Archive for the ‘Good Health’ Category

Autumn Sweets

October 29, 2009

girl making cookies

This time of year calls for baking, and all kinds of other sweets.  In a house where we have food allergies (dairy, corn–including and especially corn syrup), and where I’ve noticed that sugar makes us sick when consumed in quantity…Well, the sweets thing can be a challenge.  Because I LOVE me some dessert!

So…I’m planning to compromise a bit.  I’ll enjoy sweets during this season, just not too many.  When I have the urge to bake, I’ll make something over the weekend (the only days I really have time for extra cooking anyway) and share it with a Sunday school class on Sunday.  My kids are welcome to candy they’re given, but just a few of their favorites.  I guess I’m a bit of a mean mommy, but I confiscate it after that, and try to emphasize fun fall activities instead.  If it’s a choice between having strung out, sick children for several weeks or having healthy happy ones, there’s no question for me.

For my allergic child, I purchase some of the (very, very few) candies available without corn syrup or dairy ingredients, and make other special treats…peanut butter balls, old fashioned fudge with coconut oil and rice milk instead of butter and milk, homemade cookies made from simple, pure, safe ingredients.  To tell you the truth, it’s kind of a nice excuse to have to whip up something yummy in the kitchen.

This time of year I especially love spicy and apple desserts.  I’ve been craving a chocolate cake too.

What do you like to make and eat during autumn?  How do you handle the overabundance of unhealthy food?

Making Herbal Salve

October 12, 2009

nurse

My 8 year old has always been interested in medicine (at one point she wanted to be a nurse), and lately she has become interested in herbs.  Together we put together a simple herbal salve, just for family use on minor scrapes and the like.  It was such a fun, easy project to do together.  I looked up a number of recipes online and created my own with what I had on hand.  Here’s what we used and how we did it.

¼ c. dried calendula flowers

¼ c. dried St. John’s Wort

¼ c. dried lavender buds

¼ c. dried comfrey leaf

(I ordered all these from Bulk Herb Store.)

We infused these herbs in 1 c. olive oil for about 4 hours on the oven’s lowest setting (I think it was about 170 degrees).  We did this in a glass bread pan.  Then we strained the oil through a thin cloth into a DISPOSABLE pan (because we didn’t want to get wax in a pan we wanted to use again), being careful of course—it was pretty warm!

We added about ¼ c. beeswax, chunked up.  (Next time I will use an inexpensive grater.)  Beeswax melts at a low temp, but the oil wasn’t quite warm enough to do it, so we put the whole mixture back in the warm oven for a little while.  Then we creamed the soft beeswax into the oil until it was dissolved (again, using a cheap spoon dedicated to beeswax projects only).  I could see it starting to thicken, so I quickly poured it into some small containers.  Baby food jars would be perfect, but I didn’t have any, so I used mini glad ware instead.  We let it cool completely and then put the lids on.  It smells really nice (thanks to the lavender) and is very soothing.  It makes great lip balm!

Based on what I’ve read, I understand that the herbs are effective for the following reasons:

Calendula oil keeps the skin soft, promotes healing, and minimizes scarring.

St. John’s wort is good for bruising.

Lavender is antibacterial.

Comfrey promotes rapid healing. (We made a batch without comfrey too…Herbalists have told me that you don’t want to use comfrey on deeper cuts and scrapes because it can cause the wound to heal so quickly that it traps bacteria inside).

How fun to make something so simple and useful!  I’m looking forward to trying other recipes and combinations.

Just a little disclaimer: I’m not an herbalist or any kind of doctor or medical professional, so all this is just what I understand from my own reading and isn’t intended to be medical advice of any kind.  Try any herbal remedies at your own risk after doing your own research.

Save Natural Thyroid~A Public Service Announcement

September 24, 2009

nurse-retro-1

This post veers from my usual vintage/homemaking/crafty/arty/cozy fare, but I’ve mentioned hypothyroidism before, so I’m going to throw this out there.  This post is also part of Real Food Wednesday (er…late to the party, I’m afraid) even though it’s not *technically* about real food.  It is about “real medication” or a medication from natural sources rather than a synthetic one.  Many people who are interested in Real Food are thyroid patients who are seeking to improve their health.

Here’s my original thyroid story. Lately I’ve made a fresh commitment to improve my health as much as possible, making my thyroid as healthy as I can.  Is it possible to get off of thyroid meds completely?  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  Right now it’s the bandaid that keeps me going, along with millions of other people.

There are basically 2 options for hypothyroid patients.  They can take a synthetic (chemical) thyroid medication, such as Synthroid, or a natural medication such as Armour (which comes from pig thyroid gland).  Having seen the results of both, I wouldn’t touch a synthetic thyroid medication with a 10 foot pole.  Why would I, when natural thyroid works for well and has no known side affects?

