Monday, April 25, 2011

Its Amazing How Much Can Change in Two Weeks!

My dad just completed week 2 of the GAPS diet. I feel like we have all really accomplished something.

Basically with GAPS you are eating food that is gentle and easily digestible, along with adding lots of healthy probiotics into your system. It allows your gut time to rest and heal so that it can get back on track and on it's way to functioning properly. This is by no means an easy quick fix. This is a real option for permanent healing. It's also a big commitment. You have to stay on the diet for usually a couple of years to permanently heal your gut before you can start adding other foods back into your diet on a regular basis.

Basically many diseases and illnesses start within our gut. When there isn't a good balance of good and bad bacteria, the bad bacteria can take over and that's when things can really go awry. Without the good bacteria being able to do their job properly, not only can we get leaks and yeast overgrowth; nutrition, along with neurological information, isn't able to be sent to the right places. This includes our brain as well. Headaches, fogginess, fatigue, confusion, memory loss... Many of these issues are caused by toxins entering our body in one way or another and upsetting the balance. Mostly through diet, but also through environmental toxins as well. For example, studies show that people that live closer to industrial power plants have a greater risk of autism. Obviously, this is very simplified. It's unbelievable how much is going on down there and how much can be messed up when our gut isn't in balance.

GAPS not only can heal problems like my dads, it can also heal mental disorders, like bipolarism and schizophrenia. GAPS can heal autism. Now I am not doctor, and I realize this diet won't always fix everything, but I have read the research and I have read blog after blog, story after story of people finding relief and reprieve from their disorders. It's absolutely amazing what this diet has done for so many people, who feared they were dealing with a permanent problem.

The last two weeks have been busy to say the least. Relentless might be a better word. Each day is a race with the clock to try to get everything I need to get done before bed time. It's not a tentative list either, these things had to be done. We had to make lots of chicken and beef broth, boiled chicken and chuck roast. He could only have boiled meats and soft cooked veggies, but nothing to fibrous. Everything needs to be all natural, organic from healthy, and properly fed animals. We slowly added in egg yolks, then whole eggs, avocados, coconut oil and ghee. He can have fresh herbs but no spices in the beginning, we'll add them once he is out of the introduction phase and into the full GAPS diet.

He cannot have lactose, so we have to cook out the lactose in butter to make ghee. Ghee is basically clarified butter. You start with butter, cook it in the oven at about 250 degrees for around 2 hours until the milk proteins fall to the bottom and rise to the top.

You skim off the foam on the top and strain the milk protein out.

The golden liquid left over is ghee. You can store it in your pantry and it lasts for months. I prefer to keep it in the fridge though.

Then we needed to make whey to add more probiotics to his food. Luckily I was already used to making this and always keep it on hand. Now I am making it more often for sure. Start with homemade yogurt or a high quality plain whole milk organic commercial yogurt. Drain it over a mesh strainer, lined with a cheese cloth over night.

In the morning, I tie up the cheesecloth and hang it from my wine glass rack to let the rest of the whey drip out.

By the time I get home from work, I have some "cream cheese" and whey. Ever hear the term "curds and whey", well this is kinda where it came from. I love adding whey to smoothies too!

I have been fermenting vegetables! I have really been interested in doing this but never have. It's really important to make fermented veggies and drink the juice added to food and broth and then soon he will be adding the vegetables themselves to his diet as well. The sit in some salted, filtered water with some added whey for about a week in the pantry at room temperature. They will last for months in the fridge.

It's no wonder families and communities worked together back in the olden days. This stuff takes time!!

I'm not gonna lie... the past two weeks have been hard. I have been pretty exhausted and maybe even a tiny bit overwhelmed. With my lack of sleep, and my immune system being down, I even caught some sort of bug at the end of last week. I had a really hard time sleeping Friday night and by the time I woke up my throat was not right. It was so sore, it hurt to swallow, I even worried for a minute if I had strep throat. So Saturday, I got plenty of rest, drank lots of salty homemade chicken broth (luckily we had plenty on hand!) and herbal teas and I was almost 100% again by Sunday! Which was good because I was hosting Easter at my house for my whole family. And today I am back to normal. Spending extra time with my dad yesterday really re-fueled me as well. He's doing so good. Our efforts are really paying off, which is making all of this so worth it!

