I feel like my kitchen has become something between a test kitchen and a science lab.
Not that what I’m doing hasn’t been done by thousands, likely millions, of people over centuries; it’s just never been done by me, in my kitchen, for consumption by my loved ones.
I’m culturing raw milk. Yes, I now have a weekly source for raw cow milk . . . unpasteurized means it hasn’t had the protein damaged by the high heat (researchers now believe that the damaged milk cells left in pasteurized milk are a top reason for allergies to it) plus all the immune boosting enzymes are left alive and intact to boost our immune systems. AND, there is quite a quantity of probiotics in the milk, which has been proven by the easy time I’ve had culturing it.
I have made yogurt and kefir in the past with pasteurized milk, but it was a bit of an exact science with heating the milk properly, adding just the right amount of starter culture, blending it in, trying(!) to keep it at the right temperature for 12 hours or so (I don’t have a yogurt maker). My results were less than satisfying: the flavor was there, but the texture was always too liquid, and if I left it any longer then I had cheese at the bottom and whey on top.
Well, with raw milk from a pasture fed cow (read: healthy cow with healthy stomach flora = healthy milk with lots of probiotics) yogurt making is as simple as setting the fresh milk on the counter. No joke.
And it worked: the first week I cultured 2 qts of raw milk by placing it, covered, on the counter for 48 hours. However, I wanted to know what would happen if I introduced some of the cultures I had previously used for culturing. So the second week I did 3.5 qts with 4 different cultures.
In the first culture (left), I added a heaping Tablespoon of plain European Style yogurt (from Trader Joes). I love this yogurt as a protein snack, and would love to be able to make it from raw milk.
In the second culture, I added nothing, allowing the natural probiotics to be the only culture.
In the third culture, I added kefir grains I have on hand. These are squishy tapioca-like curds which are actually both yeast and bacteria that can be reused again and again to make kefir. At right is a picture of about half of the grains after I removed them from the finished kefir and rinsed them in filtered water.
In the fourth culture (which was a pint rather than a quart) I added the commercially available Yogourmet yogurt culture. This culture is a powder, sold in boxes with individual packets. I had to use half a packet, as a whole is meant for 1 quart.
Of course each culture retained the original natural probiotics which actively culture the milk along with the added culture. I did not heat the milk or warm it at all: it came directly from being refrigerated for 12 hours after coming from the cow. I also did not skim the milk, so the cream rose to the top and was cultured with the milk. You can see the velvety texture of the top cream in the photo at right.
And here are the results (drumroll, please!):
European: more distinct yogurt flavor than the others, texture resembles starter (creamier, and less slippery solid than others) but still some of the slippery curd texture; will try 2 Tbs. starter next week.
Natural Culture: solid slippery curd, with whey separating distinctly (see photo with yellow whey separated), has a slight fermentation “sparkle” on the tongue
Kefir: sourest in flavor, but with a true kefir texture—smooth and thick
Yogourmet: yeasty, fermented flavor with sparkle, yet not too sour with hints of fennel (Hints of fennel? I know . . . this is getting as ridiculous as wine reviews . . . but I tasted them all again, and sure enough, there were hints of fennel.)
All of these cultures were a success! Now I have plenty of cultured milk products for smoothies and soaking grains all week long. I decided to devote the top shelf of my refrigerator to my raw dairy; gallon of goat milk on the left with its pouring pitcher in front, gallon of cow milk on the right with its pouring pitcher in front, cultured cow milk in quart jars as they fit.
To recap, here is my procedure:
Pour raw milk into freshly clean quart jars (straight from the dishwasher is best, don’t use a dish-towel to dry, as this could introduce a negative bacteria)
Add new culture to milk, if desired. Try 2 Tbs. of a plain live active yogurt, 3-6 kefir grains, or commercial powder to instructions.
Set open jars, covered completely with a clean dish-towel, on counter in an out-of-the-way area, protected from drafts is best. They don’t need to be in the kitchen, but should not be in an area where they could absorb fumes, such as a laundry room (detergent fumes) or garage (gasoline, etc.).
Wait 48 hours. You can check the culture and stir it during this time: this may be beneficial for the kefir to move the grains around.
When yogurt is finished, cap with the jar lids and return to refrigerator. For kefir, straining will be necessary to remove the grains. This can be done with a funnel fitted with a filter, or with a sieve held over an open funnel. Rinse the grains in filtered water and store in a small jar of filtered water in the refrigerator.
You may or may not have heard all the fuss about fermented foods. And you may or may not have starting fermenting at your house. But either way, it’s something which you may want to follow.
Why? Because unlike many of the health fads, fermenting is…well, not a fad. It’s been around from the beginning of time, not just to break down waste into compost, but to break down FOOD into more absorbable, nutritious, and tasty eats. In every culture, you have mums intentionally fermenting foods and feeding it to young and old alike. Some may not call it fermenting, or may not know a thing about lactic acid or good bacteria, but they are doing it none-the-less: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, salami, pickles, kombucha, yogurt, cheese, wine, tamari, miso, tempeh, natto, sourdough.
So you probably HAVE heard of probiotics. Good bacteria, normally found in the gut of every living mammal, which keep the immune system healthy but not over-reacting, stabilize mood, keep us regular, create vitamins like folate and B12, speak to the brain in many chemical ways to keep us thinking clearly, and detoxify a lot of nasty stuff, including some of the pesticides and chemicals and heavy metals we eat (oops). This is not an exhaustive list. There’s a TON of research done on these good little microbes. Like, upwards of 29,000 studies come up on PubMed just by searching “lactobacillus.”
We know that:
We have more bacteria in our guts than cells in our bodies (10 to 1, in fact).
But, we continue to get doses of the healthy bacteria at each feeding of breastmilk (yay for Mom again, and yay for the back-up plan!).
You can buy probiotics in many different combinations of strains, quantities, and delivery methods. Which I have done regularly for over a decade, and I’m grateful for the availability of these specific strains (because sometimes, it’s good to troubleshoot with specifics). But, I’ve found the most help over the years by the foods that are packed with good bacteria, so I’m cranking up my ferments. Raw milk kefir is an every-week staple here, but this week I’m excited to try a watermelon juice, a Daikon radish ferment, and a Jun variety of kombucha.
