On August 18th of last year I was with my father while he had surgery to explore an aggressive growth on his pancreas. We were not surprised to learn that the growth was, in fact, pancreatic cancer, the "worst case scenario".
Up until this point my dad had truly been one of the healthiest people I knew, biking 10+ miles every day, rain or shine; felling trees and chopping wood; fixing all manner of things; riding his motorcycle (which he had recently purchased at 78 years young), loving life, and especially loving and caring full time for our mother, (she has fallen into a sad state of dementia these last 10 years or so); planning for the future in which he hoped to again be free to fly kites and go on bike rides with his kids and grandkids.
But that day last summer took his life away. The surgeon removed 1/2 of his pancreas, an organ vital to the body's wellness. But it wasn't the cancer that killed him; in fact, just four months later he was cancer free! He had recruited me to help him come up with a plan to beat the cancer using alternative therapies. We found a functional medicine doctor in his home state of Wisconsin who would help him with our protocol which included Low Dose Naltexone, high doses of Vit. C, Alpha Lipolic Acid, CBD oil, pancreatic enzymes, and a mostly organic diet rich in quality fats and low carbs, in addition to a few other things. The oncologist within his conventional medical system agreed to track the cancer, and appeared humbled and dumbfounded when, on December 29th, I sat before her to receive the results of various tests and scans. She could not argue with the answers before her: no sign of cancer!
So what killed him? Well, 2 months after his surgery Dad began experiencing severe sciatic pain. No cause could be found, and no chiropractic or other treatment would help. Nothing but rounds of Prednisone, which of course he knew he could not continue. That, and bouts in the hospital when even the highest doses of oxycodone and fentanyl couldn't cut it. On his last hospitalization it was noted that he was very hoarse, not from a cold or other illness, but from screaming out in unbearable pain! When we, my siblings and I, think of our beautiful father in such a state, it drives us to tears.
From the outset, I had encouraged my father to monitor his blood sugar as it just made sense; after all, he was missing half of the very organ that he needed to keep his blood sugar under control. But he assured me that the doctors weren't worried (they weren't), and they would test it in the office when he had an appointment. If they weren't concerned, he wasn't either. And as he was on a fairly low carb/high fat diet for the cancer, I dismissed it as well, hoping that the diet would take care of it (Dad still enjoyed a heavily buttered slice of bread in the morning, a beer in the afternoon, or a very occasional small treat, and I was not about to insist on the deprivation!)
Dad liked for me to attend his doctor appointments when possible, and I often did during those last 5 months of his life, making frequent trips to be with him to help. So I was with him when his neurosurgeon finally gave the diagnosis, and prognosis, for Dad's condition: demyelination of the sciatic nerve brought on by high blood sugar. The good doctor told my father that if he controlled his blood sugar, the myelin sheath should regenerate in 6-12 months. He saw this often he said, and Dad was now declared "diabetic". It mattered not, as I gently protested, that my father wasn't truly diabetic, but that he was missing half of his pancreas and thus the ability to produce sufficient insulin to control blood sugar was duly sliced in half as well!
I sat with my father while the dietician discussed his new diabetic (very high, constant carb) diet. My father knew better and took it with a "grain of salt" (which of course was, literally, restricted in the hospital and rehab along with fat!), but he spent many weeks in and out of that hospital and rehab. He was doomed!
Should I mention those rounds of prednisone which Dad was given for the sciatic pain, driving his blood sugar into the 400 range, and holding it there for up to 2 weeks at a time?!
So, he was put on metformin, a bandaid. It would have seemed appropriate to consider insulin, ro replace what the pancreas could no longer produce.
Meanwhile, I consulted with Dad's functional medicine doc, who really was frustrated that Dad wasn't working with him on all of his issues. After all, that is what functional medicine doctors do: they work with the whole, not just in parts. But as this was not covered by insurance and was quite expensive, Dad chose to stick it out with his health "care" system. Dr. Schwartz urged Dad to continue with the Alpha Lypolic Acid and do several rounds of Vit B12 shots, methylcolbamin in particular, which has been clearly shown to promote rapid re-myleniation. Dad was ok with this, but wanted it to be within the "system" so as to have the relatively meager costs covered, and I think he also wanted acceptetance from his doctors. So, I made phone calls and gave information to the nurses in charge of two of the doctors offices. They were intrigued, curious, but not convinced. Thus it was declared unnecessary.
So, on Friday the 10th of February my sister took our father to what would be his last appointment with the neurologist, who essentially gave him no hope. None. My sister overheard Dad telling the doctor that if this was what life was to be, it just wasn't worth living. Two days later, he was gone.
That appointment, those words, took away all hope that my father had of ever enjoying life again and, especially, of bringing his beloved, our mother, home from the nursing home where she had been for more than a month, as he was unable to care for her in this state. He lived to have her by his side, and now he waits for her to join him again in their cold grave. She lives on, oblivious to her loss, in a facility rather than her own home, away from everything she knew and loved.