He looked great. His color has returned to his skin and his eyes were back to his super blue color. He has lost almost 30 lbs! Most of it was during the first week when he was on a mostly liquids diet. He has flushed alot of "stuff" out of his system too. His blood pressure is better then it has been in over 10 years! Before the diet, he got headaches every day... he hasn't had any since we started him on the diet. He is feeling better both physically and emotionally. I can't wait to see him get better and better. He can't believe how much this has done for him already and he is "a true believer now", which is what he told me on Easter.

I was only scratching the surface on how important food was to our health. Now after helping my dad do the GAPS diet and seeing how amazing things have been and how much has turned around in only 2 weeks it has really made a huge impact on me. His doctor wanted to put him in the hospital and remove part of his colon! I am happy to say that everything is still in tact.

I am so excited to see the progress it will make for him down the road as well!

Here's a pic of me and my dad, taken on Easter.

Things are starting to get easier already. We are figuring things out and my mom is cooking more stuff too now. We are going to start doing more stuff on the weekends to get him through the week and that will help out alot as well. It all happened so fast and we didn't have much of a game plan in the beginning, but we are getting the hang of it and it will only get easier from here.

Even if it didn't though... he's getting better... and that makes it worth it right there!!

The post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday and the Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chicken Fried (Mock) Rice (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free)

This is a fairly easy recipe and although it isn't exactly like the stuff you have delivered to your your house from your local "chinese" joint, its reminiscent and pretty darn good.

You can use a food processor to do all your prep. I used my Ninja to do all my dirty work. Chop up some carrots...

Then some onion...

Pulse in the processor your head of cauliflower until it looks somewhat similar to rice. I actually chopped it up a little too small I think.

Steam some broccoli and chop that up too. I definitely chopped mine up too small. It breaks down even more while cooking.

Mince up 3-4 cloves of garlic...

Use pre-cooked chicken. I used some left over from a chicken I had boiled for some stock.

First throw a few Tbs of butter into a big pan and cook your onions, carrots and broccoli...

Then throw in your chicken and cook it until its hot...

Then add your cauliflower rice cook for about 10 minutes, then throw in some soy sauce, garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and sea salt.

(I do avoid soy in my diet, but fermented soy, as in soy sauce, miso soup and tempeh are okay on occasion. Organic Soy Sauce insures there are no GMO's, as 90% of all Soy is genetically modified)

Throw in some scrambled eggs. I just mixed it right in, but next I will make a hole in the middle, and scramble up the eggs separately, then mix them in.

Here's the final product.

I was pretty happy with the flavor and thought it was really good. I would have liked it to have been more of the consistency of actual chicken fried rice though. Next time I won't chop up the vegetables near as small and I'll cook the eggs more before I mix them in. Otherwise its a winner!

The munchkin loved it, but this was definitely a very messy meal!

Chicken Fried (Mock) Rice

  • 1 lb Pre-cooked Chicken, torn into small pieces
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • 1 C White Onion
  • 1 C Carrots
  • 1 C Broccoli
  • 4 Tb Butter (or coconut oil for dairy free option)
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 C Organic Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tb Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 Eggs

  1. Steam Broccoli for 10 minutes.
  2. Chop up onion, carrots and cooked broccoli. Don't chop them up too small!
  3. Break up and clean cauliflower. Pulse in Food Processor until it looks similar to rice.
  4. Mince Garlic.
  5. Heat large frying pan on stove and melt butter or coconut oil.
  6. Saute the onions, carrots and broccoli in butter or oil for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add cold, cooked chicken and continue stirring until chicken is hot.
  8. Add Cauliflower and cook for about 5 minutes
  9. Add Soy Sauce, Garlic, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper and Sea salt and continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender.
  10. Push everything to the sides around the pan, leaving an empty space in the muddle. Pour scrambled eggs into the center and cook most of the way, leaving them a little wet, then mix in with the rest of the ingredients.
  11. Serve and Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Hospital Scare = Major Changes

Today I was ten minutes late to work. I also walked in with my hair, un-brushed, thrown up into a sloppy bun. I have no make up on. I smell like chicken stock.

I am a hot mess.

I also only got about 5 hours of sleep. I am a 7 or 8 hour sleep type of gal and I don't do well with much less. I am Tie-erd.

Let's back up a little.

Last Friday, while out at a mouse race fundraiser for breast cancer, I had already had more then my fair share of drinks and wasn't quite in my right state of mind. I received a text from my mom. "Dad went to the Dr today... been in alot of pain... has diverticulosis."

Let me give you a little background on my dad. He was diagnosed with chrone's disease years ago, although those symptoms have been somewhat better the last couple of years. He also has a hiatal hernia and barrett's esophagus, amongst other things.