I’m following a fermenting expert I’m lucky enough to know as a friend: Jane Casey of Jane Casey’s Kitchen. She’s amazing, fun, and has an amazing true story of twin sons who were profoundly autistic, but now aren’t. At all. Because of ferments.
I’m learning a ton (like: using ingestable essential oils to promote fermentation…wha??). Best tip of the week: use folded fresh grape leaves to keep the veggies all submerged (this is like the main rule of fermenting veggies: keep them under the brine so they don’t mold). I will keep you posted, because we have a special project coming for these classes, live and local.
Do you ferment? What’s on your counter now?
And for those who want to geek out with me, here are a few interesting studies on the benefits of probiotics which I stumbled across on PubMed. Not that the other 29,000 aren’t interesting too…
This study links good gut bacteria (L. Reuteri in this case), with immune regulation and folate metabolism. So all you MTHFR people (I’m one too) can go crazy about that. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27353144
This study notes the protective effect of friendly bacteria against bladder infections in pre-and-post-menopausal women (different strains are more effective for pre- or post- menopausal). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27092529
Probiotics in critically ill children: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27081478
This study showed that stressed mice had changes to their gut microflora, specifically reduced L. Reuteri. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25028050
I like to think of my toxic load as a bathtub: water (toxins in this analogy) are flowing in at the tap, and flowing out at the drain. If the drain is plugged, the bathtub gets fuller. If the tap is turned up very high, the bathtub may be getting fuller even if the drain is working. In terms of the toxins stored in our “toxic bathtub” the goal would be to turn down the faucet as low as possible, and to make sure the drain is wide open and draining faster than the water coming in. If this is accomplished, eventually the bathtub will empty and only the daily toxins coming in will flow right on through.
Toxins Coming In
We live in a toxic world, and it’s pretty hard to completely escape modern day toxins. Even if we could, our own metabolic processes in our bodies create toxins to be expelled daily. If we weren’t detoxing all. the. time. we would die. Like, within a day.
Nonetheless, it seems prudent to avoid the toxins of:
Heavy metals which may accumulate in tissues/bones
Off-gassing of chemicals from household products
Chemicals and metals in our water supply
Die-off toxins from internal bacteria/fungus/viruses
Stress from emotional baggage
Much of this blog has been dedicated to these topics.
Organ Systems and Cells
The toxins in our bodies are varied, and are stored in differing areas of our bodies. For example, an imbalance of bacteria in gut flora may be creating a significant toxic load in my colon, even without symptoms I connect to that organ of my body. I may have a high level of lead, stored in my bones. I may have petrochemical chemicals stored in my skin, along with parabens, pthalates (fragrance) and sunscreens (which can all act as hormone mimickers) from years of lotion and cosmetics use. I may have formaldehyde stored in my cells, fungal/yeast toxins and mercury in my brain. My fat cells may have antibiotic residues, chemical cleaners, medications, synthetic vitamins, pesticides, rancid/hydrogenated oils, and styrofoam. (Some researchers feel that cellulite may have a larger portion of these kinds of toxins, which the body has put in “cold storage” to protect itself.) Although not the kind of chemical toxins that are stored in the body, electromagnetic fields are toxic to our bodies while we are present in them, and may inhibit our detox pathways for hours after exposure. I recommend the book Zapped by Gittleman for limiting exposure to EMFs.
The organs and glands of the body may all be holding any of the toxins in the list above; often certain toxins have an affinity for specific organ systems.
There are 5 mains paths of detoxification: Colon, kidneys, liver (and thus through colon), skin, and lungs.
Where do we start?
I know, it can be overwhelming. First, congratulations that you’ve made it this far, even without much planned detoxing support! Next, make a plan.
[Remember: I’m not a licensed health care provider, and I can’t diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Nothing you read on my blog is a substitute for advice from your doctor.]
1. Turn down the faucet. Start to remove as many toxic sources as possible. No, you can’t do it all this week, but START. Food always seems to be an obvious one to most people, but don’t forget that everything that touches your skin gets absorbed, without the benefit of stomach acid and your liver as a filter. So think laundry detergent, any lotions or creams put on skin, deodorant. Your lungs absorb so much of what you breathe in; so open your windows each night to air out your house. See, you’ve already made huge progress!
I recommend the book Homes that Heal as a good resource for reducing toxins in your immediate environment.
2. Flush. Drink all your water every day. Even if you can’t buy a really good water purifier this month, get a Brita which takes out some of the bad stuff. Everyone (unless your Dr. has you restricted) should be drinking half their body weight in ounces, every day (that means, if you weigh 150lbs, you are drinking 75oz water). Herbal tea counts as water, but add 8oz water for 8oz coffee or black tea consumed. Juice, milk, etc. don’t count for anything. Don’t drink soda. Just don’t.
3. Begin to cleanse the detox pathways, colon, kidneys, liver, skin, lungs, in roughly that order. I have read a lot of detox books/methods over the years, and done several types of cleanses. I recommend the book Inner Transformations by Deardueff as one book with several suggestions on cleansing each of these pathways, and even further into non-pathway systems. The author recommends some tried and true methods like Master Cleanse, veggie juicing, Candida diet, coffee enemas, Epsom Salt baths, skin brushing, as well as specific products to try.
4. Food. Yes, this is important. Not just to get clean sources (organic, grass-fed, etc.), but to have a broad spectrum of foods in fruit, veggie, proteins, and fats categories (dairy and grains not required for cleansing, and often inhibit cleansing). My experience has been that a Paleo type diet is a great jump start for food cleansing, but I recognize that Vegan diets are good cleanses too (think veggie juicing!). However, I don’t think that long term the Vegan approach supplies enough quality proteins/amino acids for some crucial metabolic detox processes. The book It Starts With Food is a good read if you feel helpless to change your diet.
Some foods that are super cleansers are fermented foods (homemade sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, etc.), dark leafy greens, the whole cabbage/broccoli family, the artichoke family, citrus, berries, and fresh fats/oils like coconut, cod liver oil, flaxseed, and avocado. But really, the fermented ones top the list.
