Organic Shopping List

>> Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I came across this list again today. Thought it might be helpful to share. Always try to buy organic off the dirty dozen list if you can, because these fruits and veggies either have thin skins or the farmers use the highest amounts of pesticides for these crops. If you're not able to buy organic for whatever reason you can buy off the "clean 15" list because they have the lowest amount of pesticides.

DIRTY DOZEN (buy these organic if you can)
Bell Pepper
Grapes (Imported)

CLEAN 15 (lowest in pesticides)
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato

Click here for further reading.


Practice What I Preach

>> Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I am having a very emotional, stressful week so I haven't been able to blog recently and I'm not going to be able to blog much this week. I will say, however, that I haven't been practicing what I preach this week at all. I have fallen off the wagon and turned to my comfort food, or in my case drinks...coke and coffee. Probably two of the worst things, especially in times of stress. AND I feel it in my body. I've been having more frequent headaches, less energy, etc. This is a slippery slope I'm on and I'm going to have to stop it before I get too far gone. I'll report back in a couple days or so what my game plan is for getting back on track and for undoing the damage I've caused.


At a Loss for Words

>> Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've tried several times to post a lengthy discussion on healing but either keep getting disrupted or finding the right words to say. Soooo, I'll just say this for now...

Everyone has different starting points for healing. For some of us, cutting out processed foods may be all that it takes to heal and eliminate symptoms. For all of us, that is the least we we need to maintain our health and prevent future disease. However, others may need deeper healing and may require a more aggressive approach toward their nutrition. Eating whole foods may not be enough and it may be necessary to cut out other foods...good, real foods but foods that are hard to digest and hinder healing. It may also be necessary to add in healing, "probiotic" foods that are full of friendly bacteria that encourage deep healing.

My husband has had multiple sclerosis for over 10 years and obviously needs deeper healing than I needed when I was sick. We are about to embark on a new diet which we're very excited about. I'm eager to write all about it but finding it all a bit overwhelming right now so I'll post more tomorrow.


>> Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bethany writes:

"What about babies who are nursing? Does their immunity in their gut come from what the mother's eating? And do you think it's more about immunity or being allergic to something that causes eczema?"

Good question Bethany. First of all, having allergies and issues with your immune system are one in the same. If you have an allergic reaction then it's your immune system that's reacting.

I remember when I was seriously ill several years ago and my immune system was a mess! Lo and behold I started having allergic reactions right and left. Drugs that I had been taking for years started giving me hives or breathing problems which sent me to the ER several times. I was even having reactions to the laundry detergent they used in the hospital or a great lotion someone gave me. Crazy! Once I started building my immune system back up I was able to tolerate certain things again. But it goes to show that the more unbalanced our immune system is, the more reactions you're going to have.

And, as a matter of fact, I was just reading about the subject of allergies and breastfeeding this week in Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell McBride...

"As far as the science knows an unborn baby is sterile. Its body has no bacteria, viruses or fungi living in it. When the time of birth comes, as the baby goes through the birth canal, it gets its first dose of microbes. Its skin, eyes, mucous membranes in the mouth and nose acquire their first microflora. Through swallowing liquids in the mother's vagina the baby's digestive system gets its first population of bacteria, viruses and fungi. So, whatever lives in the vagina of the mother is what the baby would get."

It goes on to say...

"So what happens after the baby is born? The most important thing that should happen is breastfeeding. Breast milk, particularly colostrum in the first days after birth, is vital for appropriate population of the baby's digestive system with healthy microbial flora. It is known that bottle-fed babies develop completely different gut flora to the breast-fed babies. That flora later on predisposes bottle-fed babies to asthma, eczema, different other allergies and other health problems. We all know that breast is the best! However, most things that are floating in a mother's blood will be in her breast milk. A mother with abnormal gut flora would have a whole host of toxic substances, which are produced by pathogenic microbes in her gut and maldigested foods absorbed into her bloodstream. These toxins will be excreted in her breast milk and fed to her baby. In particularly severe cases mothers of [autistic] children could not breast feed their babies because the baby would refuse the breast or just fall asleep after the first few mouthfuls of the breast milk. We know that some of the toxins, which are produced by abnormal gut flora, have the chemical structure of opiates, like morphine and heroine. If the baby gets these opiates in the breast milk then it is quite understandable why the baby falls asleep after the first few mouthfuls. Another reason for the baby to refuse breast milk is milk allergy. In a woman with gut dysbiosis the gut lining is damaged and leaky. It allows through partially digested proteins and antigens. Milk antigens have been detected in breast milk. I have seen a few cases when the baby took to the breast after the mother removed dairy foods from her diet. A lot of cases of severe eczema in babies can also be relieved by this measure."

It all stems from the immune system. And our immune system lies within our gut. Our gut contains an ecosystem that must be kept in balance. And your gut affects your baby's gut. I don't say that to make you feel guilty but rather to empower you. You have power over your baby's gut which can affect his future health!


Whole Foods Defined

>> Saturday, March 7, 2009

Before I get any further into healing our guts, allow me to define a few terms...

First of all, I use the terms "real food" and "whole foods" interchangeably. Whole foods basically refer to those foods that have been minimally processed, containing no artificial additives or preservatives. Whole foods are less refined. I prefer to think of whole foods as foods that are as close to the way God created them as possible.

Highly refined foods like white flour, white sugar and white rice have been stripped of their nutrition while whole foods like seeds, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables tend to have more fiber and provide vitamins, minerals, protein and high-quality fats which are necessary for optimizing overall health.

