Homemade Sausage and Greens

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sausage-and-greens

This was my dinner tonight. As usual, when my son tried it he said, “Amazing!”

We’re so blessed to eat the way we do, all of our food is amazing! So I think I’m going to need to start using a variety of adjectives so I don’t annoy my readers :).

Recipe

* 1 1/2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, or mix)

* 1 tsp sea salt (Celtic, Himalayan)

* 1 Tbsp rubbed sage

* 1 1/2 tsp thyme

* 1 tsp paprika

* 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne (if you want it spicy)

* 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or minced

Heat skillet on medium. Add meat, salt, herbs, cayenne (if using), and garlic to the skillet. Stir to mix ingredients and remove lumps. Cook sausage until it’s brown and the flavors are blended.
Serve on top of your favorite greens. You can use raw leafy greens or sauteed greens. Top with tomato and egg.
The tomatoes on my salad are heirloom tomatoes from my garden. The name of the tomato is Bloody Butcher. Yipes! But they’re tasty! (Notice I did not say amazing.)
Ta ta for now!

Chocolate Muffins/Cupcakes (GAPS, Paleo)

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chocolate muffins

These are AMAZING!

I’m not so good with recipes. As I’ve said before, usually I just throw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and cook them. So it’s a little hard to tell other people how to do what I did.

But people are asking, so I’m trying to get better at writing down my recipes. Lots of people feel bad and would like to change their diet to eliminate food intolerances and to improve their blood sugar. But sometimes it’s hard to know “what CAN I eat?” when you’ve eliminated foods from your diet. I want people to know that there are lots  of yummy foods you can eat.

There are more people eating like this than you think. Google is your best friend :).

This recipe is a “treat” recipe. I have an 11 year old, a 17 year old, and a husband who likes sweets, so we eat treats sometimes. Natasha Campbell McBride says to eat about 85% meats, fish, eggs, fermented dairy and vegetables as the main part of your diet. But about 15% of what you eat can be nuts, fruit, and baked goods (on full GAPS). I can’t eat this recipe because I’m a bit intolerant to cocoa. My 17 year old son is in love with this recipe. He can’t believe it’s GAPS/paleo friendly.

Chocolate Muffins/Cupcakes

*1 cup honey (you can cut the honey to 1/2 cup and use some stevia if you want to cut carbs, I have to use about 40-50 drops!)

*1/2 cup melted grassfed butter -or- 1/2 cup coconut oil+1/4 tsp sea salt

*2 tsp vanilla extract

*5 pastured eggs, room temperature

*1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (to balance the baking soda)

*2 cups almond flour

*1/2 cup cocoa

*1/2 tsp. baking soda

Warm the butter and the honey until just melted. Add room temperature eggs and other wet ingredients and mix. Combine dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased muffin tins (or use cupcake liners like I do). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 16.

Photo credit-my 11 yo daughter, Alaina. She’s my blog assistant :).

Enjoy!

This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.

Your Brain on Elderberry

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My kids always ask me for elderberry capsules when they start getting sick. I think it’s great that they choose this over any other cold or flu medicine ❤ !  Elderberry is a folk remedy with a crazy list of benefits.  It’s a powerful antioxidant, helps lower cholesterol, improves vision, and helps your body fight bacterial and viral infections. Elderberry juice has been used to treat influenza, and was very effective!

But, of course, I’m interested in what elderberry does for your brain:

“Elderberries are wild shrubs, growing eight to ten feet tall, and are found along streambeds and waste areas across most of North America. They are exceptionally high in aconthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that helps protect brain cells and mitochondria from damage.” –Dr. Terry Wahls

“Elderberries are packed with quercetin, a flavonoid that’s critical to your brain’s health. Like blueberries and strawberries, the flavonoids found in elderberries help reduce harmful inflammation at a cellular level. Additionally, quercetin increases the activity of your cells’ mitochondria, which you can think of as the “powerhouses” within each of your cells. By boosting your mitochondrial activity, you’ll boost your overall energy level, too.” – Dr. Majid Fotuhi, author of The Memory Cure

I was talking to a guy last year about  the benefits of elderberry. He said, “Oh, I have those in my back yard. We never do anything with them.” He invited me to come over when his berries got ripe this year. I was so excited! I decided I was going to make my own elderberry syrup. I was going to be that mom!

He called to tell me the berries were ready last Friday. I started researching recipes and found out that  some elderberries are poisonous. And even the ones that aren’t poisonous need to be cooked to remove toxins from them. The stems need to be removed because they’re poisonous. There’s nothing like the internet to make a person paranoid. I wasn’t even sure if I should do it. But elderberries are one of my favorite natural remedies, so I decided to try.