So what is to be learned from this? If only more people would hear! Our current medical paradigm does not heal people, far from it. It is a system of disease management, of controlling symptoms by slicing and dicing, of prescribing chemical pills for ailments instead of understanding and correcting the root causes of disease. It is a system that looks at individual parts, rather than the whole. And it never, ever, actually "cures" anyone of anything! It is a business, and it robs people of not only money, but their very lives, every single day.
This is not to say that there are not many fine people out there truly dedicated to healing, as they understand it, and helping people. It's just that their understanding is deeply flawed, and literally dangerous. As long as medical schools and text books are written and funded by pharmaceutical companies we will never have a true "health care" system, but one that focuses primarily on disease management and control via surgery, pills, and radiation. Just as my dad's cancer was not due to a deficiency in chemotherapy, our own bodies likewise needvmeaningful nutrition, cleansing, exercise, and knowledge in order to prevent and heal disease and maintain health.
Dr. Weston A. Price's dying words, "You teach, you teach, you teach!", are never more relevant than now. Let's be willing to learn, and go forth to teach!
Wise Traditions 2015 is coming up very soon, and I am wishing to encourage all who read this to consider attending this fantastic event, being held at the Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis MN November 10-13.
The annual conference of the Weston A Price Foundation is where I first began to truly learn and grasp accurate nutrition information while also forming the vision of what my own family's health could and should be!
I have personally attended nearly every conference since 2003 and have never been disappointed in the quality of speakers, presentations, information, encouragement, fellowship, and FOOD! Oh, the food...
Food at a typical conference is generally of no better quality than your average american restaurant: conventional commodities fried in soybean oil, overcooked vegetables, toxin-laden CAFO meats, and foods accented with margarine and MSG. Not so at a Wise Traditions Conference, where there is always the strong message: food matters! The accompanying menu thus must be nothing less than filled to the brim with nutrient-dense deliciousness! The majority of food found on our tables comes from local and small family farms, independent producers, deep oceans and lakes; while having been prepared with knowledgeable, caring hands. It is worth the trip to the conference just to experience the food!
But the caliber of speakers and information presented is equally astounding. Broaching topics as far-reaching as cholesterol and statin drugs, to preparing for healthy babies and the care and feeding of the family; there is something for every health-conscious person willing to open their minds (and hearts) to learn. Homeopathics, farming, traditional diets, vaccinations, heart disease, GMO's, cancer, charcuterie, cures for childhood ailments, raw milk benefits & legal issues, food as medicine, dental disease, thyroid disease, gardening, vegan diets, fiber, food clubs, sulfur, fermented foods, natural skin care, the non-toxic home, small-scale poultry production, weight-loss, curing tooth decay, ... The variety of topics covered in our conferences is vast, and of great importance!
But if the speakers, information and food is not enough to grab your attention, then how about the warmth and encouragement that comes from spending a few days with thoughtful, caring people of like-mind? Many friendships are forged at our conferences, friendships that transform and enhance lives! And there is no need to leave the kids behind; share the adventure with your children by bringing them along and enrolling the younger ones in the activity-packed children's program where they will be nourished, well cared-for, and enjoy making new friends even as their parents are attending lectures and workshops. My own children are making life-long friendships and are encouraged by the adults who surround them, reinforcing the messages of good food and good health that their parents are teaching them. There is plenty of opportunity for family time throughout the days and evenings as well.
So for about the cost of a typical family vacation you can take advantage of this life-changing experience that will encourage and edify your entire family, helping each of you to thrive for the rest of your lives! So why not? What's holding you back?!
Note: If having problems accessing the conference page linked at the top of this article when using Safari, please use an alternate web browser.
A guide for getting your family to eat nutritious foods, and leave the junk behind!
It’s a common occurrence in households all across the country. Mom spends a considerable amount of time in thought and preparation to present her family with a healthy, nutritious meal, only to be met with, “Aw, Mom, do I have to eat this stuff?” It can be frustrating, disheartening and downright depressing at times.
Offer Johnny a slice of pizza and a Coke and he’ll greet you with smiles and cheers. Give Susie a veggie burger and diet soda for dinner and she’ll brag to her friends about what a cool mom she has. But prepare homemade vegetable beef soups for lunch, served with a slice of sourdough bread and chunk of raw milk cheese, and they’re more likely to turn up their noses and skulk off. What’s a thoughtful mother to do? Having been a mom now these last twenty years, and a former kid, I think I can offer you some options to help get your family off to some better eating habits for which they will thank you later. But first, let’s go over a few things not to do.
Old Habits Die Hard
I can still remember my family making the transition to healthier eating habits way back when I was about ten years old. We had been accustomed to our Tuna or Hamburger Helper and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs when our mother, needing to lose weight and various afflictions, decided to get healthy. Out went the white sugar. Away with the white bread! In came whole grain (cardboard) bread and tasteless turkey burgers. Yum, yum! Thankfully, we still had the homegrown produce that my dad and I worked hard to raise in the summer and which my mother labored to put up for the winter.
We kids didn’t exactly look forward to mealtime. So we loaded up at the lunch counter at school and invited ourselves over to friends’ houses for pizza or “real” cheeseburgers and french fries. But at home it did not matter how good for us this or that item was supposed to be, “health food” just wasn’t very appealing.
