Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
So what is a mother to do? That's the question I keep hearing. And I do have some thoughts I would like to share with you. But keep in mind, I'm speaking mother to mother... not medical professional to patient... I have no medical credentials! For the record, I hold a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor (lacking six hours to be a major) in Fine Arts. Health is our lifestyle and my hobby.
You'll read from many credible sources, even the CDC, that Swine Flu is not a severe threat to those with strong immune systems. Of course, the flipside is also true: any flu is a threat to any person with a weakened immune system.
And what about vaccines? Once a vaccine is developed and released, it will protect against the particular strain of flu it was developed for (along with side effects), but it offers no help against mutations or newly developed strains. A healthy immune system will offer up a defense no matter what strain of flu attacks. It is my belief that a person with a strong immune system, when confronted with any flu or virus, will have reduced symptoms and a shorter duration of sickness.
Avoiding contact with infected persons may not be within our control. Honestly, if the Swine Flu spreads as the CDC predicts, we will come into contact with infected persons -- probably BEFORE they know they are infected. Our family was in contact with the swine flu recently. But we didn't know it until the next day!
Bottom line: We need to do what we can to build up our immune systems for the viruses we will most likely encounter this fall and winter -- H1N1 or any other invading pathogen.
This leads to the question: "What can I do to make sure that my family has strengthened immune systems?"
1. Did you know that your body's first line of defense is your skin? So it only makes sense to follow the ubiquitous advice and "Wash Your Hands."
2. If an invader breaks through your first barrier, your body will defend itself with its patrolling scavenger cells. A strong, healthy immune system will have plenty of these cells. Remember, it takes building materials to build immune cells, so take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Make sure yours includes a substantial amount of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc and B Vitamins. Each of these (plus others!) play a big role in supporting a functional immune system.
It is very, very rare that a person could consume adequate amounts of these vitamins through diet alone. (Click the links at the top left of this blog for my "What Is Health Anyway?" series. In those three posts, I offer a more complete discussion of this topic.) Balanced, real supplements supply your body with the building materials it requires to build an army of scavenger cells. This is my choice for myself and for my children.3. Those pathogens that make it through the skin barrier AND get passed the patrol guard, infect individual cells. Once a cell is infected, it will secrete Interferon. "Interferon is an immune system regulator that is extremely active in cell defense due to its antiviral and immune stimulating effects. When produced by cells infected by viruses, interferon communicates with uninfected cells to trigger an antibody response to the virus. Interferon can also activate natural killer cell activity, macrophage activity, and trigger the release of powerful cytotoxic chemicals designed to neutralize immune system invaders."
If you didn't get all that, just know that interferon is your friend and you need plenty of it to fight the good fight. Nutriferon is the only natural supplement I know of that boosts your body's own interferon without any negative side effects. It can be taken without pause, unlike other immune boosters, because it's efficacy does not diminish over time. In my opinion, a daily dose of Nutriferon would prepare your body for H1N1's friends and mutations better than any specific vaccine that can only defend against a particular strain.
4. Supplement your supplements with probiotics. Current research shows that the intestines are an important line of defense for the immune system. Prolific friendly bacteria in the gut will inhibit the growth of invading pathogens, so it is vital to keep a stong colony ready for action. My vitamins already contain probiotics, but I give this additional product to my children.
5. Finally, when you feel the slightest tinge of fever or other symptoms coming on, act right away with Garlic, Echinacea and Elderberry and Vitamin C around the clock. See yesterday's post for how I did this with Spiderman.
Keep in mind that if you or your children are just now beginning your health journey, it may take a while to build up your immune system. Eating whole foods, supplementing regularly, getting as much sunshine as possible, getting adequate rest and exercise... all of these things contribute to healthy immune function. Whatever you do, don't let yourself be discouraged about how far you have to go. Just get started! Your body will thank you, whether it's fighting Swine Flu or just living well.
There is so much more to be said about H1N1, vaccinations, immune systems, etc. I am trying to keep this brief. Just know that:
- We will most likely come into contact with some sort of potent viruses in the years to come.
- We may not be able to avoid sickness.
- But, we can protect ourselves from devastating effects of sickness.
- We are all at God's mercy, which is the very best place to be.
I welcome your comments on this topic. Please post your thoughts.