So let's take oats for example. The quick-cooking oats most people buy their children which are found in little envelopes and boast all kinds of fun maple sugar flavors, etc...are not only far from the way they grew in the field but they have all sorts of added sugars, and flavors. These kinds of products have been refined and are not as nutritious as their commercials claim. Oats that are closest to the way they grew and therefore "whole" are oats groats. Steel cut oats and rolled oats (old fashioned oats) are slightly more processed but but pack a lot more nutritious punch.

Another perfect example are protein bars that are so popular in our country now. They claim to be highly nutritious and yes, they are full of protein which is important but we have to start thinking "quality" of food, not quantity of fat grams, protein or calories. Protein bars are not real food. It's a conglomeration of powders and preservatives...far, far, far from the way those ingredients grew in the field.

The bottom line is that we have to choose wisely, read labels and think about what we're putting into our bodies. The further foods gets from it's original state, the less nutritious it is. But more importantly, the more damage it causes the lining of our gut therefore leaving us susceptible to sickness, weight gain, disease, depression, you name it.

In future posts I'm also going to be discussing other terms like "traditional" foods and "probiotic" foods. These are whole foods that have been fermented or cultured. In a nutshell, they are foods full of friendly bacteria that feed our gut and keep them happy. More discussion later.


It All Starts in the Gut

>> Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have come to firmly (and I mean firmly!) believe that most all of human diseases and conditions come from an unhealthy gut. Our immune system lies within our gut. And our gut doesn't just affect our digestive system, it affects our whole body; our central nervous system, our neurological system, our name it. Think about it...not too long ago it was very rare to be diagnosed with autism, alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, cancer, even diabetes or heart disease. I believe the Western diet has wreaked havoc on our entire bodies and our society. We must restore the health of our guts by returning to whole, natural foods full of healthy bacteria.

Here is an excerpt from a great article I found by Dr. Cowan that illustrates this point beautifully...

"We have millions of intestinal villi, which are tiny finger-like hairs projecting into the intestine. These villi increase dramatically the surface area of the intestinal lining, making it a more effective semi-permeable barrier, which means it keeps unwanted things out of our bloodstream while absorbing the nutrients. These villi are covered with a layer of healthy intestinal flora, in some estimates about five to seven pounds of millions of varied bacteria, viruses, yeast and other microbes.

These healthy bacteria are vital for healthy life. They make vitamins, they digest food, they make antibiotic substances to keep down pathogens and they function as our immune system. I tell my patients that this system is analogous to a lush meadow with a thick layer of soil (the villi) covered by a lush layer of grass (the healthy bacteria). When both are intact, the meadow is healthy, but if you went to the meadow and stripped off the grass (this would be the equivalent of using an antibiotic in a person, or even not eating probiotic food), a whole cascade of catastrophic events will follow. First, you will get erosion of the soil, then the soil that’s left will be weak and unsupportive of healthy grasses. Weaker varieties of grass will grow or even no grass at all. Next, as the soil develops erosion cracks, poisons, runoff, etc., will start to seep into the ground water. At this point the land is dying.

This is exactly what happens inside us. First we strip our grass, then the soil erodes - the villi get weak and blunted, and then can’t support healthy micro-orgnisms. The cracks develop, and finally poisons seep into our groundwater, the blood. We now have foreign proteins in our blood, which either directly poison our nervous system (i.e. autism) or create antibody formation in reaction to these abnormal proteins, which is the whole process of auto-immune illness. Diseases which are the direct result of this process include not only intestinal diseases such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, but all the auto- immune problems such as eczema, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and on and on. It is not a stretch to confirm what natural medicine has claimed for literally thousands of years: The majority of human illness starts in the gut and must be healed by treating the gut."

More about this tomorrow...


Pure Bliss

>> Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I was going to blog about avocados or herbal teas or something of the like today. But then I came across this video and felt like I HAD to share it. This is my child who has been hospitalized several times for "failure to thrive". He had seizures, was blind and generally grumpy all the time. He has a feeding tube and the docs were prescribing him commercialized formula out of a can. Since switching him to "real food" he hasn't had a single seizure, he's flourishing and happy and joyful all the time. He's even gaining some eyesight! If that isn't a testimony to real food I don't know what is.

It's a shame that too many kids these days are being prescribed pills by the bucket load for all kinds of physical and behavior problems. I know medical intervention is necessary sometimes, however, food is the best medicine there is regardless of the condition/diagnosis. Kids are at our mercy to provide for them. If parents were to provide their kids with whole foods then they wouldn't have behavior problems in the first place. I'm not blaming parents for their kids' problems...I'm blaming the Western diet...but parents can intervene with more conservative measures to heal their kids. We don't need to rely on Western medicine. In fact, I believe that traditional medicine can do more harm than good, in most cases. There are other ways that not only help kids but HEAL kids. Nate is one of many that proves that real food works!!

For more information check out


Buying in Bulk

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

In an attempt to save money on our grocery bill we have decided to join Costco. I often read that buying in bulk is the way go but I've been skeptical for awhile about whether or not we could buy organic items at a place like Costco. Much to my surprise, we can! I've only gone twice but here are my favorite finds so far:

organic, range-free chicken broth
Muir Glen organic soups (for busy days)
cold pressed olive oil
nitrite free bacon
"naked" chicken nuggets (w/o breading...that was a FUN find!)
Kirkland brand cleaning products...most of them are natural and don''t have perfumes
organic tortilla chips
organic butter
100% maple syrup
all-natural peanut butter
organic jelly
Newman's Own juice

There also seemed to be lots of organic produce, fish and meats. We've been buying those through our co-op but I saw some good deals.