Now I need to say that my mother really did try hard and had good intentions. She had eight hungry mouths to feed on a limited budget and was trying to do the best she could with what was available to her. And it wasn’t as though everything she made was not to our liking; we all had our favorites (mine being that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs!). We also watched with amazement as our mother’s health problems melted away along with the weight that she was rapidly losing. I am thankful for this very positive lesson in how our eating habits affect our well-being.
But from this example I think we can draw a few conclusions about what not to do.
Don't Shock Your Family
First, don’t try engineering a sudden and major overhaul of your family’s eating habits; let it be a gradual, progressive change for the better. And don’t expect your family to enjoy eating what you put before them just because it is healthy. Children, and spouses as well, don’t necessarily appreciate the “good for you” factor when it means they are feeling deprived of their old, less healthy foods. It may also be unwise to withhold all of your family’s favorites; perhaps holding onto a few things as occasional treats or rewards is appropriate, or re-create these same foods as healthy but appealing choices. That said, let’s consider some things we can do to encourage our families toward healthy eating habits.
Get Everyone Involved
Involve the Whole FamilyThe first thing I would suggest any spouse or parent to do is to involve the whole family in the raising and preparation of your meals. This can be as simple as having the family participate in growing a vegetable garden (even a small child can grow lettuce and tomatoes in his own plot of earth), to teaching your children how to cook. When your family is involved with the food set before them, they may take more pride and interest in what they eat.
From an early age our children have always shown a keen interest in what Mom is doing in the kitchen, often begging to help. Why squelch that wonderful desire to be of service and the opportunity to learn through imitation? I invite them to join in, assigning age-appropriate tasks to everyone. A child of three can help make a salad. At age three or four, children can begin measuring and mixing. By the time they are six they are able to begin making bread. And by eight they can, with guidance, actually prepare a whole meal.
As you might guess, in our family all of the children from the youngest to the oldest are regularly involved in preparing our family’s meals. It just takes a little patience (which is not always easy) and a willingness for things to take longer and be messier. But the long-term rewards are well worth the effort!
It might just be the homeschooler in me, but sometimes we “explore” a new food before we eat it, just to make it more interesting. That Mediterranean lamb stew, for example, becomes far more palatable once we have discovered how lamb is raised in different parts of the world, as well as why particular spices and vegetables are used in that area. And just where is the Mediterranean Sea, anyway? This approach sometimes works to get a child’s mind off the “strangeness” of a new food and focused more on its uniqueness.
Okay, so your child has helped grow the cabbage, aided its transition to sauerkraut, knows a little about the origin of this wonderful food, and now is sitting at the table with a large scowl across his face. “I am not eating that!” So what are you to do? Well, it’s time to pull out the big guns.
Children Need Guidance
Many believe that a child will instinctively crave the very foods his body needs. I am skeptical about that premise. My kids’ insistence that they must have a candy bar does not tell me that their body needs sugar and artificial flavors and colors. Fuel perhaps, but garbage, no! Most children need a little parental guidance, even clever persuasion at times. The desire for good, nutritious foods does not always come naturally. So parents, don’t wimp out!
This is not unfamiliar territory to me. We have had guests in our home who actually bring their children’s food along with them, lest they be asked to eat what I might prepare. Poor kids! We do our children a grave disservice when we don’t teach them to try new things, but instead indulge their immature and limited tastes.
The strategy we have employed in our home for this problem is simple. We insist that each child have a little bit of everything “good” for him or her before being allowed those foods that the child prefers. For some children this may mean no potatoes or slice of bread (always slathered with mounds of raw butter) until the steamed carrots and sauerkraut have been finished off. For others, they must first eat the salad before they may have their main dish. Sometimes the first foods are put on their plates to disappear before the more welcome foods are even within reach. You come to know each child’s likes and dislikes, and must plan your strategy accordingly.
Of course, tantalizing them with a piece of fruit or other dessert will usually help all but the most stubborn of individuals to overcome their aversion to steamed spinach or broccoli. The rest of us will be sure to make plenty of noise over that delicious treat, which further provokes the stubborn one to get through his grumpy resistance. And if he doesn’t, well, there’s always tomorrow. Eventually hunger wins out and the plateful of food is consumed. Cold, perhaps, but a lesson is learned, which makes it easier for the next mealtime.
More often than not when this tactic is employed the resistant person is surprised to find that she actually enjoys the offending food. This has been the case every time one frequent young guest of our family has sat down to dinner. We only insist that he sample each new thing. He ends up loving it and gives glowing reports to his mother about what a good cook Mrs. Diaz is!
On the rare occasion that a child truly does not like a particular food you may decide to insist, or not, that he have a bite of it before going on to finish the other items on the plate. If it is a food you feel is particularly important for the child’s health, by all means make it necessary for the child to eat it! If it’s not that important, then allow for the occasional optout.
