple cider vinegar, use it mixed in a homemade salad dressing which contains a good quality organic extra virgin olive oil.
3.  Drink lots of fresh filtered water throughout the day (between meals, not with your meal).
4.  Eat only fruit until noon (one day or multiple days).
5.  Eat no meat this week (but you can have homemade broth).  I do not recommend a vegetarian diet for long periods of time, but it is fine to eliminate meat from your diet for a week or two in the spring for detoxing.  A diet filled with fresh fruit and vegetables is very cleansing.
6.  Focus on alkaline fruits and vegetables.  Alkaline fruits that are in season include pears, mangoes, apples, bananas, and berries.  Alkaline vegetables include celery, avocados, asparagus,  sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and alfalfa sprouts.  Disease flourishes in an acidic environment, thus detoxing involves not only flushing out toxins but improving your acid/alkaline balance.
7.  Include beets in your diet which are excellent for your liver.  I like to make a version of a Russian soup, called borscht, while detoxing. 
8.  Eat lots of fresh cilantro and parsley.  These are the top two herbs for detoxing.  Avocados are also excellent for your liver when detoxing, so add some to your salad or enjoy some homemade guacamole.  If using fresh herbs in a cooked meal, always add them at the end of the cook time as discussed in the healing chicken soup post.
9.  Turmeric (which I hope you have been using to make yellow rice) is an amazing detox spice, which helps cleanse the liver and flush out carcinogens.
10.  Don't forget to eat lots of fresh garlic and onion in your foods this week.  Garlic is God's magic bullet in our diet, fighting off infections and also very effective cleansing and strengthen the liver.
11.  Continue to enjoy the spring produce - cabbage, greens (such as kale and chard), and grapefruit.  All of these have great liver cleansing properties.
12.  Don't forget to eat your raw nuts each day, especially walnuts which also help detoxify the liver.
13.  Get out and take a gentle walk in the sunshine if possible.  Also, while detoxing try to reduce your stress level and get plenty of rest so your body will have extra energy to cleanse and heal.
14.  This is an odd but effective practice, especially while detoxing.  Take a spoon and stand before a mirror and scrape any scum from your tongue.  Looking at your tongue is also a great way to evaluate your health.  A healthy tongue (which indicates a healthy body) is pink, moist, and smooth with a thin transparent coating with little or no white.
15.  Lastly, the best way to cleanse your body and allow it to heal is to eat a diet of '100 % God's foods', eliminating all processed foods and factory farmed meat and dairy products.  Lighten the toxins going in so your body can release toxins that have been stored over the years.  This is essential to lose weight, reduce chronic pains, and to heal and repair your digestive tract.
Pick one or several of the natural, gentle cleansing suggestions above to implement.  Don't use the cleansing and detoxing programs that are readily available (drink a tea and take a pill); these can be very dangerous and are not the right approach.  However, do something.  A natural gentle cleanse in the spring is very important for everyone unless you are pregnant, nursing, or under the age of three.  For this special group of people, it is not a time to detox but to grow.  They need to eat a diet of 100% God's foods with good quality proteins and meats included, the healthy building-blocks in our diet.
A man named Weston Price did extensive research on the healthiest people groups around the world in the 1930's and compiled his information in a book entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  Price, a dentist noticing physical degeneration of not only teeth but body structures in his dental practice, was one of the first persons to realize the severe effects processed foods has on people's health.  His observations and conclusions were astounding but unfortunately not adopted by the food industry or medical society.
Based on Weston Price's studies, one needs to eat a diet which contains good quality meats and dairy (along with lots of fresh produce).  However, it is a good practice to eliminate meats for a week or two in the spring to allow the body to switch gears and perform some spring cleaning.
A gentle cleanse and detox is extremely beneficial for persons battling chronic health issues, though be aware this is very counter to conventional medicinal practices which involve taking medication to eliminate or bury symptoms while introducing more toxins into your body.  These medications always produce side-effects and further weaken your body.
It is also dangerous to detox or cleanse on 'fasting' diets of just water or juices.  These methods do not provide enough foods to carry the toxins out of your body.  Once you release toxins, you want to flush them out.  During your spring clean, be sure to drink lots of filtered water between meals and eat regular vegetarian lunches and dinners based on vegetables, brown rice, beans, or whole grains.
Remember that your journey to renewed health and vitality is just that 'a journey'.  Spring is here and today is a new day to begin again if you have fallen off track with your diet.  Enjoy the bounty of excellent foods while spring cleaning your body!
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  Romans 8:26 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lillian's Cookies

One of the challenges for last week's class (I am teaching at our homeschool coop) was to bake or cook one of the recipes I've posted using 100% God's ingredients or to modify one of their own recipes.  Lillian chose to modify her oatmeal cookie recipe and surprised us all by bringing samples to class for everyone to try.  They were delicious!  Everyone enjoyed them very much.  Great job, Lillian.  Thank you for sharing your recipe with everyone.  I can't wait to make some.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Raw Energy Balls

These raw energy balls are so easy to make and so delicious.  A great snack that is healthy and that does not contain processed sugar.  My friend, Jennie, sent me a link for a similar energy ball - I had fun making modifications to their recipe.  Have fun modifying my recipe for your family but be sure you only use quality ingredients that do not contain any of the ingredients that should be avoided.


