Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Meal Ideas (Affordability of Eating Healthy Part Five)

In my last post in this series, I listed the food items I keep on hand in my pantry. I planned on sharing some meal ideas from those ingredients in my next post based on this question I had previously received:

Any ideas for quick meals for busy nights or for times when some of my older kids are home alone and need a meal to make for themselves? At such times, we usually resort to boxed Mac and cheese or frozen DiGiorno pizzas from SAMS. These are huge hits! I need some healthy alternatives that are quick and easy and doable for the kids.

And then I received this question via email...

I'm wondering if you could post your top 10 favorite dinner meals that you make with the "staples" that you have on hand. Or maybe reference back to them if you put that in previous blogs? That would be super helpful!

So that's just what I'll do :-)

Now, these are meals that are our "quickies"... Let me explain. I love to make really good meals from really good ingredients. A lot of times, doing so requires a huge time chunk. Some of our favorites off the top of my head are:

But all of these things take time!!! Especially when I am making the usual side salad and plenty of other vegetables too. However, realistically speaking, I do not always have an hour in the evening for supper preparation. Often, I have some meals in the freezer to use. But, other times I need a "quickie." These quickie meals may not have the best of the best ingredients. They may have unsoaked grain, canned beans, etc, but they are still whole foods. And they are sure healthier than fast food or other quick alternatives.

So here they are:

  1. Bean Burrito Casserole (Mix salsa, frozen corn and two kinds of canned beans together. Layer with whole grain tortillas and cheese in a round casserole. Bake until bubbly. Really good with homemade refried beans as one of the beans, which are easy to make ahead and freeze.)
  2. Beef or Chicken Burrito Skillet (really simple with meat already prepped and frozen)
  3. Salmon Broccoli Pasta
  4. Meaty Spaghetti (Make a huge pot of sauce and freeze several batches. Include zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, peppers, any vegetable your family likes in the sauce and you don't have to have a side dish if there is not time.)
  5. Cheese Pizzas (You can buy a whole grain premade crust at Whole Foods and Earth Fare, then top with spaghetti sauce and cheese. Or, use pitas for crust.)
  6. Chicken Pasta Soup (Use frozen or store bought chicken stock. Add diced chicken from the freezer, a bag of frozen vegetables and a box of whole grain pasta. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.)
  7. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or Quesidillas with Tomato Soup (I use organic tomato juice, a bit of onion, a bit of garlic and herbs in a blender... then heat until nice and warm.)
  8. Then, there's always popcorn and smoothie! Yes, we do make that a dinner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Personal Letter

I have recently gained several new readers, and I got to thinking that not all of you may "know" me. I'd like to know you better too. So, today I'm going to write you a letter with my thoughts and some things about me.

And I would love for you to take a moment to introduce yourself as well. If you'd like, write a similar letter on your blog and leave your link below. Or, tell me something about yourself and what you're thinking in the comments. I'm looking forward to getting to know you, as are the rest of my readers who are looking for friends with health interests in common.

Dear Bloggy Friends, Fellow-Wellness-Pursuers, and Cohorts-in-All-Things-Healthy,

Thank you for spending some time on Health Begins With Mom! I hope that what I write here is inspiring to you. I hope that it gives you direction and motivation as you try to create a healthy life for you and your loved ones.

Personally, I am inspired when I see the bright energy and love of life that my children possess. First, it makes me smile. It brings me out of my entanglement with the duties of my day. And second, it stirs up in me a desire to protect that life, to nurture the body and soul that has the potential to change the world. I am blessed to be called mother, to have the opportunity to nurture my children... which includes their physical health AND their spiritual health.

I have been seriously thinking the past five months about how I spend my time. In evaluating, it seems that everything I do is valuable and productive. I am not one to waste any time. In fact, I am just the opposite. I set very high expectations for myself and am very hard on myself if I do not meet them. I struggle to keep myself from being too task-oriented -- to make myself more relationship-oriented. But how much busyness is too much? Is it possible to be too productive?

Recently, in reading about Amy Carmichael, my thoughts were completely summed up in one sentence: "Beware of the barrenness of a busy life."