Train the Taste Buds
Of course, all of this is easier when a child is started on these foods early in life. Our most recent baby, Lauren, began solids with steamed spinach enhanced with much raw butter and has enthusiastically devoured it each time we have put it before her. Ditto for steamed carrots, sauerkraut and brown rice. She has never been fed fruit juices, cereal or other common baby foods.
Refurbish Favorite DishesA big part of the strategy is recreating old family favorites to make them into healthier meals. This does not mean dull and tasteless, however. It is relatively simple to replace ingredients such as margarine, white flour and sugar, with butter, whole grain fresh-ground flour, and honey or Sucanat. When a recipe calls for Jell-o, try making your own with plain gelatin and organic fruit juice with a little stevia added. Or when your family wants a casserole, chuck the store-bought cream-based soups and make your own using homemade chicken stock, butter, raw milk and arrowroot powder. And don’t even think about using non-dairy whipped topping—make real whipped cream instead! We find that the entirely homemade versions of favorite recipes are far tastier than the processed versions anyway, in addition to being much healthier.
Proud to be Different
One last objection to eating well which one will occasionally hear from their children, is that some kids find it difficult to do anything different from their friends. For instance, it is popular now among some young people to be vegan and eat soy foods. Many of course still want their sodas and doughnuts. An important responsibility of parenting, however, is teaching our kids to stand on their own, often against the crowd and what is “in,” and to instead stand up for one’s principles and all things good. If they can be shown that junk food and alternative diets really are destructive to human health, then perhaps we can appeal to their intellects to follow a more solid path towards better health while setting a good example for their peers.
With these ideas, perhaps you’ll find the transition to far more healthful eating habits relatively pain-free for you and your family. The following are some family-pleasing recipes to get you started. Bon appétit!
Family-Friendly Recipe Ideas
Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound brown rice elbows, cooked
20 ounces shredded grass-fed cheese
1 quart whole milk from grass-fed cows
1/2 cup arrow root powder
1/2 cup butter from grass-fed cows
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoon sea salt
In a large bowl toss rice elbows with melted butter (if the noodles are hot, save yourself a step, the butter will melt on its own). Combine milk with dry ingredients and pour over noodles. Stir in shredded cheese. Put in a large baking dish, brushed with butter, and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. This dish goes well with those nitrate-free hot dogs from pastured hogs or beef!
Here is my family’s favorite meat loaf recipe, handed down to me from my Great Aunt Alma. This recipe is very easy to double or triple, (as I always do), and it freezes well. I think you’ll agree that it is the best meatloaf you have ever tasted!
1 pound ground beef or beef-heart mix
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use my sourdough bread crumbs, or gluten-free muffin crumbs, dried out in the oven) or crumbled pork rinds
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup milk or stock
1/4 cup catsup, preferably homemade, or crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
Mix beef, bread crumbs, onion, seasonings, liquid and egg together and pat into a loaf pan. Mix castup or crushed tomatoes, honey, mustard and nutmeg and spread over meat loaf. Top with grated cheese. Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 45 minutes.
Maureen ’s Best Pecan Pie
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup Sucanat, Rapadura, Muacavado or Maple Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups crispy pecan halves
1 1/2 cups crispy pecan pieces
Beat together all but pecans. Add pecans and stir. Pour into soaked pie shell and bake for 55-60 minutes.
Pie Shell2 1/2 cups sprouted whole grain flour (see note 2 below)
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup cold lard, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons Sucanat, Rapadura or Muscavado sugar, optional
1 teaspoon sea salt
About 1/3 cup ice water with 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
In a bowl combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter and lard until the mixture is a coarse meal. Drizzle the ice water over top, a tablespoon at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork until the dough comes together. Do not handle with your hands. Divide in half and chill. Roll out on a pastry board, handling very little with your hands.
A Few Suggestions to Ease the Burden of Food Preparation
Please be patient with me while I get things just right in Part II of Overcoming Chronic Disease With Diet...
Note: While much of this article will deal specifically with Lyme Disease, the author believes the same principles which apply to healing from this disease apply equally to healing from a wide variety of illnesses.
Through the many years I spent studying nutrition, natural healing, and human health, I always knew that one day I might need to put that knowledge to use within my own family at a fundamental level. Of course we have implemented what I learned for many minor and acute illnesses while also building and maintaining strong, healthy bodies. But several years ago we were challenged with a very serious, even life-threatening episode of chronic disease which tested every piece of information I had taken in.
First, the backstory:
Often I say that my husband, George, works as hard as a man half his age and twice his size. Thus, when he began exhibiting signs of failing health we attributed his symptoms to over-work and possibly exposure to harmful vapors in the finishing booth of his professional carpentry workshop. But as his pain and fatigue increased at an alarming rate, I became quite concerned. Three years ago his health took a virtual nose-dive and by mid-June of 2011 he was almost totally incapacitated. He went from working 60+ hours a week to putting in no more than 3-4 hours a day, and that only in spurts of 30-60 minutes at a time with hours of bed rest in between. Many days he was not able to get out of bed at all while his nights were spent in agony, unable to sleep due to the intense pain which was nightly amplified. His anxiety level grew along with the fatigue, and he became depressed. His intense pain would often drop him to his knees in tears. He occasionally also experienced terrible chest pains and we feared he might be experiencing a heart attack, but eventually the sensation would pass.