This week I learned from Dr. Mercola that the FDA has shut down some producers of natural thyroid and may be poised to shut down more.  Consequently there is a shortage of natural thyroid medications.  (My cynical self wonders who benefits from this.  Um…that would be….THE WEALTHY COMPANIES THAT MANUFACTURE SYNTHETIC THYROID MEDS! my cynical self says.)

If you take Armour or some other natural thyroid medication, here’s some info that might be helpful.

Join the “Save Natural Thyroid” Facebook group.

Here’s the “Save Natural Thyroid” coalition website.

Stop the Thyroid Madness has lots of great info.

Here’s an article from that site about options for treatment during the shortage.

If you’re concerned about making the most of the medication you do take, this article is helpful…15 Reasons Why Your TSH May be Fluctuating.

This article looks like a pretty good one on goitrogenic foods.

I’m just seeking good information on thyroid health and hope to pass a little bit on to others.  I’m learning all the time.  I just recently realized that I didn’t need to be eating a number of common foods like peanut butter and peaches.  Who knew?  Getting healthy can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s so so worth it.

Creamy Morning Energy Drink

August 26, 2009

milk poster

I’m a busy mama and alllllll about simple.  This is just a variation on a classic smoothie, but it has only 3  ingredients.  I have it every mid-morning and it keeps me going till lunch.

1/2 frozen banana, broken into chunks

1 c. whole raw milk

1 T carob powder

Blend in a blender till smooth.  It will be like thick, creamy chocolate milk, really more drinkable than a smoothie.

From the milk you get: protein, enzymes, and healthy fat

From the banana and carob powder you get: natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals (carob is high in calcium and banana is high in potassium).

It’s the perfect energy drink for a busy summer morning!

For more Read Food Wednesdays, go to Cheeseslave! (HMMMMM…her blog isn’t opening…I will have to link back later.)

The Heart of the Home

August 24, 2009

woman making waffles

No time for a thoughtful post today; I’ll let someone else do the writing.  My younger sister, best friend, homemaker extraordinairre, and health food afficiando, Leah, has written a great post on ways to keep yourself inspired in the kitchen. It’s encouraged me…Hope it encourages you too!

Mexican Chicken Breakfast Skillet

July 30, 2009

(Regular readers: Hopefully a more fun “Charity Grace”-y post tomorrow…Sorry for not posting this week.)

I have really enjoyed this for breakfast lately.  Tomorrow I will use turkey instead of chicken.

In a small amt of olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, heat about 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken (pastured organic is best of course).  Add a couple eggs (preferably pastured also) and scramble together over medium heat.  Remove from heat and top with cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream.  Add a few black beans if desired.  Eat alone or in a tortilla.

I am still on the hunt for free range eggs.  There is a person about a block from my house that sells them.  They were $3/doz which is out of my price range.  They recently dropped the price to $2/doz.  However, there was recently a murder there.  I can’t bring myself to buy eggs from them!  So near, yet so far away…Maybe I will have my own back yard chickens one day.

Check out more Real Food ideas at Cheeseslave.

A Spoonful of Sugar?

July 22, 2009

grandmother tea party

I’m sure everyone remembers the Mary Poppins song that says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”  And obviously I understand the point of the song…sweetened medicines are more palatable and putting fun in everyday activities makes them easier.

Nevertheless, it makes me think about the REAL effects of sugar on the body.  I’m not going to link to any studies or compelling articles about how bad sugar is for you.  I have a sweet tooth.  Oh my!  I could sit down and eat an entire cake with buttercream icing ALL BY MYSELF.  I have never done it, but I could!  I told Billy recently that I keep hearing how bad sugar is and I just stick my fingers in my ears and sing “Lalalala!!!  I can’t hear you!”

However, I just can’t deny how it worsens our health.  We don’t eat many desserts for a variety of reasons, but after a sugar-laden holiday my children get sick.  Without fail.  Every.  Single.  Time. They usually end up with “sinus” trouble, which is what people on the warm, wet coast love to blame everything on.  Pretty soon that drip turns into some kind of infection and they are down for the count.

I noticed it again recently.  My oldest 2 have been going to church day camp twice a week.  On those days, they usually get several sugary treats, unlike those of us at home.  So they have gotten moderately more sugar than the rest of the family over the past few months.  A couple weeks ago, everyone started having “sinus trouble” again (allergies, apparently), but guess who ended up with infections?  Yes, the 2 who have been eating more sugar!

The first time this DID NOT happen is after our church’s Halloween alternative right after I learned one of my children is allergic to corn.  Good-bye candies made with corn syrup, which is basically all of them!  We participated in the activities, I allowed her a couple non-corn treats, let the other kids have a couple pieces of candy, emphasized the games and other fun and THREW THE REST AWAY!  It is not a waste to throw poison in the trash can!  We didn’t get sick that time.

When I eat a lot of sugar I am jittery and grouchy and sleepy.  And I get sick.