We've been buying our rice, oats, corn, etc. in bulk at a local health food store, but you can check out these great resources if you're interested:



>> Monday, February 23, 2009

We have become completely addicted to popcorn in our family. So much so that we're buying corn in bulk now (organic of course!). We have ditched the microwavable stuff for good and have turned toward the goodness of homemade. So healthy and so yummy!
Here are some tips for successful popcorn making...
1. Choose a pot with a heavy bottom but not too big and not too small. My hubby likes to use our 3 quart saucepan.
2. Heat 1/4 cup oil on high. Choose your oil carefully. Make sure it's an oil that is best suited for medium to high heat. Coconut oil, grapeseed oil or sesame oil are good choices. Some people use olive oil but we haven't had good success and it's not meant to be used for high heat. AVOID canola, it's not that healthy. Experiment. Different oils will give you different flavors. Grapeseed is our personal favorite.
3. Drop one kernel of corn into the bottom of a hot pan and cover with a lid. When it pops, add a single layer of corn to the bottom of the pan and re-cover.
4. Turn heat down to medium high as corn continues to pop, occasionally shaking back and forth. You might want to dump some of the popcorn into a bowl to allow space for the rest of the popcorn to pop.
5. Remove from heat when there's about 15 seconds in between "pops".
6. Serve immediately with flavors of choice. Experiment with different toppings. Some like parmesan cheese, some like honey and butter. There are a gazillion different ideas out there. We're rather boring in our family and prefer plain old salt.
For popcorn inspiration click here.


Super Simple Salmon Stew

>> Saturday, February 21, 2009

We've been getting a lot of great salmon from our food co-op lately. But I can only eat baked salmon so many times. So I went in search of something else to do with all this healthy fish. In the end, I came up with my own concoction that was so incredibly simple to make but tastes even better! Here's my recipe but keep in mind I don't measure, so these are basic guidelines...

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped (I don't peel to keep it even simpler)
chicken stock
olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add potatoes and salmon and just enough chicken stock to cover. Add salt/pepper. Simmer until potatoes are soft (about 30-40 minutes). Just before serving, stir in a cup or so of milk into the whole pot. Serve with a pat of butter on top. YUM!! Leftovers taste even better.

And by the way, salmon is low in calories and saturated fat, yet high in protein, and a unique type of health-promoting fat, the omega-3 essential fatty acids. As their name implies, essential fatty acids are essential for human health but because they cannot be made by the body, they must be obtained from foods. Fish contain a type of essential fatty acid called the omega-3 fatty acids. Wild-caught cold water fish, like salmon, are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than warm water fish. In fact, the fat composition of salmon has recently been evaluated as superior not only because of its rich omega-3 content, but also because of its great ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s and its health-supportive balance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Each of these features in the fat composition of salmon helps reduce risk of unwanted inflammation and help maintain the integrity of our immune and circulatory systems. In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3s, salmon are an excellent source of selenium, a very good source of protein, niacin and vitamin B12, and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B6. (taken from


Natural Healing

>> Friday, February 20, 2009

My foster baby has a cleft lip/palette. He is very prone to getting ear infections. He got one this week but I decided NOT to take him to the doctor and put him on yet another antibiotic which destroys the good bacteria in his gut and makes him prone to even more infections. This time I treated him with natural oils (yes, Laurie the same oils I wash my dog with!). I mixed 1T olive oil and 5-10 drops of tea tree oil, warmed it in the microwave for 30 seconds and put about 10 drops of this solution in his ear. Within 2 days he was completely back to normal and his immune system was spared.

In fact, tea tree oil has over 1000 different uses. It's known for it's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. My kids use it to help with acne. We also use it for dry scalp. I've even used it for ringworm!! (when you have foster kids, you get all kinds of things coming through your house!). Two of my babies have feeding tubes which are prone to infected tissue called granulomas. I've tried EVERYTHING under the sun to try and heal their tummies, including prescriptions, but nothing worked like tea tree oil. No more granulomas. It might be worth keeping a bottle of this invaluable oil in your house.

Another one of my all-time favorite remedies is Emergen-C. My nurse practioner recommended this to me awhile ago and now my whole family swears by it. We start taking it at the first signs of a cold or virus. Or we take it under times of stress to help boost our immune systems. Olivia takes it every year when she's dancing in the Nutcracker (a very high period of stress!) just as a precaution and she's one of the few dancers that doesn't get sick during production week. You can buy Emergen-C just about anywhere...Walgreens, CVS, Kroger. Each packet contains 1000mg of Vitamin C and other essential vitamins. Vitamin C is essential for keeping your immune system healthy.

And for times of dehydration, skip the Gatorade which is full of sugar and try coconut water instead. Known for it's healing properties, coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk) is as close to human plasma as anything else you can find. It has more potassium than a banana and 15 times more potassium than Gatorade. If you want to learn more about coconut water click here.

And of course don't forget about yogurt (preferably homemade). Most of your immune system lies within your gut. Your gut needs good bacteria to stay strong and fight infection. Yogurt is full of good bacteria and will keep your gut happy. If you gut is happy, then the rest of your body is happy.

Here's to your health!


I Stand Corrected

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Immediately after posting about Wendy's chili and McDonald's southwest salad, this article came to me about the hidden chemicals in what seems like "healthier" food in fast food restaurants. Even McDonald's coffee isn't just coffee. Now I'm depressed!! So maybe my 80/20 rule will have to become 90/10 or I'll have to find another solution to eating out altogether. Although I still do believe that if we lay a good foundation for our bodies, that they will forgive us if we eat not so healthy food.

