Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Busy Busy Week

We are starting a new plan in our household: Monday and Thursdays (some of our busiest days) will be crock pot days. This week, however, we are just doing Tuesday, because of other plans that make things interesting.

This evening I was supposed to do a gift exchange with a few coworkers, and have dinner with them at the new Caribbean restaurant in town (which I love....and which is completely MSG free!). One person had a death in the family, and another was with his wife all day at the hospital because it seemed their baby might come early. Because of this, we ended up canceling the dinner and planning to exchange gifts later. I did not find that out until I got to work today, so Jeff and I decided that since I took a couple of extra hours that needed covering (and so was working until 7 PM instead of 5) that we would just get dinner from Gaby's anyway.

Tomorrow night my family is getting together to some some of the Aunts and Uncles who are going out of town can give the kids their presents, but we are just meeting up for dessert. Wednesday night is home group as usual, so Thursday and Friday are our first free nights of the week, and also our last. Saturday we head downstate to a wedding, and then to Jeff's mom's house, to do Christmas with his family there. So the plan is to do leftovers Thurs and Friday so there is nothing too perishable in the fridge when we leave for downstate. So this is a crazy busy week...I'm not even entirely sure where the time for making new Bee Beautiful orders is going to come from. So we ate out tonight, we have two days of cooking meals, and two days of leftovers, and two days of travel.

Monday - Ate out at Gaby's Caribbean Cuisine (I so love their food!)
To Do: Start Water Kefir & Dairy Kefir
(Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Lunch: Venison Burgers)

Tuesday - Venison stew in the crock pot / multigrain rolls (just basic meat/potatoes/carrots kind of thing)
To Do: Change Dairy Kefir
(Breakfast: granola & banana, Lunch: Company Christmas Luncheon)

Wednesday - Wild Rice & Chicken Soup, multigrain rolls
To Do: change Dairy Kefir & Water Kefir
(Breakfast - Kefir Smoothie & Soaked Oatmeal)

Thursday - Leftover Stew
To Do: Change Dairy Kefir
(Breakfast - Kefir Smoothie & soaked Oatmeal)

Friday - Leftover Soup
To Do: Change Dairy Kefir & Water Kefir
(Breakfast - Kefir Smoothie & soaked oatmeal)

Saturday Morning Breakfast - Bacon, Eggs, Sweet Potato Pancakes
Lunch & Dinner on the road

Sunday - Meals with Jeff's family

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday! Find more great menu plans @ OrgJunkie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Back into the swing of things

This week brings us into my favorite time of the year - Advent. As I mentioned a while back, I found a free Advent devotional here, and the picture above is the Advent wreath I made last year. We began our devotionals together this evening, and especially in the middle of our recent loss, the encouragement to trust in God's promises was incredibly timely and poignant. I am looking forward to what our celebration of Advent speaks into our lives this Christmas Season.

OK, so, this week's menu plan:

Monday - Leftover Turkey Roll-Ups (brought back with us from Jeff's Mom :-D)

Tuesday - Venison Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Veggies
To Do: Soak Crust for Wednesday night Pizza

Wednesday - Pizza

Thursday - Chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach (steamed)

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Venison Burgers (With the Beef & Barley Burgers recipe)

Sunday - Breakfast for dinner (with Sweet Potato Pancakes!)

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday! Find more great posts at Org Junkie!

Friday, November 27, 2009

News on the Bee Beautiful Front

The Christmas season has begun, and already I have begun adding gift sets to Bee Beautiful. Small lavender gift sets are available now on Etsy and on ArtFire. I can already make the same sets in Eucalyptus Mint, but they have not been made and added to the site yet. Larger gift baskets will be added over the course of the next week.

Shipping options are automatically USPS Priority shipping, which is a 2 day lead time, so there is still plenty of time to order before Christmas!

Small Gift Baskets: These are $15 ea. and contain: 5 oz. Bath Snow,3-4 oz bar of soap (depends on shape) in a Christmas-themed shape, Soft & Sweet lip balm. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Medium Gift Baskets: These are $25 ea. and contain: 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, and a 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Large Gift Baskets: These are $40 ea. and contain 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion, and a 4 oz bottle of Lavender Bliss (Deodorant/Room Deodorizer/Linen Spray), and a scented Beeswax candle. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lots of Turkey - Menu Plan for Thanksgiving Week

I am so excited about this Thanksgiving! Partly because I know that Advent ensues immediately thereafter, and this year we have everything we need for Advent ahead of time, and our plan in order to walk through the rest of the liturgical year. The other part is that even though we have experienced sorrow in the last week, I am all too happy to be reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. Jeff and I walk together into this week, knowing that God is in control, that He loves us and has a plan for us, and that He is eager to redeem our heartbreaks to bring about His good and perfect will in our lives. We walk into this week knowing that those who sow in tears will reap in joy, and knowing that we have so much to be grateful for.

Lots of plans this week. The married students ministry at the college is having a dinner Monday evening. Jeff graduated last winter, but alum are welcome, too, and so we are planning on attending. Thursday is Thanksgiving Dinner with my brother and his family. It is always a crowded and wonderful event. I say crowded and wonderful because thanksgiving at my house was always busy. My mom made sure that anyone we knew who could not be with their family for the big day was with ours, and I have always loved it that way. My brother and sister in law, and her family (who is also down here) have done things the same way, so Thanksgiving with them reminds me of Thanksgiving back home in New York. Plus: Deep Fried Turkey. Yup, you heard me. Which will seem to contradict with the other reason I love Thanksgiving with them: Wheat. Most of my family down here are all freshly-milled wheat advocates. Actually, as I have mentioned before, it was living with Aaron and Jen that got me turned on to freshly milled wheat. Plus, some of our family has started using things like sucanat, so I worry less about eating with the family than I do about eating anywhere else that is not my home. Friday we head several hours south for Thanksgiving with Jeff's mom and brother. This year they are asking us to bring down several raw dairy products along with, so that we can make some of the favorite dairy dishes so Jeff can eat them, too.

Monday - Married Student Thanksgiving. Cranberry Sauce, Turkey
(We were just going to bring cranberry sauce and maybe a dessert, but our landlady gave us a turkey as a thank you for being good tenants. Since I also get a turkey at work, we figured we should just prepare this one for the MS Dinner)

Tuesday - Sauteed Chicken Breast, steamed veggies, honey wheat rolls

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner (French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon)

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day - Bringing a turkey (for the fryer @ my brother's), maybe some cranberry relish, too.

Friday - @ Mom B's. We're all making turkey roll ups w/leftover turkey. We are bringing cheese (homemade mozz), and homemade sour cream.

Saturday - @ Mom B's, (to be determined)

Sunday - Coming back from downstate, dinner to be determined.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday. Find more great posts at Org Junkie.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

As Free Range As It Gets - Real Food Wednesday

We eat a lot of chicken and occasionally eat some pork, due to the fact that dh seems very sensitive to commercial red meat and organic free range beef is hard to come by around here. We are saving up the money for a steer-share next year, and Jeff is hoping to get a couple deer this winter, but at the moment I was wondering how we could break up the monotony of chicken and pork in the next few weeks.

Enter a recent ladies' fellowship I attended. A woman whose husband has already gotten one deer, and is planning more hunting trips, came up to me saying, "Do you eat venison?" She told me that they had way more than they could handle and wanted me to take whatever we needed. Hoping that Jeff can get a deer in the next month, we picked up about 3 lbs of ground venison and 3 packages of steaks.

It does not get anymore free range than that. No hormones, no antibiotics, and of course not grain fed; this is exactly what we need. Anyone who has good recipes for ground venison or even favorite ways to cook up the steaks, feel free to comment with them. Personally, I am excited to see how our Beef and Barley Burgers turn out with venison instead!