That sentence cuts right to my heart. It is possible to be so "productive" that we do not have time to cultivate certain fruits in our lives -- to miss true relationship opportunities.

I want to order my life carefully. And so I don't post every day. But I have a long list of topics to post about at the right time!

Did you know I am a real life introvert? Well, yes, I am. It takes effort for me to talk! But, I value encouraging others enough to step out of my comfort zone in order to strike up a conversation and keep it going.

It has been my experience that our lives are full of people and full of information and full of people sharing information, but empty of real encouragement and connection. So, I write Health Begins With Mom to go beyond information sharing in an attempt to encourage you in your privileged position as family nurturer.

So there you have it. I am a driven, deliberate, extrovert-in-training who is trying to live a life (and write a blog) that inspires life and wellness, joy and peace.

I look forward to reading about you! I'm pleased to meet you,

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's In My Pantry? (On the Affordability of Eating Healthy Part Four)

Are you curious to know what is in my pantry? This question was submitted by the same mom who is making health changes for her big family as some of the earlier questions this week. Her hard work, willingness and determination is to be commended. She asks the following question with the need for frugality in mind.

Right now I am in a period where I am cleaning out my pantry and fridge of processed foods, but don't really know what to restock with! Help! Do you have a list of good healthy staples to begin to stock up on?

As I type out my thoughts on this topic these past few days, I am reminded that one of the biggest keys to eating healthy is to make your own food from whole ingredients. It saves money and it keeps real food on the table. In order to do this, it really helps to properly plan and to set aside a time to cook and bake. (I've blogged a lot about this before!)

So, here is what is in my pantry on a regular basis. I consider these things my staples. And with them, I make pretty much everything we eat. I do buy certain other ingredients when a recipe calls for them, but this is what I keep stocked. My list:
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax)
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apples, dates, etc.)
  • Some whole grain pasta for when I need to make a meal in a hurry
  • Brown Rice
  • Wheat (hard red and hard white)
  • Lots of Oats
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and EVOO cooking spray)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Honey, Sucanat and some molasses for gingerbread
  • Balsamic Vinegar and Rice Wine Vinegar
  • A few bottles of EVOO Salad Dressing from Earth Fare
  • Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste
  • Jars of Spaghetti Sauce, again for when I need to make a quick meal
  • Canned beans and Salsa, because making a quick bean burrito casserole with whole grain tortillas and grated cheese from the freezer is a whole lot better than driving through Taco Bell
  • Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Red Beans, Lentils, Split Peas, etc (dried)
  • Boneless Skinless Salmon
  • Natural Peanut Butter (we can't really afford organic for all the peanut butter we eat!)
  • Organic Non-GMO Corn Chips (my husband eats these and the children do when they're with him)
  • Lots of herbs and spices
  • Garlic Heads
  • Sea Salt
  • Yeast
  • Arrowroot Powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa (and sometimes organic chocolate chips)
  • Organic Non-GMO Popcorn
  • Some crackers or other whole foods snacks if I find them on good sale with a coupon
In the fridge, we always have:
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt, Kefir or Raw Milk
  • Florida Orange Juice
  • Lots of fruit and vegetables
  • A few condiments like lemon juice, mustard, pickles, saurkraut and all-fruit spread
  • And, that's about it! I always think our fridge looks bare.

Our freezer contains:
  • Breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, granola, tortillas, pitas that I make on Baking Day and freeze. (I don't want to always be baking, so I devote a day every two weeks or so to stock up. I don't bake all of these things at once, but a few every time, baking enough to last several weeks.)
  • Whole Chickens
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Sometimes fish or salmon if I find wild-caught from a good location on sale and buy up a lot
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Meals that I double and freeze half for a crunch evening (because you know they will come, so why not be prepared!)
  • Cornmeal
  • Coconut Flour
    Frozen strawberries, blueberries and bananas for smoothies
  • Some frozen vegetables, spinach and frozen corn

    More later,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GoGo SqueeZ!

I'm all about real food. The more real, the better. Really... the closer a food product is to its in-nature state, the more nutrients it contains and the less non-nutrients it contains.

