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Asthma, allergies, and “A.D.D.-like” Behavior

Some of you may already know that I home school our kids. There are a number of reasons we have chosen to go this route, but in the interest of saving time and not boring you, I won’t go into them in too much detail right now.

One big reason why we pulled our kids out of school was because one of our children was exhibiting “A.D.D.-like” behavior. His teacher at the time told me she “didn’t want to scare me” but that she saw many signs pointing to Attention Deficit Disorder in our child. Now I knew this child was squirmy and couldn’t have cared less about sitting in circle time or focusing on a specific task. But I also realized he was in kindergarten and was a boy. And I truly believe not a lot of boys that age want to be doing those things, either. This poor boy’s spirit was being broken every day after failing time and time again to do what the teacher was asking of him.

After much consideration, we decided to pull our two school-aged kids out of public school and see if we could meet their needs better at home. Our other son was having the opposite problem, and was bored out of his mind in class.

After teaching our kids for a few months, I got to see first-hand the fidgety-ness, the tapping of pencils, the unfocused learning, and the constant redirection our son struggled with. Along with these things, he suffered from terrible asthma and allergies. He was on 5 medications from November through June just to keep him “functional.” He would snore so loud at night,we heard him across the house. His nose was constantly stuffed up and we had many nights of Albuterol treatments. We had emergency room visits due to his asthma and he had eczema over his arms and legs.

And then, about a year and a half ago, after Superman  was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease, we found great help through a homeopathic doctor. We discovered our son was allergic to dairy and soy. This doctor informed us if we cut dairy out, we would most likely be able to drop all his medications. I was skeptical, to say the least, but willing to try anything. Shortly after this, we decided to start eating a Paleo diet and cut out all grains, dairy, legumes and sugar. The results were astounding.

Our son, our dear boy who had been suffering since birth from a myriad of breathing and skin issues, and had had his adenoids removed (which made no difference) and whose conventional doctor suggested surgery to widen his nasal passages, was off ALL his medications! For the first time in his life, he made it through the whole winter season without one asthma problem…without any allergies…his snoring went away, his eczema went away…and guess what? He started to be able to focus! It really was a miracle.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This dietary change didn’t turn our son into some perfect angel child with a yearning for academia. He will always be my little skateboarding musician. But boy, oh boy, is it sure much more of a pleasure to teach him! He can actually think clearly and not look like he’s struggling just to connect two thoughts.

So, that’s my story of full belief in this lifestyle. Not only did Superman improve dramatically (that’s a story for another day), but our son, who I thought was just “born with” those issues, was healed! It’s now been a year and a half, and he has still not had an ounce of allergy meds or asthma meds since we changed his diet. It’s amazing. And soooo worth it.

Some people feel this type of dietary change is just too much to handle. Why live, they ask. Well, I say, why live miserably? Sure, we’re all going to die. But what kind of quality of life do you want? I would rather live to be 75 and feeling darn good physically then live to be 95 and struggling mentally and physically. To me, it’s all about quality of life. I want to know I treated my body the best I could, and when the good Lord wants to take me, I’m good with that. I just want to feel healthy and clear-in-mind for as long as I can. And my son is living proof that making these dramatic changes is so worth it!

*Disclaimer: Although I truly feel this diet would benefit nearly anyone, I also understand it may just be too much for some. And not everyone may experience “complete healing” like our son did. But, I truly believe even little changes can go a long way…buying quality meats and produce is a huge step in the right direction. I always tell people, “Try it for 30 days. If at the end of 30 days, you don’t notice a dramatic improvement, you can just go right back to the way you were eating.” But I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. Here’s a great program to help you get started: Whole30. Check it out and see if it’s up your alley.

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Etc.

 

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Olive-Stuffed Sausage

I adapted this recipe from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook. I am not a fan of green olives, but for some reason, when they’re wrapped in sausage they strike my fancy! I made these for a snack the other day for the kids and I. They all approved. *Note to self (and anyone else who may not think about things thoroughly all the time…): Make sure you buy pitted green olives–these are hard to eat when you have to munch around a pit! The first time I made these, I made that mistake. The kids liked them a lot better being able to freely bite into them. =)

Recipe: Olive-stuffed sausage

2 pounds ground pork sausage

1 tsp red pepper flakes (if you don’t care for spicy, cut this in 1/2)

10 oz jar pitted green olives (something like THIS is fine–just make sure to read those ingredients. You don’t want any junk added)

1 TBSP tomato paste

Combine all ingredients except olives in a bowl…with your hands. Scoop out a few tablespoons of sausage and form into a ball in your hand. Smash flat-ish and press a green olive into the center. Mold the sausage around the olive until it is completely covered and in the shape of a ball. Set aside and repeat until you have used up all the sausage.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and place the balls into pan.

Cover with lid and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn over and cover with lid again for about 2 minutes. Take lid off and cook for another 3-4 minutes, so the liquid evaporates and you get a nice brown color on the bottom of each ball. Remove to a paper towel-covered plate and let cool for a few minutes before you bite into the flavorful goodness. Don’t wanna burn those taste buds!