5. Exercise/Sweat. I don’t love to exercise, but I feel more energetic and happier when I do. I use the T-Tapp 15 minute workout because it is very lymphatic; focuses on opening up the lymph channels and pumping lymph fluid (clear fluid in our bodies that does not have a pump like the heart pumps the blood). Any “pressing” type movement such as walking, running, or trampoline moves lymph, and this is very important for daily detox. In addition, when we sweat, we release toxins through the skin; terry-towel off that sweat if you’re not showering immediately.
6. Essential Oils. In the past year I have begun to study therapeutic vs. fragrance use of essential oils, and have begun to introduce them into our family as therapies. We have seen a few mild detox reactions, but I have heard and seen more dramatic reactions from others beginning EO therapy. Many EOs do have the ability to cleanse cells of petrochemicals and even do some chelation of heavy metals. Because EOs are absorbed directly into the cells, and can be within every cell in the body (even brain cells) in about 20 minutes, they carry huge potential for detoxification. Lemon juice squeezed in water has long been a detox standby, but a drop of lemon essential oil is far more potent and powerful than the juice; best to start very slowly before ramping up to one drop per glass of water (glass only, no plastic!).
Because of their ability to penetrate every cell in the body, it is very important to have absolutely pure essential oils, from a distillery which preserves every naturally occurring (balancing) chemical constituent. At this time I only recommend Young Living brand EOs (see my Essential Oils tab above).
Essential oils can also assist with emotional detox by opening up hormone pathways, and stimulating the lymbic area of the brain which stores memories and emotions (and is the area which receives signals from scents). I believe that Jesus is the true answer to the needs of our souls/emotions, and that Scripture which reveals Him is cleansing to our minds. I have found that repeating Scriptures to myself which relate to my emotional needs, within a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, have helped me to heal past hurts, depression, and unload emotional baggage.
Detoxing is good, but too much, too fast can create some uncomfortable detox side effects: rash, itching, headache, sinus drainage, feeling hot, feeling grumpy, restlessness, loose bowel, nausea, tiredness. It’s likely that the longer a person has been pursuing a detox lifestyle (has a less-full bathtub) the less they will experience these reactions. When these symptoms do strike, here are some things I have done to ease them:
Rest/sleep (it takes a lot of internal work to detox!)
Epsom salt baths (pull toxins out through the skin so it doesn’t all have to flow through liver/colon/kidneys)
Coffee enemas (no more than once a week, and only done in a safe way with electrolytes in the enema)
Cease heavy exercise; stretch instead
Go back over the list of toxins to find ways to “turn the faucet down” more
Consider backing off the detox of the moment, then ramp it up again more slowly.
Although we should discuss diet/exercise/detox plans with our doctor anyway, there are some situations which require a doctor’s help for detox. These would include chelation for heavy metal poisoning, heavy industrial chemical poisoning, and advanced cardiovascular disease chelation. A doctor knowledgeable in environmental medicine would be worth enlisting in these cases; it’s likely that he/she will be recommending at least some of the ideas above, so the more educated a person is about home therapies for detox, the faster their progress will be.
Additionally, some people have genetically faulty metabolic processes for detoxification; MTHFR gene defect, inability to methylate B vitamins, insufficient amino acid production, anemia of many types, thyroid and other hormone insufficiency, etc. A knowledgeable integrative doctor will be able to test for these types of disorders and recommend simple solutions to underlying causes. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the right form of a B vitamin.
Detox for Life
I’m not going to sugar coat this: if you are new to detoxing, it will likely be a year of intentional detoxing before you feel really clean, and then an ebb and flow of maintenance detoxing thereafter. But, the benefit of having more energy and joy, and feeling lighter (if not actually BEING lighter) will make it worth it. You may never know the health crises you’ve dodged by keeping your toxic bathtub empty.
I’ve contracted Influenza only a few times in my life. It’s never fun. But the sickest I’ve ever been (I think?) was last month; fighting Influenza A while 27 weeks pregnant.
My husband and children were the first ones to show symptoms, with fever, headache, and extreme fatigue. After the first day, a cough and snotty nose were the residual symptoms, but fever was gone in 12-24 hours. As soon as the first child was sick, I rubbed everyone’s feet with essential oils, put some on their chests and backs as well, fed everyone vitamin C and a high loading dose of D and A drops.
And then the next day, I became sick. Fever of 102 (which is pretty high for me). Tachycardia (racing heart; mine was 108-125 bpm), which is not uncommon with fever. Fatigue which kept me in bed from the time I woke up. Beginnings of a cough, and congested sinuses. As the cough progressed, the muscles around my ribs suffered severe soreness. I just hurt everywhere.
Midwife Care/Naturopathic Care
One of the great things about having a midwife is that my calls are returned 24/7 by the caregiver. My midwife, Catherine Schaefer, is a Naturopathic Doctor, in addition to being a Certified Nurse Midwife, so I felt very confident in her ability to advise me in the best treatments during my illness.
In addition to speaking with my midwife twice, I had previously scheduled appointments at my MD/ND’s clinic for iron IVs to treat anemia; these were on days 3 and 9. The nurse checked my vitals on day 3 and the Dr. did an exam on day 9 (see below). If you are ill in pregnancy, it is important for your and your baby’s health to contact your health care provider(s).
I normally allow fevers to take their course, as they serve the purpose of killing the pathogens causing the illness. But when I spoke to my midwife, Catherine, she advised that I really should not allow my fever to exceed 102 for the sake of the baby, and that it would still be effective against the virus below 102. She also advised that I should stay in bed because she was seeing pneumonia develop even after a week of illness if the patient did not reserve all their energy for healing. Since I’ve had pneumonia twice I’m already at higher risk for developing it, so I was motivated to take all measures I could to avoid it. We also discussed several natural medicinal therapies. In addition to several of the therapies which I did follow, she offered homeopathic therapy for Influenza, but homeopathics and essential oils cancel each other, so I felt like it was best to stick with what I had already begun.