But I am realistic. I know there are times in life, when we will need convenience. Some mornings are going to be a whirlwind rush out the door. Some whole entire days are just like that too.

However, instead of grabbing Little Debbies or Doritos in our need for convenience, we need some good real food options. Yogurt cups come to mind... as do clementines, carrot sticks, string cheese and Kashi TLC Crackers. (Current printable Kashi coupon here.)

And here's another real food option for you: GoGo SqueeZ.

"Developed by French applesauce and fruit spread experts Materne, GoGo squeeZ is the first squeezable, re-sealable, no-mess, 100 percent fruit, no sugar added applesauce snack for kids in the US. The tasty and all-natural treat comes packaged in a handy pouch (initially designed by NASA...) that makes it perfect for an on-the-go snack or lunchbox item for school or work. All GoGo squeeZ products contain no artificial flavors or preservatives and are gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher-certified."

The generous folks at Materne sent me three flavors of GoGo SqueeZ to try. I was first impressed by the label. This snack contains apples. That's it. Except for the Apple Strawberry and Apple Peach kinds, which contain other fruit. Simple is good.

But applesauce is applesauce, right? I sure thought that would be the case. But, and I kid you not, my children loved this snack so much they invented a GoGo SqueeZ dance. Yes, they really did. Tickle was the cutest... all the way to her little voice singing, "GoGo Feeeez, GoGo Feeeez." Seriously, they really liked this applesauce that much. And I tasted it too... must be the French apples because it is really good stuff!

I love that this real snack is 100% fruit. I love that it is no mess. I love that it comes in a squeeze pack so I don't need to carry a spoon. We'll definitely be taking GoGo SqueeZ on our next road trip... and believe me, the kids can't wait.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On the Affordability of Eating Healthy Part Three

Picking up where I left off yesterday...

Can you prioritize the changes. Like what should I concentrate on first? What is most important? I have found a source for raw milk, which I am absolutely loving!!! And we bought a pasture-fed cow, so our deep freeze is FULL of good quality beef. What should I concentrate on next?

As I mentioned before, finding healthy replacements for commercial meat and dairy, in my estimation, is the best positive change to make. Not only is there a greater concentration of toxins in animal products, the commercial farm production of these foods yields a totally different fat content. (Read here about Grass Fed Meats.) It may take time to find a financially feasible source of meat and dairy, but it is definitely worth the search effort.

However, in speaking about what to do next, I have to mention that importance of cutting out all fake, fabricated and faddish foods. (How's that for alliteration?!?) Usually, cutting out the processed foods is a benefit to the budget. Instead of adding additional costs, like in buying higher-quality meat, avoiding canned and boxed foods usually means you will make your own for less.

For example, I don't buy rice mixes because of the preservatives and MSG. Instead, I make my own rice side dishes from brown rice I buy in bulk. Instead of spending dollars, I spend pennies. The same holds true for canned beans versus dried beans, boxed cereal versus oatmeal, boxed granola bars versus some homemade treat, fruit snacks versus whole fruit, even bagged pita chips versus homemade pita chips. In all of these examples, I'm avoiding unwanted non-food ingredients AND saving money at the same time.

For a list of what foods to avoid, here is a list of 21 things to avoid by the Weston A Price Foundation. Start at the top and make your way down. Take it one step at a time, making each change a habit. Don't do it all at once... especially if you know you have a tendency toward feeling overwhelmed and burning out. Each step will make a difference. Baby steps... but move forward, right?

To answer the original question, I would say the next best step is to work on finding a real-food alternative for everything fake in your diet. So, if many of your recipes use a creamed soup as a base, learn to make it with whole foods instead. If there is a big temptation at breakfast to grab something quick and sweet, plan four or five simple whole foods breakfasts to have lined up instead. If you children look for something snacky every afternoon, focus on finding several healthy, wholesome snacks on hand.

Next, make a big deal of fresh vegetables (and fruit). As much as possible, fill out every meal with mega portions of these foods. If you children want seconds on the more expensive main course with meat, tell them it automatically comes with a second portion of vegetables or salad too. They will eat less seconds and eat more vegetables. At least, that's how it works in our house.

