Reports (like this one from the EPA) are that the air inside our homes is likely more toxic than that outside; that’s pretty serious considering what attention is given to city smog reports. Also, it’s serious because this is the air we breathe at least 1/3 of our lives. Since I’m a stay at home mom, for me that’s more like 90-95% of my time.
What causes indoor air pollution?
Any kind of toxic chemical that is used in your home (think pest poisons, construction sealants, formaldyhyde off-gassing from your cabinetry, cleansers, detergents, chlorine from hot showers, paint and craft supply fumes, fumes from attached garages, fumes from gas burning appliances, etc.)
Molds, mildews (look around window, in showers, under sinks, in basement)
Dust (which mites live off of in carpets and bedding)
Yuck! And I live here? Yes, so what can I do?
Obviously, cleaning up our act in regards to chemicals, installing a CO2 detector, and cleaning up problematic mold spots and dust collectors are good starts. (Leave your shoes at the door and wet-mop the floors weekly.) And, living house plants actually clean the air around them as they “breathe.” But to quickly clean up the air in your home:
Open the windows. (Wait, it can’t be that simple?)
Yes, if we would just open the windows for an airing for a few minutes each morning, that would change our indoor environment dramatically. I don’t do this on the coldest days as I’m wary of losing the heat, but the rest of the time you will notice that a cool breeze blowing out the stale air for 10 minutes or so doesn’t make the things in the house cold, and the temperature is able to rebound quickly.
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet the standard American breakfast of cereal, or a bagel and sugar-yogurt, or nothing(!) leaves much to be desired. Mainly protein and good fats.
Since my husband and I discovered a couple years ago that we both have a tendency towards hypoglycemia, we’ve revamped breakfast with more protein and are feeling the benefits of more stabilized blood sugar through the morning.
Here are a few menu suggestions:
Good Morning Smoothie
This is my husband’s daily standard: it’s fast, easy, totally portable in an insulated cup, and tastes delicious. (Who wouldn’t like waking up to a milk shake? OK, it’s not a milk shake, and doesn’t even have sugar in it, but it is that awesome.) Get my recipe here.
Oatmeal with a Sausage Link
This is a standard in our house for the kids, and I often join them. We buy organic rolled oats in a 20 pound bag from Azure Standard, and it’s only pennies a day for this breakfast mainstay.
To reduce the anti-nutrient phytic acid, most grains should ideally be soaked or sprouted before use. (Read this article Be Kind to Your Grains, and Your Grains Will Be Kind to You.) I like to soak my rolled oats covered by an inch of filtered water overnight in the pot I will cook them in; this also helps them cook up a little faster in the morning. I add Course Sea Salt (the grey, moist kind) from Trader Joe’s and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, and cook them on medium heat, stirring until all the water is absorbed. We then top with raw honey, and when I’m feeling like a really nice mommy, pecans and dried cranberries, or raisins, and/or butter, and/or freshly ground flax seed.
When we add sausage as a protein to this meal, I like to look for a natural chicken sausage, like the delicious Isernios one that Trader Joes carries. Since pigs are scavenger animals, they tend to have much greater amounts of toxic buildup in their meat than chicken and beef. We aren’t a pork free home (my German-heritage husband holds the line there!), but we do try to limit our intake.
Soft Boiled Eggs, Sausage, Toast
Like many Americans, I was very familiar with the greasy “bacon and eggs” breakfast, but had never tried a Soft Boiled Egg until I met my future parents-in-law, who are German. Not being a fan of straight from the shell hard-boiled eggs, I was delighted to find that I really liked this new version . . . or rather, a very old version, still enjoyed daily in many areas of Europe. Read my recipe for Soft-Boiled Eggs here. The gentle cooking of the egg yolk preserves the Omega3 and Omega6 essential fatty acids (good fat), which can be destroyed by heat.
Add a couple of links of chicken sausage, and sprouted-grain toast, and you’ve turned the greasy American breakfast into a good fat/protein/complex carb powerhouse meal! (Hint: dip the crusts of toast into the egg yolk…yummy.)
