My name is Douglas Neel and I am an Episcopal priest.  My family and live in Colorado, in a beautiful little town in the mountains called Pagosa Springs.  I have to say that I am intrigued by the way people lived at the time of Jesus.  I am especially curious about the way they ate and the impact their diets had on their lives and health.  For me, the pertinent question is not what would Jesus eat (today), but what and how did Jesus actually eat way back in the first century.

Several years ago, a friend – Joel Pugh – and I started researching and cooking with the intent of writing a book on first century food and feasts.  Joel is a businessman who is intensely interested in wine and bread making and in such eoteric things as first century economics.  I supplemented our research by starting a catering company that specialized in reenacting biblical feasts.  We wanted to actually test our research on groups in and around the city of Dallas.   We suspected our families were growing tired of chickpeas and lamb.  Joel still lives in Dallas.  I am now a mountain priest.

My goal with this blog is to chronicle my attempt to live on a first century diet for six months.  I want to find out for myself how healthy or unhealthy the first century lifestyle was.  I want to experience a diet that is high in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.  This is the food Jesus ate.  I know that I’ll have to give up such things as TV dinners, (no great loss), enchiladas, coffee, tea, sugar, tomatoes, and high fructise corn syrup. 

I plan to start in earnest on September 15, 2009 though I will actually begin the diet on September 1.  My first century pantry needs to be stocked and I have two engagements, one that includes home cooked Thai food that I must first fulfill.  Plus I have scheduled a visit with my doctor, just to make sure that I have his approval to proceed.



  1. Sandy Gabel Says:

    I am going to follow your new blog closely for I am intrigued by your plan.
    Would you share a shopping list with us?
    Thanks for letting me know about the blog, look forward to your entries.

    Sandy Gabel (your California/Colorado part-timer!)

  2. Margaret Page Says:

    I hope that you will keep all of us posted on how this diet goes for you. Maybe some of us will be interested as sounds like a very healthy way to eat and probably a good way to lose a few lbs.

  3. Micaela R Cooley Says:

    Doug! This is Andrew Cooley’s daughter- I just spent my summer on a farm which i found to be a surprisingly beautiful and spiritual experience. I believe that most of that beauty came from the act of growing, caring for, loving and harvesting the food that you feed to your family. I’m excited for your culinary quest!

  4. Lynn Elliott Says:

    Sounds like a terrific idea – can’t wait to hear how this goes for you. I hope you and Sally and Robert are ready for this new way of dining.
    Be well-

  5. Bertram Baloun Says:

    Doug, in yur first paragraph you left out the word “I” Other than that , I am not a cook and don’t pretend to be but you are following in the footsteps of the “Frugal Gourmet” who was also an Episcopal Priest. Too bad there are no TV production Facilities in Pagosa Springs This woould be a great TV Show!
    Keep it up, WAY TO GO.

  6. Mary Beth Says:

    Great stuff, Doug! Look forward to reading about it!

  7. Kat Williams Says:

    Dad, you are crazy. Good luck with this nutty endeavour.

  8. Deborah Lightfoot Says:

    Hello! By way of introduction, I will say that I am an acquaintance of Sally. She and my husband Philip were in high school, church, and the Wesley Singers together. I am intrigued by your 1st Century research on diet and the experience you will have. I intend to stay tuned to what you have to write about your experiences. BTW, your comment about the potluck dinners and the cookies from the ladies reminds me of Father Timothy Kavanaugh, the fictional priest in Jan Karon’s Mitford series of novels.

  9. Bob Pohly Says:

    Great new BLog, Doug!! After a bit of playing around you will get the hang of all the neat things that you can do with this new media. I look forward to reading your postings as your food journey progresses.

  10. Barbara Kelton Says:

    Where does one get olives and how do you put them up?

  11. Toni (Moore) Berthelotte Says:

    Dear Father Doug:
    What an informative and delightful blog. It is certainly encourages one to try a new and healthy dish, while experiencing a bit of our ancient past. Keep up the good work and know that you are ‘spreading the word” in more than one way. God Bless, Toni
    (Joan and Rudy’s friend from California, where we DO have date palms)

  12. David Huff Says:

    Fr. Neel,

    VERY cool idea 🙂 I’ll be following this with great interest, and may even decide to follow it in practice – I think it’s about time to decrease my “girth” as well 😉

    BTW, I was sent your direction by my friend Dixie Hutchinson here in Dallas – who all Episcopalians seem to know.

  13. Heidi M. Tanner Says:

    Hi Doug,

    Your blog is very interesting. I am interested in trying the soft cheese. When you say a starter packet – what is that exactly and where can I obtain it? Thanks and keep at it!!

  14. judith bernstein Says:

    whatever you do, don’t eat those olives raw..NASTY & Bitter

  15. Cheryl Birchard Says:

    Hi Doug! I am the Parish Administrator over at St. Mark’s in Durango. I am really enjoying your accounts of your First Century Diet experience and I’d love to share the link to your blog with the folks in our congregation. Would it be okay if I included it in our next e-mail distribution?

  16. Robin Yaklin Says:

    I’m in. Friends in Dallas recommended this site. I’d like to make some of the foods too. My husband, Dan, completed a round of radiation in January and it burned away some of his tastebuds. We’re looking for food sensations that he hasn’t experienced so he won’t have a preconception. Think avacados and bananas. They both have the same texture. If you can’t taste them, they are essentially the same.

  17. Nancy Williams Says:

    This is the recipe for ” Lamb Balls”….

    2lbs of ground lamb put all ingredients in a large bowl
    1/2 sm box of Bisquick and mix with your hands. Pinch and
    garlic roll into sm balls. Place on a
    herbs de Provence greased cookie sheet and bake at
    organic lemon pepper 350 until brown.
    red pepper
    black pepper
    sea salt
    8oz of grated cheddar cheese
    sm purple onion chopped
    3 celery stalks chopped

  18. Deborah Wilson Says:

    I just found this site and read everything to get to this point I love this concept and also have a deep interest in the foods and culture of Jesus’ day. Please share the enactments feast idea, what a great idea for our church. I’ll be Julie, and you’re Julia.

  19. Says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there.

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