Another strategy for making things affordable is to capitalize on "Frugal Meal Extenders." While we moms might want to limit our carbohydrate intake, most of our children do very well with a portion of potatoes, rice or corn muffins with their meals. These things are significantly cheaper than main course fare, so take advantage of them! We even have beans or bean salads as side dishes simply because they are healthy and cheap.

I hope these thoughts keep you moving forward!

Part Four coming next...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On the Affordability of Healthy Eating Part Two

Back to the topic at hand... The Affordability of Eating Healthy. If this topic interests you, please read my post from last week (here) that contains more general thoughts on the subject.

And now, here are my thoughts on two more specific questions. (I have many more, but I have to post my answers as I am able since I am still searching for normalcy in my life... and until then, I have to choose how I spend my time carefully.)

1. How does a large family afford to eat this way??? I followed a resource link and discovered delicious raw cheese for a mere $13.00 per pound!!!! With my large family of big eaters I would go bankrupt in no time!

Yes, some of the organic foods out there can be devastatingly pricey. Especially for big families. On one hand, I want to support all the local farmers who are keeping healthy food on the market. On the other hand, doing so is just not feasible if we want to eat every day. First, I suggest looking for affordable food resources (they exist!) and setting up a bulk food budget.

Second, do what you are able to do without bemoaning what you can't do. (Not that the dear friend who asked this question was bemoaning!) I just mean that we do need to be content with what we have. We do our very best to make our dollars buy as much as they can. And we do not fret over what is out of our control. If you are doing the very best you can, rest in that. Always look for better deals and better sources and better recipes. But do not fret. (It is not healthy!)

On cheese, I found that Morningland Dairy is the cheapest source for raw milk cheese. Orders must be called in, but the mild cheddar runs about $5.00 per pound (at least it was the last time I ordered).

We eat a lot of cheese! It freezes well when shredded and keeps several months in the fridge when kept sealed. So, we order in bulk from Minerva Dairy. This is not raw milk cheese, but it is made from Amish milk and is much healthier than commercial dairy. We consider it the best we can do within our means. And we are thankful.

For bulk orders, call for a current price list and then order by the case (which can be 10 pounds or 24 pounds depending on the cheese). I am on the email list and I keep my eye out for the sale on mellow cheddar cheese. It is on sale once or twice a year for less than $2.00 per pound. Then I buy A LOT. Their cheeses are normally priced between $3.75 and $4.25 per pound, except for sharp cheeses.

Minerva Diary Phone Number: (330) 868-4196.

Note: We also order our butter from Minerva and love it! If on sale, it can be as cheap as about $2.00 per pound too.

2. Do you have sources that you have found affordable for good quality ingredients?

Well, so much of what I buy is local (eggs, chicken, honey, beef, etc.). I mentioned buying grain from Walton Feed. Ordering with a group in order to get freight shipping makes a huge difference. And I mentioned baking goods, nuts and seeds from Country Life Natural Foods.

My produce comes from Global Organics. You could see if they deliver near you.

I used to order with a United Naturals Buying Club. You could see if there is one in your area.

I have ordered from US Wellness Meats and LaCense Beef when we had special offers before, but I haven't checked their prices since we started ordering from a local farmer.

I have found a great deal on maple syrup from Amazon Grocery before. And they occasionally have other really great deals if you search their organic deals from time to time. They offer free shipping on orders over $25... that's a plus.

But think local. Visit farmer's markets and talk with the farmers. Call the local high school's Future Farmers of America club and see if they have a listing of local farmers. Call some of the farms on LocalHarvest and see where those calls take you. It is the small local farms that produce great food, often at great prices, who are great conversationalists -- and who need our support. I love the billboard near here that says: "Got food. Thank a farmer."

Hope this list helps!

Friday, February 12, 2010


It is high time that I post a formal disclosure statement. So that you as readers know my position, and so that all interested marketing representatives can find out as well. (Plus I have two really great product reviews coming up!)

This Disclosure Policy is effective from Feb. 11, 2010 until I replace it with another.

