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Average Grams of Protein

A helpful formula for eating protein is to eat “half your body weight = grams of protein.” So if you weight 140, you will want to eat 70 grams of protein per day. Calculate the formula using your own weight.

These are some common protein-rich foods and the rough number of protein grams they contain:

3 oz. of meat, fish, or poultry = 22 g

1/2 cup cheese = 13 g

1 cup yogurt = 10 g

1 whole egg = 6 g

1/2 cup nuts = 12 g

1/2 cup cooked beans = 9 g

1/2 cup peanuts = 17 g

 

Remember to eat whole plant and animal foods as much as possible, without the nutrients isolated or the proteins denatured.

Try to eat a protein-rich food at every meal or snack. Animal proteins have all the necessary protein components, called amino acids. Protein foods, especially animal products, are necessary for adrenal and thyroid health, and for helping blood sugar and hormones to balance. Let protein foods fill 50% of your plate, especially during times of healing and building up the body (for treatment of any conditions; after sickness; during pregnancy or nursing).

Remember, calculate “half your body weight = grams of protein to consume.”

 

Getting in the Kitchen to Cook

Sometimes, we do everything BUT actually cooking.

…Eat out because we didn’t plan ahead.

…Eat a snack instead of a meal.

…Bring something home to reheat.

…Just fill up on food without being creative.

While there’s a place for all of these, and a place for eating spontaneous meals with friends (I do a lot of that!), cooking at home has vast benefits. Chef and writer Mark Bittman even wrote about this in a recent issue of TIME magazine.

As Mark Bittman wrote, we are a nation that is in love with food and the idea of cooking. We celebrate the performance of popular chefs. We celebrate pictures of delicious food. We seek the most unique foods. We seek designer kitchens with marble counter-tops and professional ranges. But we let other people do the cooking. We love to talk about food, think about food, look at food, sometimes actually eat it, but seldom actually prepare it!

Most of you reading this probably do cook more often than the average American. But still–think about it–there are many ways to NOT cook. Certainly, businesses have found a way to provide services of high demand to consumers: food that is already prepared. But there are benefits lost when you don’t cook your own meals. What are some of the benefits of cooking?

  • We eat healthier when we cook our own meals. We’ll probably use purer ingredients, fewer nutrient-deficient calories, and more appropriate quantities. Knowing what goes into food naturally helps us to make more conscious choices. Plus, it is harder to overeat nutrient-dense foods.
  • We connect ourselves to the process of acquiring food. There is a world of information about the best ways to grow crops, to using the most nutritious spices, to knowing how to open a pomegranate, etc. that we completely forsake when we let others choose the meals we will eat.
  • We practice the philosophy we believe in. Some people really do want to eat healthfully. But do we realize how expensive it is to buy artisanal, organic foods that someone else has made? Some people afford to eat this way all the time, but for many of us, making our own will keep us more consistent with eating well.
  • We restore the virtue of a simple meal lovingly served. Two poles exist in the food scene. One is the ready-to-eat packages of absolute junk on supermarket shelves. The other is the land of culinary entertainment: fanciful ingredients impractical to the average person. What about the middle ground? Just cook a basic meal and enjoy savoring it at the table.
  • We save money. You use either time or money in procuring food that is ready to eat. Paying others for the food, plus the preparation of the food, will typically cost exponentially more than buying ingredients and preparing them yourself. This is especially true in the case of meals that are actually natural and healthful.
  • We learn new skills. What is not to love about participating in the very process of making food to eat? There is no limit to the techniques available to us as we hone our kitchen skills and learn new or efficient ways of preparing ingredients and combining flavors.
  • We spend time with other people. Getting more involved in the steps of getting our food from farm to table ends up connecting us with many other people. Do you find a local source of clean meat? Do you ask your grocer which fruit is the best this week? Do your children see you cooking, and do you let them join in? Cooking can provide more opportunity for building relationships than is usually the case with ordering at a deli or eating in the car.

I’m kind of playing the antagonist in this post, but hopefully writing about the extreme side of not-cooking with get us thinking about why we do cook–and motivate us to get back into the kitchen.

Please chime in with your thoughts, too!

 

 

 

 

Locked and Dimly Lit: Republished

 

Our chiropractic office, Wellness Montana, has been submitting articles for every issue of Montana Parent this year. In the September 2014 issue, I wrote this article about my chiropractic experience. Since it’s now the month afterward, I can republish it here for my readers. If you’re in the area, you’ll want to pick up Montana Parent magazine at local stores. It always has a lot of great articles! Plus, the digital issues are online.

Locked and Dimly Lit

With a jaw that locked uncomfortably every time I ate or slept, I figured that I should get some professional care. Somehow, I had the impression that chiropractors dealt with the body’s structure, so in that direction I headed. Thankfully, Dr. Anderson, of Wellness Montana, was able to alleviate the symptoms within two or three adjustments!

Little did I know, this was just the beginning of a journey of finding out what was going on in my body—and of understanding the true nature of health. X-ray films taken by Dr. Anderson revealed a huge amount of unevenness starting from my hips, moving through scoliosis in my spine, to unequal shoulders, and then culminating in a locking jaw. Thus my lesson that symptoms don’t come from out of the blue, but come directly from the condition of the body. My second lesson was that an imp

roper structure can mean incomplete nerve flow to vital organs. The treatment of this alleviated symptoms I had not even considered, much less connected to issues underlying my troublesome jaw. Blood sugar imbalance, hormonal imbalance, carpal tunnel syndrome and more were all soon improved.

Symptoms are the body’s way to cope; to alert of the presence of dysfunction; to protect what’s most vital. Symptoms are teachers, just like good doctors are. Both help you to learn about your body, and assist you in responsibly caring for it. Attend to your symptoms and seek treatment from a holistic doctor who will work with what your body is telling you. Doctors of Chiropractic, specifically, help restore the body’s power to heal itself, by optimizing structure and nerve function.

