Giveaway Winner Announced!

Teresa Tapp ~ photo credit: t-tapp.com

And the winner of the 50% off T-Tapp Coupon is…

[drumroll]
  • Stacie from imperfectlyhealthy.com (for the entry via blog subscription)

Congratulations, Stacie!

And If You Didn’t Win The Giveaway:

Make sure to enter your email in the 10 Day Drawing on the T-Tapp website (winners drawn every 10 days). I entered several times from January-May of last year, then I did win in May. I just entered last week, and won again . . . so there’s proof that if you keep entering you will get picked sometime. The prize is a free workout video (which tend to be shorter, focused exercises) and free shipping. There is no purchase required, but they do also give you a coupon for 50% off a video of your choice (plus the free shipping), which is a great deal if you are wanting to buy a certain workout which isn’t offered in the prizes.

I recommend starting with the Basic Workout Plus because that’s what I’ve been doing to feel better (it is designed for people with chronic fatigue, and really gets the lymph pumping). I love BWP because it is a series of exercises all in a row so you get it done in 15 minutes (which means it actually happens…). Also, BWP has quite a bit of small stretches between the exercises which I think are what make it feel so good.

I am not an affiliate of this company, and do not receive any compensation for recommending their products; I’ve simply been impressed with their company and the results I’ve achieved while following this program.

Ready, Set, Organize!

It’s hard to have a clean house if it isn’t (at least somewhat) organized. Being organized really comes down to habits; daily, weekly, seasonally. Here’s my basics:

Daily:

  • sort mail as soon as it comes into the house: recycle all junk, envelopes immediately, sort keepers into To Do, To Call, To File.
  • A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Try to do a once over at the end of the day to get things back in place.

Weekly:

  • organize time with a schedule, and To Do/To Buy lists.
  • choose a drawer or closet to sort and organize once a week while watching a movie or talking on the phone
  • sort out kids crafts/papers

Seasonally:

  • sort adult and kids clothes, toys, shoes; donate, consign, or give items away to friends who will use them

Saturday morning, I plan to catch up on some home organization:

  • clean up our school cabinet (which is the dining room hutch pictured above. A Mess.)
  • file some paperwork
  • pack up my maternity clothes
  • look through the kids toys to check for broken and unused toys; the two oldest children will be away for the morning working on their AWANA cars, so it’s a good time to clean out without resistance.

Plan: don’t get distracted by details (don’t sit down to look through art work or photos, just file and move on), take donations that day/give aways within the week (keep in the garage so they down migrate back into circulation).

Butter Review

“Mmm . . . butter is the most yummy thing to eat!” said my seven year old daughter as we enjoyed pats of butter and peanut butter on crackers.

It’s not only yummy, it’s good for you (assuming you aren’t eating it with enough sugars/starches to begin gaining weight). Butter is an excellent saturated fat for absorbing and utilizing the important vitamins A, D, and E, which are too often lacking in the western diet, as well as metabolizing the calcium and other minerals in our diets.

However, there’s a big difference in the quality of butters.

Here are two different colors of yellow butter. The one on the left is Kerrygold, which comes from cows in Ireland which graze on green grass. It is always yellow, and is cultured with probiotics during the butter making process. The one of the right is Trader Joes Sweet Cream butter; it is nearly white compared to the Kerrygold.

Here is a photo (mobile download from a friend; thanks Stephanie of beeyoutiful.com) of homemade butter (left) from fresh raw milk from cows eating the quickly growing green grass of spring, and a stick of Costco butter (right). This photo is not doctored; I’ve seen and tasted butter this yellow. It’s an indicator of the high levels of vitamins in the butter.

About a hundred years ago, Weston A. Price traveled the world to find the healthiest peoples. He discovered some astounding truths of optimal health, one of which was that cows and other dairy animals give nourishing milks when they are fed their natural diets of green grass. Cows kept in stalls in the city, and fed hay and grains, gave milk products which did not produce the excellent health, stature, and dentition in the people who drank it in comparison with the people drinking the milk from grass fed cows. (Whew! Did you catch that? It even confused me, and I wrote it. Bottom line: grass-fed milk=healthy people, grain-fed milk=not-as-healthy people.)

Here are two excellent brands of cultured butter (probiotics used in the butter making process). Little difference can be seen in the butter color, although there is a slight difference in flavor. Both are from pastured cows, which gives the yellow color, although not as bright as the spring butter. Both are from pasturized milk; the Organic Valley brand is unsalted. I found it interesting that these cultured butters were easy to cut with a butter knife, even straight out of the fridge, not rock hard like conventional butter. Both taste fabulous.

