Monday, December 3, 2012

Life Legacy Musings..

I have been quite concerned lately that I'm running out of time...
Time to do anything of significance on this earth. 

I'm really not talking about grandiose things here - but something meaningful - lasting. 

I'm a mom of a 7 1/2 year old sweet little boy so most of my time and energy are invested in building into his life - and it is my #1 most important priority.

But I know in my heart that there was more I could have done - and maybe more that I should have done?

When I think about the extraordinary experiences and opportunities of my life, I am puzzled and a little worried.. 

Have I squandered my life on the mundane? 

This is a real and very serious question for me. 

In just about every aspect of life, for most of my 41 years, I have settled for mediocrity. 

Lately I worry that I really may be incapable of accomplishing something significant - unable or unwilling to put in the disciplined hard work and follow through necessary.

I'm old enough to know just about every "get 'er done" type response possible..  and mature enough to recognize that forgiving and loving myself with all my imperfections is part of my healthy path forward.

But I am still here... quietly wondering and admittedly, worrying a little..
What am I really doing with the opportunities, gifts and talents that I have been given?

Are my dreams just wishful thinking without real substance?

What am I really passionate about? 

Will I be remembered by anyone (outside family and a few friends) for anything meaningful?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Surviving Halloween...



My revised rules to survive Halloween:
  1. I will relax.
  2. I will not flee from town and hide in the back country with my school age son until the Halloween & Harvest Party season is over...  (lol)
  3. I will create a flexible plan to enjoy the season and festivities without a complete derailment into a two week gluten/dye fest.
Special Disclaimer: Our son doesn't have celiac or severe food allergies/intolerances so this more relaxed plan is my experimental compromise to "lighten up a little".  I regularly explain the reasons why I try to avoid gluten and artificial dyes/colors/preservatives/flavors -- and the benefits of quality whole foods.  We discuss how he feels about our nutritional changes and what he likes (or doesn't like) so we can customize a flexible and sustainable plan that works for all of us.  It's a process of learning together - and I love the way he gets excited about nourishing foods with me.  My proudest moments so far have been when he choses on his own to forgo an unhealthy treat that is offered to him at school, Sunday school or other location/event. 

After reading a lot of websites, blogs and boards... 

The Plan:

1. Volunteered to bring a healthy treat for the class party.
  • Making one-eyed mini monsters from Bananas, Melted Organic Chocolate and Organic Raw Shredded Coconut (no sugar added).    
          Here's the original idea with photos:
          http://forkandbeans.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/frank-and-willy-paint-the-town-red/

  • Also making carrot "fingers" with organic baby carrots, cream cheese & sliced almonds
         http://www.superhealthykids.com/healthy-kids-recipes/carrot-fingers.php

2.  We ordered special GF Lollipops to give out to his classmates. 
(Our local Organic Store also sells GF candy)

       http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001EO5KZQ/ref=sc_pgp_t_2_347734011_m_AZ8X1OBQLIC28_7?ie=UTF8&n=347734011&s=&v=glance


3.  For each party/event/trick-or-treating:
  • He can eat up to 3 treats/candies right away... no limits, includes cookies, cupcakes and other treats  (during or after each event)
  • We will take pictures of his candy collection as it grows and he can sort and count it.
  • After Halloween is over he will pick 7 pieces to keep/eat.  (he's 7 years old)
  • I will collect any candy that he doesn't want and toss in the garbage or bring in to the office. (he doesn't like things with nuts or peanut butter... I know, crazy!! lol)
  • For the rest of the candy, I will let him trade it for a special coupon book & a decorative treat bag with GF treats/candies.  The coupon book will include things like:  Rollerskating (at local rink), Family Game Night, Nerf Gun Battle Play Date, etc. 

Special Tip:  Last year we used a ton of left over candy for an "art project" to celebrate the 100th day of school.  We hot glued 100 pieces of candy to a poster.  Great way to get rid of candy - and the kids in his class loved looking at (and counting) all the different kinds.

4. For trick-or-treaters...

Honestly I'm not sure yet.  We may give out themed pencils or inexpensive toys/items from the dollar store instead of candy this year.  I'm researching options and pricing... 