Number One. My blog exists to help mothers in their pivotal position as the family's nurturer (whether working at home or away from home) to make progress in their pursuit of greater health. In short, I keep this blog to inspire, encourage and educate moms in creating a healthier family.

I welcome any opportunity to review, giveaway or educate moms toward that purpose.

For the marketing representative, that means, if your company has a food product, health book, eco-friendly toy, clothing, furniture, household item (because eco-friendly = less toxins in our home and in us), or other informational bit that they would like me to consider, send it to ae @

If the proposed item passes my scrutiny, I will be glad to include it on Health Begins With Mom. Note: I believe in real food and will not review any fabricated "food" dressed up as a health food. If your product contains real ingredients, please let me know about it!

For the reader that means I will make note of any compensation or benefit I have received in order to post about a particular product.

That also means that when I don't receive product samples or other benefits from my post about a particular product, I will make note of that as well. I often post about a product just because I think it is helpful information. (I'm recalling Florida's Natural, several book reviews and the Skechers Shape Ups post that I am going to write. That is, unless Skechers reads this and decides they would like to compensate me. I'd love to have a second pair, a non-sneaker type pair (big-eyed grin).)

I reserve the right to decline any promotional offer based upon conflict of interest to my Shaklee Independent Distributorship. That is, I will not be posting about any other B Complex, since I'm already sold out on Shaklee's, and such. Note: I do not receive any compensation whatsoever for mentioning Shaklee from time to time unless a reader travels to my Shaklee webpage and makes a purchase. I mention Shaklee simply because it has changed the course of my health and I don't want to keep that blessing to myself.

I am the sole contributor and editor of Health Begins With Mom and the only decider of the content therein. I like free samples, I like to read free books and learn new information. I welcome these opportunities. But I will always give my honest analysis of any product, book or other item. And it all comes down to the true benefit of my readers.

Information contained in this wesbite is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or heal any disease. I am not a medical professional nor do I engage in the practice of medicine.

For your health,

PS... more on the Affordability of Eating Healthy coming up next week...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On the Affordability of Eating Healthy

Finally. I'm getting to write this post! I have had these thoughts on my mind for what seems like weeks...

I have received many questions about the affordability of eating healthy. Many of you desire to provide healthier meals and snacks for your families, but are finding that it increases your budget. And, for most of us, we simply can't expand the grocery budget!

I'll be real with you. The choice to eat healthier requires more commitment (of both time and money) and more diligence. But it doesn't mean we have to take out a second mortgage! We may not be able to use many of the coupons in the Sunday paper, but there are ways to keep costs from skyrocketing. (Please read my previous post that addresses some of these strategies.)

I find that by planning and budgeting, I can keep our grocery costs comparable to families eating the standard American diet... sometimes a lot less! But, I am not one of the famous few who can buy $300 of groceries for $0.79. (I can't remember her name, but I saw her on the AOL News headlines!)

I'm going to work through some of the specific questions you've sent me, and hopefully I'll be able to spark some ideas of how you can make "healthy" work for your family.

Kristilea writes: "It's nice to hear that you started from ground zero! It gives me hope since I had to do the same thing. I thought I was doing pretty good at making healthier meals until I watched Food, Inc.. Then I realized I had soooo much further to go! It was discouraging at first, but I'm determined to feed my family healthy food! My question would be, how do you feed your family the best foods on a VERY tight budget? I use coupons, I make menu's around the sale item, but I can't afford free range meat, so what do I need to make a priority? What are the foods that I need to stay away from the most?"

First, let me say that I highly recommend watching the documentary Food Inc. It is available on instant watching on Netflix, if you have an account there. Or, you can watch it online for $2.99 at Amazon On Demand. The film will really open your eyes to what is going on in the food industry. There have been several documentaries like this in the last decade, but Food Inc., in my opinion, sums everything up most succinctly.

Second, I'll say that finding your own family's food resources at good prices will take time. It never happens over night. But, as you network with one farmer, you'll be led to others. And as you connect with one co-op group, you'll hear other members mention other food sources. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Think outside the grocery store box. Be like the Proverbs 31 woman "bringing her food from afar." Don't let yourself be discouraged. Don't give up! And don't forget to pray for God's direction. (I sound bossy now, don't I?) But really, only a small percentage of what we eat comes from the grocery store.