Our concern for George’s health deepened as his struggles grew worse. Eventually a close friend recognized his symptoms as not unlike her own: for several years before she had been very ill and incapacitated before finally being diagnosed with chronic lyme disease. (Actually, another friend and client, who was also a doctor, had previously suggested the same thing; I should have listened, but too quickly dismissed the thought. Shame on me! ) Up to this point my knowledge of LD was very limited, and in fact I harbored several misconceptions, but at this point I set out to educate myself.
From what I learned about this particular disease and its co-factors, it must be stated that many other illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, MS, and others may in fact be missed cases of Lyme Disease and associated infections which “piggy-back” with the Lyme spirochete.
Some common symptoms of Lyme infection are:
As the disease progresses, these symptoms worsen to the point that one can become totally debilitated, and even die.
“Chronic Lyme Disease” is a term for an advanced stage of the disease, and is a very controversial diagnosis within the medical community. In fact, as of this writing the CDC refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as CLD, much to the chagrin of many thousands who are terribly ill and in need of treatment! Even diagnosing the disease is controversial, formerly being primarily (and I believe rightly) clinical. The standard blood test currently in use is, in fact, not designed for diagnostics, but for tracking previously diagnosed cases of the disease. For accurate laboratory diagnoses there are several far more accurate tests available such as the IGenix Complete Lyme Panel. Dr. Joseph Burrascano, a board member of the International Lyme Disease and Associated Diseases Society, thoroughly explains advanced clinical diagnoses and treatment here.
Common misconceptions about Lyme Disease include:
For more on the politics, treatment, and disease itself, watch the documentary, Under Our Skin.
George chose to take an alternative medical route to tackle his lyme disease once it was diagnosed, which included intensive, long-term antibiotic use and an intravenous infusion of pathogen-fighting Vitamin C along with the detoxifying amino acid, Glutathione. I might have preferred he not choose the antibiotics, but as I saw him dying before my very eyes, I was only hopeful he could arrest the development of the disease so that he could begin to recover.
After 5 months of intensive antibiotic therapy during which we also implemented several food & supplement-based strategies to combat the ill effects of the drugs while boosting his immune system, George’s doctor felt that the LD was likely gone and he ordered a heavy-hitting dose of several antibiotics to take out any remaining forms of the spirochete which may have been buried deep within his tissue. After a week’s break from the antibiotics, however, his symptoms were returning.
At this point we were dealing not only with Lyme Disease, but also rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. George then flatly refused the new cocktail of antibiotics which the doctor wanted to prescribe.
But with three separate and terrible illnesses to deal with, I had to come up with a serious plan for healing. To do so I would draw upon all those years of attending lectures, reading endless articles and books, and picking the brains of those more knowledgeable, and experienced, than myself.
*Jerry Brunetti, a friend who kicked first cancer and then has fought Lyme Disease several times, informed me later that it is in fact preferable for the two components of the infusion to be administered separately, 24 hour apart if at all possible. Also, a liposomal form is reputed to be just as effective, and much cheaper.
When talking with others about feeding their family well, I often hear the same mantra: ”Well that’s fine for you, but it would not work for me; I could never do that!” What do people think I am, Super Woman? Married to an independently wealthy man? Hmm.
People by and large buy into two false notions: that good food is too expensive, and too time consuming to prepare.
First, preparing nutritious, tasty food does not necessarily require endless hours in the kitchen. It just takesplanning.
To be succesful, you must plan to have a variety of basic foods on hand at all times. Ingredients such as bones to make stock; unprocessed whole milk, ground meats and quality cheeses from grass-based farms; onions, garlic, celery and herbs; a few fresh vegetables, in season. Add to that butter, quality extra virgin olive oil, lard or tallow, and coconut oil. And don’t forget unrefined salt such as Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salts. With these basic ingredients much can be accomplished!
My family’s meals are usually fairly simple and made in quantity. For instance, last weekend I made a huge stock pot full of chili (heavy on the meat, light on beans, btw). I had started with 5# of pinto beans which were soaked for 24 hours with vinegar and water before being rinsed and cooked. I removed several quarts of beans to the freezer for future meals, and added 5# of ground beef which was browned and added to the pot along with lots of my favorite tomatoes (Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed) and spices (chipotle pepper flakes, chili powder, ground cumin). That one pot of delicious chili fed our large family for several meals, with the added benefit of a few single portions in the freezer for my husband when he’s away from home. The frozen beans will make quick work of quesadillas with the addition of seasoned meat, shredded raw milk cheddar cheese, and my fermented salsa.
Last week I made chicken stock, again a whole stock pot full, from which I have made 4 separate meals (various soups, and some of the meat went into a Mexican-style chicken dish).
Broth is a constant at our house. It is nearly always available from our freezer for spontaneous, and easy, soups, casseroles or rice dishes. It adds great flavor and excellent nutrition to vegetables and roasts as well. Just simmer up a pot full for a wide variety of options! We may make meat loaf, or casserole, or any number of other things. But all is made in large quantity with several meals put away in the freezer for another day, or to be consumed as “leftovers” the next. Easy!