I feel like the allergies and sensitivities are almost a blessing, sometimes. Because dh cannot drink pasteurized milk, we discovered raw milk. Since discovering raw milk, we've been able to keep dairy in our diet, and we have felt healthier and better nourished on the whole. Since he cannot have commercial red meat, either, we have discovered just how incredible free range, grass finished beef tastes! Because I am allergic to MSG, we are extra careful about what we consume and as a result, have more incentive to spend the extra time in the kitchen, and eat better foods, too! It is so much easier to make the healthier (though sometimes less convenient) choice when the options are so much clearer. Either we can be sick all the time, or we can eat the foods we do, and feel well. Not just "not sick," but actually nourished. And of course, once we started making some healthier choices, and started feeling so much better, the other areas of health and nutrition that we have not yet addressed start to feel much less intimidating!

Once again: Calling all commenters, tell me how you like your venison!! This is new territory for me (that I am pretty excited about).

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday. See more great Real Food Posts at Cheeseslave!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grace in the Middle of Loss

This will be brief because I really cannot say a lot right now.

Jeff and I lost our baby this morning. I woke up sick to my stomach and in a lot of pain with of course other symptoms that indicated what was happening. We went to the clinic, saw a nurse midwife there, had an uncomfortable ultrasound, and received devastating news from people who deal with this kind of thing every day. That was incredibly horrible. Difficult beyond words.

I called my mother and sobbed my eyes out with her on the phone. She recommended that I not spend the day alone, and so I called and spent the day with my friend Rachel and her children, including her 4 month old baby. Holding him was actually soooo soothing to me, I was grateful that she didn't turn me down for fear that seeing him would cause me pain. We went for a walk in the sunshine, and it felt good to have some "normal," moments in my day, interspersed with moments that I could cry. And Rachel made sure that I knew I could cry as much as I needed. Jeff had to work all day after that awful appointment, and I could not even imagine having to do so.

We are going to take time to grieve, rather than try again right away. We are surrounded by a loving church community. Every moment today I felt so grateful that Jeff and I did make the decision that we would share news of our pregnancy right away, because if it did end in miscarriage, it would allow our church to be the church in our lives, and be an instrument of grace that we cannot even comprehend (but we can feel.) I cannot imagine going through this right now if no one had known we were pregnant in the first place.

We are hurting, but we are aware of God's grace, mercy, and compassion in this very dark hour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - This Time Its For Real

Last week was not a good week for sticking to the menu plan. Between not having certain ingredients for the Salsa Chicken soup (pregnancy brain?), home group being canceled, and just being really really tired, we barely did anything according to the plan. This week should be a lot different. I have everything I need for the week, and help from dh, too :) Also, I've geared it to still be healthful and good, but lower key. I definitely overestimated how much I can do when decent amounts of good sleep are still not enough.

Lunches this week will mostly be chicken salad, although tomorrow it will be leftover stroganoff that I made tonight. Monday night I'll be making Apple Butter, as well as putting the finishing touches on a custom order for Bee Beautiful (a friend's bridal party gifts). Soooooo excited about the Apple Butter, and about the custom order. Dinner Monday night, then, is the most low key of all. Tuesday Jeff is using the slow cooker (the most time-saving way to use your slow cooker is to let your husband do it, haha :-D )

Monday - Black Bean & Vegetable Soup (This one's actually not "homemade," but it is from Amy's Organics. I read the ingredients and was soooo pleased to find nothing even the slightest bit fake or junky in it, so I kept in on hand for a busy evening). We are adding chicken, as well.

Tuesday - Pork Roast in the slow cooker (dh's specialty)

Wednesday - Pizza! (With Lindsay's Pizza Crust recipe, my homemade full-fat mozzarella, and homemade sauce). Additional toppings to be determined later.

Thursday - Spinach, Bacon, & Feta muffins* at Book Club (once a month). My friend Cindy is making her incredible Wild Rice & Chicken Soup, and I'm providing the muffins! Jeff is having leftover "Low Country Boil" that he froze post-men's retreat (he and his group had a great time putting it together, and he got the leftovers).

Friday - Leftover Roast

Saturday - Baked Chicken with Apples and Barley**
To Do: AM - Soak Barley

Sunday - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup / Whole Grain Rolls

* Recipe Variances: For the muffins, I use freshly milled soft white wheat, and I soak the batter. Also, I use sucanat instead of sugar, and I use fresh spinach instead of frozen.
** Recipe Variance: I use hulled barley instead of pearl, because it is less processed.

This has been part of Menu Plan Monday. Find more great posts at org junkie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Indecision

I have been doing this on Sunday nights to post on Monday, but yesterday had some funny turns. Dh and I were going to take a short nap and then head out to run some errands. The nap ran long, and the errands ran long, so by the time we got home (much later in the night than anticipated), all I wanted was sleep. Anyway...I'm posting it tonight. But first...

My husband is a genius. We made that Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup last week, and then the next night he didn't end up going to the church dinner, so there were leftovers waiting when he got home from work, and he had an epiphany: Blender. Boiling off a little more of the broth and pouring the soup in the blender yielded the most incredible chip dip. Pure Genius! I ended up with quite the catch, didn't I?? Well, this Tuesday we're doing it again. We're having our once-a-month app/dessert fest at home group, and I couldn't think of anything to bring. Suddenly the idea hit me: I need to bring that dip!! So we're having the salsa chicken and black bean soup again on Tuesday, in order to bring the dip to home group on Wednesday. Dh loved it so much that I'm not worried about the close repeat.

Monday - Breakfast for dinner (Hurray!) (Jeff had Chinese leftovers, so I didn't have to worry about overdoing bfast for dinner, which I believe you never ever can do)

Tuesday - Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Wednesday - Appetizer fest at home group :)

Thursday - Pizza ( Spelling Bee that my work place is participating in. I'm a word-nerd and I love spelling)

Friday - Chicken, Steamed Veggies, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Saturday - Chicken n Dumplings

Sunday - Spaghetti w/ Whole Grain noodles

This has been a part of Menu Plan Monday with Org Junkie. See more great menu plans here!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Giveaways Galore

I love this week! 2 Giveaways in two days! There will soon be another post about yet another giveaway.

Keeper of the Home, a fantastic blog by a great budget-minded earthy crunchy christian woman, is hosting a giveaway that blows my mind.

The Excalibur Dehydrator.

A dehydrator with slide out trays, so you can even use it to rise (raise?) your bread dough. 9 trays, to be exact, so drying grain that I've sprouted for milling into flour is noooooo problem. You can do so many other things worth it, and it is quite an expensive find.

You can join in on the giveaway fun here (but don't spoil my chances, haha).

Friday, October 30, 2009

G-G-Giveaway @ Kitchen Kop

Alright, it did not take much convincing for me to believe that saturated fat is better for you than unsaturated fat. All it took was some simple chemistry, and a little biology, too.

First the chemistry. Saturated fats have the strongest molecular bonds. Next on the list are monounsaturated fats, and then last (with the weakest bonds) are polyunsaturated fats.

When polyunsaturated fats like soy oil and corn oil are exposed to oxygen and heat, they are oxidized (amazing!), and many free radicals are created. Free radicals, rather than supporting health of the body, cause damage to cells. This is why vitamin and health care companies get excited about antioxidants (antioxidants repair and prevent damage caused by free radicals). Now, you may think, "OK, well I'll keep them in a dark cupboard and not heat them up beyond a certain temperature." Well, nice try.

Just to extract the oils, they have already been submitted to substantial amounts of heat and oxidative stress. When they become rancid (which is what this process inevitably results in), they are deodorized, and the American consumer is none the wiser.

Monounsaturated fats like olive oil are a better, but they cannot be used at extremely high temperatures and cannot be used for things like frying.

Saturated fats do not break down and become unstable with heat. Instead, their stronger molecular bonds keep them intact. That makes saturated fats like Beef Tallow, Lard, and Coconut Oil much healthier for cooking with than polyunsaturated oils.

OK, now onto the biology. There is a certain something at work here that I like to refer to as the "starvation principle." Women's health has a perfect example in the direct relationship between estrogen and body fat. Balanced hormones and balanced body fat go hand in hand, an imbalance of estrogen on the upside (too much), and your body starts collecting fat like bicentennial quarters. At the same time...too little estrogen and your body clings to fat. This is the instinct, in case of "starvation." The same thing happens with consuming fats. We, like other living creatures, have saturated fats in our bodies. Our bodies need saturated fats to survive. If we stop eating fat, our body works harder to hang on to fat, making fat harder to get rid of on the way to whole body health.