We buy our chickens from a local farmer, our beef from another local farmer, our eggs from some enterprising children at church, our cheese and butter from a wholesale company in Ohio, our bulk grains from Walton Feed (ordering with a big group enables us to get freight shipping which is much cheaper), our vegetables from a co-op, our baking items from Country Life Natural Foods, and on and on...

Consider the grocery store your last stop. And, you can still find coupons for natural and organic foods if you search. Start here for a pretty good list.

Back to the original question: I do think that meat is one of the most important places to start. There is a greater concentration of unwanted junk in animal products. And you can't wash or peel some of it off as you can with vegetables and fruit! However, if I had to buy our high-quality meat at the grocery store, there would be no way we could afford it. Just the organic ground beef at my Kroger is nearly $6 per pound. And the grass-fed options at Earth Fare are nearly $10 per pound. With my growing family, that just wouldn't work.

So, we eat less meat. And the beef we eat about twice a week, we buy from a local farmer. We buy in bulk (like a half cow), and the cost has been around $2.50 to $3.00 per pound, which includes all cuts and not just ground beef. To find a local source, you may want to consider your high school's FFA club. Or, you could call Farm Bureau for a local listing of farmers. You may find a rural resource magazine at the library, the health food store or at the Farmer's Market (in season).

Or, I have found that homeschoolers really know where to find stuff... so do librarians. You could ask your librarian if she knows any naturally-minded homeschoolers :-) Believe it or not, that's how someone found me! And someone else found me by my chiropractor's referral. (I never know who will call!) Then, there's always You may not find what you're looking for in the first farmer you call, but ask questions and he may refer you to other farmers in the area or other listings of local resources.

But all this networking wouldn't really help if you didn't have the money to purchase what food products you find. So, I really encourage you to start a bulk food budget. Set aside a certain amount each month and let it grow as you look for resources. Once you get the ball rolling, you'll be able to make some bulk purchases, which will reduce your grocery bill, which will allow you to set aside more for bulk buying, and the cycle will support itself. But, you've gotta start somewhere. In the beginning it may be a bit of a sacrifice. But, you will have so much more freedom once you've got the budget instated.

To summarize:

  1. Make it a priority to start a bulk food budget.
  2. Start to look for food resources outside of the grocery store.
  3. As you make the transition, keep your eyes open for Manager's Specials and good coupons to use at the grocery store. There are deals to be had!
  4. Shop the perimeter of the store. The produce, dairy and other real foods are usually around the outside of the store. Aside from peanut butter and beans, most of the food products found on the aisles are pretty fabricated.
  5. Prioritize your bulk buying. As you are able, switch to non-commercial meat products, dairy products, produce, then baking items (in that order, unless you find a dairy supplier before you find a meat supplier, of course).
  6. Make as much as you can from scratch. In doing so, you'll save a lot of manufacturing and packaging costs. Plus, you'll stay away from foods that contain hydrogenated fats, white flour and white sugar, colorings, preservatives and other additives. Really, making your own food is cheaper... especially once the bulk budget is functioning and you can buy your butter and oil in large quantities, get your honey from a local farmer, and buy your nuts, seeds and grains in bulk.

Whew... this is getting long. And I haven't even tackled the specific questions yet. I'll save them for tomorrow. So stay tuned for more on this topic... there is much more to come!

The Lump

Okay, so I'm going to tell you what the lump above and behind my cesarean incision is. I mean, what if there is someone who googles "what is the painful lump behind my cesarean scar?" or "what could cause this pain behind my incision six weeks after a cesarean delivery?"

I mean, people google stuff when they're concerned... and maybe reading my story will help.

So the OB said it wasn't a hernia, which could be caused by a weak spot when the abdomen healed, because it didn't bulge when I coughed. Good to know.

I gathered that it couldn't be an adhesion, because such things take longer to form and to be noticed.

It is, according to the doctor, at the exact spot where he tied a knot at the end of the row of dissolvable stitches in the fascia layer. Apparently there is a conglomeration of tissue at that spot. It has gathered there in order to help with the healing. And, as the stitches dissolve and the spot heals, the tissue will dissipate. It is not permanent. Which, in my mind, is very good news.