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My own specific area of interest—traditional, real food—has the same process. Inadequate nutrition leads to deficient function. And many of the food products in existence today have little nutrient-density, unlike the real foods traditionally eaten by our ancestors. Symptoms of disease alert you that your body is reacting to, and trying to cope with, poor input. They point to the root cause. The body reacts very precisely and almost predictably to the nutrition, to the information—indeed, to all the input—that it is given.

There are two body systems that are especially vital to transmitting information and nourishment to the body. Think of your nervous system and digestive system, at their most basic, as the tandem of electrical and plumbing in a home. Giving your body the fullest quality of input via its complementary “wiring” and “plumbing” channels is vital to the absence of symptoms and the presence of enduring health. Indeed, the very etymology of our word for nerve interference—subluxation— is “less light”.

A person can live for up to an hour without a beating heart; a person can live for ten minutes without breath in their lungs, a person can survive for days without food; but without an electrical signal, a person will die instantly. Though all are vital, the nervous system is in this way supreme.

Today I have a whole new appreciation for the nature of health and the reason for symptoms. Now I work for the doctors at Wellness Montana, and we see symptoms alleviated and healthy function restored every day. This time of year, with the sun shining brightly, gardens awakening, and mountains beckoning, is the perfect time to rejuvenate your health as well. Get sunshine and exercise, eat real food, and give us a call to see how Dr. Anderson can help you take a close look at your health. At our office, we love to help entire families—parents and their children—live fully and functionally.

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Renée DeGroot, a Montana native, is a chiropractic assistant at Wellness Montana (www.wellnessmontana.com) and a Certified Natural Food Chef. Her website is www.MountainCulinaire.com.

Review of ‘Long Way on a Little’

When I first saw this cookbook at the home of a friend, I was drawn to the enticing flavor combinations I saw:

Chicken Roasted with Caramelized Onions, Apples, & Cheddar

Braised Beef in a Cinnamon-Orange-Coffee Sauce

Slow-Cooked Spiced Lamb with Root Vegetables

Rustic White Bean Stew with Bacon, Goat Cheese, & Black Olives

Leftover Meatloaf with Dijon Mustard on English Muffin (idea, not a whole recipe)

Slices of Roast Beef with Horseradish and Sour Cream (idea, not a whole recipe)

{yum!}

Shannon Hayes has written (and is writing) quite a few books now that specialize in the cooking of grass-fed meats, and in using the whole animal from head to toe (quite literally, I believe). What a needed area of cookery, as more and more people are turning to grass-fed meats to be the centerpieces of their meals! Long Way on a Little is titled as “an earth lover’s companion for enjoying meat, pinching pennies, and living deliciously.” Here’s the Amazon link, and here’s the link to the author’s website.

I’m impressed with how much information about meat is included in this book. In one place, Mrs. Hayes illustrates the tough and tender parts of a cow by encouraging you to get down on all fours and act like you’re grazing. The parts that move the most (the front legs and shoulders) need the longest cooking, with moist heat. Muscles that move a little less, but still move some, benefit from slow, dry cooking. The parts that move the least (beef from the backstrap) do fine with short cooking times and dry heat.

The author also goes on to explain that we often we mistake tenderness for flavor and juiciness. Tenderness, she says, is the only factor that conventional meat can provide, while flavor comes from how the animal was raised, and juiciness comes from how well it is cooked. Good meat, cooked well, needs hardly any embellishment of flavor. Herbs and spices (of which her recipes use generously) can help to accentuate the flavor already present in the meat, instead of smothering it in a sauce that disguises it.

Here are my thoughts about Long Way on a Little:

  • I have tried probably a dozen recipes so far. The flavor combinations have all been excellent. Sometimes I have substituted beef or chicken for the pork recipes. And honestly, sometimes I haven’t used the exact cut of meat she calls for, and haven’t done all of the preparatory steps when cooking dinner after a long day at work. So, while the recipes have turned out, I can’t say I’m the best judge of how much better they would be using a large cut of meat and taking as long to cook it as she recommends. For instance, the other day I used a package of good-quality chicken thighs and my toaster oven, instead of the whole chicken and Dutch oven that the recipe instructed. Based on the raving reviews at Amazon, however, I’m guessing that Mrs. Hayes’ techniques for cooking larger or less-desired cuts of meat…really do work! On eventual winter weekends, I hope to have time to try her recipes the way she has designed, by letting the meat cook for several hours, and by following the other careful steps.
  • Honestly, I’m still learning how to cook meat well. In our home, we’ve always had an abundance of good meat, both beef and wild game. Our standby ways of cooking it were to grill it, slow-cook it, or pan-fry it–with an infrequent slow-roasted brisket or flank steak. The pan-frying and even the slow-cooking still left the meat drier than desired. We learned that grass-fed meat should usually be cooked longer and slower, and could be left more rare than conventional meat. From friends I have learned about brining steak with salt before cooking, and broiling it in the oven. From cookbooks I have learned and experimented with cooking steaks until less-than-done, then tenting with foil on a plate while making a reduction sauce in the pan. Brining-and-broiling or tenting-and-topping have gotten me some wonderful results with steak, even venison, which dries out quickly and is harder to cook well. However, the other day I cooked some grocery-store steaks for a cooking engagement–steaks which are purported to be more moist than grass-fed meat–and they were, disappointingly, as tough as can be.
  • So, I write about this cookbook as someone who needs it, and who is still learning even though I have always had grass-fed meat with which to practice. I’m going to keep looking for tips about cooking both grass-fed and conventional meat (for when the occasion demands). I hope that Long Way on a Little has more answers for me as I continue to use it. There’s a lot of confusion out there about cooking meat (both from the purveyors and the purchasers) and I want to make sense of it all. Even in culinary school, we only had a couple days of practicing with large cuts of meat. If you’re still on the same journey, you’ll want to take a look at Shannon Hayes’ book. It’s helping a lot of people, and she keeps writing one cookbook after another. She has a promising purpose–helping people to learn to cook all cuts of meat.