The best answer is to eat fats in moderation. Not to eat fats all day long, and not to cut them out. But where our foods have fat, they need to contain healthful fats.

Due to dh's coconut allergy, we pretty much use butter for cooking, and olive oil where we cannot use butter. I have been wanting to try beef tallow or pork lard, but ordering online is really expensive, and I do not have enough connections in local farming yet. There are not a lot of earthy crunchy Georgians on the world wide web, it seems. Some, for sure, but not a lot.

This is where one of my fav bloggers comes in. Kelly the Kitchen Kop is hosting a giveaway! A 5-gallon bucket of beef tallow is up for grabs, and I would love to win it. I love homemade doughnuts, sweet potatoe fries, fried bananas...and no one can convince me that the oils currently readily available for frying them in are better for me than tallow or lard.

So, rethink fats and oils this week. What are you putting into your body? What is good for you?

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday. Find more great posts at Food Renegade.

Further Reading:

Fats Cholesterols, Lipids

Weston A. Price Foundation

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stocking up for Winter

So, it seems everyone is posting their chicken stock recipes this time of year, and I thought I would add my own to the mix, since it happens to be Real Food Wednesday, and I am making a pot of stock right now.

Either dh or I make stock every 1-2 months to have on hand for cooking. Well, the truth is that we had it on hand in case either one of us got sick. Shortly after we got married I learned that he did not have the greatest immune system. Jeff got sick at least once a month with colds, stomach bugs, whatever. Of course I would usually only get sick in the winter, but having asthma meant that my head cold - which always evolved into a chest cold - always turned into bronchitis, which I got approximately 2x a winter.

But, with Jeff sick more often, I was sick more often, too. We did make stock to cook with, but we were having to make it more frequently then (once a month), because if we used it for cooking with and to make chicken soup at the frequency with which we needed it, we ran out quickly.

Now, ever since switching to real milk we almost never get sick, but we still have use for chicken stock in our cooking, so we make a batch every 2 months or so now. Here is how we do it:

1 whole chicken (minus the guts - I know, eloquent, right?)
half a bulb of garlic (probably 6-7 cloves) minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large carrots
2 large stalks of celery
2 T apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Freshly chopped parsley
sea salt
ground black pepper

OK, first things first. Put the chicken in the pot. Make sure that it is a pot that can hold at least one gallon, though in my one gallon pot we could barely fit all the vegetables and the water, so we had to watch it closely and keep adding water to finally yield approximately one gallon of stock. So, a 2-3 gallon stock pot probably would work best. Add chopped vegetables, salt and pepper, and the ACV to the pot, and add plenty of water (cover the chicken to a depth of several inches).

Bring the pot to a boil, and turn the heat to low or med-low. allow to lightly boil for 12-18 hours (sometimes we've gone a whole 24, but more than that is overkill). In the last ten to twenty minutes, add a good amount of freshly chopped parsley.

Remove the chicken from the stock into a bowl, where you can remove the bones and the skin to the garbage (or whatever means of disposal you prefer). Some of the meat we use right away for soup, the rest I freeze to use later (as chicken salad, chicken and biscuits, and what not). Pour the stock (through a colander) into another pot, discard the (now well overcooked) vegetables.

I pour the broth into jars to freeze, except what I'm using to make that batch of soup. When a recipe calls for "broth," I use this stock in a 1:1 ratio. If it calls for concentrated broth or stock, I use it straight.

Why is Chicken Stock good for "what ails you?"

Alright, so at this point in our adult lives, many of us have chalked "Chicken soup will heal you" up with the other "old wives' tales." Well, some of those tales are true! (Actually, did you know the phrase "old wives' tale" came about when hospitals were trying to discredit midwives and convince women to labor in hospitals, instead? So, a lot of these natural remedies are held and taught by midwives, but that does not make them false. Alright, tangent over, back to the rest of the post!)

Chicken stock has many healing attributes, though some of them we add to it. Garlic, for instance, is an antimicrobial. This is why plenty of garlic goes into my stock. I have some friends who had a class project in biology. They took some buckets and grew "sludge" in them (basically a bacterial free-for-all. Using droppers, they put a certain amount of their sludge on two microscope slides. One one slide they also put a tiny drop of penicillin, and on the other they put a very tiny piece of garlic. The garlic killed the bacteria as quickly as the penicillin!

Another benefit of stock made with vinegar is that the vinegar draws the marrow, calcium, and minerals out from within the bones. This makes a richer stock that can be almost amber in color, and it tastes wonderful. More than that, though, it is incredibly nutritious; full of vitamins and minerals that help to boost the immune system and the body as a whole.

I thought that I got this broth originally from a book called Broth is Beautiful, but it turns out that is the name of a Weston A Price Foundation article. You can read much, MUCH more about the benefits of broth there. I'll have to find out the name of that book, though... (attribute it to pregnancy brain?)

This has been a part of Real Food Wednesday - See more great posts at Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stolen Menu Plans

So, over the weekend I came down with this horrible cold - then I started reading up on how pregnancy automatically lowers your immune resistance, so your immune system does not attack the baby. Kinda wish I'd known that before...ever since the switch to raw milk in January, I haven't even gotten the tiniest cold, and now since being pregnant I've already gotten one stomach bug (no it was definitely not morning sickness...morning sickness has actually been pretty mild - some days nonexistent - please don't hate me), and one cold. So, 3-6 drops of elderberry in a glass of water 3-4 times a day, Breathe Easy tea, OJ, a lot of water, and lots of Chicken stock are all on the menu this week. Limited taste and smell, though (thanks to the cold), makes it hard to even try and contemplate what to eat this week, so, I marched over to Org Junkie before posting my menu plan, and scoured the links for things that looked easy, yummy, and nourishing. The crock pot is my friend this week...

Monday - Well, this one is easy. Tonight's dinner is a big pot of Chicken Soup with Rice. Made from my homemade stock, and then augmented with even MORE garlic, chicken, onions, and rice. I need Chicken soup!!

Tuesday - Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup - In the crock pot

Wednesday - Community dinner at church (Not sure if I'm going yet - due to this cold, but Jeff definitely will)

Thursday - White Chili (another crock pot recipe), Cornbread (gotta call my mom to get her recipe!)

Friday - Probably leftover Chili for me, Jeff will be eating out w/his consumers

Saturday- Lentil Soup, whole wheat rolls

Sunday - Pizza

Find more great meal plans at Org Junkie!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Adult ADHD Treatment (Without Medication!)

In reading around lately, I have realized that I am not the only woman in my peer group dealing with Adult ADD. More specifically, I have ADHD/I; which means that yes, sometimes I am hyperactive (better described as high energy, high strung, and trying to move in a million directions at once), but sometimes I "space out," having no energy and being very prone to being lost in thought (the "I" stands for inattentive).

Sometimes I like to describe ADD has having a brain that is hardwired to word association. You say the word "tree," and suddenly there is a song stuck in my head that has the word tree in it, or a scene from a movie, or a line from a book. But obviously there is more to it, like the need for motion when I am needing to focus on something. When I was working in retail ADD almost seemed like an advantage; the natural charisma draws people in, and of course standing all day means that it is not difficult to move when you feel like you cannot sit still. Working in an office, however, I have realized just how much I need help focusing during the day. Sitting in a chair all day - not so much. It has been a real struggle for me.

7 years ago, when I was in college, I was seeing a therapist in the counseling center (largely for anxiety, though it turned out that much of what I had attributed to anxiety had been exacerbated by ADD.  The two conditions can certainly overlap in places). It was that counselor who diagnosed me with ADD. She actually had me take an IQ test, first, to confirm her suspicions. Apparently most types of genuine ADD (particularly ADHD/I) is found in people who have higher intelligence - especially people who are gifted creatively such as musicians. I told her that I had seen my friends on ADD meds, and that they practically turned into zombies, and I did not want that. She told me that I could manage my ADD without medications fairly simply, but it would take commitment. A diet high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, regular exercise, and caffeine when I need to focus would help bring things together for me.