This waffle recipe has fast become a favorite at our house. I love it because it is a healthy soaked whole grain, gluten free*, full of protein start to the day. My husband and children love it because you would never know that it is healthy, gluten free, or full of protein; it just tastes light and delicious.
A traditional preparation of breakfast eggs, still enjoyed daily in many parts of Europe, these eggs have the benefit of gentle cooking which does not destroy the delicate Omega3 fatty acids present in eggs. (Look for cage-free eggs, or better yet buy directly from a farm, to insure that your eggs come from healthy hens eating a variety of food and bugs.)
small-medium sized saucepan
large boutoniere pin, hat pin, or other poking device
1. Fill saucepan with several inches water; enough to cover the eggs you will be cooking. Set on stove on high heat.
2. Using the large pin, poke one or two holes in the larger end of the egg; this is where the air sack is, and as the egg is boiled the pressure will be released through the hole, avoiding shell cracking.
3. When water is boiling, lower eggs into water with slotted spoon.
4. Set timer for 7 minutes. Allow water to return to boil.
5. At the end of 7 minutes, turn off heat, remove pan to sink. Turn on coldest water, and remove eggs from hot water with the slotted spoon. Hold each egg under the cold water for about 10 seconds. This is called “shocking the eggs”, and it serves to end the cooking of the egg as well as cause the white to release from the insides of the shell for easier spooning when you eat it.
6. If you have egg cups, place one egg in each. Etiquette for eating them (at least in our family) is to whack of the top 1/4 of the egg with a butter knife, and use a tiny spoon to scoop out the egg in the cap, and then in the shell itself. Fine salt and pepper are good additions. (Ever wonder what those tiny little salt and pepper shakers were for?)
7. The first few times you make these eggs, you will have to discern if 7 minutes is the right amount of time for the eggs to cook properly. Your altitude, size of eggs, and strength of stove all add slight variables to cooking time. The perfectly done soft-boiled egg will have a white that is completely cooked with no wet areas. The yolk will be wet, yet slightly thickened, as would the yolk of a egg fried over medium. If parts of the yolk have turned dry and grimy like a hard-boiled egg, it’s a little overdone. Adjust cooking time be 30 second increments in either direction until you find the perfect recipe for your home.
Note: as soft boiled eggs by definition have a wet yolk, there is likely the same potential for salmonella poisoning as you would have with a over-medium fried egg.
1 tablespoon flax seed oil, not necessary, but a great way to get some “good fat” (essential fatty acids, aka Omega 3s)
15-20 grams Protein Powder (we use True Whey, see note below)
Handful of frozen strawberries (or other frozen fruit)
Throw first 4 ingredients in blender; blend until smooth. Add frozen fruit; blend until fruit is finely chopped into smoothie.
Essentially it is a different way of preparing cultured dairy similar to yogurt. Lots of good healthy stuff in it. If you can’t find kefir, just go with plain yogurt – that works too.
We use True Whey powder by Source Naturals. It is a cow whey protein from grass fed cow milk which has not been heated or isolated; the immunoglobulins are intact and the structure of the protein and essential fatty acids haven’t been altered or damaged. In plain speak that means it’s food the way it comes out of the cow, is a boost to our immune system, and able to be absorbed, rather than over-processed and of questionable health value.
I am aware of two other companies which make similar products with low heat: Designs for Health makes Whey Cool, and Garden of Life makes Goatein (from goat milk, for those with difficulty digesting bovine protein).
Often people with lactose intolerance do well with whey protein, but if you have an actual allergy to dairy products, try hemp protein, such as Vanilla Spice Hemp Protein by Living Harvest. It is one the the few complete proteins from vegetables.
Finally, if you go “protein shopping” you will find many brands and varieties of soy protein available. Rather than a health food, soy is a cover crop that needs to “go somewhere” and is therefore marketed heavily as a health food. Get the real scoop in these articles on westonaprice.org: Myths & Truths About Soy , and Soy: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite “Health” Food a longer article discussing many of the health risks of soy, including hormone disruption at all stages of life. Walk away from soy; there are much better options.
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