Again, the link to Amazon and the link to the author’s website. Also the “thumbs-up” review from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Thank you, Shannon, for the opportunity to review your book! May all your farming and writing be prosperous!

What’s Been Cooking

Hi, friends!

After a not-exactly-planned, but not-very-surprising summer hiatus, I’m back!

July and August are such wonderful months here in Montana’s mountain valleys, and although I haven’t been writing about cooking, I surely have been cooking a lot! Personal chef work, hospitality, summer potlucks and birthday parties, and using the bigger kitchens in several places I was house-sitting: all these were occasions to make healthy, fresh, creative meals.

I hadn’t completely decided to take a break from blogging, but it wasn’t hard to resist the pull to be spending time hiking trails and floating rivers, and going to movies and restaurants with friends instead. Summer was enjoyed to the fullest, and I was able to do many of the local festivities that I don’t always get to every year.

And that, of course, is aside from my main job, Wellness Montana, where I have taken on more responsibilities. I plan to keep writing and cooking at Mountain Culinaire as much as I can. I’ll ask YOU, what would you like to see more of in my articles and posts?

What’s been cooking around here, plus a recipe:

Buttermilk Cake made by my friends for my birthday…

It was immensely fun to see the joy on the faces of my little friends as they carried out their lovely creation, complete with candles and sparklers.

29th birthday with Ks (2)

Strawberry Shortcake made by my sister-in-law for my birthday…

Organic strawberries, a thick layer of organic whipped cream, and a moist sponge cake made this a delicious dessert–one I had been craving all summer, and of which I savored the leftovers.

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Apple Pie with Lemon and Vanilla made with the apples from our tree at work…

I used rich Kerry Gold butter in the pie crust. In addition to crisp, sliced apples and organic sugar in the filling, I added a bit of lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. I haven’t made an apple pie in such a long time, and this one, with a flaky crust and flavorful filling, turned out perfectly in my toaster oven.

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Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Sausage, and Fontina…

I’ve been thinking of these flavor ideas for a while, and finally put it all together for guests last week. Here’s a rough recipe if you want to make it yourself.

Ingredients:

Equivalent of 1/2 head of lettuce, or loose leaves from the garden  : )

1 yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1-inch slices

1 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1-inch slices

1 onion, wedged or cubed

1 large bunch carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally

6-inch length of all-beef summer sausage

8 oz. Fontina cheese, cubed

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

2/3 cup walnuts, broken into pieces

2/3 cup pumpkin seeds

2 T. caraway seeds

1/2 cup whole-grain dijon mustard

1/4 cup raw local honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T. lemon juice

Instructions:

Wash lettuce and layer in bottom of large, wide serving bowl.

Coat the cubed squash, onion, and carrots with avocado oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 450 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.

While squash is cooking, quarter and slice summer sausage, and saute briefly in frying pan to brown.

Place Fontina cubes and grated Romano in a bowl ready to use.

Spread walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and caraway seeds on baking sheet and toast in 400 degree oven for 5-8 minutes or until aromatic. Don’t let them burn!

Whisk together mustard, honey, oil, and lemon juice for dressing, and serve in cruet for pouring on salad.

Once squash mixture is cooked, let it cool for 5 minutes, then distribute over lettuce in bowl. Sprinkle with cheeses and sausage and let sit for a minute for the cheese to soften into the warm vegetables. Sprinkle with toasted nuts and seeds. Serve with honey-mustard dressing. Serves 6 as a main dish.*

*I served this “breakfast cake” with the salad. I used plums instead of figs, and sprinkled the top with poppyseeds.

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 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Review: One Degree of Change

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I’ve done Standard Process’ 3-week cleanse before, and here’s one post about it.

Similar to last time, I still crave cheese on everything. : )  (I tried to use enough coconut oil, avocado oil, or organic butter instead.) But this time I had fun experimenting with the new cookbook that accompanies the purification program, One Degree of Change. It’s enjoyable to try to new recipes, and several times I had guests over and made a healthy, tasty meal for them. The idea behind the cookbook name is that if you make one degree of change at a time, pretty soon you can have a different life and renewed health! One Degree of Change has a wealth of helpful information and easy-to-read charts for choosing healthy foods both during and after a purification.

One Degree of Change is downloadable here. The 21-day Purification booklet is downloadable here. But the cleanse kit (the protein powder and supplements) has to be purchased from a local practitioner who stocks Standard Process products. Likewise, the hardcover book can be purchased for around $20.00 from a local practitioner.

(Standard Process supplements are whole-food products grown organically and processed from a farm in Wisconsin. The science is based on the research of Dr. Royal Lee, who worked in the same vein of study as Dr. Weston A. Price in the early part of the last century. Selene River Press publishes the phenomenal work of Dr. Royal Lee.)

 

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Below, the Country Quinoa Soup from pg. 62 of One Degree of Change. I used soaked millet instead of quinoa, and Asian pears instead of apples. I used a yellow Vadouvan curry powder from Savory Spice (a favorite suggested by the chef at my culinary school) for the “mild curry powder” called for in the recipe. And then I sprinkled currants and fresh mint on top before serving. This soup is so very delicious! I don’t think I put the amount of water/broth called for, so it thickened quite a bit and became more of a stew or porridge, which was perfect. It was excellent! Oh, and I drank it along with a glass of freshly-brewed kombucha–this batch made with organic decaffeinated black tea and organic rooibos.

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Below, the recipe for Raw Pumpkin Pie Pudding from pg. 46 of One Degree of Change. I used organic canned pumpkin (I like Farmer’s Market brand) instead of raw pumpkin. I blended it all in a food processor, using the soft dates with pits that come in a plastic box at Costco. I used more coconut oil instead of coconut milk, and I added about 1/2 cup raw cashews to make it creamier and heartier. The puddings are topped with chopped dates and chopped cashews. This is so very good! I was trying to use up a can of pumpkin still sitting in my pantry from autumn, but I might just buy more and make this again. The recipe made 5 glasses of the size pictured, and I’m sorry to say (but not really!) that I ate four in two days, and served one to a friend.