This was alot to take in, especially given my current state, and 45 minutes away at a fundraiser. I wanted to go home, but that really wasn't an option since I went with some friends and Joe was at home with the munchkin sleeping. So I did my best to straighten myself out and then I gave my mom a call.

This is his third flare up of diverticulosis and apparently it was getting pretty bad. The doctor wanted to see how he did over the weekend and on Monday would determine their plan. It wasn't looking good though, and most likely they would want to admit him into the hospital and remove part of his colon.

I hate that my dad is always feeling so bad all of the time. It seems like he is always in some sort of pain due to all of this stuff going on. He keeps eating all of the bad foods that agitate it and things just get worse. I told my mom to tell him that we were taking over. That he was just going to shut up and eat what we give him. That was it, end of story. The doctor already wanted him on liquids only over the weekend, so it was the perfect time to bring it up. I have been reading alot about the GAPS diet over the past few months and really felt it would be the best thing for him to do. We would stick with liquids over the weekend, while I did some more research on the diet.

If you are not familiar with the GAPS diet, and most people aren't, here's a great link with a good summary of it.

The blogs and stories I have read about what this diet has done for people and their families is truly amazing.

My dad was willing to give it a try. He had to do something or he was going to end up in the hospital again, undergoing surgery and removing body parts.

So I asked my girl Amber to drive me by the grocery store at midnight on the way home so I could grab a few supplies. I called Joe and had him dig up the soup bones out of the freezer from our grass fed cow that we had bought. The were all packaged up separately and ready to go. I threw them in the crock pot along with some onions, celery, a little apple cider vinegar and some herbs and garlic. The gelatin and the marrow from the bones are especially healing to the walls of the gut and colon. I let it simmer overnight.

In the morning, my mom came and picked up the bone broth and brought it back home for my dad. The broth was strong and tasted pretty gross to him but he choked some of it down regardless. Over the remainder of the weekend he sipped on that along with some chicken broth and not much else. By Monday morning, he was actually feeling better. He was hungry and still sore but he was better. He ever went to work.

He talked to his doctor who literally couldn't believe he was at work. He told him to keep up what he was doing and to see how things went.

He sent out an email, reporting what the doc had said, and then at the end he said "GAPS here we come!" It seemed he was ready.

We had ordered the books over the weekend with more information and recipes, but we had no idea how long it would take for them to arrive. I had read alot about the diet, how it worked and why, but I hadn't concentrated much on the specifics of what all he needed to be eating and doing. It was all a little overwhelming, trying to figure it out all on the same day that he wanted to start the diet. And we needed to start it right away. He had already been on liquids all weekend, so he was halfway there and it would make the transition easier. In the intro part of the diet, all you get is meat and bone broths and soups with boiled meat and non fibrous-vegetables. No spices, but you can use fresh herbs and salt and pepper. He will also be taking a probiotic each day, along with dairy and veggie based probiotics. He can also have ginger and peppermint tea.

We started looking online, gathering info and recipes and trying to figure out what we needed to do. Thank goodness for my bloggie friend Sarah, over at Nourished and Nurtured, who was a wealth of knowledge and so willing to send me lots of good info and links through email, along with some great recipes.

Monday evening I packed up the munchkin and we headed down to my parents house (thank goodness they live less then a mile). I gave my mom a list of supplies for her to pick up on the way home and me and my dad collected the big stock pots and I cleaned them out and got them ready. Once my mom got home, I cleaned up the chickens, and got them going in the pot. I did as much as I could and then, already an hour past the munchkin's bed time, headed home. I gave her a list of instructions and headed home, hoping I had explained everything good enough.

I talked to her on the phone around 11:30pm and she seemed a little daunted. The chicken was a big mushy mess she said and it was going to take forever to pick through everything and get it sorted the way I had asked her to. I told her to relax, just set some strained stock aside for him to drink, then pull out enough chicken, throw in with the stock and veggies to make up some soup and leave the rest to worry about the next day.

I was in bed barely by midnight, trying to gather more information and figure out what we needed to be doing. The next morning I woke up to an email from my mom.

"You don't sew...... I don't cook. This is not something I do well and I almost always fuck it up!"

I felt awful for her! She was obviously overwhelmed and tired. The email arrived around 2:00 am. I wish I could have stayed to help her, but everything had to cook for several hours and I had to get the munchkin home and Joe was at school...

Luckily the next day, my dad tried the broth she had made, and the chicken and veggie soup. He told me it was really good and that he really liked it. Whew! I was so relived. Mostly for my mom. I knew that had to make her feel better. So now we had some stock and some soup, but with that being the only thing he could have for right now, it wasn't going to last long.