This was such a fantastic giveaway! Thanks to all who entered and to CSN Stores for their complete generosity. What a good company to know about!
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
However, as moms we are not left at the mercy of a host of viruses and bacteria. God's mercy, yes. But germs, no.
Our children are going to encounter sickness. What we can do is boost their immunities so that they will be able to fight off the invading germs in as quick a time as possible. Children with strengthened immune systems will have lesser symptoms and a shorter duration of sickness. So, there is definitely something we can do.
Today I want to share an example from our week... tomorrow I am posting specifically about the Swine Flu (H1N1) and what we can do to boost our immune systems for the season ahead. Please come back to read that post tomorrow!
Tuesday morning Spiderman woke up with a 101° fever. He told me that his whole body ached and that his head was going to explode. I sent him back to bed and checked his temperature again in an hour. It had escalated to 102°... and it just kept going up. Clearly his body was fighting something.
Having been recently exposed to H1N1, I didn't want to take any chances. We quarantined him and I let him watch Moody Science Videos and nap all day. For Spiderman to stay in bed all day was a huge clue that something big was amiss. He doesn't sit still for fifteen minutes, must less settle into bed for the whole day.
My son already has a strong immune system because of the daily supplements that we give him on top of our whole foods diet, limited sugar, plenty of outdoor exercise, and adequate sleep. (His daily supplements have a good measure of Vitamin D and other immune boosters in them.) But when I saw his fever go up, I knew that he could use an extra boost. Fever is a sign that there is increased activity in the body... that there is war going on.
So, practically speaking, here's what I gave him:
- Nutriferon, which is, in my opinion, the very best natural Immune Booster available. I gave him one tablet immediately and will continue to give him one daily until I am sure he is well past it. I am also giving my girls Nutriferon because no matter how much we wash our hands, they might need a boost too.
- Probiotics. I gave him both a probiotic and a prebiotic. I did this one for the girls too.
- Two Garlic Tablets, which he can swallow, but I would skip for my littles who couldn't. Garlic can be crushed or made into a poultice for a young child, but I usually wait to see the severity of what I'm dealing with before I go to such smelly measures. I gave him garlic again Wednesday, even though the fever had broken, but I didn't today since his symptoms and fever have been gone for over 24 hours.
- Increased daily multi-vitamin. His normal dosage is two per day, I gave him an extra tablet at lunch.
- Echinacea, Zinc and Elderberry. I gave him four immediately and then two at each meal until he returned to normal.
- Vitamin C. I like to give this in the inbetweens, since his multi has a good bit of Vitamin C in it. So I gave him two between each meal and before bed until he returned to normal.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on Swine Flu... it's one I've been thinking over for quite some time.
See you then,
Please don't forget that today is the very last day to enter the Eco-Friendly Toy Giveaway. The prize is your choice of any toy, with a $50 limit. Click here to enter.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
However, I understand also that we need a suitable egg replacer when there is an egg allergy, when eggs are unavailable or when one is following a physician prescribed, egg-free diet.
What do I mean by suitable replacer? One that is real food AND that does the work of holding baked goods together as real eggs do. I do not consider Eggbeaters real food. Neither do the scientists who performed an interesting study on rats.
The picture below shows two rats from the same litter 6 weeks after birth. The one on the left was raised exclusively on real eggs from birth, while the one on the right was raised exclusively on Eggbeaters. Do you remember that Eggbeaters were advertised as having the same taste and nutrition as farm fresh eggs? Synthetic foods are just not the same!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Why do I hesitate? There are only a handful of Bodyweight Training Programs out there. And they all seem to have the same claim-based, immodest-model-driven marketing scheme, to which I'm not entirely favorable. Nonetheless, I'm going to tell you the program I use. It's Eddie Baran's Bodyweight Exercises for Women. Please keep in mind my disclaimer about the marketing style.
I post this because I know from experience that Bodyweight Exercises really do work. In fact, it has been my experience that they strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and tone a body without bulking up size. And they don't take a lot of time. Isn't that what we are all looking for?
I alternate Bodyweight Exercises with interval training for a complete exercise program. (I do modify this slightly during pregnancy.) Every other day, I do Eddie Baran's Fab Five exercises, plus a small selection of others from his book. The entire routine takes about twenty minutes and it does the job.