While I was in school, I employed the Omega 3 part (through flax seed oil capsules), and the caffeine part, and occasionally attempted "regular exercise," but of course ADD plays against you a little bit there, because it is hard to stick with new things long enough to develop a strong habit.

Out of school, though, and working in retail, I fell out of the whole pattern (except employing my love for caffeine, which easily turned into overuse). But working in an office, as I said above, reminded me that I do need to make efforts to reign things in again. Fortunately, my job is in an office where I have free use of a complete gym facility.

I learned, through some research, that Cod Liver Oil (particularly fermented CLO) taken regularly was an even better source of Omega 3s than flax oil. It is quite high in DHA - an Omega 3 Fatty Acid that is very helpful in dopamine production, which is key for managing ADD).  A little more research indicated that a missing piece of the puzzle was Vitamin B-12. B-12 is also very helpful in the production, release, and absorption of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter for focus.

So, I adjusted my routine, I worked out every morning during the week, took FCLO non-gelatin capsules every morning, plus a sublingual Vitamin B-12 tablet. When I felt my focus start to wane, I would have one cup of coffee. More than 300 mgs of caffeine can be adversely affecting focus, and I found that just the 100-150 mgs of caffeine in one cup of french press coffee was fine for at least a few hours, and taken at the right point in the day, it was the only cup of coffee I needed.

These all worked really well for me.  I was able to reap the benefits of some of the aspects of ADD, but also able to manage the hindrances like poor short term memory and the inability to sit still. If you read that first line and are thinking, "Benefits? What on earth is she talking about?" let me explain a bit. You see, there is an abstract thinking ability and creativity that come hand in hand with the seemingly random nature of ADD. This is why I did not want anything to do with conventional medicines. It seemed that my friends on conventional medicines lost the pros along with the cons, and I had no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What worked even better for me, though, was my switch to a treadmill desk. Walking at a slow pace of 1-2 miles an hour while I worked, I had more focus than I even knew was possible. Beyond that, I had more energy and focus at the end of the day when I came home from work. A long day of focus-requiring work, even with all my other tools, left me really drained an unable to focus when I came home from work, and the treadmill desk did away with all of that. Currently I am not able to use my treadmill desk, but I hope to be back on it soon when we hire a new customer service representative (someone left the company, which pushed me up to the front desk, where there is not room for the treadmill set up). If you have a job or perform any tasks where you're sitting or standing for long periods of time, I highly recommend getting a treadmill desk!

If you want to employ these tips, but do not like coffee, drink caffeinated Tea. Tea only has 45 mg caffeine per serving, generally, so you may need two cups of tea instead. Do not drink soda. Soda has caffeine, it is true, but it also has loads of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These will give you a momentary rush, but then you crash, feeling exhausted. Sugar ends up being really detrimental to your energy and focus levels. On top of that, sugar leaches B-12 from your system. Since, as stated above, B-12 is essential for focus due to its role in dopamine production, foods that steal your B-12 should be avoided when focus is needed.

So this is my ADD story. I know many have seen promising results with the GAPS diet, but this has been so successful for me that the idea of so completely changing the way we do things has just seemed like unnecessary extra work. The hardest part of this method, for me, was initially finding the time to exercise, but once I pushed myself to make the time, I found sticking to it was very easy. So in short, I exercise regularly, take fermented cod liver oil supplements, sublingual B12 supplements, and small amounts of caffeine when I need extra focus. I have my days that are a little bit harder than others, but overall I have found this plan extremely helpful. I can honestly say that there is no way I could do all the things we are doing to stay healthy if I did not have help with my ADD.

For further reading on the importance of B12 and FCLO:
Weston Price Foundation - B12
Weston Price Foundation - FCLO
Kelly The Kitchen Kop - FCLO

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Planning in Early Pregnancy

As some of you may have already read, Jeff and I are expecting, due in June. We found out last Monday morning, and a sudden attack of a 24-hour bug (wednesday) and recovery from that in the middle of morning sickness, some meals got skipped last week (We improvised and had a big batch of chicken soup, then pretty much ate that for a few days).

Then, we had a GOOD menu plan change. We received a gift card for dining out this week, so our Sunday meal plan was changed, too. As far as pregnancy / morning sickness / potential changes in appetite, I am not sure how well we'll stick to meal plans in the midst of all this, but I am thinking that it is wise just to do them, anyway. Any moms out there with tips, comment away!

Monday: Lunch - Sunday dining out Leftovers
Dinner - Pizza
To Do: Soak Pizza Dough, Make Sauce (both night before)

Tuesday: Lunch - Leftover Pizza
Dinner - Rosemary Orange Chicken
To Do: Thaw Chicken (night before). Marinade (morning of).

Wednesday: Lunch - Leftover Chicken
Chicken Spinach and Mushroom Crepes
To Do: Soak Crepe Batter (night before)

Thursday: Lunch - Leftover Crepes
Dinner - Beef Stroganoff (w/the last of our tasty beef from Hearst Ranch)

Friday: Lunch - Egg Salad Sandwich (Using Food Renegade's Enzyme-Rich Mayonnaise)
Dinner - Leftover Stroganoff (on my own, Jeff eating w/his clients)

Saturday: Lunch - Rice and Beans, fresh veggies
Dinner - Porkchops (Very very simple, see recipe below) w/Mashed Sweet Potatoes
& Steamed Veggies

Sunday: Lunch - Out with friends
Dinner - Leftovers Parade

Citrus Apple Pork Chops

This is a recipe I improvised with a friend a few years ago. I never really liked pork chops until we cooked them like this.

4 pork chops
3 oranges
1 Apple, sliced
1 Tbsp Sucanat
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Juice 2.5 oranges and blend with sucanat in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apple slices and cinnamon. Add the other half of the orange, sectioned. When juice is warmed, add pork chops and cover (checking periodically to see when they should be flipped).

Serve with Sweet Potatoes sweetened with Sucanat and Cinnamon.

This has been a part of Menu Plan Monday - See Org Junkie for more great menu plans!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speaking English Kills

First I thought I would post a picture of our delicious real-food dinner from last night, I listed it in my menu plan for the week. We enjoyed this incredible Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans recipe. Now, I have to tell you that I know fish have a lot of health benefits to offer, but I am not a fish eater. The first time I ever cooked fish was on our honeymoon. We went deep sea fishing (I love fishing, and am not a big fan of eating fish. Does anyone else find that funny?), and managed to catch for ourselves some Kingfish and also a barely-legal sized seabass. This was before Real Food, for us, but still, I knew exactly how I wanted to cook it. At our little time share we had a small electric wok and I threw some butter in there, then garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lime juice. It was incredible, but still...most fish tastes too "fishy" for me.

So when Jeff grabbed this bag of Tilapia I thought, "Well, I guess I could try it..." I did make changes. I replaced the olive oil with butter. We did not have any paprika so I just left it out. And the recipe did not call for garlic, so I added it (dh does not believe in garlic free meals, haha). Delicious! I loved it, and I actually cannot wait for the leftovers :)

Second, every time I read a real-food post or hear about the false "lipid hypothesis," my mind goes back to an email I received long ago...Six or seven years ago when I was in college I received an email that was an uncredited forward. It read:

In Japan, they eat very little fat, and have a low incidence of heart disease. In France, they have a diet high in fats, and have a low incidence of heart disease. In India, they drink very little red wine and have a low incidence of heart disease. In Italy, they drink a lot of red wine, and have a very low incidence of heart disease. In Germany, they drink heavy beers and eat all kinds of sausages, and have a low incidence of heart disease. So, eat and drink whatever you want. Apparently it is speaking English that kills you.

I was amused, of course, and half-jokingly used it to justify my love of junk food (even though that is ridiculous), but I barely thought about it again until getting into raw foods.

Now, everywhere I turn on the internet, I am reading about the "health" of America and how it is rapidly deteriorating, especially in comparison to other countries. Other countries do not have the rates of cancer that we have, the rates of heart disease that we have, or even the rates of Autism and ADHD that we have.