I asked Joe to pick up the munchkin from the sitter for me so that I could run by 2 stores and my parents house and be home in time to still make dinner before he left for school. I bolted out the door right at quittin' time, flew to costco, then to the grocery store, by my parents house to grab their stock pot and some of the stock she had made so I could whip up some soup for him before my stock was finished. I rushed home, got the chickens in the pot, cut the squashes in half and put them in the oven (I was making butternut squash soup, courtesy of a recipe from Sarah), then started on our dinner. I decided to keep it really simple and whipped up some shrimp scampi and green beans. As you can imagine at this point the kitchen was a huge mess. Joe helped me some before he shuffled out the door for class and I cleaned up the rest while the munchkin finished her dinner.

About the time I had the munchkin and the kitchen cleaned up, the squashes were done cooking and it was time to make the butternut squash soup. While I was getting that together, the munchkin started getting pissed at me. She was not happy that I was so busy in the kitchen and she was bored. Plus she had been teething really bad and was crabby from that as well.

I finished up the soup as fast as I could and tried to concentrate just on her until she went to bed. It was a nice break. We hung out in the living room, played with some blocks and some puzzles and I watched part of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Right after she was down for the night, the chicken finished cooking and I started getting it cooled off and then the fun task of picking everything part.

He needs to eat almost everything from the chicken. Animal fat is especially important. I was putting the bones back into the pot with the stock to continue simmering overnight and separating the meat and different parts out. I was throwing away the cartilage and some other chewy questionable bits, but everything else was being saved.

My mom came by to pick up the butternut squash soup, after some more grocery shopping, to bring back for my dad. She was not looking forward to going home to the huge mess she had left in her kitchen from the night before. I guess my dad really was feeling a little better because he had the entire kitchen cleaned by the time she got home!

I threw some meat, fat and veggies in another pot to make some more chicken soup. Joe had just gotten home and started to help me clean up the mess. Then once the chicken soup was done, he took it down to my parents house to drop it off. While he was gone, I made the munchkin's and my lunch for the next day, finished cleaning up the kitchen again and got ready for bed. I set the alarm fro 5:30am so I could get up and turn off the stove so the stock could cool enough for me to put it in jars before I left for work. I laid my head down around 12:30am.

I barely remember getting up at 5:30 to turn off the stove, but thankfully the mission was accomplished successfully. Before I knew it, it was 7:00am and my alarm was going off. I meant to hit the snooze, but I guess I accidentally turned it off. I woke up later and saw that it was 7:40! Shit!... I jumped out of bed, got ready as fast as I could, I ran into the kitchen and started straining the stock into the mason jars. This was a HUGE pot of stock and in my rush to get everything done I splashed some up into my hair and all over my neck. Yuck! Luckily there weren't many other casualties and I managed to get everything in the jars and into the fridge. I quickly fried some eggs and threw them onto a sandwich with some cheese, grabbed my stuff and flew out the door eating in the car on my way to work.

Somehow I managed to make it to work at 8:38, only being 8 minutes late. I seriously have no idea how I pulled that one off. No freaking clue.

So today, I am keeping a safe distance from anyone else, not wanting them to have to catch too big of a whiff of me. Hopefully no one will notice what a mess my hair is or that I am not wearing any make up. I am going to pretend no one can tell.

Some people prepare for weeks to start this diet. We had absolutely no time to prepare at all. So it's a little hectic right now, trying to figure everything out, but it will get better once we have a better handle on things. Hopefully we can make more food on the weekends, to have throughout the week, instead of cramming everything in on a weeknight.

I am really winging it here and kinda flying by the seat of my pants, so hopefully it's "so far so good". I want to do right if we are going to do it, so hopefully I am on track so far. I will feel better once the books arrive.

I am really excited about what is going on, though. I am feeling good about what we are doing and know that it is all going to be worth it. The idea of my dad getting better, to be able to feel good again is very exciting and I would love so much to see him not have to deal with so much pain all of the time any more.

I am hoping he can stick to this, he seems like he wants to and that he can. I am sending prayers and wishes out into the universe that things really start turning around for him. If you have any extra to send our way, I would really appreciate it. I will keep things posted on how things are progressing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cheesy Meat Roll Up, a.k.a. Meatloaf (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

My husband loves himself some meatloaf. I have tried out several different ways to make it without the use of bread crumbs and they usually turn out okay. This recipe on the other hand, took things to a whole new level, and will for now on, be my go-to recipe when anyone mentions they have a hankering for some meatloaf. This thing is packed with flavor.