Yesterday, I brought my daughter and her friend over to pick them. The berries were too high to reach, so the elderberry guy pruned some of the branches from the high part of the bush and we started picking them off.

The berries were unbelievably tiny! It took a super long time, but the elderberry guy was really funny and entertaining, so the time flew by. Later, he gave us a tour of his AMAZING 100 year old house. The girls got to pick some blueberries, too, until my daughter got freaked out by the spiders.  It was an adventure.

Tonight I cooked up 1/2 the berries after looking at this recipe. Of course, I didn’t actually follow the recipe because I almost never do.

In the pan:

*1 1/2 cups elderberries with every single stem removed 🙂

*about 10 leaves from the stevia plant in my garden

*2 tsp ground cinnamon

*1/2 tsp ground ginger

* 1/2 cup water

I brought them to a boil and then reduced the heat. I simmered them for about 45 minutes. They smelled great. I tried putting the mixture through a strainer and hardly any came out. I ended up putting the whole mixture in the blender and adding 3/4 cup of water (I should have put more water in there to begin with), and blending it up. I made a HUGE mess and used up a lot of dishes. But it tasted really good!

I put the pulpy stuff into some of those ice cube trays that look like hearts. Then I put them in the freezer for later.

Next time I would use more water-maybe about  2 1/2 to 3 cups? And then I would have some syrup to put through the strainer. I don’t want it to be too runny, though, because I am not using honey to thicken it up.

I’m still alive :). My brain feels better already.

What Does My Belly Have to Do with My Brain?

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How does what’s going on in the digestive system affect the brain? Now that I understand more about how the body works, I realize if your digestive system isn’t working, the rest of your body can’t possibly work! But I have to say that for most of my life I just thought of food and digestion as calories and fat. I wanted to be sure I didn’t eat too many calories, because that’s the important thing, right? Being overweight makes you unhealthy, right?

I didn’t pay attention to the fact that:

“Every cell that makes up every tissue that makes up every organ DEPENDS on the body’s digestive system to provide nutrients it needs to keep functioning.”

That’s a quote from the Nutritional Therapy program I’m taking. It makes sense that all of the materials that make up your body have to come from somewhere. And that “somewhere” is from the real food you eat. And after you eat it, your digestive system has to turn it into something you can use. The food starts as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It must be broken down into tiny pieces that the body can recognize: amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose.

If your digestive system isn’t working, it’s not so pretty. Your protein will putrefy, your fats will turn rancid, and your carbs will ferment. If your digestive system IS working, your body and brain are able to work.

Here’s the quick version of good digestion:

1. You see and smell the food and your brain starts telling your digestive system to get ready.

2. You start to salivate, and the saliva contains enzymes that start breaking down the food as you chew.

3. You swallow and the food goes down your esophagus.

4. Your food reaches your stomach and stomach acid is released, stomach acid activates pepsin in order to break down protein. (Cool fact: the pepsin must be activated by the stomach acid, if it were active all the time it could digest your stomach because your stomach is made of protein!) A layer of mucus protects the stomach lining from the strong acid.

5. When the food in your stomach is properly “acidified” and broken down, your pyloric sphincter opens up to let those stomach contents into your duodenum (the upper part of your small intestine). Once the food is in the duodenum, hormones are released to signal your gallbladder to release bile (to emulsify fat) and to trigger digestive enzymes to be released from your pancreas (hormones: cholecystokinin, secretin).

6. The amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars are absorbed into your small intestine and distributed throughout your body.

7. Your large intestine is filled with indigestible fiber, bile, water, bacteria and sloughed cells, which is then eliminated.

So what can go wrong?

There are some digestive problems that seem to happen a lot in our culture.

1. Not relaxing and paying attention to our food. This prevents the body from entering “rest and digest” mode, or the parasympathetic state.

2. Not chewing well. This makes the rest of the system have to try to compensate.

3. Low stomach acid production.

4. Poor gallbladder function. This is HUGE, almost everyone I’ve met needs support in this area! Maybe we’ve had too many years on low-fat diets? Or eating bad fats? You actually need cholesterol to produce bile.

5. Liver stress=no bile

6. Poor quality food (fake food made in a lab)!

7. Undigested proteins= food intolerance or allergy

8. Undigested proteins, fats, carbs= an irritated gut, bad gut microbes (yeast, bacteria), leaky gut

What does this have to do with my brain? Shouldn’t I have a stomach ache?

