Monday, December 29, 2008

My Health Pantry: Juicing

Juicing is, in my opinion, one of the fastest and most efficient ways of getting concentrated nutrients into your sweet body pronto!

I often juice as I am fasting (called a juice fast) because fresh juices are great cleansers and help the body heal very quickly from what ails it. The power-packed nutrition is very satisfying as well and feels like your insides are getting treated to a day at the spa!

I love the flavor of freshly-juiced fruits, but keep in mind that a little of these goes a long way because of the concentrated, natural sugars. Let the bulk of your juicing be fresh veggies such as carrots or any green vegetable.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I daily drank 32 ounces or more of organic carrot juice + one green veggie. My favorites were celery, kale, cucumber or green bell pepper. Spinach actually wasn't too bad either. The green helped balance the sugary-ness of the carrots. Oh, and I often tossed in an apple as well. Yum.

When my son was born, my midwife could not get over how healthy the placenta was. She said she'd NEVER seen anything like it and was absolutely amazed. I attribute that primarily to the juicing.

I truly believe that if your health is in crisis, juicing is a powerful start to healing. And a great addition to any wintertime health pantry!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Health Pantry: Fasting

One of the greatest tips I ever learned doesn't cost a penny.

Fasting every so often is a blessing to your health and makes you feel like a million bucks.

Stormie O'Martian wrote a little book on fasting that was inspirational and very informative to me. I read it several years ago and what I read in there still impacts my life today.

So, during this holiday season that is full of sugars and fats that can weigh you down and weaken your immune system, consider a short fast to "clean your house" and start your new year off right!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Health Pantry: Neti Pot

The neti pot is my new best friend and has been a lifesaver for me this allergy season!

I've heard about the benefits of using neti pots for years, but honestly, I resisted ever buying one because I just saw them as. . . well, gross.
Ok, there it is. I admit it.

But I broke down finally and went for it, purchasing my first neti pot for under $20. Now. . . I wouldn't sell it for the world.

After recently being able to easily fight off a serious sinus infection with only a minimal sacrifice of time and sea salt, I am a now big believer in the benefits of regularly using a neti pot to cleanse your sinus passageways. In India and parts of Southeast Asia, it is as common to flush your sinuses as it is to brush your teeth.

The instructions are simple and you can use the neti over and over again (Wash between uses, of course, to keep from spreading any germs). And, if you have sons, they'll be fascinated to watch you use it. :-)

Between my two big guns--alfalfa and the neti pot--I am definitely breathing easy this allergy season!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Tribute to Samson

It rained the day Samson died.

Born from a litter of nine pups, Samson stole our hearts immediately. To be such a big, strong animal, he startled and ran at the slightest intimidation. But he had a big bark, and I loved that bark on the long, dark nights when Paul was gone with work.

Samson was a lover for sure--hogging all the petting and love we had to give, often pushing his mom, Lil' Ann, out of the way to get it. :-)

I really miss seeing him playing around the yard with his mom or the click of his nails on the tile when we'd bring him inside to play.

Losing Samson so suddenly has awakened me to several realities about life and health.

One, we never truly know how much time we have with our loved ones. It is so important to make the most of the moments we have. Those moments are a gift. I have replayed Samson's last hours many times in my mind and wish I would have lived them more tenderly, more meaningfully. I don't want to regret anything with my family members.

And two, I've realized that if we did live with that awareness that any one of us could be gone in a breath, we would live life a lot differently. We would live more peacefully with one another and a lot less selfishly. We would live more powerfully and make a difference on this earth for good. And we would live more joyfully with one another, delighting in the good only.

I have also realized that no matter how careful we try to be with caring for our health, the results are ultimately in the Lord's hands alone. And I'm good with that now. For years I struggled with pride in the area of health. The choices I made to eat this or not eat that or take this supplement or that herb distanced me from the people I loved so much because I allowed myself to care for my family's health for my own glory rather than God's.

But I know now that God takes good care of His stuff and if He loves my children more than even I do, then He's going to do the best for them, no matter what. I completely trust that now.

Samson was such a blessing to our family and added to our joy each day. We are grateful for the time we had with him. He will hold a forever place in our hearts.

The rain of the past few days has passed and a cool front has moved through, bringing with it hope for a new day. Go hug your "baby" today--more than once.


I love this tribute Paul put together for Samson and want to share it with you here. . .

video

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Health Pantry: ALFALFA

The "new kid" in my wintertime health pantry this year is ALFALFA.

This power-packed little herb is great for sinuses and has been knocking out my allergies very well this winter at a time when I am usually struggling for weeks at a time with upper respiratory congestion and headaches and sore, itchy throat. Can you tell I am a sold-out alfalfa convert??

Allergies is the one thing that I have fought year in and year out all of my life. Over the years, I have tried many wonderful things which were great for my immune system, but didn't seem to provide that targeted punch at my head that I needed.

If you struggle with allergies like I do, keep these three things in mind:
* cut the dairy immediately
it is an allergen and will cause extra mucous
* cut the sugar immediately
I even fast from honey for the most part--a tiny bit to sweeten your hot cereal seems to be ok--you'll be able to tell right away if you've eaten too much sweet because your mucous will increase or your throat will get scratchier, etc
* take alfalfa faithfully every day
4 capsules a day seems to work best for me

Alfalfa is such a great herb, partly because its roots grow so deep--sometimes up to 15 feet--that it is able to absorb nutrients that other plants don't have access to. Take alfalfa and you will super-boost your blood, digestion and heart (alfalfa helps to reduce bad cholesterol), among getting vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6 and Vitamin D. Alfalfa has been reported to provide more protein than beef, milk or eggs!

The best prices I have found so far for alfalfa are at Mountain Rose Herbs. I order my alfalfa loose in a bag and make the capsules myself, saving tons of money. It is so EASY and QUICK to make your own capsules--you can get your kids to do it. Click on the blinky at the top right of this screen to browse Mountain Rose Herbs' great site.