 

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Below is the Carrot Curry from pg. 30 of One Degree of Change. It was quite good! I added a little water to the pan so the carrots cooked faster, as everything takes longer at high altitude than recipe books say. I ended up adding about twice the quantity of all of the spices because it just didn’t seem spicy enough. I didn’t have red bell pepper or onion at the time, so those were omitted, but it would taste good with those! I did have fenugreek seeds, which added a nice crunch. And I was trying to incorporate meat into the meal once I could eat meat again (day 11 of the purification program), so I served the curry in a bowl with cooked ground turkey. This was fine, but ground lamb would have tasted better with the curry, I think. The curry was delicious; the turkey didn’t really add anything at all–except necessary protein!

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And my last picture, below, is of the Chicken with Blueberry and Balsamic Sauce from pg. 39 of One Degree of Change. I think I followed this recipe pretty closely, except I used chicken thighs that I broiled in my toaster oven while the rice and sauce were simmering on my two-burner stove. The thighs stayed really moist this way. I used basmati rice to serve the chicken and sauce over. The berries were a frozen trio from Costco, and the balsamic vinegar was from a vineyard that my relatives purchased it from in the Sonoma Valley of California. I didn’t have fresh rosemary that the recipe called for, so I used dried rosemary, then topped the dish with fresh basil and fresh mint. You can always use herbs in different combinations than are called for, as long as you understand their flavors!

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Enjoy healthy meals!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A Real Food Response to Trim Healthy Mama

Everywhere I turn, or click–especially around the Internet–someone else is eating the “Trim Healthy Mama” way, or THM, as it’s abbreviated on Pinterest pins and meal plans.

Finally I borrowed the book from a friend (thanks, Molly!) and read much of it. I didn’t read every word, but I did read enough to understand, I think, the concepts.

I like how sisters Serene and Pearl, co-authors, are passionate about staying healthy as wives and mothers and caring well for their families. I like how their individual personalities shine through in the anecdotes that are scattered throughout Trim Healthy Mama. I enjoyed reading the stories of their moving from a vegan diet, to a nourishing-traditional type diet, to now their own particular spin on fat-burning food combinations.

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Without having followed the THM eating plan, but only having considered some of the principles in it, here are a few of my initial observations:

Praise for Trim Healthy Mama:

  • They stay away from high-sugar meals such as meals consisting of grain + sugar + fruit. In fact, they discourage any type of added sugar to any meals at all. Plus, most meals seek to include protein of some sort. Some of their meals seem to have a high carbohydrate level, and without being allowed to add any fat to curb the sugar, I think it would be imperative to make sure there is some fiber or protein at least, to prevent blood sugar spikes.
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  • They are not afraid of good fats at all! They just don’t want them combined equally with carbs in the same meal. This is the main premise of the book. I guess this makes sense. They say we need only one fuel source per meal (either carbs or fats) in order for our body to burn the fuel efficiently. The traditional-diet wisdom would say to eat fat with everything since fat helps to digest food, but as long as one is eating other foods that aid digestion or digest easily, I think fat could be left out of some meals.
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  • The main premise, again, is to intake different fuel sources at meals that are spaced at least 3 hours apart, especially for weight loss. Carbohydrate meals are called “Energizing” meals. Meals high in fat are called “Satisfying” meals. They have some “Crossover” meals for people needing only to maintain their weight. So, meals focus on either high-carb foods or high-fat foods, never both together. With this plan, either carbs or fats can be eaten with non-starchy vegetables and low-fat protein.

Cautions about Trim Healthy Mama:

  • The recipes and suggestions aren’t all whole-food based. Many of the ingredients are whole foods like vegetables and meats, but some are not. Various protein powders, supplement powders, food replacements, and sugar alcohols are recommended by Serene and Pearl. While they may have found amazing results using these, I am concerned that we really don’t know the long-term effects of modern food products made up of isolated nutrients. People have lost weight eating a real food diet, too. The French-style diet–another example–uses all food groups, in any combination (just as they are in nature), in moderation, and people maintain a healthy weight. Here, the authors answer about some real foods, milk and honey.
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  • To be more specific, egg whites and low-fat dairy products are not whole foods. Glucomannan powder, used in THM smoothies for weight management, is basically a powdered root, so that would be pretty much a whole food. But egg whites and low-fat dairy are not natural, sustainable ways to eat animal products….not to mention that egg whites and low-fat dairy products just don’t taste good! God designed animal foods with fat in them as a whole package. Egg yolks and milkfat have many nutrients which work synergistically with the protein aspects in order to give you the most health benefit.
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  • I don’t agree that sugar is poison. What about whole-food sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, dates, or stevia? God made these sweet foods and they are permissable to eat. Cane sugar, I agree, is concentrated and is unhealthful. Sugar alcohols are not whole foods, so I question their long-term benefit. Stevia is a good, fairly whole, pure food, with no calories. But the avoidance of all caloric sweeteners is pretty extreme, and hardly fits within a whole-food paradigm. For extreme or dedicated weight loss needs, I agree that it is wise to avoid all sugars for a time. I remain skeptical about sugar alcohols, however.
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  • As in any new trend, people easily and readily want to follow along. Pins on Pinterest, and eating plans on blogs tailored toward the Trim Healthy Mama diet are cropping up everywhere! Many women are enjoying more publicity and more companionship in their blogging and eating. It’s fun and it’s helping many people, but it hearkens slightly to be a trend. Really, all one has to do is think through the dietary principles in order to follow the THM plan. If you have a recipe of chicken thighs with cheese on top, you serve it with a salad, not bread. But if the chicken is plain and skinless and served with roasted vegetables, it can be served with bread…as I understand it.
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  • I’m still not convinced about recipes that use look-a-like ingredients to make weight-loss foods that mimic something else. I’m for using healthy and alternative ingredients, but what’s up with trying to trick the eater into thinking it’s a different food than it is? This reminds me of vegan recipes that use cashews to make “egg salad” or paleo recipes that use shredded cabbage to make “noodles”. It’s not egg salad or noodles, so why even call it that? Chopped-up cashews are not eggs. Egg replacers are not eggs. Egg whites are not eggs. Foods that are expected to be rich and sweet, but aren’t, seem like they kind of trick the body. I’d rather just eat the real thing, made with real ingredients, in moderation. Just my own opinion.
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  • The vast majority of the world will continue to use real, traditional ingredients to make their favorite dishes. Even the authors admit that they don’t feed their whole families this way, but make special foods for them and their husbands, or even just themselves. That’s why I believe real food is always the answer, with moderation being a close second. It works for everybody, the world over. It’s biblical too. People ate feasts of bread and cheese, meat and figs, wine and honey. A special diet for a period of time can be good– just like people follow a grain-free diet or a detoxification program. But I just don’t see everyone switching to Glucomannan powder or egg whites or Erythritol. Do it for a while if you want, but don’t expect the whole world to follow. Whole eggs and raw honey are still fine and normal foods, and always will be.

