Graduation, Veganism, and Number 5….

Friends!

Nate did it.

He completed his PhD in Neuroscience.

This post is way overdue because Nate defended his research and walked the graduation stage last August.  But I have yet to write about it because our lives have been on one big journey ever since.

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We tossed various options back and forth.  We almost put a house in the gorgeous North Carolina under contract when the opportunity of a life time came around.  Sometimes dreams are so big that you don’t dare whisper them aloud in fear that they never will come true.  When the opportunity to train at The Ohio State University and subsequently transfer to the Mayo Clinic came around, Nate was beyond excited!  His alcohol addiction research has now transferred into neuromuscular rehabilitation and anyone who really knows him wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he has found a way to combine all of his interests.  A lot of his time now revolves around researching the knee and that includes so much more than just the knee.  I know he will be excited to share more of it here.

 

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As for me, I’ve got to be honest.  I started sharing recipes and tips on this blog when the China Study was the new, big thing.  Our family went strict vegan with little gluten and minimal sugars.  We all felt great at first and I was so excited to share the things I was learning with you here.  Perhaps it was the stress of four kids, homeschooling, moving three times in one year, and finding out that I am pregnant again (with number 5)… but my mind has been grappling with the concept of the “perfect diet.”  I am super happy to announce that our family is no longer vegan, but the transition has been a mind wrestling transition that I am still coming to terms with.  There are so many fads and diets out there, it is hard to discern what is the right way to eat.  Maybe you and I can have more conversations about that here?

Did I mention that another little girl will be joining our family in December?

We are all excited.  Except boy #3, he wanted a puppy.

Sorry, honey.  Doesn’t work that way.

itsagirl!

Nate and I are excited to step back into Circadian a little more now that our life has settled down in one place for more than six weeks again.  We are so excited and grateful for the people who have backed us up and supported us through the years.  To all of you, thank you.

||Family Favorites Right Now||

  • So excited about these Vera Bradley Backpacks.  Carrying kids and water bottles and supplies on one shoulder always puts a kink in my back and hips.  Do I really have to wait a week for shipping?
  • Carlee still begs to ride in her toddler sized Tula.  Best baby carrier ever.  Anyone agree?  I am so excited to splurge on an infant one soon.  I’m loving the grey and yellow in this one.
  • I had no idea how much Colton would love this puzzle.  Giant puzzles are the best.
  • Naturally Ella’s Dutch Baby Pancakes with Spiced Apples are the best.  Seriously.  We would eat these for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I substitute Almond Flour in place of wheat flour to add a tad more protein.
  • Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Dressing is amazing.  I cut up cheddar string cheese sticks into cubes for the cheese and add an extra can of beans in place of chicken.  Love this salad so much.
  • Core Power Yoga Online is my sanity.  I love that I can do it at 5 AM or at midnight without needing to worry about who is watching my kids.  Plus, the subscription prices are awesome.

Soaked Pancakes from Nourishing Traditions

Soaked Pancakes from Nourishing Traditions

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt, kamut flour)
  • 2 cups yogurt, buttermilk or kefir  (I used raw milk with 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T melted butter

Preparation: Soak flour in yogurt (or buttermilk/kefir) in warm place for 12-24 hours.

After soaking time, add eggs, salt, baking soda, and melted butter.  Add water if necessary to obtain the desired thinness. Cook on a hot, oiled griddle or cast iron skillet.  Serve with melted butter, real grade B maple syrup, raw honey, berry syrup, or fruit butter.

NOTE:  When I first learned about soaking grains, I was nervous.  Leaving grains out with milk overnight?  It sounded like a quick invite for food poisoning.  After many hours of research and many more food experiments, I am a believer.  Soaking grains allows a natural fermentation to occur that increases the absorption of nutrients.  To learn more, check out Whats the Fuss About Soaking Grains by The Nourishing Gourmet.

How to: Oil Pulling

After my crazy pregnancy with baby girl, I walked away from that dentist chair with ten cavities.  You heard me right.  Ten.  And for the record, I was brushing my teeth multiple times a day, taking my vitamins, and avoiding sugar.  My inability to keep anything inside my stomach thwarted any and all good efforts.