The difference, while it is obviously not speaking English, definitely exists. So what makes us different from so many other nations? We have processed foods in our supermarkets and in our pantries, and they simply do not eat like this in other countries. I know many people who have no idea how to cook, because they were served only instant foods at home, except for big traditional family holidays. We are so used to foods having chemical ingredients we cannot pronounce that we have simply stopped reading ingredient labels. We "don't have time" to eat healthy, so we come up with more ultra-processed, ultra-preserved "health foods" that are instant, and wonder why our health continues to decline.

So, now I read all of this and I think of that email, and I wonder why more people have not caught on to this idea. Seriously, if we claim saturated fats will be the death of us we ignore the fact that the French are much healthier (and much more slender) than we are. To go even farther, what about the Inuit people, who have lived largely on whale meat and blubber, and are ridiculously healthier than we are? If we claim that it is too many carbohydrates, then we're ignoring the fact that Italians are much healthier than we are. The only difference is that they are eating food. And we are eating junk that is based on food.

The other day I was trying to find jarred applesauce that did not have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it, and I found it nearly impossible! Strawberry Jam? Forget it. I found a very expensive fairly small bottle of organic strawberry jam that had no HFCS.

Since working to incorporate real foods into our diet (and get rid of the preservative-rich, overly processed junk - though we're not completely there yet) our health has improved so much. Specifically, since switching to Raw Milk in January, the bug that Jeff and I came down with this morning is the first time that I have gotten sick at all. On the whole, I have so much more energy and feel really nourished, as opposed to just feeling full.

So, if you're on the fence about real food, about the legitimacy of the idea that saturated fats are good for you, or about a switch to Real (Raw) Milk; ask yourself what you think the difference is between the Standard American Diet and the way the rest of the world eats.

But why do we eat this way? The biggest reason is time! We do not seem to think we have the time to eat right. But how much time are we saving if we spend so much of it unable to be with loved ones because we're sick, or unable to work because we get sick? That is the biggest comment I hear from other people if they hear about the way Jeff and I are eating. "How do you have time to do that?" It is not easy. We both work full time and are involved in our church, so it takes careful planning and a lot of time to eat the way we want to. But we both are at-risk for enough health conditions that it almost makes us feel as though there is no other way to do it. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol all run in my family. And I am realizing that they are ALL in a lot of people's family history. Not only that, but I used to get sick all the time. Big case of bronchitis every fall and every winter, little head colds ever couple of months or so. Jeff got sick practically twice a month! As I said before, now we don't
If we invested more time in our diets, we would be so much healthier, and then have more time to spend with our friends and loved ones. If we invest the time to eat real foods, we would not carry so much sickness around to other people in our work places or our churches. Just think about it.

This has been a part of Real Food Wednesday. Visit Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more great posts!

Easier Said Than Done

Disclaimer: This may prove to be TMI, but I feel the need to share it.

So, Monday morning early Jeff and I found out that we are going to have a baby. While we know that many desire to keep that news quiet until the end of the first trimester, we made a decision that since we live in community (the Body of Christ), we do not want to walk through anything alone which we do not need to walk through alone. In other words, we want to share our joy with people, and if our joy is followed by heartbreak (whether in miscarriage, or in any other situation), we want to give the church the opportunity to be the church in our lives. Additionally, there is just so much joy in a couple discovering their first pregnancy, it is hard to keep it in and contain it.

This morning I woke up to discover some spotting, and while I know that at only 5 weeks along it is perfectly normal (not that it happens in all pregnancies, but it is not necessarily something to flip out over). However, it was also followed by the quick realization that Jeff and I both seem to have come down with a pretty intense intestinal bug. I was worried and I called my midwife and she encouraged me to drink some kefir and/or maybe a little (like 2 oz) of wine to help kill the bug, to take it easy, and to try to take my mind off of any thoughts of miscarriage. She advised me to ask Jeff to lay hands on me and pray (which he had already been doing all morning), and to stay at home and rest. She reminded me that, this early on there really is not something we can do either way except for pray. A well established pregnancy is a well established pregnancy, as she said.

So I am praying. Any of you are also welcome to pray. And I am knowing that being as sick as I am right now does not necessarily mean it will compromise this pregnancy. But I wanted to share, because this is the decision that Jeff and I made together; to let the church be the church in our lives, and to trust God with our joys and our sorrows. I had no idea I would have to face the fear of that so soon, but my mother reminded me that I am facing just that: the fear. Right now that is all that is definitely threatening us.

Thanks for love and for prayers.

Edit: Just thought anyone reading might like to know that, except for being exhausted, my symptoms seem to have subsided, including the spotting. A huge answer to prayer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monday Monday - Menu Plan

Another Monday rolls around and it is time for a menu plan. Grocery shopping with dh the other day we saw some tilapia on sale, and I was thinking it was exactly what we needed to spice things up a little bit. I found this great recipe, and I plan on trying it out Tuesday night: Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans. Sooooo excited to try this one! I even got a swagbuck for searching it! So, here's the menu plan for this week!

Monday: Hamburgers with (really yummy grass finished organic beef I got for practically nothing because of a (no longer running) special on
Tuesday: Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans
To Do - Tuesday Mid-day Soak Quinoa
Wednesday: Pizza! It has been wayyyyy too long since we've had pizza!
To Do - Night before: soak pizza dough
Wednesday afternoon - make cheese.

Thursday: Rosemary and Orange Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Friday: Cozy Quinoa Casserole (Also ended up switching last minute the other week...)

Saturday: Leftovers (Jeff will be at the men's retreat for our church, so I'll be on my own).

Sunday: Spinach, chicken, and mushroom crepes (didn't end up doing these last Sunday)
To Do - Sunday night, soak crepe batter

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday! Find more great posts @ Orgjunkie!

We spent Friday and Saturday getting things more settled in here at the house, and taking time to rest, as well. Rest is one of those things that is harder for me, at least in the terms of spending time relaxing or unwinding. For me, it is easier to just stay in motion all the time, because when I rest I either pass out or zone out. As Christians, though, God calls us to rest in Him, so I have been working on and praying about how I can take time to rest both spiritually and physically. We had slow mornings and good breakfasts, and set about work allowing time for small breaks between tasks. It was really good for me to feel like I was getting so much accomplished and also not feeling hurried. Today I felt more rested than I have in a long time! We still have a lot to get done, but it feels good to get so much out of the way!

We were supposed to be traveling this weekend, but due to our present financial situation we decided it was particularly unwise. I was glad for the extra day to work on the house, but sad that we missed out on the time with family. The holidays are not far away, though. We will have lots of opportunity to see them then, too.

Speaking of the holidays, I am already eagerly looking forward to the season of Advent. We have everything we need for our wreath already. I have mine set up to be a centerpiece on our dining room table. We have an 8-inch square mirror (with no frame), and an 8-inch round wreath that goes on top of it. In the corners of the mirror that the wreath does not touch, four candle holders hold the three purple candles and the one pink candle. In the center of the wreath goes the Christ candle. When I have it set up on Nov. 29th I will post pictures! And I just downloaded a great devotional here. I just swag searched free advent devotionals and - voila! I do not know all of the hymns, so we may look for some that fit in with that particular week in advent that we already know. Jeff and I are thinking about having a few friends over on Sunday nights to light the wreath with us on those nights (though we plan to do the devotionals / candle lighting nightly).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mmmmonday Again!

Tonight we had an incredible Pumpkin Soup for dinner. I would post the ingredients, but it was a "little of this, little of that, smell and add a little more of this" kind of recipe I got from my mom. I used canned pumpkin because, well, it was cheaper and we had a really really tight grocery budget this week. Basically I sauteed onions in butter (Mom also uses green peppers but I did not have any), added minced garlic, salt, pepper, and added a 15 oz. can of pumpkin when the onions were transparent. I added some chicken stock, and also some water. I also seasoned with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and added a few teaspoons of sucanat. Lastly I added in some rosemary. I let it heat through and start to boil. Then I added some of our tasty whole real milk, and heated it through again. This time I did not let it get to boiling, because the milk can curdle. Doesn't change the flavor, really, but it does change how it looks!

So that was Monday.

Tuesday: Chicken, Quinoa & Blackbeans

Wednesday: Potluck at home group (I'll be making guacamole)

Thursday: Sweet Potato Burritos

Friday: Leftovers (mmm...more burritos)

Saturday: Dinner in Warner Robins (Mom B's Birthday)

Sunday: Dinner out on the way back from Warner Robins, I imagine.