Whatever happens I will try to remember Rule # 1 - Relax!  




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whole Health Lunches for Kids

The journey toward Whole Health continues for me and my family....

I'm working on developing a better lunch plan for my son who will be starting 2nd grade in a few weeks. The primary focus is on quality, variety and balanced nutrition that will help promote improved focus, attention and stable energy levels.  This plan will cover >90% of his lunches and snacks.  I also plan to bring alternative treats for special occasions at the school so all our hard work isn't undone with a school party feast of food dyes, gluten and sugar.  This is a whole foods attempt on my part to help Josh, his teachers and classmates enjoy the learning process together.  Combined with a continuation of whole health nutrition for his other meals and snacks, adequate sleep and physical activity... and a renewed focus on home learning activities, I'm committed to help him experience a more successful year in and out of the classroom. 

What I'm trying to eliminate and/or reduce:
  • Wheat/Gluten
  • unnatural preservatives, additives, colorants, flavors
  • refined or highly processed foods
Special Additions:
  • Nutrilite Multi-vitamin/mineral for kids (chewables)
  • Carlson's Cod Liver Oil (1 tsp a few times a week)
  • Dr. Sears fish oil capsules for kids ("Brain Balls" - a few times a week)
  • D3 "Sunny" Gummies (a few times a week)
HM = Homemade (mostly it's all "homemade")
WF = Wheat Free
GF = Gluten Free

A special note:  This list is based on  our specific family nutritional goals as well as Joshua's preferences... so although I think hard boiled eggs are a great snack or lunch idea it's not on our list because Josh doesn't care for them much - but I serve local farm fresh eggs often for breakfast (either scrambled, omlettes, or quiche type baked egg muffins with veggies and bacon).
Protein:
  • Lunch Meat - Rolled slices, cubes or special shapes (can put on toothpicks or skewers)
  • HM Meatballs w/HM Sauce
  • HM Beef or Chicken Soup/Stew
  • Meat & Veggie Kebobs (can also make a "unwrapped" kebob -- meat, cheese cubes, cherry/grape tomatoes, lettuce pieces, pickles, etc w/optional dipping sauce like sweet honey mustard or creamy dijonaise)
  • BLT Lettuce Wrap w/HM Mayo (or use GF Rolls occasionally)
  • Left Overs - especially grilled or baked chicken(or turkey) leg or wings/drummettes or pieces of meat (slices or cubed)
  • HM Teriyaki chicken w/rice & veggies (can also add lettuce for "wraps")
  • HM Sushi Rolls OR Kim (Seaweed) & Rice with protein: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, fish, etc.  (& tiny slivers of veggies)
  • HM Japchae and/or Bulgogi
  • HM Fried Rice
  • Nuts - almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, cashews, brazil 
  • Seeds: Pumpkin, Sunflower
Veggies:
  • Fresh Veggies: plain, w/sea salt or w/Ranch or HM Dip
  • Veggies included in protein or baked items (muffins, meatballs, kebobs, stews, sauces, etc)
  • Celery sticks with almond butter & raisins or organic dark choc chips
  • Cold Seaweed Salad
  • "Chips" - Sweet Potato, Taro, Zucchini, Jicama, Sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
Fruit:
  • Fresh Fruit - Whole, sliced or diced, or kebobs
  • HM and/or Organic Dried Fruit (incl raw coconut flakes)
  • HM or Organic Fruit Leather or "Roll-ups" (can add designs and/or cut into shapes)
  • HM Applesauce