Simply stated:  My mouth was in pretty bad shape.

I had the cavities fixed.  I walked away humbled and very much in need of a miracle to heal my mouth.  And that fatigue?  We can keep that issue to a whisper.

Insert Oil Pulling.  Otherwise known as the “art” of swooshing oil around the inside of your mouth for about 20 minutes.

According to Wikipedia, Oil pulling comes from a traditional Ayurvedic folk remedy that has been used to improve oral and systemic health.  It is believed to help improve conditions such as headaches, migraines, diabetes mellitus, asthma, acne, joint pain, fatigue, and to whiten teeth.  It is believed that the during the “oil pull” the toxins are pulled from the salivary glands and released from the body, thereby detoxing the blood.

If swooshing oil around in my mouth could transform my teeth into plaque fighting warriors, erase my exhaustion, and fold my laundry, it was worth a try.  After a month of religious swooshing, I am a believer.  My teeth feel whiter and stronger and my fatigue isn’t as intense.  Laundry?  I am still waiting for that benefit.

To start, all you need is a heaping tablespoon of pure coconut oil, sesame seed oil, or olive oil.

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Place the oil inside of your mouth (do not swallow!) and swoosh it around and around and around for twenty minutes.  It’s so easy, you can do it with a baby on your hip.

This step is the most important:  After your twenty minutes, spit the oil out.  You don’t want to swallow the toxins.  Trust me.   Rinse your mouth out with warm water.

Simple, right?

Oil pulling is greasy, amazing, and it will strengthen your jaw muscles a billion percent.  While there is growing controversy as to the effectiveness of oil pulling, there is one thing for certain:  oil pulling will make you a better kisser.

Additional Reading:

Gallbladder Detox – Part 1

Did you know that your gallbladder is approximately the size of your thumb?  And did you know that your gallbladder is responsible for making fat absorbable by the body and also for allowing proper fat metabolism?  In other words, if the gallbladder isn’t properly functioning, the body is unable to utilize the fat for building cellular membranes (literally the “brane” of the cell) and for energy.  If fat isn’t utilized, it is stored,  typically around your abdomen.

Your gallbladder – located on the right side of your body below your ribs –  is like the mama of the abdominal region.  If the gallbladder a’int happy, the liver a’int happy.  And if the liver a’int happy, the intestines and everything else a’int happy.  Like a domino effect, the gallbladder can effect your body as a whole.

And the crazy thing is that your gallbladder stretches like a balloon.  A little junk here, alittle junk there… and before you know it, your gall bladder is stretched out tighter than a pair of cowboy wranglers. When your gallbladder is that tight, you are going to be experiencing some issues:

  • Right shoulder pain
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Rancid / excessive gas
  • Indigestion
  • Difficulty eating fatty-type foods (the metabolism builders)
  • Knee pain
  • Knee disorders
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Constipation
  • Headaches

The gallbladder releases a yellow substance called bile when you eat your meals.  The amount of fat in the meal determines the amount of bile that will be released.  This is all done in a very orchestrated manner through hormone communication (called enteroendocrine hormones) between your stomach, intestines, gallbladder, and liver.  When the gallbladder gets backed up, it causes the liver to back-up, leading to toxicity, inability to lose weight (as the toxicity cannot be handled by the liver and will be deposited into fat tissue), skin irritations, and fatigue.

We have good news.  The gallbladder can be cleaned and healed naturally with a simple detoxification process.  A process that has yielded successful results many times.  Think jelly beans and shooting bullets.  If you are struggling with gallbladder pains or symptoms, there is hope besides surgery.  What to do… what to do?  Stay tuned – part two of gallbladder detox to come…

Zucchini Melts

Zucchini Melts
adapted from Dancing Carrots

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, cubed
1 pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup marinara sauce
1 1/2-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Whole wheat “french bread”

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Fry the zucchini in oil until browned and slightly tender. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and stir in the marinara sauce. Cook and stir until the sauce is heated through.
3. Slice french bread into slices and bake for about 5 minutes or until they are toasted. Remove from oven.
3. Spoon generous amounts of the zucchini mixture onto each slice of french bread. Top with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
4. Bake for 5-7 minutes in oven or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

How to Make Herbal Tea without a Tea Bag

Making herbal tea is easy. So easy that I almost wrote this post in “pig latin”  You guys are smart.  You need something more challenging than boiling water and dropping in some herbs.