I am not sure anymore where the original recipe came from that gave me the idea for this. I had copied the text and pasted it into an email and sent it to myself a while back and just got around to playing with it. I had to change up quite a few things to add some flavor and suit it more towards our tastes and preferences. I am really happy with how it turned out.

It had the hubby's approval, the munchkin gobbled it down, and even our niece (6 weeks younger then the munchkin) had two helpings.

First mix up your tomato topping, consisting of tomato paste, stevia powder extract (or your sweetener of choice), and a little water. Then set aside.

In a big bowl, mix together the beef, tomato paste, eggs, Parmesan, red peppers, red onions and seasonings. On a piece of wax paper, shape the meat into a rectangle shape, roughly about 8x10 inches.

Place a layer of prosciutto across the top of the meat mixture.

Honestly, the prosciutto is a really yummy addition, but this recipe is still be delicious without it. Prosciutto isn't cheap, and I leave it out most of the time. Other thinly sliced meats would work well too, but I do love prosciutto.

Layer some provolone cheese across the top next.

Starting with the shorter edge, fold inward and roll up the meat and cheese like a giant roll-up.

Now that is a meaty roll-up!

Pinch together all of the open edges, concealing the prosciutto and provolone. It's like a meat submarine!

Place it all in a 5" x "9 loaf pan.

Spread tomato topping over the top in a really thick layer. Place it in the oven and bake.

Drain out the extra liquid and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Slice it up and enjoy! I served it with some sweet potatoes, all buttered up. It is also excellent with some colorful roasted veggies.

It makes a swirly cheesy yummy presentation.

Really you could try out all different kinds of ingredients in this. Different types of cheeses or thinly sliced meats in the middle. I also think bacon would be good rolled up inside. I hope you'll try it out, it definitely makes a delicious meal and some great leftovers.

Cheesy Meat Roll-up

  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used an 85/15)
  • 1 (7 oz) jar tomato paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C red bell peppers
  • 1/4 C red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tb chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto
  • 1/4 lb provolone cheese slices
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix tomato paste, stevia powder, and water. Set aside for topping.
  3. Place red pepper in food processor (I used my ninja) and pulse until diced small. Repeat with red onion.
  4. Place garlic cloves in food processor and mince.
  5. In a large bowl, mix beef, tomato paste, eggs, Parmesan cheese, red peppers, red onion and seasonings. Work it thoroughly by hand to get everything mixed up really well.
  6. Lay out a piece of wax paper to work on. Spread out the meat mixture on the wax paper roughly to about 8" x 10" rectangle.
  7. Lay down a layer of prosciutto on top.
  8. Lay down another layer of provolone cheese.
  9. Starting with the 8" side, roll it towards the center and keep going until its all rolled up.
  10. Pinch and seal up all of the edges so that all of the cheese and prosciutto is completely sealed in.
  11. Place the roll, with the seam side on the bottom into a 5" x 9" loaf pan. No need to grease the pan.
  12. Top the loaf with the tomato mixture, slathering it on extra thick. (There was a little bit of mixture left over that I didn't use)
  13. Bake in the oven at 350 F for about an hour and 15 minutes. You can use a thermometer to test doneness at around 165 degrees in the center.
  14. Drain excess liquids and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  15. Slice, serve and enjoy!
This is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop! and the Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter and Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at changes!" ~ Wayne Dyer

I was having a conversation the other day with my girl Anna about food/nutrition. We were discussing sugar for the most part. I won't bore you with the details, but at one point, she asked me a question and didn't like the answer. I could tell she was frustrated. Not with me, but with the information. I could understand exactly how she felt and had been there many times myself. Usually on a daily basis. I told her that what I do, is use the information to guide me most of the time.... we still have to live!

She told me how it just added to her frustration with the food system as we know it, that it makes her sick, and no wonder so many people are overweight!

I have given up most sugar and removed it from my life (other then naturally occurring sugar in fruits and things like that), but I realize that this isn't something most people can/will/want do. I think though, that the majority of the population just doesn't realize how bad sugar really is for them, especially for children and I also think it's not entirely their fault.