Misc Dairy:
  • FAGE Total Greek Yogurt or Chobani - Full fat with live cultures. Flavor options: Honey, HM Jam, Mashed Fruit, HM Applesauce, Stevia & Vanilla, Apple Butter, Melted Dark Choc and/or chips.
  • Cultured Organic Cream Cheese
  • Aged/Harder Cheese - cubed or cut into shapes
Treats:
  • GF/WF Muffins or Bread* - Carrot/Zucchini, Blueberry, Coconut, Sweet Potato, Apple, Banana, Other combinations...
  • GF/WF Misc. Treats & Desserts* - brownies, cupcakes, truffles, candy bark, etc
  • GF/WF Cookies/Bars* - Chocolate Chip
  • 70% Organic Dark Chocolate
  • Honey Stick or Maple Sugar Candy
  • GF Granola (HM or buy?)
* Using one or more of these alternatives to Wheat Flour: Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Pamela's Baking Mix (mostly rice flours)
Drinks:
  • Water/Filtered Water
  • Sparkling Water w/HM flavor
  • Organic Almond Milk - Vanilla or Chocolate
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Water
  • Apple & Eve Fruitables
  • Organic Cranberry
  • HM Apple Juice/Cider

Healthier Alternatives for special meals:
  • Pizza - GF Pizza Dough Mix for HM GF Pizza or GF Organic Frozen Pizza (Organic Market) or Pizza Kebobs - pepperoni, ham, pineapple, cherry/grape tomatoes, Mozzerella cubes w/Marinara dipping sauce
  • Soft Tacos - GF Tortillas (Organic Market), Crunchy Tacos - GF Taco Shells?
  • Sandwiches - GF Rolls or Bread (Organic Market)
  • Chicken Nuggets w/Fries - HM GF Chicken Nuggets w/ Sweet Potato Fries  (tenderize chicken w/mallet so it's easier to chew)
  • Crackers/Fish Crackers - Check Organic Store or Online for GF Crackers, etc.
  • Pasta - GF Noodles or GF Ravioli (Organic Market) w/Organic or HM Sauce
  • Ice Cream - Highest Quality, Minimum ingredients, Try Organic Coconut Milk Ice Cream
  • Popsicles - HM  fruit puree/juice Frozen Pops

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What is she eating now?

It's a long list of delicious and wholesome foods - plenty of veggies, protein, and fats with limited fruit.  Most days I eat as many veggies as a vegetarian - just replacing the rice/noodles/bread/potatoes with meat/poultry/fish.  Basically no sugar (or sugar substitutes) and very little processed items except for small amounts of salad dressing, soy sauce, mayo, etc.  I drink mostly water right now...  no soda or juice.  And due to an allergy (and personal perferences), consume next to no dairy at this time. 

2/17 Update:  I switched to Organic Gluten-Free Tamari (from regular Soy Sauce) for me but the "boys" sometimes have regular soy sauce because they prefer the taste - and we have a huge container from the Asian Market that Tae wants to use.  I don't use seed oils (corn, canola, peanut, etc) to cook for myself and using less for my "boys" too.  Instead I'm using: ghee, pasture butter or coconut oil for cooking...   I stopped using olive oil for cooking.  (to reduce intake of Omega 6 and damaged/rancid oils)  Also, I am using very little mayo or commerical salad dressings for myself anymore.  My body does not tolerate it very well so I am experimenting with organic and homemade options...  Also I added pasture butter and free-range, local farm eggs for all of us.  (for K2, CLA, A, Calcium, Protein, etc)  Another change for me is that I'm starting to focus on cutting my consumption of raw nuts and fat intake from commercial beef/chicken/pork products that are grain fed.  (to continue the reduction of Omega 6)
I keep a food diary but I don't count calories, instead I track net carbs for weight loss.
 (Carb - Fiber = Net Carbs).  I currently keep my daily net carb count below 23 grams/day - with about 20-25 grams of fiber/day.

2/17 Update:  I stopped keeping the food diary for now.  My focus is on following a mostly ketogenic diet (for continued weight loss and overall healing of my gut flora) but I'm experimenting with occasional sweet potato/squash/carrot indulges to prevent other conditions that can occur when carb intake is extremely low for extended periods.  Also my focus is on trying to get more colorful vegetables on our plates - especially if they are local and/or organic.
I've lost 20 lbs in 7 weeks (including the Christmas Holidays) and feel great.  My nails, skin and hair are looking better, I have gone down 1 size in clothes and my energy level and overall mood has improved.