So, that's the scoop on alfalfa, "the father of all foods." Next time I'll step you through making your own alfalfa capsules for just pennies!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Health Pantry: Emergen-C

One of the staples of our wintertime health pantry is good ol' Vitamin C.

We've tried different Vitamin-C brands over the years, and we finally found one that all of my kids really like: Emergen-C.

Emergen-c is Vitamin-C plus a whole lot more good for you. First, they start with a whopping 1,000 milligrams of non-acidic Vitamin-C, which your body will appreciate. Then they add 32 minerals and electrolytes. Then they throw in B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 for energy.

The result is a tasty little powder that you pour into filtered water for a non-carbonated health and energy boost. My kids love the raspberry and ruby lemon honey flavors the best. And I am able to easily find Emergen-C at my local Walmart and Kroger stores, which I love.

Each box of Emergen-C packets costs under $10 in my area, which makes it one of the more affordable ways to get good stuff down my kids, and I really love that!

Hey--check out The Emergen-C web site to see the latest product for kids, by kids: Emergen-C Kidz complete multi-vitamin!! I just discovered this new product while writing this blog. I really like the fact that each packet has 24 essential nutrients, plus choline for healthy brain function. My kids loved the cool names like: Strawnanaberry Blast, Orange Pineapple Explosion, and Cherry Yumberry. Sounds like a winner to me!

I believe you will be as pleased as we have been with the health and energy boost that you experience with only one little packet of Emergen-C a day. Cheers to the FIZZ!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Wintertime Health Pantry

My friends are always asking me what I keep on hand in my "health pantry" to fight the terrible winter sicknesses that take so many people down.

I've got to be honest, with a family of seven (soon to be eight in the spring!!), we don't always escape the sicknesses through an entire "sick season," so please don't think we're perfect in this area. A lot of factors go into your family's wellness.

But with a little planning and determination, I believe that we can avoid most of the yuck and get better quicker if something does catch us.

Over the next few weeks, I will take you through my winter health pantry and highlight some of my favorite products. Some of these products I sell (why not sell what you love and get a discount for it, right?) and some of them I just love. Someday, I hope to have a virtual health store where I have physical backstock that people can buy from, but for now that's still in the dream stage, so we'll work with what we have.

I pray this trip through my health pantry blesses your family and helps you kick up your heels this winter!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm the Mom of a TEENAGER

Amberlyn isn't my little girl anymore--she turned thirteen yesterday! I was feeling all sentimental and thought-full yesterday morning, so I journaled.

When I read it out loud to my husband, my sudden tears surprised me as the memories flooded my mind like well-loved photos. I thought you might enjoy my journal entry from that special morning. . .


My baby girl is 13 today! I literally have been grieving. We have graduated from "young family" to "youth group family" overnight. And I used to have so much more hair!

But my mother-in-law is well known for always saying: "I love teenagers," and I believe that is a beautiful statement of hope, excitement and faith in the next generation. It needs to become my own mantra, especially since we have at least four strapping sons who are going to be teenagers very soon, and we will be living in "teenagerland" for a very long time!

"Oh Lord, these are your children--in every stage of their lives, they are Yours. I completely trust that You take good care of what is Yours. Please grant me the wisdom to lead and teach them what You want them to know and empower me to lead by godly example so that they are inspired to become great people who love You deeply and walk with You intimately. This is my prayer."



video

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hurricane Ike Didn't Blow Me Away. . .

praise the Lord!

Here's a picture of my family rolling one of the fallen Hackberry trees down to the curb for the county to come by and pick up.


The kids and I stayed in the house with Paul and his Aunt Wynona as the eye of the hurricane passed right over our house. That's all the experience I need! I don't care to ever stay through a direct hit again. The north wall and the south wall of the eye are so intense-- I could hear our windows bowing in and out. But four out of my five children did sleep through the whole thing!

Then everybody's electricity went out. We did really well until the next afternoon. I'll never forget my 18-month old looking over at me with bright red cheeks and utterly exhausted. I was slumped on the couch in front of the biggest window I could find trying to forget how morning sick I was. Paul looked at me and said he was sending us where there was a/c. I smiled.

How did pioneer women do this in long sleeves and long hair?
So, the kids and I went on "hurrication" and had an absolutely relaxing, wonderful time.

I did learn something during my "hurrication." I learned that we need to make more time for fun. We need to purpose to relax.

How many of us hit the floor running each morning, flying from computer to traffic to computer again to traffic again to computer again to away-from-home evening activities? And if you're a SAHM like me, you are just as busy--chauffeuring, cleaning, washing laundry, maybe homeschooling your children, some more laundry, running errands in town, some more laundry. . . .

We need to say NO to crazy busy and yes to some good, ol' fashioned, healthy Fun!

So, do me a favor and make time to relax!!

Tonight, we are breaking out our new family-sized tent for a maiden voyage in the back yard. We want to make sure our toddlers (and Mom and Dad) can handle sleeping all night outside before we travel all the way to a state park. ha

Write me sometime and let me know what you and your loved ones chose to do to relax a little. I'd love to hear your ideas!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where are the Digestion Police?


I admit it. There is something that drives me crazy when I see it. And it makes me wish there was a special task force just for Digestion Abusers. I guess that's where I come in: Officer Kristen.

First, let's define digestion and why it's important to your health. Digestion is the process by which food is rendered usable by your body and capable of being absorbed for use in carrying on the various vital processes of your body.

. . . This is important because if your body can't digest something you swallow, your body treats it as an attacking, toxic invader and goes into stress mode to get rid of it. If you commit this crime often enough, you'll end up sick and diseased. Not a pretty picture, is it?

But the good news is that God designed our bodies beautifully and wonderfully, and there is hope when we follow a few simple guidelines for what we put into our mouths and when.

