Friday, December 9, 2011

Top tips for navigating holiday food

I wrote a post last year about planning for food and the holidays and I wanted to re-visit the issue for this year.  It is almost impossible to expect that we will be able to bypass every single treat and not-so-nutritious food out there for the holidays.  But there are some things you can do to make it a little more successful - so you don't have to make such a huge New Year's Resolution to lose weight, or get back on your food plan, or whatever the goal.  And so you can simply feel good and more peaceful over the holiday season.    My holidays are so much more happy now that I don't overeat or eat sugary, fat-laden treats.  It took me a long time to get to that point, but it was worth the hard work!  Here are my top tips for navigating holiday food...

1.  Have a plan for what and when you will eat.  Without a plan it is impossible to navigate the food.  For example, eat a healthy meal before you go to a Christmas party or somewhere where there will be lots of treats.  Or instead of buying Christmas candy for stockings and having it around the house where you will graze on it all day, buy trinkets.  Or if you can't stand the thought of not having candy in the stockings, buy it at the last moment so it's not sitting around.  Another example (that I used in my last year's post) was to find other yummy crunchy treats, such as nuts, to put in bowls around the house rather than candy.  Now, of course you can overeat on those too.  But I can stop eating those much easier - yet get my crunchy fix!   

One of the most helpful things I did when I was trying to kick the sugar habit was to make a rule for myself that I had to eat my sugar at the end of a meal.  No eating it as a snack or snacking on it between meals.  You wouldn't believe the difference it made.  I didn't feel deprived because I knew I would be getting my fix.  But I had to eat it as a dessert after a meal.  After a while I ate less and less sweets, and eventually the treats just faded away because I stopped craving them.

2. Find some new recipes for tasty, healthy treats so there are things you can enjoy without the guilt.  Finding new recipes is super helpful in the quest to substitute old habits for new.  And there are lots of healthy treats you can make that taste good too and that use natural sweeteners. 

3. Don't beat yourself up if you do eat a few treats.  Just move on to the next meal and make a better choice next time.  This may take some least it did for me.  I was an "all or nothing" person.  So I had to learn how to be gentle and accepting of myself when I ate something that I hadn't planned to eat or when I ate more than I had planned.  I had to erase the thinking that if I "messed up" at one meal, then I might as well mess up for all 3 meals.  The minute you eat something outside of your plan, just renew your efforts for the next meal.

4. Try to center your activities around things rather than food.  There are so many fun things to do over the Christmas season, that it is entirely possible to center your traditions around everything but food.  We do.  Of course we have a few things that the children love that they look forward to eating.  But for the most part the fun comes from things like the nativity set that the kids play with all season long, decorating the tree, the advent calendar with little trinkets to look forward to everyday, the music, the lights, and, last but not least - the real reason for the season.  There are soooo many things to fill your season with fun without the food.

Meals plans to help the holidays go smoothly

I really enjoyed this post from the Simple Mom blog.  It talks about planning meals for the holidays in order to lessen the stress of the season.  I have been inspired.  So I am going to have a planning session this weekend and follow her suggestions.  I hope it inspires you too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whole Foods Kitchen Challenge #1

I did promise this.  I didn't forget.  We've just gotten back from a wonderfully blissful stress-free vacation (to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks).  Now I can get back to work with renewed vigor and focus!

Challenge #1 - Devise a menu plan

I need this challenge too!  I do it, but I always need new motivation and focus.  Whether it be dinner, or all 3 meals.  Whether it be for one week at a time or 4 weeks at a time.  If you don't already have a plan, get one!  I'm telling you, I have never been consistent with menu planning.  Obviously that is not ideal.  But since I've been doing one, wow, do things go more smoothly!  Much less stress and last minute standing at the pantry wondering what I will make tonight.

If you do have a plan, does it work?  Is there something that you can do to change it to meet your needs better?  There are some meal planning templates over at Money Saving Mom,, that I have found helpful.  There are so many options, I am sure you will find one that will work for you.

My goal is to have one month planned at a time, but I've been working up to that.  I have been doing 2 1/2 weeks. (Because I originally started when a particular month had 2 1/2 weeks left.)  I think I am going to try for one month this time.  I will report back.

Now get to work!  There are many, many wonderful blogs that have wonderful dinner recipe ideas.  I, of course, lean towards the whole foods blogs.  If you desire to start making some healthy changes, check out these websites for recipes.  You will find many great ideas...