Also, I like to chop onions and garlic in the food processor for spontaneous use during the week. A quart will last in the fridge for at least that long, if not used up. You may also choose to brown ground meat, with or without seasoning, to be frozen and thawed for more quick meals. Add to that frozen or chopped and dehydrated summer vegetables, along with some of that broth from the freezer, and you’ve got a delicious meal in minutes!
Breakfast for us is as easy as a frozen berry smoothy made with berries from our own orchard, and homemade raw milk yogurt. Add an egg or two, fresh cream, a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of stevia, and you’ve a crowd pleaser! Oatmeal or fried potatoes are quick to make up (soak the oats overnight before cooking) and will add real staying power for your kids and husband to get through the morning!
We often just make a pan of scrambled eggs with loads of cheese and butter, and perhaps a piece of hot buttered toast for everyone’s morning meal. This is a delicious, nutritious, and filling way to start the day!
If possible, making your main meal of the day early, rather than later, can also help free up some time. If you can get the food prep and dishes out of the way at lunch time, dinner can be light and easy-and more healthful too! It is easier on the body to handle a larger meal earlier in the day, allowing the digestive system a much needed rest. Likely you’ll sleep better too!
One last tip for easing your kitchen time is to enlist the help of your family. Even the youngest of children can “help” in the kitchen, as long as they are able to sit on a stool at the counter. Our youngest, now 3, loves to help by adding ingredients, pre-measured in ingredient cups, to the pot or bowl. She also peels my garlic and helps to stir batters. Is she messy? For sure! Efficient? Not yet, but give her another year or two of practice and she’ll be a fantastic help! Our other children are all able to prepare (and clean up) breakfast, make bread, and even prepare dinner on their own if needed or wanted. All of the children have been brought up at Mama’s elbows in the kitchen, frying eggs or whatever is needing to be done. I train them when they are young so that they become proficient cooks who enjoy, and are comfortable in, the kitchen. What a blessing to me they are!
Now as to the cost factor, while it is true that boxed, packaged, processed food is definitely easy to prepare, is it also really cheap? Really? Consider the high cost of cheap food.
First, our tax dollars go to pay massive subsidies to the “food” industry. To processors, factories, and promoters of “cheap” food. The farmers also receive subsidies to help defray their costs, as do other middle men along the way. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that those dollars could be put to much better use- in my own household!
Then think about the cost of being sick due to the weakened state of our bodies as a result of consuming all of that fake food; indeed, the cost is great! Cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, weakened immune responses, genetic disorders, and more-all due to the toxins and lack of nutrients in our “food”! Is it really cheaper to eat cheaply? I don’t think so!
But it is also possible to eat well on almost any budget; you don’t need to be wealthy to afford good food! But how do we afford this good, nutritious, real food, when money is tight?
To begin with, when shopping at a grocery store, shop only the perimeter. This would include fresh produce, meats, cheeses, butter, etc; but not processed food. If at all possible, however, I would recommend you avoid the grocery store!
Our family’s food comes primarily from local farmers, direct. We go to the farm. We see how they are raising and handling the food they put on their own tables, and which we are considering for ours. We even witness the health of their own families, as well as their fields and livestock. These are real indicators as to the nutrient value and safety! of the foods these farmers produce. As an added bonus, great flavor accompanies nutrient dense foods!
Everything we buy, we buy in quantity. Cheese by the 5lb. block. Beef by the half or whole. Vegetables by the bushel. We are even able to get our fresh, raw milk in 5 gallon buckets! When buying in quantity everything is cheaper, and this extends beyond the farm. I pick up salt in bulk bags, grain by the 25-50lb. sack, even tea and herbs by the pound (www.mountainroseherbs.com); it always saves us money to purchase this way, with the added benefit that I rarely run out of things (and “not running out of things” means we are not running out to get those same items, at a higher cost).
We keep things simple, for the most part. While I love preparing wonderful meals for family and friends, I save the extravagant meals for special times. And I delight in preparing delicious, simple foods and presenting them to guests; they are often wowed by real food alone, and don’t need all the frills! Nutritious, real food tastes fantastic, when prepared thoughtfully and well.
Most people can supplement their family’s food budget by growing their own. Many urban families are keeping chickens now for eggs and meat. They also act as recyclers and composters, taking scraps from the family’s table and turning it into wonderful compost, eggs, and meat. (See www.themodernhomestead.us) And container gardening is such a simple way to make use of even limited space; much can be grown in containers from your own little deck or patio, and fresh herbs and greens can be available year round from a sunny window. If you’ve at least an acre, perhaps you can even keep a couple of dairy goats, or a family cow? Our family has done this very thing off and on over the years, with the added benefits of meat from the offspring, and fertilizer for our garden and orchard!
So shop frugally and wisely, buying only real food-direct from the farm when possible; do everything in quantity; keep things simple; and grow your own if you can. You’ll be amazed at how well your family can eat, be blessed by the resulting vitality, and still be able to keep your food budget within reason by following these simple tips!