2/17 Update:  I've lost about 25 lbs since early December (about 10 weeks).  My nails, skin and hair still look better and my gut health is improving rapidly -- as long as I stay away from triggers (like MSG in beef jerky or sausage).  My primary focus has shifted from rapid weight loss to "this is a journey toward whole health"...  for me and my family.  I'm learning daily that there is a long road ahead of us but the progress so far is encouraging.  I recently listened to a podcast where someone stated that they felt a little like Neo after he took the red pill in the Matrix movie.  He had a choice to choose the blue pill - and go back to his blissful life of ignorance, or the red pill - and start an adventure toward transformational truth.  I don't know if I can explain it better...  that's exactly how I feel.  I have taken that 'red pill' that has opened my eyes (and my heart) to the miserable state of our world in a new way.  Even though I still believe that this world is not my true home as a Christian, I do believe that life is a precious gift...  And every day I am thankful for the opportunity to live and learn... grow and forgive...  and love.
I'm planning to start Vitamin D3 supplements and Cod Liver Oil during the winter months too. I may take a daily multi-vitamin as well since many of our modern food sources have been shown to have reduced levels of vitamins/minerals.

2/17 Update:  I haven't officially started this supplementation but I have almost completed my research now.  I am convinced more than ever that I need to take high quality fermented Cod Liver Oil and Emulsified D3 Capsules on a regular basis.  (along with pasture butter and pasture eggs for the K2 and fat needed with those supplements)  I will post an update once I start taking these supplements for a few weeks - I'm expecting some nice mental clarity changes.  (fingers crossed... lol)
My next step will be to initiate exercise/fitness back into my regular schedule.

2/17 Update:  Still on the plan.  I have been tweeking a plan and occasionally getting some great walks and/or fun activitites (like roller skating.. lol) into my schedule.. but nothing consistent yet.  I'm trying to make a real commitment to schedule regular walks and a Zumba class once a week.  I'll post updates on another post about my progress.  Also on the plan - improved sleep!! 


**Note: I do not recommend this kind of eating plan for everyone but it works wonderfully for my weight loss & overall "whole health" objectives.
I found a great website today:

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/fatty-meat-potatoes-dairy-and-paleo-2-0/
The main focus should always be on elimination the biggest sources of malnutrition and toxicity in our diets: grains (especially wheat), legumes (especially soy), sugar and vegetable seed oils. 


Warm Regards,

Whole Health Essie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Here's what I'm studying this week:  
  • Vitamin D/Sunshine in Northern Climates - especially during winter months.  I will post later this week what I learn...
2/17 Update:  I learned that I'm not going to get much UVB exposure in a northern climate this time of year.  There are many websites with information about this subject and they seem to have a consensus on this issue.  So I will need to supplement with a high quality emulsified D3 capsule on a daily basis during the winter season - and take advantage of the spring and summer months of sun exposure.  There are a number of things to consider in terms of the amount of exposure needed but I've got a plan that is personalized for my skin tone (very pale!), weight, and location.


  • Beluga Whales & Lemmings. Yes, nothing to do with whole health but it's a for my son's 1st grade class project.   :-)
2/17 Update:  The Beluga Whale & Lemming projects were fun!
New whole foods that we're trying this week:
  • Chinese Long Beans -- these look like super long green beans
  • Gai Choy -- Green leafy plant/mustard greens
  • Kumatos -- brown supersweet tomatoes... very excited to try these on salads or spinkled with olive oil and sea salt.   http://www.kumato.com/en/Kumato.aspx
1/18/12 Update:  Kumatos are fabulous!!  Our whole family is in love with them....
2/17 Update:  The Gai Choy is great with tamari, homemade or organic chicken stock, garlic and seasonings as a stirfry.  The kumatos are still a big hit with us.

Other highlights:
  • EZ-Freeze STAYFIT containers..   we now have 4 sets.   (2) Deluxe Salad Kits, (1) Lunch to Go, (1) Soup-to-Go.  I have mixed feelings about plastic food containers anymore but for now they are very useful tools to keep us eating fresh, healthy whole foods for weekly lunches and snacks.    http://www.coolgearinc.com/stayfit1.html
1/18/12 Update:  These cool gear kits are just great so far...
2/17 Update:  Still loving these containers.  I need more of the soup containers for sure.