I have another friend, who told me that I act like food is the enemy. I can see, from the glasses she is looking through, why she would feel that way. I actually feel quite the opposite. Food, real food, I do not see as our enemy at all. It is the fuel for our body that will keep it running smoothly, help us to avoid sickness and disease and can help us to age gracefully and comfortably into our old age. This seems more like an important ally to me. What we feed our children when they are young, plays a huge role in how they will view food and it's importance in their life. It also plays an even bigger role in their health and livelihood as an adult. You don't have to believe me, but it still won't change the facts.

When I first started on this journey, I was worried that it would be hard to give up things like processed sugar and conventional bread. That it would be too time consuming to make each meal from scratch and not be able to rely on pre-packed boxed or canned food items to come up with quick and easy meals. These were huge staples in my diet and I wasn't sure how many things I would be able to come up with to eat, that were good, once so much stuff was removed. I started out by telling myself I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do, that I could try it for a while and see how it went. And as I removed things that weren't good for my body, as I read more and more information as to why they weren't good for me, and as I felt the results from doing so, it became easier and easier and easier.

I have never felt so empowered and helpless at the same time. It's an overwhelming feeling sometimes. The more I learn about food, and it's different roles and effects on our body, the more empowered and in control I feel over my situation and my health. It gives me more confidence to be able to feed and fuel my daughter's body as well. She is completely reliant on me and what I am feeding her now is going to have a lasting affect for many years to come.

I also sometimes feel helpless, the more I learn, because I realize how little our country and our government cares about the health and well being of its people. Everything is run by money and power and it's all based on the bottom line. They don't care how misleading or tricky they have to be to get you to buy what they are trying to pass off as "food". And unless you have hours and hours to dedicate to researching and educating yourself about it, you have no clue what is going on. You won't know how it's affecting your body negatively, or your child's, until it's too late and something has gone terribly wrong. And it isn't until too many people have been caused harm by something and raised enough stink about it, that they will then finally pull it off the shelves. Unlike most other industrialized countries, where "better safe then sorry" is more the motto, and things have to be rigorously tested before it is sold as food to the public, things are pushed into our food system where we are used as the guinea pigs. Do you have any idea how many preservatives are allowed to be placed in our foods and products that are actually banned in other countries?

Like I told my friend Anna though, I have to give myself a reality check here and there and know that I am doing the best I can, and it's a big improvement over where I used to be. I try to take the information and the things I have learned, to better my life and my health, but I try not to let it frustrate me or upset me if I can't always do everything like I want to. We just don't live in a society that is conducive to that.

I do have hope though, that this is changing. I hear more and more stories all the time about other people starting to stand up and take notice and each time I do, it gives me hope. One of our clients came in the other day to get some booklets printed for the city that included rules and regulations for citizens of the community. She wanted to add a section in the back that listed the guidelines for setting up a chicken coop and raising chickens. She said they had been getting so many calls about this recently, people wanting to raise chickens in their backyards, that they wanted to go ahead and include it in their booklet. There are more and more groups popping up in my area all the time, like "Slow Foods", and there are many restaurants that are starting to serve all natural and healthy food items. The more and more people that care, that realize the importance of the food that we put into our bodies, the more and more the companies that are responsible for our food will care to make it healthier. If people are willing to pay their hard earned cash for over-processed, preservative laden quick and easy meals, and the companies can sell it to them for such huge profits, then certainly their conscience isn't going to stop them from doing it. And if the government is going to let them get away with it, then the only way to stop them is to quit buying their food.

When I first started drastically changing my eating habits, it was a bit of a lonely road. I had no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to discuss what I had learned or to share new ideas and recipes with. It wasn't until I started to follow other like-minded bloggers, that I finally was able to find a sense of community. It's so much easier to hang in there, when you have others to share with and learn from. Most of my friends and family, had no problems with my new eating habits, even if they thought I was crazy. But there were some (and still are), that would sometimes react so strongly, they seem almost angry about it. I honestly feel now, that it's more because they think I am trying to either push my agenda on them, that I think I am better then them because of my decisions, or that I am judging them because of theirs. I have gotten a little better at blowing these reactions off, now that I am more used to it. Anyone that really knows me, knows I would never judge them for their choices or think that I am better then them because of mine. I have realized I can't take it personally, because honestly it's not my issue.

What a change time can bring though. I now have so many more people in my life joining me on this path. Whether they have found the path on their own terms or have been around me long enough to see there might be something to this, I have been so inspired lately by the enthusiasm and interest in others. I am swapping recipes and information with friends and family members. In the beginning, I didn't have a single person (other then my husband, who, thank goodness, puts up with me through just about anything), that I could call or talk to when I would find out something really crazy or disturbing. I mean I could have, but they didn't want to hear it, so I kept it to myself.