All in all, it is a pretty light cooking week for us this time around. I'm not sure what I'll do with my extra time!

Read more great menu plans at Org Junkie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Variety is the Spice of Life - Menu Plan Monday

Well our drenched drive to Chattanooga to pick up our new dog was a wonderful end to the week. This week looks busy, but not unmanageable. I am ready, strange as it seems, for September to be done and to be into October, because it seems that October is when things finally start to get more exciting. At the same time, I'm glad for the last few days of this month, to help me get prepared for the month to come. I am very sad to see Summer go, since it is by far my favorite season, but now that we're into fall I am already looking forward to Thanksgiving, and to the Advent season. I actually got the last few components for our Advent Wreath a few months ago (I saw tapered candles in all the right colors, and I knew that the next time I thought of it they would be long gone).

I am also looking forward to some time to get Bee Beautiful back up and running. The crazy summer brought my as-of-yet unstructured business to a halt, and I am looking to getting my site back up and running in time for holiday gift shoppers.

I have heard some great recipes from friends and have been reading a few around in the blogosphere (it is cheesy, but I so love that non-word), so I'm throwing a few of them into this week's line up.

OK, so this week's menu:

Monday - Wild Rice and Chicken Soup, Spinach-Bacon-Feta Muffins with Whole Wheat
The soup a friend of mine made last Monday, and she let me taste some, it is AMAZING. She uses about half the butter and cream called for, I'm going to use all of it, but do milk instead of cream (raw cream is harder for me to come by, and dh just doesn't do well with pasteurized dairy). I may throw in some extra butter to make up for the cream difference.
To Do: (Night Before) Soak muffin batter, thaw frozen chicken stock

Tuesday - Cozy Quinoa Casserole (w/my homemade whole milk mozz, instead of the cheddar)
To Do: Soak Quinoa (Tues Morning...may have Jeff do it at 11 so it isn't soaking too long)

Wednesday - Sweet Potato Risotto , leftover dinner muffins- I saw this on EDIT: Christine's blog, though at this moment I cannot remember whose, sorry! It looked so yummy, though! We're going to be doing it with brown rice, so I may need to find a way to make it a little creamier. We LOVE sweet potatoes!

Thursday - Spaghetti, Multi Grain Garlic Bread w/a touch of BASIL!

Friday - Leftover night (Spaghetti! On my own for dinner)

Saturday - Breakfast for Dinner (Whole Wheat Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs)
To Do: (Night Before or Morning Of) soak Pancake batter

Sunday - Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom crepes. This is an old favorite of mine that I haven't done in a while...dh doesn't mind it, either! We may be having company so I thought I'd pull out one of the fancier ones, haha.
To Do: (Night Before) Soak crepe batter.

This is a part of Menu Planning Monday at Org Junkie. Visit Org Junkie for more great posts.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Addition to the Family

Jeff and I traveled about 3.5 hours to Chattanooga today to pick up Lulu, an American bulldog we're adopting from a breeder out that way. Lulu is an incredibly affectionate dog. If you are petting her, and you stop, her nose will find your hand and nudge it until you start again. She is a little intimidated by my big fuzzy slippers, and tries to attack them. So, I think I'll be giving those a rest for a while.

She has a beautiful brindle coat, with white "socks," and a mostly white chest and face. She is absolutely gorgeous. She handled the ride home in the truck very well - even including not-so-clever drivers who break when they hydroplane. Yes, long rides in the rain are less-than-awesome, sometimes. Thank the Lord my dh has such great reflexes, and a level head.

She bonded with us very quickly, the very first time Jeff left the truck at a rest stop, she got very antsy until he came back and was the same when I left, too. We had a lot of fun bringing her into PetCo (it was pouring out, but since the drive was so long we wanted her to get some walking in). She did alright on the floors (linoleum) for the most part, but it was actually very handy for when she tried to go in a different direction from us, because between the linoleum and the leash, she lost all traction on the floor and very quickly opted to follow us, instead. She was absolutely adorable.

We brought her into the house, and she headed into the kitchen and jumped up on the counter straightaway. All I said was, "Lulu, DOWN." and she was down. That does not mean she's not still tempted, but I try to say know when she only looks like she is going to jump. The same with our bed, and the same with our couch. Well...

She tried to get up on the couch when I was there, and I told her no and she got back down. She listens to Jeff very quickly, normally, but she also seems to be closer to him, already. She followed him onto the couch, and he bade her get down, and it took a little bit of time. I think she just really wanted to be close to him. I think she gets the idea of where she is not supposed to be, already, but it is going to take a while to build the discipline, of course. The fact that she will be an outdoor and indoor dog, I think, is going to make it a little harder, because the boundaries won't be completely consistent.

Okay, without further ado, here are the pictures:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cultures For Health Giveaway

My favorite giveaway is gracing another great blog!

Kitchen Stewardship
is hosting a giveaway, but there are only a couple hours left! Hurry up and get over there. I trust that you'll find some great resources there, even if you don't win the giveaway.

I'm looking at a new yogurt starter, or maybe finally getting some water kefir grains. The possibilities...well they're not endless, but there are quite a few :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Battle with Kashi - Real Food Wednesday

So, last week on Fight Back Friday I posted about my discovery of Autolyzed Yeast Extract in some Kashi products. I emailed them about it, asking that they either label the ingredient as " (contains glutamate) " or remove it all together.

Well, I considered my action to be complete, until I received this email back from Kashi (bold type is my emphasis):

Hello Melody,

Thank you for contacting Kashi concerning our Heart to Heart® Cereals and TLC® Crackers. We appreciate your interest in our company and products. Our goal is to provide wholesome, all-natural foods that meet the high nutritional and taste standards of the Kashi consumer.

At Kashi, we do not add any MSG to our products, as evidenced by the ingredient statements on our packages that follow FDA labeling regulations.

Natural ingredients used to enhance the flavor of our products, including autolyzed yeast extract, are used in Kashi foods. Autolyzed yeast extract, which has been used safely as a flavor enhancer for nearly a century, contains naturally occurring free glutamate, an amino acid that is present in virtually all protein-containing foods including meat, vegetables, poultry and milk. Free glutamate is different than monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is glutamate bound to sodium.

We do not list glutamate in the ingredients as it is an amino acid present in most proteins, and makes up a part of the whole ingredient.

We appreciate your inquiry and hope this information will be useful to you when you make product selections for you and your family. We have forwarded your comments over to the appropriate department. Thank you again!

The only problem I have with the above statement is that it is a lie. Autolyzed Yeast Extract is Free Glutamate, and glutamate as it naturally occurs in protein foods is rarely free. It is nearly always a bound molecule. Here is my email response back to them, containing some very helpful and informative links:

While "glutamate" is found in many protein containing foods, it is not free glutamic acid. The glutamates in most of the foods that we consume are bound, which changes the way that our bodies process them. The testing done with free glutamates such as Monosodium Glutamate and Monopotassium glutamate have shown that MSG and other free glutamates consistently cause weight gain in mammals (original tests done on rats), are addictive, and can cause or exacerbate neurological symptoms. For people like myself, who have Asthma, it can also exacerbate asthmatic symptoms. Here are some links which point to studies linking free glutamates like Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, and MSG to these issues. (I know this link is to a forum but it contains links to some studies).

The only people saying anything like "AYE is safe for people who are allergic to MSG" are people in the processed food industry, and as someone who is sensitive to it, I am frankly very tired of doing research to see what I can and cannot eat, eating something that is presumably "safe," having a bad reaction, and then finding out that there is yet another form of free glutamate under another hidden name. I appreciate Kashi for many of your healthy and wholesome products. As I've said before, I make a lot of my own foods for meals and for snacking. When I am on the run, it is important to me to be able to quickly find something that is going to be wholly good for me. You can say whatever you like about Autolyzed Yeast Extract and its use in Kashi foods, but the studies I have seen (which are above and beyond the handful I've enumerated here) indicate that it is NOT the same as the bound glutamates found in naturally ocurring meat and vegetable proteins.