It may hurt while I move around a lot, but the doctor encouraged me to exercise anyway. Doing so will circulate more blood around the region and promote faster healing. So, there you have it. The pain is temporary. And that sure makes it more endurable. (Is that a word?)

Back to school... I'll return later today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Post Script

I'm sitting with a cup of decaffeinated green tea, with rain falling gently outside my window, and with a short span of time before I have to leave for my OB appointment. Perfect for writing a quick post.

So, after I last posted about the events of my frazzled week, my husband arrived home and we settled in for a family fun night. We had some fabulous chili warming up and were going to spend the rest of the evening trying to finish a super-exciting historical novel together. As the children were racing to put on their pajamas for the reading time, Spiderman (AKA Tornado because of his propensity to rapidly travel in a whirl of energy) took the corner into the bathroom too fast and too close. He clipped his big toe. We thought it was no big deal, got past the drama and proceeded to read.

Saturday morning he was in too much pain to want to play in his basketball game. Those of you with Tornado Sons will understand that nothing stops one such child from playing. Something serious had to be wrong. We took him to get it xrayed and were referred to a orthopedic specialist come Monday. It turns out he has two breaks, one right into his growth plate.

So that was the cherry on top of our deliciously eventful week.

I did get to spend some wonderful down time with my family. I did get a nap on Sunday afternoon. And, I awoke to find that a very sweet friend had brought over some Breyer's Chocolate Ice Cream for us to enjoy later on. I am so blessed!

My post last Friday also gave rise to an interesting question... If you're still not cooking, what are you eating?

I can answer that with great thankfulness in my heart. After The New Little One's arrival, we were very blessed to have several friends bring over a meal. In the midst, my mom came down a few times to help out with the older four children. When she did, she prepared suppers big enough that we would have leftovers. My mom and I also created a stash of freezer meals that we have been enjoying. Plus, my mother in law was here yesterday so that I could take Spiderman to his appointment, and she thought ahead to bring all she needed to make us a Chicken and Wild Rice casserole. How sweet is that!

We have been blessed... I keep saying that, like a broken cd, but is there another word for it?

So the freezer stash... My mom came down the weekend after Thanksgiving and we turned the leftover pastured turkey and several pounds of grassfed ground beef into 12 meals. Well, I cooked up a frenzy and she washed every. single. dish. which is no small task! I made a double recipe of each of the following and froze them in two separate meal sized portions for our family of six eaters. Each recipe is loaded with vegetables, so that I wouldn't have to make a side dish of vegetables and I would only have to keep salad fixings on hand.
  • my healthy version of Turkey Tetrazzini
  • my super-duper vegetable-laden beef chili
  • a savory turkey and rice meal I just invented
  • turkey burritos using my chicken burrito recipe
  • spaghetti casserole
  • potato soup using the leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving (from the More With Less Cookbook)
While my mom was here that weekend, we also made
  • 12 loaves of bread
  • three big batches of soaked granola
  • 2 recipes of power bars
  • 2 recipes of Love Muffins
  • 2 recipes of Banana Nut Muffins
  • 2 recipes of Sweet Potato Bread
  • and 2 recipes of Hawaiian Bread
We haven't even had to order pizza... although we did eat burritos at Moe's last Monday after some late doctor's appointments.

I'm headed to my appointment. I will let you know what the DR says about this lump.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where Have I Been This Week?