So, for what it's worth, if you dare to endure the marketing, please check out the above link. I hope it will benefit you as much as it has me.
Monday, August 24, 2009
What a fabulous birthday! You see, my Tickle doesn't really talk yet. Please don't worry, we take her to see a wonderful pediatrician and she is not neglected. She will speak, but for now, she can't really tell us what she wants for her birthday meal and cake.
We spent weeks coming up with ideas and seeing what her reaction would be. She is quite communicative, even if she doesn't use words. Nothing really struck her fancy UNTIL we mentioned the Very Hungry Caterpillar. It happens to be one of her very favorite books, and we all love to read it to her.
So, after she excitedly signed caterpillar, letting out various squeals and chirps, we KNEW that she would be pleased with this cake:
Okay, so the face is kind of droopy. And I had to take the picture fast. The icing was getting too warm by the time I put on the eyes so they are not quite even. But Tickle didn't care. She was thrilled.
The cake itself is a Honey Vanilla Pound Cake baked in a bundt pan. It turned out very tasty even though I tweaked the recipe (of course!). The eyes and mouth are chocolate chips and the antennae and feet are cut from an all-fruit leather (Stretch Island Fruit Company). However, the icing is not made from wholesome ingredients. And, as you can see, it contains food coloring, which is something we stay away from for the most part. But, in all my brain-racking, I think this was Tickle's first food coloring. And, if we go another two years before she has it again, I think we'll be okay.
For her meal, I tried to stick with the Caterpillar theme. I made these cucumber boats to look like caterpillars:
They are filled with a chopped salad made of tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, parsley and feta cheese. I should have used smaller olives for the eyes, but I didn't think ahead on that one. And the antennae are carrot matchsticks. Yes, my kids love this kind of food.
Then, I wanted to make something for the caterpillars to eat, so I made these lettuce wraps. They are just a green lettuce leaf with brown mustard, thinly sliced white cheddar cheese, and preservative-free turkey wrapped up.
I had to have something to fill up my guests, so I made this cold tortellini salad:
We all ate clementines too -- just because they are Tickle's favorite, but the hungry caterpillar ate fruit too.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I will be entertaining company and celebrating Tickle's birthday with "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" cake. I'll post pictures next week.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Do these two red cans look similar to you? Let's just say you're in a big hurry to whip together supper. You're having Chicken in a Garlic Parsley Sauce over Brown Rice, and you need Non-GMO cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
You reach for the closest red can. It is slightly smaller than the can you're looking for, but you don't notice because you're rushed. You add two tablespoons of the white powder to the cup of cold milk you have sitting on the counter. You turn around to get a spoon so that you can stir it up and add it to the warm chicken stock on the nearby stove.
But, by the time you turn around, you notice that you have created a white volcano that is overflowing the mixing cup and spilling down the counter onto the floor. You make a run for the sink with the volcano in hand, but you leave a trail of frothy white meringue-y stuff the whole way there... two tablespoons of baking powder is enough to do that to a cup of milk, I've discovered!
You get a good chuckle, wish your kids could have seen the amazing display, quickly clean up the trail of froth and start with a fresh cup of milk. This time you use cornstarch from the bigger red can, thankful that you had an extra cup of milk to spare in a house where the gallon always seems to be nearly empty.
Had any kitchen bloopers lately? I'd love to hear about them...
Keeping this health journey adventuresome and fun,
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
If I had to pick just one toy (which is quite a challenge since I have four children and one on the way who together would love about fifty of these toys), I would select these Rainbow Sound Blocks by WonderWorld. Each of them makes a different tone when shaken... and I can just see the kids spinning around the living room with one of these blocks in front of their eyes saying: "My world is pink!" or "My world is green!"
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
What is PLUMPING?
"The practice of injecting saltwater, chicken stock, seaweed extract or some combination thereof into chicken to increase its weight and price, meaning that when you buy a package of chicken you can be spending 15% more on SALT WATER. More importantly, a plumped chicken has up to 700% more sodium than a chicken that hasn't been plumped. The result: hundreds of thousands of consumers are ponying up extra cash (about $1.50 per package of chicken) to unwittingly feed themselves and their families a dangerously unhealthy amount of salt."
How much SODIUM?
"One serving - just 4 oz - of plumped chicken has the same amount of sodium as a large order of french fries. That's 700% more than natural chicken."