OK, so if I gave this to you in a blow by blow, it would be a long story of misery, so I’ll summarize. I was sicker for longer, much longer, than anyone else in my family. I assume this is because I am pregnant. My fever and tachycardia lasted for 5 days/nights without breaking, then returned for a few hours on days 6 and 7. I am new to Essential Oils, but I was very impressed with the use of Peppermint for fever (see below).
The exhaustion was so profound, I stayed in bed from days 1-9, except to go to the bathroom. Days 10-12 I spent mostly in bed, with a few trips to other parts of the house for food and other needs. Days 13- 18 I had to take a long nap or two. During my days in bed, my husband and children rose to the occasion and cared for me, prayed for me, brought me water, food, and whatever else I needed (mostly I slept). Several dear friends brought chicken soup and juice-jello for me and other meals for my family, prayed for me, and watched my children during several days when my husband needed to work. Thank you dear friends! What would we do without community? I’m so grateful.
My cough developed quickly during the fever so that on the third night, although the mucous in my lungs was loose enough, there was so much of it I felt that I couldn’t get oxygen from my breaths. This was a scary thing to realize at midnight. Again, Peppermint saved the day…I began to apply it each hour (when I woke gasping for air) and it allowed me to breathe. I am certain it kept me out of the ER that night.
My Pregnancy Influenza Protocol
[I am not a health care professional nor licensed to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please consult with your healthcare provided before beginning any health protocol, especially during pregnancy.]
As I said, I’m new to essential oils, having only begun using them therapeutically (vs. as aromatics or in cleaners) in October. I am currently using Young Living oils since they are the only company which seemed to have a completely safe track record and the most data on use in pregnancy.
“Thieves” oil blend (immune system/antibacterial/antiviral). I used this liberally on my children, and by the time I was ill, realized I was running out. I was able to use it at least once on my feet (2-3 drops) and twice or so as a drop in my cheek. I felt it truly did boost my immune response, and wished I wasn’t running out! I made an oils order, but with the weekend and 3 days of shipping, it didn’t arrive until after my fever/the worst was passed. I did begin taking it a couple times in my cheek each day after receiving my new bottle, through the remainder of my convalescence.
“Oregano” oil (antibacterial/antiviral). I used this liberally (3-4 drops) on my feet, perhaps 4x day, against the virus and to ward off bacterial pneumonia.
“Peppermint” oil (fevers/airways/sinus). I used this liberally on my feet, over Oregano, to reduce fever and clear my airways. It consistently reduced my fever by 2 degrees; 102 to 100, or 101 to 99. For this use, I applied it about every 3 hours. My mother (sick with Influenza a few weeks before) reported that Tylanol (Acetaminophen) did not reduce her fever (103 and higher) at all, but that Peppermint oil on her feet reduced it by 2 degrees, as it did for me. Additionally, I used peppermint liberally on my feet about every 1-2 hours on the night when I had difficulty in breathing/lungs. I took it as a drop in the mouth to help ease/drain my congested sinuses.
“Lemon” oil (loosens and thins mucous). To avoid pneumonia, it was important for my cough to be as effective as possible. At one point I felt that the phlegm was too thick to cough out of my lungs, so I began to put a drop or two of lemon oil in my water. It was very helpful in thinning the mucous. I began to run low on the lemon, so alternated between the oil and drinking the juice of a whole lemon or lime plus a TB or so of maple syrup in a 12oz glass of water. At this point, it was difficult for me to eat much of any food, and this drink is a good nourishing drink.
“PanAway” oil blend. I used this liberally on my rib area to relieve the muscle pain associated with coughing and with strain from laying on my sides for so long (pregnant belly pull!).
“Frankincense” oil (antibacterial) and “Purification” oil blend (antibacterial). When most congested in my lungs, I used 3-4 drops of Frankincense over my lung area, then covered with Purification. And I made myself cough whenever the urge arose, regardless of the pain to my ribs and head which was suffering a splitting headache. Like a fever, a good cough is your friend during illness.
“Joy” oil blend (cardiac/calming). I used this (2 drops) with Frankincense over my heart to help end the tachycardia (see below).
“Eucalyptus” oil (sinus). This oil was one I had on hand from years ago when I had a sinus infection. It was not from Young Living so I did not want to take in internally/topically, and after several years it has likely lost it’s potency, but I diffused it in my room for whatever benefit it may have given my congested sinuses.
Breaking the Fever
After 5 days/nights of fever and tachycardia I was exhausted. I just felt like I needed to break the fever and let my heart calm down. Those that are not pregnant can do the “cold sock therapy” or the “wet sheet therapy” but I did not feel that these kinds of shock would be good for me/baby. After consulting with my midwife who advised that Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safer for the fetus than Ibuprofen (Advil), I took a single 500mg Acetaminophen and took a warm Epsom Salt bath with clove oil (again, my clove is several years old and not therapeutic grade, but I used it for whatever residual help it may have given). Epsom salt baths are helpful in drawing toxins out of the body, relaxing the muscles, and providing the body with some magnesium which is an immune stimulant and helps clear lungs, among other things.
After the bath, and an hour after taking the Acetaminophen, the fever had only lowered a slight amount, and the tachycardia was still present. I reapplied the peppermint oil on my feet, and used a few drops of Joy and Frankincense on my heart. Finally, the fever broke and my heart rate slowed to about 70bpm. I woke in the middle of the night and felt that my heart rate was beginning to speed up…this is odd, but by just reaching out and touching my sleeping husband with my hand, it calmed down again.
The following two afternoons I again had a fever, this time low grade (99). I used the peppermint again, and it did not seem to reduce it immediately, but the fever only lasted about 2 hours.
I stayed in bed to use all energy for fighting the virus and symptoms. I feel this was vital.
I drank water or herbal tea. My goal was the same 75oz I had been drinking, but it became really hard for me to drink more than 6oz at a time, and I know I probably didn’t drink my goal on any given day. A few times I took a TB of liquid chlorophyll in my water.