Reposting from the Liberation Wellness Blog, January 2010. I need this as motivation once again as I am working towards losing, for a second time, half of the 56+ pounds I had lost just a few short years ago. An injury kept me from exercising for about 6 months, which led to the re-gain. I have recently resumed exercising, though not as much as I would like. Also, I have made the commitment to intermittent fasting by not eating after 4 pm, and have stopped using honey or other sweetener in my tea. Small changes made a big difference before, and will again!
For several years I knew I needed to stop the upward swing of the scale, but also realized this would necessarily involve that most terrible of activities, exercise. Arrgh-how I hated the thought of it! ”Walk around the property”, my husband would say. ”Yes, sure, that would be fun,” I would think to myself. On a pretty spring day a walk around the pastures and through the woods is pleasant. But on a blistery hot day? Or a blustery cold one? No thanks!
Besides, I was burdened with children of all sizes, chained to the kitchen, tied to the laundry, obligated to reading lessons and math instruction; how could I ever find the time for something so despised?
Many times I had walked the 8/10ths of a mile round trip of our country lane-boring! And many times I had said I would do this daily in spite of my great disdain, only to give up as soon as the weather turned hot, the rains came, the wind blew or the clouds covered the sun. Obviously, this was not working!
A gym membership was a nice thought, but totally impractical for our situation. Bike riding is great, but our road is too dangerous. I tried T-Tapp, but found it difficult to remember to hold this, line up that, while moving the other. I love rowing machines, but they are expensive and you have to put them somewhere.
Can you see where I am going with this? Excuses, plain and simple. At each possibility my husband would present, there was always a reason why it would not work. I did not like being over weight. I did not want to be over weight. But I did not seem to have what it took to change what was happening to my body, and I grew more discouraged by the pound.
When we married, I was actually under weight. At six feet tall, I was a slim and trim, statuesque young woman of-gasp!-150 pounds! That may sound like a lot to you, but I can guarantee you it was not enough for my tall frame. Slowly over the years I gained a little here and there, but once I was well into having and raising babies, the pounds really started to pile on.
It was consoling for awhile that my husband would tell me he preferred my extra softness to the skin and bones I was when we met. But as the scale continued up, I felt his disapproval in spite of his reassuring words and kindness. This came to a climax when one morning last winter he looked especially down. Understand, my husband carries the weight of the world on his shoulders as he bears the burden of providing for our large brood, and so I assumed his long face and drooping shoulders related to the cares of the day. But I was quite shocked and dismayed when he tearfully admitted his great concern and disappointment in me, his bride, who was becoming so overweight that he was no longer finding me very attractive, and he worried for my health.
Wow-what a wake-up call! I love my husband very much and only want to bring him joy, not be a source of pain. And certainly I want him to enjoy me in every way. I knew something needed to be done.
So I started running up and down the stairs to fetch things, rather than sending the children. I put my lap top on a raised surface so that when using it I would be standing, rather than sitting. I danced and played a little more with the children. As spring time broke, I began walking that long country lane once again. And remarkably, I started to actually enjoy the trip!
By the time I heard Kevin Brown speak at our annual spring Weston A Price Foundation local gathering, my mind was set: one way or another, I was going to lose some weight! And after hearing his motivating and encouraging words, I really felt that I could do this thing!
Our diet was already excellent, so I only needed to do some tweaking to my personal dietary and eating habits. Things like fasting every day from late afternoon until into the next morning, consuming more cream, butter & coconut oil, and realizing just how many carbohydrates I was reallytaking in, when I thought my intake was rather low. Also, we gave up the occasional late night, “Date Night”, Ben & Jerry’s or Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bars. George can handle those things (he could stand to gain a few pounds); I can’t. Now we just stick to good movies and Josh Groban-we don’t need the edible treats!
The thing that is really making a difference for me now is this exercise thing; I have found it to be so enjoyable I actually look forward to it every day! Before the weather became really frigid, I was thoroughly enjoying my daily run. That’s right, run! Where only a few short months ago that driveway was tiring just to walk, I am now running it, zig-zagging back and forth to add more distance, and even running up hill for a piece on our road! Also, I found that I can toss my bike into our van early in the morning, before the Wee Ones rise, to ride at a nearby park which has wonderful trails. In line skates are next on my list, and an IPod to propel me forward.
Now that winter has set in I have purchased hand weights and have discovered that it is easy, and fun!, to exercise to up-beat, happy music. My kids tease me, but I don’t care; techno-music gets me moving, and with the addition of hand and ankle weights I can get a super workout in 30 several days a week!
So here I am now, 45# lighter than this time last year, and loving life. I am excited, motivated, encouraged, and happy! And you know what, my husband shares in my excitement, and is taking more pleasure than ever in his wife! Can you believe it? What a change from just a year ago, and I am not done yet! Now I know that I can look great again. My youthfulness and zest for life have returned! I feel like a million bucks, and I look forward to a bright future! All because of that dreaded “E” word, a little motivation, and change in habits I am trulyliberated!!!