My brain has the tendency to complicate things.  When I first learned how to make herbal teas, I didn’t believe it.  Making an herbal tea couldn’t be that easy… could it?  I re-read the instructions over and over looking for the “complicated part.”

Guess what.

There is no complicated part.

With that said, let’s get started.  Herbal teas are sold in their own little individual pouches and while that is easy and convenient, it isn’t the most cost-effective… or creative for that matter.  To make your own herbal tea, you are going to need the following items:

1.  A pot

2. Water

3. Dried herbs of your choice

4. A fine mesh strainer or tea-pot with mesh strainer.

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Fill your pot with water.  Heat on high until boiling.  Sometimes my husband sets the timer to remind himself that he is boiling water, but that really isn’t necessary.  Once your water is boiling, turn off the heat and remove your pot from the burner.

Now, hang with me.

This is where it doesn’t get tricky.

You are going to need about one tablespoon of herbs for one cup of water.  You can measure if you want… or if you are like me, you can just “guesstimate.”

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If you are using a teapot with a mesh strainer, dump your herbs on into the strainer part.  If the strainer is full, you have over “guesstimated.”

IMG_3320Carefully pour the boiling water over the herbs inside the mesh strainer.  Remember, the water is hot.

IMG_3324The herbs will start to look something like this:

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This is where you walk away.  Take a nap.  Hop in the shower.  Play with your kids.  Read a book.  Do whatever you want, just leave the tea alone for at least ten minutes.

The hot water is leaching out the nutrients from the herbs, otherwise known as steeping.  Steeping is what makes the tea a tea.  You will need to give the herbs at least ten minutes to do their job.

IMG_3331When the herbs are done steeping, the water will be a different color.

If you have waited for longer than ten minutes and your water hasn’t changed colors, your “guesstimate” was way off.  Try adding more herbs to the mixture.

If you have a mesh strainer, your job is pretty easy.  Like I mentioned above, you want to begin by boiling yourself some H2O.  When the water is boiling, remove the pot from the hot burner and drop your herbs into the water.

Give your herbs at least ten minutes to steep.

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Place the fine mesh strainer on a water pitcher.  With one hand holding the strainer, use the other to pour the herb-infused water.  Once again, be careful.  Your water is still pretty hot.

IMG_3340Your mesh strainer should catch 99.9% of all herbs.  If not, your strainer isn’t “fine” like mine.

IMG_3347 Once your tea is cooled enough for consumption, sit back and enjoy.  Congrats!  You did it!

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There are also Tea Strainer Balls that work just like a tea bag… only you have to fill them first.  Some of my favorite herbs to brew are licorice root, dandelion, red raspberry, peppermint, and rose buds.  Try adding a dab of honey for sweetness.

Weekly Recipe Roundup: Cinnamon Buns, Sweet Potatoes, Girl Scout Cookies, and Honey Lime Enchiladas

Once upon a time, I didn’t know how to cook.   As newly-weds, we ate stroganoff for dinner every week along with cheesy soup, enchiladas, and cereal.  The day quickly came when I thought one more bite of stroganoff would KILL me.

I hounded people for recipes like a moth begging for light.  My survival depended upon it.

Our stroganoff death-binge taught me one thing.

I like variety.

I rarely make the same thing twice, unless the dish is beyond incredible. When it comes to healthy eating, you have to be willing to “shake it up a bit.”  Living off of lettuce alone may increase your chances of looking awesome in that bikini, but after a while you are going to binge on something not-so-amazing.  Matt Stone in Diet Recovery teaches that dieting is like holding your breath.  You can only hold it for so long.  Eventually you are going to have to breathe again if you want to live.

Changing up my meals makes healthy food exciting.  Plain and simple. It helps me learn my boundaries and avoid the deprivation/binge cycle of dieting.

Here are some of our favorite recipe finds this week:

Now it’s your turn to share.  What amazing recipes did you concoct this week?