I purchase the “conventional” butter from Trader Joes (top picture, right side) to use when baking things for potluck or other groups where nobody cares a whit about the butter quality so I can stretched my grocery dollars further. This way, I can purchase Kerrygold for spreading on bread and vegetables at home.

I also regularly purchase Trader Joes Organic Butter, which is a little cheaper than the Kerrygold, and I purchase it for baking and frying at home. It is not cultured with probiotics, but does have a similar color to the Kerrygold most of the year. However, as I understand that Trader Joes uses a number of local vendors around the nation for their fresh products, their organic butter in your are may not be this yellow (indicating that it is not delivering vitamin A in good amounts).

Kerrygold runs around $2.69 for a half pound at Trader Joes (more elsewhere)
Organic Valley runs about $5.50 a pound at my local Fred Meyer
Trader Joes Organic runs about $4.79 a pound at Trader Joes
Trader Joes (Conventional) Sweet Cream Butter runs about $2.99 a pound at Trader Joes

Butter is an excellent choice in baking and frying (along with virgin coconut and palm oils, and beef or duck fat) since the saturated fats are so stable and will not be damaged into a trans fat form.

Body Cleanses: A Clean Green Start

Vegetable juicing. The raw food cleanse. The Lemonade fast. Water fasting. Coffee cleanses, Colon cleanses. Herbal cleanses. Heavy metal cleanses, Candida cleanses. Seasonal cleanses, Vegetable soup cleanses, grape cleanse. Sauna cleanses, Liver cleanses, Kidney cleanses. American Indian 4 day cleanse. The Twinkies cleanse. (OK, I made up that last one.)

It seems that there are cleanses for every organ of the body, and for more than a handful of the ailments afflicting mankind. So what are all these cleanses, and are they at all helpful?

The basic premise of most cleanses is that the human body collects toxins, heavy metals, acids, bad bacteria -in general terms, gunk- and that a periodic “housecleaning” is helpful to move on with greater health and energy. Some cleanses may be designed to rest a certain organ, like the liver, from its daily duties, or to help in breaking bad food habits, such as sugar or junk food addictions.

However helpful a cleanse may be, I’d like to pause before we begin to discuss actual cleanses and consider the following two thoughts:

1. The best body cleanse is a clean lifestyle.

Consider the following ridiculous conversation.

Patient to Doctor: Hey Doc, can you recommend a good cleanse for me? Maybe a colonic? Maybe a week of vegetables only?

Doctor: Well, you just really need to quit smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

Patient: Oh, I know I should do that, but until I am able to, isn’t there like a one week diet, or herbs or something to clean me all up on the inside?

Please realize that I am not mocking those who smoke; I have a couple of dear friends who do and very much regret the addiction it is for them; quitting is not easy. However the above scenario highlights how silly it would be for a person to try to cleanse their body in a short amount of time, without removing the main source of the gunk going in.

It’s the same for all of us, whether your main “gunk” is over-the-counter-meds, pesticides or the wrong kind of food, or toxins you rub into your skin, drink in your water, or breathe in the air. Unless we make an effort to change our toxic exposure (where possible) short cleanses have little overall health benefit.

2. A helpful cleanse will be one that matches what needs cleansing.

No one cleanse will be helpful to everyone, and some cleanses may be harmful to some. Obviously if it’s the liver that needs cleansing, doing a kidney cleanse won’t help, and vice versa. If you just need more sleep, and different diet won’t fix that. This sounds so simple, and yet it is so easy to hear of a cleanse someone else has done and “how much better they feel” and assume that that diet must be what I need.

Consider carefully, and do seek the advice of your physician. Although many MDs have never had any training in these types of therapy, those who practice “functional medicine” or who have had additional training in natural or nutrtional medicine should be of more help.

Next Post: I’ll give a very brief review of some of the cleanses I’ve tried.

Gluten-Free Ad Nauseum

I know. I’ve written a lot of gluten-free posts lately.

This isn’t intended to be a gluten-free blog; mainly my focus (normally) is how to make changes to a clean-green lifestyle. Avoiding chemicals in the home. Using personal care products that aren’t toxic. Learning some forgotten methods of cooking. Starting healthy habits.

However, since it’s the holidays, I’m doing a lot more (gluten-free) baking than usual, so that is coming out in my blog.