Never, Never, Never. . .

serve raw fruit with a cooked meal!

Ok, my pet peeve is out in the open. Now, if you'll let me preach just a little more.

Raw fruits and veggies break down quicker than anything cooked, so when you eat a bowl of mixed fruit, say, with a plate of meat-sauced pasta, the meat sits in your gut for about 7 days and the fruit is done in about thirty minutes. So what, you ask?

Well, the fruit just sits there because it can't move on through your system properly and becomes essentially toxic. That defeats the whole purpose of eating the fresh fruit in the first place!

So, practice this general rule of thumb and all will go much better with your gut:

Eat fruits with fruits and vegetables with vegetables. If you serve a raw food with a cooked meal, go veggie.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Entering My First Blog Giveaway!

Yea! I'm entering my first blog giveaway and I feel like a little girl again! How fun!

If I enter my favorite healthy recipe here,
I will be entered for a chance to win
a wonderful cookbook and
vintage apron to go with it!



I recently discovered Brandi's wonderful blog called Mountain Morning Homeschool and decided right away to enter to win the Martha's Family Cookery Book that she is giving away. The vintage apron will come from her own collection.

Brandi says that Martha has "filled this cookbook with wholesome foods, mostly cooked from scratch (but not hard or too time-consuming!), and lots of fruits and vegetables, while 'eliminating white sugar, bleached flours, preservatives, artificial colors and nitrites'!"

Sounds like a winner to me!

Here's my recipe entry that many of you have told me you love:

Berry-Licious Breakfast Bread
1-3/4 c flour
2/3 cup organic sugar
1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup washed berries of choice
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, soften butter in the microwave (do not melt it). To the cup, add the oj concentrate and enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup of liquid. Stir liquids into big bowl with a large serving fork (easier to clean than a wisk). Add berries last, stirring carefully so as not to crush them and make them "bleed" into your batter. Pour into oiled bread pan and bake for about 30 minutes to one hour. Let cool before slicing.

You can link to the original recipe post HERE. Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Quickest, Easiest Way to Get More Vitamins in Your Kids

One of the quickest, easiest ways to boost the health of your family starts at your dinner table.

At each meal serve at least one raw fruit or vegetable. It's that easy!

Serve fruits and veggies that your kids like. Some of the sure-fire winners around our house are:

* baby carrots
* sliced tomatoes (especially from someone's garden)
* organic broccoli tops (soooo much tastier than non-organic)
* chunky slices of crisp cucumber
* bananas
* pears
* kiwi, sliced thin
* fresh strawberries

Do your kids not like raw fruits and veggies? Do not despair. How many of us like the things that are GOOD for us the first time around? Be persistent and don't be pushy. Just keep offering it at the table with each meal and eventually, they try it.

When we first started this, I made a "temporary" rule that they had to put at least one raw thing on their plate at each meal. It might be one baby carrot, but it was a start. Now, even my pickiest eaters like their veggies!

Serving one raw fruit or veggie at each meal not only boosts kids' immune systems and pumps their bodies full of natural vitamins, but it also trains them to build healthy habits right from home, starting at the dinner table.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Peaceful Place

I discovered something today. . .

that I can have a peaceful place in the midst of noise and chaos. I loved escaping to this wonderful place this morning. You may want to try it.

Have you ever had a hectic morning? I did today.

I was trying so hard to be calm and happy and kind this morning. And it was going pretty well actually. . . and then we started our first day of school.

This homeschool routine of ours should not be hectic, except that I have a toddler and an infant who like to be in the center of things, and boisterous at that. So, to help calm things down, I decided that I was going to start "blanket time" with Luke while the big kids worked on their writing. He was beside himself excited!

We were going to build with Legos on the blanket for fifteen minutes, so off we went to find a blanket and pull the Lego tub out of the playroom and set up shop near the kitchen table. {I wanted to be close by to help the others if they had any questions.}

Well, here comes Chase! He immediately stands in the middle of us and begins to claim all of Luke's Lego animals which caused great concern and stress, of course. In the midst of this commotion, Ashton finishes his work (it took us a while to get our blanket) and asks to join us. Within seconds, he's making very loud noises with the Legos and flying them all around. Then Amberlyn was stumped with a question about her lesson. I call her to me so I can look over it with her without leaving the blanket. Ten minutes later, I realize our blanket time got lost in the fray and commotion of what everyone else needed.

{Thankfully, I'm a quick student. Tomorrow, Chase gets playpen time with his own toys while Luke and I have blanket time--alone.}

Our minister said yesterday, busyness brings strife and your best requires rest (I was taking notes, David!). This really struck home with me.

Busyness brings strife--my best requires rest. . . boy, that's true!

I knew that I didn't want to snap at my kids or get angry, so as I was in the middle of grading Joshua's lesson-- and after the fifteenth chaotic interruption when I could feel my blood beginning to boil-- I just bowed my head slightly and closed my eyes and focused for a minute on the Lord's peace.

I meditated on His wonderful goodness and breathed deeply of His calm for just a minute or so, but it was more than enough to center me again and restore my peace.

Try it sometime. You may just rediscover your peaceful place, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eating Down the Pantry



I walked into the kitchen to this sight recently.

One of my sons had pushed a chair up to the cabinet to do something or another and then left the chair right there. Does that sound familiar in your house?

Well, Chase saw his opportunity and grabbed it with gusto! I walk into the kitchen to my Little Climber bravely making his way up onto the countertop and pulling himself to his full height to take full advantage of whatever treasures he may find in the pantry. He is so resourceful, right?

Well, I squelch a screech and decide to watch him carefully as I run backwards to grab the camera. This was just too cute not to capture. And after four boys, these things just don't freak me out anymore. Women in the grocery store keep gasping and running to set my children back on their bottoms in the cart. They are so sweet.


No, Mom-- please don't stop me!


I was looking over the fun photos when a thought struck me. We do something around our house that I take so for granted, but others may never have heard of or tried.