Pumpkin Waffles (plus some homemade dairy recipes)

I wrote this post a few months back when we were buying some dairy straight from the dairy farm.  That experiment was fun, but unfortunately (as I've mentioned) we ran into some major dairy sensitivities, so our fresh dairy products are no longer.  But since a friend was asking me for my pumpkin waffle recipe and I remembered I had posted it and never published it, I thought I'd pass on the info about the dairy with the waffle recipe at the end.  Such a great fall twist on a favorite breakfast!  Here is the post:
I promised to post some recipes for the homemade dairy I have been trying lately. Here we a bonus waffle recipe!


Mix fresh cream with a hand mixer for a few minutes (time will vary, 8-12 minutes), or until you see the liquid starting to separate. It will look like whipping cream first and then start to turn into butter/buttermilk. Once it separates, pour out the buttermilk. Use buttermilk in a pancake or waffle recipe. I'll post one here that we like! Then press out the rest of the buttermilk using a spoon, pressing the butter against the bowl. Press until most of the liquid is out. Then salt (optional). Form butter into a fat log (or loaf) and wrap it up in some parchment paper. It will be pretty soft, but upon refrigerating will set-up.


Put 1/2 to 1 gallon of milk in a pot and when it scalds (starts to boil up and out of pot) immediately take it off heat. Leave it off the heat and cool to room temp. Once you can stick your finger in it for 10 seconds without having to pull it out, it should be ready. Then take 1/4 to 1/2 cup of starter (yogurt from a previous batch or yogurt you have bought from the store) and stir it in a separate bowl with a little bit of the cooled off milk. After mixing, stir it into the whole batch. Then warm the oven at 350 degrees and turn it off after it has been pre-heated. Leave the milk in there for at least 8 hours, and then you've got yogurt! Now this isn't a "raw" recipe. If you are using raw milk, there is another recipe which will keep it raw if that is important to you.

Pumpkin Waffles
(Makes 12 4-inch waffles)
Adapted from a recipe found at

2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar 
(We don't use sweetener anymore because the sweet topping does the trick for us.  But as a natural sweetener alternative, use honey, brown rice syrup or agave. Use 1/2 to 3/4 as much honey or agave, or the same amount of brown rice syrup.  You may also need to add a bit more flour to off-set the fact that you are using a liquid sweetener instead of a dry sweetener.)
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk (can use milk substitutions such as almond/rice/or soy)
1 Cup Buttermilk (from the butter you just made!)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
6 Tbsp Butter, melted 

1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift first 7 ingredients into a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Pour about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin batter into a waffle iron that’s been buttered or greased and cook according to manufacturer’s directions.
6. We serve with a fruit sauce (just frozen fruit mixed with water & stevia sweetener), but you could also serve with maple syrup or make into sandwiches, filling with cream cheese and whatever other fillings you desire.
*Allow to cool, place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze. When ready, place in toaster oven or oven at 300 and heat for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day #3 and my twist on the 21-day organization challenge

Tupperware cabinet (Hold your excitement!)



Computer desk challenge continued - more "after" pictures of the desk

I bought organizers for my desk drawers after posting my desk results, so thought I'd share those pictures now. The kids' drawer still needs some help, but overall I'm pleased with how much more functional my desk area is!

(Is there a reason one needs so many black Sharpies?  Seriously.)

What I love about this challenge is that it has changed my focus.  Even when I'm not working on part of the challenge, I'm thinking about what needs to be organized when I'm doing tasks around the house.  Mostly in the kitchen because that is where I always seem to be.  So today while putting away clean dish rags and dish towels, I re-organized 3 of my drawers and even washed them out.  The sad part is that I had a drawer full of baby bibs and baby washcloths and my youngest will be 3 in February.  (Out of sight, out of mind, right?!)  I also had the thought to organize my recipes and I even put them on the counter so I would remember.  And then I eventually put them back because I knew I wouldn't be able to get to it right away.

On that note, I am going to twist this challenge to meet my more immediate needs and the purpose of this blog better.  There are so many things to organize when it comes to food.  Meal planning, grocery lists, recipes, cupboards, pantry, the list goes on. So sometime next week I will post my version of the challenge, with the focus being on the "Whole Foods Kitchen".  I will still be doing the old challenge as I can, but the organization with the food and kitchen needs to be a priority for me, and I found myself straying from those priorities as I did other projects.  In the meantime, if you want to follow someone who is doing the 21 day challenge as it is written and will be consistent with it, go over to momHow and join Katie as she progresses through the challenge!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Raw Pesto

I made this today and it was super good!  I adapted the recipe a bit because it just needed a little more something.  I added olive oil and lemon juice and sea salt and it tasted MUCH better.  I ate it "stuffed" in half of a red pepper.  But it is also great as a dip for raw veggies.