My apologies to those of you who don’t cook gluten-free. You’re welcome to those that do.

And post variety will resume after the holidays.

Baking Sucess: Date Nut Bread

Mmm . . . my family’s traditional holiday bread, in a gluten free, cane sugar free version. It’s just as yummy as the original.

Date Nut Bread

1 and 1/2 cups dates (pieces rolled in oat flour)
2 and 1/4 cups boiling water
1 TBS soda
Cover dates and soda with boiling water; set 30 minutes.

1 and 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 and 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups sorgum flour
1 TBS xanthan gum
Whisk flours and xanthan together with a wire whisk.

3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup xylitol (if you don’t have xylitol, you can substitute another 1/4 cup maple syrup)
3 TBS butter
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
Cream sweeteners, butter, eggs, vanilla and salt. Add part of date mixture, then alternate between flour and date mixture until it is all incorporated.

Then add:
1 cup chopped walnuts, preferably soaked and dried

Pour into well greased loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees. For smaller pans (mini) bake about 1 hour, and larger (normal loaf size) pans about 1 hour 20 minutes. After removing pans from oven, allow to set about 5 minutes before turning onto a baking rack to cool. When cool, wrap in food wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. It is delicious served with either cream cheese or butter.

This batch was my remake. Want to read about my first batch, and see what happens if you bake the larger pans for only an hour? See Baking Failure: Holiday Bread. It’s not pretty. 🙂

Baking Fail: Holiday Bread

It’s so disappointing; after all the work of sourcing the best ingredients, converting a family recipe to gluten and sugar free, measuring, stirring, the anticipation while it bakes . . . and it fails.

Actually, I failed. Failed to fully read the instructions, the little added-on-note at the bottom of the card which said bake large pans longer.

Here is my Date Nut Bread:

I thought it was baked all the way through when I took it out, but realized my error when it began to fall in the middle.

And let me tell you, once you’re at this point, you can’t go back. I tried putting the loaves back in the oven, and when that wasn’t baking the gooey top, I tried broiling them. Nope; darker tops but still gooey on the inside.

At this point, we are eating the sides, bottoms, and ends of the loaves. It’s delicious, but not pretty. To have bread worthy of taking to the family Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll try again. And this time I’ll follow the instructions.

Do you have a memorable baking or cooking fail?

How To Soak Grains

Q:

I’m planning to make the High Protein Waffles, but I’ve never soaked grains before, and I am unclear on the process. I looked around a little on the internet, and it wasn’t much clearer. Did you separate your own whey from milk, or buy whey powder and reconstitute it, or would you suggest I just use yogurt? I haven’t even purchased the whey (or yogurt) yet, so if you have some direction on that, I’d appreciate it!

~Debra , via Facebook

A:

Soaking grains is pretty straight forward, although I know it can seem daunting at first since this practice has been all but abandoned in modern cooking. To soak my oats, I measure them into a glass bowl; you’ll want one large enough that there is some space left for the whey or yogurt. You can see my whey here in the picture.

Pour the liquid/yogurt on top of the oats and begin to incorporate with a small spoon.

Stir the wet and dry together until there aren’t any dry oats left.

Then smash them down firmly in the bowl with the back of the spoon. There shouldn’t be any pooling wet areas.

Cover with a dish towel and place on the countertop, or another warmish clean place, for 12-24 hours.

At the end of this time, you’ll notice that the oats seem to have dried out some, and are stuck into a clump which will need a little bit of breaking up before putting into the blender.

If you double or triple the recipe, you can soak all the oats together and then evenly divide them the next day after soaking. Since they are stuck together in a chunk, it’s not to hard to cut them evenly. However, I recommend only making one batch at a time (unless you have a really strong blender) as doubling the batch makes it difficult to completely blend the oats into the eggs and cottage cheese mixture.

Whey and yogurt can both be used in this recipe. If you use yogurt you’ll need to use a little more than if using whey, since it is thicker and won’t mix with the oats as freely. I often use whey just because I have it on hand when it has separated from the kefir I make continually on my countertop. If the whey hasn’t separated, I use the kefir or a plain yogurt, which is probably what you should do at this point.

Here’s a picture of oats soaked in yogurt.