I call it "eating down the pantry." It fosters creativity, reduces wastefulness, teaches self-discipline and is real healthy on the budget.

It basically works like this: you eat for as long as you possibly can on what you have in your freezer, fridge and pantry before going to the grocery store.It almost becomes a rush to see how long you can go.

When I first married, I thought every meal had to be unique and elaborate for me to be a good wife. To do so, we put groceries on the credit card --often-- *CRINGE*. {Those were my pre-Larry Burkett and Dave Ramsey days--I have since repented.} Then tough times hit. Hard.

There honestly were times that I was not able to go to the grocery store and the only choice we had was to eat down the pantry. But in the midst of those frightening times, I discovered a peaceful truth.

God provides WELL.
He can literally making something from nothing.

Out of only two or three ingredients, He and I can create a delicious meal together. He provides the inspiration and I provide the hands.


Looking at these pictures of my pantry, I had another thought. How fun would it be to make a list of what I could make right now for meals from what's in there {and in my freezer and fridge}.

Ready?

* whole grain vermicelli with homemade tomato sauce (frozen whole tomatoes, onion, garlic and Italian spices)
* taco beef or bean enchiladas topped with a canned enchilada sauce and little parmesan cheese
* baked potatoes with BBQ beef --easy homemade sauce that uses bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.
* scalloped (dairy-free) potatoes with green peas and some baked chicken from the freezer
* oatmeal for breakfast, oatmeal muffins, oatmeal cookies
* a big dark chocolate chip-peppermint cookie
* chicken salad sandwiches and carrot sticks
* chicken and rice
* chicken spaghetti
* hamburgers with baked potato fries
* cinnamon raisin biscuits
* biscuits and gravy
* mashed potatoes and gravy
* pancakes, waffles or french toast topped with a little frozen fruit from the freezer and yummy maple syrup
* brown rice (or white rice) with butter and honey drizzled over the top

And the list of possible meals can go on. . .

Do you get the point with me? God is infinitely creative and can help us eat down our pantry, saving us money, time spent shopping and frustration over rising gas prices.

So, there it is.
If you choose to try this Grand Experiment, let us all know what feasts came out of your pantry.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

You are What You Eat. . . and More

This is so true!


Food-artist Joshua gets creative with chickpeas and baby carrots.

I believe that watching what we put into our mouths at our house has been one of the greatest factors in us being able to stay out of the doctors' offices.

For a few years, I went vegan. A vegan is someone who chooses not to eat any animal products (I didn't even eat eggs for awhile--that made it very challenging to bake!). So, the Fagalas ate a lot of tofu dishes and veggie dishes and delicious exotic grains like couscous and kamut. I lost weight that I didn't want and a little more. My skin glowed and I had tons of energy. I felt wonderful and always revert to this diet during times that illness does strike.

After a couple of years, though, the Lord led me to re-introduce organic meat into our diet. But I learned a lot about healthy eating during those vegan years that has stuck with me.

Make even one of these "simple" changes I learned during my vegan years and you should see improvements in your family's health right away:

* Cut out the dairy!
It is the prime culprit of sinus infections and ear infections and congestion. If you can't forsake the cheese, choose aged cheeses, like real parmesan or romano, or give goat milk-based feta a try.

*Replace cow milk with soy or rice milk.
I hear studies are linking soy with estrogen issues, so rice may be a safer option for many women. My favorite milk brands are Rice Dream Vanilla, Very Vanilla Silk and 8th Continent Vanilla. Soy milk is better for baking and gravies.

* Say no to sugar!!
This one is my hardest one. I have a mega-sweet tooth inherited from my daddy. Thanks, Daddy! :-) If this is hard for you, too, save your sweet treat for after dinner only and keep it small. I would say eat a piece of fruit when you're craving chocolate, but that never worked for me. Dessert is very emotional.

* Eat organic meat and eggs
I belong to a meat co-op where we order reasonably-priced chicken and turkey and beef every two months. Many stores are carrying healthier meats like Nolan Ryan's beef if you don't live near someone who coordinates a co-op.

* Supplements
We have a constant stash of vitamins, minerals and supplements (like BarleyLife) on hand at all times. We daily turn to our supplement cabinet the way many turn to their medicine cabinet.

*
Exercise and Good Rest
I just started exercising. This does not come easy for me, so I work out on our Total Gym (a hand-me-down from my parents--Thanks Mama and Daddy!) before I ever leave my room in the morning. Good rest is easy--go to bed at a decent hour, especially if you have young children or have to get up early to go to work. People used to go to bed when the sun went down. I like to go to bed by 9 pm, and I feel so much better when I do.

Ok, that's enough for now. That's plenty to work on. But remember, try just one thing at a time until it is a habit, then work on another one.

Now, as for me. . . it's past my bedtime!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chocolate Ice Cream Smoothie


Sound naughty? It's not.
My kids love this smoothie for breakfast. . . and so do I!

Smoothies are quick, delicious AND nutritious. With a quality blender and some frozen fruit and a little creativity, you can have a new favorite breakfast at your fingertips! My dad is a Smoothie Master and often whips them up for supper at their house--that's how easy it is.

Before I give you the recipe, I must give credit where credit is due. My pre-teen daughter, Amberlyn, created this masterpiece and we love her for it:

The Chocolate Ice Cream Smoothie

7 frozen bananas (for 1 mom and 5 kids)
4 tablespoons of peanut butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 - 1 cup soy or rice milk to help the bananas blend smoother and quicker

Add ingredients in this order. Blend til creamy, creamy, creamy. Use a spoon to dislodge any chunks from the blades and continue blending.

Note One: If you don't have any bananas frozen when you get ready to make this, you can put your bananas in the bottom of your blender and the rest of your ingredients on top, then fill the remainder of your blender with ice. This makes it more of a drink than ice cream, but it's still really good.