Here's the article if you want to be depressed too...
(NaturalNews) The movie Supersize Me has probably had more of an effect than the producers anticipated. Since then, in the fast food industry, there has been a market trend promoting menu items that appear to be healthy. But most of these menu items have ingredients that health conscious consumers would prefer to avoid.

Most health conscious consumers consider healthy foods to be things like raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and clean meats like wild Alaskan salmon, or free-range chicken or turkey.

Some ingredients that health conscious consumers consider unacceptable are MSG (or free glutamate, or free glutamic acid, including anything hydrolyzed or autolyzed), trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils [3]), artificial colors, artificial flavors, and most preservatives.

Many so-called healthy fast food menu items, upon closer inspection, do not live up to the health hype. Most of the meat from any of the major chains has anything but a simple ingredients list. They add emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, trans fats, and hidden ingredients under generic labels such as spices, or natural and artificial flavors.

Some of these food additives are not foods at all, but are chemicals that are generally recognized as safe. Most of these additives cannot be found at your local grocery store, probably because they aren't food. But some can be found at your local hardware store, though in inedible products like low tox antifreeze, silicone caulk, soap, sunscreen, and play sand.

to read the full article click here


Natural Body Care

>> Monday, February 16, 2009

It's important to think about everything we put into our bodies. But we can't forget about what we put on our bodies as well. Our skin is the largest organ we have. What we put on it affects what happens underneath it. Typically lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc. are full of harmful chemicals.

I've been successful at replacing most of my hair care products. I have discovered tea tree shampoo from Trader Joe's that I love that are free from sodium laureth sulfate. They also have a deodorant that is made without aluminum (another ingredient I try to avoid). I haven't found any all-natural makeup products that I like yet but I'm still searching.

But my most recent discovery that I'm very excited about is Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap. Made with the purest ingredients, including organic coconut, olive, hemp and jojoba oils and scented with organic essential oils, these are high-lathering soaps that foam naturally, without any foaming agents. I discovered it as I was looking for an all-natural soap to use on the babies. I was skeptical because I bought what seemed like a small bottle for $5. But once I got it home, I quickly realized that it only took a few drops to really lather up my little monkeys and now their skin has never felt softer. Then, I started using it for my face wash and it has never felt smoother. And because a little goes a long way, it's not as expensive as I thought.

But what's even more exciting is that you can use it all around the house. Apparently, there are 18 different uses: laundry detergent, dish detergent, hand soap, even pet shampoo. So now I'm really getting more bang for my buck. AND at the same time I'm confident that I'm using something that is healthier for my body and my environment.

I'm hooked.


Eating Out

>> Saturday, February 14, 2009

Generally my rule is 80/20, which means that 80% of the time I eat whole, natural foods and the other 20% of the time I don't worry about it. That pretty much means that everything we eat while we're at home is unprocessed because I spend 80% of my time at home. I don't even keep anything in my house that would tempt me. However, I do enjoy eating out. And sometimes because of our busy lifestyle it's a necessity. Because I know that I have laid a good foundation for my body, I try not to feel guilty if I'm out and bombarded with bad choices. Sometimes, I'm at a friend's house and I don't have a choice and therefore I just don't give it a second thought. But if I do have a choice, then I try to choose wisely.

When I was first getting started, the key for me was to plan ahead. In fact, I researched my favorite restaurants, even viewed their menus online and made a list of what I would order when I'm out. This took forethought and effort but made it easier in the long run because I didn't panic and wonder what in the world to eat.

Here are my general guidelines for eating out:
  • Avoid sandwiches and wraps because the buns are ALWAYS made with white flour.
  • No breading or sauces. They are most likely full of white flour and sugar.
  • Avoid buffets. Their food is usually prepared with lots of butter and sauces.
  • If I go to Mexican restaurants (Mo's is my favorite!), I ask for a "naked" burrito. They will serve beans, rice, and veggies in a bowl instead of a tortillas with white flour.
  • I also ask if their tortilla chips are made with corn or white flour. Skip it if it's white flour.
  • Avoid any/all dairy products. Dairy sold in public is highly processed and full of hormones/chemicals. Skip the cheese!!
  • Ask the waiter to cook meats and veggies in olive oil instead of butter, because butter in restaurants is usually full of unwanted fats. Order veggies steamed.
  • Order meats/eggs/fish rather than casserole type dishes because you never know what's in those sauces. Pick steak over meatloaf everytime.
  • Avoid cream based soups made with processed butters, flours, etc. Choose veggie soups.
  • Anymore, restaurants have their menus online. If I know where I'm going, I look up their menu online and choose what I'm going to eat before I go. Most restaurants even have menus for special diets (dairy-free, wheat-free) making it even easier to make choices.
  • And, of course, skip the soda which is full of white sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners. Choose water instead or unsweetened iced tea.
So, here are my favorite places to eat:
Wendy's: I order chili and if I'm really hungry a baked potato with chili on top. I skip the cheese on top though.
McDonald's: LOVE their southwestern salad! Not too much else to choose from here, except maybe a grilled chicken sandwich without the bread.
Taco Bell: Surprisingly, Taco Bell came out with their Fresco Menu. There are about 10 items to choose from which have no cheese/dairy on them. Instead they use fresh veggies and pico de gallo. We order the crunchy tacos which uses corn instead of white flour.
Starbucks: green iced tea, unsweetened.
Ted'd Montana Grill: One of my favorite restaurants because they serve grass-fed beef.

Remember, many restaurants claim that their food is healthy merely because it's low in calories or fat. But you can eat low fat and still have a poor diet. It's about the QUALITY of food. It's better to eat a good steak, than to eat a cheeseburger topped with a bun made with highly processed white flour. Try to choose "whole" foods. The closer it is to the way God made it, the better.