As I stated, several dear friends brought homemade chicken soup (the kind made with the whole carcass so it is very nourishing) to our home, and one made juice-jello. For the first 5 days or so my husband brought the soup to me pureed in a mug so I could drink it, which takes less effort than spooning; after that time he brought it in a bowl. The juice-jello is made by adding pure gelatin to juice, honey, and in this case pureed strawberries. It makes for a protein rich snack which goes down easily. There were several times during my fever where I felt like my body/baby were truly hungry, although I couldn’t imagine eating anything more than broth and jello. It was really important for me to continue to supply protein and calories to my growing baby. My breakfast meals were either the jello or kefir/flax oil/banana/strawberry smoothies. Still, I lost 7lbs the first week.
I coughed, as often and as effectively as I could.
I took a total of 3 Epsom Salt baths, starting on the day after I began waking at night drenched in sweat, which is a sign the body is trying to clear all the toxins created by the virus dying off. Upon waking in sweat, I stripped off the wet clothes, scrubbed my skin vigorously with a dry terrycloth towel (which helps to remove toxins), dressed, and went back to sleep.
I blew my nose gently and snorted and spit often into tissue while in bed. And I used a Netti Pot with sea salt flush to clear my nose once during a shower. I also used a whole dropper full of my eucalyptus oil in the shower (floor) as a steam inhalation (only had strength for 1 shower during those two weeks). I used the Xlear nasal spray often to loosen nasal mucous and moisten the irritated/dry sensation in my sinuses.
Vitamin A (Palmitate)
Vitamin A is contraindicated in pregnancy. The original study upon which this recommendation was based was quite flawed, asking women to remember after pregnancy what their supplemental and dietary intake had been. Since that time, some studies have established birth defects associated with excess intake during the first trimester.
However, vitamin A seems to be the most effective agent for avoiding the cytokine storm reaction in certain Influenzas; it has immune modulating properties, and is quite specific to mucous membranes (lung tissue cells).
[Beta Carotene is often confused with vitamin A; most people convert beta carotene into vitamin A, but some do so poorly, in which case eating animal foods where it has already been converted, like eggs, butter, and liver, is a good idea nutritionally. I know I’m one of those people who poorly convert (one symptom of poor conversion is keratosis pilaris; bumps on the back of the arms). Beta Carotene is considered safe in pregnancy at moderate levels in prenatals, and of course can be obtained through eating yellow, orange, and green fruits and vegetables. But for use during illness, you need a higher dosage than is available in food. ]
I weighed these risks and benefits with my midwife, and chose to take a high dosage of vitamin A for 3 days, then discontinue. I took 50,000IU drops (Biotics Research) in one dose during each of those 3 days. I was 27 weeks pregnant, well beyond the first trimester/fragile genetic reproduction time.
Vitamin D is recommended in pregnancy, and I had been taking 10,000IU in drops (Biotics Research) daily. When ill, I increase the dosage to 25,000 IU of vitamin D3 for 3 days, then dropped back to 10,000 IU daily.
In my first phone conversation to my midwife, she recommended I take NAC, which she said has some evidence of protective effect for a fetus during maternal virus/fever. I took 500mg NAC immediately following the phone call. I forgot to take this after the initial dosage, but probably should have taken it each day I had fever.
Prenatal/Cal/Mag/Zinc/B12/Folic Acid/Vitamin C
I was pretty out of it, so although I planned to continue to take my prenatal and other daily supplements while sick, I’m not sure I got them in each day. It was also an issue of remembering to ask someone to bring them upstairs to me . . . I know I did take my prescription thyroid and adrenal insufficiency medications . . . any other supplements were just for good measure. I know I drank several glasses of water with Vit. C/Magnesium powder. It was pretty random.
Modified Myer’s Cocktail
On day 9 I kept a previously scheduled appointment for an iron IV at the office of my MD/ND, Daniel Newman. I was fortunate that I was there during his lunch break and he was able to listen to my lungs. He noted I had not developed pneumonia, but because of my wheezing and continued weakness, he recommended I take a high potency vitamin/mineral IV immediately following the iron infusion, which I did. I don’t know exactly what he prescribed for it, but it did include magnesium, vit. C, and B12.
Elderberry/Royal Jelly Syrup
When I became ill, my mother quickly ordered a fantastic Elderberry Syrup to be shipped to me. It came around the same time as the Essential Oils which I had run out ; after the fever and the worst was passed. Nonetheless, I began to take 2tsp. 2 or 3 times per day, and felt that it helped me to recover. It’s delicious, so you won’t have trouble if you need to give it to a child!
Ever let your yogurt go a little too long, or get a little too warm? I do.
Although its disappointing to have separated whey and “cottage cheese” in place of the creamy yogurt I was expecting, the curds and whey don’t have to go to waste.
Today I’m pouring about 2 cups of whey over 2 cups of oats for use in High Protein Waffles tomorrow morning. The curds can be used as part or all of the cottage cheese in the recipe.
Other uses for over cultured yogurt or kefir:
• in a smoothie, if not over-sour
• whey can be used in small amounts in culturing vegetables such as sauerkraut (I don’t do this, preferring only salt for sauerkraut, as I can taste a slight cow or goat flavor in the product when using whey.)
• any baked recipe which calls for buttermilk, such as biscuits or pancakes. In this case, the more sour the better! It may be necessary to use all the curds and only part of the whey so the batter is not too watery, and to blend thoroughly. This presents a great opportunity to soak the grain or flour in the recipe for 12 hours or longer.
• whey can be sipped straight, as a tonic
• creamy curds can be strained and mixed with herbs for a soft cheese spread for crackers or crisp green apple
• in case of an abundance of whey, I feed it to our (lucky) cats. 🙂
What creative uses have you found for over-cultured dairy?
I’m the one with Lucky baby that had such a hard time with formula [after a forced wean from breastmilk]. So he’s eating pretty much everything under the sun, except I don’t do any dairy. I tried some goats milk on him and he didn’t really seem to like it so just havent again. I’m confused on how to eat myself let alone make sure I’m giving him what his body needs at 13 months. Some sites say low protein high healthy fats, some say paleo for babies is best, etc. So I really like how healthy you and your family are, love following your blog and wondering if you could tell my what type of foods you fed your babies? I don’t know if they should be having coconut pancakes, rice flour, barely those type of grains. It seems like since I don’t know I feed him a lot of fruit and veggies.
My Answer: (I am not a licensed health care professional, and this is not health advice. Just my opinion.)
