Loneliness to Solitude to Healthy Sweet Potato Chips

Ben & I are doing another round of Whole 30. The second time around isn't really that hard.  I didn't feel like I was kicking a habit (mentally or physically) like last time.  If anything, I've simply been a little bored with it this time.  I think this is partially due to the boredom, which comes from the ending days of winter.  I'm bored with the constant 40 degree weather, the same old food & the knowing that Spring is ahead, but I must wait. 

The crocuses taunt me, the closed daffodils tease me and the sunshine certainly deceives me.  And although I live in this paradox of the 'soon but not yet,' so the season of Lent has been placed in with such thoughtfulness & grace.  It's a time of loneliness, reflection, & sorrow as we count the days leading to that hill where the world would stand still.  I am led to green pastures, still waters; as well as, walking through the valley of shadows.  I often forget that allowing a loneliness within myself is necessary to find the inner stillness of solitude & peace.  I forget that one must walk in the shadows to know the green pastures when they're in plain view.

Henri Nouwen wrote about the pervading sense of busyness clouds our ability to see loneliness as essential to the human existence.  With the examines to be taken & given, phone calls to be made, emails to return, conferences/meetings/seminars to attend serve more than distractions; but, they are:

"mostly preventing me from facing my lonely self which should be my first source of search & research."

Lent is also known as a time to give something up; yet, too often I've heard of this "giving up" as the thesis of the season.  The giving up of one thing is done to allow oneself to listen & walk the journey as Jesus did.  It is to know more of him.  Giving up is to take away a distraction, in order to embrace the loneliness (as Nouwen puts it) and find true solitude.  It's turning our deserts into gardens, but it's not easy (and honestly, I would rather it would be abolished altogether).

This difficult road is the road of conversion, the conversion from loneliness into solitude.  Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude.  To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.--Nouwen

One way I run away from loneliness is by being on Facebook (I know, I'm probably the only one).  I distract myself, or disallow myself to be still.  It feeds my desire to stay up to date, or know what someone thinks about my status updates.  It feeds my need for affirmation & praise.  Yet, I equate my time on FB (if the tab is left open on my browser) with being inside all day doing nothing and eating crap food.  My body feels gross and I wish I could hit "rewind" on life's remote control.  That's how my soul feels when it's vegged out on FB, kind of like I fed it crap food.  I feel like Debbie Downer (MWAH-MWAH-MWAH). 

So as you're embracing loneliness to find the garden of solitude (filling your soul with nutritious food)...embrace this recipe of baked sweet potatoes, which will fill your body with nutritious carbs & give you energy (especially post-workout).  How are you embracing loneliness in your life?  How do you allow for the still, small voice?

Baked Sweet Potato Chips (printable recipe)

I use a mandoline to slice these.  If you don't have a mandoline then you could try using a food processor with the slicer disc, or cut very thinly using a sharp chef's knife. A note on sweet potatoes.  You most likely will find the red/orange skinned ones at the grocery store labeled "yams;" however, these are probably sweet potatoes labeled as yams.  So, if all you find are "yams," pick them up and use them (as they are sweet potatoes). 


2-3 rather large sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Celtic Sea Salt

Garlic Powder


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line one or two lined baking sheets with parchment paper or a silipat.  Set them aside.  Take your sweet potatoes and scrub them (I use a veggie & fruit cleaner as well).  Dry them off with a towel.  Cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes.  Then, (depending on the length) cut them in half.  Using a mandoline with a 1/8 inch setting, slice them.  Put them in a large bowl, add the olive oil (about 1/8-1/4 cup) & mix all around to coat all the sliced sweet potatoes.

Line them next to one another on the lined baking sheeting, but avoid overlapping them.  Sprinkle with sea salt & garlic powder.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets.  The edges will curl up and become nice & crunchy. 

Other Thoughts: Your preference for how much salt is really up to you. Some other ideas for these chips is to replace the garlic salt with smoked paprika, cinnamon, chili & lime zest, ginger.  You could also use coconut oil in place of the olive oil.