Eating Healthy on Food Stamps??

>> Friday, February 13, 2009

Ari Armstrong set out to prove that you can eat whole foods for the same cost (or less) than Americans receive for food stamps. He goes on to suggest that recipients of food stamps are complaining that they're not receiving enough money for food stamps while insisting that they're buying cheap, processed foods. Ari suggests that rate should not be increased and wants to help educate people how to make better choices.


Week's Diet Proves Good Nutrition Possible on Low Budget

Ari Armstrong ate nutritious food February 4-10 for less than food stamps provide. For the week, he ate only meat, dairy, eggs, olive oil, vegetables, fruit, walnuts, chocolate, tea, and spices. He did not eat any grains, vegetable oils, hydrogenated fat, potatoes, or processed sugar.

For compete details about the diet, including receipts and photographs of select meals, see

Armstrong spent $33.07 for the week, or $4.72 per day. (He added 78 cents of bananas to preliminary figures.) However, he had around $5.30 worth of food left at the end of the week, bringing the daily total to around $4. Food stamps provide $5.68 per day to a single individual -- see

Armstrong said, "With this diet, I wanted to prove again that eating well on a low budget is possible. I also wanted to protest increases in the food-stamp budget. People should not be forced to fund the unhealthy food-stamp program. Instead, I favor voluntarily funded food banks, which are better able to offer nutritious food to those in need."

Ari and his wife Jennifer spend a month in 2007 eating a higher-carb -- but still nutritious -- diet for $2.57 per day each.

click here for the complete article



>> Thursday, February 12, 2009

I updated my resource page today. Hopefully, I can add even more as the days go by.


What Did I Do??

>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our family belongs to a food co-op where we receive raw milk, cheese, pastured eggs, beef, organic produce, etc. As a member of the co-op, I'm responsible for driving out to the farms every month or so to pick up all the food. We receive our food from several Amish families that live about two hours away. I love it when it's my turn to drive because it's such beautiful scenery. And it's always so educational to visit the farms and meet these Amish families. Considering these families are nourishing MY family, I hold them dear to my heart.

Well, today was my turn. I took my three-year-old son to ride along. When we arrived I asked if he could go in the barn to see the cows. They said, "yes, I bet he would love to see the puppies too!" At that moment seven beautiful, white little pups came bounding out of the barn. My insides were shouting, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! Don't even ask!" But I did. I have such a weakness for dogs. She told me they were for sale. Then, I asked what kind they are and she said Eskimo Spitz. Then I knew I was doomed. You see, my 15-year-old son has been researching the Spitz breed and has had his heart set on one. What could I do? I had to say yes! And I did.

Unfortunately, I don't get a cell phone signal out there on the farms. So I couldn't call and discuss with my husband first. I had to make an executive decision and take my chances that he would be ok with it. Even though I know darn well that the last thing we need is a puppy. Well, let's just say he wasn't pleased. But once he saw how happy my son was, I think he understood.

Isn't she cute? My son hasn't picked out a name for her yet. But he's researching Eskimo or Indian names.

And by the way, if you're ever interested in finding an organic co-op near you, you might want to check out these links.


Menu Monday

>> Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's what's on the menu for this week:

Breakfast: rice pudding
Lunch: leftover tortilla soup
Dinner: going to ballet, hit drive-thru on the way
to do: soak quinoa

Breakfast: omelets
Lunch: rice/kimchi
Dinner: teriyaki salmon, citrus rice
to do: soak oats

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: egg salad sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: crock pot ragout, salad
to do: soak rice

Breakfast: eggs, toast
Lunch: homemade mac/cheese, carrots
Dinner: chinese chicken salad (new recipe, I'll let you know how it goes)

Breakfast: peanut butter toast
Lunch: turkey sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: eggplant bruschetta, salad
to do: soak wheat flour for muffins

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: chili, cornbread
to do: make lasagna for church

Breakfast: blender pancakes
Lunch: make lasagna for church
Dinner: home fellowship


Amazing Tortilla Soup!

>> Sunday, February 8, 2009

We tried a new chicken tortilla recipe tonight. The recipe was called Amazing Tortilla Soup and it truly was amazing! Or as Rachel Ray would say, "Yummo!" I doubled the recipe so we can have plenty for lunches throughout the week. We served it with tortilla chips and shredded raw cheese on top.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/2 medium green pepper
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1. Sauté onion, garlic, jalapeño and green pepper with olive oil in a large pot until soft.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.
3. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred.
4. (Two forks work well to pull the chicken apart!).
5. Return shredded chicken to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes.
6. Serve, topped with crushed tortilla chips if desired.


About Me

>> Friday, February 6, 2009

FYI...I updated my About Me post today. Feel free to take a look.


Making Yogurt

>> Thursday, February 5, 2009

We've discovered a new treat in our family...homemade yogurt. The idea of making my own yogurt seemed daunting to me at first. But then I discovered how incredibly easy it is and now I'm hooked.

Yogurt is well known for it's health benefits. Yogurt is full of active cultures that kills harmful bacteria and encourages friendly bacteria. Yogurt will make your gut very happy and even help with issues such as constipation and diarrhea. However, the yogurt sold in stores is full of sugar and has been pasteurized to the point that all the good bacteria is often killed, defeating the purpose.

To make homemade yogurt you'll need:

1 quart whole milk (we prefer raw milk, try to at least find high-quality, unprocessed milk)
1 tablespoon of a store-bought yogurt (try to find organic plain yogurt and make sure it says "live cultures on the carton)
glass jar

1. Fill the glass jar with boiling water so it's warm when you're ready to fill with milk. You don't want a cold jar to drain the warm milk of it's heat.