Where have I been this week? What has kept me from this blog? Here goes:
  • There was the migraine, probably due to a combination of desperate fatigue and postpartum hormonal changes.
  • There was the mastitis, which I fought head on, so it really was only a 36 hour battle.
  • There was the mild cold that Rainbow and Witzy passed on to The New Little One. Even though it was minor, any congestion is hard for a newborn and nursing, which is probably one of the major factors in my mastitis.
  • There was the adoption of two leopard geckos and the subsequent search all over the region to find the right crickets for their consumption. Do you know how hard it is to find crickets in rural Georgia in winter?
  • There was the ever-evasive nap that I tried to take every afternoon to make up for the general loss of sleep from nursing through the night. My children are fantastic, for sure. But with five of them, the odds are pretty high that someone is going to need something every hour of the day.
  • There was the usual homeschooling, errands, extra curricular activities, practises and games. AND LAUNDRY!
  • And, there is this lump about an inch above and behind my cesarean incision that radiates pain over my hip bone and down to my leg. I have an appointment with my OB on Tuesday and I surely hope he has some clue what it is! (Could it be an adhesion? Do any of you dear readers have experience with this or have some hint as to the cause of this pain? PLEASE share, if you do!)
It has been a full week... even though I'm still not cooking. And, to balance out all the negative, I have to say that The New Little One is, most definitely, the most beautiful baby boy in the world! I can't imagine a sweeter face -- which is pretty much a carbon copy of Spiderman's at one month old.

I really appreciate all the questions you sent my way. I have been thinking about them all week, even if I didn't get to my computer... especially the abundance of questions regarding the affordability of healthy foods and the prioritizing of health strategies. After all, we can't buy and do everything! I'll be posting about these two topics next week.

So, have a good weekend. I will be very pleased if my weekend includes a nap, some chocolate ice cream and some down time with my husband and children.

Until next week,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Your Questions Answered -- Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Foods

I was asked in an email how to get a five year old to eat good food... hmmm... Honestly, I am not totally qualified to answer this, but I am glad to share my experience with you all. Perhaps you can glean some helpful strategies from it.

My kids have always had to eat what we serve them, so there has never been a question about it by the time they are five. Most of their objections are worked out by one and a half or two. When they don't eat what we give them, we save it for them for the next meal and they have to finish it before they get what the rest of us are eating at that meal. And we don't reheat it, so it is usually worse if they wait until the next meal.

No child has tried leaving food they don't like more than one or two times, and they usually try it while they are very young. So, by the time they are five, they just don't object. I can't remember any of my children leaving the unwanted food through the next meal, but Spiderman came pretty close. When he saw that we were all finished and were getting up, he realized he had to eat his cold, unwanted food or I was going to put away the nice warm preferred food. It is amazing what a child can eat when faced with hunger!

But, key point here, I am realistic. I know the foods they don't prefer, and I don't pile their plate with what they don't like. I usually just give them three or four bites of the "unpreferred" food. For example, my children really don't like cooked zucchini, so I rarely cook it. When I do, I just give them three or four bites worth. And then I expect them to eat it.

When Tickle was a baby, she did not like bananas. Mashed banana is one of the first foods I give to my growing babies, but she clearly did not like it. I would give her a bite every once in a while, like every few months. If we were all eating bananas, I would give her a taste. Sometimes I would have her take two bites. But, when she was two, after not having banana for a few months, I gave her a bite and she totally loved it. She ate a whole banana! And she has loved it ever since.

A similar thing happened with Witzy and avocados. She liked them as a baby, but then decided she didn't like them when she was about three. I continued to give her a slice every time we had avocados. Now, at nearly five, she loves them again. I could have catered to her dislike by declaring that she didn't like avocados so she didn't have to eat them. Instead of defaming the fabulous fruit, I kept it all in a positive light and waited for her to change her mind.

Another good tactic we use is to serve dessert with meals that we know have objectionable ingredients. Let's say I make a soup that turns out less than appetizing. (It happens!) I'll declare it dessert night and everyone who finishes without complaining gets dessert... parents too! I think ahead. If I can tell a storm is a-brewin', I will pull out a special treat for dessert. Any "yuck faces," gagging or complaining disqualifies the child from having that special treat. Desserts are rare in our home, so it is a very effective method of modifying my children's behavior.

I think one of the very foundational principles here is thankfulness. I want my children to be thankful for the food that is set before them. If they are not thankful for what they receive at home, how can I expect them to be thankful when we are in another home and they don't like the food served? Bottom line, we want our children to be thankful and we will not tolerate a "yuck face." We teach thankfulness at home (not just at meal time!) so that when our children are served a food they don't prefer, they can still eat it and say "thank you for the meal" when they are finished.

Hope this helps!