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Homesteading Fun: Homemade Candles!

These were so fun to make, and a great simple Christmas gift for friends or family.

First, I bought microwaveable soy wax (hey, soy is good for something!). I was glad I went for microwaveable…it saved a lot of time.

The wax is in shavings in a big bag:

I also bought concentrated candle dye:

And cinnamon candle scent:

Candle wicks:

And a candle thermometer (probably not completely necessary, but it was on sale for $5 at Michael’s, so I picked one up):

I melted a few cups of the shavings in a big bowl in the microwave for a few minutes, stirred and microwaved a bit more. Then I added a piece of the concentrated dye (read label for how much to use) and a few drops of scent and let it cool until it got to 175 degrees. Meanwhile, I dipped the bottom of each wick in a bit of the wax and stuck them to the bottom of the 6 oz. jars that I bought. Then poured the melted wax to partially fill the jars:

Let that cool until hardened:

Repeated the process and poured a second layer on. This time I didn’t add dye so it would be a layer of white on top:

Let that cool and voila! Homemade Christmas gifts! As you can see, my red dye ended up cooling to pink. I’ve come to terms with that. Next time I’ll add more dye.

I ended up making 10 candles, and the total cost was about $2.50/candle.  Not bad!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Homesteading, Uncategorized

 

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No-cook Chocolate pudding…Paleo style!

I’ll be the first to admit it. Sometimes I crave chocolate. Ok, I often crave chocolate. And if there were a Kit Kat or Whatchamacallit sitting next to me, I would probably cave. So I don’t have any of that stuff in our house. I know my weaknesses! I created this recipe over the summer when I was craving something chocolatey. It’s so simple it’s almost wrong. No-cook chocolate pudding? Yes, please!

Recipe: No-cook Paleo Chocolate Pudding

1 can refrigerated, unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (I like THIS kind)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 TBSP honey (I prefer raw, but you can use regular)

2 TBSP cocoa powder

With an immersion blender (my preference) or hand mixer, blend all ingredients until they are combined and pudding consistency is achieved (takes just a few minutes–it won’t be as “solid” as traditional pudding, but should be somewhat thick). Scoop out a little to enjoy, and put the rest in the fridge to chill for an even better consistency! If you want a milkshake-type treat, just add some crushed ice before blending together (you’ll probably want to use the immersion blender or a regular blender for this) and eat immediately. This recipe served a generous serving for both Superman and myself. A little bit of this goes a long way, as the coconut milk is very filling!

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Dessert

 

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Choconut Macadamia Peppermint Bark

I was reminiscing of ol’ holiday treats, and wondering if it would be possible to create a cleaner version of one of my personal favorites…peppermint bark. Thanks to a genius basic recipe from Mark’s Daily Apple, I was able to recreate a delicious substitute that every single person in our family loved! This recipe made a 9×9 square pan, which actually ended up being plenty for the 7 of us. It took us a few days to finish off, even though part of me wanted to eat the whole thing in one sitting. If you’d prefer an even healthier version, you could eliminate the chocolate altogether and avoid the “evaporated cane juice” (sugar is sugar is sugar!) in the chocolate chips.

Recipe: Choconut Macadamia Peppermint Bark

1 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup unsweetened fine coconut flakes (the original recipe calls for toasted, but I just had regular, and it was still divine)

2/3 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

1.5 tsp peppermint oil

3/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips (I use these)

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler over low heat.

While that’s melting, combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Line a 9×9 glass pan with parchment paper. Pour mixture into pan and set in fridge for 15-20 minutes. Let chocolate cool a bit (but not so much that it hardens). Take cooled coconut mixture out of fridge and spread cooled melted chocolate on top of mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of shredded coconut (if desired) and let cool completely in fridge.

*Note: This needs to be stored in the fridge as it melts pretty quickly. Once you break off a piece to eat, eat it quick! It melts in your mouth…and in your hands!

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Dessert

 

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What’s For Dinner 12/5-12/9

I arrange my weekly menu according to what we have going on that week and, well, I’ll have to admit…the weather. If I know it’s gonna be a rainy day, I like to make some sort of warm comfort food. Feel free to change the order of these meals to fit your schedule!

Monday: Honey glazed ham with pan-fried sweet potatoes and mandarins

Recipe: Honey glazed ham

1 medium ham, bone-in

1 cup honey

1 tsp ground cloves

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

Let ham sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour before you are ready to cook it. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil and place ham on pan. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine honey, cloves, garlic and salt in a small saucepan and heat over low-medium heat. Baste ham generously with mixture.Tightly cover with foil and cook for 2.5 hours, uninterrupted. No peeking! After 2.5 hours, check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If it’s not at 130 degrees yet, put it back in the oven for another 1/2 hour or so (still covered) until it reaches about 130 degrees. Uncover, and baste again. Return to oven. Take out every 10-12 minutes and re-baste until temperature reaches 140 degrees. For the last 5 minutes of cooking, turn oven to broil to make the outside into crispy sweet goodness. Let rest for 10 minutes, and then carve and enjoy!