Whole Health Kid says...
When my 6 year old son hugged me yesterday I said "Mommy will not be so fat in a few months" and he said, "Mom, instead of saying it that way why don't you say 'In a few more months I will be different'..."     I was stunned and overwelmed with the wisdom, kindness and maturity of his remark.  I asked him if someone had instructed him to say things like that - perhaps avoid using the term "fat" ...  He said "No, I just thought of it myself."   Who knows if one of his teachers, caregivers or another adult in his life mentioned this improved way of talking about our bodies but it was so encouraging to hear my son say something so discerning...  Children are a blessing.

Warm Regards,
Whole Health Essie

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Favorite websites, blogs and podcasts

A growing list of my favorites..


http://www.naturesgiftorganicmarket.com/
Organic store in Midland, MI (love them!)

http://www.middletonfarmcsa.com/
located in Coleman, MI.. I bought some of their bacon at Nature's Gift Organic Market and it's very good. I'm guessing that the farm fresh free-range eggs are also from Middleton Farms CSA... looking forward to trying them.

http://www.macc.org/farmersmarket
Farmers Market in Midland, MI
http://www.jacksmarket.net/
We have been buying meats/poultry/fish/seafood and fresh produce from Jacks for a few years now. I'm happy to learn that they carry product from Middleton Farms too.

http://www.localharvest.org/
Find farms and farmers markets near you.

http://www.eatwild.com/products/michigan.html
free range farms/farmers in Michican (or search for your location)

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
check out the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists for produce


http://www.organicconsumers.org/
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/
looking forward to researching this site.  be sure to check their list for fruits & veggies.
** Was happy to see some "Meijers Naturals" product on their list of non-GMO.

http://foodmatters.tv/
I really like reading and learning about superfoods and nutrients

http://www.wholefoodmommies.com/Home/Index
great website for whole food plant based diet

http://paleoparents.com/ 
wonderful family and blog..  great money saving ideas and recipes.

http://www.latestinpaleo.com/
great website but I just love Angelo's podcast

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/paleo-101/
This is basically what I'm doing now... the 101 list.
http://paleodish.com/
great pictures and recipes

http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/ 
Jimmy Moore's website and podcast are great.

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/
Wonderful website - one of my favorites!



A huge thank you to my Mom, Sherri, who lives in Phoenix, AZ.  She introduced me to Harry Potter, Low Carb, Paleo/Primal and spanx...   yes, she loves me very much.  Love you forever Mom.

Beginning the transformation to a whole foods kitchen...

So what's in my kitchen that wasn't there last month....

Organic kale
Organic sweet potatoes
Organic raw coconut (flakes)      made by "Let's Do…Organic®"
Organic dried mango slices
1/18/12 Update:  Kumatos!!!   Delicious brown tomatoes...  heavenly.
OrganicTamari (gluten/wheat free soy sauce) - new today.
Organic Ghee - new today.  looking forward to trying this...

Bison Jerky from a local company

Nitrate free Bacon from a local farmer (not grass fed - working on where to find that)

Fresh "Free Range" Eggs .. new today.  (from a local farm)

Special stuff for my boys...   (1 - 6yr old DS and 1 -38yr old DH)
Organic Cacao Powder, Organic Ice Cream and Organic Fresh Whole Milk from a local farm and organic trail mix (lots of delicious dried berries, nuts and some seeds, plus we added organic raisins, coconut and dried mango)

Already in the kitchen (that's staying...)

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Raw macademia nuts
Seaweed (two kinds)

Lots of fresh vegetables and some fruits (especially berries) ...  although I'm working on a plan to minimize pesticides through buying organic when possible and using a vinegar/water bath.


What's gone?

Diet Soda
Low Carb Frankenfoods

And slowly I'm helping my boys switch their snacks over to more healthy whole food choices.  They love fresh fruit and nuts but they also love many highly processed foods so it will be a long term project.   :)

Now I'm starting to think of myself as the guardian of my family -- with imaginary red cape flapping in the breeze.   lol....     well, it is a battle zone out there.  

Warm Regards,

Whole Health Essie