Adapted from a recipe by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, found in his book "Conscious Eating". 

1 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked
1 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, soaked
3 large cloves garlic or 1/2 tsp sun-dried garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup water

Blend all ingredients in a food processor with the S-blade.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back to the Food

I am loving this organization challenge and taking it seriously. It is, however, taking over my focus when I have some pressing food and menu organization to accomplish. Also, I am finding 10 more projects that I need to accomplish with every challenge that I do. (Little things, like magnets that need to be glued together, game pieces that need to find their homes, a box full of things that I have cleared off that I need to find space for somewhere.) So in order to give myself time to be thorough and REALLY get everything done, not just halfway done, I am going to continue with the challenge at a slower clip. I will post when I do one, but in between we'll talk about organization in the area of food - which is my expertise and the reason why I'm writing this blog anyways.

So tupperware, I'll get to organizing you tonight, maybe tomorrow. But today I will be mopping my floor, buying some desk/drawer organizing tools, looking for some new raw dinner recipes, and planning my family dinner menu for the month. And I will be voted Superwoman of the Year if I get this all done today. Especially with a sick kid at home, a husband out-of-town, and dance lessons tonight :). So we'll see...but I'm on a roll. More on the dinner menus tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day #2 - Computer Desk

Today's challenge was only supposed to be the top of the computer desk, but I went ahead and did the whole thing (drawers, plus the top where I have some shelves). It wasn't a fast project after all. It gets addicting...once you see one space looking so clean, you want the rest to look just as beautiful! My drawers weren't too bad from the beginning, but the rest did need a little help. I feel like I'm always straightening/cleaning this space, so my challenge now will be to keep it more consistently clean and uncluttered.



Whole computer desk before:


The next challenge is the tupperware cabinet. I have to laugh because if there is one place in my house that is halfway organized, it is this cabinet. I don't know why. And when I was sick and had no energy and had different people in and out of my kitchen helping, on more than one occasion someone mentioned how organized my tupperware was. Now if I could just be that organized everywhere!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mental Well-Being

I know that taking a 21-day organizing challenge may seem unrelated to this blog, but I really do think it is relevant. I advocate healing through not only diet, but lifestyle. Uncluttering our physical spaces automatically clears up some mental space. We naturally feel better when our houses are in order. I have to admit that organization isn't one of my strong points. I feel good when I'm organized and I am constantly trying. But I have a ways to go. I've always known if I broke it down into manageable pieces, I could make much more progress. And this challenge does just that, along with giving me specific instructions to follow. I am excited about it! But not so excited to show you my before and after photos. Please don't lose respect for me. My diet is one of my strong points. My organization skills, not so much :-) Thanks, Katie at momHow, for the inspiration!

Day #1 - Junk drawers



Oh my goodness, I feel so much better! See you tomorrow for Challenge #2 - Cleaning off the computer desk-top. This will be a much faster project for me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Healthy Halloween Treats

I'm so excited to make this to take to my daughters' classroom Halloween Parties on Monday...
Babybel cheese for the head, green apples for the body, fruit leather for the legs and antennas (Costco sells Stretch Island fruit leather which has no additional sugar in it), & a little bit of white cheese for the eyes. I'm not sure what the green is on the eyes, but I'll probably use some green grapes - or maybe even green apple for that part.

And here's a recipe for some cookies that I'll be making as well. I made them without dates the other day because I ran out of time to grab them at the store before I needed to make the cookies for another Halloween party. I thought I could get away with it because we are used to our dessert being sweetened with just fruit. I wasn't surprised that the other kids wouldn't touch them. But even my daughters didn't like them. So I'm going to add back in the dates and I'm sure they'll be a hit again.

Banana Nut Cookies

1/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup grated coconut
4 ripe bananas
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cover dates in almond milk and soak overnight. Place the nuts and coconut in a food processor with the metal S blade and grind to a coarse meal. (I used a Vitamix.) Add bananas, dates (with the soaking almond milk) and cinnamon and mix to form the dough. Take the thick mixture out of the food processor and spoon onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at a low heat (250 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

As I've mentioned, I have been experimenting with many raw dishes lately. I am going for all raw, with a few tiny exceptions. So 95% raw, I would say. I seriously feel soooo much better eating this way, and my diet was healthy before. In the meantime, I am finding some kitchen tools that are in order to have in my raw kitchen. So the other day I ordered a veggie spiralizer to be able to make raw "pasta" dishes (amongst all the other things it can do). It came in the mail today and, oh my, we had fun playing with that little kitchen tool! Not very expensive and hours of fun. I made the recipe below and it was YUM! Too bad I didn't catch this recipe in time to use my over abundance of zucchini and tomatoes from my garden. And the fresh basil. This will be a GREAT summer dish. But it is still super good now!