Note Two: We discovered quite by accident that Great Value soy nut butter makes a most excellent substitute for the peanut butter. I prefered the taste, to be honest, and I didn't think I would.

Note Three: Feel free to increase or decrease the amounts to your heart's content. I don't like a heavy banana taste, so I adjust accordingly. I also like it thick like ice cream, so I make sure to use frozen bananas and no ice.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fun Fiber Fact


So, you don't like prunes? Don't despair. . . eat a small pear. Consumer Reports says that a small pear has 4.3 grams of fiber--that's 9% more fiber than five prunes! Yeah for pears. They make great, inexpensive snacks for kids and are so easy to smash with a fork to make homemade baby food.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Goat's Rue

I have nursed five babies (and no, this is not a picture of me--my babies NEVER had that much hair!) and each experience has been a little different. However, one thing that was common across each of them was that I never had very fatty milk. I produced the 2 % version, I guess. One of the main reasons, I think, was that for several years I was a die-hard vegan (no dairy products or meat) and I know that the absence of all those all-American fatty foods probably had a lot to do with my leaner milk. But it always kind of bothered me. Now, my husband is tall, dark and handsome and genetics does play a part, but I never could quite figure out how to beef up my milk.

. . . Until one day last year when my dear "herb friend" told me in passing about goat's rue. What a blessing for this mama! It was inexpensive to buy and within a couple of days my milk changed dramatically. It was so white and rich, and my baby seemed more satisfied for longer periods of time. The flow of milk was also good and steady-- no more dry well after five minutes.

So, goat's rue is one of my favorite nursing herbs now. Thank you, my dear friend!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Exercise in the Morning

My sweet husband sent me to my mom's to be pampered for a couple of days. It feels like a mini-vacation when I have the luxury of healthy, home-cooked meals served to me and all the time to read that my heart can desire and long, hot soaks in a very clean tub. Sigh. . . heaven.

While draped over the couch reading, I discovered a Consumer Reports article on health do's and don'ts that I found very interesting. One of them is on a topic I've blogged about here before--good rest.

The DO "tip" is that morning exercise can improve your chances of sleeping like a baby by 70%. In contrast, evening exercise can trigger stimulating hormones that can hinder a deep, restful sleep.

So, maybe hitting the floor running isn't such a bad thing after all.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Berry-licious Breakfast Bread

I made breakfast bread this morning.

Side note: I'm really working on having breakfast on the table during the seven o'clock hour. My family has been begging me for some time now to have breakfast before 8 or 9 in the morning. I have four boys and a nearly-teenaged daughter and a tall, strong husband who are very starving when they wake up. I have discovered on the mornings that I "rise while it is still dark and provide food for my household," I see a lot more smiles and gentle attitudes. PLUS, it gives us one more precious meal to share together each day. The conversation is pretty fun, too.

Off-topic: This morning during breakfast we discussed cell phone options for Amberlyn who will turn 13 in October. We also talked about how my tall, strong Paul has been stung by nearly everything that stings in our neck of the woods: red wasps, yellow wasps, honeybees, bumblebees, and jellyfish. He's never been stung by a scorpion, though. Got any good scorpion stories to share?

Back on topic: So, we really enjoyed our breakfast bread this morning and all the conversation. Here are the recipes for the breakfast bread and soft butter. Plan to double or triple it!

Breakfast Bread
1-3/4 c flour
2/3 cup organic sugar
1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup washed berries of choice
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, soften butter in the microwave (do not melt it). To the cup, add the oj concentrate and enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup of liquid. Stir liquids into big bowl with a large serving fork (easier to clean than a wisk). Add berries last, stirring carefully so as not to crush them and make them "bleed" into your batter. Pour into oiled bread pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

Soft Butter
1 cup of butter, salted or unsalted
3/4 to 1 cup canola oil (or olive oil)
Blend until soft and chill in your favorite container.


Photo Below: Ashton and his friend Benjamin chow down on blueberry breakfast bread with little man Luke. These boys enjoyed every last bite and are living proof that the bread doesn't have to be Martha Stewart-beautiful to be deeply enjoyed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Storing Grains in Bulk

Some friends and I just ordered organic rice in bulk. My twelve-year-old daughter and I drove yesterday to pick it up--it turned out to be a fun girls' day driving through the green fields of grain. I love the look of a grain field--the plants standing so straight and strong like soldiers in their long, neat rows. Ah, the country. There is something so peaceful and healthy about it-- and this coming from a total city girl.

Through this experience of ordering rice, I have learned a lot about storing grains in bulk. Here are some tips that a friend of mine who often stores grain in bulk passed on to me. Hope these bless you today and make your life a little easier, whether you buy 2 lb. bags or 25 lb. bags at a time.

* Rice stores well in the freezer--up to six months to a year--if wrapped properly (Ziplocs made for the freezer, for example)
* Lowell Farms recommends storing your rice in the freezer or fridge, especially your brown rice, because BUGS LIKE BROWN BEST and brown has the shorter shelf life
* Brown rice can store up to a year and white rice can store up to 10 years
* Bay leaves can help to stave off bugs
* Storing your rice in a bucket with a lid (not sealed tightly) with some dry ice on the bottom can kill any larvae in the rice
* Gamma lids for 5-gallon buckets make storing in bulk a snap, keeping your grain fresh and airtight between uses
* New, food-grade five-gallon buckets and other bulk storing supplies can be purchased at a number of quality online sources, including Shipley's or Emergency Essentials (beprepared.com). Sam's Club also carries them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spicy Lemonade

This is my favorite drink for clearing the mucus out of your head and chest. It's quick and inexpensive to make, and I love that!
Spicy Lemonade
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs maple syrup or molasses
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 oz. filtered water

Lemon is a master cleanser and is good for the liver. The maple syrup gives you energy and the cayenne pepper cleans the blood and clears mucus and toxins from the body. You can drink it liberally throughout the day, though I usually drink it once or twice at most.