What should you do?
Read the labels. Don't purchase chicken that says something like "contains up to 15% saltwater." Or, read the ingredient label to make sure it doesn't contain added salt of any kind. Buy real chicken and salt it to taste at home.
For your health,
Monday, August 17, 2009
In the meantime, I did plan for our meals this week. I don't have much extra baking to do since I've baked double, triple and quadruple recipes of everything the past two weeks. Here's what I've got cooking:
Lunch -- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Non-GMO Corn Chips, Grapes and Strawberries
Supper -- Leftover Pakistani Kima (see last week's menu for cookbook link)
Pot Luck Sandwich lunch at church -- take Turkey Roll Ups (with preservative-free meat) and Garden Salad
Supper -- popcorn and smoothie
Use meat pulled from a whole cooked chicken in Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna. I take a shortcut and skip precooking the whole wheat noodles. If you add about two cups of extra water to the sauce, the noodles will cook in the hour that the lasagna bakes covered in foil. I will also be making a tomato and cucumber salad on the side.
Make yogurt in the morning so it can culture all day.
Supper -- It is Tickle's birthday today! So, I will be grilling hamburgers and making oven fries and steaming vegetables. This is celebratory food for us. Her actual birthday party will be on Saturday, so that's when we will have her special chosen meal, cake and ice cream. What will this two-year-old pick???
Make Power Bars and bake some breakfast muffins... I'm looking for something new to try!
Supper -- Some version of Beans and Rice
Salmon Broccoli Pasta, a favorite of all my littles
Leftover Lasagna with all the vegetables I have left over too (since I'll be grocery shopping on Saturday morning).
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
See this simple kitchen tool? Well, back when I posted about peeling 100 baby apples in order to make applesauce, a few of you recommended that I invest in a food mill like this. Much to my surprise, my sweet mother-in-law brought this to me when she came for Spiderman's birthday.
It is a Foley Food Mill. Exactly what I need to make applesauce in the future. This is actually a hand-me-down from my husband's late Grandma Anne. I have very wonderful memories of visiting her home. She made every effort to see that her guests were always comfortable AND well-fed, a character trait I aspire to...
But here's my question... what else can I do with this food mill? Do any of you use something like this? What kitchen adventures can I have with this tool? What all can I make? Any suggestions?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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Monday, August 10, 2009
I have been doing my meal planning and grocery shopping on Tuesday afternoons. I got my produce box on Mondays, so I really couldn't make a meal plan until I saw what was in my box. However, it now seems that I will not be getting the box for a while (sigh). The co-op may start up again, but for now, I am buying my produce along with my groceries. And, after school activities that we used to have on other days are now all on Tuesdays.
All that said, it looks like Saturday morning is becoming my time to plan and shop. Some things will stay the same... like making yogurt on Tuesday mornings... that still fits. And baking on Wednesday afternoons... that still fits. My meal prep time in the mornings will stay the same... and our lunches will be pretty consistently similar as well.
So, here's what I'm planning for this week:
Lunch -- Quesidillas, Grapes and lots of raw veggies
Make Granola and Banana Nut Muffins.
Supper -- Use leftover homemade Gyro meat in a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and a feta cheese dressing. Garlic Smashed Potatoes on the side. Limeade Popsicles for dessert. (I picked up a bottle of organic limeade at Kroger for 50 cents!)
Pot Luck lunch at church -- take Black Bean Chili and Corn Muffins
Supper -- popcorn and smoothie
Use meat pulled from a whole cooked chicken in Chicken Burrito Skillet. Serve with a whopping side salad with homegrown tomatoes (thanks to dear friends!!!). Our side salads are often bigger than the main dish!
Make yogurt in the morning so it can culture all day.
Supper -- Homemade Pizza made with preservative-free ham I picked up on sale with a coupon for almost nothing! We don't usually eat ham, but this was a terrific opportunity. I make a whole wheat crust and my own version of pizza sauce. I'll prepare Green Beans, just because my kids love them... and I am going to be trying Spinach Balls on the side too, a recipe from my new fave cookbook. I hope they're a hit because they look so simple!
Bake bread and another breakfast item, maybe Morning Glory Muffins from the same fave cookbook.