…and going and going… Yes, it has been a very busy few weeks, but things will be quieting down after this weekend. I have been involved with 3 conferences in recent weeks, traveling and teaching. The final one is the PASA conference in State College, Pa. which will happen Thursday through Saturday. Come see me if you happen to be there: http://www.pasafarming.org/
My family and I also had the pleasure of enjoying a lovely country estate in Virginia this past week. We had a wonderful time!
But all of this traveling and hectic schedule would for most mean fast food, take-out Chinese, pizza deliveries, and microwaved meals from boxes or cans. But none of this will do for my family or I as we understand the importance of good food, even when we feel that we are too busy to keep up with other things. So what do we do? Well, mainly we plan ahead.
Because I tend to make every meal worth 3 or 4, I was able to have many meals in the freezer far ahead of time, ready to be pulled out when we are super busy or I am away (as was the case last weekend and will be again this week). For our trip to Virginia I also had several meals prepared and frozen, and so I only had to do a little cooking each day, mostly for fun.
For fun? Well, a friend blessed us with about 3 pounds of home grown shiitake mushrooms, so I pulled a chicken from the freezer to make a good batch of stock for a base, and then added the mushrooms, sautéed with lots of garlic in plenty of butter and olive oil, a butternut squash (cubed), and seasonings (allspice is great for this)After pureeing everything together with my handy-dandy KitchenAid stick blender, I added about a quart of fresh, raw cream. This was one of the best soups I have ever produced, and it made enough to give as gifts to two favorite friends, besides feeding all of us! See what I mean by fun?!
Today was birthday day for 2 of our kids, so we had roast beef, creamed cauliflower, kraut, salad, and my special Belgian Chocolate Cake (gluten free, by the way). There were no leftovers, but I already have salsa fermenting in the kitchen for a quick Mexican-style meal tomorrow, which won’t take more than 15 minutes to prepare. I have also made fermented ketchup and chutney these past few days, and have a gallon of yogurt culturing even as we speak. There is even a big pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove from which will be made several meals of soup. Then I’m off again for the rest of the week, but there are more meals in the freezer to feed everyone while I’m away.
Next week it is time to start again. The laundry will need to be done, school work checked, projects worked on, and more meals must be prepared. But by week’s end we should have at least 1 or 2 meals in the freezer again, for another busy time to come!
I do not relay all of this to boast about my fantastic, super-woman abilities-to the contrary! I simply wish to share with you the simplicity and ease of planning ahead, preparing everything in quantity, and making life bearable and healthy, no matter how busy the schedule. If I can do it, I know you can too!
Yesterday was a very busy day: out the door by 7 with all the kiddoes, an early appointment followed by a quick meet-up and shopping at Trader Joe’s, next off to the natural foods store & a preferred farm, then home for 45 minutes to unload and again out the door for bible study. We were home late, to bed later, and to sleep even later still. So what was my morning like today?
I awoke feeling vibrant and energized. After my morning cup of tea (a delightful ritual I vow never to do without!), it was time to prepare the family’s breakfast. With all the good food we had chosen the day before, the only difficult part was trying to decide what not to have!
Breakfast for most people consists of a box of cold cereal or a doughnut, a cup of coffee, a glass of juice. This high-carb menu simply will not do for me! I regard the start of each new day with vigor and excitement, viewing every meal as an opportunity to experience exciting, vibrant foods from God’s pantry. So in spite of the rather tiring and long day before, today’s breakfast was another foray into the world of healthy, tasty, nourishing food!
First I grabbed a pack of Smoked Apple and Chardonnay Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe’s. These were thinly sliced and tossed into a generous amount of bacon fat in a hot cast iron skillet, my most trusted kitchen tool. While these were browning I whipped up 10 farm-fresh eggs with a great dollop of cream (off the top of a new gallon of milk). The slightly crispy sausages were set aside in a bowl, and the egg mixture poured into the hot skillet with a bit more bacon fat & a pat of butter. This was allowed to cook on medium heat with an occasional tilt of the pan and gentle lifting of the edge to allow the uncooked egg to settle underneath. When all looked “set”, the sausage was scattered across the surface and a large handful of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio was spread over top of all. Once this delicious cheese blend was melted, breakfast was ready to serve!
The Young Ones gathered eagerly around the table to partake in this fragrant fare. The aromas from the kitchen had filled the house and their appetites were ripe! A generous slice was served to all, along with a glass of that fresh, raw milk, and all were filled. Servings of homemade still-raw yogurt, topped with frozen blackberries from our orchard, complete this nourishing and delicious meal. Mmm.
We are satisfied, we are filled, we are nurtured, we are energized, and we are grateful. Grateful for the bounty of wholesome foods which God has provided, and the health which we enjoy because of them. And we are ready to take on the day!
Maureen is first and foremost wife to a wonderful man and mom to 9 beautiful children. She is also a Weston A Price Foundation chapter leader and educator, Real Food Foodie, and lover of all things good. Especially butter. And cream. More butter. More Cream. And did I mention, butter?!