So, all in all, Trim Healthy Mama may be a very good diet worth following as long as you use real, whole foods. The principles of not combining fat and carbohydrates in the same meal are working for many people, it sounds like! It’s wonderful that people are finding success and are able to lose weight while enjoying their meals.

I’m thankful that Serene and Pearl have studied, experimented, and now are helping so many people with their publications! Bravo to them for sharing what they have learned. Congratulations to the women who have been disciplined enough to follow the THM plan and have seen weight loss or increased health. Their website. THM on Amazon.com. The THM Facebook page (lots of testimonials here!)

And again, a disclaimer: I haven’t tried the plan myself and haven’t spoken in depth with anyone who has. These are merely my initial observations upon reading the book and comparing it to a “Real Food” paradigm! Let me know if you’ve tried the diet, and what you thought of it!   ~Renee

My Favorite Essential Oils

Essential Oils. They seem to be all the trend currently, especially a few certain brands from which people host parties for educating and enlisting their friends! But really, they are one of the most useful and ancient remedies in existence, and for good reason. Completely natural and pure and concentrated from plants, it’s no wonder there are endless healing properties.

Essential oils are attracted the fat that’s in every cell of our body, and that’s why essential oils, applied to the body or taken internally, start to work within 30 seconds, and are in every cell of our body within 30 minutes. They really are a powerful product.

I’ve been using Lavender oil a lot lately. It hadn’t been a favorite until recently, because I didn’t like the aroma that much. However, it’s the only oil–or natural remedy at that–that has been clearing up a persistent rash on my ankle. And the tiny vial in my purse has come to the rescue of several little boys recently who have gotten blood blisters and bee stings in the course of their energetic play. : ) Lavender oil is immediately soothing, and is an oil that actually regenerates skin tissue.

I started experimenting with Young Living oils that a generous friend shared with me. With Young Living’s set of ten Everyday oils, I became more acquainted with the marvels of these natural elixirs. From calming stress and anxiety, to healing symptoms of the body, they were always helpful and I started to use them every single day, just as the kit was designed for! It took me about a year to finish the 10 bottles, 5 milliliters each. Now that I know more about how to use the oils, I’m going through them faster.

Fast forward to the end of last year, when our chiropractic office collectively started to learn more about doTERRA oils.  Our office as well as most of the local community here is using doTERRA, so it made sense for me to do the same. Since I had already used a basic introductory set, I researched which oils I would like for specific therapeutic purposes, and ordered about twelve different ones at the year end. So, it’s from this assortment that I have found some favorite uses, listed below.

This is a photo of the food that I prepared for our office’s recent doTERRA evening. Most of the food is made with essential oils to flavor it–oils such as basil, dill, peppermint, orange, and lemon.

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Lately, my favorite ways to use essential oils:

  • Lavender for any sort of skin issue: rashes, burns, stings, bites. I know frankincense and melaleuca are supposed to be good for healing skin also, but they have never worked for me as well as lavender seems to be working (for both me and my little friends).
  • Lavender and peppermint and frankincense for occasional headaches. Lavender goes on the temples, peppermint on the back of the neck, and frankincense on the roof of the mouth. (This tip for the application of frankincense is courtesy of my doctor who recommended it, and it really does work!)
  • InFocus roll-on stick for any time I want to heighten my attention to something, or prepare for the next duty to be done. I like to use it before going out the door in the morning, or as soon as I get to work. First I tried Young Living’s Clarity blend designed for the same purpose, but the InFocus just seems to work better for me and smells better, too.
  • Rosemary and Fennel for digestion. I like to put drops of Fennel in a cup of water and drink it, and rub Rosemary, in a carrier lotion, over my stomach and colon area. I know that both both Young Living and doTERRA have digestive blends, called Di-Gize and DigestZen, respectively, but those haven’t worked for me personally like plain Rosemary and Fennel have.
  • Clary Sage, Citrus Bliss, and White Fir are my current go-to trio for starting the day, after a shower. Together, they help balance hormones, uplift the senses, and calm and center the body. They each have a wonderful fragrance–though I wish the fragrance lasted longer through the day! They can be put on temples, neck, wrists, abdomen, or wherever. Each of these oils was recommended to me by a different friend (thank you to Jess, Katie, and Ray!) and I like using them all together.
  • For the same purposes of calming/grounding, yet awakening, I have also like the Young Living blends Peace & Calming, and Valor, and the doTERRA blends Serenity and Balance.
  • A recent favorite way to freshen clothing is to put a drop of something fragrant on my hands and rub it all around. Then I’ll rub it over a shirt that’s already been worn, mist it with a bit of water, and iron it. This really refreshes clothing if I haven’t had a chance to wash something–or even if it is already clean! Oils that I have used for this are Breathe, Elevation, or White Fir.
  • DoTERRA sells a nice little pouch with ten tiny bottles to keep a supply of oils with you in your purse. I purchased this and use it all the time, literally every time I go somewhere. Other companies sell empty roll-on bottles so you can make your own blends; roll-ons use just the right amount of oil without letting any get wasted, so this is good, too. Whenever I pour a drop from a 5 milliliter bottle, I wipe the edge with the finger to collect any excess. Then I also sniff the oil on my finger after, to get a full “shot” of the healing properties.