2. Heat the milk to 160 degrees. Some heat to only 100 - 110 degrees. The more you warm the milk, the more bacteria you kill. However, the less you warm the milk, the runnier the yogurt will be. I like to compromise and heat a little more for a thicker yogurt. But I'm still experimenting in this area.

3. Once the milk is heated, remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees.

4. Pour out the water from your jar and pour in milk. Add 1 T of your store-bought yogurt. This is your yogurt culture; the catalyst for growing new bacteria in your new yogurt. The more you add, the more you crowd out the bacteria which will produce a more sour, watery product so don't think that more is better.

5. Cover your jar and sit on a heating pad for 8-12 hours. I leave mine sitting overnight. You want to maintain a temperature of 110 degrees. Some people will put in the oven but my oven doesn't go low enough. Some say you can turn the oven light on and leave the oven off and this will maintain a good temp. Others will put in an insulated cooler filled with hot water. Find what works for you. But the goal is to keep your yogurt warm so you can incubate the bacteria.

6. Put in the refrigerator for another 3-6 hours. This will help your yogurt thicken.

7. Once the yogurt has reached the desired consistency...ENJOY! We like to mix fruit preserves or maple syrup in ours. But don't forget to save a couple tablespoons for your culture to start a new batch (or two) of yogurt.


Blender Batter Pancakes/Waffles

>> Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pancakes are a Sunday morning tradition in our family. I've tried many different methods/recipes in my attempt to perfect them. But I finally discovered the one recipe that not only tastes great but is very healthy and inexpensive. This recipe involves soaking the grains. The grains and a few other ingredients sit in your blender overnight. Add a few more ingredients the next morning and you have the perfectly nutritious delicious batter.

Soaking the grains before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. Soaking enables much better digestion. In fact, my stomach always felt heavy and full after eating normal pancakes. But after eating these pancakes my stomach felt light and satisfied. Use grains that are raw whole uncooked grains, not flour! Experiment with millet, barley, spelt, and kamut grain for varied tastes and textures. Since my husband can't eat gluten we eat a rice/oats combo.

Recipe adapted from
Yields 20-24 pancakes

1. Place in blender; blend at highest speed for 3 minutes.
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups butter milk or kefir (or non-​dairy alternative)
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown rice or uncooked rolled oats (or other grain variations, experiment! Our favorite is half rice/half oats) The batter should always swirl about a vortex in the blender. If it doesn’t, slowly add more liquid until the hole reap pears. This is the secret to light and tender waffles. Batter for pancakes may be thicker, but keep batter relatively thin and keep it churning.

Cover blender; let stand at room temperature overnight or 12-24 hours.

Preheat waffle iron at highest temperature, or griddle on medium high.

Just before baking, add and re-blend on highest speed for 1 minute:
1 egg, optional additional liquid (if batter needs thinning for vortex or churning)

Blend in thoroughly, but briefly (assisted with rubber spatula, if needed):
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt, to taste

Pour batter onto hot waffle iron, sprayed with olive oil. Bake about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes in waffle iron until crispy.

We like our pancakes served with all-natural sunflower butter and pure maple syrup.




>> Monday, February 2, 2009

This is a post under construction. I am going to attempt to document all my favorite recipes here. Check the link above often as I will be updating daily.

Blender Batter Pancakes/Waffles
Soaked Oatmeal
French Toast


Salmon Melts
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Corn Chowder
Veggie (Fat Flush)
Black Bean
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Super Simple Salmon Stew

Salads (I make my own dressings)
Apple Cranberry
Mandarin Walnut
Monte Cristo
Southwest Salad

Chicken w/ Red Peppers
Chicken w/ Red Potatoes
Honey Mustard
Chicken Pot Pie
Mustard Lime Chicken

Crock Pot
BBQ Chicken

Eggplant Bruschetta

Ginger Lime Swordfish
Teriyaki Salmon

Meat Loaf
Steak and Potato Stir Fry
Shepherd’s Pie

Taco Seasoning
Teriyaki Sauce

Apple Crisp
Green Smoothie
Mango Smoothie
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Bread
Basic Muffin Recipe


What's For Dinner?

>> Sunday, February 1, 2009

My niece asked me to post a sample menu. Here's what we're having this week. I don't have time to post recipes today but I'll try to post them tomorrow.

salmon melts
crockpot ragout

peanut butter toast
mac & cheese (made w/ rice noodles and raw cheese)
chicken tortilla soup. tortilla chips

oatmeal (soaked the night before)
lunchmeat (nitrite-free)
salmon w/ ginger lime sauce, salad, rice

omelettes w/ fresh veggies
chicken/red peppers, veggie

turkey burgers. salad, fries

banana muffins
peanutty sesame noodles

blender batter waffles
lunch at our Korean church


Under Construction

Please bear with me as I revise the look of my site.


Muffin Formula

>> Saturday, January 31, 2009

I've seen a LOT of muffin recipes in my day but inevitably I always come back to a trusty old recipe a good friend of mine gave me over a decade ago. It's more of a formula than a recipe which is probably what I love about it. I can use whatever I have on hand and they always turn out delicious. My muffins have never turned out the same way twice, I can pack them full of nutrition, and the best part about is they're CHEAP! You can make a batch of muffins for as little as 4 cents each.