P.S. When you have taken all the meat off your ham, wrap it and freeze it to make wonderful ham soup later, or you can just put it in the fridge if you think you’ll have time in the next few days. Just throw it in a pot with whatever veggies and spices you’d like, add enough water to completely cover the ham bone and slow-cook for a few hours over low heat.

Recipe: Pan-fried sweet potatoes

4-5 sweet potatoes, skins on, sliced about 1/4″ thick

1/2 cup olive oil

salt/pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop a tiny piece of a sweet potato in oil, and if it starts bubbling immediately, it’s ready. Lay in a single layer in oil and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Take out and let drain on paper towels for a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday: Leftover ham with green beans and frozen blueberries

Wednesday: Chevre burgers with roasted artichoke hearts and sliced bananas

Recipe: Chevre Burgers

3 pounds ground beef

1 egg

2 TBSP garlic salt

1 TBSP chili powder

2 tsp. onion powder

heaping TBSP of olive oil

8-10 oz Chevre goat cheese

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except goat cheese…with your hands. They do a much better job than a spoon! Mix, mix, mix. Once they’re all having a party and blended well, form into patties of desired size. Press an indentation into each burger and get a small glob of goat cheese and press into indentation. While you’re doing this, heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Once all your burgers are made, line them onto the pan, goat cheese side up. Cook for 3-4 minutes, and flip over. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until there is little to no pink in the middle, depending on how well done you like them. Serve over lettuce, tomato, onion…whatever you like!

Recipe: Roasted Artichoke Hearts

32 oz jar artichoke hearts (ingredients should only be water, salt and citric acid)

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP garlic salt

pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drain artichoke hearts, and combine with remaining ingredients. Pour in single layer onto cookie sheet and put in oven for 20-25 minutes. Cook until the edges are crispy and brown. Serve!

Thursday: Indian-baked chicken thighs with cauliflower rice (recipe HERE ) and apples

Recipe: Indian-baked chicken thighs *Whole30 Compliant

3-4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp salt

olive oil to baste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil and place chicken on pan, skin side up. In a small bowl, combine all spices. Using a spoon, sprinkle each piece of chicken with spice mixture. Use your fingers to massage spices into skin. Let sit for 20 minutes if you have the time for spices to absorb. If you’re in a hurry, just stick them right into the oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until juices run clear. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday: Bacon Meatloaf with roasted butternut squash (recipe HERE ) and kiwis

I realize I’m using 2 ground beef recipes this week…but that’s just the way it worked out. Ground beef is a great cheaper alternative to other cuts of meat, and is quick and easy to prepare.

Recipe: Bacon Meatloaf

3 pounds ground beef

1/2 pound bacon, chopped

1 cup almond flour

3 eggs

1 medium onion

2 TBSP mustard

1 TBSP chili powder

1.5 TBSP garlic salt

3 TBSP tomato paste

1/4 cup coconut milk (from the can–only ingredients should be water, coconut and guar gum)

Cook bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat–don’t throw out grease!) In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients (with your hands again–that’s what God made ’em for!). Add the bacon AND grease and combine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil.

Form meat into two loaves and place on pan. Doing it this way will avoid all the grease that you’ll get if you use a loaf pan.

Put in oven and cook for about 45 minutes, until temperature reaches about 160 degrees.

Enjoy your week!

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Dinner, Uncategorized

 

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How To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy Food

Want to know the secret to getting your kids to eat healthy foods?

Ready?

Here it is…

GIVE IT TO THEM!

I know, complicated, right?

Here’s the reason I cook healthy, yummy foods:

I love them.

Sure, I may have had to whip out a stern “mom face” to get my kids to eat something on their plate at some point, but overall, they adjusted pretty quickly to eating a grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet. They get to indulge sometimes. Heck, I do, too. But we live in a “safe zone” for Superman*.

*My awesome husband

There are still things that Superman can’t eat due to his highly overactive autoimmune disease that even “Paleo” people can…cinnamon, eggs, most fruits…and a list of about 100 other things. It’s sad. But he knows I’m not going to be serving things for dinner that aren’t safe for him. I don’t even know if I have any wheat flour anywhere…or sugar. I mostly bake with almond flour, and the kids enjoy “clean” treats just as much as they did cupcakes or traditional cookies or ice cream.

Our kids know just how broken daddy’s body is. They know that eating the way we do will help ensure they don’t have the same problems that he does. They get that. And even though they may enjoy splurging at times, it’s been ingrained into their noggins that it’s all about treating our bodies with respect, and feeding it things that make it thrive, not slowly die. And I truly believe by eating the way “traditional” America does, we would be setting our kids up for futures of unneeded pain and suffering.

Not to say they won’t still have health problems…I can’t predict the future. But I can do my best to ensure they get the best start possible.

And so, that’s how I get my kids to eat healthy. We’re honest with them. We’re open with them. And they eat what they get…at least while we’re at home…and they’re young enough for me to be their chef.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Etc., Uncategorized