What are your favorite ways to use essential oils? What is your experience with them? Please share!

I’ll look forward to sharing more in the future!

~Renee

Gardening and Being Grounded

The other day, I had gotten home early from work, and the weather was too nice not to be outside! In that earliest part of spring in Montana, the main thing that needed to be done was preparing the garden plot for planting. The weeds were already 6 inches high, but the soil was moist underneath yet warm in the afternoon sun. I spent a pleasurable hour getting the weeds pulled from half of the rows, and was happy to have been productive while enjoying the sunshine.

Weeding

Typically thought of as a chore, there are many benefits to weeding a garden. I was outside enjoying it so much, that I started to think of all the reasons that weeding is rewarding. I know, it can be dirty, and perhaps in other states weeding puts the gardener in contact with a lot of insects! Sometimes it seems like there are things more worthwhile to be doing.

Approached with a thankful, optimistic attitude, here are some of the reasons that weeding is so beneficial:

  • Some say that your bare skin (like feet or hands) having direct contact with the earth provides “grounding” to your body–or a positive, healthy electrical current. Manmade electricity is not the most healthy type (though often quite necessary in our world), but the earth’s electrical current counteracts the manmade electrical currents around us, and boosts our health and our body’s electrical balance.
  • Touching soil with bare skin puts us in contact with many good minerals and microorganisms that are believed to build our immunity. Some scientists believe that children today have lessened immunity that goes along with their lessened contact with soil and dirt and other earthy, natural things. Playing in the dirt from a young age, and keeping contact with it as we grow older–such as through farming or gardening or landscaping–are important ways to support your body’s inner biology.
  • Weeding soil as preparation for growing a garden participates in one of the most basic of human needs: food from the earth. The growth of food is what sustains us. Participating in this cycle is one of the most fundamental and elemental things we can possibly do. Not at all a mundane chore, gardening should be seen as one of the richest and noblest pursuits. Even if we don’t grow all of our own food, which most of don’t do, having a hand in the crop cycle teaches us–reminding us of what is needful and important to life itself.
  • Building on the last point, touching the earth so closely can also remind us of all of the other people in the world that rely on the same surface for their resources and sustenance. Going about our daily lives and jobs, it’s easy to focus on what is right in front of us, and the people around us (if that!). But when I was digging up the roots of dandelions that afternoon, it was so much easier to be thinking of God, the giver of all our gifts, as well as other people, whom he also sustains by His grace and the goodness that comes out of the earth.

I think it’s good to have contact with soil now and then–or a lot, if possible. Not only can you accomplish productive work and prepare for the harvest of garden vegetables, but fingering the soil is healthy for us. Biologically, it gives us a healthy electrical balance and a boosted immunity. Philosophically, it reminds of us of the basic things that will always be important and present with us: the need for God’s provision; our need to eat; and our commonality with all of the other people on earth.

On Reformation Acres is a post and picture about the satisfaction of gardening, that I appreciated. Go check it out!

P.S. Don’t spray weeds with toxic chemicals. Just pull them or hoe them or mow them. And preferably with your bare hands, not gloves. My little trick to pull thistles without gloves (provided they aren’t enormous) is to reach just under the surface of the soil, where there aren’t any prickles on the stem, and pull straight up so the taproot doesn’t break. This works for stubborn dandelions, too.

Photo Credit

ORGANIC: 10 Things to Know

1. USDA Certified Organic (fruit & vegetable produce, animal products, and food products) promises that there are no chemical pesticides or fertilizers used in the growth of the food, and there are no genetically-modified organisms in the seed used. Synthetic chemicals and GMOs are both highly toxic to the human body! With the normal diet that most people eat, it is said that the average person ingests 16 lbs. of chemicals per year. Guess what the body has to do with all of that? Filter it out; detoxify. Guess what it needs in order to detoxify? Clean sources of vibrant nutrition, and strong capable organs. And the average non-organic diet doesn’t really help to provide our bodies with adequate nutrition. These are organic labels, also with a chart to explain what “made with organic” means…

                 

2. What about the rest of the world? Well, for instance, the European Union bans chemicals that are allowed in the U.S., and organic foods are more mainstream and accepted there. In Europe, organic foods are often called “biologique”. In addition, the EU bans the use of genetically-modified organisms in all their food. Perhaps the United States should be more careful? But it gets worse as soon as we leave Europe… Chemicals that are banned for food production in the U.S. are sent to third-world, tropical countries that grow much of the produce that just gets shipped right back to us. They are still using the chemicals, and we are still eating them. U.S. regulations for internationally-produced food are disturbingly low, and the possibility of what we are eating is disturbing as well. Perhaps we should be more careful?

3. Organic and natural from small-farms is how we generally still “picture” our food. We conjure up images of fenced gardens, rustic homesteads, red barns with Jersey milk cows, and chicken coops out the back door–when the actual truth that should be deeply impressed upon us is the far opposite. Food and food production has changed 180 degrees in the past 60 years, but our knowledge hasn’t kept pace with the commercialization. Industrial agriculture and food manufacturing has long ago entered the realm of the unknown, and anytime we do find out about what goes on there (from various undercover video clips or new documentaries), it’s usually quite frightening. Regardless of understanding little about what goes on in food processing, even less do we know what these kinds of chemical-laden, GMO-ridden, over-refined “foods” will do to our bodies long term. Read my post about Vestiges and Values for more about this…as well as Keeping Symbols Alive.