And the the thing is, it's not that I want to "teach" someone what I have learned (although I am more then happy to if they want to know anything), I just thrive on discussing these topics. I find the subject of health and nutrition, although often frustrating and overwhelming, to also be fascinating! It's like when someone is really into photography, or a sport, or anything else people spend their time really involved with, it is just really amazing to me, how it all works together, and the impact it has on our lives.

The more I know, the more I want to know. I have come a long way on this journey and now, at this point I actually LOVE the food I eat. I honestly can't imagine going back to the way I used to eat. I feel energized after each meal, instead of sluggish or tired. I used to get the shakes really bad if I went too long without eating. I couldn't even tell you the last time that happened. And I haven't been sick, other then a snotty nose in over a year. I no longer have to worry about my weight. I eat everything I want to, and it is never an issue. My tastes and preferences have changed and I crave the things that are good for me. So if you see me at a party, and I am munching on my own snacks that I brought, or passing on the cake at the wedding, please don't feel sorry for me, I couldn't be any happier about it!

I shared this post on Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chili Night

Normally I wouldn't dedicate a post to what my daughter had for dinner. But she was cracking me up last night and I had to share.

I cooked up the hamburger meat, sauteed the onions and garlic and threw it all together with some beef broth and spices and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Yesterday morning, I put that, along with some black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes and some pureed pumpkin into the crockpot. I left out some of the hotter ingredients, like the chile peppers I would normally use. I also left out the green peppers, since I knew she doesn't like them. I let it sit on low for 9 hours until dinner time.

I wasn't sure how the Munchkin was going to react to chili, if she would like it or even try to eat it. She loves spaghetti and has eaten most of the ingredients in the chili in some form or another with out any trouble. I have always seasoned up her food with lots of stuff to get her used to intense flavors, I even put herbs and seasonings in her scrambled eggs. But I thought with the chili powder and cumin and everything else all put together, with that spicy extra kick that comes with chili, might have been a little too much.

Boy was I wrong.

I did mix in a hefty dollop of sour cream to cool it off a bit, along with some shredded cheese. I gave her her bowl and she immediately went to town. After the cheese melted down it became all stringy, so of course she had to play with that for a while. When she would pull her spoon up out of the bowl, she had to break apart the string of cheese, pile it up on top of her spoon and make sure there wasn't any hanging down before she would put it in her mouth. These made her left hand very cheesy indeed.

Once all of the cheese strings had been cleared and removed, she shoveled that chili in like nobody's business.

She finished her first bowl pretty quickly, then started eating the stuff she had spilled all over her tray. I asked her if she wanted more and she shouted "More!", with a huge chili faced grin. So I filled up her bowl again. Halfway through, she wanted to start feeding me some.

So I opened my mouth and took a bite. She would shake her arms around, wiggle like crazy in her chair, all excited with her face all scrunched up and shout "yummy"! She seriously LOVES feeding other people. I was already pretty full from my own bowl, so after a few bites of hers, I had to say "all done" and even gave her the sign for it. She was a little disappointed, but moved back to feeding herself.

When she started having trouble scraping the bottom of the bowl with her spoon, she resorted to using her fingers to pick out the remaining beans and tomatoes.

I seriously can not believe how much she loved this chili. She never eats two full bowls of anything and she might have even eaten more if I had given it to her.

And its a good thing I didn't. After dinner we headed out to run a few errands. I opened up the back door after pulling up to our first stop, and found her sitting in her seat, with a sour look on her face and about 2 Tb of puked up chili running down the front of her shirt. It might have been my dad's fault for spinning her around and tossing her on the couch right after she ate and right before we left, but maybe we'll stop after one bowl next time, just to be safe.

After I got her cleaned up, we headed in. I walked around the store, kinda embarrassed, thinking everyone could smell puke on us as we walked by them. I would sometimes catch a whiff of her myself and my gag reflex would start to kick in. Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

She was totally fine the rest of the night. Not even any crazy poops or anything.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homemade Ranch Dressing (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

I use ranch dressing for alot of different things. Salads, veggie dip, on sandwiches and wraps. I am not, however, as much of a freak about it as my husband. It was a proud day when I finally came up with a ranch dressing recipe that he really liked and that could take the place of his beloved Hidden Valley. Since removing soy completely from my diet, Hiddan Valley Ranch (along with most every other bottle of commercial ranch) was not an option, as soybean oil is the #1 ingredient. Making your own isn't very difficult, and definitely worth the effort.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes before serving. It's better if chilled overnight.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Homage to April Fools Day

I have been reading all of these blog posts today about how people hate April Fools Day. They think it's ridiculous that it is so recognized all over the world and that people are still playing jokes and making asses of themselves.