I took a picture of it because I know my blog is lacking pictures, but when I post this picture you will know why the lack of pictures. I need to learn some things about taking pictures of food, so bare with me! At least you'll get the idea of what I mean by pasta. Doesn't that spiralized zucchini look just like pasta? And can I mention again that it tasted wonderful?!

Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients:2-3 zucchini (spiral cut)
2 ripe tomatoes
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
½ red pepper
10-15 fresh basil leaves
¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
Directions: Start by using a vegetable spiralizer to transform the zucchini into gluten free pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder then toss to coat well. Set noodles aside.

Make marinara by putting all ingredients except olive oil in the Vitamix and blend. Once mixture is smooth add olive oil through the top of the blender while the blades are turning. Blend well.

Top spiral cut zucchini with marinara and chopped fresh basil. Serve.

What We've Learned

I've completed my courses with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition! The diploma came in the mail today, wahoo! It has been quite the amazing ride and I've gained so much insight and knowledge. Most importantly, I've been able to guide my family and myself to better health through experimenting with many of the different principles I have learned. In the process I've become more clear about other intolerances we have, besides white flour and refined sugar. After quite a learning curve (and quite the time letting go of the fact that I had pounds and pounds of stored wheat in my basement!), we're finally getting into the groove of eating gluten-free. So any recipes I post from here on out will be gluten-free. I am amazed that all of the gluten-free recipes we've tried have been amazingly delicious. Pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, and muffins have all been given a big thumbs up by the family! In fact, I would dare say they taste better than the previous recipes made with wheat. And we haven't had many tummy-ache complaints at all since switching over.

We are also sensitive to some dairy. I have one daughter who has reflux problems when she eats cheese sticks, but can have a moderate amount of other cheese. All of my daughters are slightly sensitive to milk and yogurt, but one, in particular, has a severe behavioral reaction to it. (I mean, severe! :-) So we've decided to keep those dairy products out of the house. We didn't drink much milk before, but we were experimenting with different types of milk (raw, organic) to see if it made a difference. And it didn't. Milk, is milk, is milk for us.

Another thing we've learned is that we do better when we keep the sugar grams lower. Regardless of whether the sugar is refined or from natural sources. We experimented with honey, maple syrup and other sweeteners over the summer, and let's just say we experienced many negative symptoms! One thing that happened was that our immunity went way down and we had the stomach flu twice over the summer! Usually we get it once a year in the Fall/Winter. One of my girls, who had not wet her bed for 2-3 years, all of the sudden started wetting her bed. Once I made the connection between higher sugar intake and everything that was happening, and took the sugars back out, she stopped wetting her bed. Yay! We also had some behavioral issues that were more pronounced in one of our daughters. We collected enough data to decide that we are good with using fruit for sweetening, as well as stevia - for smoothies and other things that are not cooked. And everything has evened back out. Whew, it was kind of a rough summer. But I think the experimenting was worth it. We're more clear on what we need to avoid. And we've been able to find other things that we can eat that taste good and don't make us feel deprived. It feels good to be clear! And graduated ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not So Chilly Chili

Through much experimentation, I keep coming back to eating a high raw diet. I think that eating a diet of whole, unprocessed, cooked foods is certainly healthy - and works for many people. But I feel so much better, physically and emotionally, eating most of my food raw. It's a hard lifestyle to keep, but one that becomes feasible as you practice and change habits. I've gotten more successful at it over time.
Anyways, I recently tried a raw chili that I thought was delicious and so I made it to take to our Chili Cook-Off last night. I didn't enter it in the contest, but I always bring my own food, so that was my dish for me. The fun part was that I had some friends who have recently become interested in the raw way of eating and we all ate together. Yay. I didn't have to be the only one eating my own "weird" food :-)
I got the recipe from a Raw Food Challenge that my husband and I did a few weeks ago. I was excited to find quite a few recipes that worked for me through that challenge. I am sure you can warm it up slightly (to make it feel a little more like the real thing and because warmer food is always appealing in the chilly weather) and it would still taste yummy. I haven't done that because I think it's so good the way it is.