Hydrogen peroxide, when exposed to light, breaks down into water. That does not, by any means, indicate that it is safe to drink a bottle of it. True, H2O2 and H2O have the same components, but that tiny little difference in molecule structure makes a world of difference in toxicity.

I am a little bit angry right now. This person who emailed me may have just been sold the "company line," and not aware that they were peddling a blatant lie; but a company that is supposedly dedicated to our health shouldn't have this line. I do not understand why people saw a market for healthy foods, took advantage of that market, and now want to subtly infiltrate that market with the same additives most of us are striving to avoid.

Please email Kashi and tell them your thoughts about AYE and other Free Glutamates that we do not want in our food!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Cheeseslave
Re-Posting for Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade

Please feel free to post excerpts from this post, as long as you link back to me. I want to encourage everyone possible to write to Kashi, as well as other companies, to let them know we're not fooled by AYE and other deceptive names for free glutamate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gratituesday - So Thankful for the Sun!

As I mentioned in my previous posts, we've been having a great deal of rain here. Sunday alone we got 9.3 inches of rain, which caused some major flooding in some areas. The forecast yesterday indicated the rain and clouds would continue for the rest of the week, straight through this next Sunday.

Today, though, God had a surprise in store. Today began very dark and gloomy, like every other day in the last week, but suddenly, late in the morning, the SUN came out! I had to head out on my lunch break to fill up my car, and I drove with the windows down, enjoying sunshine and warmth, so very grateful for a break in the rain. Even checking the forecast later to see that they still predicted rain until Sunday didn't dampen my spirits.

It just made me think of the way that God prepares and strengthens us for what is to come, by meeting us where we are with His grace and goodness. God does not always take the obstacles away in our spiritual lives, or in the "reality" of the day to day, but He does always equip us with exactly what we need. The sun came out today and dried off the roads, warmed us up, and brightened our spirits. I know it seems corny, it may even seem trivial, but if there is anything you can glean from being soaked for a week straight and not having running water, it is what little things we take for granted.

The ability to just turn on a faucet when I get something sticky on my hands while cooking, the privilege of taking a shower, the blessing of being able to wash dirty dishes so they are not attracting bugs, the joy of being able to wash your clothes; all of these things are things I take for granted. The last two are things that I often consider to be "chores." But when you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out, your perspective changes.

So I am very grateful for sunshine, and for the reminder of all the things it is easy to take for granted.

See more Gratituesday posts at Heavenly Homemaker.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Planning in a Flood (With No Running Water)

So yesterday, shortly after my post here, our water got shut off. See, it has been raining for a week straight, but Saturday night that turned intona torrential downpour. The water treatment plant / pumping station across the street (and down hill, thank the Lord) was completely flooded, the main main there (no pun intended) burst, as did several others throughout the town. So, no water.

They are beginning to turn the water on in most of the town, but our street is the closest to the largest main break, they say it may take the rest of the week. So...I had this menu plan made Saturday, and we'll see how the week to come (and the inability to do dishes) changes things! I'm just going to list dinners this week.

Monday - leftover lasagna from Sunday's family party

Tuesday - Chicken w/Red Potatoes & Vegetables (slow cooker)

Wednesday - French Toast and Scrambled Eggs (Mmmm...breakfast for dinner!)
To-Do - make the rest of the cheese-designated milk gallons

Thursday - Blueberry Barbecue Chicken, veggies, rice.
To Do - Soak Rice in the AM

Friday - Leftover Chicken (from Tues) Jeff-less since he's working :(

Saturday - Stirfry a la Jeff (didn't actually happen last week)

Sunday - Porkchops and sweet potatoes

See More great Menu Plans here:

Organizing Junkie

So, hopefully at some point in the next week our water will be back on. We have plenty of bottled water for drinking, and even some to spare for dishes (dishwashing will need to be very strategic, I'm thinking).

My very clever husband (I'm so grateful for him), instantly put all of our empty buckets up under the eaves to collect rainwater (yup, it's still pouring, supposed to rain straight through Saturday), and has poured full buckets into the bathtub, so we have plenty of water for flushing toilets. I went to a friends' today to do laundry and take a shower (she has well water). We have a gym with showers at work, but until this evening I was not sure that the water there was all that clean. I have been assured that it is, so I will probably be going into work early to shower there. I washed just enough laundry today to get me through the week.

Hopefully by the end of the week when the rain is dying off we'll have our water running and it will be potable. Boil warnings make me nervous, because you can kill the bacteria, sure, but what about dirt and sediment? so do you boil it, cool it down, and then filter it? I've never been in a situation like this before so I'm just not sure. I guess we'll figure it out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting Settled

This has been a busy week, and it has gone by so quickly. The week ahead will probably do the same. I am okay with that, I want the weeks to fly by until the sun comes back out.

It has been raining here since Tuesday, which limits us to the indoors during a time I was hoping to be able to enjoy what is left of the waning summer. I realize that, living in Georgia, there will be days and even whole weeks of summer-like weather during the day right on up through October, interspersed with weeks that are so autumnal you wonder how it could have been 80 degrees yesterday. Still, the real summer ends Tuesday, as autumn begins, and it will still be raining then.

The rain also brought with it a tiny band of ants that thought they should invade my newly filled pantry. I was horrified. I've never even had a pantry of my own, and only a few weeks in I am confronted with a band of marauders seeking shelter from the wet weather and my food. I was not horrified for long, though. I remembered reading at Passionate Homemaking that Lindsay had a great ant trap recipe. I set to work, and I must say it was almost frightening how I gleefully watched the ants march to their demise. But they got into my Nutella, and I had to throw it out. It was war.

The rain has been good, though, too. First of all, the state has been in a drought for years. We obviously need the rain, and now there is plenty of rain to go around. Secondly, It has given me ample opportunity to do nothing but take care of the inside of our house. My kitchen is finally completely unpacked, organized, and accessible.

To celebrate, I had the most productive day of my life, yesterday. Our family down here is having a family birthday party this month (any month when there are birthdays, there is a get together one day that month for all the celebrators of nascence (a.k.a. the birthday boys and girls). This month dh is part of that celebration, as his birthday was on the sixth. This last week had my niece Cora and my Nephew Tobin, both my brother and sis-in-law's kids, so Jen and I are providing main course and birthday cake. The menu is lasagna, and I'm making mine with homemade mozzarella cheese (the ricotta is not homemade, because it just seemed like too much work for yesterday, and even homemade ricotta is not a raw process, so it is pasteurized either way. As long as there is a little raw-milk-product present, Jeff handles the pasteurized dairy fairly well). We are of course having 2 lasagnas, because there will be a great deal of people, and also because not everyone in my family is so into the raw milk thing. Probably about half of us are.

So yesterday I made scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast for breakfast, made mozzarella cheese, made a black forest cake, made a batch of chicken salad for lunch, fought an epic battle with that ancient nemesis of mankind - the ant - and seem to have won, made us baked chicken with apples and barley (meal got switched up earlier in the week because dh was sick and just wanted scrambled eggs), and made the sauce for my lasagna. AND, for the first time ever in my life, I cleaned up after every single project. There are no dirty dishes hanging about, and not a crumb on a single countertop. I'll admit, the ants had a good bit to deal with that. Still, first time ever accomplishments should be celebrated. And I have never dirtied, cleaned, redirtied, cleaned, redirtied, and cleaned again. Usually that last "cleaned" gets left off. I slept sooooooooooooo well last night, having gotten so much done (and being pretty worn out). I can say that my house now smells more like baking foods and pasta sauce, and less like paint, and I am entirely enthused about that prospect.

The rainy weather also gave us an opportunity to sleep in - maybe a little too much, but still I'm grateful - and enjoy a slow-paced morning together. During that time we got online and found out about a dog being given away. A beautiful female American Bull Dog, 4 years old, all with records and up-to-date. We called the gentleman who is giving her away, and he seemed adamant that she go to a good home where people would take good care of her. So this looks much "safer" than our last experience (about a month and a half ago we got a dog, and the next day she died from heartworms.), but still just because of that last experience I am a little afraid of getting our hopes up. From the ad and from the pictures it looks like she is a great dog. Greate with people in general and especially children, and very protective of her home. So, this Saturday we are driving all the way out to Chattanooga to meet her and this gentleman, and hopefully bring her home with us!