Here's the basic formula:

2 to 2 1/2 C grain
1 C milk
up to 1/4 C fat
1 egg
up to 1/2 C sweetener
2 teaspoons salt
up to 1 1/2 cup additions

Makes 12 muffins

Mix dry ingredients first. Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry ingredients. Blend together; the batter should be lumpy. Grease muffin tin and fill cups two thirds full, Bake in a preheated oven to 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Be creative with your ingredients! Experiment with different grains (but never use white flour!). Try adding canned pumpkin or even some nonsweet options like onion and shredded zucchini and a pinch of parsley. Here are some more ideas:

GRAIN: Use whole wheat flour or subsitute oatmeal, cooked rice, quinoa or millet. Try to use whole grains, nothing refined like white flour. For even more nutrition you can soak your grains overnight (more about this later).

MILK: Use milk or substitute buttermilk or fruit juice for all or part of the milk.

FAT: I use butter but you can substitute all-natural peanut butter for part or all of the fat. The fat can be reduced or omitted with fair results if using a wet addition.

SWEETENER: Use between 2T and 1/2 C sugar. I use rapadura or sucanat, a less refined sugar. You can substitute with 1/2 C honey, molasses or even maple syrup but decrease milk by 3/4 cup.

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: Additions can be used in any combination, up to 1.5 cups total if using more than 1 C wet additions, decrease milk to 1/2 cup.

DRY ADDITIONS: nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, and so on.

MOIST ADDITIONS: blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, and so on.

WET ADDITIONS: pumpkin puree, applesauce, cooked and mashed sweet potato, mashed banana, mashed and cooked carrot, and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

SPICES: Use spices that complement the additions, such as 1 tsp cinnamon with 1/4 tsp nutmeg or cloves. Try 2 tsp grated orange or lemon peel.

JELLIES/JAMS: Fill cups half full with a plain batter. Add 1 tsp jam or jelly and top with 2 more tbls batter.

TOPPING: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the batter in the tins.

NONSWEET ADDITIONS: Use only 2 T sugar and no fruit. Add combinations of the following: 1/2 C shredded cheese, 3 strips fried and crumbled bacon (without nitrites), 2 T grated onion, 1/2 C shredded zucchini, 2 T parmesan cheese. Spices could include a tsp of parsley and a pinch of marjoram.



Butter is Better

>> Friday, January 30, 2009

If you're thinking about making changes to your diet and don't know where to start, look to the butter dish. Americans have been taught that butter is bad and margarine is healthier. But nothing could be further from the truth. Full of hydrogenated oils, margarine is probably the most highly processed food there is. Let me rephrase that, margarine is NOT real food.

"These oils [in margarine and tub spreads] are as refined as the gasoline in your car. In the refinery they are treated with a caustic soda solution which removes the lecithin, an essential nutrient. Then the oil is steam-cleaned under a vacuum at tremendous temperature. This second step should destroy any remaining food value in the oil, but, just in case, the oil is then bleached at a ghih temperature to remove any color.

The liquid oil is then chemically treatecd by being bombarded with hydrogen under pressure in the presence of the metal nickel. This "hydrogenation" process is what makes the oil look like real butter. But now it's no longer a "polyunsaturate" which is supposed to be so good for you. The remianing step in the manufacture of plastic butter is to steam-clean it again at high temperatures to deodorize it. Then the preservative and color are added, and it is ready for your table.

The liquid part of margaine, which is the second largest component, is usually re-pasteurized, that is reheated, skim milk. So the butter stubstitute on your toast has been steam-cleaned or superheated at least four times." by William Campbell Douglass, MD The Milk Book

Sound appetizing? You won't find margarine anywhere near my plate. Butter is better!! Butter is a whole food. Butter is the nation's best source of vitamin A needed for a wide range of functions in the body from maintaining good vision, to keeping the endocrine system in top shape. Butter also contains all the other fat-soluble vitamins (E, K, and D). Butter is rich in trace minerals, especially selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Butter also supplies iodine, needed by the thyroid gland (as well as vitamin A, also needed by the thyroid gland).

It's important to buy a quality butter. Raw and cultured butter is best. If that is hard to find, then organic butter is your next best thing.

So, the next time you eat a piece of toast slather on the butter and feel good that you're eating the real deal.


Canola Oil

>> Thursday, January 29, 2009

I get really bogged down when I start thinking about oils. I start tuning out when I read words like saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated. And I really get lost when I start reading about short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain fats. TOO scientific for me! I do know, however, that hydrogenated oils are bad (read those labels!) and olive oil is good. I also know that Americans kinda have it backwards when it comes to the discussion of cholesterol and fats. We have been taught to eat low fat or no fat. But fat is not the enemy...bad fat is! We need GOOD fats in our diets. In fact, for babies and children fat is very important. We just need to educate ourselves more about this topic and choose our fats wisely.

I found this interesting tidbit of information recently,

"Anyone who has eaten his way across France has observed that the French diet is loaded with saturated fat in the form of butter, eggs, cheese, cream, liver, meats and rich pates. Yet the French have a lower rate of coronary heart disease than many other western countries. In the United States, 315 of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks each year; in France the rate is 145 per 100,000. In the Gascony region, where goose and duck liver form a staple of the diet, this rate is a remarkably low 80 per 100,000. This phenomenon has recently gained international attention and was dubbed the French Paradox. (The French do suffer from many degenerative diseases, however, They eat large amounts of sugar and white flour and in recent years have succumbed to the timesaving temptation of processed foods.)" from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

I thought I would do some more research this week on the topic of oils and report my findings. Starting with canola...