Not So Chilly Chili

1 cup crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped (I omit)
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 cup carrot, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and pureed
1/2 cup almonds, soaked 6-8 hours, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp Ume plum vinegar (I just use apple cider vinegar)
Splash apple cider vinegar

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning to
desired taste.

That's one way to test a new recipe!

We had a Chili Cook-Off/Trunk-or-Treat activity at our church last night. (Where the kids go trick-or-treating by going from trunk-to-trunk of the cars instead of house-to-house.) I had a new chili recipe I wanted to try so I could finally experiment with using my beans from my food storage rather than canned beans Well, time got the best of me and I didn't have the time to do it. So I used the canned beans. In the end we were one of the winners of the contest! So that's why I say in my heading, "that's one way to test a new recipe!" :-) It's pretty simple. Here it is:

Basic Chili

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
4 cups cooked beans
1 can tomato paste
4 cups water + additional as desired for consistency
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional to taste
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon paprika, or to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
garnishes: sour cream, diced onions, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.

Brown together in a medium or large stockpot over medium to medium-high heat: ground beef, onions, and garlic.
Combine the tomato paste and water in a 4-cup measurer, and whisk until smooth. Add to the meat mixture. Add the beans and all spices. Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to develop flavor. Adjust seasonings.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving the Kale Chips

We bought a dehydrator over the summer and I have been experimenting. I love it! So my first project was kale chips. I bought some yummy kale chips from our farmer's market and then duplicated the recipe on my own. Well worth the price savings! And my two little ones, especially, loved it. Here is the recipe:

"Cheezy" Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup raw cashews
1 medium red pepper
Sea salt to taste
Optional 1/4 c nutritional yeast

Wash the kale, remove stalks, and tear into "chip" size pieces. Put all the ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor & blend. Coat kale leaves with the mixture in a big bowl.

Put on dehydrator screens and dehydrate until done, flipping once after a couple of hours. Or, bake in a 300F oven for 20 minutes, flipping, and then baking another 10 minutes or so.

You can also bake in a 200F oven with the door ajar, around 45 minutes to 1 hour. It will take longer but the results will be closer to that of a dehydrator. Keep your eye on them and flip periodically, to keep from burning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The system is broken

I don't usually get political, but I'm afraid that when it is in regard to issues of diet & nutrition, I will have to speak up. And you can agree or respectfully disagree with me. But here is my piece...

Several months ago I received a letter from my first grader's school asking if we were OK with them weighing and measuring our child. We were able to opt out by signing a piece of paper, but I didn't. No biggie, I thought. Well, I got a letter from the school food service director yesterday. It started out this way, "Recently, in compliance with the federally mandated School Wellness Program and Senate Bill 210, your child's height and weight measurements were taken at school. Those measurements were used to calculate your child's Body Mass Index." (I'm still trying to figure out why the government feels the need to be involved in this area of my life :-)

The result was that she was in the slightly overweight range and it followed with this recommendation..."It is recommended that you contact your family doctor for follow-up care if your child's BMI percentile is outside the average or typical range." Now, what bothered me the most about this "diagnosis" was not anything personal. My daughter is fine. She is not overweight and she is healthy. Are there improvements we can continue to make in our health? Yes. But is this measuring tool really getting to the root of the problem? No. First of all, BMI is measured by weight and heighth. It doesn't take into account someone's body density (however you would measure that). I have always, always weighed a ton more than I look like I weigh. Out of my four children, one of them is as light as a feather and the others are as dense as a brick when you go to pick them up. (Elizabeth, the first grader, is in the middle on the right of the family picture above.) Second, although they ARE going to find those children who are most obese (which is the problem they are trying to combat) by using this standard, in the meantime they will NOT find the children whose weight to height ratio is perfect, yet they are plagued with sicknesses and allergies and live on refined, processed foods. Being overweight is just one symptom of an unhealthy body. There are many children who aren't overweight who have many other symptoms of an unhealthy body.

In the government's noble quest to save all the school children of America from obesity - this truly is not the solution! The BMI test is not correctly pinpointing which children are healthy and which children are unhealthy.

Another thing I see happening, is that children who are my daughter's size and perfectly FINE and healthy, will have parents who hear the news that their child is overweight and actually believe it. They are the parents whose self-worth revolves around what happens to their child and what other people say about their child. So they will start to worry and then put an unnecessary fear or worry into the child. That is when the child's self-esteem starts to suffer and they start to have body image problems when their body is absolutely fine! I just wish I could yell from the rooftops - it is not about weight, people! And it's funny that I say that because it
was about weight for me for most of my life. Until I realized that, as I just mentioned, weight was just a symptom of the problem. Being overweight is just one of many of the symptoms of an unhealthy, unbalanced system. Just like fatigue or joint pain might be.