We still have a couple rooms to get unpacked and set up (namely the office and Jeff's fish room), and presently the entire unscathed inventory of our pantry is on the diningroom table, but otherwise, this is really beginning to feel like home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies - Fight Back Friday

I have always loved Kashi's products. They make great products using at least seven whole grains in everything. While I have been learning that I enjoy making my own snack foods, I often eat Kashi if I'm on the go and don't have time.

The other day in the cracker aisle, I was looking for a healthy something to snack on at work. I grabbed the Kashi Heart to Heart crackers in Roasted Garlic. Because I have an MSG allergy, I read the ingredients on everything. This being Kashi, though, I almost didn't. I am so glad that I did, because right there in the ingredients was "autolyzed yeast extract."

Autolyzed yeast extract is a food additive used to enhance flavor. While it is not technically MSG, it is basically the same thing arrived at through a different process. It still contains Free Glutamic Acid, which triggers the allergic reaction in many to MSG (including my own allergic reaction). So, for all intents and purposes, it may as well be MSG.

I was infuriated that they had it listed as AYE instead of MSG, the only real reason to do that is to prevent people from saying, "Oh, this has MSG, I'm not getting it." And Kashi is a company that promotes physical health and well being, being conscious of what you're putting in your body.

More than that, these crackers have additives that are good for your heart. Glutamate/MSG, however, can contribute to weight gain, which puts you at risk for high blood pressure / high cholesterol / general heart issues.

Why would a company that is this health-conscious choose to put this unnecessary and unhealthy additive in their food?? Better yet, why would they be so dishonest about it; encouraging people outwardly to make healthy choices but also subtly contributing to health issues.

Now, I don't want to simply bash Kashi in general, because if not for them I would lack many of the on-the-go foods that enable me to stick to my food standards. But regarding this and a few other flavors of their crackers, I am extremely disappointed.

If you feel the same way, go tell Kashi about it!

This post has been a part of Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade. Find more great posts there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday September 14

We are all moved into our new house, but not quite all settled yet. While our kitchen was half packed up menu planning was definitely a difficult task. Now that I have a kitchen - not just a kitchen, but a kitchen with ROOM to spare (!!) - we are getting fully back into the swing of things.

I am so excited, and feeling so much less tired, now that we are making more of our own food again. And, what is more than that, I am discovering the joy of cooking and cleaning when there is actually room to move around. It has been much easier for me to keep up on housework since we've moved into a roomier place!

We've only just gotten settled in and there is already a lot on the horizon. This Sunday is our family birthday party for this month, at my brother and sister in law's house. Jeff's birthday was on the 6th, and then this week my niece Cora and my nephew Tobin each have a birthday as well. Jen (my awesome sister in law) and I are each making a lasagna (mine with raw cheese so Jeff can eat it) and a cake, everyone else is bringing salads, breads, and drinks. It will prove to be a ton of fun, as always, and soooooooooooooo delicious :) Of course, never having done this cake with wheat before (I'm making an incredible Black Forest Cake), I'll have to do a trial run. How sad to have extra cake around!

Once we get fully unpacked and settled, you can definitely expect pictures of our new abode, complete with the incredible paint-job my very handy husband did (with the help of some good friends, too!). Until is this weeks menu plan:

Breakfast: Kefir / granola
Lunch: Leftover Barley Burgers (from the dinner we had w/some friends Sunday Night)
Dinner: Sweet Orange Grilled Chicken Salad* (see "recipe" below)

To Do: Make Black Forest Cake (Trial run for party later this week, haven't made this cake w/the freshly milled soft white wheat before), also make egg salad for Tuesday lunches.

Breakfast: Kefir/Granola
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken (a la Jeff) in the slowcooker :)

Start boiling chicken for stock (and lots of chicken Salad)

Breakfast: Kefir / Granola
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Dinner: Stroganoff

Breakfast: Kefir / Granola
Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked Chicken with Apples and Barley

To Do: Soak Barley in the AM

Breakfast: Granola / Kefir
Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover Stroganoff

To Do: Soak Waffle Batter

Breakfast: Eggs, Sausage, Whole Grain Waffles
Lunch: Eating Out (wahoo for dates :) )
Dinner: Stirfry (once again a la Jeff...I love my husband)

Make cheese for lasagna, make Black Forest Cake.

Breakfast: Granola / Kefir
Lunch: Lasagna w/whole real milk mozzarella (homemade)
Dinner: Leftover Stir Fry

To Do: Make Lasagna in the AM

This has been Menu Plan Monday. Find more great Menu Planning ideas at Organizing Junkie!

Sweet Orange Grilled Chicken Salad

Place desired amount of Chicken Breast in a marinade bag (a freezer bag will do) with the juice of 2 medium sized oranges and 2 T honey. Marinate for several hours. Sautee on medium heat in the oil of your choice (due to an allergy, we can't use coconut oil, so we generally use olive oil).

In a bowl, toss together salad greens (we used baby spinach and red baby butter lettuce), sliced almonds, and mandarin oranges.

In a jar, combine 4 T Olive Oil with 1-2 T apple cider vinegar. Add about 1 tsp. sucanat, as well as a pinch of garlic powder, ginger, cinnamon, Italian Seasoning, and the juice of half an orange. Put a lid on the jar and shake vigorously. Pour desired amount onto waiting salad greens, oranges, and almonds. Toss again and place into bowls. Slice grilled chicken and top salads.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

National Women's Equality Day

Yesterday I was exclaiming my discovery (thanks to a GoogleDoodle made of telescopes) that it was the 400th birthday of Galileo's telescope. A coworker of mine responded, "Tomorrow is National Women's Equality Day!"

I was so excited to hear that. I mean, I grew up with a mom who was a housewife. Any jobs she held were out of absolute necessity and were scheduled during hours that we were at school or sleeping. She gave everything to her family, and I consider that no demeaning thing. I think of my own mother with the highest regard, and believe there is much more work to caring for a family and a home than your average modern feminists would acknowledge.

However, I also greatly admire women who take on other roles. Countless women have given themselves to the mission field, to the medical field, to education, to music, to art, to the corporate arena, and beyond.

I have to tell you that when I walk into an exam room to find that my doctor (or NPC, or PA) is a woman, I am greatly relieved. No matter how calm and gentle a male doctor may manage to be, there is still a much higher level of comfort for me when I am being attended to by a woman. And I have never ever felt that because my attending physician was a woman, she was less intelligent or less well equipped to take care of me. In fact, scientifically speaking, the biggest differences between male and female brains tend to be (since even these traits are not gender specific) approaches to problem solving (big picture vs. minor details, etc.), and styles of learning (tactile, visual, audio, kinesthetic, etc.). But regardless, women who work outside the home are also a huge help to society.

Imagine walking into a bank today, and seeing only male tellers behind the counter. Wouldn't that look bizarre? We are so used to being waited on by women in professions such as these, so why do female tellers get paid (on average) $1 less per hour than their male counterparts? Female employees in most industries make less than their male counterparts. Why is that ok? Why is that acceptable?

Days like this are necessary to raise the public awareness of the issue. The problem is, why does no one else seem to know it is National Women's Equality Day? There was a GoogleDoodle for Galileo's telescope yesterday, but nothing for NWE Day today. It is a national holiday, but it is not on any calendars that I have seen.

You don't have to be a card-carrying feminist to know and understand that women are vital to our society. Not just from a physiological standpoint of procreation, but we need the compassion, the dedication, the drive, the intelligence, and the insight of women as a driving force in our society today. More than just empowering women who work outside the home, mothers who are at home caring for their children and home are often treated as "less than" the men in the world with their lofty professions. If you believe that staying home to be a housewife and mother is a noble calling (as I do), than National Women's Equality Day should be important to you, too.

The same Bible that says "Wives submit to your husbands," also says "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). That is not a knock against biblical wifely submission at all, but just pointing out that the headship of a marriage relationship does not indicate that men and women are not equal in God's sight, intellectually, and insofar as capabilities. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3;28)