These soaking agents are actually souring the oats, and the waffles will have a pleasant sourdough flavor. I think kefir makes them more sour than yogurt, but it is pretty inconsequential. The acids and bacteria in the whey/yogurt are the agents that are eating away at the sugars in the oats, and dismantling some of the anti-nutrients like phytic acid. Therefore, whey powder (protein powder) reconstituted would not work for this purpose, as it no longer has these active cultures at work.

On purchasing the yogurt: get plain, and make sure it has active cultures in it. I like the European Style Whole Milk Yogurt from Traders Joes, and while you’re there, their Small Curd Cottage Cheese seems to be a good choice (for the waffle recipe) since the side of the carton makes it sound like the cows live in a resort. 🙂
Make sure your waffle iron is fully heated before pouring in the batter. I was in a hurry when I made these a few weeks ago, and I ended up with a mess in waffle maker! :-/

The waffles freeze well after cooling, and can then be toasted for a quick snack later.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

For those of you who are trying a gluten-free diet, here is the flour combo that I’ve developed to substitute for all purpose wheat flour in quick breads, cookies, and cakes.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

whisk together

1 part organic brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca flour

Xanthan Gum is required in all recipes with this flour, and should be whisked in prior to adding the flour to other ingredients. Here are the amounts needed for different types of baked goods.

Add per cup of All Purpose Flour used:
1/4 tsp. for cookies
1/2 tsp. for cakes
3/4 tsp. for muffins and quick breads
1 to 1&1/2 tsp. for breads
2 tsp. for pizza crust

What I’ve Been Up To

My last post was August 1st. Considering that tomorrow is November 1st, this post could be titled How to Let a Blog Die. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to these past 3 months.

Thaddeus, at 4 weeks

On August 22nd, I gave birth to my 4th child, this one at home (first time). He was born just before midnight, and after about 50 hours of labor. 9lbs, 5oz was quite a bundle to push out, but I had no complications. My midwife with 2 nurse attendants were on hand, as well as my husband and mother. Little Thaddeus arrived, and was tucked into bed with me about an hour later; what a sweet prize after all that work!

My mom was able to stay for a week after Thaddeus was born, and when she left my 15-year-old sister Johannah stayed for another 3 weeks. Wow! what a blessing they were!

Thad has done fabulously; he gained about a pound a week his first 6 weeks (breastfeeding only), and sleep schedule is going well too.

However, we have had quite a learning experience with Pertussis (Whooping Cough). My three children began to show symptoms the week before Thaddeus was due (we knew we had been exposed) so we all took antibiotics to wipe out any bacteria that would be contagious to others, particularly the baby who was due any day. Unfortunately, the antibiotic doesn’t help the disease process in the patient, so all 3 children had a dreadful, scary cough (worse at night), which has only now begun to subside (11 weeks later). However, I was very grateful that we were able to catch it, and avoid exposing our infant.

But, 5 weeks later, Thaddeus began to have the same funny tiny cough the children had started with…a culture showed that he was now positive for Pertussis! This was outside the window for disease gestation, so we don’t believe that he could have even contracted it from our own family; it is obviously a highly contagious disease for him to have come down with it from casual exposure outside our home. It is quite dangerous in infants, with 87% requiring hospitalization. 8 infants have died in California already this season (it is an epidemic year for this).

However, Thaddeus has weathered Pertussis marvelously, perhaps better than the 3 older children. Many, many people were praying for him: family and friends across the country, and even many people who don’t know us (thank you if you were one of them). We thank the Lord for being so gracious to him and to us, and sparing him from hospitalization or even death. I’m also grateful for excellent and prompt medical care, and for the excellent diet I was able to pass on to him in breast milk.

We found that Vit. C, cod liver oil, and Guafinasin were helpful supplements for the children, as well as eucalyptus chest rub. And the silver lining on this experience is that these 4 children now have lifetime immunity, which is more than my husband and I can boast of through vaccination, which is only about 80% effective for about 10 years, they now believe.

In addition to all this, in September I began the school year with our 2 oldest (1st grade), hosted 2 waves of out-of-town relatives/guests, attended an out-of-town wedding, and experienced mastitis for the first time (probably because I was too busy doing all the above).

October has slowed down quite a bit and we’ve fallen into a good routine with school in the mornings, naps in the afternoons (I try to get one a week!). I’m still trying to cook in healthier ways, and taking pictures of the results to share with you. I think my house is more green than clean right now…hmm.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I spent the whole day with my husband redeeming Chinook Book coupons (green living coupons in Portland); will share all about it soon.

So I’ve been busy…but I’m back to blogging!