Obviously the recommendations for these government programs to fight obesity are good. Eating a healthy diet and exercising is the no-nonsense solution. But is there a reason why we have to take the time and pain to weigh and measure every school child in America? Can we simply put the recommendations for the program into place and suggest that every child and family implement the changes? Shouldn't we ALL strive to be healthy regardless of how much we weigh? Ultimately it IS up to each one of us to be responsible for our health and be good stewards of our bodies that God has blessed us with. Nobody else can do it for us or our children.

In the meantime, thank you, government, for being concerned about the health of our school children. Because you are right, it surely is in jeopardy. But please, please realize that your system for measuring who is healthy and who is not is faulty. And please, please, PLEASE realize that these "overweight" children (some of whom may or may not be really overweight or even unhealthy, for that matter) are not the only children out there who are unhealthy. More water, more fruits & veggies, more exercise = less sickness, more energy. It is a simple equation and everybody - regardless of the size of their body - could benefit from doing that math!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Green Symphony

Green Symphony was the name of the corner organic juice/smoothie shop where my husband and I stayed on a trip to New York City last week. I just love the name! The name said it all about the experience I had eating the delicious food there every morning. I had never been to New York City before and I just fell in love with it! The visit to Statue of Liberty and seeing "Wicked" on Broadway, as well as attending an opera at the Met and visiting our church's temple were all super amazing. The visits to 3 different Whole Foods stores were fun as usual (business for my husband) because I love to just gaze at the beautifully organized and colorful produce section and read about all the different fruits and vegetables. And, of course, there was the one-on-one time with my husband. It was bliss! Thanks, Mom, for taking on the 4 little ones!

The food, though, added sooooo much to my experience. I actually felt some kinship, like there REALLY are other people out there who eat like I do! We have one organic cafe relatively close to where we live. New York, however, seemed to have an option on every corner. When we travel, we have always had to stay somewhere with a small kitchen and bring our Vitamix. I was a little worried because we weren't going to be doing either. No hotel with a kitchenette OR Vitamix. Yikes. But my husband assured me that I'd be able to find things to eat. I was amazed when I found out how right he was! Every morning I was able to enjoy my traditional green smoothie (not loaded with fruits or added sugars, very GREEN). I ordered a smoothie with spinach, kale, avocado, lemon & green apple every morning and had a couple of hard boiled eggs along with it. Wow, was I set for a long time! I think I'll go back to New York for our next vacation just to be able to so easily procure the food that works for my body - and not have to prepare it!!!! :-)

We also went to Pret A Manger (means "Just Ready") for two different lunches. Wowzers! It is a corner sandwich shop which makes their food fresh every day. The trucks come in the morning with all the ingredients and they hand make their sandwiches, soups and salads all day. In the evening, whatever is left over is donated to local organizations. Both days I had amazing salads and was surprisingly full.

For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant one night, but the other two nights we found great restaurants in the area. We went to Cafe Blossom (a vegan cafe) and a Cuban restaurant called Victor's Cafe. Even the Cuban restaurant had an organic chicken breast marinated in a citrus adobo sauce and topped with watercress. Mmmmmm-Mmmmmm! At the vegan cafe I enjoyed a glass of green juice with a twist of ginger and a black bean/quinoa salad. That salad had watercress in it too...I don't think I had ever had watercress before, or at least not that I recognized. In terms of nutrients, watercress rates at the top of the list. Right up there with kale, collard and mustard greens. It's a more delicate, mild tasting green and one of my new favorites!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soup recipes and a small victory!

I have a wonderful 5 year old daughter who displays most of her stubbornness when it comes to trying new foods. My other three girls do this now and again, but not to the extent that Molly does. It is frustrating, especially when certain dishes come to the dinner table and she says "eeeeeeewwwww" without even as much as taking a bite, and everyone else follows suit. Then it's four against two (or four against one when my husband is out-of-town)!! I actually find it quite humorous when I sit down beside Molly with a salad and she moves. She absolutely refuses to stay next to me. Anything green is quite scary to her. I'm writing this I am remembering that yours truly was pretty averse to vegetables most of my life :-) I don't know if I was quite so picky, but I do know that my mom used to worry at the lack of variety in my diet.