This is what I thought, and I actually did not seem to have digestive symptoms until I started healing my body.  My symptoms were depression and anxiety, and I was really exhausted. Some people do have digestive symptoms with their mental symptoms.

There are 2 main reasons why digestive problems would affect the brain (and everything else):

1. Poor digestion= not enough raw materials for neurotransmitters and hormones.

2. Bad bacteria and yeasts feed on undigested or poor quality food. Bad bacteria and yeasts chemically alter your brain, and not in a good way!  Depression, anxiety, Bipolar disorder, autism, and schizophrenia are correlated with poor gut microbes. Read more:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-gut

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201206/do-probiotics-help-anxiety

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/uoc–cgb052813.php

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling.aspx

What to do with this information?

That’s a really good question. I think that some people can benefit from probiotic supplements and probiotic foods (like kombucha or live sauerkraut). I needed to correct my digestion and eliminate some foods that were aggravating me. I did the GAPS diet and I love paleo/primal recipes, too. I had to eliminate starches and most sugars (I can eat honey).

Do I think everyone needs to do the GAPS diet? I’ve been thinking about that, and I think there might be something that can be done that might be a bit less restrictive. Any plan for a healthy brain would DEFINITELY involve healing digestion and detoxification. The plan would also involve getting rid of foods that you are intolerant to.  And of course my favorite thing, good microbes!  I am a big fan of  bacteria :).

If you decide to take the plunge and start GAPS or paleo/primal, I have to say that the food is delicious!!! I never feel deprived because I eat delicious food. I’ve talked to other people who have started eating a more ancestral diet and they say the same thing. It doesn’t feel like punishment.

The only drawback is that we do live in the real world, and there are people who don’t eat that way, so other food is always around unless you stay home.  A big plus is that I have become a really good cook and my family loves what I cook.

Congratulations, you made it to the end. Thanks for reading!

This post was shared on Healing with Foods Friday.

My New Favorite Morning Drink (Besides Coffee)

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lemon Himalayan salt

Here it is:

*8 oz warm/hot water

*Juice of 1 lemon

*1/8 tsp of sea salt (Himalayan, Celtic, Realsalt, etc.)

*Stevia if desired

Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

That’s it! This drink does so many good things for your body.

Drinking 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt in your water helps it work better for hydrating every part of your body. I’ve tried many times in my life to “drink enough water” like I was supposed to. It never made me feel better and I had to go to the bathroom a lot. Now I know that it’s important to drink water with a bit of salt in it in order to get all of the benefits.  This is SO IMPORTANT if you have adrenal fatigue, which a lot of us do :). We drink too many cups of coffee to kick our adrenals into action. The adrenals only have so much to give!

The adrenals produce a lot of different hormones: stress hormones, sex hormones, and a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone tells the kidneys to retain sodium when it’s needed, for many functions in the body. One important function of salt is to facilitate the transport of nutrients into the cells, such as calcium, magnesium, glucose, and amino acids(sodium-potassium pump). If you have adrenal fatigue, this isn’t working so well.  James Wilson (author of Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome) says:

“Another consequence of low aldosterone is electrolyte imbalance and cell dehydration, which both have negative effects on almost all physiological reactions in the body. Aside from salt cravings, low blood pressure and light-headedness, patients with adrenal fatigue often experience an irregular heartbeat, lethargy, muscle weakness, and increased thirst. These are all a result of imbalance in sodium and other minerals, including potassium and magnesium. Increasing your salt intake is one way to help restore these imbalances.”

So give your poor adrenals some love! ❤

In addition to the hydration and adrenal benefits, lemon water in the morning can assist your body with digestion and detoxification (more info here). In my opinion, improving digestion and detoxification are two of the most important things you can do to improve your mental health. And I am a BIG FAN of mental health and balanced energy!

I’ve had enough ups and downs in my life, have you?

The Good Guys- Probiotics

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kombucha

I’ve been a fan of bacteria for a long time. I gave probiotics to my son and they helped him recover from waaaay too many antibiotics given to him as a baby (repeated ear infections).

The bacteria that survived these antibiotics ate his little baby teeth in short order. As in “Oh, Honey, you have a little cavity, we’ll have to take you to the dentist soon.” Then, a month or two later, he had cavities down to his gums. It was not a proud mommy moment when I had to take my son to get 4 crowns when he was 4 years old.

His digestive symptoms were horrible.  And he also got a bad case of warts all over his hands and other areas of his body, including his chin!  When I gave him probiotic supplements for all of these issues, the warts went away in a few months. 80% of your immune system is actually located in your digestive tract!