The less water you use (I have made this with only 4 oz water before), the spicier it is. If your throat is raw and irritated from drainage or allergies, the cayenne will burn at first. It's ok; it will stop, and your throat will feel so much better. I prefer mine chilled, so I try to use cold water.

Leave me a comment and let me know if this works for you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

FEVER


The very word strikes fear in many parents' hearts. . . FEVER. This is one of the most-asked questions of me: "What do you do for fever?" Here's my answer in a nutshell.

The first, and most important thing is, I don't freak out over fever. I see fever as a blessing--it is a good thing and means that the body is taking care of business. Our children's bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made and those little bodies know when there is an invader that needs to be ousted. Fever means things are working as they should.

Maybe once or twice ever has one of my children had a fever spike to 106 degrees. And even when it did, it didn't stay there long. Most of the time, my kids' fevers hover around 101-103 degrees for a couple of days.

Now, here's my line of defense during times of fever to keep my children as comfortable as possible and still let the fever work its magic:

1. Boost the immune system--work with the fever. Be its comrade and help it fight off the invader. I use whatever I happen to have on hand. Some of my favorite boosters are EmergenC (Vitamin C), BarleyLife, carrot juice, lots of pure water, Del-Immune, cutting out all sugar and dairy until the fever is over, increasing fresh fruits and vegetables (if they even feel like eating), encouraging lots of rest, and echinacea. I know there are even more natural solutions, but these are the ones we use the most.

2. Tepid baths--a lukewarm bath feels so good on a fevered body and is often all it takes to "break" the fever in my babies and begin to bring their temperature back down to normal. Also, for an infant, I nurse him or her more frequently. Mama's milk is such a God-given gift of natural anitbodies and wellness for our littlest ones. And it's deliciously FREE!

3. Teething tablets--sometimes the fevers in children are from teething (even at two years old when they get their molars in). This year I discovered Humphrey's Very Cherry Teething Tablets, and they have been very effective for my baby's fevers. With infants, it's so hard to know sometimes exactly what's causing the fever. I have found that these homeopathic teething tablets are very effective no matter what the cause of the fever is. I found mine at Walgreens and they are under $10 and last a long time. As with any medicine, I don't give it unless it's really needed, otherwise it doesn't seem to work as well. In other words, don't overdo it. Medicine is a tool, not a crutch.

4. Tylenol--I save this for the times that the fever has lingered for 36 hours or more without coming down at all and the child cannot rest. This doesn't happen very often around here; probably because of our faithfulness to number one on this list (boosting their immune system). But from time to time an over-the-counter medicine is needed. My rule of thumb for over-the-counter drugs is: use 1/2 the amount the directions say to. I have found that if we aren't used to popping a pill for every little pain, then when we really DO need to take something, it doesn't take nearly as much to get the job done.

Now, I don't think I need to say this, but I will anyway: I am not a medical professional and you know your child best. If my child had a fever that spiked very high, very quickly and I could not get it to start coming down with natural remedies or it was accompanied by throwing up or something else very unusual, I would not hesitate to seek medical help right away. You know your child best and what is normal and what is not. Plus, we have the good Lord, the Great Physician, to guide us and give us wisdom in how to handle our children's fevers. So, there is no need to fear fever. And that is definitely good news!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Glass is good

Here's to a greener week!

I'll be purging my pantry this week of plastic. I've wanted for a long time to convert to all glass containers and just never have. For the frugal queens among us, we could finally put all those wide-mouthed salsa jars from the grocery store to good use, instead of grimmacing as we toss them into the trash (for those of us who don't have convenient curbside glass recycling pick-up). I also like those large canning jars for storing leftovers in the fridge. They often double around our house as a fun, retro drinking glass for all that pure water we're supposed to be drinking each day!

So, here's my green mantra for the week. . . glass is good.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Back Online. . . Testimony of a Computer Fast


We were offline for nearly six weeks and I went through technology withdrawal.

Our computer's hard drive almost crashed and we couldn't even get to the desktop, but we were able to get it in for repair just in time to save all the baby pictures that hadn't been backed up. I know, I know. . .

Anyway, I give the Lord the credit for saving our memories--we had no idea anything was even wrong until it was almost too late. I don't even want to think about how bad that would have been to have lost those precious pictures. So, the moral of this story is two-fold: back up all your irreplacable data and God is so faithful to watch over us even when we don't realize we are in immediate danger. He is so good to us!

The first week or so of my computer fast was the toughest. I found myself walking over to the computer screen constantly to see if there was an email that couldn't wait to be answered. I discovered that I have used my computer a lot to escape. You know, technology can be such a wonderful tool, but it can also really steal a lot of time and energy if allowed to.

But as time wore on, I found that I thought and prayed a lot more. I began to relax. I became more available to my children and to my sweetheart. I started projects around the house that had been in sore neglect.

So, now that my time of fasting is over, I don't want to go back to where I was. I like the new me. I want the computer to serve me, not the other way around. How do I do this?

I am baby stepping by setting a time boundary for myself. I am going to limit myself during the week to two hours on the computer a day. That should be more than enough time to answer emails, balance my checkbook (I love that online feature!), and do a little business work. When my kids take their quiet time around 1 pm, I will take my computer time. And when they get up, I get up.

If you think of me, please pray for me to stay committed to this new discipline. It is so hard to bring our flesh into line sometimes, and I covet your prayers. Hey, maybe the next time you step away from your computer to bake cookies with your kids or kiss your man, you can pray for those of us who still need some computer discipline. :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hormones!!


After I had my first baby, my hormones were never the same.


I went from cheerful and fun-loving to irritable and serious almost overnight. My poor husband wasn't so sure I hadn't been kidnapped and replaced with an uncanny look-alike-- Mean Wife. I was driving us both crazy. I was quick to yell and slow to forgive, among other issues.