So that’s my experience with sugar or the lack of it.  We’ve always eaten far fewer sweets than most Americans, but I’m becoming more and more vigilant about kicking the habit altogether.  With a few exceptions, I’ve tried to focus on yummy seasonal fruits and lightly sweetened desserts, preferably using honey or other natural sweeteners in small amounts.  I’ll gladly eat dessert if it’s offered to me at someone else’s house, but at my house we are keeping it to a minimum!

P.S.  Don’t even get me started on the doctor’s offices who send sick kids home with a lollipop!!!!!

Check out more Real Food Wednesday at Kelly’s blog!

Nourishing Food

July 18, 2009

girl cooking

My sister just started an awesome new blog that explores her forays into a traditional-foods lifestyle (think Nourishing Traditions).  Check it out!  She makes it so frugal and simple!

Old-Time Sausage Love

June 10, 2009

mother sausage

It’s once again time for Real Food Wednesday!  Go by and see what everyone else is saying about real food!

The other day I was delighted to find this gem by Edgar A. Guest, at the advent of prepackaged cereals.  He recalls the good old days when his mother’s country sausage was provided for breakfast instead of the shreds and flakes which (we’re learning) cause all kinds of health problems.  (Notice that they were eaten with cream though!)  Growing up in a family that housed an enormous fear of cholesterol, for years I adopted the idea that meat was bad for you.  When I first married I was almost a vegetarian, I ate so little meat (lots of carbs, though).  Being married to a confirmed carnivore changed my taste, and I enjoy meat now.  Not only that, I also realize that meat from healthy, pastured animals is not just tasty, but so good for us too!  One last note:  I’ve recently changed my diet to one higher in protein and significantly lower in carbohydrates.  It’s probably not enough to be considered low-carb, but I’m eating far fewer carbs than I have in the past.  To my surprise, I am rarely hungry even though I am eating significantly fewer calories.  Edgar A. Guest knew what he was talking about all those years ago!

Sausage

You may brag about your breakfast foods you eat at break of day,

Your crisp delightful shavings and your stack of last year’s hay,

Your toasted flakes of rye and corn that fairly swim in cream,

Or rave about the sawdust mash, an epicurian dream.

But none of these appeals to me, though all of them I’ve tried–

The breakfast that I liked the best was the sausage mother fried.

Old country sausage was its name; the kind, of course, you know,

The little links that seemed to be almost as white as snow,

But turned unto a ruddy brown, while sizzling in the pan;

Oh, and they were made both to appease and charm the inner man.

All these new-fangled dishes make me blush and turn aside,

WHen I think about ths sausage that for breakfast mother fried.

When they roused me from my slumbers and I left to do the chores,

It wasn’t long before I breathed a fragrance out of doors

That seemed to grip my spirit, and to thrill my body through,

For the spice of hunger tingled, and ’twas then I plainly knew

That the gnawing in my stomach would be quickly satisfied

By a plate of country sausage that my dear old mother fried.

There upon the kitchen table, with its cloth of turkey red,

Was a platter heaped with sausage and a plate of home-made bread,

And a cup of coffee waiting, not a puny demi-tasse

That can scarcely hold a mouthful, but a cup of greater class;

And I fell to eating largely, for I could not be denied–

Oh, I’m sure a king would relish the sausage mother fried.

Times have changed and so have breakfasts; now each morning when I see

A dish of shredded something or of flakes passed up to me,

All my thoughts go back to boyhood, to the days of long ago,

When the morning meal meant something more than vain and idle show.

And I hunger, Oh, I hunger in a way I cannot hide,

For a plate of steaming sausage like the kind my mother fried.

~Edgar A. Guest, in his book Just Folks, Copyright 1917

Victory Garden

April 18, 2009

woman-in-garden

We took the kids to a minor league baseball game last night with 100 people from church, and lots of my friends asked, “Where did you get all that sun?”  (Or as one diplomatically put it, “your California tan…”  Ha!  More like lobster boil!)  In spite of 2 days at the beach, my nice sunburn actually came from working in the garden yesterday!

I grew up with a garden, and although Billy and I have had a little one now and then, this is the first one we’ve really done together.  What fun.  Many of our fun family activities are all new to me, but it’s refreshing to have one that feels familiar.  I know a little about gardening.

gardener1

I’ve noticed that many people are gardening this year who have never gardened before.  The economy is a big factor, I know.  Seeds are inexpensive.  Out of one package of lettuce seed, which I experimentally threw in the flower bed, I got a large quantity of delicous, fresh lettuce, grown free of herbicides and pesticides.  Did you know that often children will eat veggies they normally wouldn’t touch if they have watched with fascination as it grows?

victory-gardedn

I’m not a political person, and I don’t feel that I’m fighting any particular war with my garden.  I do love the graphics on old Victory Garden posters though.  And I know that many people are fighting want with a backyard garden.  As for me…I am growing a garden not only because it’s an inexpensive way to supplement our food source, but because I appreciate knowing where my children’s food comes from, and that it’s grown responsibly.  Not to mention, garden veggies are so much more delicious than those from the store.