Hi friend! It can be confusing with so many opinions out there on diet and nutrition. I think coconut pancakes and fruits and veggies sound great, although you want to make sure he gets enough of the animal proteins/fats too since they are super-foods! He may disdain goats milk, but if you offered him raw cheese he may just love it!
There’s a lot to say on this subject; here are some principles I’ve used as guides for feeding my babies 10 months and up.
What’s good for you, is good for baby.
If you are pursuing a whole food, nutrient dense diet, then the foods which you haul in from the farmer, cook up in your crockpot, ferment on your counters, or bake in your oven are going to be excellent, nutrient dense choices for your child.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that baby food is something to be bought in small containers, have no resemblance to adult food, and be fed to a child at a different time of day than adults eat (although of course this happens occasionally). Someday (soon!) this tiny person will sit at the table with us and eat what we are eating, so why not get them used to the routine and the food while they are still in their high chair? Plus, the idea of cooking two different menus makes me want to cry.
Breastmilk is Best, as long as you can
I like to wait as long as possible before introducing food at all, and even water unless the weather turns hot. My babies have waited for their first bite of any food until between 8 and 10 months. I look for their cues on hunger/lip smacking/saliva. My last baby, a girl, was quite interested at 8 months, but my largest boy was barely interested at 10 months. Their hunger for food usually arrives about the time their first teeth do. There is some thought that waiting until this time to give foods can reduce allergic responses to food.
The first foods I give my babies are: egg yolk from a soft boiled/over easy egg, butter, liver pate (it’s cooked), cod liver oil, banana, avocado, as these are all soft and nutrient dense. After a few weeks of these foods, they are usually ready to try more flavors, so I begin to offer what we are eating.
Waiting for molars. . . think soft foods
Dinner is our main meal, and there is nearly always something that baby can eat, and often she can eat all of it. I invested in a small baby food grinder years ago, the hand crank kind (portable!), which can be used to blend up soft foods like spaghetti with meat marinara, roasted chicken and broccoli, anything made in a crockpot, the chunky parts of soup (add back to broth), beans, rice, and most cooked veggies. It only takes a minute, and the child gets to experience those flavors which he has been smelling while dinner was cooking. He’s eating what mom and dad eat. He’s eating it fresh, and not frozen or canned. He’s eating food that tastes good, and if he rejects it on first or fifth try, you can be pretty confident that at some point he will love it like you do.
Some foods are hard for a baby to eat: salad, anything really chewy or crunchy. However, these foods are innately difficult to digest as well, so your diet should be filled with lots of other foods he is able to eat. That said, I will sometimes give baby a teeny tiny piece of lettuce with a homemade dressing on it. . . or the cranberry in the salad. . . or a feta crumble. I stick it right in their mouth and wait for the face. These are strong flavors, and I want the baby to experience them, along with some psychological coaching: “yum, yum, yum!” They are shocked, they spit, we all laugh.
If we are eating steak, I try to cook it medium rare, and then shave off very small pieces (no need for chewing) and feed them to baby. Yes, steak! My babies have loved this. I have also heard that indigenous mothers chew food for their babies, which begins to break down the foods with mom’s saliva enzymes, before transferring it to baby’s mouth.
We love taco salad; baby can eat the ground beef, beans, avocado, sour cream (if no reaction), tomatoes (if no reaction), cilantro, and lime.
Soups are messy, but we eat a lot of them in the winter, and if they have a bone broth base it’s awesome nutrition. We have a plastic pocket type bib which really helps contain the mess when spoon feeding baby, or the IKEA toddler smock which is full coverage for when baby feeds herself.
Good Fats = Good Brain
Brains, especially growing brains, need fat. Healthy, saturated fats. Besides water, that is what the brain is mostly comprised of, so it only makes sense that babies need a healthy dose of saturated fats daily for the significant growth of their gray matter.
Butter (grassfed/naturally yellow is best), avocado, egg yolk (soft boiled or over easy), coconut oil, nut butters, animal fats found with the meat, liver (organic animals) olive oil (cold pressed and uncooked), and heavy cream with or without the milk (raw from grassfed cows is best) are all great ways to feed baby’s developing brain, and keep baby satisfied for longer between meals (or at night!). Some of these are a meal or snack by themselves: egg yolk, liver, nut butter, avocado, ground meat. Others can be toppings for other foods: butter, coconut oil, olive oil.
Balancing Food Groups
We all need protein, and carbohydrates, and fats. Babies are no exception. I try to give my baby foods from each food group during a day, with a special emphasis on protein/fat at each meal. I personally feel better when I limit my sugars/starches, so my children’s diet roughly mimics my own, but they do eat more grains and fruits than I do.
In the US, toddler fare is universally offered as grain and sweets based. Look at any kids menu and you will see breads, pastas, crackers, fruit cups, sweetened dairy products, and downright candy as the leading act. Most foods marketed to/for kids fall into this category as well. Rather than rant about the lack of protein and fat, and the sugars that push kids toward addiction, set them up for diabetes or worse (OK, I just ranted), I’ll just advise: do not copy this diet in your home.
Do you feel better, have more energy and fewer ailments, sleep and perform exercise better, and feel more satisfied on mostly protein, mostly carbs, or somewhere in between? If you have never given this any thought, The Metabolic Typing Diet may help you (gives self-test checklists) to determine this for yourself. And have your spouse take the test too, as your child will likely pattern after one or both of you. Adoptive parents will have to watch carefully for mood/behavior in their baby following different meal ratios.
Depending on your metabolic type, you may feel better on more carbohydrates than I do in your diet, and your child is likely to do well with this diet as well. In this case, your healthy diet would contain more whole grain breads and porridge (soaked grains are best), starchy veggies like potato, yam, and corn, and fruits than mine does. But you should still be fighting the “goldfish at every snack” mentality for your child, since these are just not whole foods.
Regardless of how much of each food your baby eats, it is difficult to get a child to eat much of anything if they start off a meal with fruits, since those sugars are absorbed into their bloodstream quickly and their hunger signal turns off. It usually works better for me to serve “courses” starting with the protein/fat portion of the meal, and finishing with a few fruit pieces.