1 cup rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup cocoa nibs*
1/4 cup ground sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 Tbl hemp hearts

1/2 cup raw almond butter (or any raw nut butter)
1/3 cup raw, unfiltered honey
2 Tbl. maple syrup

Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl, and the liquid ingredients in another.  Add the dry ingredients to the viscous liquid ingredients, and blend well.  Chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before forming into balls.  Then enjoy!

* I have two types of cocoa nibs that I use, both are very good.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 14

Plant and use fresh herbs in your cooking. 
Everyone can do this no matter where you live! I have fresh herbs in pots and in my garden and in my flower beds around the house. If you do not have a yard, or you do not maintain your yard organically, grow your herbs in a pot on a patio or in a very sunny window.
In this pot on my porch, I planted rosemary and thyme in November so that I could easily harvest some when it was cold out this past winter.  I recently added some peppermint and chives.  The rosemary is still quite small because it gets a regular trimming since I use it so frequently!
In north Texas, many herbs will grow year round, and they require very little attention.  Most herbs like minimal water and not very rich soil, so one typically kills herb plants with too much care, rather than not enough.
The herbs which I recommend everyone has on hand are rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley and basil.  Rosemary, oregano and thyme are perennial; parsley is biennial; and basil is an annual but basil will come back yearly from seed in this area if allowed to flower and drop seeds in the fall.  Cilantro (known as coriander in England) is another great annual that is an early spring herb in north Texas.  I bought one small plant several years ago and allowed it to bolt and flower and then go to seed.  I scattered the seeds about in the garden.  Each year since I have had wonderful surprises in my garden with volunteers emerging.  These cilantro plants this year have come up at the edge of a compost bin (I keep my compost bins in my garden).
It is very expensive to buy fresh cut herbs for cooking at the grocery store, so buy a plant for about the same cost and plant it in a pot, and you will be saving a lot of money.  You can start trimming off little bits immediately for use.  If you plant your herbs outside, once they get larger, you can take larger cuttings and place these in a vase with water in your kitchen.  Most herbs will stay fresh and usable for at least a week.  In fact, basil will start to root.
Start with an herb that you know you like and will use.  For the baked chicken you need rosemary.  For the healing chicken soup you need basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme.  I love to use herbs in my landscape; most are beautiful plants.
Growing herbs in your garden is also a great organic pest control because their strong aroma helps confuse and deter pests.  I always have many herbs and a few flowers intermixed in my garden.  Even in my small yard that I had before moving to the country, where I did not have a large garden as I do here, I had numerous herbs.  At one point, I had forty different herbs growing including a bay leaf tree!
My lavender plant  has survived many years, is beautiful in bloom, and I love harvesting it.  This photo shows lavender, germander (not used in food), and thyme all in bloom last June.  We enjoyed lavender ice cream while visiting a lavender farm on Whidbey Island in Washington, but I have not tried it in food yet.  Lavender is great to use in sachets in clothing drawers and it lasts all year in dried flower arrangements.  Here is one I have enjoyed at my kitchen window since last June!

You can purchased fresh herb plants from most nurseries and at some grocery stores.  The basic herbs are available at Whole Foods and Sprouts (just outside the front door) and their prices are reasonable and their plants are typically very nice.
A few tips to get you started.  Basil is killed at 40 °F, so it is a little too soon to plant it outside.  Peppermint has runners, is aggressive and will take over, so I only plant it in pots.  Lavender likes a very, very dry, sunny spot.  Cilantro is an early spring herb and does not make it through our hot summer - it will start to bolt in May.
I hope you enjoy this challenge and get your hands a bit dirty doing it.  Not only will you benefit from using the herbs in your food but did you know that studies have been done that show there are actually health benefits from working in healthy soil (soil that has not been contaminated with herbicides and pesticides).  Some of the benefits from contact with good bacterium found in the soil include: improved cognitive functioning, boost to the immune system fighting cancer and digestive disorders, help against depression by producing serotonin and reduction of anxiety.  WOW - no wonder I feel so relaxed after pulling weeds by hand or planting seeds in my garden. I love being outside working in my garden!

"The people of Israel called the bread manna.  It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey."  Exodus 16:31