I felt the need to be an opposing voice in defence of April Fool's Day.

I freaking love April Fool's day. I do. I find it to be hilarious. I love hearing about jokes people play on others. I especially love to play jokes myself. I try to think of stuff to do the weeks in advance.

I thank (or blame) my father for my love for practical jokes. He's always been a prankster and I loved hearing about the jokes he would play on his co-workers and friends. He was the type of guy that would take a piece of fish and stick it in the floor vent by a coworker's desk and wait patiently until the stench became so horrible everyone around the poor guy was trying to help him discover the source of this foul smell. I have never gone that far, but I have a few stories to tell myself. Feel free to use some of these today.

One year, I rubbed mascara all over the head piece of someone's office phone. The phone was black so you couldn't see it. Once they picked up the phone, it was rubbed all over their ear and upper cheek. The walked around for a while with it, people snickering, until finally they went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.

I put a small piece of masking tape over the tab that sticks up that senses when the phone is picked up and set down. When they went to answer their phone, after picking up the hand piece, the phone remains hung up and they do not know why they can't hear anyone there. This usually results in a frustrated "Hello? Hello? Hello!!!!!" Also if you put a small piece of tape in the little holes on the mouth piece the customer trying to hear your co-worker will be shouting "I can't hear you"! Yeah these are kinda lame, but they still make me chuckle. Call me immature, go ahead.

One of my favorite involves all of the little circles left over in the 3-hole punch. This only works if your target has a cubicle or a work station that has the cabinets up top with the door that slides up and over the top of it. Empty all of the circles from inside the 3-hole punch into a plastic baggy. Take these circles and place them evenly across the top of the door when it is in the up position. When your target goes to slide this down and close it at the end of the day, it will be like a parade with all of the little circles falling down on top of them.

I have put fake violation tickets on people's cars. I would bring it to work in the morning and put it on their car. I would make sure to try to go to lunch or leave work about the same time so I could see their reaction when they find it.

This morning I texted my sisters, telling them I was pregnant. I honestly didn't think they were going to buy it, but due to lack of planning ahead, I was stumped this morning. My younger sister Amy believed it at first and called me, really excited to tell me congratulations. I didn't answer my cell phone, so she called my work phone. By the time, they got me on the line, she had realized it was April Fool's Day. Once I answered, she said "You tricked me at first! I was calling to tell you congratulations you asshole, but I just realized what day it was."

I sent my youngest sister this text, "I finally took a pregnancy test this morning. Way ahead of schedule with our 'plan' but looks like I am preggo!" She replied, "Aprils Fools Turd" I sent back, "You thought about it for a second right?" Her response, "No cuz I've been playing one on people too." I said, "Boo! What's yours?" She says "Look on my facebook."

Underneath, she writes "We kept it simple just like we wanted...and I waited to post the pic from last weekend...its official now!!"

This is a fake picture of her and her boyfriend Chad. She actually even fooled some people.

It's hard when people are expecting it. And I guess at this point, they do. I haven't been able to pull off much of a really crazy and successful joke in the past couple of years. And forget about tricking my husband. I guess I need to be more creative or something. Or have other people do my dirty work for me, maybe if I am not associated with it at all, they won't automatically assume it's a joke.

Last year, I posted on Facebook: "Laura is moving to Colorado!!!!!!!!!!! Joe is getting an awesome job offer there through his current employer.... they are even paying us to move! We will miss everyone so much but you will have to come and visit us!!!!"

At first maybe some weren't totally buying it, but I was pretty convincing. Although my family members were not so easily fooled, notice the comments from my cousins, Kasey, Eric and Shilo...

The only reason I gave up the joke early was because my husband called me, really frustrated and irritated and asked me to tell everyone the truth. My joke was causing all of his friends to call his phone while he was working and ask him what the heck was going on!

At the end of the joke I actually wanted to move to Colorado. I even looked online at Joe's company website to see if there were any positions there and there was! I swear, if so many of my family members didn't live so close to me, we would move in a heartbeat.

So to those who dislike April Fools Day, I say Bah Humbug! April Fools Day is all meant in good spirits and you might as will just chill out and have some fun with it. Does this make me immature? I think not. I like to think of it as young at heart. That's what I like to tell myself anyway.

Anyone else have some good April Fools Day jokes to share?