Anyhow, to the small victory. I made a new soup tonight (yes, it is freezing cold here in Ohio) and, as expected, Molly refused to try it before she even saw the soup. Upon just hearing the word "soup" she had her mind made up. (Even though she has never tried a bite of soup in her life.) But I braced myself for at least a couple of sisters to follow her lead. After all, on the nights I don't choose to make one of the top favorite kid dinners in our house, some of my kids are known to not eat until the next morning. Even an offer for a dessert that they like, pending having a few bites of dinner, doesn't work many times. But to my pleasant surprise, the other 3 tried it and liked it! It may seem like such a small thing, but I was just plain thrilled! I have been trying to offer more of a variety of foods in these past few months that I've been feeling better and more energetic. And it seems that lately the efforts are paying off!

I thought I would post the successful recipe. Below it is another soup recipe that, although my girls refused to try, my husband commented that it was "restaurant quality"! That was reason enough to share the winning recipe with you all. And I must mention that I shared the chicken curry soup recipe with a friend and it did get a thumbs up from her young children!

Vegetarian Taco Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 (28 oz.) cans chopped organic tomatoes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans or black beans
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 medium avocados, chopped
3-4 sprouted corn tortillas, cut into triangles and baked until crisp (I used the organic blue corn chips)
3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
sour cream (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large saucepan, saute garlic, onion, and bell pepper until tender. Add tomatoes, corn, beans, chili powder, cumin and sea salt. Heat thoroughly, and add avocado, tortilla chips, and cilantro last. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Curry Chicken Soup

2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. curry
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken

Cook carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic in chicken broth for 20 minutes or until tender. Add coconut milk, butter, salt, curry and chicken. Heat thoroughly and serve.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Making butter, yogurt & kefir

For the past couple of months we have been ordering dairy products from an Amish farmer and we get cream and milk straight from the cow, eggs straight from the roaming chickens. A friend, Nickie, who I met through this buying co-op, noticed that I was buying kefir (cultured milk) and offered to show me how to make it, as well as butter and yogurt. I was excited, yet a little overwhelmed by the possibility. But as I learn more and more in my studies through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition I become more clear about the many, many benefits of knowing exactly where your food comes from. I know that buying organic butter is OK and that it is a better choice than non-organic butter, but making my own from the cream that I bought straight from the cow that is eating green grass? Wow, how amazing. My older girls get so excited that we can so easily pretend to play Little House on the Prairie these days! :-) Mary & Laura churning their butter, only it is Elizabeth & Molly hand-mixing the butter. Hours of fun. I should have snapped a picture today when we were making it. I will make a mental note to take some pictures to add to the blog next time!

So our first batch of butter turned out wonderfully. And the yogurt we made last week is still in the refrigerator, being consumed every now and then with fruit on top, or in a smoothie. I was amazed at how easy it was to make these dairy products from scratch. I haven't yet attempted to make the kefir, but I've heard that will be just as easy. I will be doing that next week after I procure the kefir grains, so stay tuned! (And I will post recipes too, I just don't have them written down yet because I made the recipes through watching Nickie make them.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fresh, local food

This past Saturday we visited our local Farmer's Market and we worked on our garden. It was a beautiful experience. Since the Farmer's Market is just getting started for the season, there wasn't a lot of fresh produce available yet. But, regardless of what is being sold there, it's just about knowing that what is being sold is fresh, local food. You can depend on the food being "clean and green"! It didn't travel thousands of miles to get here and it wasn't sprayed on with chemicals or pumped with antibiotics. I did buy some salad greens and splurged on seasoned kale chips so I could keep the long list of seasonings and make my own next time. We also bought some chicken burger patties produced locally. They sure were YUMMY!

But my excitement for the Farmer's Market cannot surpass the excitement of a fellow blogger - I LOVED her post about going to the Farmer's Market!

In the afternoon we took advantage of the nice weather and got the garden ready for planting. I will have to say that my dear husband did all of the hard work. I was busy planting my starter seeds that I should have planted a couple of weeks before. I had our little preschoolers help me start planting one week, and then just never got back to it! But now the task is done and I'm excited for everything to start growing. Here is a picture of our unfinished garden plots from last year...we only used one. But this year we are taking the plunge and using both! Admittedly - just ask my mom - I do NOT have a green thumb and had never really had an an interest in gardening. But a couple of years ago I knew it was time to start growing a garden (our church really encourages being self-reliant through growing a garden) and I am pleasantly surprised that I have really enjoyed it! I'm not so fond of doing the work to get the desired results. But I absolutely love harvesting the food and bringing it in the house to wash it and get it ready for consumption. And knowing that it came fresh from my backyard is just one of the greatest feelings ever known to man. It makes my heart sing!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