Allergies and Introductions: Every One is Unique
My husband and I have few allergies, but the few things which I am sensitive to (chicken eggs, cow dairy as a toddler) I have been wary of introducing too early to my children. I am also gluten intolerant, and after two of my children have tested positive as well, we have assumed it is hereditary and have put all our children on a gluten free diet.
Since every one is unique, watch for reactions when introducing the “common allergens” and acidic foods like tomato and some fruits. I’ve found that a baby may need to avoid a food, but a few months later they will be able to eat it without reaction. The most common reactions are loose stools and rashes at mouth or bottom. Vomiting, constipation, eczema, or histamine responses (swollen eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing) are more severe reactions to a food, in which case it may be much longer before a child can handle that food again, if ever. You should contact your child’s doctor with a severe reaction, as follow-up testing may be advised.
One largely overlooked component to allergies is imbalance of intestinal flora. Babies usually have flora similar to mom’s, since they acquired their first dose from her in the birth canal and received daily probiotics in her milk. If you question your own gut health, or you/baby have a history of yeast or antibiotics, your baby may need some supplemental probiotics. I have used the Klaire Labs brand of Infant Formula probiotics. Homemade sauerkraut juice or yogurt are other ways to support baby’s intestinal flora.
Quality is Key
Eating an organic diet is expensive . . . but so is illness. Avoiding unnecessary chemicals on our foods is always a good idea, but even more crucial for the developing bodies of our children. Choose organic and grassfed whenever you find it and can budget it. Here is my prioritized list of foods to source organically, starting with oils and fats, and all animal products. Fruits and veggies are further down the list; you can download a free guide to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” on Enviromental Working Group’s site, or download a free app to your smart phone which will allow you to look up produce item by item while at the market.
Meal Ideas: These are all foods my babies and toddlers actually eat.
Scrambled eggs with butter (can season with homemade sauerkraut juice), blueberries (this is a meal they can feed themselves)
Unsweetened goat yogurt (or drizzled with honey after 12 months), or kefir smoothie, whole grain bread with almond butter
Soaked oatmeal/honey/butter/raisins with finely sliced natural breakfast sausage on the side
Sweet Oven Souffle, cut into squares, grapefruit wedges
Veggie soup made with bone broth, avocado and/or Creme Fraiche (whipping cream cultured with yogurt starter for 24 hours) on top, can add sauerkraut juice after it has cooled a little in the bowl (home fermented or Bubbies brand are alive with probiotics)
Grassfed hot dog link, finely sliced, small pear pieces, cooked carrot medalions (another self-feed meal)
Hummus with olive oil, dabs of liver pate or avocado, applesauce or pumpkin souflee
Canned tuna/salmon/chicken with homemade mayo and raisins, thawed or cooked peas on the side
Add a large salad to any of the above, and you’ve answered what to feed yourself for lunch as well.
Slices of raw cheese and a few raisins or apple slices (portable)
Goat yogurt with honey drizzle
Glass of raw milk (goat best for many babies) and a homemade muffin with butter (whole grain or almond/coconut flour, can have carrots, zucchini, or fruit in it) (also somewhat portable)
Banana and almond butter (peanut butter if no reaction)
Whir in food processor until almost puréed:
2 cups frozen organic black cherries (Costco)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp almond flavoring
In a large glass mixing bowl, whisk together:
2 cups SCD yogurt or kefir (24 hour=lactose free)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup coconut cream (or heavy whipping cream if you aren’t concerned about lactose)
1/4 cup flaxseed oil
Add cherry mixture, whisk until combined and pour into an ice cream maker.
The flaxseed oil may be omitted if you will be serving the ice cream immediately, but if you will be freezing it for later, the oil helps for scoop-ability; without it your ice cream will be hard as a rock!
Have I really never posted the recipe for Kale Salad? Hmm… Shame on me. We call it Honey Bunny Salad -a thinly veiled attempt to entice the children to eat mouthfuls of vitamin-K-rich Kale. They actually do like this salad pretty well.
I served Honey Bunny Salad beside Quiche for Tuesday’s dinner this week; it seems like such a nice contrast of flavors. Since we are doing SCD (no grains or starches), I made an almond flour crust for the Quiche, and it’s fine but doesn’t steal the show like a regular white flour crust. So I made sure what was in the pie was super yummy.
Bacon Spinach Mushroom Quiche
Prepare pie crust earlier in the day, at least 30 minutes before assembling quiche. (See below.)
Grate 2 cups of cheddar cheese, and spread 1 cup in the bottom of the pie crust, reserving one cup. (New Zealand Grassfed is what I used; it took about half the block.)
Fry 4 oz. bacon, snipped into bits, in large fry pan on stove, until crisp. (I used natural pork bacon from Trader Joes. There is a tiny amount of sugar in it, which we can handle, but you might look for bacon from Applegate Farms if you avoid even this small amount.)
Add 8 oz. washed and sliced Crimini mushrooms (button will work, but don’t have as much flavor)
When mushrooms are nearly soft, add half a bag fresh spinach leaves. This will overfill the frying pan, but will soon wilt down.
While the filling is cooking on the stove, whisk together:
7-8 eggs (depending on size)
1 cup SCD kefir or yogurt
1 tsp. good salt (Himalayan Pink is what I used)
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper (Trader Joes Flower Pepper grinder)
2 shakes nutmeg
1 shake paprika
Spoon fried bacon, mushroom, spinach mixture into pie crust, on top of the cheese. Do this when the spinach has just wilted. Leave any excess water in the fry pan. Pour egg mixture over filling; this should just cover the filling, and not spill over the edge. Cover with reserved cup of grated cheese.
Bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to set 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
SCD Pie Crust (savory)
In food processor, blend together:
1 cup fine blanched almond meal
1 T. coconut flour
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (pure, no fillers)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. soft butter
1-4 tsp. water, just until it all incorporates smoothly
Press into a large buttered pie dish, using plastic wrap to smooth it evenly on bottom and up sides of dish. Bake in 350 preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
And here is the amazing Kale salad recipe.