Supper -- Beans and Rice
Supper -- Beef Stir Fry over rice. I have lots of grass-fed beef in the freezer, which is really nice because I have so many different cuts for a major cheap price. I see stir fry as a good excuse to cook A LOT of veggies. I will use onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage, kale and whatever else I have on hand... maybe squash or zucchini too.
Supper -- Pakistani Kima, which is a curried beef, peas and potato dish from this cookbook. We will have another mega side salad and another portion of Green Beans with this skillet meal.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Okay... so keep in mind that this image is definitely not what my pregnant body looks like at this point in my second trimester, BUT the interview really is for real. Hop on over to "5 Minutes for Mom" and read all about it!
Happy weekend! My husband asked me to marry him eleven years ago today, so we are celebrating with supper out tonight (BIG SMILE). Fun fact: we went on our very first date that same night eleven years ago too!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
My overarching principle in selecting and preparing food for my family is to "eat what God made as close to how He made it as possible." In doing so, I serve my family foods that are specially designed with rich nutrients in exact combination with other supporting nutritive factors that are exactly how our bodies need to be fueled. (For more on this topic, read the book What The Bible Says About Healthy Living: Three Biblical Principles that Will Change Your Diet and Improve Your Health by Dr. Rex Russell M.D.)
So what happens on a birthday celebration when my son wants a Coonskin Cap Cake? There is no whole foods recipe out there for that! But, with a little kitchen ingenuity, any basic recipe can be tweaked to fit my health principles. For this one, I started with a Basic Chocolate Cake recipe from a Southern Living cookbook, one that you can tell from the photo is well-worn.
When tweaking a recipe, I take a look at the ingredient list and see what needs to be substituted... things like whole grains for white flour, natural sweeteners for white sugar. Or, for a meal recipe, I will often have to make a from-scratch sauce to substitute for a canned product. If these things seem daunting to you, I recommend just taking an adventurous leap. You may be surprised how quick you learn. And, if you are just starting out, you may want to use 1/2 white flour, 1/2 whole grain as a transition step.
I often substitute applesauce for 1/2 of the butter or oil in a recipe, or I substitute plain yogurt for all sorts of creamy ingredients. I even make yogurt cheese to substitute for cream cheese. I hope to post about a surprisingly healthy and tasty egg substitute very soon. I like to use unsweetened cocoa or unsweetened baking squares instead of melted chocolate chips so that I can add my own choice of sweetener.
So, back to the cake... I melted 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate in a saucepan and set it aside... just like the recipe said. I creamed the 1/2 cup of butter with 2 cups of sucanat instead of sugar, then added the 2 eggs one at a time just like the recipe said. I mixed the melted chocolate into the creamed mixture... just like the recipe said.
Just a side note: I find that darker cakes are more adaptable than light cakes. Carrot cake, Apple Cake, Chocolate Cake, Spice Cakes... they are generally a bit more dense and there are more flavors to cover the more noticeable flavors of honey, maple syrup or sucanat. There is even a Hummingbird Cake in this same cookbook that is a perfect tweaking recipe... it contains carrots, apples, pineapple and nuts.
Next, the recipe called for mixing together 2 cups of flour (I used my freshly ground winter white wheat berries), 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 3/4 tsp.salt. I use aluminum-free baking powder, found in the health food section of my grocery store, and sea salt. Also, if you are using honey instead of sucanat, you will want to increase the baking soda by 1/4 tsp. for every cup of honey.
In a separate bowl, the recipe called for 3/4 cup of buttermilk, 1 tsp. of real vanilla, and 3/4 cup of water. I prefer not to buy the buttermilk from the store because of the added ingredients, so I used homemade plain yogurt (my dependable standby). Also, it is worth the extra expense to buy real vanilla rather than a chemical tasting like vanilla... did you know that it is one of the same chemicals used in antifreeze for your car? Interesting, huh!
Just like the recipe said, I alternately added in the flour mixture and the liquid mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Then I poured the batter into a big Pyrex bowl. Because I was baking in an nontraditional container, I had to keep my eye out for when it was done. Actually, I pulled it out and thought it was done, only to put it back in again for a while. Rule of thumb, be flexible while you're recipe tweaking, especially with a first time recipe.
For a final picture of the cake, check out yesterday's post. And, here is what my kids were doing on the other side of the counter... it's blurry, but isn't it a fun picture?