For those of you who haven't read my blog before, here is where you can read my story. Healing is an incredible journey, a road filled with learning and growth. I have healed in so many different ways and have learned so many exciting things! While I don't claim that everyone who experiences healing can do so fully by just changing their diet, I do believe that shifting to a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet will make a world of difference and give one a foundation upon which to experience more healing. The mind, body and spirit are deeply interconnected, each part being influenced greatly by the other. I have mentioned before that in order to be balanced we must balance our "secondary food" (the actual food that we eat), with our "primary food" (our lifestyle - areas such as spiritual practice, exercise, career and relationships). Balance and healing will only take place when all of these areas of our lives are running more smoothly. (Notice I say "more" smoothly, because life is never perfect :-) I have a deep religious belief which, for me, has contributed to my healing above and beyond diet. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jesus Christ is the center of our gospel message. We believe that it is He who heals all sin, pain, grief, suffering and sickness. He is the true source of healing and light and if we turn to Him, we can be healed. After all I can do, it is He that makes up the difference and makes me become whole again.

On this Easter Sunday we celebrate Christ's life and Resurrection. He died so that man may live. Not only physically, but spiritually. I am so grateful for this gift. And so amidst all the food talk here and my belief that food is healing and has medicinal properties, may we remember who is the divine source of healing. And that He will lead us on the right healing path for our particular circumstance when we are need of that healing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choosing a new clientele

It has been a few months! I have been studying and learning and experimenting and have decided that my new clientele is (drum roll)...none other than my husband and daughters! I have always studied with the intention to help improve my health and the health of my family. But I also intended to start a health coaching business focusing on moms and families. As things have unfolded, I have realized that I must keep my focus on my calling as a wife and mother. And through writing on this blog and through my regular interactions with people, I can still help others find the health they desire.

That said, this blog will become a little different than it has been. For the couple of months that I wrote before, I focused on a particular principle of dietary health and was usually pretty factual, only sharing a story or two here and there. But because my focus group is now my family...well, you will probably get a few more personal stories and some insight into our less than perfect life! ;-) Don't be surprised when I talk about my mission to try and get my kids to eat more vegetables, or to have them eat something more for lunch than a nitrate free hotdog or almond butter sandwich with fruit. We have a lot of work to do here, but I am excited about the things I am learning and that I will be trying in the near future. And I am also excited to take you along with me on the journey. I hope we can all learn together!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Natural Healing

"Given the chance, the body will heal itself, by itself." (Joshua Rosenthal, Founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition)

Our bodies are incredible creations. They were designed to heal themselves. On the most basic level, when we get a cut or scrape, the body heals itself - with a little help from a protective covering. When a bone is broken, with the proper setting, it heals. So why don't we trust our bodies to heal in other circumstances? Why do we run to the first pharmaceutical drug we can find to help our symptoms when we don't feel well? Now, I have to say that I think there is a place for medication. It has saved many a life and I am grateful for modern medicine. But my opinion is that it is
highly over-used and misused and, in many cases, not the best option.

In my quest for healing, I have found so many non-invasive, non-toxic things that have helped my body to heal. They are out there, but it does take some research to find the right methods for you. And these holistic, safe alternatives often work better than anything else. They may cost some money. But insurance co-pays and deductibles and non-covered procedures cost money too.

So, as is the topic here, let
food be thy medicine. It is healing, it has medicinal properties, and if you are not feeling well - look at your diet first. It is true that there may be many other factors at play. So if you don't have an emergency situation, looking at your diet first, getting a handle on that, and then exploring other areas that need help would be the smartest order to proceed. Many people gain a clarity of mind and feel less stress and overwhelm once they change their diet. So the next steps to take become much more clear then.

Think of it this way, "toxic in, toxic out". If your food is toxic (unhealthy, processed, and devoid of nutrients), your life has the potential to be toxic. What we put into our bodies, if consistently unhealthy and processed, may eventually manifest itself as an illness. If our bodies do not go there, they are likely to go to decreased immunity, pain, and/or loss of energy. The environment inside our bodies matters.
What we put into our bodies matters. If we are suffering, it could be because our diet is suffering.

The thing about natural healing that no one likes, though, is that it
takes time. It is not an overnight process. Society wants a quick fix, so natural healing is not popular. I became ill after the birth of my 4th child almost 2 years ago and, while I am doing much, much better, I am still in the process of healing. I have fine-tuned my food and now I have gone on to other tools that are helping me become even more well. (Exercise, spiritual practice, energy healing & just starting to explore the world of essential oils - to name a few.)

Please join me in the natural healing journey. It is truly a rewarding one!