Honey Bunny Salad
1 bunch Kale, snipped with kitchen sheers to bite sized pieces, large veins removed (or do Easy: grab a bag of chopped organic Kale as is now available in Trader Joes. Downside: a lot of veins left in there. Hope you like crunch.)
3 handfuls raisins (go for organic!)
2 handfuls raw sunflower seeds, or pine nuts (I used a blend of sunflower seeds and almonds this week)
Dressing: whisk together the following with a fork until emulsified:
1/4 cup honey (mine is raw, and is now crystalized, but it works just fine without heating)
1/8 cup EVOO (the new term for Extra Virgin Olive Oil; always buy organic)
1 tsp. salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed (chopped garlic in a jar won’t work; you’ve got to use fresh)
Pour dressing over salad, mixing very well until it is coating all the leaves, not just the top. This is more like massaging than the proverbial tossing. Don’t worry, it’s gonna taste awesome, and your kids are going to eat kale! (And you are too!) This keeps well in the fridge until the next day.
So here is the much requested Two Week Meal Plan. It’s not pretty; if I wait until I have time to make it pretty, you’d never see it. But a print out in my purse has been working for me since last fall.
Which brings my to my next topic: we are VERY TIRED of these meals. At least most of them. My husband flat out told me the other day that he doesn’t want to eat curried soup again for a long time. I’ve been the long eater of curry soup leftovers this week. 🙂
So, I’m working on a new meal plan.
I’m suggesting that you don’t do as we did and eat the same 14 meals for 6 months straight. OK, so we did have a few other meals in there (holidays? random whims? friends bringing meals for me post-partum?), but this was truly the back bone of my meal planning. And now it’s really old.
All the same, maybe these meals are all new to you. So I’ll walk you through them.
Breakfasts: skillet eggs means either fried or scrambled eggs, and opa eggs means soft boiled (our family name for them). Smoothies are the kefir smoothies I make for my husband daily (kefir, banana, whey powder, frozen strawberries). The waffles are the High Protein Waffles on this site, EXCEPT I use almond flour rather than oatmeal and dry curd cottage cheese vs. cottage cheese while we’re on SCD, and honey vs. maple syrup on top. (Oops, those aren’t on the 2 week plan, but we have them penciled in for Friday mornings.) We didn’t actually make carrot juice as often as this menu states, but that was our goal.
Lunches: soup means a basic carrot/celery/onion soup, sometimes with chicken broth in there too. The chicken salad and almond/PB roll ups are recipes I’ve given recently; the “quesadilla” is in a thin egg wrap with cheese like an almond roll up (it’s more like an omlette than a quesadilla, but I’m not telling my kids that).
Snacks: I listed snacks so I would remember to shop for these things too, but we weren’t locked into certain snacks on certain days. The “Grape Zip” mentioned is homemade yogurt mixed 2:1 with concord grape juice…it’s a drink and makes a fast snack without quite so much mess/dishes as serving yogurt in bowls. Other snack ideas besides nuts, muffins, fruit: cheese, white bean hummus and celery sticks, spoonful of nut butter, kale chips, homemade frozen yogurt, homemade juice pops.
Dinners: Having dinner planned is what saves the day for me very often. In this menu, I was planning specifically for activities we were leaving for immediately after dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday, so those dinners had to be fast (that is, they had to be liked well enough for the kids to eat without many complaints). Thursday we had soccer practice and would arrive home for a late dinner, so I wanted it to be ready in the crockpot/oven. This mostly worked out, but I want to explore more crockpot meals for the future so I spend less time in prep in the late afternoon (maybe I’ll get a nap one of these days!!!).
Pizza: my husband requested this every. Friday. night. After six months of this, he’s agreed that once every other week is often enough. I have salad listed several times, and “veggie” which may be whatever is hitting the stores at that season or frozen green beans and broccoli (oh… that just made me think of a yummy chicken broccoli casserole with sauce and cheese…). Zucchini spaghetti is shredded zucchini in place of the pasta (and yes, I’ve tried spaghetti squash, I just like zucchini better).
Many meals use ingredients from previous meals: using meat or broth from the chicken roasted on Sunday, or planning the leftover pizza as the picnic lunch for the soccer game Saturday. You just have to line up your meals so you can keep rolling foods into the next meal or two. Also, I shop Trader Joes each Sunday evening, and pick up eggs and milk on Wednesday, and then make yogurt/kefir after that. Sometimes the day you shop makes a difference on when you want to schedule a meal…like plan guacamole for a few days after you shop for avocados, but eat fish the same day you purchase it.
What menu planning tips do your have to share? What are your favorite meals?
Day Five of American Family’s Diet Makeover began with bananas, yogurt, and muffins, and scrambled eggs for whoever would take them. No complaints, but the children did seem unduly excited that I would be leaving in the morning.
24 hour raw yogurt
Scrambled eggs with cheese
Banana muffin (almond flour)
Kefir/banana/berry smoothie (for Mr. Dad)
Kids: an Organic grassfed hotdog without sugar (Applegate Farms), no bun, and apple slices
Adults: leftovers and/or chicken salad over greens with balsamic dressing
Nuts or nut butter with celery or apples
As dinner prep on the late morning I sliced 1.5 lbs of zucchini, mixed it with a 1 lb bag of frozen bell peppers, and marinated it in red wine and balsamic vinegars, olive oil, and 1/8 cup Italian herbs.
By late afternoon, the marinade has doubled with veggie juices, and I ladled it off into a saucepan. The veggies I divided into two glass pans and broiled at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes or until just beginning to blacken at edges, stirring every ten minutes or so. Meanwhile I sliced three defrosted chicken breasts and sautéed the pieces in butter and half the marinade juices. The remaining marinade I heated over medium flame, added more salt, garlic powder, and about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Just before using I added 1/4 cup Creme Fraiche.
When the veggies and chicken were done, I mixed them together in in glass baking pan, poured the sauce over the whole, sprinkled with more Parmesan cheese, and served hot.
Italian Chicken Bake
In the evening, Mrs. Mom baked banana muffins herself to transition into this new type of cooking. They turned out fabulous, of course.
Prepare and serve above meals
Finish/start yogurt, Creme Fraiche, and Kefir as desired
Menu plan next week