So while I knew about probiotics, it never occurred to me to grow them in my own kitchen. It sounds kind of risky, doesn’t it? But then my friend gave me some kefir grains to make my own kefir.  When I was doing research about kefir, I found out that most traditional cultures prepare fermented foods.

Fermenting preserves food and helps digestion. I talked to people who weren’t raised in this country and I found out that most of them eat some sort of fermented food and swear by the health benefits. Sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kvass, kimchi, cortido, and homemade yogurt are examples. But we “civilized” people prefer to be sanitized :).

I heard about kombucha, and I was just getting ready to try some when they pulled it off of the market.  I decided I HAD to try it to see what the big deal was, right? So as soon as it reappeared in my Fred Meyer health food section, I bought some. I was pretty sad when I tasted it. It just tasted like vinegar to me, but I had paid $3.00 for it so I decided to drink it anyway. About half way through I suddenly got this relaxed yet energized feeling. I was hooked!  I know what you’re thinking, it was NOT the teensy bit of alcohol in it. This energy and good feeling lasted for the rest of the day. So I hunted down a SCOBY on Craigslist and started brewing my own. I like it with ginger juice. Yum!

I also ferment organic vegetables like cucumbers, beets, cabbage, carrots, onion, etc. If they aren’t organic they don’t ferment well. Pesticides? Bleach?

My favorite veggie recipe is this one:

Cortido (adapted from: Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon)

  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

I chop everything up and put it in mason jars to ferment for 4-7 days. I wait until it tastes “pickled”, then I put it in the refrigerator when it tastes like I want it to. Some folks use air lock jars or crocks.

If you’re interested in making your own kitchen experiments, I suggest joining the Wild Fermentation Facebook group. They ferment everything imaginable.

You see, fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut can repopulate your gut bacteria (and beneficial yeast). And they also have detoxifying acids that can assist your liver. These two things alone are HUGELY important in managing depression/anxiety!

There is a lot going on in our gut that scientists have discovered just in the past few years. They’ve discovered that gut bacteria manufacture most of the serotonin in the body.  GABA is manufactured in our gut, too.

Depression is also influenced by inflammatory cytokines. The inflammation is caused by things that stress the body. Heavy metals,toxins, and sub-clinical infection are a few things that can put the immune system on high alert to try to get rid of the threats to the body. Kombucha and fermented veggies contain acids to assist the liver in detoxifying these substances. Then good microbes in the foods safely shuttle the toxins out of your body.

Thanks, Detoxify Your Life, for the link love :). Go check out Karen’s blog on her experiences with brewing her own kombucha!

Happy growing!

This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.

Look Before You Leap – Or Not?

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frog

This is my very first post on the blog I never thought I’d write. I don’t really enjoy writing. But suddenly I find myself having a lot of important things to say. I’ve never been very opinionated about anything until now.

I always have been the type to “look before I leap”. I think it’s a fabulous idea to gather information before you make a decision. I know plenty of people who “leap before they look” and are constantly doing impulsive things, just to regret them and having to do a lot more work and change them later.

But I have to say, sometimes I do so much “looking” and evaluating and worrying and ruminating, that I don’t EVER actually leap! And I end up not doing something really worth doing.

I feel like there might be some people in the world who might be feeling like they need some help with their health, but doctors don’t seem to know what to do to help. I don’t want these people to feel alone because I’ve been like that. I’ve struggled with eating disorders, depression, and even been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When I started on my crazy journey toward health, I had a body temperature of 94 degrees (adrenal fatigue?) and could barely get off the couch, clean house, or take care of my kids. So while my symptoms looked like mental symptoms to my doctors, I think my whole body was sick and toxic, and it was too worn out to produce any regular symptoms like a cold or an upset stomach.

So, through a series of happy accidents on the internet I discovered the Weston A. Price foundation and traditional foods. And then I discovered The GAPS Diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, a diet that focuses on healing the whole body through healing your digestion. It sounded crazy and overly restrictive and like something I would never be able to do. But I kept reading about it and decided it couldn’t hurt. So I actually did it instead of just reading and analyzing :).

So, fast forward 2 3/4 years and here I am, feeling MUCH better and attending a nutrition program (another HUGE leap since I had a bit of a hard time in school) so I can later help other people to feel better. The eating plan I’m on now is a cross between Ancestral/ Paleo and Full GAPS.

So I’m writing a blog that may be imperfect. I may even change some of my viewpoints later on and it will all be there in black and white. That I’m not perfect. Wow. But I feel like I have something important to say.

So I’m just going to leap!  Ribbet 🙂