4. Small, traditionally-organic, family farms used to supply 40% of our food as recently as 5 decades ago. (And long before that, 100% of our food!) Now, small farms supply 2% of our food, while commercial-size farms supply the remainder. What has this done to farm families and the economy and culture of small towns and ranching communities? Rendered them obsolete, mostly. People started choosing foods from farther and farther away. Now, thankfully, there’s a movement for local, organic, high-quality and specialty foods. Do you get to know your farmer like you would your babysitter or your pastor? You probably care how you are shepherded at church, or how your children are cared for while you are gone. Do you also care about who is growing the food you eat, and whether it is good for you? Our own reconnaissance in this area will always be more particular than the government’s attempt at managing food distribution. There is always opportunity for better knowledge and control within our own community.

5. Exponentially-more nutrients have been tested and found in organically-grown foods. Organic farming practices such as tilling compost or manure back into the soil increase the possibility for more real nutrition for the plants to eat. Healthy soil grows healthy plants. Healthy plants make healthy vegetables. And healthy vegetables make healthy people. But really, to go back to the main point here, there is a reason that organic food does give value for the often-higher price. It often has double or triple the vitamin and mineral content, and none of the toxic pesticides that require nutrients from your body in order to detoxify. And if you can’t yet buy all your produce organic (which, for the record, I don’t either), at least wash all your produce VERY WELL with produce-wash, and keep in mind which things are best to buy organic (both of which I do).

6. Buy organic meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products. Or, know your farmer and the feed or fertilizer he uses, and don’t worry about the certified-organic label. (Local foods such as farm eggs or a side of beef are usually of much higher quality and better price than organic foods transported across the nation.) Animal products are the very most important, in my opinion, to buy as clean, non-toxic sources. Why? Because there is such a vast difference between conventional and organic/local with these! Four main reasons: Antibiotics and growth hormones and other toxins remain in the animal, especially in the fat, and then get transferred, untouched, to you if you eat it. Conventionally-raised animals are always fed genetically-modified grain and other foods which are nutritious neither for the animal nor for you. Animals fed grain and toxins have a high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids in their meat, milk, and fat–and omega-6′s are ultra-inflammatory and lead to disease. And lastly, animals are living, breathing beings, and to be teetering on the edge of life and death, riddled with tumors and taxed to their last bit of energy, is neither healthy nor humane. Please buy organic animal products.

7. Buy organic for the Dirty Dozen, and don’t worry as much about the Clean Fifteen. Vegetables and fruits with thinner skins, that grow near the soil above ground, and that are more fragile and susceptible to pests, are the ones that are given higher levels of chemical sprays–and are the ones you should buy organic. Produce that is usually peeled or shelled is less necessary to buy organic. Also, be creative in buying food in different forms. Frozen berries (the time of year when they can’t be picked locally) are usually better quality than any fresh versions that are organic or even non-organic. Stores usually have organic frozen green beans grown in California, but if you look for them fresh off-season, they will be non-organic and likely from Mexico (with all those third-world pesticides that are not desirable). Choose what you need to, but be very informed about the background behind the various choices!

8. Buy organic of the most likely GMO items: corn, rice, soy, canola, and cottonseed. Actually, a few caveats here. Please never eat the oils made from any of these foods, organic or not! They are still highly processed, highly toxic, and highly inflammatory! But, moving on….if you eat corn or rice, please let it be organic! If you eat soy, it should be organic AND in a fermented version. Canola is not really healthy at all, so don’t eat it all, unless it’s certified organic and you are making double-sure that you are counteracting with enough omega-3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids. And never eat cottonseed oil at all; it messes very much with hormones, especially male hormones, and reproduction. Just avoid junk foods and fried foods and commercial pastries (which are unhealthy for other reasons, too) and you’ll easily avoid most of these genetically-modified, inflammatory oils.

9. Buy organic versions of prepared foods and condiments. Because they’re usually the only kinds that are remotely natural. Why conventional spaghetti sauce has 25 added fillers and flavors and preservative is unknown to me, when the organic version gets buy with real tomatoes, real herbs, and real olive oil. Period. Of course, it’s due to cost and cheapness. But please, please, buy the realest version that you can! Or make it from scratch. This goes for any canned soups, bottled sauces, dressings, mixes, seasonings, toppings, condiments. If it’s something that is ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat, be super careful of what you are buying. Always read ingredients. In a future post, I want to share more about specific food additives, so you are more informed why they are detrimental.

10. The bigger picture. Now that you know the most important things to buy organic {animal products; the dirty dozen; common GMOs; and prepared foods}, here’s a few extra reasons that it’s so beneficial. Organic farming preserves ecosystems, biodiversity, heritage species, top soil and the landscape; and unpolluted air. Buying organic supports better farming procedures, animal humaneness, multi-generational farming families, and a sustainable future for agriculture and our earth. Aren’t those worth supporting? Not to mention you’ll feel much cleaner and less toxic (and will be healthier) if you aren’t loading your body with toxins and inflammation and pesticides that never like to leave. Give your body the nutrition it needs to detox the bad and heal itself with the good.

 

Discoveries of the Week

Via various avenues, I’ve arrived at the following webpages and thought you might like to see them, too. Here’s a variety of links:

10 Reasons Why Lowfat is NOT High Nutrition at Empowered Sustenance

~Excellent, excellent points that everyone should know!

10 Signs of Nutritional Deficiency in Children at Weed ‘em and Reap

~Do your children have any of these signs? Pay attention!

Have you Heard of Weston Price? from Kelly the Kitchen Kop

~Good history lesson about historical diets and the people who studied them.

A Real Food Attitude Adjustment at Green Eggs & Goats

~Cooking a real-food meal really is simple, as this blogger shares with an anecdote.

Real Food Kitchen Overhaul at Natural Fertility and Wellness

~Healthy, whole-food meal lists for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Stocking a Traditional Foods Pantry by Nourished Kitchen

~A comprehensive list of where and what to buy for every food group.

About Sofya at The Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter

~Mostly I gravitated toward the name of this site : ), and the author’s story is neat, too.