Over a decade passed before I realized I needed to surrender EVERYTHING, including my hormones, to the Lord. He had created them, He always wants the best for me, and He takes good care of His stuff, so I needed to hand my troubles over to Him.


I gradually began to go to the Lord daily and lay it all at His feet. . . the good, bad and the ugly. As I surrendered my weaknesses and studied the Word and poured out my heart, He began to soften me and mold me more into the image of Christ. He is such a patient and thorough teacher. I learned during that time how to be meek and gentle, how to serve my husband instead of chew his head off, and how to make my expectations more realistic and reachable. But I honestly was still struggling. I would be fine for a couple of weeks, then awful the next couple of weeks, then fine again, then awful again. It was a frustrating and exhausting cycle.


Then a couple of years ago, my mom gave me a bottle of PLUS. It is a hormone balancing product that she was using. PLUS is a product of a Texas-born company called Mannatech. I was very impressed with the standards of the company, that had been founded by a believer and was run on Christian principles. I tried the product, and for the first time in years, felt calm inside.


Anytime I am off of the PLUS for a couple of days, I begin to notice a big difference. So, we make sure it's in the budget each month!


I do believe that God can miraculously heal anything in my life (I've witnessed Him do it), and I am also so grateful when He leads me to little blessings like PLUS that make the health journey a little smoother and more joyful. If you want to try some, click here.


Here's to happy hormones!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sleep Like a Baby!


Several of you have asked what I do to get good rest at night. That has honestly been a challenge for the past. . . ummm. . . say. . . 18 months. Chase still nurses some during the night, so I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in quite awhile. But the sacrifice of sleep is worth the peace of mind of knowing that he's getting a good start on life with his mama's milk.


But when I sleep, I generally sleep well. I have two favorite tools for good rest: a quality mattress and magnesium.


A few years ago, Paul and I saved our pennies and our tax return and bought a Tempur-Pedic mattress. We love it! We were able to find a barely-used one at a great price, so we snatched it up. It was such a great mattress during my pregnancies when everything begins to hurt in those last couple months, making it so difficult to get comfortable in any position. So, I believe a quality mattress can make a huge difference.


My second favorite tool for sleeping well is magnesium. There are days when my muscles get so tight from stress that rest is a far-off dream for me. So, I pull out my Cell Wellness Restorer and pour 8-10 capfuls into a hot bath and soak for 15-30 minutes. These precious few minutes are so relaxing in and of themselves. I love to read, so I'll bring a book or magazine to the bath and read. The Cell Wellness Restorer is so relaxing that I often drift off to sleep right there in the bath! When I finally get up and go to bed, I sleep like a baby.


If you don't have time for a hot bath, you can slather the Cell Wellness Restorer right onto your skin. Just be careful not to spread it over any open cuts because it is made of sea salts. You know the magnesium is soaking into your skin if it itches or tingles. That means it's working to bring you closer to a good night's rest. The itchy feeling goes away pretty quickly, but you can avoid it if you sprinkle a little water on your skin before you apply the Cell Wellness. Can you tell I love this stuff? It's good for so many things. Magnesium is such a blessed mineral.


Chamomile is a relaxing herb. You can drink it as a tea before bed. It's always good to slow down and have a cup of tea anyway. And in a pinch, when nothing else seems to work, I take a Pantothenic Acid (in pill form from the health food store). One of these pills goes a long way in relaxing your muscles, so you don't want to overdo this one. But it is safe enough that I was able to take it during pregnancy and while nursing.


Now, with all of these great remedies mentioned, my all-time favorite way to relax is to rest daily in the Lord. Nothing else compares to the peace and calm I experience when I am in His presence. I love to rise before my family (this is very hard to do these days) and spend time reading my Bible and praying and just being with the Lord. He so gently reminds me that I don't need to spend my days spinning my wheels and running here and yon. Often, He will show me the important things to get done that day and all the bizillion things I can let go of. His schedule for me is always so much simpler and more relaxing than mine! When I am faithful to resting daily in the Lord, I begin to crave it, and this helps me to continue to run to that time even when all the excuses are running through my head not to get up. Realize, though, I have not arrived in this area. I struggle to rest daily. But it is by far the BEST way to relax. :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Birthday Party!


My baby boy turned ONE YEAR OLD yesterday! Chase has learned to love so many different, new things over the last year. He has learned to love toddling around after his older brothers and sister, exploring every nook and cranny of the house. He's learned to love whole, fresh foods like cucumbers and broccoli and he's learned to thoroughly enjoy splashing in the bath. It's so fun to watch him loving life. The part I love the best, though, is when he wraps my neck in a big, strong hug and then he's off for adventures. dreamy sigh Thanks for allowing me a Mama Moment.

This week I've been on a gotta-eat-healthy kick. I want it to stick because I have begun to feel so good and see some inches slip away. So, my dilemma yesterday was what to prepare for Chase's first birthday treat. Many of the recipes I found called for exotic ingredients that I didn't have in my pantry. Then I discovered a handwritten recipe in my recipe box for Tasty Vanilla Cupcakes. I had all of the ingredients, so I set to work. I reduced all the sugars in the recipe by 1/4-1/2 cup and they were still plenty sweet. In this picture, Chase kept grabbing for the cupcake while the candle was still burning. Poor baby; I kept shooing his hand away during the birthday song. He was so confused.






But then he got happy!





Here is the recipe. Please forgive the confectioner's sugar. . . it was a birthday party, after all.

Tasty Vanilla Cupcakes
makes 10-12
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup vanilla-flavored milk (I use rice or soy or almond)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter or oil
1 egg, beaten

Grease your muffin tin. Mix dry ingredients, Then add wet ingredients, beating until smooth. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Frosting: Blend with a hand mixer--1/4 cup unsalted butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbs. milk, and 1 tsp flavoring of choice.