"Canola oil is "widely recognized as the healthiest salad and cooking oil available to consumers." It was developed through hybridization of rape seed. Rape seed oil is toxic because it contains significant amounts of a poisonous substance called erucic acid. Canola oil contains only trace amounts of erucic acid and its unique fatty acid profile, rich in oleic acid and low in saturated fats, makes it particularly beneficial for the prevention of heart disease. It also contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, also shown to have health benefits. This is what the food industry says about canola oil.

Canola oil is a poisonous substance, an industrial oil that does not belong in the body. It contains "the infamous chemical warfare agent mustard gas," hemagglutinins and toxic cyanide-containing glycocides; it causes mad cow disease, blindness, nervous disorders, clumping of blood cells and depression of the immune system. This is what detractors say about canola oil.

How is the consumer to sort out the conflicting claims about canola oil? Is canola oil a dream come true or a deadly poison? And why has canola captured so large a share of the oils used in processed foods?"

If you want to read more click here.

It's all so confusing and contrary to what we've been taught. More to come...


Getting Started

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I've had numerous people ask me lately what I did to improve my health. I would definitely say the single MOST important thing I did was throw away any/all processed foods!! I went through my pantry and eliminated all boxed dinners, like mac & cheese, frozen dinners, processed snacks, cereals, canned foods, salad dressings, etc. This didn't leave me with much and put me on a HUGE learning curve to try and figure out what to make for my family. For this reason, I'm not sure I would recommend going cold turkey for most people...although most people aren't sick like I was. BUT I would recommend making it a goal to get rid of as many processed foods as possible. Starting with one meal a week and replacing it with a meal rich in whole foods is a good place to start.

Another place to start is to begin reading labels. READ, READ, READ. You might be amazed at what you find. Can you believe that even some whole grain breads have high fructose corn syrup in it? I refuse to buy anything with additives, preservatives, or anything I can't pronounce. The general idea is to buy food as close to the way God created it. Think quality of food rather than quantity. Americans these days are rather obsessed with calories, fat grams, sodium, etc. If you eat good quality food you don't have to worry about how much you eat. You can enjoy a wide variety of things, as much as you want. Just be aware of what goes into your body and make sure it's real food, not processed.

Here is an example of what my grocery list looks like now...

Eggs: I buy only cage-free eggs. They cost a little more but well worth the money. Even better, buy them from a local farmer!
Cheese/Milk: I buy my milk from a local farmer. This is a loaded topic...will discuss more at length later. If you're interested check out
Kefir: More beneficial bacteria than yogurt. You drink kefir, rather than eat it. It has a pleasant tart flavor.
Grains/Beans: I buy my grains in bulk to save money. I buy only whole grains, organic if possible.
Rice: Only brown. White is highly processed and stripped of all nutritional value.
Flour: I only buy whole wheat. White flour is the enemy.
Black Beans
Oils: I only buy cold-pressed. Coconut has wonderful health benefits and cooks wonderfully in high heat. Try to avoid canola and vegetable oils.
Grapeseed: We use grapeseed to cook our popcorn for a snack at night. Has a wonderful flavor and less harmful than canola.
Juice: Only 100% juice of course!
Tea: Organic if possible.
Hot Dogs: I buy hot dogs without nitrites. Trader Joe's carries them. We avoid pork in our family so we always look for beef.
Chicken: Range-free, antibiotic-free
Beef: Grass-fed beef, no hormones
Produce: I try to look for things in season because it costs less.
Frozen Fruit: Great for smoothies!!
Frozen Veggies: I use frozen to save some money on groceries but I look for organic if possible.
Snacks: Currently, I buy my snacks at Trader Joe's because I know they don't have hydrogenated oils or preservatives.
Tortilla Chips
Raisins/Dried Fruit: I try to find unsulphered fruit.
Sunflower Butter or any other nut butters without the preservatives. NO JIFFY!!!
Coconut Milk: Also great for smoothies and has great health benefits.
Condiments: I look for ketchup without added sugar. I'm trying to start making my own condiments though.
Salad dressings: Look for salad dressings with healthy oils (olive, grapeseed, etc.) or I try to make my's very simple to do!
Bread: Currently, I buy Ezekiel 4:9 which is sprouted. I occasionally buy whole grain bread but I'm trying to learn how to make my own so I know exactly what it has in it.
Sweeteners: NO WHITE SUGAR!! We use honey or agave syrup. Some people use rapadura or sucanat.


Taco Seasoning

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seasoning mixes that you buy from the store are full of preservatives and chemicals, most of which wreak havoc on our bodies. I've been trying to make my own mixes lately, mainly because I want to know where my food is coming from and exactly what it has in it. It also saves money.
This is a really good recipe that I use in place of taco seasoning. Tonight I'm trying it in our chili. The cumin makes this mix especially flavorful.

1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like heat)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano (I leave this out because I don't care for it)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and add to ground beef or turkey when meat is almost fully cooked. If you are not going to use it right away, cover and refrigerate until needed to preserve flavor.



>> Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I just looked back through my old posts. It's amazing how far God has brought me in the last year or so since I've posted. He has delivered me from some horrible symptoms and I am happy to report that I am finally healthy again!

It's been exactly 16 months since I took the plunge into whole foods. And what a difference it has made in my life. I haven't been sick since. Occassionally I get a headache, and usually it's because I've strayed from eating well. But for the most part, I haven't been healthier. And I have so much more energy. Most importantly, I'm able to do more of what called has called me to do.

I've debated about keeping up with this blog...blogs seem so self-centered to me! BUT I've depended heavily on others' blogs to teach me how to eat and cook well. So I want to pay it forward by documenting my continued journey into whole foods. I have a long, long way to go. So I thought I would share as I go.

More tomorrow...


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