Wild Game Recipes from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

~I like the idea of recipes tailored toward wild things from outdoors. : )

 

….If there’s a common theme among these at all, it would be to eat grassfed meat and wholesome butter. : )

Let me know if you enjoy posts like this–if you like to find out about other blogs and articles you may enjoy. Thank you! ~Renee

Decorate Your Kitchen

~A beautiful kitchen can be more appealing to work in, so why not seek to beautify your own kitchen this week? Or maybe you already have–in which case, congratulations! I’d love to hear how you decorated your kitchen.~

A beautiful kitchen reflects your personality and unique gifts and emphases. Do you do a lot of canning or culturing? That will invariably show in your kitchen. Do you collect a particular style of dinnerware? That will be evident. Celebrate it. Showcase the marks of your trade, or your way of showing hospitality.

First: Simplify.

Go through your kitchen and find anything that you don’t need or don’t use. Remove those things to give away or donate. Try to consolidate your supplies into versatile items, not single-use items. A knife and cutting board can do what it takes any number of machines or tools to do. Here’s an equipment list I’ve made before; it still has quite a few things on it, though! Clear counters and start from a clean slate.

Next: Organize.

Separate and group your cooking supplies into equipment stations for the most efficient use. You’ll want stove-top utensils near the stove, and the dinnerware cupboard near the dishwasher or drainer. Straighten or stack everything in your cabinets and drawers and under the sink. As you’re organizing, keep out anything that you think is especially pretty or stylish, for the next step.

Finally: Decorate.

Look through all the items that had been on your counter. Also, take a look at the items that you noticed as you were organizing the cupboards. What are the items that 1) you need accessible, 2) are useful to you, 3) and are beautiful to you? Decorate the counters or back-splash with beautiful things that you use often. Don’t decorate your counters with useless things, or it may feel too cluttered. It helps to have room for the actual task of cooking! : ) Don’t minimize your work space for the sake of things to look at. Clear it away and leave only what is useful.

And what is useful…make it beautiful and use only what is appealing to you! Are there things you use that could be grouped into a basket or tray to keep them consolidated and on pretty display? Do you have a cookbook stand that you use often? Keep a favorite hardbound cookbook in it, for inspiration. Do you have a favorite painted ceramic dish? Use it to hold garlic bulbs, or as a spoon rest. Do you reach into canisters often? Get some that are beautiful to you. The larger that a kitchen is, the more room there is to decorate, of course–but don’t go overboard. But perhaps you could hang your heavy stainless pans on a decorative pot rack, or set your favorite vases on a shelf.

Sometimes it helps to purchase a couple of new items to tie together the beginnings of your kitchen style. Do you notice a theme or color scheme surfacing? Maybe you like red accessories; perhaps you could get a new red dishtowel for the oven handle, or a nice red butter crock. Perhaps you like French-country or Nordic style like I do. You could get a lined wire basket or painted wooden tray that reflects a certain style. (Some of my favorite stores for kitchen shopping are World Market, IKEA, Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, and Williams-Sonoma.)

Too often we muddle through with the things we have always used, and the place we have always cooked, instead of giving it all a refreshing makeover. If you’re happy with how your kitchen functions and how pleasing it is to you, excellent! But if not, think about how making a few changes in weeding through extra items, or organizing what you have and decorating with the prettiest items–will make your job happier!

Extend your beautifying and decorating to the pantry, too. You can store most-used items in coordinated mason jars or metal tins. You could place loose packages in baskets or bins. And personally, I love to buy things in pretty packages. I like to buy locally-made foods, or artisanal or specialty products that make me smile when I see the pretty label on my shelf. Perhaps that’s superfluous, but it’s a simple way to add pleasure and beauty, and since I’m usually buying natural or organic products anyway, it’s really not any more expensive.

Additional ideas:

  • Look at Pinterest for decorating ideas. Here is my board of kitchen styling. I definitely like white cabinets and hope to have them again someday!
  • New kitchen linens are an easy way to dress up and freshen a kitchen. (Or maybe I’m just partial to them.) I think it’s hugely rewarding to have substantial, good-quality towels and cloths and aprons to use. If they’re sturdy, absorbent, bright, and clean, you’ve just taken a great stride toward a satisfying kitchen. : ) Screen-printed terrycloth ends up looking old really fast. Get printed broadcloth, or woven designs. Buy towels from a specialty kitchen store and they will usually be larger and higher quality (and more beautiful and more easy to fit to your theme) than the ones from department stores or big-box stores. {Can you tell where I like to shop?}
  • What I did when I moved to my studio, as I was buying the few extra things that I didn’t have yet, was the following… I have one wire basket that holds avocado oil, coconut oil, salt and pepper grinders, and my knife honer. I have another basket that holds a pretty new utensil crock, garlic cloves, mortar and pestle, trivet, and a few oft-used seasonings. I have a spoon rest that has a lovely bluebonnet motif–a reminder of my friends in Texas. And I leave my cutting board flat on the counter all the time, ready to use. Oh, and the dish drainer sits on the counter, and I have soap (one of the pretty AND all-natural ones that can be purchased) and produce wash by the sink. I don’t have any appliances on the counter because I don’t use them very often, and there isn’t room. My food processor, my only large appliance, is under the sink. (I like that because it is a tall cupboard, and the appliance doesn’t have to squeeze under another shelf.) That’s just what I did with the things I have and what I use often, and it will look different for everybody. And I’m still changing things as well as keeping ideas in mind for possible future kitchens.
  • Make a focal point for others who are entering your kitchen–and for yourself. Enter the kitchen as you usually do, but think about where your eye travels first. Be deliberate about placing something beautiful for the eye to focus on! This could be wherever the largest item is, or biggest “pop” of color, or by a grouping of several items together, or via what is arranged on the windowsill. Think artistically about where the eye goes, and how the image “flows.” Is there balance between the sides of the room/what’s on the counters? Is there an ugly appliance that your eye always jumps to? –Perhaps it could be moved to a different location or surrounded with some lovelier items.

SONY DSC

{The above picture is in my current kitchen. And you’re welcome to look at my Pinterest board for other kitchen inspiration!}

Now a question for you: Do you feel like your kitchen is “decorated”?

Would you like to do more with this space that you use often?

Please tell us about it in a comment!

 

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