This is such a basic recipe--it's easy to make it your own. Just by adding things like a little cocoa or carob chips to the batter or by adding peppermint flavor to the icing, you can make it fit your family's special likes. I do try to use organic ingredients as much as possible in my baking because they taste the best and are the nicest to our health. . . even in sweet, birthday cupcakes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Constipation -- The End




This is the second and final part of this article on dealing naturally with constipation.

In the last blog, we talked about the blessings of natural fiber and pure water in your life. Today we'll talk about three more easy-peasy ways to get things moving for you.


Magnesium--Once I've evaluated my diet and water, I look to whether I am getting enough magnesium. This is such an important mineral to your overall health. I have taken it orally and on the skin. My all-time favorite way to get my magnesium is with Cell Wellness Restorer. It's inexpensive and can be rubbed on the skin or added to a luxurious hot bath. I made myself a foot soak with it last night. It was woooonderful! The foot soak does help your body detoxify, so if you begin to feel bad, just slow down the soaks. Cell wellness restorer relaxes the muscles and aids in smoother bowel movements. Food sources for magnesium are green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Get active!--Take a walk, go for a swim, dig in your garden, swing at the park, dance with your kids or jump on the trampoline. Just get moving--just for you! Hey, the sun's not a bad side benefit either!

High colonics--I would definitely consider this. My friend's mother is certified to do colonics for people and my friend swears by them for cleaning out the colon and putting a spring back in her step. The colonics process gently pushes herbed water into the intestine, coupled with external massage on the colon.

Many nutritionists say that almost all illnesses and disease can be linked to the health of the colon. When the body does not get rid of its waste, that waste backs up and, in time, begins to dump toxins and poisonous gasses into the body, making you feel very sick and sluggish. If constipation is not dealt with, it can lead to much more serious things.

Constipation is no fun and really slows you down. But the good news is that it can be very simple to remedy at home. With a few easy changes, you can soon be walking with that spring back in your step.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Constipation


I've been asked a question about how to deal with constipation naturally, so let's get right to it.


The common scoop on poop is that if you have a bowel movement at least three times a week, you are not constipated. However, nutritional experts I counsel with say that if you are not having a bowel movement after every time you eat (a minimum of three times a day for the average person), you are constipated!! Quite a difference isn't there?


I have found in my own life that if I have fewer than 2 movements in a day (assuming I've eaten two regular meals), I begin to feel sick and bloated and very sluggish. The simple math: the more often I go, the better I feel. So, what's a girl to do to get the move on?


The following are a few of my favorite things:

1) Fiber--The first thing I do is step back and evaluate what I've been eating lately. When I've dealt with constipation, I can usually trace it back to a diet lacking in fiber. Fiber passes through your system virtually unchanged and is what gives your stool bulk and soft texture, making it more pleasant to pass.


There are a number of easy and effective ways to get fiber into you. Some of my favorite food sources are good ol' raw fruits and veggies, cherry flavored prunes, carrot juice with Barley Life, ground flax seed, whole grains, or a big pot of beans. I have often used these fiber-rich foods with my own children when they get plugged up. As soon as my infant son was on table food and had been introduced to carrot juice and prunes, I used them when he would get constipated from baby cereals and such.


If you would like to take a daily fiber supplement, my husband swears by Herbal Fiberblend. I have heard nothing but good about this product. Herbal Fiberblend does contain cascara sagrada, so pregnant or nursing women should not take it. When pregnant or nursing, I simply eat the fiber-rich foods.

Anytime you eat or take fiber, be sure to drink a big glass of water. If you do not, the constipation could worsen because you don't have enough water in your system.


2) Water--Poop needs water to work. . . and it needs to be pure, filtered water. My personal goal is 8-10 glasses of pure water a day. I don't always get there, but I always feel better on the days that I do.


Do you struggle to drink enough water during the day? There is a popular illustration of putting rocks into a jar. If you put in the big rocks first, the smaller ones always manage to fit, but if you put in the little rocks first, the big ones never seem to have enough room. I admit that I used drink my sodas first and then had a hard time fitting in the water. The truth is that sodas ROB your beautiful body of water and put you into dehydrated mode. This is not good if you want to prevent or clear up constipation.


So, if you want to drink more water and fewer sodas, wean yourself by replacing one soda a day with one glass of water. You can also baby step by replacing your favorite soda with a natural soda like Big Sky. Their Cherry Vanilla Creme is excellent! And before you know it, sodas will be a rare, once-in-awhile treat and you will feel so great, you won't miss them.


Increasing daily fiber and water are my first lines of defense for my own family against constipation, so try these first.

I do have some extra lines of natural defense that have also worked for us that I will blog about soon for you. But for now, I’ve got to run. My baby’s got a dirty diaper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You asked for it!

I have had so many people come up to me over the last few months and ask me to put into writing what I do for such and such illness. So, you asked for it! This blog is a direct result of your requests and will be the place for now that I write about various health issues my family has faced and how we've treated them naturally--from the comforts of home.

As I began to pray about starting this blog, the Lord began to pour into my head a variety of topics to write about. My pen had a hard time keeping up with His flow! :-) In the days to come, I'll cover such topics as: a well-stocked health pantry, the balance of physical, emotional and spiritual health, recommended health reading, my favorite links, surrendering the will, eating well, detoxing, and creating a family wellness plan.

I am excited and honored to be sharing years of knowledge and experience with you. Clearly, I am not a licensed physician. Anything I share on this blog is borne solely of my experience or readings and is not intended to diagnose or treat your specific illness. But I believe we have a responsibility before the Lord to take care of all that He has given us, and that includes our bodies. You are showing responsibility for your own health just by the fact that you are seeking out information.

I am so thankful that we have the freedom in our country to educate ourselves. As I learn, I'll pass it along to you, and I pray that out of it all you can glean something that is helpful to your family and helps you live WELL for the Lord.

Blessings!
Kristen